Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Everything You Need To Know About Ford + Michigan Central Station

The Michigan Central Station abruptly opened it's doors in January of 1914 after the old station burned down on December, 26th 1913.The train depot and 18 story high office building were designed by the same team that created New York's Grand Central Station. In fact, the stations only opened around 6 months apart. The lobby was designed to look like a Roman bath house with features like marble walls and vaulted ceilings. The original building served as a train station and an Amtrack station until 1988 when the last train officially took off from the station.

For the next 30 years, the space has slowly deteriorated. Every few years you would hear whispers that someone was purchasing the station or making plans to restore it, but nothing ever happened. The owners eventually gated it and made sure that for the last ten years, no one got inside. They said it was too unsafe for people to be going inside anymore and the building was too far gone to be restored without some major money. So, it sat there, filling up with water and rotting in the center of Corktown until 2011 when they drained the basement and threw some windows on it. This major makeover restarted the rumors that someone was purchasing the station, but nothing happened until a few weeks ago. Turns out, that someone ended up being Ford Motor Company.

Ford Motor Company was created in 1903 by Henry Ford. He revolutionized the car industry by introducing the assembly line to American car making and by paying his workers a live-able $5 a day wage with benefits, including a shorter 8 hour workday and weekends off of work. He started the company inside the Piquette Avenue Plant, and quickly moved to the Highland Park Plant, before opening the River Rouge plant in 1928. Ford opened the Willow Run plant in 1942 before they opened their World Headquarters in Dearborn in 1956. At that point, they started opening factories all over the world and expanding into territories that Henry Ford could have never imagined. He passed away in 1947, long before the company grew into the giant that it would become. Ford has made it through the Great Depression, World War I and II, and the crash of 2009 without borrowing money from the US taxpayers like two other local companies. They have outlasted many of their competitors and found some interesting ways to make things work in really rough times. These are all traits that will help them as they take their next step into the future and build their new home downtown in the heart of Corktown.

This historical announcement was made at a press conference on Tuesday, that featured speeches from CEO Jim Hackett and Chairman Bill Ford. Both innovators stressed the importance of moving their next development to the City of Detroit and what it meant to restore this historic building. They talked about embracing the future of driving and technology by working hard to find new ways to "make people's lives better". They also detailed their plans for the space which include a new Corktown campus that will focus on the future of mobility, including how to make transit easier, faster, safer, and cheaper in cities and in the suburbs that surround them. You can watch a full stream of the live event here. It includes a performance by Big Sean that is worth a watch.

The new Ford campus will be around 1.2 million square feet, it will include a mixed use space that will feature offices, retail, and housing. The new offices will likely host around 2,500 employees with the possibility to eventually host another 2,500 in the near future. The renovations will take an estimated four years to complete and the finished product may look something like this: 

But, before they get to work to renovate the historical space, they are inviting the public to come in and legally tour the station for the first time in 30 years. Just under a year ago I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon inside the train station and it was one of the most magical days of my life. All of the photos in this post were taken on that magical day when I had the chance to walk the station privately with a few good friends. Make sure you stop by this weekend and have a memorable moment of your own, this will be the first and last time anyone sees the train station looking like this again! 
Tours will take place from 1 p.m. until 6 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. You can click here to sign yourself up for a tour and you can find all the rules for the tours here. This is your last chance to see the building before it goes through a rebirth! Congrats to Ford and all the businesses that we love in Corktown that will hopefully benefit from this move. Think it was hard to get a table at Takoi before?


No comments:

Post a Comment