Its founder's grandson wants to bring the old building back to its former glory.
Bill Ford, chairman of the Ford Motor Company, will be dedicating a $1 billion investment to the Michigan Central Station headquarters which is set to act as a key location for developing innovation and mobility, expanding on electric products like the Ford F-150 Lightning. This location was first established in 1913 but was closed in 1988. In 2018, the company purchased it back together with an additional 30 acres for an expansive project.
As the Detroit Free Press reports, Ford provided an update to the community regarding the development of the hub. Also involved in the private investment are Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, and Chief Financial Officer, Ruth Porat. Bill translated to the audience that his investment will be put towards maintaining the company's leadership in the automobility sphere.
With this investment, Ford expressed his hope that both Motor City and Michigan will benefit from a boost of experienced workers as well as initiate promising training programs for its current employees. There is also a hope that other companies and business owners will be attracted to operate in the vicinity. In a bid to appeal to the younger business owners, the new facility will try to offer a certain "cool factor."
When asked about the reason for repurchasing the heritage facility, Bill Ford explained, "I was sick and tired of this station being a poster child for the decay of Detroit. This is my home and if we could make it into something significant, we should do it. We want this to go from being a national punchline to a national treasure [...] It will be cool!"
There was a lot of work to be done once the team stepped back into the building in 2018. Ford explains that it was daunting: "We had 12 feet of water in the basement that had to be pumped out. There were ceiling tiles overhead that needed to be replaced or repaired. One section over the front door had 29,000 tiles - and they were fixed one at a time and by hand."
He adds, "I never wanted this to be a trip down memory lane. This is about the future. We're going to use this as a place to test new ideas and concepts. It will be about drones, robots, and more."
CFO Porat reveals that Google was the first company to back Ford with regards to the redevelopment and has been signed on as a founding partner. It hopes to contribute to the facility by supplying training for high school students and providing jobs in the tech industry. "There's an extraordinary opportunity and responsibility in this digital transformation to make sure people have the skills they need for jobs of the future," she says.
The state of Michigan has also invested in Central Station as it will be dedicating $126 million to developing the surrounding areas. Whitmer reveals that Electreon, expert in charging infrastructure, will be developing a wireless network embedded in the road. This will be a first for the country.
Ford confirms that the old book depository section will be open by this summer while the station will be completed sometime next year. He adds, "We're going to attract the best and brightest to work here - engineers, software developers. There's a war for talent and we're upping our game."
To make it a more welcoming space, the campus will also accommodate hotels and restaurants. Ford even goes on to confirm that a certain section of the building will act as a possible wedding venue for which there already is a lengthy waiting list. Currently, this facility is filled with dust and construction beams, but Ford insists that it's all about looking forward. Here's hoping that he and his supporters can help Detroit see at least a hint of its former glory once more.