Michigan Central Station in Detroit to Add Fourth Building, Mobility Test Area, and Parks

January 29, 2020


R.J. King

During a presentation today at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Detroit Policy Conference at the MotorCity Casino Hotel, Mary Culler, development director for Ford’s Michigan Central Station redevelopment, announced that the $744-million project will include a mobility test area behind the iconic train depot.

Showing a new site plan, Ford or one of its partners may add a building west of the train station, though no details of what the structure would be used for were offered. In addition, Ford plans to add an outdoor park between the station and the former Book Depository building (originally Roosevelt Warehouse), to be called The Triangle, as well as a Station Plaza in front of the train depot. The plaza will adjoin Roosevelt Park, which the city of Detroit plans to renovate.

In addition, the May Creek Greenway, a tributary that dates to the founding of Detroit by the French in 1701, which later was filled in to accommodate rail lines, will be converted into a landscaped trail similar to the Dequindre Cut east of downtown Detroit. The Greenway will be completed by the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and connect the Corktown community to the upcoming Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Centennial Park (west of the Riverfront Towers). The 22-acre park is scheduled to open in the next four year.

“We want to be a neighbor in Corktown and be inclusive to what’s already going on in the neighborhood,” says Culler, chief of staff to the Office of the Executive Chairman and president of the Ford Fund. “We remain on schedule, and it’s wonderful to see all the progress being made at the station.”

The 15-story train depot is set to reopen in late 2022 and offer stores, restaurants, and other retail offerings on the first floor, 11 floors of workspace for Ford workers and suppliers, and three floors of hospitality space at the top of the structure. Culler says the roof has been sealed and all of the water has been removed from the basement levels.

The Roosevelt Warehouse, which is scheduled to reopen next year, will include work space for Ford workers and its partners, a Maker Space and Showcase, along with a small theatre and other work spaces in the lower level. Nearby, Ford has renovated The Factory at the southwest corner of Michigan Avenue and Rosa Parks Blvd., where 250 workers are now working. A small museum where train station artifacts are displayed also is located in The Factory.

Culler says restoration of the depot includes cleaning, repairing, and replacing eight acres of masonry on the exterior of the building. To support the work, scaffolding now wraps around the west half of the 15-story tower.

A crane is on site and workers have started disassembling stone from around the Waiting Room entrance, which faces north toward Michigan Avenue, to allow craftsmen to fix the limestone façade and recreate missing and deteriorated ornate pieces — all part of Ford’s efforts to restore the Beaux-Arts building to its original grandeur.

To retain the historical integrity of the station, which first opened in 1913, the limestone blocks being used to replace the deteriorating stone on the façade will be sourced from the same Indiana quarry that provided the limestone during the original construction. Some of those early blocks of limestone still lie in a field a few feet from where they were first mined more than 100 years ago.

The Dark Hollow Quarry where the unique patterned limestone is found was officially closed in 1988. That grainy pattern fell out of favor with building projects in the 1920s. The remaining blocks of stone are now within a forest of 30-year-old trees. Local trades will construct a new haul road to access the stones and remove trees to get access to the historic material.

“It’s super exciting to use stone that was originally intended for the building,” says Richard Bardelli, Ford’s construction manager for the restoration project, who recently visited the Indiana quarry. “To come back to the same quarry where the first limestone was sourced from allows us not only an exact match in color and texture, but to maintain a strong connection to its storied past.”

In the early 1900s, the limestone was quarried by hand, with men using chisels and hammers; huge blocks of stone were transported by train to customers where it was carved on site. Today, the limestone is extracted and cut by machines, large blocks are moved by truck to regional fabricators and then shipped in its final shapes to the job site.

Michigan Central Station is one of many famous structures that has used Indiana limestone in its construction. Others include the Empire State Building, the National Cathedral, the new Yankee Stadium, the Pentagon and many state capitol buildings across the country.

Ford began the three-phase restoration project last year and plans to make the station the centerpiece of a new innovation hub in Corktown that will bring together new startups, established companies, urbanists, investors, innovators, and academic institutions to reimagine the future of transportation and make smarter, sustainable communities.

Before the stone is removed from Dark Hollow Quarry, workers will measure the blocks and look for other stone with the same pattern. Some might have to be extracted from the ground. The last time stone from the woods was used for another restoration project was eight years ago.

Beginning this winter, an estimated 8,000 cubic feet of the stone, approximately 300 blocks, will be shipped from the quarry in southern Indiana to Capital Stoneworks in Bridgeport, Mich. The company will take the raw stone and fabricate the replacement pieces needed for the train station.

The new stone will arrive in Detroit for installation in the spring 2020. Ford employs approximately 191,000 people worldwide.

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Ford Plans Mobility Testing Site Behind Michigan Central Station

January 29, 2020

Crain’s Detroit Business

Annalise Frank

Ford Motor Co. plans a vehicle testing site behind Michigan Central Station, the Corktown Detroit train depot the Dearborn-based automaker is redeveloping as part of a planned $740 million campus there.

Ford has discussed placing a testing ground at the train station’s old loading platform area in community meetings and included it in a new site map presented by Mary Culler, development director for Ford’s Michigan Central Station redevelopment, Wednesday morning at the Detroit Policy Conference at MotorCity Casino Hotel.

“We’re exploring that as the plan now … It’s in the framework,” Ford Corktown spokeswoman Christina Twelftree told Crain’s.

The formerly vacant, 505,000-square-foot depot is the centerpiece of Ford’s planned mobility district around Michigan Avenue that it expects to eventually employ 5,000 in 1.2 million square feet.

Last year Ford expanded autonomous vehicle testing to Detroit. And the automaker has previously described the Corktown campus as a location for trying out new mobility products. The testing ground would likely feature micromobility — a term used for e-scooters, electric bicycles and other small forms of transport — and autonomous vehicles. Twelftree said any formal decisions on its exact shape and use are forthcoming.

“There’s a huge amount of land back there” so testing there makes sense, Twelftree said. The site is more than 7 acres.

As shown in the site map, the Michigan Central Station redevelopment would also connect to the incoming Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Centennial Park via a planned trail called the May Creek Greenway.

Phase 2

Culler also said Wednesday that Ford has finished the first phase of its $350 million redevelopment of Michigan Central Station: weatherizing and stabilizing the building. The automaker’s contractors have plugged the previously leaky structure’s holes and removed 650,000 gallons of water from its basement.

“Now we’re kind of in the exciting part, which is the actual renovation of the station, including all the masonry work, all the limestone and re-creating what was, frankly, there before,” Culler said.

The first Ford building to open in Corktown — after The Factory, where more than 200 Ford employees already work — will be the 273,000-square-foot former Detroit Public Schools book depository, planned as a workspace, office space and maker’s space, according to Culler. It is not a historic preservation project so it is “moving along more quickly,” Culler said.

‘Guiding principles’

The automaker also continues to tout its presence in Detroit as not just that of any developer, but a “neighbor” who will “make decisions that support equitable outcomes” and “contribute to an inclusive and authentic place,” according to a list of “guiding principles” presented by Culler on Wednesday. Ford is compelled by a community benefits agreement with the city to spend $5 million for education and workforce training programs, $2.5 million for a city revolving loan fund for real estate development and $2.5 million for affordable housing projects.

Outside that deal required for big real estate projects in Detroit, it remains to be seen how Ford’s rhetoric turns into action in the coming years. The train station is expected to reopen in 2023.

Institutions in Southwest Detroit have expressed concern over already rising prices in the area, affordable housing and how investments sparked by Ford’s plan could transform the region.

“So we’re trying to get ahead of all of that and working with the community on job training,” Culler said Wednesday, referencing impact on real estate prices, housing and jobs.

Asked if Ford or the Ford Motor Company Fund planned to fund any affordable housing outside its contributions under the community benefits agreement with the city, Culler said “it’s early days to say that, but … there’s no doubt that we will continue our longstanding tradition of supporting community and we’re working with the community on what those programs should be.”

View the original article here 

Ford Will Make Michigan Central Depot A Place For Mobility Innovators, Disruptors

January 29, 2020

The Detroit News

Candice Williams 

Detroit — Ford Motor Co. has made progress on the redevelopment of the Michigan Central Depot, the centerpiece of its Corktown campus, an executive for the automaker said Wednesday during the Detroit Policy Conference.

Mary Culler, chief of staff for Ford Motor’s Office of the Executive Chairman and president of the Ford Motor Company Fund, gave an update on the automaker’s $740 million campus project during a keynote address. The campus is integral to the company’s goal to tackle the challenges of changes in mobility.

“Congestion, air quality, community access and many other critical issues are waiting to be solved, and we are not waiting for anyone to save them for us,” Culler said. “Our plan for the future is to open ourselves up to new ways of working. New partnerships and new offerings from scooters to shared rides to the portfolio of products you already know and love.”

In June 2018, Ford Motor Co. announced it had purchased the long-vacant iconic train station that will eventually house 5,000 workers, including 2,500 from its mobility team when it opens in 2023.

“This will not be a typical development,” Culler said. “This certainly won’t be a typical corporate campus. This will be a vibrant, exciting open platform for partnerships, a place where mobility innovators and disruptors from around the world come to test and launch new products and services that serve tomorrow’s transportation challenges.”

An autonomous vehicle team with 250 members is already based at The Factory on Michigan Avenue and is testing autonomous vehicles in the area, Culler said.

After about a year of redevelopment of the Michigan Central Depot, Ford is in the second of three phases to restore the building. The second phase includes masonry work on the building’s tower, waiting room and concourse. Crews are repairing more than eight acres of exterior masonry and replacing 8,000 cubic feet of limestone.

Ford is working with the City of Detroit, trade unions and contractors on workforce training programs to build a pipeline of skilled trades.

Culler said in a few months, more than 400 workers will be on-site each day doing roofing, plumbing, electrical work and masonry repairs.

Nearby, preconstruction work is underway on the Albert Kahn-designed former post office and book depository. When that opens in 2021, it will be a space for entrepreneurs, start-ups and companies developing and testing mobility solutions.

“Frankly, while there has been a lot of attention on the station, I think the book depository is a really exciting building,” Culler said.

Culler also said the automaker is looking to be a neighbor within Corktown while helping to create density in the neighborhood.

“Density, connectivity and shared spaces is a huge consideration as we look at creating this innovation district,” she said.

“As many of you know, the density in Corktown is just not there. While we’re not trying to create a Midtown area, there definitely needs to be more vibrancy in this particular area. We’re going to be clustering the new buildings and public areas around the station.”

View the original article here

Reimagining the Future Of Corktown Detroit

Ford Motor Company’s Detroit Development Director Mary Culler is helping reimagine the future of Corktown Detroit with the Michigan Central Station redevelopment and creation of a new innovative mobility ecosystem. Culler spoke at the 2020 Detroit Policy Conference on Ford’s commitment to creating a vibrant, innovative community where people come to create, test, and experience new transportation solutions that advance human progress.

Corktown currently houses Ford’s autonomous vehicle business unit where more than 250 employees work toward its goal to deploy a self-driving car by 2021. As Ford reopens Detroit’s iconic train station and several nearby properties, more than 5,000 employees for Ford and partners will join the Corktown scene.

“Ford was built on the idea that the freedom of movement drives human progress,” said Culler. “There’s so much change in the mobility industry happening right now and we are tackling these issues head on.”

Culler discussed the progress already made on the renovations to Michigan Central Station, where the team has already stabilized the building and covered it with a temporary roof. More than 650,000 gallons of water were removed from the basement, said Culler, and workers even found still-full whiskey bottles in the walls of the station.

Ford is devoted to preserving this rich Corktown history, explained Culler. By bringing this former symbol of neglect back to life and recreating its historic details, Ford hopes to create a new symbol of progress for Detroit with Michigan Central Station. By working with the surrounding communities in Corktown and beyond, Ford aims to become a neighbor, instead of a traditional developer.

“It is impossible to be in Detroit without acknowledging our people and our past,” said Culler.

With its new innovation district, Ford will reinforce Detroit as a global destination for mobility by creating a testing ground for automated vehicles, said Culler. Ford also plans for the district to attract business and talent to the region, while highlighting local businesses and community arts and culture.

“I’m here to invite you to join us in taking on the transportation challenges of the future.”

Thank you to Henry Ford Detroit Pistons Performance Center for sponsoring this keynote.

Read more about this session on DBusiness and Crain’s Detroit Business.

Roundup of Top Announcements from the 2019 NAIAS

This week all eyes were on Detroit as the 2019 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) kicked into full gear. Below is a recap of the most newsworthy stories and announcements coming out of NAIAS and Automobili-D, as well as what to look forward as you visit the show.


  • Congratulations to Genesis Motor America, Ram Trucks and Hyundai Motor Company – recipients of the 2019 North American Car, Truck and Utility of the Year awards. Announced this week at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The awards are among the most prestigious in the industry. Winners are chosen by a panel of 54 jurors from print, online and broadcast media across the United States and Canada.
  • Jim Hackett, CEO of Ford Motor Company and Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen announced today that both company’s have decided to work together to cut the cost of new technology development in a joint alliance.
  • Making waves on Tuesday, Detroit Mobility Lab’s Chris Thomas and Jessica Robinson, who both spoke at MICHauto’s Student Summit this past October, announced the Detroit Mobility Lab is launching the Michigan Mobility Institute in Detroit. The institute will focus on educating and re-educating engineers in AI, robotics and other mobility needs. The Michigan Mobility Institute was created as a way to answer the need for the estimated 100,000 new mobility jobs to come with future mobility.
  • Techstars Mobility announced a new name, Techstars Detroit, along with a new partnership with Lear Corporation and new home at the Lear Innovation Center.
  • Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced four pilot projects funded by the $8 Million Michigan Mobility Challenge that will address core mobility gaps for seniors, persons with disabilities and veterans across the state.
  • Eyes on Design awards were awarded to Axalta for “Innovative Use of Color, Graphics or Materials,” ABC Technologies for “Best Interiors” and Ford Motor Co.’s 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 for “Best Production Vehicle.”


  • Ford Motor Company: Revealed the new Shelby GT500, the most powerful street legal Mustang ever. With more features and more power, the Shelby GT500 produces more than 700 horsepower sending it from 0 to 60 mph in three seconds.
  • RAM: Making its debut at NAIAS, Ram rolled out their new heavy-duty Ram 2500. Offering advanced safety features including forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking and blind spot warning on all versions. The Ram 1500 also scooped up as the truck of the year award.
  • Toyota Motor Corp.: Aiming to return to Toyota’s signature, performance and excitement, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda revealed the new Toyota Supra on Monday. As Toyota’s commitment to Michigan to continues to thrive, this announcement was felt throughout Detroit as the excitement around the newly unveiled vehicle increased.
  • Nissan EV: Focused on luxury, Nissan reveled the IMs concept EV. The concept is explained as a “elevated sports sedan” the concepts proportions positions the vehicle as a segment of its own due to its electric vehicle identity and unique features.

View photos and read more coverage from NAIAS.

Mobility Week to show off Detroit innovation

October 7, 2018
Crain’s Detroit
By: Dustin Walsh

Detroit’s vision of trading in its moniker of the Motor City for the Mobility City is buoyed by several coordinated events through this week.

Mobility Week Detroit was set to kick off Sunday at Motor City Casino with the 8th World Research Congress on vision and driving, focusing on the impact of autonomous vehicles on health care and wellness. The event, which runs through Wednesday and is sponsored by Henry Ford Health System, will examine how physicians and scientists can aid in automotive design, how mobility influences medicine and more.

The week continues on Monday with a panel at the Detroit Regional Chamber on the rise of mobility as a service, featuring Elliot Darvick, general manager of the Michigan and Ohio market for Lyft; Mark de la Vergne, chief of mobility innovation for the city of Detroit; and Lisa Nuszkowski, founder and executive director of Detroit’s bike share MoGo.

The four-day CSforAll Summit, a national computer science education symposium, kicks off Monday at Wayne State University. Tuesday at the Detroit Film Theater will be Techstars Mobiliy Accelerator Demo Day, which is the largest single-day startup event in the state.

The 2018 MichAuto Summit, held Wednesday at The Beacon event space at One Woodward Avenue, is a daylong program featuring speakers from Ford Motor Co., Lyft, Inteva Products, Toyota North America and more.

The highlight of the week will be the two-day Detroit Moves Festival held in Spirit Plaza Oct. 10-11.

The free event, presented by the Quicken Loans Community Fund, will feature demonstrations by General Motors Co.’s Maven, Ford’s Chariot, May Mobility, MoGo, Airspace Experience Technologies and America’s Automotive Trust, and more.

“This isn’t just an industry show,” said Glenn Stevens, executive director of MichAuto and an organizer of the events. “We need to connect the public, consumers and industry together with these technologies.”

Crain’s Detroit Business is a sponsor of the event, and the Detroit Regional Chamber is helping produce it. Organizers expect around 1,000 people to attend the Detroit Moves event over the two days. Hundreds more are expected to attend the other events throughout the week.

For more information, go to mobilityweekdetroit.com.

View the original article here

Six Chamber Members Among DBusiness’ ’30 in Their Thirties’ Class of 2017

The Detroit Regional Chamber congratulates six executives from Chamber member companies for being named “30 in Their Thirties.” Disruption is a key aspect of the 2017 class and DBusiness magazine recognized these leaders for upending such traditional industries as the real estate title sector, metals recycling, 3-D scanning, point-of-sales systems, retail shopping and logistics.

  • Nicole Cicala, Director of VA/VE and Cost Modeling, American Axle and Manufacturing
  • Seth Gold, Vice President, American Jewelry and Loan
  • Moussa Niang, Global Purchasing Core Buyer, Ford Motor Co.
  • Alison Orlans, President and CEO, Orlans Group
  • John Paul Rea, Director, Planning and Economic Development, Macomb County
  • Peter VanDyke, Co-owner and CEO, Van Dyke Horn Public Relations

Detroit’s Tech, Automotive Leadership Takes Spotlight During Israel Mission Trip

In a follow-up to a January fact-finding mission to Israel earlier this year led by Mark Davidoff, Michigan managing partner at Deloitte, and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, the Detroit Regional Chamber, along with economic development representatives from Oakland County, returned to the country in May to meet with automotive and manufacturing companies looking to expand into the U.S. market.

“Following our fact-finding mission in January, we saw an opportunity in Israel beyond the country’s robust cybersecurity sector to the larger automotive technology landscape,” said Justin Robinson, vice president of Business Attraction for the Detroit Regional Chamber.

“Our Business Attraction program has made a shift to recruit more early-stage automotive technology companies and we are looking to the markets that we believe hold the greatest potential to bring that technology to Southeast Michigan — Israel and Silicon Valley,” he added.

The trip, which took place May 15-19, was timed to coincide with Ecomotion 2017, a worldwide conference focused on promoting knowledge-sharing among companies in the smart transportation sector (pictured).

During the week, the delegation held 25 one-on-one meetings with venture capital companies, automotive accelerators and startups, to glean information on how to best support Israeli companies that have an eye toward the North American market. Primarily, Robinson said companies expressed the need for better connections to OEMs (such as Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co.) and Tier 1 and 2 suppliers.

“It was a great opportunity to listen and understand what we need to be doing as a region to better position ourselves to connect this new startup ecosystem with the established automotive ecosystem in Detroit,” he said.

There are roughly 6,000 startups in Israel today. As more pop up due to the country’s rich talent pool and government support for entrepreneurs, many companies are setting their sights to North America to scale their business quickly, Robinson said.

“Mobility is becoming one of the key areas of focus, which is a perfect opportunity for Michigan,” he said.

For more information on Forward Detroit, contact Marnita S. Harris at mharris@detroitchamber.com or 313.596.0310. To view a full list of investors and past Investor Exclusive content, visit our Investor Resources page.

Katelyn Davis Joins MICHauto and the Detroit Regional Chamber as Director

Katelyn Davis joins the Detroit Regional Chamber as director of MICHauto. In this role, she will support and lead planning and execution for MICHauto, as the statewide automotive and mobility industry association, and the organization’s growth as an integral part of Forward Detroit, the Chamber’s economic development initiative.

Davis’ seven-year career has been dedicated to Michigan’s automotive industry. Most recently she served as a corporate affairs and communications specialist with Yazaki North America, Inc., where she was responsible for the company’s internal and external communications and corporate marketing strategy and implementation. Prior to that, she worked for WPP’s GTB (formerly Team Detroit) on the communications team at Ford Motor Co.

“We are extremely pleased to have Katelyn join the MICHauto team. Her background and experience in the auto industry, combined with her expertise in marketing and communications, made the perfect match and will be critical to achieving our mission and goals,” said Glenn Stevens, executive director of MICHauto and vice president of automotive and mobility initiatives for the Chamber.

Davis earned a bachelor’s degree in advertising and public relations from Grand Valley State University and completed graduate studies in new media communications at Wayne State University.

In addition, Davis is an acting board member for the Automotive Public Relations Council (APRC) and played an active role on MICHauto’s Awareness Committee.

She resides in Wyandotte, Michigan.

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About MICHauto

MICHauto is a statewide initiative of the Detroit Regional Chamber dedicated to promoting, retaining and growing the automotive industry in Michigan. MICHauto embodies a public-private strategy, championing Michigan as the global epicenter of the automotive industry and providing a platform for collaboration on advocacy, business attraction and retention, and talent attraction and development. Serving as the unified voice of Michigan’s automotive cluster, MICHauto works closely with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Original Equipment Suppliers Association, Center for Automotive Research and other Michigan and national organizations. To learn more visit MICHauto.org.

About the Detroit Regional Chamber

Serving the business community for more than 100 years, the Detroit Regional Chamber is one of the oldest, largest and most respected chambers of commerce in the country. The Chamber’s mission of powering the economy for Southeast Michigan is carried out through economic development, education reform, regional collaboration and providing valuable benefits to members. For more information, please visit detroitchamber.com.

Mobility, Collaboration Among Topics Discussed at Governor’s Building the 21st Century Economy Commission Meeting

The Building the 21st Century Economy Commission held its most recent meeting in Detroit at the Chamber on Feb. 22. The Commission, created by Gov. Rick Snyder, has traveled across the state to gain public input from the business community on what needs to be done long-term to grow Michigan’s economy.

The discussion was led by Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah, who chairs the Commission. Chamber Board members Matt Cullen and Sandra Pierce also make up the 15-member Commission.

The day-long event included presentations from featured guests including: Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel; Wright Lassiter III, president and CEO of Henry Ford Health System; Eric Larson, CEO of Downtown Detroit Partnership; John McElroy, host of “Autoline Daily”; and Mark Wallace, president and CEO of Detroit Riverfront Conservancy.

Hackel discussed the possibilities of efficiencies by local government operational consolidations; Lassiter discussed the transformations taking place in health care due to technology; Larson and Wallace discussed the keys to success for urban areas; and McElroy focused on next-generation mobility with his view that Detroit has already prevailed over Silicon Valley in the race to build the autonomous car.

A panel of millennial Ford Motor Co. engineers discussed and shared their thoughts on how young talent want to live, work and play in Michigan.

Several Chamber staff members were on hand for the meeting, including Greg Handel, vice president of education and talent; Roy Lamphier, vice president of health care and business solutions; and Glenn Stevens, executive director of MICHauto and vice president of automotive and mobility initiatives.

The Commission plans on presenting its recommendations at the 2017 Mackinac Policy Conference.