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.

View the original article here 

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 

2020 Legislative Priorities Focus on Talent, Regional Transit, and More

The Detroit Regional Chamber’s Board of Directors recently adopted 2020 legislative priorities. These 14 priorities are focused on business and economic growth for the region. Priorities include investing in infrastructure, support for a reliable regional transit system, maintaining a pro-growth tax structure, and creating pathways to postsecondary education and careers.


  • Maintain a pro-growth tax structure that allows Michigan to compete globally for business and talent.
  • Encourage smart spending policies and long-term budgeting that prioritizes fiscal solvency.
  • Maintain a regulatory climate that is conducive to Michigan’s growing economy.
  • Support reforms for Michigan’s criminal justice system that reduce lengthy and costly sentences and provide age-appropriate rehabilitation.
  • Support policies that expand employment opportunities for chronically underemployed populations.


  • Increase dedicated infrastructure funding in the state and lead efforts to prioritize regional transit options for the Detroit region.
  • Encourage regional policies that are consistent with state and federal law and balance local needs with economic growth.
  • Promote policies that increase access to health insurance while opposing policies that drive up costs for employers and individuals.


  • Maintain rigorous K-12 standards that allow students to succeed in the global economy.
  • Create greater accountability for quality and siting in charter schools.
  • Increase postsecondary education attainment through policies such as increased dual enrollment and the Michigan Reconnect and MI Opportunity Scholarship initiatives.

Global Connectivity:

  • Create pathways to career opportunities in the automotive industry that develop high-skilled talent, including utilization of global opportunities through immigration reform and the attraction of international students.
  • Promote smart trade policy, including continued USMCA participation and resisting short-sighted trade restrictions or tariffs that inhibit growth.

Next-Generation Mobility:

  • Support policies that allow Michigan to continue to lead in research and development testing for next generation mobility solutions and other emerging industry sectors.

Dr. Diane L. Peters Dove into the Future of Mobility at AWAF’s Meeting

Dr. Diane L. Peters, Ph.D., P.E., assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Kettering University presented “The Challenges of Getting Robotic Chauffeurs, Working Towards Autonomous Vehicles.”





On Sept. 25, the Automotive Women’s Alliance Foundation (AWAF) hosted a presentation on “Future of Mobility” at Cauley Ferrari of Detroit in West Bloomfield, MI.

Guest speaker Dr. Diane L. Peters, Ph.D., P.E., assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Kettering University presented “The Challenges of Getting Robotic Chauffeurs, Working Towards Autonomous Vehicles.”

According to AWAF Marketing Co-Chair Patricia Price, “The educational seminar went very well, and it was very well received by all attendees. Our speaker was insightful, and the topic sparked great conversations and a lot of positive vibes. The venue was also wonderful, and overall, the event exceeded all our expectations.”

Dr. Peters began her presentation by expressing that most predictions pertaining to the future of mobility and autonomous driving are quite ambitious. People keep thinking that autonomous vehicles are nearly here, but there have been a few tragedies when it comes to actual progress. She identified three problems that make the future of mobility such a challenge.

First, autonomous vehicles have to be able to identify where the car is located, but GPS can fail and provide the wrong signal. It’s imperative that the data be correct before the industry can proceed.

The second challenge is the vehicle’s ability to identify what’s located around it and appropriately deal with those objects, whether they are people, animals or something else. The autonomous vehicle must also be able to detect and read traffic signs, traffic lights, barriers and more.

Identifying the final challenge, Dr. Peters asked, “What do we do? Seems simple – we follow the road, stay at or under the speed limit, and don’t hit anyone so it’s an easy problem to control, right? What if we’re going to hit something? There are complicated unpredictable factors. Humans actually handle unpredictable factors well – we know which roads have a lot of car-deer accidents and where people tend to do dumb things, but how do you teach the car all of that?”

During the question-and-answer session at the end of her presentation, Dr. Peters answered questions regarding potential guidelines, globalization of autonomy, and infrastructure challenges.

MICHauto Investors Gather in Lansing for Annual Meetings with Legislators

“Meeting with legislators is crucial to ensuring that policymakers understand the industry’s issues, opportunities, and our collective economic impact,” said Glenn Stevens, executive director of MICHauto and vice president of automotive and mobility initiatives for the Detroit Regional Chamber.

On Tuesday, April 16, the Chamber’s MICHauto initiative gathered executives from 25 automotive companies to meet with 25 legislators in Lansing for the 2019 Automobility Day at the Capitol. Automotive experts and executives discussed the industry’s impact with legislators including MICHauto’s 2019 policy priorities. This year’s priorities focus on the further development of talent, technology, and trade as the key drivers of progress.

“The MICHauto policy priorities were created with the automotive industry and represent their thoughts on what we need to focus on to ensure future economic success,” Stevens said.

MICHauto values the opportunity to foster collaboration between industry leaders and the state government, which will ultimately strengthen Michigan’s economy and reinforce its standing as the automotive capital of the world. Many individuals contribute to this shared effort, and each year MICHauto recognizes one of them for their commitment to supporting the automotive and mobility industry in Michigan.

This year, MICHauto named Rep. Rebekah Warren Legislator of the Year for her dedication to driving next-generation vehicle R&D, her sponsorship and creation of the framework to allow the establishment of the American Center for Mobility, and her appointment on the Michigan Council on Future Mobility.

The sixth annual Automobility Day at the Capitol highlighted how a strong partnership with Michigan’s political leadership will continue to promote a promising future for the state’s automotive and mobility industry.


The Future of Detroit the Mobility City With Glenn Stevens

April 4, 2019

Daily Detroit

Detroit is major center of the development of the automobile. But we’re now transitioning to developing more than just the traditional vehicle — to creating technology and solutions that helps people get around. That’s mobility.

Today’s episode talks about that mobility industry in Metro Detroit. Not just Detroit, the Motor City… but Detroit, the Mobility City.

There are numerous startups and the big players – including Ford and GM – that are serious about it and there’s a lot of money being spent.

After all, that new Ford campus that’s happening in Corktown? That’s about developing this kind of technology right here in Detroit.

That conversation, led by Sven Gustafson – is with Glenn Stevens.  He’s the Executive Director of MICHauto. That’s an initiative of the Detroit Regional Chamber.

And even though he’s the head of a group called MICHauto, you might be surprised that his answers to the challenges and opportunities Metro Detroit has is not just to add more cars to the road.

View the full article here

Listen to the conversation:

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.

Omron to Demo Traceability, Flexible Manufacturing and Mobility Solutions at NAIAS AutoMobili-D

Industrial automation solutions provider Omron Automation Americas will showcase its wide-ranging technology portfolio for the automotive industry at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) AutoMobili-D event on January 14-17 at Cobo Center in Detroit.

Omron’s solutions help manufacturers boost productivity and flexibility while minimizing downtime and warranty costs and also help manage recalls more effectively.

Omron’s multiple areas of expertise – including traceability, flexible manufacturing and mobility – will be featured in three demos. The traceability demo will mimic an automated manufacturing process using the Omron’s Sysmac machine automation platform, components laser etched with the Omron’s Laser Marker and several key traceability products, including an RFID reader/writer, the compact yet powerful MicroHAWK barcode readers for 2D optical code recognition and the FH Series Vision System for advanced color inspection and error-proofing. The demo will showcase solutions that can help manufacturers improve process control and product quality, keep the impact of recalls as small as possible, and ensure part traceability in challenging environments.

Data collected throughout the traceability demo will be stored to a database, manipulated and visualized in a dashboard for high level tracking and trending. Visuals can be easily manipulated to meet user requirements, and data can be easily exchanged with cloud-based systems or in-house databases. Improved data visualization and exchange helps manufacturers keep better tabs on the status of their flexible production lines.

The company’s popular LD series of mobile robots will also be on display at the event. These robots provide a unique and innovative solution for manufacturers seeking to add flexibility to their production lines without needing to rearrange heavy and cumbersome conveyors. Capable of self-navigating through dynamic and peopled environments, the LD robots are a safe and effective way to deliver materials amid constantly changing requirements.

In addition to the Omron Automation demos, Omron Automotive Electronics products will also be featured in the booth to complement the company’s offering for the automotive industry. Omron Automotive Electronics recently created a new solution for NVIDIA’s autonomous vehicle platform, “NVIDIA DRIVE,” and this innovation will be featured in another demo at AutoMobili-D. Known as 3D-LiDAR, this solution helps make autonomous driving more reliable and better suited to various road environments.

The detection distance for long-range 3D-LiDAR is an impressive 150 meters, and it maintains the vertical high resolution at the same level characteristic of the short-range version. This increased its ability to recognize not only distant obstacles, such as four-wheeled vehicles, two-wheeled vehicles and pedestrians, but also low obstacles like curbs and falling objects on the road surface and road surface shapes.

Automotive industry professionals seeking to learn more about the latest advancements in mobility, traceability and flexible manufacturing should be sure to visit Booth AD02b at NAIAS AutoMobili-D to see exciting new technologies in action and speak with leaders in the field.

Mayor Mike Duggan Proclaims Oct. 7-12 Mobility Week in Detroit

Mayor Mike Duggan has joined businesses across the city and region to celebrate Detroit’s global leadership in automotive next-generation mobility technology by issuing a proclamation that recognizes this week, Oct. 7-12, “Mobility Week” in Detroit.

Through collaborative efforts by the Detroit Regional Chamber’s MICHauto initiative, Quicken Loans Community Fund and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and PlanetM, TechStars Mobility and Henry Ford Health System, a number of events will take place across Detroit to showcase the industry highlighting career opportunities, the cross-section between health care and mobility, and the transformational technology being developed.

“Detroit has historically been the center of the automotive universe, and now our city is leading the way into the next generation of the industry,” said Mayor Mike Duggan. “It makes perfect sense to shape the future of mobility right here in Detroit, and I’m proud to proclaim this week as Mobility Week.”

Many of the region’s assets will be on display, including Detroit’s growing startup ecosystem, technology development of the region, and the work Detroit’s Transportation and Mobility Office is engaging in the city and neighborhoods around transportation solutions.

“This proclamation calls attentions to the diverse players in mobility to celebrate our leadership in next-generation mobility,” said Glenn Stevens, executive director of MICHauto and vice president of Automotive and Mobility Initiatives for the Chamber. “We have come so far, and it is important to share and celebrate the new technology the industry offers with the public.”

Learn more about some of the Mobility Week Detroit events, including the 2018 MICHauto Summit below or visit www.mobilityweekdetroit.com.

MICHauto Summit: Explore Your Automobility Future

Oct. 10
The Beacon at One Woodward

MICHauto’s signature event engages automotive industry leaders with students and interns from regional universities, colleges and trade schools for a full day of programming. The Summit offers a unique opportunity to discuss the evolution of the automotive industry and its career pathways. Automotive and mobility industry professionals will share the career pathways with more than 160 students and interns. Conversations and topics will examine the future of the automotive, mobility and technology fields and how the industry is rapidly changing from decades past.


Henry Ford Health System all for you logo

The Eye, The Brain & The Auto
Oct. 7-9
MotorCity Casino


The 8th World Research Congress on Vision and Driving is focusing on the autonomous vehicle technology and its impact on health care. The three-day world congress will look at the way mobility technology is disrupting the way IT, big-data management and health care does business. Sessions will touch on how vision and cognition will play a key role in connected and autonomous vehicles, their development and how users interact with them. It also will highlight how the medical field can contribute and benefit from the development of driverless cars, trusts and other forms of transportation.


TechStars Demo Day 
Oct. 9
Detroit Film Theater



The 2018 Class of startups enrolled in the Techstars Mobility Accelerator will be center stage as they graduate from this unique mentoring program. More than a thousand investors, community members, students and representatives from the automotive and transportation industries will be in the audience to hear about new technology, autonomous advances and mobility answers from the Techstars participants. The event is the largest single-day startup and innovation event nationwide, organizers say, giving these up-and-coming entrepreneurs a venue to share their ideas and network with industry executives in real and substantial ways. Techstars with its worldwide network that focusing on helping entrepreneurs succeed offers its mobility program solely in Detroit. Its current class of 11 companies is the most diverse to date, has businesses that span a wide array of mobility solutions and comes from countries across the globe, including Hong Kong and London.


Detroit Moves
Oct. 10-11
Spirit Plaza


This free and family-friendly two-day outdoor festival brings people together with mobility companies, industry leaders and the latest in technology at Detroit’s Spirit Plaza. Now in its second year, Detroit Moves is a showcase for connected and autonomous vehicles as well as the people who make these high-tech machines, organizers say. The festival also includes art exhibits, musical performances, food and family-orientated activities such as a mobility-themed scavenger hunt. Additional activities include an educational village featuring STEM careers and area universities such as Wayne State and the Center for Creative Studies, a startup village with mobility-related startup companies and a social hour featuring food, beverage and entertainment from 5-7 p.m. on Oct. 11. Some exhibitors included May Mobility, which has an autonomous transport that takes Bedrock Detroit employees around the downtown core, as well as MoGo, Maven, Chariot, Airspace and America’s Automotive Trust.