Ford Motor Co. is embarking on a 4-year renovation of the 105-year-old depot and 17-story office tower just west of downtown. The massive project is expected to increase the automaker's footprint in the city where the company was founded, provide space for electric and autonomous vehicle testing and research, and spur investment in the surrounding neighborhood.
As Ford notches its 115th anniversary, the company celebrated its purchase of an iconic Detroit landmark with an eye toward the "smart cities" future we heard about at CES. Michigan Central Station served as a main passenger hub for the city once it opened in 1913, but the train station and 18-story office tower has been empty and unused since 1988. Now a massive restoration project will make the building a part of Ford's planned Corktown campus, with 2,500 Ford employees working in the area by 2022 plus 2,500 employees of other businesses. The expectation is that, along with its partners, there will be work on "autonomous and electric vehicles, and design urban mobility services and solutions that include smart, connected vehicles, roads, parking and public transit." While those preparations take place, Ford already has a "Team Edison" working on projects like the Mach 1 electric performance SUV that it plans to release in 2020. Chairman Bill Ford told Autoblog "There will be a lot of mobility-related jobs, so what does that look like?