Ford Completes Purchase of Michigan Central Train Station in Corktown

Corktown landmark to be the new home of Ford Mobility and Innovation Campus.

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Lasco Press Photo

Ford Motor Company is making a major investment in Corktown, Detroit’s oldest community. As reported in The Lasco Press, Ford purchased the historic building known as The Factory last year. Now, as has been rumored for months, Ford completed the purchase of the Michigan Central Station from the Moroun family.

William Clay Ford Jr. / Lasco Press Photo

In a major announcement conducted on the property, William Clay Ford Jr. declared that the Corktown Campus at the former Detroit Train Station will be the “next great anchor” in the Company’s corporate infrastructure. Ford said, “The train station was our Ellis Island.” In the early part of the last century employment immigrants came to Detroit looking for a better opportunity. Ford Motor Company hired those people and then sent millions of cars out of Detroit from the same location.

This year is Ford’s 115th Anniversary and the Great Grandson of Henry Ford is quick to point out that in over a century of Automobile Industry leadership Ford has looked to adapt and stay current. “We make change work for us…” Bill Ford Jr. reminded the guests. He offered the promise that Ford Motor Company will continue to do that in the future. Embracing new technology, leading the industry in electronic vehicles, and making a safe self-driving car. And that the building behind him would be the center of Ford’s march into the future.

It seems almost inconceivable that in 2009 the Detroit City Council voted to destroy the Michigan Central Train station. Such a historic building, incredible architecture, and an icon of the City of Detroit. Unfortunately, the building stood as a sign of the deterioration of the City itself. Broken windows, overgrown property and crumbling structurally. It was a symbol of the hard times Detroit and its residents faced.

The Moroun family stepped in and began the restoration process on the building installing windows. Ford has now stepped up to finish the process. Ford’s promise to renovate the building starting with the Grand Hall to make it a public gathering place. Then to turn the building’s interior into a modern workspace. Ford declared; “Detroit is open for business for good.” A revitalization of the building will announce to the world that the Chairman’s declaration is prophetic for Detroit’s future.

Ford CEO Jim Hackett / Lasco Press Photo

Ford’s Chief Executive Officer Jim Hackett announced that people should not assume that Dearborn is shutting down and moving to the train station. As the location for Ford Mobility, Corktown will be the center for moving Ford Motor Company forward into the future. Bill Ford Jr. had stressed that; “The point of technology is to make people’s lives better.” Hackett echoed that saying, “what Rouge was to the industrial age, Corktown will be to the information age.”

Hackett went on to say that the complex will be an ecosystem of companies. Ford will share the site with innovators, entrepreneurs, and forward thinkers that can bring fresh ideas to the company. “Think of it as a knowledge community.”

Lasco Press Photo

The announcement was promoted by Ford through their public relations team. Special invites went out and a strong representation of Ford workers, UAW representatives, Ford Dealers, and community members attended with a crowd estimate of approximately 5,000 guests and visitors.

The production of the event was well-timed and moved efficiently. Corktown and Mexican Town representatives welcomed Ford Motor Company. The Ford Family, strong in attendance, had Bill Jr. to address the crowd. Governor Rick Snyder spoke briefly. As did Wayne County Executive Warren Evans and Mayor Mike Duggan.

Poet Laureate of the United States, Tracy K. Smith, composed a poem for the occasion and shared it with those in attendance. The Detroit Children’s Choir sang and Detroit rapper Big Sean brought the event to its conclusion.

Poet Laureate of the United States, Tracy K. Smith / Lasco Press Photo
Detroit rapper Big Sean / Lasco Press Photo

Guests were given a tour of the inside of the train station’s Grand Hall. Cleaned and adorned for its first public appearance in decades. The grandeur of the architecture shone through the obvious decay of having sent vacant for such an extended period of time.

Ford is offering public tours of the facility this Friday, June 22- Sunday, June 24. In addition, The History Channel is producing a program entitled “Detroit: Comeback City” that will feature the train station as a part of its content. The special will air July 1st.

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Steve Sweitzer
Steve is the Sports Editor for the Lasco Press and highlights our coverage of NASCAR and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Steve is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association and a nationally published author of automotive related articles for industry trade magazines. He is also a freelance technical writer and accomplished photographer. A 25-year resident of Southeast Michigan, Steve’s passion for reporting on our community, it’s residents, and our automotive connections allow us to use his skills to cover a number of events. Steve’s ability to seek out the unique behind the scenes accounts that tell the often-overlooked aspect of a story makes for entertaining reading. Follow Steve at thelascopress.com with weekly NASCAR updates and featured articles.