Detroit News!

Great piece from the Detroit News, tons of solid links and material here. Get stoked! The Gypsy Professor will be heading down Tuesday for more press coverage!

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How Ford plans to resurrect the train station

IAN THIBODEAU AND DANIEL HOWES | THE DETROIT NEWS

Ford Motor Co.’s restoration of the Michigan Central Depot by 2022 would bring 5,000 employees to Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood, where the Blue Oval aims to create what it calls “the next generation” of automotive mobility.

Plans for the Corktown campus, to be announced Tuesday, would deliver 1.2 million square feet of mixed-use development spread over multiple parcels and at least three recently acquired buildings. Ford expects to move 2,500 of its employees — roughly 5 percent of its southeast Michigan workforce — to the campus, with space for an additional 2,500 entrepreneurs, technology companies and partners related to Ford’s expansion into Autos 2.0.

“It’s not just a building,” Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. told The Detroit News in an interview at Ford World Headquarters. “It’s an amazing building, but it’s about all the connections to Detroit, to the suburbs, and the vision around developing the next generation of transportation.”

More: Ford may build Corktown parking deck

More: Ford aims to keep train station lobby open to public

More: Central Depot message: ‘A sentinel of progress’

More: Ford depot purchase could give new life to symbol of Detroit’s decline

More: Ford aims to keep train station lobby open to public

The company’s goal is to establish its Corktown site at the east end of an evolving mobility corridor evoking Michigan Avenue’s earlier road to the Arsenal of Democracy. The campus would be a critical node in a circuit running from Detroit through Ford’s Dearborn headquarters, to Detroit Metropolitan Airport and the American Center for Mobility at Willow Run, ending at University of Michigan research sites.

“This will be the biggest thing to happen in Detroit since Dan Gilbert brought Quicken down,” Mayor Mike Duggan told The News. Ford’s Corktown plan promises to bring thousands of new tax-paying jobs to the city, as well as complementary investment to satisfy growing demand in a part of town best known for bars, restaurants and coffee shops — not big business.

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Michigan Central Depot would be a “magnet” on that corridor, CEO Jim Hackett said, attracting a new kind of automotive talent Ford expects to deliver fatter profits and higher margins in the future. And that’s precisely what shareholders and industry analysts say they want to see from Ford, whose share price comparatively lags those of its peers.

More: Podcast: Howes on Ford’s Corktown vision

More: Purchase of train depot adds new chapter to long history

More: Detroit must gear up for Ford’s Corktown boom

More: Howes: Ford’s play for train station to build Auto 2.0 campus would transform Corktown

 

The building would be restored and reimagined to attract new employees to help develop the mobility, autonomy and electrification technologies considered the biggest disruptors to the auto industry since Henry Ford began making Model Ts for the masses.

That magnet isn’t intended to pull Ford from Dearborn. All but Ford’s electrification and autonomous driving teams would remain in Dearborn and occupy its sprawling sites. An estimated $1 billion campus redesign there is slated to be completed by the mid-2020s.

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“This is our home,” Bill Ford Jr. said. “We’re not leaving by any means. By the end of this we’ll have a large multiple of employees in Dearborn versus Detroit. This is in no way abandoning Dearborn.”

The Corktown site is meant to supplement Ford’s work on its Dearborn campus. The automaker intends to redirect cash set aside two years ago for its Dearborn facilities renovation to the station purchase and renovation of its Corktown site.

Ford’s vision

Ford’s plan for the depot is evolving. Bill Ford Jr. envisions the soaring lobby of the train station, its Guastavino-tile ceiling hovering almost 55 feet above the floor, to be a bustling public space akin to San Francisco’s Ferry Building Marketplace.

More: Ford’s new beginning for the old train station

More: Corktown neighbors brace for Ford arrival

More: Purchase of train depot adds new chapter to long history

More: Finley: Sell train station or tear it down

More: Detroit must gear up for Ford’s Corktown boom

The ground floor lobby of the 18-story, 500,000-square-foot building would be open to the public. That space could house markets, coffee shops, restaurants, retail and gathering spaces. A hotel and residential space are not being ruled out.

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“One thing I don’t want to do is take a beautiful building and put something that’s garish on there,” Bill Ford Jr. said. “Not that the Blue Oval is garish, but I wouldn’t want to put some giant modern emblem up that just didn’t fit. We don’t want to be isolated, and we don’t want to be seen as taking over the community by any means.”

Part of that community involvement means asking Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock Detroit, Peter Cummings’ The Platform and Redico Management Inc., among other developers, to scout and undertake other Corktown projects that would further the revitalization of the historic neighborhood.

The automaker also is considering erecting a public parking garage on parcels of land acquired along the I-75 service drive and north of Michigan Avenue. That could answer parking concerns for the Detroit Police Athletic League, which recently opened its youth sports stadium on the old Tiger Stadium site, and provide general parking problems in the hip Corktown neighborhood.

“This wouldn’t necessarily be Ford-ville,” Ford Land Co. CEO Dave Dubensky said in an interview. “This could be something bigger than that. We don’t necessarily have to own (everything). I’m in it to fulfill the vision of Bill and the Ford Motor Company. If I can invite others in, and they can actually bring their thinking to the space as well, it’s all better.”

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How they plan to do it

Reviving the depot and establishing Corktown in a potential mobility corridor would require tax incentives to renovate the building at its heart, Bill Ford Jr. said.

The company, pointing to previous projects in the city, expects roughly a third of the up-front renovation costs would be covered by tax breaks for restoring the historic depot. Ford, the city and the former owners of the building have declined comment on how much Ford paid for the station, or how much Ford will spend on the renovation.

The News acquired a now-deleted public document filed online that indicated an entity linked to Ford paid Matthew Moroun’s Crown Land Development Co. LLC $8 million on May 22, the day Dubensky said Ford officially closed on the purchase of the depot and adjacent book depository building.

Hackett said the Corktown project won’t cost Ford any more than what it budgeted for the Dearborn transformation plan, estimated to be roughly $1 billion. Money for the Corktown project is being redirected from that original budget.

Bill Ford Jr., Dubensky and other ranking officials declined to discuss those figures. But the executive chairman did concede that the expected cost of restoring the depot   “dwarfs the purchase price.”

Part of Dubensky’s job during the months-long negotiation was to be Bill Ford’s “sanity check.” Over a roughly seven-month period, Dubensky met with Moroun and the president of the Moroun family’s Crown Enterprises Inc., Michael Samhat, at area restaurants to discuss a possible sale. Bill Ford Jr. met with Moroun in Ford’s Dearborn office, from which Ford can see the western flank of the depot.

Between early 2018 and the May 22 closing, Dubensky’s team tested everything from the soil to the facade of the station to determine an estimated cost of a renovation. The Ford Land team did financial modeling to determine if the investment was feasible with future market conditions.

“I didn’t want this to be an emotional purchase,” Bill Ford Jr. said. “This had to be the right business decision. I couldn’t be happier. But was I prepared to walk away if it was the wrong deal? Yes, I was.”

The result

On a hot June afternoon, the guy whose name is on Dearborn’s Glass House pulled up to the train station in his navy blue Mustang GT convertible. He got out and walked into the station that would be the biggest project of his career, if only for what it represents:

A potentially sustainable revival of Detroit, the restoration of an authentic witness to the 20th-century history of Detroit. It would be bigger than the deal to build Ford Field downtown, he said, bigger than the renovation of the Rouge complex.

“Isn’t this just incredible?” Bill Ford Jr. said, standing on the concourse of Michigan Central Depot as crews set lights and erected scaffolding in a space that witnessed the Great Depression, soldiers heading off to war and welcoming home the fortunate who returned.

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The company plans to announce officially its plans for Corktown and the station at 11 a.m. Tuesday followed by a party in Roosevelt Park north of the long-vacant building. Ford will also host an “open house” Friday, June 22 through Sunday, June 24 to take the public inside the station before renovations begin.

When renovations are complete, the public would have access to 300,000 square feet on the ground floor of the station and other Corktown properties. Roughly 2,500 Ford employees and another 2,500 partner employees would occupy the remaining 900,000 square feet come 2022.

Those partner employees could include Ford suppliers and partners of autonomous vehicle, mobility and electrification businesses. Partners currently include Postmates delivery service, several Silicon Valley companies, Pittsburgh-based Argo AI, and ride-hailing service Lyft.

The Corktown site would give Ford’s teams access to a true urban landscape to test autonomous technology, and how those vehicles would need to communicate with traffic systems, delivery destinations and other infrastructure.

“This is kind of the test track of the future,” said Hackett, Ford’s CEO. Ford employees will have to solve mobility problems for themselves to more efficiently travel to Dearborn and back, for example, and how vehicles could interact with infrastructure along that route.

“This is an exclamation point” for Detroit’s resurgence, Bill Ford Jr. said. “Ford and Detroit have seen good times, we’ve seen bad times, and this is a tough region. We’ve been through it together. This is an authentic move for the city and for us. Frankly, it’s where it all began.”

While the public would 300,000-square-feet on the ground floor of the station and other Corktown properties, 2,500 Ford employees and 2,5000 partner employees would occupy the remaining 900,000 square feet come 2022.  This is the top floor.
While the public would 300,000-square-feet on the ground floor of the station and other Corktown properties, 2,500 Ford employees and 2,5000 partner employees would occupy the remaining 900,000 square feet come 2022. This is the top floor.
DAVID GURALNICK, THE DETROIT NEWS

 

ithibodeau@detroitnews.com

daniel.howes@detroitnews.com

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Ford snaps up Michigan Central Station!

Hell yes. As Robin Runyan has mentioned below, it is indeed a good day for Detroit. Ford has snagged two long derelict Cork Town properties, and the possibilities have many looking forward to their plans.  As many of you know, I love Detroit. I am excited to see whats in store for these iconic spots!

Report: Michigan Central Station has a new owner

It’s a good day for Detroit

Photo by Michelle & Chris Gerard

We’re getting closer to a likely announcement from Ford in mid-June, as the auto company looks to be creating a campus in Detroit. Crain’s first reported that long-time train depot owners the Morouns have transferred ownership of the long-vacant train station to a New York law firm.

The article states, “A warranty deed dated May 22 was recorded May 23 by the Wayne County Register of Deeds, transferring ownership from the Moroun-owned MCS Crown Land Development Co. LLC to New Investment Properties I LLC.”

The nearby Detroit Public Schools book depository building also transferred ownership to a (slightly) different entity—New Investment Properties II LLC.

The entities aren’t clearly identified as Ford, and the company isn’t specifically addressing it at this point. Dawn Booker from Ford’s real estate division told Crain’s, “We are very excited about our return to Detroit this year beginning with our electric vehicle and autonomous vehicle teams relocating to the historic former factory in Corktown. We expect to grow our presence in Detroit and will share more details in the future.”

This comes after months of speculation and increasingly backed-up rumors of Ford Motor Company buying and renovating Michigan Central Station. Many reports in the past few months have linked Ford to properties around Corktown, including vacant parcels and buildingsEdsel Ford II also confirmed to Crain’s that Ford was discussing a potential move into Corktown.

Ford recently moved over 200 employees working on autonomous vehicle technologies into a refurbished building in Corktown.

Last year, we took a look back at the beauty of Michigan Central Station in historic photos. We can’t wait to see the building—long thought of as a symbol of Detroit’s decline—back in use again.

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Welcome to Colombia!

Say what?!

Yes dear readers, we braved Iceland to tell you all about WOW air and glaciers in the previous piece, and now we have arrived in warmer climates.

Welcome to Cartagena, Colombia!

The Kelty bag and I are once again on the road. This time for the first flight on Jet Blue. The process was solid, staff friendly, and the cabins kept extra chilly…which I love! Over all thumbs up to the team at Jet Blue oh this initial run.

Colombia has long been on my list, and I’m super stoked to be here. I want to present this country over the next few weeks outside of the single story we in the USA have heard over and over again. The single story of cocaine and violence. This place is so much more than that, and I want to share all of it with you. Now, I’ve been in country a whole twelve hours, and already I need to tell you a few things. First and foremost, this, (and you) are absolute bullshit if you travel to a place and don’t make any attempt at the language. You can try to at least master “Thank you”. If I can stutter through a few failed sentences, so can you. Assuming everyone speaks English, everywhere and at all times belongs in the depths of wankerdom. The practice immediately builds walls between you and what could be a kick ass local/authentic experience.

The second is another gleaned from my personal arsenal. Airline food sucks. Duh. No point complaining about it, as it’s not getting better. What I want you to do on your next flight is decline that shit. Have some snacks so you’re not all wienery and hangry to those around you. Then when you arrive, arrive famished. Arrive famished, interested and ready. Drop your bag at your accommodation of choice, embrace that hunger, and set out on foot.

What you find, might just change your fucking life. (And no, kick literal rocks Mr. Hard Rock Cafe) get out there and take a chance. There is no better way to begin to understand a place and a culture than its food. Today, after two bags of pretzels and a sneaky Kind bar, I found this.

Absolute Caribbean glory. I chatted in broken Spanish about the menu, and the area. The owner happened to be there. There are a few options I’m stoked to try in the coming days. Carpe that fucking diem. I’m happy to report that after an early morning Detroit departure and being heinously crop dusted in Fort Lauderdale by an evil old woman, I have arrived. Logged a few miles on the shoe lace express, chatted with some locals, and now completely ceviche drunk and content I will wander this city by the moon. Painting a picture of this “gem of the Caribbean”, I hope you’re ready for more.

Ford To buy Michigan Central Station?!

This came across my browsing this morning. Ford already had some plans for Corktown announced last year. This could be something quite awesome. What do you think?

Detroit is one of my favorite cities… on the planet.

 

From our friends over at Cranes Buisness journal (photos my own)

Link below

Ford to buy Central station?

 

  • Sources: Automaker in talks with Morouns’ Crown Enterprises over dilapidated Detroit building
  • Ford has bought The Factory nearby to house about 200 employees
  • Former train station has been empty for about three decades
Chad Livengood/Crain’s Detroit Business

The 104-year-old Michigan Central Station has sat vacant since 1988. Numerous efforts to redevelop the hulking Detroit landmark owned by the Moroun family have failed to come to fruition over the years.

Ford Motor Co. is in discussions to purchase the dilapidated Michigan Central Station in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood just outside of downtown, Crain’s has learned from multiple sources familiar with the negotiations.

The exact status of negotiations is unknown. But two sources familiar with the matter said a deal for the Dearborn-based automaker to redevelop the 500,000-square-foot former train station off of Michigan Avenue owned for decades by the Moroun family could come as soon as next month.

If a deal comes to fruition, it would mark Ford’s biggest step back into the city where it was born, three months after announcing that it was going to put more than 200 employees just down Michigan Avenue in The Factory at Corktown building. A redeveloped train station could house more than 1,000 workers, depending on the layout.

“At this time, Ford is focused on locating our autonomous vehicle and electric vehicle business and strategy teams, including Team Edison, to The Factory in Detroit’s historic Corktown neighborhood,” Ford spokesman Said Deep said Monday in a statement to Crain’s. “While we anticipate our presence over time will grow as our (autonomous/electric vehicle) teams begin moving downtown in May, we have nothing further to announce at this time.”

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A redevelopment of the depot, which has been abandoned and blighted for three decades since Amtrak stopped service in 1988, would be one of the most expensive and complex local undertakings in recent history, development experts familiar with the property have said in recent months.

Michael Samhat, president of the Morouns’ Warren-based Crown Enterprises, said there is not a deal imminent to redevelop the train station.

“We’re always working to bring an opportunity to the train station,” Samhat told Crain’s on Monday. “When we do get a serious entity looking at it, those are details we don’t share. At this time, we don’t have any deal to report.”

Samhat said the Morouns continue to meet with different groups interested in the building, which became a symbol of Detroit’s post-industrial decline in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

“Last week, we met with an entity — not Ford Motor — on the building,” Samhat said Saturday morning. “We’re not at a point to name an entity and say we’ve got a deal.”

Matthew Moroun, the son of billionaire transportation mogul Manuel “Matty” Moroun, told Crain’s last year that he has broached the idea of Amtrak trains running through the old train depot with Kirk Steudle, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation. The opening night of the annual Detroit Homecoming event, produced by Crain’s, took place at the train station last year.

Steudle said he’s receptive to the idea and connecting the old train station to the central business district in the same way the QLine streetcar system connects the New Center area with downtown.

Last year, Samhat said the Moroun family had spent more than $8 million over the past five years abating the building, constructing a freight elevator in the shaft of the depot’s original smokestack and installing 1,100 windows.

Crain’s contacted a Ford Land Development Co. spokeswoman for comment.

One source familiar with Ford’s pursuit of the train station said the move is aimed at building a workplace in an urban setting that can attract younger workers to the automaker.

Ford officials, including Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr., have said talent attraction was a driving factor in the company buying The Factory building and embedding a team of employees focused on developing the business strategy for selling electric and autonomous vehicles of the future.

“Our young people love … living and working in urban areas,” Bill Ford Jr. said in January at the Detroit auto show.”

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 To see what it was like in its prime, check out these historic photos.