Posts Tagged ‘Detroit’

Ford Details Plans for Detroit Station

June 21, 2018

Ford Motor Company said Tuesday that it plans to make the former Michigan Central station in Detroit the focal point of the company’s new mobility hub.

Built in 1913 in the city’s Corktown neighborhood, the station will be renovated to provide offices for its autonomous and electric vehicle teams and partners.

The grand hall will be restored to its original appearance and have local shops and restaurants.

The overall mobility hub project will see construction of 1.2 million square feet of space where by 2022 about 2,500 Ford employees will work.

Ford said it will devote 300,000 square feet of space to a mix of community and retail space and residential housing.

In a statement, Ford described development of the Michigan Central Station as critical to its future as it examines how urban areas are changing the overall role of transportation and the revitalization of cities.

An open house will be held in Michigan Central station June 22-23 that will feature exhibits of historic artifacts, self-guided tours through the station’s first floor, and a preview of an upcoming History Channel documentary showcasing Detroit’s comeback and the station’s critical role in the city’s revitalization efforts.

Amtrak ceased using the station in 1988 in favor of an adjacent modular facility. It later opened a station in the New Center neighborhood.

The 13-story office tower of Michigan Central Station stands 230 feet in height. Passenger service at the station began on Jan. 4, 1914.

In recent years, the station had become a symbol of urban decay with all of its windows broken out, and the building being used by the homeless, for criminal activity and by paintball enthusiasts.

Hundreds of antiques have been stolen from the station site over the years.

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Ford Buys Detroit Michigan Central Station

June 11, 2018

Ford Motor Company has purchased the former Michigan Central Station in Detroit and plans to make it the centerpiece of an advanced automotive technology development in the Corktown neighborhood.

The station had been owned by the Moroun family since 1995 and had managed to survive a 2009 order of the Detroit City Council to raze the dilapidated structure.

Ford also acquired an adjacent building known as the Roosevelt Warehouse, which had previously been used as a schoolbook depository.

The 18-story Central Station has long symbolized urban blight in Detroit with its vacant offices and broken windows. It is surrounded by razor wire and a chain link fence.

Amtrak used the station from its 1971 inception until moving to a nearby modular facility in January 1988. Amtrak later built a station in the New Center neighborhood of Detroit that it began using in May 1994.

Matthew Moroun declined to disclose the sale price of the depot. “The deal is complete,” he said. “The future of the depot is assured. The next steward of the building is the right one for its future. The depot will become a shiny symbol of Detroit’s progress and its success.”

Ford plans to share information about its plans for renovating the station at a reception on June 19.

Reports that Ford was negotiating to purchase the station have circulated since March.

Based in suburban Dearborn, Ford has transferred 200 workers on its mobility team into a nearby former factory site and is actively seeking other properties in Corktown, Detroit’s oldest surviving neighborhood and located just west of downtown.

Opened in 1913, the Beaux Arts-style Michigan Central Station was at the time the world’s tallest train station.

Although the Morouns failed to demolish the station, they did install more than 1,000 new windows, restored a working elevator and cleaned up the interior.

“The Ford move to the train station is the right play at the right time,” said Robert Kolt, a professor of advertising and public relations at Michigan State University, in an interview with the Detroit Free Press. “Many university grads want to work and live in cool places with an energetic vibe. Ford can remake the area and rebrand what the company does with this type of bold move.”

“I think it’s smart,” Robert Davidman, partner at the Fearless Agency in New York told the Free Press. “If you really want to attract the top talent, you go to where they are. And this allows Ford to take a piece of history and reinvent it. This makes them forward thinkers. Ford is breathing life into something that once was — Ford is going back to their roots, back to where it all began. And it brings back the luster.”

Ford’s plans for the complex it is developing in Corktown include making it the focal point of the company’s efforts to shift toward self-driving, shared and battery-operated cars and logistics.

Corktown is located seven miles down Michigan Avenue from Ford’s world headquarters in Dearborn.

Ford May Buy Detroit Train Station

March 28, 2018

Ford Motor Company may purchase the long vacant and dilapidated Michigan Central Station in Detroit.

The station, which was once used by New York Central and later Penn Central and Amtrak passenger trains, is owned by billionaire trucking mogul Manuel “Matty” Moroun and his son, Matthew.

Ford has neither confirmed nor denied a news report by Crain’s Detroit Business that Ford is talking with the Morouns about buying the depot.

Crain’s said an announcement about the sale could come as early as sometime in April.

The report indicated that Ford would use the former station site for offices that could be used by upwards of 1,000 employees.

The business newspaper said a source familiar with Ford’s pursuit of the station said Ford wants to establish a workplace in an urban setting that can attract younger workers.

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

The news has triggered widespread interest in the purchase of properties surrounding the station site in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood southwest of downtown.

Real estate broker James Tumey said he has received several cash offers, even at the full $540,000 price, for the properties that look out on the 500,000-square-foot depot.

“After this news, people are going crazy. They are buying just based off of Ford maybe coming in, throwing out offers on properties they haven’t even seen,” said Tumey, a Corktown resident who is vice president for Farmington Hills-based Friedman Integrated Real Estate Solutions.

The abandoned railroad station has been an eyesore in Detroit since the last Amtrak train pulled out in 1988 in favor of a new and smaller station in the New Center neighborhood.

Crain’s cited unnamed sources in saying that Ford is also interested in acquiring the former Detroit Public Schools book depository immediately to the east.

The auto company based in Dearborn has reportedly also looked at other properties not owned by the Morouns in the area for purchase.

Developers say that redevelopment of Michigan Central Station and its office building would cost at least $400 million.

Ford has already announced plans to establish offices for its autonomous/electric vehicle division along Michigan Avenue in Corktown.

Matthew Moroun told Crain’s last year that he has broached the idea of Amtrak returning to Michigan Central Station with Kirk Steudle, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Steudle has 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.

The Maroun family has reportedly spent more than $8 million over the past five years rehabilitating the building, including installing a freight elevator in the shaft of the depot’s original smokestack and installing 1,100 windows.

Amtrak Offering $5 Tickets to Detroit

August 3, 2017

Amtrak is offering $5 tickets for travel to Detroit through Sept. 4. The fares are good for travel originating on the Wolverine Service route at Dearborn, Ann Arbor, Pontiac, Royal Oak and Troy.

Once in Detroit, passengers can ride the new QLine, a streetcar route that is offering free rides through Labor Day.

The 3.3-mile route on Woodward Avenue features 12 stops, including Comerica Park, the Fox Theatre and Midtown.

QLine streetcars operate Monday through Saturday between 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

In another travel promotion, the Detroit People Mover is offering free rides on Monday between 6:30 a.m. and midnight, in celebration of its 30th anniversary. The fare is normally 75 cents.

Detroit SMART Buses to Serve Troy Amtrak Station

June 14, 2017

Local bus service will return to the Troy Transit Center in suburban Detroit, which is also used by Amtrak’s Wolverine Service trains.

The recent signing of a court order this week involving the city of Troy and an Oakland County developer paved the way for the return of bus service provided by Detroit’s SMART bus system.

The settlement ended years of litigation that began in 1999 and had kept the buses away. “We’re very happy that the parties were able to reach an agreement without going to trial,” said SMART communications manager Beth Gibbons.

SMART buses will resume picking up and dropping off riders at the Transit Center.

The City of Troy agreed to pay $100,000 to developer Gary Sakwa and his Grand/Sakwa Properties, owners of a 75-acre shopping center and condominium complex that surrounds the transit center.

An earlier lawsuit was settled when Troy agreed to spend $4.15 million in federal transportation funds to buy the 2 acres under the center from Sakwa, whose ownership he claimed under previous legal rulings.

“It certainly is a welcome step in the right direction” for mass transit in southeast Michigan, said Megan Owens, executive director of TRU, or Transportation Riders United, a nonprofit group of bus riders.

Six daily Chicago-Detroit (Pontiac) Wolverine Service trains serve the transit center.

Michigan Rail Passenger Advocates Working to Get Amtrak-VIA Bus Connection Detroit-Windsor

April 25, 2017

Michigan rail passengers advocates are working with Amtrak and VIA Rail Canada to revive connecting service between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, although that might not necessarily be rail service.

In a campaign that has been dubbed “mind the gap,” the advocates are talking with both railroads about establishing a direct bus connection.

Passengers who now want to connect between Amtrak and VIA must either take a cab or ride three local transit buses.

The advocates noted that the border crossing at Detroit is the busiest between the two countries.

Until 2003, Amtrak and VIA hosted a Chicago-Toronto train known as the International that operated via Flint and Port Huron, Michigan.

A Detroit-New York train, the Niagara Rainbow, operated via Windsor between October 1974 and January 1979, ending when the states of New York and Michigan ended their funding of the train.

An article posted on the website of the National Association of Railroad Passengers said that VIA is in active discussions with bus companies to provide a “bus bridge” between the VIA station in Windsor and the Detroit Amtrak station.

The service may begin by late 2017. The Michigan advocates hope that if the bus connection proves successful that it might provide an impetus for resuming rail service between Detroit and Windsor.

Passenger Bypass Track in Use in Detroit

December 31, 2015

A segment of track intended to be used only by passenger trains in Detroit is now being used by Amtrak’s Wolverine Service trains.

The track will enable passenger trains to bypass West Detroit Junction and is located about three miles south of the Detroit station on Woodward Avenue where Amtrak trains make a connection between a Canadian National (former Grand Trunk Western) route and a former Norfolk Southern route now owned by the state of Michigan.

A $7.9 million Federal Railroad Administration grant awarded in 2012 helped finance the $15.8 million project.

The grant was part of a larger effort to alleviate freight and passenger train congestion in greater Detroit. It is also expected that the bypass track will be used for commuter trains that are planned to be launched several years from now.

Chicago-Detroit Route EIS Completed

September 23, 2014

Public comments will be taken on a Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement that evaluates planned improvements to the Chicago-Detroit (Pontiac) rail corridor used by Amtrak.

The study was prepared by the Federal Railroad Administration and the departments of transportation in Michigan, Indiana and Illinois.

The statement reviews the project’s purpose and need, identifies reasonable route alternatives, describes the affected environment, and analyzes the potential environmental impacts of the alternatives considered, including the no-build alternative, FRA officials said in a news release.

Public comments must be submitted to the FRA by Dec. 19. The study will also be the subject of public hearings in Michigan (Oct. 28), Illinois (Oct. 29) and Indiana (Oct. 30).

Transportation planners are working to upgrade the corridor for high-speed rail service. The State of Michigan owns much of the route between Kalamazoo and Dearborn, Mich., while Amtrak owns the route between Kalamazoo and Porter, Ind.

Michigan is currently overseeing a project to rebuild the tracks over the portion that it owns. The Amtrak-owned section has already been rehabilitated.

Amtrak operates three daily Wolverine Service roundtrips between Chicago and Detroit (Pontiac). The Chicago-Port Huron, Mich., Blue Water and the Chicago-Grand Rapids, Mich., Pere Marquette use a portion of the route.