Ford Mulls Mobility Test Site Behind Michigan Central Station
As part of its planned $740 million campus development project in Detroit’s Corktown, Ford is planning a vehicle testing site behind the once-abandoned Michigan Central Station. The land was already earmarked to serve as home base for the company’s latest mobility projects, so the space will be used for exactly that. However, due to location’s size, it’ll probably be relegated to projects outside the normal automotive scope.
Mary Culler, director of Michigan Central Station’s redevelopment, teased what the site might look like further down the line at the Detroit Policy Conference on Wednesday. The prospective testing ground was clearly shown in a slide during her presentation, located at the site of the station’s old loading area. However, the site isn’t expected to be operational until 2023, as the book depository and station renovations take precedence.
According to Crain’s Detroit Business, Christina Twelftree, Ford’s Corktown spokeswoman, said ample space exists for autonomous cars but suggested smaller products (e-bikes, scooters, etc.) could end up being the facility’s primary target. She said the automaker is still in the planning phase, adding that no formal decision has been made.
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.
This comes over fears that Ford’s development project is pushing up real estate prices in and around now-trendy Corktown. The neighborhood was already in the midst of a revitalization program before the Blue Oval moved on the train station. Some fear the area’s prices are off base with the rest of Detroit and want to know exactly what the automaker has planned for the neighborhood.
Cullen neglected to make any additional commitments, possibly because the project is still far from complete, saying Ford will remain committed to the local community.
[Image: Patrick Cooper/Shutterstock]
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