By on January 29, 2020

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.

From Crain’s:

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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13 Comments on “Ford Mulls Mobility Test Site Behind Michigan Central Station...”


  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    What have they done so far? The building looks like it has windows in it now.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      The city forced Moroun to install those windows when he still owned it. Ford has actually talked about replacing them because they are not historically correct, and are not approved by the Detroit Historical society.

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      “Culler also said Wednesday that Ford has finished the first phase of its $350 million redevelopment of Michigan Central Station: weatherizing and stabilizing the building. The automaker’s contractors have plugged the previously leaky structure’s holes and removed 650,000 gallons of water from its basement.”

      (The article referenced above)
      https://www.crainsdetroit.com/mobility/ford-plans-mobility-testing-site-behind-michigan-central-station

  • avatar

    What is the matter with the fear that home prices will go up. I would be extremely happy when home prices in my area go up and they went up 100% last 5 years.

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      Let’s say I’m a longtime resident of Corktown. Let’s say I rent my residence (in 2018, about 60% of Corktown residents were renters). Let’s say the Ford Motor Company is sitting on something like $37 Billion (with a B) in cash and short-term investments. Let’s say the typical Corktown renter has less than $37 Billion in cash.

      So the city of Detroit and the state of Michigan will continue to charge me taxes as a Corktown resident, but will give tax relief to the Ford Motor Company over the next 30 years to cover about a third of the cost of their campus redevelopment process. As home prices rise, so will my rent. So my tax dollars will be handed over to the Ford Motor Company to support the redevelopment project that will eventually price me out of my home. Some people view this situation as less than equitable.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gentrification

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        I would say that you should probably take that issue up at the ballot box if you aren’t a fan of how property taxes work in your area. Some states/areas asses only at the time of sale so this is less of a problem. Local politicians don’t like it, but they really don’t like loosing reelection bids.

        • 0 avatar
          ToolGuy

          For a typical home in Corktown, property taxes may have increased minimally over the past 10 years, while the price of the property may have doubled in the past five years (check out Leverette St. or Bagley St. on zillow.com for typical examples). As a renter, my major concern wouldn’t be the property taxes, it would be the rise in value (and hence my rent). The majority of Corktown residents are renters.

    • 0 avatar

      ILO: home prices going up = property valuations going up = property taxes going up = less affordable property available to potential property owners. Yes?

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      Rising price is a mixed blessing if you’re on a fixed income and property taxes rise with the valuation.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        They don’t have to…This is an issue with greedy local municipalities soaking their constituents. It didn’t magically become more expensive for the local government in Corktown to provide services. If anything it probably gets cheaper as abandoned properties like this tend to attract crime. Rather than the government attempting to regulate property value they should focus on regulating the tax rate.

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      It’s great up until the moment you can no longer afford the property taxes and cost of living and have to move from your long time home to a cheaper area in a crappier part of town.

      There is a reason why ‘gentrification’ has been controversial for decades now.

    • 0 avatar

      Just to be clear in California due to Prop 13 property taxes do not go up if home prices rise. Property tax is based on the price you paid for house when you bought it. If you are not happy with tax though – just sell house for higher price and buy new house in area with depressed home prices. And use surplus to pay down mortgage,

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    Still can’t believe that a company that can’t find the money to produce a QUALITY vehicle spent almost a billion on that dump.

    Furniture guy is really smart with money…

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