Ford: 20,000-plus took Detroit train station tours

Ian Thibodeau
The Detroit News

Detroit — More than 20,000 people walked through Michigan Central Depot over the course of five days. That likely will be the last time that many people see the building in its long-blighted state.

Throngs of people stand in line waiting to tour the Michigan Central Depot.

Ford Motor Co. spokesman Said Deep said the automaker counted the thousands who walked through the train station on June 19 — the day the company outlined its plans for the building during a celebratory event in Detroit's Corktown neighborhood — and during four days of public tours that ended Monday.

Visitors waited in long lines throughout the weekend to get inside the building. Ford intends to fully renovate the train station by 2022. 

The company should begin work on the building by the fall, Ford Land Co. employees have told The Detroit News. It will begin by sealing the moribund building from the elements.

Ford plans to keep the ground floor open to the public when it reopens the station. Planned for the space are shops, restaurants and markets. Ford plans to create office space for thousands in the tower. The station would anchor a Corktown campus, where Ford will locate 2,500 of its own employees, and another 2,500 from partner companies.

The company recently filed to trademark several name variations for Michigan Central Depot. The price of the renovation has not been disclosed.  

Ford plans to knock down a former brass factory to build a new building for the Corktown campus. The Detroit News has also reported Ford is planning to build a public parking garage near the station for the workforce it plans to inject into the neighborhood.

The company has given few other specifics about its plans for the 1.2-million-square-foot autonomous vehicle and electric powertrain campus. Ford intends to use community input to help design the space. It has enlisted Snøhetta, an architecture firm known for the 9/11 Memorial and Museum pavilion, to lead designs in Corktown and on the simultaneous Dearborn campus redesign. 

The depot could have some residential space, though there are no specifics on where there those will be. Dave Dubensky, CEO of Ford Land, has said the company is considering apartments or a hotel as part of the train station redevelopment.

Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau