Ford’s Corktown campus cost: $740M

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. plans to spend as much as $740 million on its planned 1.2 million-square-foot Corktown campus, company officials announced Tuesday night.

The automaker said it expects to seek $250 million over 34 years through local, state, federal tax incentives to offset the cost, a representative said, as it launches its ambitious plan to revitalize the area, including the derelict Michigan Central Depot. 

Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford, Jr. addresses the crowd outside the Michigan Central Depot on June 19 to announce the automaker's purchase of the property. The automaker said it expects to seek $250 million over 34 years through local, state, federal tax incentives to offset the cost, a representative said, as it launches its ambitious plan to revitalize the area, including the derelict depot.

“We are excited by the opportunities that Ford’s investment in the train station and other key Corktown sites will bring, not only for the larger resurgence of the neighborhood but all of Southeast Michigan, including economic growth, attracting world-class talent and leading the development for the next generation of the automotive industry,” Ford Land said in a statement.

“Given Ford’s investment in the Corktown projects, we are actively working with federal, state and local officials for tax and other incentives to support the development.”

The investment involves five Corktown neighborhood sites, including the building and land purchase as well as expected building exterior and infrastructure rehabilitation costs over the next four years, Ford Land said Tuesday.

The cost estimate was unveiled during a neighborhood advisory council meeting at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers No. 58 in Detroit on Tuesday. The panel is slated to work with Ford to create a community benefits agreement.

The city recently released the complete list of area residents appointed to serve on the nine-member neighborhood advisory council. The advisory council members are:

-- David Esparza, Nicole Rittenouer, Mike Ransom and Ken Jameson appointed by Planning and Development Department Director Maurice Cox.

-- Robin Ussery appointed by Detroit City Council member Raquel Castañeda-López. Previously, City Council President Brenda Jones selected Hubbard-Richard resident Aliyah Sabree, a judge in the 36th District Court.  

-- Councilwoman Janee Ayers chose Sheila Cockrel, a Corktown resident and former member of the city council.

--The community voted for Jerry Paffendorf, co-owner of Loveland Technologies, and Heather McKeon, an interior designer with Patrick Thompson Design. 

Upcoming advisory council meetings are scheduled for Aug. 27, Sept. 10 and Sept. 17.

Ford has been working to collect comments on its plans restore the iconic Michigan Central Station building, which the company expects to occupy by 2022, as well as parts of the surrounding Corktown neighborhood.

Ford said the 500,000-square-foot, 18-story train station will anchor a campus for the company's self-driving, electric car and alternative transportation teams, as well as the automaker's partners.

The Dearborn automaker is bringing 2,500 people from its autonomous technology and electrification departments to Corktown; another 2,500 employees are arriving from startups and other partner companies.

The company expects to occupy the long-vacant depot by 2022. 

During a community meeting last month, Ford announced its plans include two parking decks — one structure located near the former site of Tiger Stadium and another behind the building, officials said.

Leaders are also moving ahead on other aspects of the Corktown project, which features the Grand Hall, open to the public, along with retail space. The 18-story tower is expected to have offices as well as residential space on the top two floors.

The automaker also is developing other buildings on the campus, including the former Detroit Public Schools Book Depository on Dalzell Street.

Ford began its return to Detroit in May, moving 220 employees into a Corktown facility known as "The Factory" at Michigan Avenue and Rosa Parks Boulevard.

The facility is about four blocks east of the former train station.

Meanwhile, the city is working to create a strategic framework for the Greater Corktown neighborhood.

A framework plan is a written document that details short-term implementation plans and long-term goals for a neighborhood's development.

The Planning and Development Department is expected to release later this month a request for proposal for a consultant to conduct a series of community meetings in Greater Corktown, an area bounded by the Lodge Freeway and Grand River Avenue, Rosa Parks Boulevard,  Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Interstate 75, May Creek and the West Riverfront.

The consultant will be selected by Sept. 30 and meetings are scheduled to start by Oct. 30. A planning study takes place over nine to 10 months with a final framework available in August 2019.

Detroit News Staff Writer Candice Williams contributed.