Ford information center in Corktown to share development updates

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

One year after Ford made the announcement that it had bought the Michigan Central Station, the automaker has opened an information center to share updates for its $740 million Corktown campus.

“This is just our first foray into opening the doors and saying come in, learn and share with us what you want and need,” said Mary Culler, Ford’s Detroit development director. “It will evolve overtime.”

Visitors explore the Ford Michigan Central Info Center in Detroit. where they can learn about Ford’s vision for the train station and other properties in the area.

The 1,500-square-foot center at 1907 Michigan sits about half a mile from the historic former depot. It's in the building Ford calls the Factory at Corktown, which is home to its autonomous vehicle and electric vehicle business, and strategy teams. 

“It was part of the Factory purchase to bring employees down here,” Culler said. “What could this space be? We very early on started talking about this being an information center.”

Visitors will have access to construction updates, project information and mobility pilot programs and technology. There’s also a place for the community to share information about area events.

The space is designed to be flexible, with colorful displays of information about the various projects underway for the campus. The displays will change as the project progresses, officials said. Tablets on stands display demolition and construction progress images.

“We can’t bring people into the train station that often, but they can see the latest, before and after, of the work we’re doing,” said Christina Twelftree, a Ford spokeswoman.

For example, demolition is underway on the former brass factory Ford bought next door to the information center.

“That work is almost done,” Twelftree said. “All that sort of construction, demolition-related update is obviously important for the community to know when work is being done.”

The Ford Michigan Central Info Center, in Detroit, June 19, 2019. Visitors can learn about Ford’s vision for the train station and other properties in the area.

Two glass displays show off artifacts from the train station, including a banister finial, elevator buttons, tickets and beverage bottles found in the walls of the station during construction work.

Plans are for the information center to be open during the development of the campus.

“I think what you’re going to find is there’s going to be such an evolution,” Culler said. “There’s different buildings, there’s different development pieces. My hope is that … people understand what’s happening with the development on a daily basis.”

One technology piece in the center is the interactive transportation modeling table. Visitors can use a large touchscreen to assess videos about Ford’s work in mobility, road safety data and traffic simulations on city streets in 2023.

Users can see what traffic may be like in the area after Ford completes its restoration of the train station, which eventually will bring 5,000 additional workers to the area, including 2,500 from its mobility team. The train station is expected to be completed in 2022.

The information center will be open this week from 4-7 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday. Beginning Monday, the center will be open 4-7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, and noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN