Despite the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, Ford’s Michigan Central Station project in Corktown is on track, with the first of many target dates towards completion starting in 2022. Holding an online community meeting, the team behind the Michigan Central project talked about successes, construction status, and took questions from those in attendance as they gauged public opinion on the project.
MICHIGAN CENTRAL CONSTRUCTION UPDATE
First touching on construction progress, Mary Culler, Director of the Michigan Central Initiative and current President of the Ford Fund shared that over 400 hundred workers are currently working on the historical building and that the progress is moving along. With exterior scaffolding soon moving, one side of the former train station has been entirely cleaned, with the limestone, terracotta, and roofing being replaced.
Regarding the restoration of Michigan Central Station and the book depository, we are still making progress thanks to the hard work of our great construction crew. There are about over 450 workers that are on-site today, shared Culler. There’s just so much progress being done. I was there just two days ago and I couldn’t believe the columns are off the front, there’s so much beautiful cornice work being done on the outside, you can really see it coming to life.
Culler also touched on the fact that of those workers taking part in the Fast Track job program sponsored by Ford, 14 of the first 16 participants landed a full-time job in the construction industry.
Looking at the interior of Michigan Central Station, specialized crews are working on restoring the Guastavino vaulted ceiling and ornate plaster inside the lobby of the building — a laborious process that has taken 18 months, and is halfway completed. Nextdoor to the train station building, the Book Depository project restoration is well underway and should be on track to open to Ford and other employees by 2022.
Touching on the previously announced Bagley Mobility Hub, Culler shared that work on the project began in February, and is handled by Devon Industrial Group [DIG], a Detroit-based and minority-owned construction company.
Thrilled to be taking part in the Michigan Central project, Co-CEO of DIG, Stephanie Burnley, shared, “Thank you, Mary and the Ford team for having us as a contractor for this opportunity. Our team is looking forward to being part of this energized community that tracks good time, good jobs, and top talent. We’re looking forward to what comes up in Corktown.”
The Bagley Mobility Hub is positioning itself as a broad-facing mobility hub, with access to E-Bikes, electric vehicle charging, and more. Situated near the planned route of the Joe Louis Greenway, the hub would allow easy transportation access for greenway users.
I think this is actually going to be a really interesting building because while it is going to serve as parking, it really is so much more, added Culler. It will be a state-of-the-art tech-enabled MOBILITY Center with about 1253 parking spaces, an autonomous vehicle testing area, electric charging stations, automated payment technology, and smart guiding systems. It will also include public restrooms, bike storage, free Wi-Fi, drinking fountains, green spaces, outdoor plazas, and micro-mobility solutions like e-bikes and scooters, which will be a great shared resource with the residents, and of course the greenway users.
EVENTS AND INITIATIVES
One of the key goals of the Michigan Central Station project is to build a community of mobility innovators and entrepreneurs, something in which Ford has worked with a multitude of partners to accomplish. Speaking on the matter, Roshni Shokar, Startup & Entrepreneur Engagement with Michigan Central Development, brought up the valuable partnership the organization has with the Detroit-based co-working space Bamboo Detroit.
Together, a few upcoming events are planned including a Spring Mobility Show & Tell on 4/27 and a Venture Capital Panel Discussion on 5/19. The goal of these programs is to engage community members and entrepreneurs alike to keep open communication about what is underway in Corktown.
“We want to keep the communication lines open about what’s coming and also make sure that you all are aware of opportunities to get involved,” shared Shokar. “Our goal is to make sure that these pilots are as meaningful for the residents as they are for the mobility companies that are watching them. So, we’re really excited to get whoever’s interested involved. We think it’s a really great opportunity for the community to connect with some of the innovation that’s going to be happening in Michigan Central.”
Those interested in taking part, in either event, may do so by visiting bamboodetroit.com/bamboo-detroit-events.
QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS
In taking questions from those in attendance, one question asked about home repair applications through Michigan Central and how many were accepted, as well as how much money was committed to the initiative.
In answering, Heather Zygmontowicz, Director, Bridging Neighborhoods at the City of Detroit, shared that the program began with $750,000 and 50 grants. Receiving 197 applications, at the moment 50 homes have been selected and after assessment, the monies will be utilized for construction. At the moment for the project, construction efforts look to begin in June.
Another question that comes with almost every meeting is pertaining to rail access for Michigan Central Station. While there is no set answer, Culler shared that they are leaving rail connection as a potential for the future.
“I think it’s a really important question because it does sit right there on the rail so I think — as we’ve discussed before — we’re definitely protecting for rail,” shared Culler. “What that means exactly, it’s hard to say. From the beginning, we did a rail study and we’ve really tried to advocate for the rail concept but it’s a really complicated one. So TBD, but we are definitely protecting for it at this point.”
Other questions pertaining to opening dates for the Mobility Hub — which is slated to open alongside the Book Depository sometime next spring or early summer — as well as the inclusion of public art initiatives in the renovation process. In answering the last question, the team did share that local artists would be involved, and as the project moves along, more information is expected to come out.
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