Ford begins first phase of renovations at Michigan Central Station

Posted at 11:00 AM, Dec 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-04 13:19:38-05

Less than six months after Ford announced it was purchasing the historic Michigan Central Station in Detroit's Corktown neighborhood, the automaker announced it will begin phase one of its renovations this week.

According to Ford, the first phase in the three-phase project will begin with the winterization of the 105-year-old building. That will help dry it out from the extensive water damage it suffered over the years and stabilize its structure.

“We’re excited to start construction on this transformational project,” said Mary Culler, Detroit development director, Ford Motor Company. “The building has been open to the elements for years so the work being done first is mainly internal, weatherizing and making the building stable. Come spring, things will become more visible to the community."

The plan is to turn it into a 1.2-million-square-foot innovation campus where Ford and others will work on autonomous and electric vehicle businesses, design urban mobility and solutions. It's expected more than 2,500 Ford employees will be brought to Corktown.

Phase one is expected to take about six months for the majority of the structure. According to Ford, the building has sustained decades of damage from the rain and freeze-thaw effect, soaking up tons of water over the years.

Once the building is dried out, the construction team will move to phase two which includes replacing mechanical and electrical systems and restore the exterior masonry.

The final phase will focus on restoring the interior of the building, returning the waiting room to its original grandeur, and restoring the plaster and other decorative pieces.

Ford plans to use 3D printing to create various molds and mockups to replicate historic elements in the building. It will also use it to create new office space, new areas for public interaction and new retail space.

"More visible signs of the building’s transformation will begin next summer when an extensive scaffolding system goes up and an exterior construction lift is added to the east end of the station," the company said in a release. "The masonry work is expected to take three summers."

“The building is very lucky Ford stepped in when it did,” said Ronald D. Staley, executive director of the Christman-Brinker joint venture selected as the construction manager for the project. “It would have been a lot more difficult, maybe impossible five to 10 years down the road to salvage. The first year is going to be primarily about doing core and shell work, getting the building stabilized, concrete and steel fixed, and the building enclosed.”