Ford explains decision to purchase Michigan Central Station in Corktown

Ford Motor Co. describes vision for Corktown

DETROIT – On Friday night, a message was painted in light on Michigan Central Station that said, "We hope for better things; it shall rise from the ashes," in Latin.

It's Detroit's motto, and that's exactly what Ford Motor Co. wants to see happen in Corktown.

Ford will now begin overhauling Michigan Central Station, turning it into a hub for mobility. When it's finished, 2,500 employees on the mobility team will occupy the building. Ford hopes that will happen by 2022.

The employees will work on urban mobility, connected cars and public transit.

Ford spent a lot of money making renderings to show the public the changes coming to Michigan Central Station, and it's not just for show. It's to show Ford is serious.

The talent they need to populate the place would rather work in Silicon Valley, so Ford CEO Jim Hackett said he needs to recreate Silicon Valley in Corktown.

"The engineering of the design of that is going to attract a whole different kind of worker than we needed when we physically engineered systems in vehicles," Hackett said. "Tons of software and tons of design thinking in terms of customers want to experience that."

Bill Ford admitted the deal is all about attracting high-end engineering talent.

"This should be a great talent magnet, because when you look at it, most of the tech companies have really cool campuses, but nothing like this," Ford said.

Local 4 got a chance to go inside the old building. It's battered and colored with graffiti, but the bones are good.

"From the outside, you might think there are lots of little cubicles that wouldn't be great for office space, but it's wide open space ready for conversion," Ford said. "If you think about a completely restored train station in Detroit, where can can do AV (autonomous vehicle) testing and run down to Willow Run, then to Ann Arbor, that's amazing, and if you're young and want to change the world, what a place to work."

The building means a lot to people in Metro Detroit. Long after Tuesday's well-attended ceremony ended, cars have lined up at Michigan Central Station to take a look.

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