Ford transforms Detroit’s book warehouse into an innovation hub

Detroit (AP)-Ford Motor Company announced on Tuesday plans to turn a long vacant book warehouse into a hub for automotive innovation in Detroit’s oldest neighborhood.

Long known for its wooden homes, restaurants and taverns, Corktown is a $ 740 million car maker’s project to create a place where new transportation and mobility ideas are nurtured and developed. The place of.

The company’s expansion into Corktown, based in Dearborn, Michigan, began in 2018 with the acquisition of Michigan Central Station and other nearby buildings just west of downtown.

When completed, the 30 acres (12.1 hectares) of land will have more than one million square feet (304,800 meters) of commercial space.

“This is a really, really beautiful area. Maintaining integrity is very important,” said Mary Collar, Ford’s Detroit Development Director and President of the Ford Foundation.

For decades, Corktown stood in the long shadow of a huge 17-story train station. After moving out in 1988, the building symbolizes Detroit’s devastation and economic despair as Detroit’s manufacturing bases steadily shrink and people flow out.

Between the 1950s and 2010, Detroit lost more than a million inhabitants. The stable, middle-colored and blue-collar neighborhoods have emptied families. Houses were emptied, stripped of metal and other valuables, then collapsed or destroyed by piles of trees and other debris.

Throughout all that, the station remained standing-too expensive to demolish, too large for other uses, and inconsistent with its once glorious grandeur.

The depot opened in late 1913 and was designed by the same architect who created the Grand Central Terminal in New York. Like other rail stations across the United States, Detroit seemed obsolete due to less interest in traveling by rail.

Manuel “Mati” Moraun, a businessman, bought a building in the mid-1990s after the previous owner defaulted on a loan, but couldn’t find an anchor tenant.

Two years ago, Ford intervened, bought a building, and began repairing a 500,000-square-foot (46,000-square-meter) structure. Work must be completed by the end of 2022.

Ford expects approximately 2,500 employees and 2,500 partner employees to work on a campus focused on self-driving cars. Approximately 250 workers in Ford’s self-driving car business unit are already working in another building near the station, the factory.

The former Detroit School Book Depository was designed by the renowned architect Albert Kahn. The seat was vacant due to the fire in 1987. The Detroit office of the global architectural firm Gensler is working with Ford to renovate the building. Construction will begin early next year. The move-in is scheduled for early 2022.

“The Book Depository will be at the heart of the Innovation District … a multi-purpose maker space for partners to get involved and solve problems,” says Color. “We believe this project is very important to Ford and the city.”

The Greenway connects 7 acres behind the station to the riverfront west of the city, and the train platform and railroad tracks will be reused as a technical test and showcase area. There are also pedestrian roads and bicycle roads.

According to Katie Trudeau, Deputy Director of Planning and Development for the city, Ford’s plans are in line with what Detroit Mayor Mike Dagan and the Detroit Economic Growth Authority envisioned in Corktown.

“There were people who were nervous about the significant impact of the project on residents and home prices,” Trudeau said. “People were worried that their renter neighbors would be evacuated due to rising prices.”

In some cases, the rent has doubled. This is what residents are worried about after Ford announced in 2018. Debra Walker, who moved to Corktown about 20 years ago, says.

“Rents are rising because everyone is looking at the dollar sign,” said retired Walker, 67. “You can still make your money, this is America. But what can you do to keep your neighborhood diverse?”

The city is seeking a competitive federal grant to help fund up to 800 new affordable housing units in Corktown.

“All economic development is happening in Corktown, so it’s important to have affordable housing developed alongside it,” said Donald Rencher, Detroit Housing & Revitalization Director. “Given the huge investment and trends we see, we are in an important time to ensure that Corktown remains a welcome place for Detroit in all areas.”

Some Ford employees at the factory already live in the neighborhood, Collar said.

“It’s not just a station. We want to be good neighbors there,” she said.

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Ford transforms Detroit’s book warehouse into an innovation hub

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