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A reimagined Michigan Central Station to open to public soon

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(The Center Square) – The Ford Motor Co. wants to open Michigan Central Station to the public after a corporate investment of six years and $1 billion renovations.

The old Detroit train station abandoned since the 1980s will now be the site for more than 2,500 Ford employees by 2028. Serving as the centerpiece of Michigan Central is a 30-acre tech hub in the Corktown neighborhood. The station will also house numerous Michigan-based companies through its 640,000-square-feet collaboration space.

“Michigan Central means a great deal to us all. In many ways, this building tells the story of our city,” said Bill Ford, executive chair of Ford. “This Station was our Ellis Island – a place where dreamers in search of new jobs and new opportunities first set foot in Detroit. But once the last train pulled out, it became a place where hope left. In 2018, I decided it was time to change that by reimagining this station as a place of possibility again.”

When Ford bought the building in 2018 it received $270 million in tax incentives to be spread out over 30 years from the Michigan Strategic Fund. The tax breaks could save Ford $6.9 million a year. Also, Detroit approved a 12-year tax abatement over 12 years.

Ford will hold an open house from June 6-16, beginning with Live from Detroit: The Concert at Michigan Central. The 90-minute concert, produced by Eminem and his manager Paul Rosenberg, will feature a mix of artists including Diana Ross, Big Sean, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Jelly Roll.

“Detroit is known around the world for its musical talent, and having so many legendary artists kick off the celebration for the reopening of the iconic Michigan Central Station shows how meaningful this moment is for our city,” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said. “This historic landmark symbolizes Detroit’s resilience, innovation, and now, its bright future.

After the reopening celebration finishes June 16, Michigan Central will slowly phase in restaurants, retail and other community businesses. The first floor will be open to visitors from 5-9 p.m. on Fridays, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays through the summer. New hours will be introduced in the fall, when the first commercial businesses plan on opening to the public.

In total, Ford invested 1.7 million work hours and more than 3,000 tradespeople into gutting the train station. Before the acquisition in 2018, the old station was a center for drug trafficking, graffiti and other crime for more than 30 years.

“Everything Ford could save, we did, and other elements were re-created through technology and tenacity,” said Melissa Dittmer, head of place at Michigan Central. “At the same time, it was important to us to respect The Station’s extraordinary past, including its ongoing role in Detroit’s cultural landscape.”

The Beaux-Arts building was first opened in 1913, with 4,000 passengers per day at its peak. It was originally designed by Warren & Wetmore, and Reed & Stem, the same architects who envisioned Grant Central Station in New York City. Through six years of renovations, the team was able to recreate the limestone facade, terra cotta cornice, Guastavino ceiling tiles and its three chandeliers.

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