Ford Motor Co. wants to convert an infamous symbol of Detroit's long, sad decline — a rotting train station that towers over the city's oldest neighborhood — into a beacon for the automaker's efforts to prosper in the future.
Ford's board of directors this week is expected to consider a plan to buy the Michigan Central Station and rehabilitate it as the centerpiece of an urban campus that would help the company battle Silicon Valley for young, tech-minded talent to develop and build the self-driving vehicles of tomorrow. It would also give the Ford family a major role in the revival of the city where its automaking empire began 115 years ago.
Edsel Ford II, a Ford director and cousin of Executive Chairman Bill Ford, confirmed the plan last week, saying the automaker wants to "cluster" its autonomous and electric vehicle operations in one spot. Ford Motor is preparing to move 220 people into a renovated former hosiery factory several blocks from the train station and is nearing deals to buy almost 50 properties in the surrounding neighborhood, known as Corktown, according to Crain's Detroit Business
, an affiliate of Automotive News
. The 18-story train station alone is large enough to house at least 2,000 to 3,000 employees.