DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co.'s vision for Michigan Central Station extends far beyond the walls of the historic building in Corktown and goes further than tackling just mobility issues.
Since the automaker announced three years ago its renovation of the train station, expected to total $740 million, the project has taken many different turns.
Details are beginning to take shape as the company prepares to welcome employees to the new campus by the end of next year, Farley said on Saturday during a Crain's Detroit Homecoming discussion with event director Mary Kramer.
"We really want companies like Google and other software mobility companies to come down there," Farley said. "We don't want this to be a Ford facility. In fact, I'd be really happy if only 10 percent of the people there worked at Ford, but I want my good Ford software people down there with those kinds of companies. And we'll learn a lot from them, and they'll learn a lot from us. And geez, I can't think of a place in the country where that's happening."
Farley, who took the reins at Ford in October 2020, is racing other automakers to an electric future that promises to upend the global automotive industry in the coming years. Ford recently committed $30 billion of investment into electrification by 2025. In Detroit, the train station is both symbolic of that future and of a new beginning for Detroit after years of economic hardship.
Farley said Ford's renovation of Michigan Central is being driven by "Bill Ford's personal vision."
Farley said the impetus for purchasing the station was being "fed up" with the "deterioration porn" of Detroit in the media.
"Someone had to step up," he said.
In addition to previously announced plans to improve green space around the train station, including making Roosevelt Park safer and more accessible, Farley said the project aims to connect the campus to the Detroit Riverfront with a green belt and "huge park."
"We're going to work with the team to connect it to the river," he said. "We quickly realized, holy cow, the real opportunities are actually the whole space around (the station)."
Another key Corktown project for Farley is the $22 million homeless shelter in the works with the Pope Francis Center. Farley said a site has been selected and that the project is "almost funded." Farley, who regularly volunteers at the Pope Francis Center, said he thinks the model for the new shelter could help solve the issue of homelessness in Detroit.
"I think (it) will be America's most innovative transition center for homeless people," he said.