Bill Ford explains why Ford is serious about reviving Detroit - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Bill Ford explains why Ford is serious about reviving Detroit

Posted: Updated: Jun 18, 2018 11:58 AM
The interior of the Michigan Central Station in the Corktown neighborhood of Detroit on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. The long-vacant building, recently purchased by the Ford Motor Company, will be renovated to make it the hub of a campus for advanced automot The interior of the Michigan Central Station in the Corktown neighborhood of Detroit on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. The long-vacant building, recently purchased by the Ford Motor Company, will be renovated to make it the hub of a campus for advanced automot
Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. talks about his life and the acquisition of the Michigan Central Station in Detroit's Corktown neighborhood in Detroit on Wednesday, June 13, 2018.
Ford recently purchased the long-vacant train station with Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. talks about his life and the acquisition of the Michigan Central Station in Detroit's Corktown neighborhood in Detroit on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. Ford recently purchased the long-vacant train station with
The Ford family, Bill Ford Jr. with his wife Lisa and sons Nick and Will with a Model T replica in the village of Ballinascarthy, County Cork, Ireland. Ballinascarthy is the birthplace of William Ford, the father of Henry Ford. The Ford family, Bill Ford Jr. with his wife Lisa and sons Nick and Will with a Model T replica in the village of Ballinascarthy, County Cork, Ireland. Ballinascarthy is the birthplace of William Ford, the father of Henry Ford.
Bill Ford Jr. and Christopher Ilitch are announced as co-chairs for the 2010 NCAA Frozen Four to be held in April 2010 at Ford Field in Detroit. They are at Campus Martius Park skating rink in January 2010. Bill Ford Jr. and Christopher Ilitch are announced as co-chairs for the 2010 NCAA Frozen Four to be held in April 2010 at Ford Field in Detroit. They are at Campus Martius Park skating rink in January 2010.
A historic building in Corktown known as the Factory, Thursday, December 14, 2017. A historic building in Corktown known as the Factory, Thursday, December 14, 2017.
The San Francisco Ferry Building in San Francisco, California. The San Francisco Ferry Building in San Francisco, California.
1927--Henry and Edsel Ford with Quadricycle and the fifteenth million Ford Model T. 1927--Henry and Edsel Ford with Quadricycle and the fifteenth million Ford Model T.
Workers set up for the upcoming train station party at Michigan Central Station in Detroit's Corktown neighborhood on Wednesday, June 13, 2018 to celebrate Ford Motor Company's purchase of the long-vacant building. Workers set up for the upcoming train station party at Michigan Central Station in Detroit's Corktown neighborhood on Wednesday, June 13, 2018 to celebrate Ford Motor Company's purchase of the long-vacant building.
Sedum plants on the roof at the Dearborn Truck Assembly Plant in October 2013. 2013 marked the 10th anniversary of the industrial 10.4 acre living roof which is about the equivalent of 10 football fields. Sedum plants on the roof at the Dearborn Truck Assembly Plant in October 2013. 2013 marked the 10th anniversary of the industrial 10.4 acre living roof which is about the equivalent of 10 football fields.
1979--Bill Ford Jr. with his father William Clay Ford Sr. on Bill's first day of work . 1979--Bill Ford Jr. with his father William Clay Ford Sr. on Bill's first day of work .
Rendering provided by Ford Motor Company of the proposed changes to the Michigan Central Station in Detroit. Ford bought the station from the Moroun family in 2018. Rendering provided by Ford Motor Company of the proposed changes to the Michigan Central Station in Detroit. Ford bought the station from the Moroun family in 2018.
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DETROIT - Day after day, Bill Ford drove his Mustang GT along Michigan Avenue between Dearborn and Detroit, past the graffiti-covered train station that had become the symbol of this city's decay.

And he started to wonder about his legacy, his family's legacy and the future of Ford Motor.

"I kept staring at the train station thinking, 'What if? Wouldn't that be amazing?' ' he said. "If all we did was to restore this fabulous building and make it sparkle, that would be great..'

The purchase of the Michigan Central Station brings to life Ford's vision, a vision designed to navigate a changing future rather than falling victim to it.

Bill Ford, great-grandson of company founder Henry Ford, sat in the depot's cavernous, long-neglected lobby for an interview last week two days after the company's audacious purchase was announced.

"Throughout most of my adulthood, when I would travel anywhere outside of Michigan, people would ask where I was from, and I would say 'Detroit.' Often people said, 'Gee, I'm sorry.' Or 'Why? Why would you live there?' I was always very proud of this area. And I love Detroit.'

Soon, he said, the rehabilitated train station will be the hub for 2,500 Ford jobs.

No one could have predicted a dramatic pivot that would include the return of the carmaker from the suburb of Dearborn, Michigan, to the heart of Detroit with the purchase of multiple parcels in the city's oldest surviving neighborhood, called Corktown.

"I've always thought about what Ford could and should be like years from now," the executive chairman said, "as I was thinking about us inventing the new, modern era.'

The forefront of change

During his drives, Ford thought about the future of cars.

"It struck me, years ago, even back in the depths of the recession, that our world was going to change. Nobody in Detroit was thinking about what that might look like. So I wanted to be at the forefront of that change,' he said.

When General Motors and what then was Chrysler filed for bankruptcy almost a decade ago, Bill Ford created a low-profile company that has invested millions of dollars in projects that would help transform the car business.

"I started a venture capital firm here in Detroit called Fontinalis Partners in 2009. It was to invest in the future of mobility when nobody was thinking about the future of mobility," he said. "We invested in autonomy. We invested in parking solutions. It's been a huge success. We're in 1 Woodward Place. I wanted to be downtown. So, we kind've invented the whole mobility space. There was nobody else doing it.'

Family business

Bill Ford and his family represent the last of industrial royalty in America. Most iconic families have sold out. Not Ford. The family has built the top-selling vehicle in America - the F-Series pickup - for 36 consecutive years.

"When my great-grandfather built his first Ford car here in Detroit and had his first plant here in Detroit, it was really kind of the Wild West of entrepreneurism back then. There were so many car companies being formed. Nobody really knew - would they be steam-powered, would they be electric, would they be gasoline-powered? Lots of companies failed, including his first company,' Ford said.

Inside the train station

In Detroit, Ford envisions a former train station that has coffee shops, restaurants and shopping on the first floor and office space for up to 5,000 people on the floors above. Much of the space will be leased out by Ford. The renovated depot will be a public attraction but also a potential revenue generator.

"I would love to see startups, young entrepreneurs in here,' Ford said. "Ever since the rumors started leaking out, I've been contacted by a number of people. We don't really know what to say yet. We haven't finalized any plans. We're just getting going, in some ways. Those will be conversations we'll be having over the next couple years.'

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The timing is uncertain.

"We're saying four years from now,' Ford said. "Once you get into restoration of a project of this nature, you don't really know what you're going to find. What's going to be really cool is that this beautiful space will be completely restored and be open to the public. We don't want to just be this corporate entity coming downtown..'

The car company could use the lift. Its stock price has been hovering around $12 a share, not far from its price level in 2016, while competitors have seen gains amid record sales. One of the company's biggest headlines of the past year is not about future mobility, but its decision to stop making all traditional cars but the Mustang to focus on F Series pickups and SUVs.

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