WUOMFM

Michigan Central Station

Michigan Central Station circa 2018
Ford Motor Company

With big new development projects like Ford’s overhaul of Michigan Central Station in the pipeline, some Detroit groups are calling for an overhaul of the city’s community benefits ordinance.

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

Lately, Detroit has more good news to report than bad. Its bankruptcy is in the rear view mirror, the streets have lighting again, and more businesses are moving downtown.

Central Station in Detroit
Gordon / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCl0

Thirty years ago this week, on January 5, 1988, the last train left Michigan Central Station. That moment marked the end of nearly 75 years of Michiganders catching trains at the once-proud station.

Dan Austin, who has written three books about Detroit history and founded HistoricDetroit.org, and Mark Harvey, state archivist from the Michigan History Center, joined Stateside to discuss the station's legacy.

Michigan Central Station circa 2018
Ford

It was a near thing, but Michigan Central Station has a new lease on life, thanks to its purchase by Ford Motor Company.

The historic building is in terrible shape, stripped of much of its glory by former owners, thieves, and vandals. So Ford has its work cut out for it.

But the automaker's plans (and finances) for the building seem much more firm than many of the pie-in-the-sky visions floated by other developers.

Ford's Corktown Play

Jun 16, 2018
Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Ford Motor is planning a big party on Tuesday. It’ll be at the Michigan Central Depot, that gap-toothed hulk looming over Detroit empty and rotting for thirty years.

But not anymore, once Ford’s plans for what it’s calling a campus in Corktown become more clear.

Here’s what you need to know: Detroit’s oldest neighborhood could be transformed by Ford’s plans. The automaker wants to anchor its next-generation mobility, autonomy and electrification work in the 105-year-old train station.

This is huge, people. Detroit hasn’t seen a business move this big in eight years. That’s when Dan Gilbert moved his Quicken Loans headquarters to the city and followed with a downtown real estate buying spree.

This may be even bigger because it’s eight years later. Because Quicken blossomed into a major corporate presence downtown. Because Ford’s presence is likely to turbo-charge redevelopment of a neighborhood … and set the example for more.

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

After more than a quarter of a century, the Michigan Central Depot is changing owners. The Moroun family has sold it to Ford Motor Company.  

The once-thriving Beaux Arts gem became a symbol of Detroit's decay, after Amtrak sold it to the Moroun family in 1992. Matthew Moroun says now "the depot will become a shining symbol of Detroit's success and progress."

Michigan Central Station in Detroit
Jason Mrachina / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

The city is abuzz with the rumor that Ford is taking over Michigan Central Station, after reports that the once-glamorous train depot — an iconic symbol of Detroit’s decay since it closed in 1988 — has changed owners.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

So Bill Ford wants the Blue Oval to buy the decrepit Michigan Central Depot. You know that toothless edifice, empty and decaying since 1988, towering over Detroit’s Corktown. It’s an 18-story high reminder of the industrial and financial decline that has been synonymous with this town.         

Until very recently.

GORDON / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

The oldest surviving neighborhood in Detroit is Corktown. Irish immigrants started settling there in the 1830s, and many of them were from County Cork.

You could make a good case that the most famous symbol of Detroit's decline and urban decay is right there in the heart of Corktown: the Michigan Central Station.

The once-glorious train station closed 30 years ago and has since been ravaged by scrappers and weather. Now we hear that Ford is in talks to buy Michigan Central and return to the city.

Michigan Central Station in Detroit
Jason Mrachina / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

 


 

As Ford talks of buying Michigan Central Station, residents in the surrounding neighborhood might be the ones seeing the most impact.

tom parr / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Last Thursday, commerce giant Amazon announced it would build a second corporate headquarters, known as Amazon HQ2, somewhere in North America. It's now up to metropolitan areas across the country to show they're the best option to meet the company's needs.

"It's going to set off an inter-state bidding war," said Chad Livengood, a senior reporter covering Detroit for Crain's Detroit Business.