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Could Michigan Central Station’s next act include more trains?

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It makes sense

Photo by Michelle & Chris Gerard

Considering the momentum in redevelopment in Detroit, one building looms over all others as it stands vacant, waiting for its next act.

A couple months ago, news broke that Michigan Central Depot would hold an event for the first time in years. As part of Detroit Homecoming (which starts this week), owner Matthew Moroun would bring Detroit ex-pats back into the station as a way to spark interest and gather excitement over possible redevelopment.

In an interview with Crain’s, Moroun has now said that he’d like the station to be used as a depot for passenger trains again.

It makes sense, considering all the connections we’re gathering:

  • It would be the perfect opportunity to add another streetcar or rail line down Michigan Avenue, connecting Corktown to downtown.
  • It could easily connect to Dearborn, and ideally, the airport and Ann Arbor.
  • There’s a tunnel to Canada from the depot, easily connecting to Canadian rail.
  • The upper floors could be used for offices for a high-profile company or a hotel.
  • A plan (although it would have to be quick) would sweeten a possible pitch to Amazon.

The Morouns have owned the depot since 1995, so we’re not holding our breath for a real announcement anytime soon. Still, there’s been more news and talk about this lately than there has been in years. Moroun says a renovation would take at least $100 million; considering other renovations around the city, we’d think that number would be much higher.

The interview notes,

“Mindful of the public’s emotional attachment to the hulking train depot, Matthew Moroun said he feels “an immense pressure” to deliver the best redevelopment solution for both the city and his family’s bottom line.

“I don’t want it to be an economic disaster for my family,” he said. “So I’ve gotta get it right on both ends.”

Could the momentum continue into an actual plan for the station? Could passenger service be the future of this iconic structure? As always, let us know what you think below.

Michigan Central Station

2198 Michigan Ave, Detroit, MI 48216