Could Trains Run Through Detroit’s Old Train Depot Again?

Jake Neher/WDET

The old Michigan Central train station southwest of Downtown Detroit has served as a monolith of decay for decades.

It’s represented a microcosm of Detroit for any outside reporters or visitors — a once beautiful giant, now standing alone in a field, dilapidated and empty. A symbol of a lost promise.

But the station is much different than the mythology it inhabits. It’s a gargantuan building with very few possible uses.

Kwame Kilpatrick thought it should be a police station. Some people thought it should be a casino. But ultimately, the property is owned by one family and the scale of the rehab project is so immense that figuring out the train station’s future has always been much more specific than assuming it would rise with a general surge of development in Detroit.

Now the owners — the Maroun family, which also owns the Ambassador Bridge — say they know what they’d like to see the train station become. They say it should be just that, a train station. A transportation hub in a city that’s experiencing economic growth, but few mass transit options.

Matthew Maroun spoke with Crain’s Detroit Business reporter Chad Livengood about the idea. 

If we decide to really push this … it’s not to start out trying to solicit politicians and governments or whatever for money. It’s to see if I can get folks to embrace it, that future vision,” Moroun told Crain’s. “We need to put the depot back on the map.”

Moroun envisions the depot having a straight-shot rail line to Detroit Metropolitan Airport and being a stop for Amtrak’s high-speed train routes to Chicago and a connection to Ontario’s VIA through the adjacent rail tunnel that dips below the Detroit River.

To hear from Livengood on Detroit Today, click on the player above.

 

Image credit: Sandra Svoboda

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