Posts Tagged ‘Detroit’s Michigan Central Station’

Detroit Depot Restoration Moving Along

January 16, 2022

Restoration of the former Michigan Central station in Detroit is well along and project managers expect it to be complete by the second quarter of 2023.

Once completed, you’ll be able to eat, drink, work and even get married in the longtime Detroit icon and symbol of urban decay, but you won’t be able to catch a train.

The depot’s days as a train station ended in early January 1988 when Amtrak ceased using it and the beaux arts building’s new owner has other plans for the area where passengers once boarded trains.

The 18-story MC station has been owned by the Ford Motor Company since 2018. For decades before Ford bought it, the structure, which opened in 1913, had seemed destined to be razed.

Nearly all of its windows had been broken and anything of value had been stolen or removed.

During a news media tour last week of the station complex, project managers said the building was missing everything imaginable when workers began their renovation five-year work.

Ford plans to locate restaurants and a luxury hotel on the upper three floor of the station.

Offices for Ford and its partners in the mobility and autonomous vehicle endeavors will be housed in the next 10 floors.

The bottom floors will be devoted to public gathering spaces, a coffee shop, a food court, and events space with a capacity of 1,000.

The former boarding area will become a mobility testing site to be named The Platform.

During the media tour, Ford’s project manager, Rich Bardelli, said the project remains within its $740 million budget. Ford bought the building and its adjacent properties for $90 million.

Much of the early restoration work at the station involved restoring infrastructure that had vanished during the years when the structure sat vacant and was a target of vandals, thieves and squatters.

This included installing 300 miles of electric wire; 20 miles of heating and cooling duct work and piping; 6 miles of plumbing pipes; and 8.6 miles of grout in between 29,000 terracotta tiles along the arching ceiling of the front waiting room.

Some of the station’s original architectural features had to be recreated and painstakingly installed.

More than 1,700 of the Guastavino terracotta ceiling tiles had to be replaced, which involved building 252 tons of scaffolding to place them 65 feet above the floor.

Engineers used 3-D printing and resin to recreate 560 new lightweight ornate floral rosettes and leafs that adorn the windows.

Most of the original iron rosettes had been removed and during the restoration process some individuals who had possession of some of them dropped them off at the construction site so they could be reinstalled.

Located in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood, the station is the centerpiece of a campus Ford is creating that will cost $950 million.

Ford plans to move 2,500 of its employees in autonomous and electric vehicle development departments to the campus. There will be space for 2,500 more Ford workers from suppliers and partners in the mobility sector.

Aside from the station itself, Ford is renovating the adjacent Book Depository building for use as offices and plans to construct a third office building on the campus.

Bardelli said dining options in the station complex will be located on the top floors of the tower; the former carriage house on the west end of the building along Vernor Highway; and a food court in the concourse.

Negotiations are underway with potential retail, hospitality and hotel vendors and contracts are expected to be reached later this year.

Over the next 18 months craftsmen will be recreating some of the other historic features of the station, including wood wainscoting panels, crown molding, marble borders and wood floors in the former waiting rooms.

“We’re in the midst right now of just starting to put all of that back,” Bardelli said.

The former waiting areas are being repurposed into events space and Bardelli said Ford has already received inquiries from couples who want to get married there.

Ford Paid $90M for Michigan Central Station

September 26, 2018

The price of saving a historic Detroit train station and transforming it into a facility to develop new technologies in the automotive industry was $90 million.

The Automotive News reports that was how much Ford Motor Company paid to buy the decrepit Michigan Central Depot, which will be the centerpiece of a 1.2 million square foot development that also includes residential, commercial and event space.

The figure was taken from government records and means that Ford paid $150 per foot for the 104-year-old, 600,000-square-foot building.

Ford plans to develop electric and autonomous vehicles at the campus it plans to establish at Michigan Central Station.

The company is seeking more than $230 million in tax credits for the project.

Ford Seeks $230M to Help Develop Detroit Depot

September 13, 2018

Ford Motor Company is seeking more than $230 million in aid to help it develop the former Michigan Central station in Detroit.

Of that, the automaker is asking the City of Detroit to kick in $100 million. The funds will be used to build a technology campus around the depot, which has been vacant and in deteriorating condition for many years.

Ford agreed last June to purchase the station and said it will spend more than $700 million of its own money to develop it.

The Detroit Economic Growth Corporation provided details of Ford’s bid for public assistance in a presentation this week.

During the presentation, officials projected the station development efforts will result in a net benefit to the city of $370 over 35 years.

Ford Details Plans for Detroit Station

June 20, 2018

Ford Motor Company said Tuesday that it plans to make the former Michigan Central station in Detroit the focal point of the company’s new mobility hub.

Built in 1913 in the city’s Corktown neighborhood, the station will be renovated to provide offices for its autonomous and electric vehicle teams and partners.

The grand hall will be restored to its original appearance and have local shops and restaurants.

The overall mobility hub project will see construction of 1.2 million square feet of space where by 2022 about 2,500 Ford employees will work.

Ford said it will devote 300,000 square feet of space to a mix of community and retail space and residential housing.

In a statement, Ford described development of the Michigan Central Station as critical to its future as it examines how urban areas are changing the overall role of transportation and the revitalization of cities.

An open house will be held in Michigan Central station June 22-23 that will feature exhibits of historic artifacts, self-guided tours through the station’s first floor, and a preview of an upcoming History Channel documentary showcasing Detroit’s comeback and the station’s critical role in the city’s revitalization efforts.

Amtrak ceased using the station in 1988 in favor of an adjacent modular facility. It later opened a station in the New Center neighborhood.

The 13-story office tower of Michigan Central Station stands 230 feet in height. Passenger service at the station began on Jan. 4, 1914.

In recent years, the station had become a symbol of urban decay with all of its windows broken out, and the building being used by the homeless, for criminal activity and by paintball enthusiasts.

Hundreds of antiques have been stolen from the station site over the years.

Ford Buys Detroit Michigan Central Station

June 12, 2018

Ford Motor Company has purchased the former Michigan Central Station in Detroit and plans to make it the centerpiece of an advanced automotive technology development in the Corktown neighborhood.

The station had been owned by the Moroun family since 1995 and had managed to survive a 2009 order of the Detroit City Council to raze the dilapidated structure.

Ford also acquired an adjacent building known as the Roosevelt Warehouse, which had previously been used as a schoolbook depository.

The 18-story Central Station has long symbolized urban blight in Detroit with its vacant offices and broken windows. It is surrounded by razor wire and a chain link fence.

Amtrak used the station from its 1971 inception until moving to a nearby modular facility in January 1988. Amtrak later built a station in the New Center neighborhood of Detroit that it began using in May 1994.

Matthew Moroun declined to disclose the sale price of the depot. “The deal is complete,” he said. “The future of the depot is assured. The next steward of the building is the right one for its future. The depot will become a shiny symbol of Detroit’s progress and its success.”

Ford plans to share information about its plans for renovating the station at a reception on June 19.

Reports that Ford was negotiating to purchase the station have circulated since March.

Based in suburban Dearborn, Ford has transferred 200 workers on its mobility team into a nearby former factory site and is actively seeking other properties in Corktown, Detroit’s oldest surviving neighborhood and located just west of downtown.

Opened in 1913, the Beaux Arts-style Michigan Central Station was at the time the world’s tallest train station.

Although the Morouns failed to demolish the station, they did install more than 1,000 new windows, restored a working elevator and cleaned up the interior.

“The Ford move to the train station is the right play at the right time,” said Robert Kolt, a professor of advertising and public relations at Michigan State University, in an interview with the Detroit Free Press. “Many university grads want to work and live in cool places with an energetic vibe. Ford can remake the area and rebrand what the company does with this type of bold move.”

“I think it’s smart,” Robert Davidman, partner at the Fearless Agency in New York told the Free Press. “If you really want to attract the top talent, you go to where they are. And this allows Ford to take a piece of history and reinvent it. This makes them forward thinkers. Ford is breathing life into something that once was — Ford is going back to their roots, back to where it all began. And it brings back the luster.”

Ford’s plans for the complex it is developing in Corktown include making it the focal point of the company’s efforts to shift toward self-driving, shared and battery-operated cars and logistics.

Corktown is located seven miles down Michigan Avenue from Ford’s world headquarters in Dearborn.

Ford Might Buy Detroit Train Station

March 28, 2018

Ford Motor Company may purchase the long vacant and dilapidated Michigan Central Station in Detroit.

The station, which was once used by New York Central and later Penn Central and Amtrak passenger trains, is owned by billionaire trucking mogul Manuel “Matty” Moroun and his son, Matthew.

Ford has neither confirmed nor denied a news report by Crain’s Detroit Business that Ford is talking with the Morouns about buying the depot.

Crain’s said an announcement about the sale could come as early as sometime in April.

The report indicated that Ford would use the former station site for offices that could be used by upwards of 1,000 employees.

The business newspaper said a source familiar with Ford’s pursuit of the station said Ford wants to establish a workplace in an urban setting that can attract younger workers.

“Our young people love . . . living and working in urban areas,” said Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. in January at the Detroit auto show.

The news has triggered widespread interest in the purchase of properties surrounding the station site in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood southwest of downtown.

Real estate broker James Tumey said he has received several cash offers, even at the full $540,000 price, for the properties that look out on the 500,000-square-foot depot.

“After this news, people are going crazy. They are buying just based off of Ford maybe coming in, throwing out offers on properties they haven’t even seen,” said Tumey, a Corktown resident who is vice president for Farmington Hills-based Friedman Integrated Real Estate Solutions.

The abandoned railroad station has been an eyesore in Detroit since the last Amtrak train pulled out in 1988 in favor of a new and smaller station in the New Center neighborhood.

Crain’s cited unnamed sources in saying that Ford is also interested in acquiring the former Detroit Public Schools book depository immediately to the east.

The auto company based in Dearborn has reportedly also looked at other properties not owned by the Morouns in the area for purchase.

Developers say that redevelopment of Michigan Central Station and its office building would cost at least $400 million.

Ford has already announced plans to establish offices for its autonomous/electric vehicle division along Michigan Avenue in Corktown.

Matthew Moroun told Crain’s last year that he has broached the idea of Amtrak returning to Michigan Central Station with Kirk Steudle, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Steudle has said he’s receptive to the idea and connecting the old train station to the central business district in the same way the QLine streetcar system connects the New Center area with downtown.

The Maroun family has reportedly spent more than $8 million over the past five years rehabilitating the building, including installing a freight elevator in the shaft of the depot’s original smokestack and installing 1,100 windows.

Michigan Central Depot to Host Detroit Event

September 14, 2017

Michigan Central Station in Detroit will host the annual Detroit Homecoming this year, the first significant event to be held in the vacant depot since the middle 1980s.

The 104-year-old station in the Corktown neighborhood has been the subject of various renovation plans, the most recently being backed by the Moroun family of companies.

They have spent more than $8 million in the past two years making repairs that have included constructing a freight elevator in the shaft of the depot’s original smoke stack and installing 1,100 windows.

Matthew Moroun described the station development as a marathon, but insisted the race is well underway. His father, Matty, purchased the depot in 1995.

For years, the Morouns made few moves to restore the Detroit landmark, which once hosted passengers trains of the New York Central and tenants Canadian Pacific and Baltimore & Ohio, the latter using the terminal between 1946 and 1963.

After taking office in 2014, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan sought to improve what he termed the “somewhat checkered” relationship the Morouns have had with past city administrations.

Matthew Moroun and the mayor have discussed a list of issues involving the depot.

Although that list has not been made public, one known item is a request to replace the building’s numerous broken windows.

The mayor had made it known that he was tired of a former train station with broken windows defining the image of Detroit in national news stories about the city.

“I said, ‘I want you to put windows in the train station. And if you do that, everything else will be just fine.’” Duggan said.

The Morouns installed the windows in 2015 at a cost of $4 million.

Since the the windows went in, Matthew Moroun said he’s had more interest from developers with “hundreds of great ideas” for a building that has sat vacant since 1988 when Amtrak ceased passenger service there.

Moroun estimates it would renovating the station will cost more than $100 million.

“We’re looking for the right idea that’s not only popular and motivating, but also economically viable,” Moroun said. “We’re getting closer all of the time.”

Among the ideas that Duggan has for the station is housing a corporate headquarters or building high-end lofts on the 18th floor, which has a 360-degree view of greater downtown Detroit and the waterfront.

“I’m not the one who has to make the numbers work,” Duggan said. “When the day comes, I’m going to do everything I can to help make the numbers work.”

Detroit Depot May Serve Trucking Firm

August 28, 2015

A vacant Detroit train station might become a trucking control facility.

Matthew Moroun, son of Michigan Central Station owner Manuel “Matty” Moroun, told a Detroit radio station that the family’s CenTra trucking network might move to the depot.

Now based in Warren, Michigan, CenTra employs thousands at the formerly named Central Transport.

The depot owner has launched a $12 million project to replace scores of broken windows in the station, located southwest of downtown Detroit. The project also involved installation of an elevator and resuming electric service to the building.

A spokeswoman for Matthew Moroun would not say anything more about the family’s plans for the station other than it was concentrating on “doing right by the depot.”

Further renovation of the depot, which many see as a symbol of urban blight, would cost a minimum of $100 million, depending on what use was made of the structure.

Renovation is thought to be years away due to the time that would be needed to clean up the building and plan for its new use.

The Moroun family also owns the Ambassador Bridge to Windsor, Ontario, and a growing logistics network in the I-94 Industrial Park on Detroit’s east side.

Windows Being Replaced in Detroit Station

August 18, 2015

Michigan Central Station in Detroit has long been a symbol of urban decay and unfulfilled promise.

The vacant former railroad station sits southwest of downtown Detroit awaiting a better future or even a future at all.

Over the years more than 1,000 windows have been broken, but now about 600 of them – all on the upper floors – have been replaced.

Ken Carter, a superintendent of the project for the Detroit International Bridge Co., expects all of the nearly 1,100 broken windows to be replaced by the end of the year.

The project is part of a deal between Manuel “Matty” Moroun, who owns the station and the city of Detroit.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan wants to improve Riverside Park by swapping land there for a parcel that Moroun needs to build a replacement span next to the Ambassador Bridge linking Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.

Carter said the restoration efforts at the station have thus far cost about $12 million. That includes restoring electricity and installing a $4 million elevator capable of carrying freight and passengers. The new windows will cost about $3 million.

“This building touches many people,” Carter said. “We think it’s very important to bring it back.”

The station has been empty since the last Amtrak trains called there on Jan. 6, 1988.

Vandals and thieves have since turned the station into a notorious eyesore with every window broken.

The Moroun family gained control of the station in the mid-1990s but has only recently begun to restore it. No plans have been announced for a use of the station, which was built in 1913.

The depot is of the Beaux-Arts Classical style of architecture and was designed by the Warren & Wetmore and Reed & Stem firms, which also designed New York’s Grand Central Terminal.

Detroit Depot May Get Needed Renovations

May 1, 2015

The long-neglected Michigan Central Station in Detroit may finally get an overhaul under a proposed deal between the city and the owners of the station.

The Moroun family would pay up to $5 million to renovate the 13-story station and installed 1,050 windows.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan would support the efforts by the Morouns to build a second bridge between Detroit and Canada. The Morouns own the Ambassdor Bridge between Detroit and Windsor.

The Morouns would also transfer 4.8 acres of riverfront property to the city and pay $5 million to upgrade Riverside Park. The city would transfer 3 acres to the Morouns that would be used to build a bridge support.

The family acquired the Michigan Central station in 1996 and in 2008 said they would renovate the massive station, which opened in 1914.

Repairs to the station’s interior began in 2011. The work included replacing the roof, cleaning up the interior, and removing broken windows and asbestos.

Last February, a St. Clair company issued a press release saying it has reached an agreement with the depot owners to replace all the windows in the station, which is of Beaux-Arts Classical style of architecture.

The depot was designed by the Warren & Wetmore and Reed & Stem firms, which also designed New York’s Grand Central Terminal.

Michigan Central depot has long been one of the Detroit’s  most infamous ruins. Amtrak last served the station on Jan. 6, 1998.