Every Detroiter and nearly every visitor to southwest Detroit is fully
aware that the Michigan Central Depot languished on its foundation at
Michigan and Bagley. Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick wants to restore the building
for use as the City of Detroit police headquarters. Hurray, it is about
News columnist Pete Waldmeir, claims it is rotted past the point of
salvation. Preservationists are aware of the tremendous decay and pillaging
the building has suffered since it was shuttered in the early 1980s.
Other attempts to resuscitate the building failed, but none had quite
as vital a use as a police station, protecting the life and safety of
all that come to Detroit.
Once more the rebirth of Michigan Central Depot could serve as a catalyst
for the revitalization of surrounding neighborhoods, celebrating a diverse
community of cultures and nationalities. Mr. Waldmeir seems concerned
the Police Department will only house 60 percent of the structure.
Couldn't other services occupy the remainder? Is it at all possible
that the redevelopment of Michigan Central Depot could drive the economic
growth of a new service industry in southeast Michigan - Homeland Security,
naturalization and immigration, transportation - just to name a few.
Near the old police headquarters at 1300 Beaubien you'll find law enforcement
uniform shops, bailiffs, restaurants and coffee shops.
Finally, is it at all possible that the redevelopment of Michigan Central
Depot could be a vehicle that creates jobs in areas outside of the downtown
core of Detroit?
seems that most of the redevelopment plans we've seen over the last
15 years have focused attention on the downtown core of the city and
not the communities that surround the immediate downtown area. Neighborhoods
such as the Briggs community, Historic Corktown, and Southwest Detroit
could realize enhanced economic growth when this regional landmark is
put back to work.
There have been redevelopment and restoration projects in other cities
that provide support for a Michigan Central Depot redevelopment project.
Studies have shown that America's historic rail stations have driven
economic development and community revitalization while serving a larger
need in regional development throughout the United States. In some cases,
rehabilitating these stations has restored a form of transportation
to the areas they once served.
** South Boston acquired $450 million from the U.S. Federal Transit
Administration to redevelop underground bus rapid transit stations
adjacent to their World Trade Center, a new Convention Center and
the new courthouse. Additionally, in 1991 Congress made the rehabilitation
of historic transportation facilities eligible for transportation
enhancement funding. Money is included for improved pedestrian access,
landscaping, public art, and nearby streetscape improvements.
** Evanston, Illinois, home of Northwestern University, recently
completed its Davis Street Transportation Center with the help of
tax increment financing for site preparation, environmental remediation
and streetscape improvements. Cook County provides funding to preserve
landmark building through its state sales tax. Moreso, transit planning
efforts give the aging community on Chicago's north border, a direction
and commitment. It paves the way for new development.
** Memphis, Tennessee's South Main area - began to restore its trolley
system and the Central Station in 1993 as a mixed-use intermodal center.
Among the attractions found there today is the National Civil Rights
Museum. Federal, state, and city funding joined with city agencies
Center City Commission, preservationists and neighborhood groups to
devise a plan for the station's rebirth.
examples and written information is available that clearly demonstrates
how these efforts bring back cities, improve transit, and build new
development to encourage this transit use. And while it may be more
difficult to find, there are also studies that will show how transit,
the development that supports it, neighborhood revitalization and historic
preservation serve the common goals of all they reach and increase the
potential for success for each of them.
Michigan Central will rejuvenate as a symbol of hope and renewal in
the southeast Michigan region's core city? Preservation Wayne says "yes,"
save the building. Detroit's image can only be enhanced by its ability
to turn around what has been allowed to fall into ruin.
Jim Turner is the president of Preservation
Wayne. The story is brought to you by Urbanity Now news service.