Detroit is dealing with many of the same issues that Buffalo is, when it comes to reusing its vacant train station. The situation at hand sounds eerily familiar to the plight of the Central Terminal, including abandonment, and the hurdle of being located on the “outskirts” of the city’s central hub. At the same time, there’s a shining light, in the form of someone who is considering taking the project on, by returning the station to its original glory and intended use as… of all things… a train station. Detroit’s Matthew Moroun is the business mogul who is talking the talk, and might possibly walk the walk. Essentially, the concept is similar to the one that Buffalo recently missed out on. Instead of positioning an Amtrak at the Central Terminal, political leaders opted to build a new station in Downtown Buffalo, much to the chagrin of East Side advocates.
According to Crain’s, “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.”
Incredibly, there is also an idea being bandied about that sees a streetcar line connecting the terminal to downtown Detroit. A BRO reader proposed a similar vintage Budd Car Service that would connect the Central Terminal to other key areas within the region (see here).
Moroun is also looking at what it would take to rehab the rest of the building, which is something the developer Doug Swift and businessman Harry Stinson proposed, until the ULI study muddied the waters. Similar to Buffalo’s Central Terminal, Moroun has spent some good money ensuring that the train station is stable – according to Crain’s, he “spent spent more than $8 million installing 1,100 new windows, building a freight elevator in the building’s original smokestack and removing debris and toxic asbestos.” Over the last few years, the Central Terminal Restoration Corporation (CTRC) has done its best to stabilize the Central Terminal, utilizing the limited funds that have been made available.
You can read the full story about Detroit’s opportunity at hand, to accomplish a similar undertaking that Buffalo was also considering. It will be interesting to see how all of this pans out for Detroit, if Moroun does indeed get the wheels rolling on this project. And if he does, Buffalo should pay close attention.