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Detoit Mayor wants MCS for Police Headquarters


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This is good news for Detroit's Michigan Central Station, which is the city's biggest abandoned eyesore.

Mayor wants old depot for new police station

October 4, 2003



It's official.

After months of rumors that the City of Detroit was looking at the old Michigan Central Depot for a new police headquarters, Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's office announced Friday that the depot is the mayor's choice.

Still to come, though, is an agreement over the terms by which the depot would be renovated. Kilpatrick's development aides and the owners of the depot are trying to work out a deal acceptable to both sides.

Henry Hagood, director of development activities in the city's Planning and Development Department, said Friday the odds are "well over 50 percent" that a deal would be reached. He said the mayor would like to present a proposal to City Council for approval later this year.

"This is what we want to do. Will we get there? Don't know yet. But this is the site we've decided we want to concentrate on," he said.

Negotiations have advanced to the point where Hagood's office has begun notifying the backers of several competing sites that the city is talking with the depot team exclusively.

Hagood said Kilpatrick likes the depot for a number of reasons. With its office tower rising to 17 stories, the complex would provide more than enough space for a new headquarters. Then, too, the depot site could allow sufficient parking for the hundreds of vehicles going to and from the headquarters each day. The project apparently would be eligible for environmental brown-field development funding.

Moreover, choosing the depot would remove another landmark building from Detroit's list of derelict structures. The train station probably is the city's most obvious eyesore now that the Book-Cadillac Hotel is being renovated after two decades of abandonment.

Finally, moving the police headquarters into the depot near Michigan and 17th would give southwest Detroit an immediate financial boost.

Matthew Moroun, vice chairman of CenTra Inc., the company that owns the depot and the nearby Ambassador Bridge, released a statement that said the company is excited. He is the son of company founder and chairman Manuel Moroun.

"We're treating this for what it is, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity not only to build a world-class police headquarters, but also to offer something very good back to the community," he said. "We look forward to working out the development agreement."

Tentative plans call for CenTra to pay for the renovation and lease the building to the city on a long-term basis.

No decision has been made about the fate of the existing police headquarters at 1300 Beaubien. Built in 1923 in what is now the city's Greektown district and designed by architect Albert Kahn, the building is considered too inefficient to be a modern police command structure.

Neither Hagood nor Moroun would estimate what it might cost to refit the train station as a police headquarters. Initial plans call for the elegant, high-ceilinged waiting room to become a public space that will contain a restaurant, a police museum, or something similar.

The police department apparently will take up about a third of the office tower that rises behind the waiting room. Still to be decided is what to do with the remaining floors. Kilpatrick would like the city to occupy the entire building, and Hagood said discussions are under way about which other departments could move in.

Built in 1913 and vacated by Amtrak in 1988, the depot has been reduced to ruin by vandalism and the effects of the elements. Virtually every window is broken and the depot and tower have stood for years over southwest Detroit as a distressing symbol of the city's decline.

More than once, the city considered razing the structure and pulled back as various development ideas were floated. Over the years, dreamers proposed using the depot as a casino, an international trade center, a hotel, a nightclub and even putting tennis courts in the old waiting room. None became reality.

When first proposed last February, the idea of turning the station into a police headquarters seemed the most unlikely of all. The plan was one of 11 ideas various teams submitted when the city called for proposals for a new headquarters.

The depot's disadvantages seemed great. It's farther from downtown's courts and jails than other proposed sites. Skeptics said the building is too far gone to save.

But the station's owners worked hard to convince Kilpatrick and his aides that the site makes sense.

Among its advantages: Because the basic structure is standing already, the city would not have to face land acquisition costs, and construction costs would be reduced. Another plus isthe Morouns control enough vacant land around the depot to build any additional buildings the city needs.

Contact JOHN GALLAGHER at 313-222-5173 or [email protected].


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MCS was built in 1913 by the same architect who designed Grand Central Station in New York. It was abandonded by amtrack in the 1980s, and left to decay. People have taken pretty much everything of values out of the building, including the copper pipes & electrical wires, destroying the interior in the process. Other people have covered just about every wall with grafitti. It is in structuarly sound condition though.


The station


Ticket window area


The concourse


Station platform



The concourse...again

Pics from http://members.tripod.com/~Rappollo/mcs.html

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sure detroit has a bad rep for losing buildings, but we certainly have "saved" a good share from abandonment status

Very true, but with all the demolitions, it seems like we've demolished more than we've saved. And a lot of it was demolished for no reason. Hudson's comes to mind. IMO, that would've made a great mixed use building, with condos, a hotel, & retail space. But instead they imploded it, leaving a giant field in the middle of the city. They put in an underground parking garage structured to accept a building being built on top, yet it's been 5 years and still no building!! And what's worse, is that Detroit has lost yet another irreplaceable building. If only they had waited 5 years, the building could have seen a much different, better fate.

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sure detroit has a bad rep for losing buildings, but we certainly have "saved" a good share from abandonment status

For one thing I'm talking about is imploding buildings. Yes they may have saved some but they have imploded MANY irreplaceable buildings. History is what makes a city unique from the rest of them and Detroit is blowing it up. Ok so they saved SOME but it's that going to bring back Hudson's or any of those other building that would have great for lofts or other uses.

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in regards to hudsons, if you will remember, about a year or so before its demo, a fire broke out inside of the building by people trying to scavenge inside of it......that really helped push towards the demolition process.

also, the parking structure hasn't been there that long. It ready to accept approximately a 18-20 story building (similar to CPW). If you ask Karmanos, he really wants a top-level hotel there. Have patience. Current detroit development of recent has really been only by detroiters.......however slowly larger firms from around the nation are seeing potential and starting to drop money into the area........

But yes, the loss of hudsons was a very sad day

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I actually didn't know about the fire. How much damage did it do to the building? Did it do significant structural damage? I was very young at the time...the only thing I remember was seeing the building tumbling down, followed by the giant dust cloud that enveloped the entire city.

So are they planning a building for the site different than the one originally planned? I know that Kilpatrick wanted to see something different than what was originally proposed for the site...and the taller the better...there is now a huge void where Hudson's once stood. An 18-20 story building would be great, much better than the nine story tower I'd originally heard about some time ago. Are there any renderings? I saw them online once but now I can't seem to find them.

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the only renderings i would know of would be the ones from back in the day.....as for current ones, we'd have to wait until someone comes along with a proposal to see any new renderings

i don't think the fire really did that much damage...however the mess associated with the hudsons implosion does offer some hope for the other larger hulking buildings (e.g. statler). First of all, its a beotch to implode buildings that large and it costs a lot of money. And imploding a building that size, even in surface parking lot friendly detroit, caused significant damage to the surrounding buildings, and caused the people mover to be shut down for a while.

So while some say the statler is too large to rehab, in some ways its too large to take down.

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About the Slater being too big to renovate...that is just a bunch of B.S. I mean if it were too big to renovate, then I guess the Book-Cadillac is also too big to renovate. I hope the city can find a developer for the Slater. I heard that it is going to get new awnings for the Super Bowl, so I guess that means that the city is not going to tear it down before then. The Madison Lenox on the other hand...I hope people can convince Ilitch to save it & redevelop it. The last thing we need is another surface lot.

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