Michigan Central Station

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Re: Michigan Central Station

Postby gokeefe » Sun Dec 25, 2016 10:14 pm

Do you think this problem could be addressed by simply running a reverse move instead? I've noticed since the institution of 110 MPH service that the Michigan trains are usually running with power on both ends. As best I can tell from the satellite all the necessary track and switches are already in place.
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Re: Michigan Central Station

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Mon Dec 26, 2016 8:33 am

Mr. O'Keefe, yes; but why.

The reverse move would be very short as you can see the structure from the existing Amtrak Wolverine route.

But to me, the present station is quite functional (last used it during '11); the only adverse comment is that the platform is too short. It is located at Woodward Ave; the "main drag" to Downtown Detroit. According to Mr. Google, it is 4.6mi from Marriott Renaissance Center, which is along the River (sure was nice to have a "River View' room while staying there on points!!!) at Brush Street - from where the GTW operated the last scheduled steam powered passenger (commuter) trains (IIRC until 1960).

By comparison, MCS (last used it during 1974) is 2.5mi from same hotel; undeniably closer to Downtown. But the redevelopment appears to be proceeding along Woodward in the direction of the existing station. There is even a streetcar line being built along Woodward, and aside from Orchestra Hall, the baseball stadium, Wayne State University, and the Fox Theatre are all located along Woodward.
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Re: Michigan Central Station

Postby gokeefe » Mon Dec 26, 2016 10:03 am

I was wondering about the neighborhood location as well until I read this.

The article was published in August (2016) and addressed a potential deal to convert the building into the City Jail (talk about a "Big House" ... ).

But Corktown in 2003 is quite a bit different from Corktown in 2016. It could be argued that the same reasons you don’t want a jail and justice complex downtown – new investment and energy – is the same reason that maybe you wouldn’t want it in Corktown, undoubtedly one of Detroit’s hottest neighborhoods.
...
This is the kind of deal that could happen very quickly, and has lots of pros and cons. It is, after all, a way to activate a building and plot of land that hasn’t seen much action beyond a few movie shoots and some windows put in.

The other question is what the courts and jail locating there would do to area property values. The area sports popular establishments like Two James Distillery & Tasting Room, Katoi, Slow’s BBQ, Mercury Burger Bar and property values have been going up in the area, with some lofts renting for near $2,000 a month.


I found the area description fascinating ... And was very surprised by it.
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Re: Michigan Central Station

Postby gokeefe » Mon Dec 26, 2016 10:21 am

Also worth noting ... The "CPA Building" ... Sorry Mr. Norman ... It's the "Conductors Protective Association" ... Directly across the street from MCS was recently (last month) saved from demolition by local area residents.

From this article in "Model D Media":

While it's Corktown that receives the lion's share of development attention, its neighbor across the freeway, North Corktown, has been in the news lately, too.
...
In historic preservation news, the CPA Building across from Michigan Central Station has been saved from demolition—at least for now. It was reported earlier this month that the building's owners, the New York City-based BFD Corktown LLC, were granted a demolition permit for the building. But as news broke, preservation and neighborhood advocates quickly mobilized, gathering over 1,000 signatures to petition its destruction. Detroit City Council took note and granted the building, which opened in 1923, an interim historic building designation, delaying demolition for up to one year and opening it up to further studies.


Not only noteworthy because of the historic preservation but also the apparent "conventional wisdom" that sees Corktown as a "hot" neighborhood.

If developers can't even get a permit to take down a nearly non-descript building on a corner you can forget about an icon such as MCS having a wrecking ball convention. Turning such it into a city jail in what is now "prime" real estate is almost certainly out if the question as well.

Does this mean Amtrak will return? Not necessarily but I can see why people would advocate for it. Also worth noting from that same article that the Detroit Pistons will be moving back downtown from Auburn Hills. Originally they moved out in favor of the Silverdome in Pontiac ...
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Re: Michigan Central Station

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Mon Dec 26, 2016 4:43 pm

Allow me an off topic diversion to explain what was the Conductor's Protective Association.

It was an insurance company, which wrote policies to provide benefits to Conductors who were serving disciplinary suspensions.

The company was succeeded by the Locomotive Engineers and Conductor's Mutual Protective Association. There are other companies that write policies for employees in other crafts as well. Labor Agreements of most crafts provide for premiums to be paid by payroll deduction.

End off topic digression.
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Re: Michigan Central Station

Postby markhb » Thu Dec 29, 2016 9:38 am

I wonder how much the Maroun's take in for allowing, shall we say, "ancillary uses" of MCS. Case in point: the use of the interior as a filming location for Batman v Superman.
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Re: Michigan Central Station

Postby gokeefe » Thu Dec 29, 2016 1:46 pm

Probably no more than $100K and that's one time use only. I wouldn't be surprised if it was as little as $10K but that is probably on the low side for this type of facility rental.
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Re: Michigan Central Station

Postby gokeefe » Tue Sep 12, 2017 9:52 pm

The latest appearance in local media for MCS:

Considering the momentum in redevelopment in Detroit, one building looms over all others as it stands vacant, waiting for its next act.

A couple months ago, news broke that Michigan Central Depot would hold an event for the first time in years. As part of Detroit Homecoming (which starts this week), owner Matthew Moroun would bring Detroit ex-pats back into the station as a way to spark interest and gather excitement over possible redevelopment.

In an interview with Crain’s, Moroun has now said that he’d like the station to be used as a depot for passenger trains again.
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Re: Michigan Central Station

Postby gokeefe » Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:17 pm

Here is the article referenced from Crain's.

“It’s crazy, right?” Moroun said in an exclusive interview with Crain’s. “The idea that we’re most focused on now, the one that seems to make sense, is in the name of the building and it’s what it used to be used for.”

The son of billionaire transportation mogul Manuel “Matty” Moroun seems serious about making the depot a mass transit hub again as he embarks on a mission to save an iconic symbol of Detroit’s 20th century rise and fall.

Matthew Moroun is floating the idea to transportation planners and government officials ahead of the Michigan Central Station playing host Wednesday night to former Detroiters at the kickoff dinner for the fourth annual Detroit Homecoming, produced by Crain’s Detroit Business.


Here's my take .... Reading between the lines ... The Ambassador Bridge is about to get government funded competition. The company is looking for ways to develop a major asset with as much taxpayer assistance as they can possibly get.

I don't know if it will work. Looks like a long shot to me but at least they're trying something and this is from a family that has deep pockets and deep ties to the Detroit and Michigan business communities.
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Re: Michigan Central Station

Postby Tadman » Wed Sep 13, 2017 8:58 am

That is exactly my thought. Moroun's wishes for MCS imply "Gee if the gov't would only fund 35 passenger trains/day into MCS and thus lease the space from me, it would be really profitable for me". Mmmmmkay... If I married a supermodel and had $1m I'd be the coolest guy ever, but that's not about to happen.

Also, there is a mention of an airport express to MCS. What??? That's like having an airport express to 35th street in Chicago or the Bronx in New York. What sense does that make? An airport express should go DOWN. TOWN.
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Re: Michigan Central Station

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:32 am

Last time I checked, as of a few moments ago, there is no jitney (well, properly licensed) operator such as Super Shuttle, between Metropolitan (DTW) and Downtown. So I have to agree with Mr. Dunville that if an operator using Detroit's rather deserted highways to Downtown "can't make it", how would a rail operator ever to a structure to the South of town?

Detroit Symphony is an orchestra I support both at the box office and contributions. During '13, I wanted to go to a concert there. Sorry, but the Wolverines considering the schedules and reliability, are useless to me and it was winter ("Lake Effect" white stuff), I chose to fly and purchased a ticket. I then checked to see what jitney there was and found none. Renting an auto with no Sat Nav would get me lost in a place where it is best not to get lost and to park it would just end up getting costly. So I scrubbed the whole thing forfeiting the airplane ticket.

All told it would appear that DTW is by and large a "Manhattan Transfer" or "Secaucus Junction" for Delta Airlines.
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Re: Michigan Central Station

Postby mtuandrew » Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:55 am

If only Fort Street Union Depot had survived.

EDIT: and despite your reticence about jumping too deeply into mobile tech, Mr. Norman, a service like Lyft or Uber is tailor-made for your visits to the DSO.
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Re: Michigan Central Station

Postby gokeefe » Wed Sep 13, 2017 12:21 pm

Tadman wrote:That is exactly my thought. Moroun's wishes for MCS imply "Gee if the gov't would only fund 35 passenger trains/day into MCS and thus lease the space from me, it would be really profitable for me". Mmmmmkay... If I married a supermodel and had $1m I'd be the coolest guy ever, but that's not about to happen.


I'm glad I'm not the only one who read into it this way.

What's interesting to me is that the Morouns appear to be in the unusual position of asking the government for something as opposed to the other way around. I think the biggest problem that Detroit has right now is the lack of population and demand for urban real estate that would produce real support for some of these ideas. Obviously there are other root causes for this but I'm fascinated by the comments in some of the material in which third parties say that the financial conditions are "close" to making it possible for this renovation to happen.

I was astounded when one person indicated that they thought 200 condos (in Detroit!) could potentially be absorbed by the market because there was a shortage of large projects. It was even more fascinating that such a project would be potentially considered viable without the benefit of federal historic preservation tax credits. That is an incredible proposition which less than two years ago probably would have seemed farcical that any project at MCS could be viable without resorting to government incentives.
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Re: Michigan Central Station

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Wed Sep 13, 2017 12:47 pm

Mr. Stephens, what does lifting an object higher have to with getting from the Airport to Downtown? :-D

My last visit to Detroit was during Oct '16 by auto. I had a Dinner stop at Win Schuler's in Marshall and better "Prime" Rib than Amtrak has ever served (had it once on Auto-Train) . Was smack on schedule until MY Sat-Nav got me lost trying to find Marriott at Renaissance Center. I first almost went into the Windsor Tunnel (that would have been sport - hardly had my Passport with me) then had me circling the building telling me I had arrived.

With that happening using my own auto's Sat-Nav, how would it have been with Hertz's "Alwayslost"?

Returning more or less to topic, may with a resurging Downtown, some jitney operator may decide "there's a market" Airport to Downtown, but at this time, this latest MCS "initiative" is simply a ploy by a monied politically connected family, who can have the media be like lap dogs waiting for a "bone" for a story, to soak up some public funds for whatever they choose.

Finally, on that auto trip, I did get to drive by MCS on I 75. At least, the hulk is secure with its new windows. That drive also showed me why that proposed Lake Shore reroute never went anywhere.
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Re: Michigan Central Station

Postby gokeefe » Wed Sep 13, 2017 1:00 pm

Gilbert B Norman wrote:Returning more or less to topic, may with a resurging Downtown, some jitney operator may decide "there's a market" Airport to Downtown, but at this time, this latest MCS "initiative" is simply a ploy by a monied politically connected family, who can have the media be like lap dogs waiting for a "bone" for a story, to soak up some public funds for whatever they choose.


One of the stranger parts of the story is news that so far the Moroun family has put $8 million into the building. That was really intriguing to me and seemed indicative of a major decision on their part to move forward with a plan to transform this part of Detroit. I agree and respect that the "story" could be just a bone for the mutts in the Detroit media to scrap over but the overall context seems to be slowly changing. The entire approach appears to be incrementalist which is odd in of itself because it would seem to indicate that the family has decided to move forward with the project "slowly but surely" (on a cash basis no less) until they can find a reuse that is sufficiently profitable to their motives. Given the desperation in Detroit for economic improvement I'm having a hard time believing that others won't "bite".
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