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Old Posted Nov 5, 2011, 12:35 AM
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Michigan Central Depot Being Renovated

Moroun spending money on Central Depot


November 03. 2011

By Louis Aguilar

Read More: http://detnews.com/article/20111103/...-Central-Depot

Quote:
The New York City entrepreneur who promises to find new life for the Michigan Central Depot — the city's most famous ruin — says its billionaire owner has spent millions of dollars this year cleaning up Detroit's former train station. Skeptics have said it is a tactic to improve the image of Manuel "Matty" Moroun and his Detroit International Bridge Co., operator of the Ambassador Bridge. The bridge company wants to build a second span between Detroit and Windsor instead of a publicly financed bridge backed by the Snyder administration. And the Michigan Department of Transportation has accused Moroun of not building his portion of the $230 million Gateway project, an effort to connect the Ambassador Bridge directly to I-75 and I-96 via a series of ramps.

- Fueled by Moroun money, workers toiling since early spring have removed tons of debris, broken glass, caulking and asbestos from the derelict building near Michigan Avenue and 14th Street in southwest Detroit. Meanwhile, architects and feasibility experts are on site, evaluating the potential future of the 18-story depot. On Saturday, a group of about 30 individuals including politicians, members of foundations, officials from the Detroit Institute of Arts and local entrepreneurs were invited to tour the train station. On hand was Nora Moroun, wife of Matty, who is playing an active role in finding a way to renovate the depot. "Even at this stage, when it's mainly just empty, it's remarkably beautiful and inspiring," said State Rep. Fred Durhal, D-Detroit, who took the Saturday tour. "I'm convinced the Morouns and the others involved will find a new use for that station. There is no doubt they are serious about it."

- "I think we are talking five years before we … may see a solid (development) plan," said Elisabeth Knibbe, a principal at the Quinn Evans Architects in Ann Arbor who specializes in historical preservation and is involved in the feasibility study. "Structurally, the building is very sound. What's different now from (previous attempts) is the momentum — the group of people behind this effort as well as the outreach to a wide group," she said. Griffin says he's trying to avoid politics and focus on finding a new use for the building. "I saw a picture of the train station about a year and a half ago. I thought it was amazing, and I wrote the Morouns. They wrote me back immediately and that's really how it all began," said Griffin, who is a theater producer and runs the development company Ramscale Inc in New York.

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