On Saturday about 4000 extra people dropped by Michigan in Pictures. The impetus was a New York Times story on Michigan Central Station. Although the Detroit City Council voted to demolish MCS last year, a massive budget hole, a lawsuit, and new council members who aren’t quite as bulldozer-happy:
â€œI don’t want to bulldoze it, then find out later there could have been a viable use for it,â€ said Charles Pugh, a newly elected member who took over as Council president in January.
Now preservationists, business owners, state leaders and community activists are taking what feels like a last stab at saving the 97-year-old building before it goes the way of New York’s Pennsylvania Station or, more locally, Tiger Stadium and countless other pieces of old Detroit that have fallen to the wrecking ball in recent years. Among the recent proposals have been to turn the cavernous brick, steel and stone facade into an extreme sports castle; a casino; a hotel and office park; a fish hatchery and aquarium; an amphitheater; or a railway station again, with high-speed trains.
While the story didn’t have anything new for people who’ve been following the sad saga of Detroit’s largest ruin other than a link to the Michigan Central Station Preservation Society, it does provide a nice lead-in for another national story. Last week in Examining Data That Would Downsize Detroit, NPR reported that with a quarter of Detroit’s 350,000 buildings vacant or in shambles, Mayor Dave Bing wants to reshape the city by getting rid of them and relocating residents who live in desolate neighborhoods, saying it’s too expensive to provide city services in areas that are like urban deserts. Bing’s proposal is based on data collected by demographer Kurt Metzger, director of Data Driven Detroit, who explains the data:
“We had surveyors go out and actually collect information in every single parcel in the city of Detroit. And just to give you the real quick analysis, we found better than a third of the land – and that’s of 139 square miles – we estimate better than a third of the land in the city of Detroit is either vacant land right now or contains buildings that need to be torn down. It’s amazing. I mean, New Orleans is about 70 square miles. We’re talking that better than 40 square miles, better than half of New Orleans is vacant land.
Now, of course its interspersed around the city, so that’s where the issues about going into neighborhoods where there’s a lot of vacant land. But a lot of one or two homes still left on streets. These are neighborhoods that are going to have to be gone into and trying to think about how do we start to move people into other areas.”
An effort like this was discussed in Flint, but according to an article on mLive that contrasts the response of Flint & Detroit to population crash, Flint is no longer planning to do neighborhood relocation.
You can learn much more about Michigan Central Station on Absolute Michigan and Michigan in Pictures, and check out the Michigan Central Station slideshow from the photographers of the Absolute Michigan pool.