Detroit — Representatives for the billionaire owners of the empty Michigan Central Depot gave a brief media tour Thursday of one of the city’s most famous ruins, sparked by the installation of hundreds of windows.
The former train station is still empty, just as it has been since 1988. Owner Manuel “Matty” Moroun hasn’t revealed a plan for the 18-story behemoth. But nearly half of the 1,000-plus windows have been installed, and that alone sparked a lot of media attention. It’s testimony the Corktown structure is still an awe-inspiring wreck.
A peek inside shows a lot of work is still needed to restore the building back to its original grandeur. The coliseum-like lobby remains riddled with graffiti and gaping holes. Even on a floor where many of the windows, which cost $3,000 apiece, have been installed, the room was an empty shell. All of the windows in the building will be installed by the end of the year, officials said Thursday.
In 2011, Moroun announced he would hire crews to begin to remove the asbestos-laden caulking and glazing from the huge arch-shaped first-floor windows that provide a view to the once elegant lobby with marble pillars.
Entities connected to Moroun and members of his family own the Ambassador Bridge and control 550 acres spread throughout Detroit.
Many properties are empty. Many of the parcels are near the Ambassador Bridge, the former Michigan Central Depot and the area around the Detroit City Airport.
Some of the land just looks empty. On Fort Street near the bridge is a former Greyhound Bus terminal. The windows are boarded up and while it looks vacant, the building is being leased to a logistical center.
The core business of the Morouns are trucking terminals and warehouse logistics facilities. At least three of their properties have huge logistic facilities that serve automotive companies.
They have big plans for some of the properties. On the east side, Crown recently bought 40 acres near City Airport to build to a 400,000-square-foot automotive supplier facility. Crown purchased the land for $2.24 million. It is expected to create up to 250 jobs.
There are 39 commercial/industrial structures on their properties; 28 are occupied.
The Morouns have not found uses for some of their Corktown properties, despite the area's popularity among developers. Those properties include a former historic firehouse on 18th Street in a residential area and a huge former cold storage facility at Wabash and Bagley.
Since April, $156,687 in outstanding fines have been paid to clear up code violations on 42 of their properties throughout the city.