Pondering Michigan Central's public-facing first floor
When Ford's iconic Michigan Central renovation opens in the first half of next year in Corktown, the ground floor of the historic former train station will be publicly accessible.
- Our question — what will be chosen to fill the space that so many have memories of?
What's happening: Michigan Central is planning food, beverage and retail options "that will be as much of a destination as the depot itself," but officials haven't announced specific tenants yet, per a recent statement. They've been meeting with "all sorts of Detroit restaurateurs and small-business owners."
- Announcements will likely start early next year.
In the meantime, we spoke with some Corktown observers about what they expect to unfold:
Ryan Cooley, O'Connor Real Estate: As long as Michigan Central continues on the track it's been on — major neighborhood outreach and connections with people doing "cool things" locally — it'll likely have a unique destination planned. "Basically, don't do what the RenCen does, ultimately."
- Michigan Central will need to fit its tenants into a restored historic space that isn't catered to modern retail, Cooley says.
Lex Zavala, Detroit Hispanic Development Corp.: He notes that Michigan Central connects Corktown and Southwest Detroit, both areas driven by small, family-owned and/or minority-owned businesses, and wants the building to stay "with that tradition."
Sheila Cockrel, consultant and former City Council member: The train station "is a breathing monument to crossroads," with a diverse range of people coming and going.
- She wants the space to feel welcoming to both new tech folks and longtime residents — plus be full of open gathering space and testimony to the building's role in transit history.
- Food and "interplay" with Corktown's longtime restaurant and bar scene will also be crucial.
What do you want to open on the station's main floor? Email [email protected] and we may feature your thoughts in a future newsletter.
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