Interior of Michigan Central Station shown to 'Homecoming' crowd in rare display

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The interior of Detroit's historic and long-vacant train depot was on display during the station's first sanctioned

The well-dressed guests mingled, cocktails in hand, beneath the old waiting room's soaring arches and crumbling pillars.

Sunlight streamed through the windowless skylights of the concourse, illuminating the graffiti-covered walls. And the aerial views from the top floor of the depot's tower were heralded as the best in Detroit. 

Detroit's historic and long-vacant Michigan Central Station was on dramatic display Wednesday night during its first big crowd event in three decades.

 

interior-of-michigan-central-station-shown-to-homecoming-crowd-in-rare-display photo 1Buy Photo A view of the interior of Michigan Central Station in Detroit is seen on Wednesday September 13, 2017 during Crain's Detroit Homecoming IV event.  Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Pressinterior-of-michigan-central-station-shown-to-homecoming-crowd-in-rare-display photo 2Buy Photo A view of the interior of Michigan Central Station in Detroit is seen on Wednesday September 13, 2017 during Crain's Detroit Homecoming IV event.  Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Pressinterior-of-michigan-central-station-shown-to-homecoming-crowd-in-rare-display photo 3Buy Photo A view of the interior of Michigan Central Station in Detroit is seen on Wednesday September 13, 2017 during Crain's Detroit Homecoming IV event.  Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Pressinterior-of-michigan-central-station-shown-to-homecoming-crowd-in-rare-display photo 4Buy Photo A view of the interior of Michigan Central Station in Detroit is seen on Wednesday September 13, 2017 during Crain's Detroit Homecoming IV event.  Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Pressinterior-of-michigan-central-station-shown-to-homecoming-crowd-in-rare-display photo 5Buy Photo A view of the interior of Michigan Central Station in Detroit is seen on Wednesday September 13, 2017 during Crain's Detroit Homecoming IV event.  Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Pressinterior-of-michigan-central-station-shown-to-homecoming-crowd-in-rare-display photo 6Buy Photo A view of the interior of Michigan Central Station in Detroit is seen on Wednesday September 13, 2017 during Crain's Detroit Homecoming IV event.  Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Pressinterior-of-michigan-central-station-shown-to-homecoming-crowd-in-rare-display photo 7Buy Photo Dinner tables are set up inside the Michigan Central Station on Wednesday September 13, 2017 during Crain's Detroit Homecoming IV event.  Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Pressinterior-of-michigan-central-station-shown-to-homecoming-crowd-in-rare-display photo 8Buy Photo Dinner tables are set up inside the Michigan Central Station on Wednesday September 13, 2017 during Crain's Detroit Homecoming IV event.  Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Pressinterior-of-michigan-central-station-shown-to-homecoming-crowd-in-rare-display photo 9Buy Photo People get a view of Detroit from the 13th floor of Michigan Central Station in Detroit on Wednesday September 13, 2017 during Crain's Detroit Homecoming IV event.  Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Pressinterior-of-michigan-central-station-shown-to-homecoming-crowd-in-rare-display photo 10Buy Photo People get a view of Detroit from the 13th floor of Michigan Central Station in Detroit on Wednesday September 13, 2017 during Crain's Detroit Homecoming IV event.  Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Pressinterior-of-michigan-central-station-shown-to-homecoming-crowd-in-rare-display photo 11Buy Photo People get a view of Detroit from the 13th floor of Michigan Central Station in Detroit on Wednesday September 13, 2017 during Crain's Detroit Homecoming IV event.  Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Pressinterior-of-michigan-central-station-shown-to-homecoming-crowd-in-rare-display photo 12Buy Photo A view of southbound I-75 from the 13th floor of Michigan Central Station in Detroit on Wednesday September 13, 2017 during Crain's Detroit Homecoming IV event.  Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Pressinterior-of-michigan-central-station-shown-to-homecoming-crowd-in-rare-display photo 13Buy Photo Lisa Pollina of Chicago, IL looks out at the view of Detroit from the 13th floor of Michigan Central Station in Detroit on Wednesday September 13, 2017 during Crain's Detroit Homecoming IV event  Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Pressinterior-of-michigan-central-station-shown-to-homecoming-crowd-in-rare-display photo 14Buy Photo People get a view of Detroit from the 13th floor of Michigan Central Station in Detroit on Wednesday September 13, 2017 during Crain's Detroit Homecoming IV event.  Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Pressinterior-of-michigan-central-station-shown-to-homecoming-crowd-in-rare-display photo 15Buy Photo A view of the interior of Michigan Central Station in Detroit is seen on Wednesday September 13, 2017 during Crain's Detroit Homecoming IV event.  Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Pressinterior-of-michigan-central-station-shown-to-homecoming-crowd-in-rare-display photo 16Buy Photo A view of the interior of Michigan Central Station in Detroit is seen on Wednesday September 13, 2017 during Crain's Detroit Homecoming IV event.  Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Pressinterior-of-michigan-central-station-shown-to-homecoming-crowd-in-rare-display photo 17Buy Photo A view of the interior of Michigan Central Station in Detroit is seen on Wednesday September 13, 2017 during Crain's Detroit Homecoming IV event.  Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Pressinterior-of-michigan-central-station-shown-to-homecoming-crowd-in-rare-display photo 18Buy Photo A view of the interior of Michigan Central Station in Detroit is seen on Wednesday September 13, 2017 during Crain's Detroit Homecoming IV event.  Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Pressinterior-of-michigan-central-station-shown-to-homecoming-crowd-in-rare-display photo 19Buy Photo A view of the interior of Michigan Central Station in Detroit is seen on Wednesday September 13, 2017 during Crain's Detroit Homecoming IV event.  Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Pressinterior-of-michigan-central-station-shown-to-homecoming-crowd-in-rare-display photo 20Buy Photo A view of the interior of Michigan Central Station in Detroit is seen on Wednesday September 13, 2017 during Crain's Detroit Homecoming IV event.  Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Pressinterior-of-michigan-central-station-shown-to-homecoming-crowd-in-rare-display photo 21Buy Photo A view of the interior of Michigan Central Station in Detroit is seen on Wednesday September 13, 2017 during Crain's Detroit Homecoming IV event.  Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Pressinterior-of-michigan-central-station-shown-to-homecoming-crowd-in-rare-display photo 22Buy Photo A view of the interior of Michigan Central Station in Detroit is seen on Wednesday September 13, 2017 during Crain's Detroit Homecoming IV event.  Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Pressinterior-of-michigan-central-station-shown-to-homecoming-crowd-in-rare-display photo 23Buy Photo A view of the interior of Michigan Central Station in Detroit is seen on Wednesday September 13, 2017 during Crain's Detroit Homecoming IV event.  Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Pressinterior-of-michigan-central-station-shown-to-homecoming-crowd-in-rare-display photo 24Buy Photo A view of the interior of Michigan Central Station in Detroit is seen on Wednesday September 13, 2017 during Crain's Detroit Homecoming IV event.  Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Pressinterior-of-michigan-central-station-shown-to-homecoming-crowd-in-rare-display photo 25Buy Photo A view of the exterior of Michigan Central Station in Detroit is seen on Wednesday September 13, 2017 during Crain's Detroit Homecoming IV event.  Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Pressinterior-of-michigan-central-station-shown-to-homecoming-crowd-in-rare-display photo 26Buy Photo A view of the exterior of Michigan Central Station in Detroit is seen on Wednesday September 13, 2017 during Crain's Detroit Homecoming IV event.  Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Pressinterior-of-michigan-central-station-shown-to-homecoming-crowd-in-rare-display photo 27Buy Photo A view of the interior of Michigan Central Station in Detroit is seen on Wednesday September 13, 2017 during Crain's Detroit Homecoming IV event.  Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Pressinterior-of-michigan-central-station-shown-to-homecoming-crowd-in-rare-display photo 28Buy Photo A view of the exterior of Michigan Central Station in Detroit is seen on Wednesday September 13, 2017 during Crain's Detroit Homecoming IV event.  Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Pressinterior-of-michigan-central-station-shown-to-homecoming-crowd-in-rare-display photo 29Buy Photo A view of the exterior of Michigan Central Station in Detroit is seen on Wednesday September 13, 2017 during Crain's Detroit Homecoming IV event.  Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Pressinterior-of-michigan-central-station-shown-to-homecoming-crowd-in-rare-display photo 30Buy Photo A view of the exterior of Michigan Central Station in Detroit is seen on Wednesday September 13, 2017 during Crain's Detroit Homecoming IV event.  Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Press

The rare treat was enjoyed by the roughly 300 guests at Crain's Detroit Homecoming, an annual invitation-only event aimed at attracting interest and investment to the region from metro Detroiters who have moved away.

 

The family of businessman Manuel (Matty) Moroun, which owns the station, opened up the building for the homecoming.  The drinks-and-dinner event marked the largest authorized gathering inside the 104-year-old train station since it closed in 1988.

Only trespassers, movie crews, construction workers and those on an occasional sanctioned tour have been inside.

"Everything looks beautiful tonight," Matthew Moroun, son of Matty Moroun, said in the evening's opening remarks. "Demolition is unthinkable, and the only question is when and how this building is going to be redeveloped."

For many guests, it was their first time inside the train station. 

interior-of-michigan-central-station-shown-to-homecoming-crowd-in-rare-display photo 31Buy Photo

Invitees sit down to eat inside the Michigan Central Station in Detroit on Wednesday September 13, 2017 during Crain's Detroit Homecoming IV event. (Photo: Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Press)

"It's still amazingly beautiful," said Denise Drach of Ferndale, who attended the event with colleagues from the Rossetti  architecture firm. "Many people have tried to get in here by climbing a fence."

For Todd Fortner, who grew up in Redford Township and now lives in Shanghai, the train station is Detroit's own world history site.

"It's like the Colosseum in Rome, the Acropolis in Athens — it's a jewel ruin," said Fortner, co-founder of a China-based automotive interior parts company called CAIP Group.

He said it wouldn't be all that bad if the depot stays as it is and isn't redeveloped.

"I've spent the last 15-16 years living in Shanghai, and I've seen how they just knock down things and make everything new and shiny," Fortner said. "Every book that you look at always focuses on this building as a symbol of Detroit's decline. I think it's a symbol of Detroit's edge and coolness ... this place has a lot of history."

interior-of-michigan-central-station-shown-to-homecoming-crowd-in-rare-display photo 32Buy Photo A view of Michigan Ave. from the 13th floor of Michigan Central Station in Detroit on Wednesday September 13, 2017 during Crain's Detroit Homecoming IV event.  Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Pressinterior-of-michigan-central-station-shown-to-homecoming-crowd-in-rare-display photo 33Buy Photo A view of Michigan Ave. from the 13th floor of Michigan Central Station in Detroit on Wednesday September 13, 2017 during Crain's Detroit Homecoming IV event.  Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Pressinterior-of-michigan-central-station-shown-to-homecoming-crowd-in-rare-display photo 34Buy Photo A view of southbound I-75 from the 13th floor of Michigan Central Station in Detroit on Wednesday September 13, 2017 during Crain's Detroit Homecoming IV event.  Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Pressinterior-of-michigan-central-station-shown-to-homecoming-crowd-in-rare-display photo 35Buy Photo A view of Michigan Ave. from the 13th floor of Michigan Central Station in Detroit on Wednesday September 13, 2017 during Crain's Detroit Homecoming IV event.  Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Pressinterior-of-michigan-central-station-shown-to-homecoming-crowd-in-rare-display photo 36Buy Photo The Ambassador Bridge is seen from the 13th floor of Michigan Central Station in Detroit on Wednesday September 13, 2017 during Crain's Detroit Homecoming IV event.  Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Press

 

The evening was scheduled to conclude with a stunning light show in the station's tower visible for miles around.

Various proposals have been floated over the years for what to do with the empty depot, including casinos and a new Detroit police headquarters, but none have panned out.

However, real estate and development experts say the station may soon be ripe for redevelopment, with high-end lofts and hotel rooms in the tower one possibility. But finding an anchor tenant for the station's large ground floor remains a challenge.

interior-of-michigan-central-station-shown-to-homecoming-crowd-in-rare-display photo 37Buy Photo

People get a view of Detroit from the 13th floor of Michigan Central Station in Detroit on Wednesday September 13, 2017 during Crain's Detroit Homecoming IV event. (Photo: Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Press)

Matthew Moroun recently told Crain's that the depot could be used again as a train station, connecting to Detroit Metropolitan Airport and with future high-speed rail lines to Chicago.

Past estimates have put the cost of rehabbing the station above $100 million and approaching $300 million.

The Morouns say they have put more than $8 million into the station in recent years, restoring electricity, adding a freight elevator and installing more than 1,000 windows.

Contact JC Reindl: 313-222-6631 or jcreindl@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @JCReindl.

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Article Interior of Michigan Central Station shown to 'Homecoming' crowd in rare display compiled by Original article here