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'We're putting it back together.' A look inside the major construction at Michigan Central Station

Posted at 8:55 PM, Jun 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-02 20:55:24-04

(WSYM) — Three years into the restoration of the historic Michigan Central Station in Corktown, scaffolding fills much of the building's ground floor, including the main waiting room with its incredible 65-foot tile vaulted ceilings.

Related: Ford's 'fast-track' program helping Detroiters learn trades while working on train station

“What that does is it allows us to get up at that height to fix those ceilings. We’re about two-thirds of the way done fixing them," Rich Bardelli said. He works with Ford and oversees the site. "Then we’ll be doing all the plaster work up there, which we’re probably about a third of the way done up there now.”

The ceiling in an arcade already provides a glimpse of what's to come.

Ford Motor Company purchased the building from the Maroun family for $90 million in June 2018 with plans to spend hundreds of millions more to turn it into a technology hub for electric and autonomous vehicles.

Related: Construction crews at Michigan Central Station find 108-year-old message in a bottle

“We’re at the point where we’re putting it back together, which is the best part of the job," Bardelli said.

Still, the roughly 400 workers a day inside the building have plenty more to do before the job is complete. Bardelli said it will be the end of 2022, around January or February of 2023 that the base construction will be done.

Related: View incredible photos from inside Michigan Central Station in the early 1970s

After that, it'll take another 4-6 months will be spent getting space ready for tenants, including retail shops, a restaurant and residential units. Bardelli said it's possible a hotel could also be within the building.

A rail line remains behind it, but the last train left the station in January 1988. Still, the building figures to once again become a destination, sparking new interest and investment in Corktown.

“We’re getting historic tax credits for the building so we’re working closely with the state historic preservation office, along with the National Park Service to make sure we're putting the building back in a way that is historically correct," Bardelli said.

Michigan Central Station Work

As it sat vacant all those years, graffiti artists left their mark. Some of the interior walls still display the work. Bardelli said a few of the pieces will be preserved because it also tells a part of the building's history.

“You get once in a lifetime type of project to put together not just a hundred-year-old building, but for what it means for our community, and then what it means for Ford Motor Company and how it’s going to take us into the future," Bardelli said.