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Detroit Mayor Frustrated Over Depot, Says It Can’t Be Demoed

Sat June 18, 2005 - Midwest Edition
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DETROIT (AP) Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick dismissed the possibility of demolishing the crumbling old train depot that for decades welcomed immigrants and transplants to the city, saying its sturdy construction makes it too expensive to tear down.

The mayor said for years the prospect of restoring the long-vacant Michigan Central Depot to use as the city’s police headquarters has excited him, but as the plan has foundered, he’s become frustrated.

A May deadline passed without the city getting a structural engineering report on what it would take to convert the depot into a usable building. Kilpatrick said as soon as the city gets the information, it will assess whether conversion is feasible.

It’s unclear what would happen to the building if the city, which faces a projected $300 million deficit, can’t afford to rebuild and relocate the police there.

“We can’t tear it down,” Kilpatrick said in an interview with The Associated Press, adding that its steel-riveted, steel-reinforced construction means it would have to be taken apart piece by piece.

“We can’t afford to pay that much for demolition. If you imploded it, the amount of explosives you’d need would probably blow up half of Mexicantown,” he said of a nearby neighborhood in southwest Detroit.

“So what we’re trying to do is make it work,” Kilpatrick said.

Police have complained about the current headquarters downtown, also in an old building, and said they need a new station sooner rather than later.

Kilpatrick has described the 91-year-old, 17-story depot as a symbol of Detroit’s dilapidation, and said restoring it could signal the city’s rebirth. The police chief has suggested making part of it a police museum.

Previous project estimates have placed the cost at roughly $130 million, which Kilpatrick has said could possibly be raised with bonds.

City council members have raised objections to the plan, with one former councilwoman calling the building a “Frankenstein.”

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