State Fair Transit Center plan would reuse 1 building, demonstrate another

The proposed new transit center at the former Michigan State Fairgrounds in Detroit would turn the historic Dairy Cattle Building into a focal point, but see the demolition of most of the site’s other key buildings, the Coliseum, according to the proposals unveiled Thursday.

The proposed new transit center, which would replace the existing nearby bus transfer site – and what many users describe as a woefully inadequate bus transfer site, is part of the plan to bring in a distribution center. Amazon in the region.

Conceptual images of the site near Woodward and 8 Mile, shown at a Detroit Department of Transportation’s Zoom meeting to take stock of the project, showed buses passing through the center of a redeveloped dairy cattle building to take and drop off passengers, with an atmosphere marked by lots of open space, the structure’s high ceiling and windows near the top to let in natural light.

Images from a webcast Thursday show the reuse of the historic Dairy Cattle Building as part of plans for a new transit center in the former Michigan State Fairgrounds.

Additional space would be included inside the building for a ticket office, waiting area, bathrooms, rental sections, bicycle storage, historical exhibition area, police office and a space for the Detroit Department of Transportation and the Commuter Mobility Authority for regional transportation personnel.

Conservatives fear that a number of historic buildings on the site will be demolished as part of the project. According to the proposal, the Colosseum would be demolished, but its southern portico would remain the main visual feature of a new park focused on public events.

Francis Grunow, a consultant working with the historic preservation community, was among those who mentioned the Colosseum plans during a question-and-answer session.

“I am very happy to see a step in the right direction in terms of safeguarding the buildings on the site and reinventing the Dairy Cattle Building as a transit center. Having said that, I share the concern (expressed by another caller) about the Colosseum, ”said Grunow.

This is one of the images shown Thursday of plans for a new transit center at the former Michigan State Fairgrounds.  The proposal would reuse the dairy cattle building, but demonstrate the Colosseum, with the exception of the south portico.

The fate of the buildings on the site has been uncertain for years. They have been empty since the state withdrew funding for the state’s annual fair in 2009. The initial price for the project, which could start later this year, was set at $ 7 million, but officials stated that it was not a budget number.

Another aspect of the project that has raised concerns among transit advocates, who also support the concept of an improved transit hub, is that the site would not be on Woodward, potentially slowing down lines. express bus, but officials said they would strive to make the road efficiency is not affected.

Thursday’s session did not mark the end of planning or potential changes to the proposal, but the changes signal that efforts to create a new transit hub near the northern Detroit border are advancing.

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During the meeting, residents posed questions to Detroit Building Authority director Tyrone Clifton and Detroit executive director C. Mikel Oglesby, among others, and gave their views on the plans.

Some have asked for specific amenities, like a place to grab a cup of coffee, 24-hour toilet access (which officials say is the post-COVID-19 goal), charging areas for devices. mobile (project architect Shaun Gignac said charging outlets would be built in the waiting room seats) and a location where vehicles or Uber and Lyft taxis can stop without being harassed.

A conceptual image shows the Dairy Cattle Building at the former Michigan State Fairgrounds converted into the heart of the proposed transit hub near a future Amazon distribution site in Detroit.

Oglesby noted that any suggestions would help inform the project as the design progresses towards completion.

“It makes sense to be able to come in, have a cup of coffee and / or whatever you want, and be on your way and ultimately that’s the comfort we want in this transit center,” he said. .

Security concerns were on the minds of some as well, with Oglesby assuring that cameras would be turned on at the site and officials saying the center could be part of Detroit’s Project Green Light, a surveillance network touted as a monitoring tool. fight against the crime that also raised privacy concerns.

Contact Eric D. Lawrence: Follow him on Twitter: @_ericdlawrence. Become a subscriber.

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