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Union Station in Kansas City. Photo: Union Station Facebook Page

If there is any doubt that the Michigan Central Station can be brought back to life, here lies an example of a city that’s already made something like that happen.

There is another Beaux Arts train station in Kansas City, Missouri that has made a comeback as a multi-use entertainment complex with shopping, movie theaters, traveling Smithsonian exhibits, a science museum, bike sharing rentals AND a working Amtrak stop that handled more than 160,000 passengers last year. It’s like every place-making buzzword we talk about here in the D came to reality there. It also does not seem so buzzword-y when the concepts actually come to fruition.

The Kansas City Union Station opened in 1914 (a year after ours) and was abandoned in the 1980’s like our dilapidated structure. In the mid-nineties a three-year renovation of the facility began. It was funded by a one-eighth of a cent sales tax in Jackson, Clay and Platte counties in Missouri and Jonson County in Kansas which raised $118 million of the $250 million for the renovation. The rest was raised through private donations and federal monies.

Kansas City station - Brian Whitmarsh via Creative Commons
Kansas City station – Brian Whitmarsh via Creative Commons

Before you start using the size equation to doubt feasibility, here’s an interesting fact: The Kansas City Union Station is 850,000 square feet … and Michigan Central is 500,000. Kansas City proper has a couple hundred thousand or so less people than the City of Detroit does, as well.

It’s doable, and it’s been done.

Something of this scale takes a lot of cooperation, admittedly something we’re horribly poor at here in Metro Detroit. So far, save for very minor items, we continue to have an empty relic to stare at in one of the hottest neighborhoods in the country. Not to ignore constructive and researched criticism, but we at Daily Detroit think that vision should be turned to into action. Political pressure needs to be put on for progress, not just the benefit of one wealthy billionaire who seems to take pride in blighting cities in two countries.

Inside the Kansas City station. Photo via Brian Whitmarsh, Creative Commons
Inside the Kansas City station. Photo via Brian Whitmarsh, Creative Commons

It’s amazing what collaboration can do. See the pictures below… it’s easy to think what our own Michigan Central Station could look like. The photo above is from the Kansas City Union Station Facebook page. They’re currently doing a series looking back on the restoration of the station, the photos are worth checking out.

Inside Kansas City Union Station (licensed Photo)

 What if the interior of Michigan Central looked this clean with restored detail like this does in Kansas City? (Photo licensed via Getty/iStock)

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Check out this clock. (Bill Thompson via Creative Commons license)

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Or, using a train station for.. transit. (your friend le via Creative Commons license)

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Imagine catching a movie or dinner at the Beaux Arts train station. Both are possible in KC (Photo Harvey’s at Union Station Facebook page)

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Or how about grabbing a cup of joe? Dare to dream. They also have a chocolate factory. (Photo via Parisi Artisan Coffee Facebook page)

Kansas City Missouri

Union Station in context of the downtown of Kansas City. (Photo licensed via Getty/iStock)