The corner of Bethune and Custer off of Woodward is about to get a whole lot busier.
M-1 RAIL, the 3.3 mile-long streetcar project under construction in downtown Detroit, has released conceptual renderings of the nearly 19,000 square feet Penske Tech Center facility, where the streetcar’s technology systems, vehicles and operations team will be based.
Paul Childs, Chief Operation Officer of the project, said in a statement that community input for the new tech center included five recommendations from the community.
- The Tech Center building will be closer to Woodward Avenue, putting streetcar storage in a well-kept area behind the facility.
- The exterior will be made of red brick, which is more representative of the historical look and feel of the surrounding neighborhood than other materials such as stucco or metal.
- Decorative metal fencing will be used for the perimeter of the storage area behind the facility.
- Decorative lighting will be used on the exterior of the building, and will be both functional for safety and security, but will not disturb surrounding properties.
- The landscaping will include plants and other vegetation indicative to the neighborhood.
“We have communicated extensively with the residents and business owners from the neighborhood where the Tech Center will be located, and their input has been invaluable in making sure that the new Tech Center becomes a vibrant part of the community,” said Paul Childs, Chief Operating Officer, M-1 RAIL. “From the types of vegetation we use on the grounds, to the building’s actual design and location on the property, the voices from the community have given M-1 RAIL terrific guidance.”
The stated goal is for 51 percent of the construction workers who build the Tech Center to be Detroit residents. There are also various minority and women-owned businesses on the project, named after businessman and philanthropist Roger Penske who was a major donor to the M1-Rail project.
Funding for M1-Rail in Detroit came from primarily private sources. More than $100 million was raised and then matched with Federal and State level grants and tax credits. There are also station sponsors.
It’s important to note the operating budget for the new streetcar will not come from the city coffers nor will the streetcar be ran or owned by the City of Detroit; it will be funded by an endowment and incremental State money until 2025. After that, the plan is to donate it to another agency, possibly the still fledgling Regional Transit Authority, but no plans are firm.
Construction on the new facility is already underway and expected to be complete by the end of 2015.