Sunday, November 29, 2009

Detroit Freep features Nashville's "grassroots" movement to preserve Union Station

After the Detroit city council voted to demolish the city's historic train depot, a local movement sprang up to engage the debate on whether to keep it. A Detroit Free Press reporter covers the debate and looks to Nashville's Union Station as a chance for Michigan preservationists:

Nashville got its Union Station up and operating by taking advantage of a little-used federal provision.

Ann Roberts, former director of the Nashville Historic Commission, is Nashville's expert on all things Union Station.

Now retired, Roberts said the Nashville station, which first opened in 1900, was in various stages of decay in the early 1970s and condemned by the city by 1975.

By the late 1970s, a nearby building was converted to a federal office building, paving the way for the station -- designated a federal historic property -- to be given to the City of Nashville for free ....

Phil Goldfarb, president and chief executive officer of Turnberry Hospitality Management, is the latest leaseholder at Nashville Union Station. It took $12 million and two years, from 2006-08, to painstakingly restore the station, converting it to a Wyndham property.

The urgency for projects like this, Goldfarb said, "starts at the grassroots level."

There was such a ground swell following the council's vote to demolish the depot. Facebook groups calling to "Save Detroit's Michigan Central Station" sprang up.

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