Amtrak Eyes New Homes in Detroit Suburbs

Amtrak may be moving to the new Troy Transit Center late this year while across town the current Amtrak station in Dearborn may be going to the dogs (and cats).

Troy officials want Amtrak’s Wolverine Service trains to use the transit center, which is under construction but nearly finished. But Amtrak won’t commit to that until the city can show that it can buy the land on which the transit center is situated.

Troy City Attorney Lori Grigg Bluhm said the transit center can’t be used until Amtrak signs a lease with the city,

The center, located behind a shopping center on the southwest corner of Coolidge and Maple, has been in the works for more than a dozen years.

On Monday night, the Troy City Council approved resolutions to move toward buying the transit center property, including agreeing to use $1.8 million in federal funds to purchase the land.

The city thought it owned the 2.7 acres used by the facility when construction began in late 2012, but an appeals court ruled in May that the developer of the shopping center, Grand/Sakwa Properties, owns the land.

The city is still seeking to appeal that decision to the Michigan Supreme Court.

The city recently had the transit center land parcel assessed at $550,000, but it may have to pay more than that to acquire the property.

The city’s action is expected to enable Amtrak to sign a lease as the city begins negotiating to buy the transit center property.

Troy has already rejected an unspecified offer from Grand/Sakwa Properties for the property. No city funds would be used to buy the land.

Across Metro Detroit, the Friends For the Dearborn Animal Shelter is looking to use the existing Amtrak station as a new animal shelter.

Dearborn City Council President Tom Tafelski recently asked Mayor Jack O’Reilly to draft a memorandum of understanding that will allow the city-own land on which the Amtrak station sits to be used by the animal shelter. It is located behind the Police Department/19th District Court building on Michigan Avenue.

Amtrak will be moving to an under-construction intermodal facility on Michigan Avenue, west of Evergreen Road, in 2014. That move could come as early as April. Amtrak’s six daily Wolverine Service trains serve Dearborn.

The current shelter, located on Greenfield Road, was built in 1978. The shelter’s 4,000 square feet are too small to accommodate the 2,800 animals that are cared for annually, and it’s difficult for staff and volunteers to operate its small work and storage areas. The building also needs major repairs.

Use of the Amtrak station site as an animal shelter would include “incremental costs” with the existing building and potential environmental costs.

The Friends is hoping to begin construction next June on a 22,000-square-foot facility. It is not clear yet if the existing Amtrak station, which was built in 1978, would become part of the new shelter or razed.

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