April 10, 2009
City will restore historic railroad freighthouse for community use
LANSING - Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today announced during a ceremonial check presentation that a historic railroad freighthouse in Ypsilanti will soon see new life as a community center, farmers market, café and historic education center.
The city of Ypsilanti will restore the historic Ypsilanti Freighthouse, one of 22 transportation enhancement (TE) projects recently announced to benefit Michigan communities, with $500,000 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) funds. U.S. Congressman John Dingell also participated in the check presentation.
The 6,500-foot facility is listed on the Michigan State Register of Historic Sites and is located in Depot Town within the city's local historic district. The city hopes to reopen the freighthouse as a community facility that would promote cultural tourism and serve as a reminder of the history of railroad activity and early commerce in the area. Owned by the city, it is operated under the terms of a management contract by the Friends of the Ypsilanti Freighthouse, a 501C (3) organization. To repurpose the 1878 building, the city will make major structural improvements to the foundation, floor, walls, pilasters, roof and interior mechanical systems (plumbing, electrical, HVAC). These items, outlined in a conditional assessment report, partially funded by a state historic preservation office grant and completed in July 2006, are required to re-open the facility to public use. The work will begin this fall.
"This project is going to be a tremendous asset to Ypsilanti residents," said Governor Granholm. "All across Michigan, projects funded by the Recovery Act will bolster efforts by groups like Friends of the Freighthouse to make positive improvements to their communities. We look forward to the transformation of this transportation icon of the past into a much-needed resource for the community."
"This announcement is a real victory for the city of Ypsilanti, the people of Washtenaw County and the state of Michigan," said Congressman Dingell. "With these funds, we will be able to preserve a piece of our history, not as a relic or monument, but as a needed civic facility and a true source of pride for Depot Town. I am so pleased that our freighthouse will once again serve the people of Ypsilanti and Depot Town, and I applaud the governor and the Michigan Department of Transportation for this wise decision to restore a terrific piece of our past and create a new bright spot for our future."
Ypsilanti has been mentioned as a proposed stop for the Ann Arbor to Detroit commuter demonstration project led by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG). The demonstration line would utilize existing tracks with stops at Metro Airport, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Dearborn.
Under federal law, 10 percent of federal surface transportation funds are set aside for TE projects. The TE funds cannot be used to build or repair roads. Administered by the Michigan Department of Transportation, TE grants enable communities to invest in landscapes, streetscapes, bike path development and historic preservation. These grants provide a maximum of 80 percent of the money required for each project, with the remainder coming from state and local government and the private sector. Local communities benefit from Recovery Act funding, because it is 100 percent federal, with no local match required. The Recovery Act requires that every state spend three percent of its allocated funding on enhancement projects.
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