Detroit State Fair Transit Center to Transform Transportation in the City

A new $31.5 million transit center is set to transform transportation in Detroit. The Detroit State Fair Transit Center, which is slated to be completed by the end of March 2024, will be a state-of-the-art facility that will provide a convenient and efficient way for people to get around the city.

“This new transit hub will be transformational for Detroit,” Executive Director of Transit C. Mikel Oglesby stated in a recent press release. “Big cities everywhere have bus depots where you can grab a cup of coffee and a sandwich, where you can wait without worrying about the weather. Thanks in part to this project, that is what the future of transit looks like here in Detroit.”

This project is not connected to DDOT Reimagined, which reconfigures Detroit’s overall public transportation.

The 52,000-square-foot depot, to be named the Detroit State Fair Transit Center, will not only be for the buses, but also for the rideshare customers, the two-wheel riders of the MoGo scooters and bikes, and shoppers.

The outdoor greenspace will utilize the land where the Coliseum stood, with its focal point being the south portico of the Coliseum, which the design team was able to preserve. Where the muddy soils sits will become a space for community events, concerts, food trucks and other events and microbusinesses.

Kevin Stuart, who is the Field Superintendent for Ideal Contracting, the company handling the build, led the Michigan Chronicle through the safe parts of the site and further explained the project.

“They have the Rosa Parks [Transit Center] downtown that’s the beginning of the bus line. This will be the end of the line for all busses.”

And the new transit depot is in an ideal location for bus passengers who need to go to and from work in the area. Stuart told the Chronicle that there are a lot of people who walk down the sidewalk near the future depot already. Ideal Contracting also built the temporary terminal located west of the build.

The company started the project with demolishing some of the structures in November 2021. They left the historic Dairy Cattle Barn and the portico.

The buses will drive through the portico using two lanes, and there will be more lanes outside of the building, Stuart said. Everything on the east side of the barn will be for the Detroit Department of Transit, including ticket kiosks, a break room for the drivers, and security. Everything on the west side of the barn will be used for vendors. Everything on the south, east and west side of where the Coliseum stood will be remodeled to its original state. Everything on the north side will be a block wall with stucco on it to match the cattle barn.

A park will start about 80 feet from the cattle barn, complete with decorative concrete and a retaining wall so the buses won’t drive through the area. Stuart said that the company saved the bandshell where Aretha Franklin sang on and plan to bring it to the site for small concerts.

The plan to reuse the dairy cattle building and the portico was approved by Detroit City Council in November 2021 after they were presented with the results of a city-commissioned a feasibility study that determined adaptive reuse of the historic buildings was in fact an option. The study was done after community members expressed their desire for the city to find a way to preserve these pieces of Michigan history.

The overall project, including the new transit center, the partial demolition of the Coliseum and restoration of its south portico, as well as the creation of the outdoor plaza, is expected to cost approximately $31.5 million, with $7 million coming from Detroit-based Sterling Group as part of the agreement to build the new Amazon fulfillment center on another portion of the State Fairgrounds.

“It’s exciting to be on this job,” Stuart commented.

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