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For Mexicantown, reopening of Michigan Central Station is more than an economic boost

It's a full-circle moment for many residents who frequented the train station while it was still operational
Posted at 11:37 PM, Jun 03, 2024

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Michigan Central Station opens to the public for tours this Friday after over three decades since the last train left the station.

While all of the festivities are happening in the heart of Corktown, a few blocks from the station is also Mexicantown, which has been eagerly awaiting the reopening for years.

We get a first look inside Michigan Central Station in the video player below:

'I think it shows glory.' The journey to Michigan Central's grand restoration reveal

It seems as if almost every family in Southwest Detroit has a story involving the old historic train station.

Manager and co-owner of Evie’s Tamales, Eugene Cooley, says his mother used to sell newspapers right outside Michigan Central as visitors and travelers would make their way to and from Detroit.

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"So my mom is just over the moon about what’s going on," Cooley said.

He says he and his mother plan to tour the train station, which has always been a staple of the Southwest Detroit community. Just like the train station, Mexicantown has overcome a number of challenges.

Eugene Cooley showing his 1913 photograph of Michigan Central Station on the walls of his restaurant, Evie’s Tamales. (June 3, 2024)
Eugene Cooley showing his 1913 photograph of Michigan Central Station on the walls of his restaurant, Evie’s Tamales. (June 3, 2024)

"Not to get choked up on it at all, but it’s hard not to be proud of the area," Cooley said.

Cooley says over the last six years of renovations, workers have been stopping by to eat in Southwest Detroit on their breaks. He's appreciated the extra clientele and is excited for that to continue as Ford staff moves into the building.

Other businesses like Armando's have had a similar experience.

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“Ever since the train station started getting renovated, it was like a domino effect where everything else, opposite instead of tumbling down, it picked back up," Armando’s assistant general manager Cristian Rubio said. “It’s been just nothing but good. Sales have gone up, our clientele has gone up.”

President of the Southwest Detroit Business Association Laura Chavez also has memories of family members migrating over to Detroit from Texas through the train station.

Mexicantown is just blocks from Michigan Central station
Mexicantown is just blocks from Michigan Central station

"It's the backdoor of this community," she said about Michigan Central Station.

Armando's is hosting a watch party for the concert Thursday with music and an outside bar. Evie's is offering two free tamales Thursday if you show your concert ticket.

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