MI: M-1 Rail Will Boost Housing, Retail Development, Backers Say

July 17--The M-1 Rail streetcar project breaking ground July 28 could spark a new boom in downtown and Midtown development and spur the creation of 10,000 new residential units over 10 years, its backers predicted today.

"This is not just a transit project," Matt Cullen, CEO of M-1 Rail, told a media briefing.

He said transit-oriented development that will follow M-1's forecast opening in late 2016 also could see some 5 million square feet of new retail and commercial development and $3 billion in new development overall in the Woodward Corridor over 10 years.

Cullen said projections done by M-1 planners predict that the $140-million investment in the new line will lead to six to eight times that much in spin-off economic development.

M-1 Rail will operate a streetcar line along Woodward from Jefferson Avenue to Grand Boulevard in New Center, a 3.3-mile route.

Also at the briefing, Paul Childs, M-1 Rail's chief operating officer, described the "massive balancing act" that will take place over the construction project to inconvenience motorists and business owners along the route as little as possible.

Construction will begin later this month with a closure of Woodward to north-south traffic from Campus Martius to Grand Circus Park. Once construction moves farther north, only partial closures of Woodward will be needed at most times because Woodward goes from four lanes in the immediate downtown to nine lanes in Midtown.

The streetcar line is expected to be open for riders in late 2016.

Contact John Gallagher at 313-222-5173 or gallagher@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @jgallagherfreep.

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