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Jewelry Crafted from MI Train Station Graffiti

Monday, September 17, 2018

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As Ford Motor Company's plans for Detroit's Michigan Central Station move forward, paint from graffiti that coats much of the abandoned building is being used to create jewelry. Proceeds from the project will be donated to charity.

Automaker Ford partnered with local company Rebel Nell to turn the fallen art into wearable pieces, many of which are shaped like the Michigan mitten or the city of Detroit.

Michigan Central Station Acquisition

Ford spent $740 million to acquire and later renovate Michigan Central Station, among other sites, with a long-term plan for a tech campus in mind.

The properties—which also include the Book Depository, a former brass factory, a former hosiery factory and 45 acres of unused land—were purchased back in June, and Ford is currently working with local, state and federal economic development groups and officials, while also seeking $250 million in tax credits or other perks to facilitate the work.

While such an interest and redevelopment could have benefits for Detroit, Ford is looking for $250 million in funding to come from public sources. The company’s goal is to create what has been dubbed a “renaissance zone” for the campus, with tax incentives including a waiver of income tax and many city property taxes. These incentives will be drawn on over the next 34 years, according to the Detroit Metro Times.

Albert duce, CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Automaker Ford spent $740 million to acquire and later renovate Michigan Central Station, among other sites, with a long-term plan for a tech campus in mind.

Michigan Central Station, designed by Reed & Stem—a firm well known for designing New York City’s Grand Central Terminal—was opened in 1913 as the tallest train station in the world, and served as Detroit’s primary rail hub until it was closed by Amtrak in 1988. Ford purchased the property from the Moroun family, owners of Detroit's Ambassador Bridge, among other interests. The station is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Graffiti Jewelry

The choice to transform the art into wearable pieces stems from a desire to pay homage to the artists who have marked up the building, which has stood abandoned since 1988. Rebel Nell’s approach to graffiti is a strict “no peel” policy.

“There is an amazing partnership between Rebel Nell and Ford Motor Co. to help memorialize their new home,” said Rebel Nell co-founder and CEO Amy Peterson, who went on to add that the company’s focus is helping women facing employment barriers and transitioning them into a more independent life.

The collection is limited to 300 pieces, and nearly 100 have already been sold. Each piece ranges from $35 to $225. Ford began working with Rebel Nell over a year ago, when the local company participated in the Ford Resource and Engagement Center competition for social entrepreneurs. Rebel Nell won, and was granted $25,000.

There are no plans set as yet to preserve any of the graffiti, but some of it is likely to be saved, according to Ford spokesperson Karl Henkel. Proceeds from jewelry sales will go to four local charities: the Coalition on Temporary Shelter, Vista Maria, Covenant House and Love Runs.


Tagged categories: Color + Design; Historic Preservation; Historic Structures; Project Management; Urban Planning

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