July 13 2016 09:45 AM

Historic Union Depot in hands of unknown buyer

Who’s buying it is still a secret, but the for-sale sign in front of the historic Clara’s Station Lansing on Michigan Avenue has a “pending” notice pasted over it.

“We truly believe that any buyer that we select will be faithful to the historic vision of the property,” coowner Cindy Jubeck said Tuesday. She and her brother, Scott, closed the restaurant last month after 37 years. She said he new owner or owners want to make the announcement, which is expected in the next three weeks.

The Jubecks’ father, Peter, bought and restored the old Union Depot, a Tudor Revival building that opened in 1902.

The property is listed on the National Registry of Historic Properties, but that doesn’t ultimately confer much protection in terms of redevelopment, according to the National Parks Service.

“From the Federal perspective, a property owner can do whatever they want with their property as long as there are no Federal monies attached to the property,” the website reads. The restaurant’s website said Jubeck spent his own money on restoring it.

The Michigan Historic Preservation Office did not immediately returned a phone call seeking information on limitations from the state on registered properties.

Bill Castanier, president of the Historical Society of Greater Lansing, said historic depots like Union Depot have been repurposed around the state and the country to great effect, including as offices and, as was recently the case, as a restaurant. So he is hoping there will be new life to an old building.

And it does carry a great amount of history. That station served as the sendoff location for thousands of Mid-Michigan men drafted to fight in World War II. It was also the place where President Teddy Roosevelt stopped in 1907. The president took a ride down Michigan Avenue to Michigan Agricultural College, later Michigan State University. In one direction, Roosevelt rode in an Oldsmobile curve dash car. In the other direction, the president rode in a REO vehicle. Castanier said that was done to prevent favoring one or the other of the competitors.

Castanier also said the depot served as a major hub of commercial activity in the early 20th century shuttling goods to northern Michigan and serving as a weigh station for war materials during WWII.