Many great cities have a spectacular riverfront. It’s hard to sculpt the perfect riverfront, because no river is the same as the other, or waterfront for that matter if you’re on the bay or lake, ocean, etc.
Here in Detroit, we sit on a gold mine. We are on an international border with presumably, our most trusted ally, Canada. Our professional sports intermingle, and we both speak English, though we do differ grammatically.
Most cities sit on a river by themselves, or a bay, with no other cities surrounding them. Take for instance, Boston Harbor, Baltimore Harbor, St. Louis, New Orleans, Columbus, Chicago, Cincinnati, the list can go on and on.
So why talk about the city of Detroit and it’s waterfront? Well, most recently, there was a contest to redesign the riverfront, specifically the area around Hart Plaza. The Ford Auditorium that recently sat on the riverfront was demolished and the idea was thrown around to see who could redevelop it, through a contest.
There were three winners, first, second, and third place. It really wasn’t about finding a contestant that fit what AIA: Detroit (American Institute of Architects) wanted, but just to see the ideas.
Currently, Detroit has a magnificent riverfront, that people all over Metro Detroit should go see. From Joe Louis Arena to Belle Isle, a walkway graces the riverfront, with a carousel, an international port, the GM Renaissance Center Promenade, a fountain, a state park, many other parks and a connection to Eastern Market.
Parts of the riverfront are still undeveloped, and there are parts that will surely be renovated in the future. The path that connects to Eastern Market, the Dequindre Cut, will be extended north to Hamtramck, and other parts from Midtown will connect to Eastern Market so citizens can walk and bike safely all around the greater Downtown area.
But what exactly can the riverfront give back to the community. Well, it can bring in economic impact, in a good way. The few spots that are empty right now include a spot between the MacArthur Bridge to Belle Isle and Mt. Elliott Park.
There is also an empty spot near what will soon be thriving. The former Globe Company Trading Company Building, where Henry Ford once apprenticed as a machinest, will be renovated into a Michigan DNR Welcome Center for William G. Milliken State Park.
The small spot currently is a hill where the dry docks sat for the Globe’s business. The final spot that could be empty very soon, is Joe Louis Arena. The city-owned arena currently houses the Detroit Red Wings, but without an NHL season, has seen no action yet.
Owner Mike Ilitch announced last week the plan to build a new multi-use entertainment arena and complex somewhere in Downtown Detroit. What does that mean for the old home for the Red Wings?
Well, many things could happen, but probably won’t for awhile, at least until the new arena is built, but it could become a centerpiece on the riverfront if the city plays its cards right. Many things are happening Downtown, the riverfront is one of them and there are still many things to accomplish.
Head down to the riverfront this winter. It may not be super warm out for many, but the views will certainly captivate you, and you could be surprised at how amazing this riverfront is.