Projects to Watch: Busiest Construction Season to Date Along RiverfrontJuly 2, 2021
By John Gallagher
The best way to celebrate being voted the #1 riverwalk in America in the USA TODAY 10 Best Readers’ Choice travel awards in February? Kick off the busiest construction year ever.
That’s underway now as the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy’s nearly two decades-long transformation of the city’s riverfront marks a pivotal year of milestones in completing its vision of 5.5 miles of revitalized riverfront from the Ambassador Bridge on the west to MacArthur Bridge to Belle Isle in 2021. This graphic captures some of the major developments in the works.
Currently known as West Riverfront Park, the 22-acre property will soon begin the transformation into the year-round family-friendly destination known as Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park. This park will feature an expansive lawn for special events, a large water feature, a sport house with basketball courts, and the Delta Dental Children’s Play Garden. The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy will break ground on the park in the fall of this year with opening expected in 2023.
The Southwest Greenway, formerly referred to as May Creek Greenway, will provide a beautiful getaway and fun, safe and convenient access to the West Riverfront and Wilson Park for residents of Corktown and Southwest Detroit, and for workers in those neighborhoods. The greenway is a little more than a half-mile in length and will run from Vernor near the Ford Mobility Campus all the way to Jefferson Avenue at the riverfront. Construction begins this summer with an anticipated 2022 completion date.
The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and its partners broke ground in May on the Riverwalk extension along the Uniroyal property. This project is the Conservancy’s final piece of its vision of 3.5 miles of revitalized riverfront along the East Riverfront. Additionally, this project will connect Mt. Elliott Park and Gabriel Richard Park and provide access to Belle Isle. The project is expected to be completed by fall of 2022.
Named after legendary boxer and Detroiter, the Joe Louis Greenway is a proposed 27.5-mile pathway for walkers, joggers, and cyclists. It will connect to existing paths like the Dequindre Cut and the RiverWalk, and provide a safe loop around the city. The greenway will also connect neighborhoods and the cities of Dearborn, Hamtramck, and Highland Park. The Joe Louis Greenway will provide community spaces and outdoor activities for all Detroiters. The first phase of construction is from Warren Avenue to Fullerton Avenue, approximately 3 miles.
With Phase One between Jefferson Avenue and Robert Bradby Drive now complete, contractors with the City of Detroit are working on Phase Two of the Joseph Campau Greenway project, which will extend the path to Vernor. When complete in 2021, this crucial greenway will provide eastside Detroit residents with safe and easy access to the many parks and amenities along the riverfront. The greenway features new benches, lighting, security boxes, and a 10-foot wide pedestrian and bicycle path.
John Gallagher is a freelance writer and author in Detroit, and formerly of the Detroit Free Press.