October 18, 2017 - [DETROIT] -  Guests at the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy’s popular Harvestfest Detroit celebration on October 21 will get a special preview of the Dequindre Cut Freight Yard, a retail and entertainment gathering space comprising nine repurposed shipping containers.  The preview opening of the Freight Yard takes place from Noon to 5 p.m. and will feature music, artisans, food vendors and a biergarten.                                                     

The Freight Yard project is a partnership between the Conservancy, Build Institute, Lawrence Technological University (LTU), Western International High School, Ponyride and Groundswell Design Group.  Students from LTU and Western International were involved every step of the way in bringing the Freight Yard to fruition, from conceptualizing the project, to fabricating the pieces offsite to installing the shipping containers on site.  Much of the off-site work in preparing the shipping containers took place at Ponyride, the Detroit incubator where emerging entrepreneurs and artists often get their start in business.

Shipping container projects are gaining popularity throughout the United States.  While there are several private developments throughout Detroit that feature shipping containers in a residential function, the Freight Yard is among the first to use them for public use. 

Located along the Dequindre Cut Greenway between Wilkins and Division streets, the Freight Yard features nine shipping containers that are installed in a pattern designed to be visually stimulating, yet functional as well.  The “Hub” is the centerpiece of the installation and features five shipping containers stacked on top of each other to house a DJ booth and retail space.  Interesting lighting treatments, creative site furnishings and the colorful work of local artists combine to create a fun, festive environment.

Highlights of the Dequindre Cut Freight Yard event on October 21 include local favorite food truck, Comfort Café, a biergarten featuring brews from Atwater Brewery, several artisans selling their creations and DJ Emmett spinning the turntables.  Admission to the event is free, with food and drink available for purchase.

A grand opening celebration of the Freight Yard is scheduled for spring 2018.  When the Freight Yard officially opens, it will serve as a weekend gathering space that will feature refreshments, entertainment, retail and a unique pedestrian market where local vendors can display and sell their wares.

Build Institute is taking the lead in identifying potential vendors that could provide food and retail for the Freight Yard.  "Build Institute is incredibly excited about this project,” said April Boyle, executive director of Build Institute.  “We are continuously on the lookout for opportunities for our alumni and the small business community at large.  Pop-up and temporary space is crucial to entrepreneurs as a low-overhead way to test ideas and launch vetted businesses." 

Leaders from the Conservancy—the organization that serves as the perpetual steward of the RiverWalk and the Dequindre Cut public spaces­—are confident that the Freight Yard will quickly become a popular destination for visitors to the Detroit Riverfront.

“The Freight Yard will transform the way people interact with the Dequindre Cut,” said Mark Wallace, president & CEO of the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy.  “The Cut is perfect for recreation and exercise, and as a connection between Eastern Market and the riverfront.  The Freight Yard will provide a local food destination at the Cut and serve as a hub for local entrepreneurs.” 

Supporting local entrepreneurs and others who like to dream big is important to Ponyride.  “At Ponyride, we offer the opportunity to help budding artists, entrepreneurs and others learn to succeed,” said Phil Cooley, local entrepreneur and co-founder of Ponyride.  “It’s been especially rewarding to tap into the incredible young talent we have here in Detroit to work on an exciting project like the Freight Yard.”

Funding for the Dequindre Cut Freight Yard is made possible in part through the support of Kresge Foundation, Knight Foundation, Ford Motor Company Fund and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. 

Harvestfest Detroit is the Conservancy’s annual celebration of all things fall.  It runs from Noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, October 21. The free event features family-friendly activities such as trick-or-treating, hayrides, face painting, bounce houses, live music, a pumpkin patch, games, movies, giveaways and much more.