Numerous construction projects throughout the year continued to reshape and reenergize the riverfront, with the last several months seeing considerable progress made toward the completion of the east riverfront and the launch of the initial phase of the west riverfront’s transformation as well.


Mt. Elliott Park

Construction on Mt. Elliott Park’s much anticipated transformation is now complete as crews prepare the park for a spring debut

The shoreline views of the pavilion with its blue walls and soaring tensile structure, as well as the masts of the interactive water feature, serve as an intriguing reminder of what will surely become one of the riverfront’s most popular attractions in the spring. The family-friendly Great Lakes schooner-themed water feature with its cascading waterfalls and water cannons will provide children of all ages a welcome, safe and engaging respite from the heat when the weather warms. 

In addition to the water feature and the plaza and pavilion, which is the Conservancy’s third along the riverfront, the universally accessible Mt. Elliott Park with breathtaking views of Belle Isle features a vending area, restrooms, a security office, fishing outlooks along a much-improved shoreline, colored concrete sidewalks stamped with fun animal footprints, benches, planters and beautiful landscaping. 

Right now, mechanical and electrical systems are undergoing inspection in preparation for the winter months. The final inspection of the water feature will occur in early spring, prior to the park’s grand opening ribbon cutting celebration.


Gabriel Richard Park

Requests for proposals have been distributed, and bids will be received in January so construction can begin in the early spring on significant enhancements to Gabriel Richard Park.  These enhancements will improve access and safety to the park, including installation of pathway connectors from Jefferson Avenue, the much-needed addition of an environmentally friendly parking lot, restroom upgrades on the plaza and lighting for the labyrinth. 


Chene Park Parcels

As part of the ongoing evolution of the east riverfront, land parcels east and west of Chene Park will be enhanced during the next phase of construction.

To the west, the former Watermark property will feature a colored concrete walkway from Atwater Street to the riverfront, along with dynamic landscaping, benches, bike racks and lighting. 

The former Holcim property to the east will feature benches, recycling containers and lighting, along with an inviting circular concrete entrance off of Atwater Street connecting to a colored walkway that leads visitors to the riverfront. Other amenities include concrete planters, a retaining wall made of decorative stone and a concrete foundation that will support a new large-scale sculpture along the shoreline. 

The anticipated spring 2014 completion of these two parcels will be an important step toward the completion of the east riverfront’s 3.5-mile footprint and will serve as a welcome enhancement for regular users of the RiverWalk. 


Dequindre Cut Northward Expansion 

After a September groundbreaking celebration, crews immediately began working on site preparation for the Dequindre Cut North extension. Clearing of overgrowth and debris is now complete and relocation of underground utilities is underway.

Once the half-mile greenway extension from Gratiot Avenue to Mack Avenue is finished, the Dequindre Cut will link to other greenways under development and connect users to Midtown and, ultimately, to Hamtramck. Upgrades to this area include the reconstruction of the Wilkins, Adelaide and Division street bridges and the removal of the bridge over Alfred Street. A ramp from the Dequindre Cut to Wilkins Street will lead to a small plaza with seating and bike parking. 

Construction is scheduled for completion by late November 2014.  Upon completion, the Conservancy will incorporate the half-mile extension into its ongoing Dequindre Cut maintenance, programming and operations. 


Globe Building 

Reaching a significant milestone in the renovation of the Globe Building, more than 50 community leaders attended a “Topping Off” celebration last month in which an American flag was raised at the highest point of the historic structure. 

Work progresses on enclosing the building and transforming the structure into the DNR’s Outdoor Adventure & Discovery Center. When it is complete, visitors will experience the Michigan outdoors through these primary interpretive areas – Michigan Trails, The Detroit River and Beyond, Michigan Waters, Heritage Outdoor Sports, Outdoor Lodging, The Big Tree, Nature in My Neighborhood, Michigan’s Healthy Forests and The Dark Sky. Interactive displays will teach visitors how to use a real bow and arrow, sit in a blind, use a simulator to hunt wildlife, experience the sights and senses associated with camping, including the stars and nocturnal wildlife in the DNR’s night-time sky dome. 

The 43,000 square-foot building is scheduled to open in the summer of 2014. The Conservancy looks forward to partnering with the DNR to develop diverse and interesting educational programming opportunities and providing operations support for the facility as well. 



1801 West Jefferson

Riverfront revitalization marches westward along the waterfront with the recent completion of the early construction work needed for the much-anticipated 1801 West Jefferson parcel. 

When it opens in early 2014, the 20-acre land parcel will be a safe and accessible location for visitors to walk, bike and fish. Wide expanses of green space will be visible from the river and from the street, ensuring there is plenty of space for outdoor activities this coming spring. The parcel will contain an extra-wide 30-foot RiverWalk for biking, jogging or fishing, three 20-foot pathways leading from West Jefferson to the riverfront, benches, lighting, security call boxes and trash receptacles. 

Planning is currently underway for developing diverse and engaging programming offerings at the site for the 2014 season, with a ribbon cutting scheduled for early spring.