The first phase of the Detroit waterfront transformation project, three-and-a-half miles of the east riverfront, spans from Joe Louis Arena to Gabriel Richard Park and is more than 80 percent complete.
The completed portions of the east riverfront, along with its sister rails-to-trails greenway, the Dequindre Cut, are populated with approximately three million visitors annually who come to walk, run, bike, spend time with family and friends and take advantage of the quality of life opportunity a revitalized riverfront provides.
Attractions along the east riverfront include parks, plazas, pavilions, pathways and open green space, all connected by the ever popular RiverWalk.
In the summer of 2012, the Conservancy launched the final construction phases to complete the east riverfront project and connect the RiverWalk and its associated green spaces along the waterfront.
The first construction phase included a complete transformation of Mt. Elliott Park and reopened in June 2014. The second construction phase included enhancements to Gabriel Richard Park and developing the parcels of land to the west and east of Chene Park. The final phase will provide for the construction of public space along the Uniroyal site.
The Conservancy’s ultimate vision is to develop five-and-a-half miles of riverfront from the Ambassador Bridge on the west to Gabriel Richard Park, which is just east of the MacArthur (Belle Isle) Bridge.
The first phase of the project, three-and-a-half miles along the east riverfront, is more than 80 percent complete and spans from Joe Louis Arena to Gabriel Richard Park.
Opening up a segment of the west riverfront for long-awaited public access is now a reality with the transformation of a former newspaper printing facility property at 1801 W. Jefferson into a 20-acre green oasis.
The Conservancy purchased the property from the Detroit Free Press in 2007.
Visitors will find three new pathways linking the riverfront to West Jefferson Avenue, benches, trash receptacles and plenty of lush green space for a variety of outdoor activities. The Conservancy has expanded the width of the popular RiverWalk along this parcel to 30 feet to better accommodate adequate space for walking, running, biking and fishing. Safety and security improvements include new railings, lighting, security cameras and call boxes.
The Conservancy continues to work with key stakeholders, including the City of Detroit and private property owners, towards a strategic plan for revitalizing the west riverfront.
Stay tuned for more progress on the west riverfront project in the future.
The Dequindre Cut Greenway is an urban recreational path that opened to the public in May of 2009. The two-mile greenway was developed through a public, nonprofit and private partnership—comprising the federal government, City of Detroit, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation—and offers a pedestrian link between the East Riverfront, Eastern Market and several residential neighborhoods in between.
Formerly a Grand Trunk Railroad line, the Dequindre Cut is a predominately below-street level greenway that runs parallel to St. Aubin Street, between Mack Avenue and Atwater Street, just north of the riverfront. Well-known for its examples of urban artwork and graffiti, the greenway features a 20-foot-wide paved pathway, which includes separate lanes for pedestrian and bicycle traffic.
A half-mile extension of the Dequindre Cut officially opened in April 2016. It runs from Gratiot Avenue to Mack Avenue and takes pedestrians into the heart of Eastern Market. Buildings on each side of the Cut along this stretch provide users with a glimpse of what the railway looked like when it was a busy hub of activity bringing people and products to Eastern Market and to the Detroit Riverfront.
Also along this stretch, the Wilkins Street Plaza with its soaring canopy, bike racks and a variety of seating options, provides a place for pedestrians to take a break while visiting the Dequindre Cut.
Entrance ramps to the Cut are located at Atwater Street, Franklin Street, Woodbridge Street, Lafayette Street, Gratiot Avenue, Wilkins Street and Mack Avenue.
Dennis W. Archer Greenway
Dennis W. Archer Greenway
The Mayor Dennis W. Archer Greenway, formerly known as the Joseph Campau Greenway, was completed by the City of Detroit in early 2021. This popular greenway provides East Siders with safe and easy access to the Detroit Riverfront from Vernor all the way to Jefferson.
The 1.2 mile path features a pedestrian plaza between Larned and Jefferson, benches, outdoor power stations and playscapes.
The Southwest Greenway, open to the public in May of 2023, connects Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park with the Michigan Central mobility innovation district, and is a key part of the 27.5 mile Joe Louis Greenway. Running from Bagley Street to Jefferson Avenue along the historic site of May Creek and a former railway corridor, the re-imagined path connects Corktown, Mexicantown, and communities throughout Southwest Detroit directly to the riverfront.
Assembling the property for the nearly mile-long greenway took five years as the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy stitched together 12 different parcels from eight different owners, including Bedrock, the Salvation Army, the Detroit River Tunnel Partnership and Ford Motor Company. The Southwest Greenway was made possible through partnership with the City of Detroit, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, Michigan Central, Michigan DNR and Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, Michigan Department of Transportation, and the Walters Family Foundation.
The Southwest Greenway is also home to The Yard Graffiti Museum, an outdoor gallery dedicated to the preservation of the graffiti and underground history of this space. The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy has partnered with Rebel Nell for a special edition line of wearable art created with repurposed graffiti from the Yard. Visit https://www.rebelnell.com/collections/detroit-riverfront-conservancy to view and purchase these pieces of Detroit underground art history.