Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park Frequently ASKED QUESTIONS

1. How big is the park?

  •  The park is 22 acres, it is south of Jefferson between 8th Street and Rosa Parks Boulevard.

2. When did the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy acquire the property?

  • The Conservancy purchased the property from the Detroit Free Press in 2007 and demolished the building that was on it later that year.  In 2013, the Conservancy opened the property to the public.  

3. What events were held at West Riverfront Park?

  • The park has been the site for several large concerts, such as Jimmy Buffett, Downtown Hoedown, Kem and MoPop.  Additional events hosted by the Conservancy at the park include Touch-A-Truck, Riverfront Relaxin’ and Movies, Latino Festival, Moonlight Yoga and more.

4. What was the process for creating the Community Advisory Team (CAT)?

  • In June 2017, the Conservancy requested nominations for a Community Advisory Team, a group of Detroit residents intrigued by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park project and interested in serving as ambassadors for their respective communities. DRCF staff selected the 21-members from a pool of approximately 100 applicants, building a diverse group to advise the team of the personal experience they wanted for Detroiters in the future Park.
  • Over the course of the summer, the Community Advisory Team visited 14 parks across Philadelphia, Chicago and New York City, reporting back to the Conservancy which elements of park design they would (and would not) like to see incorporated into a transformed park. The Community Advisory Team continues playing an active role in the design process. The Conservancy encourages public dialogue with the team throughout the entire park design and build process. 

5. What was the process for selecting the winning design firm?

  • The Conservancy issued an RFQ to design firms throughout the world in early 2017.  There were 22 firms that responded by the July 19 deadline. The 22 firms were then shortlisted to eight. Those firms were invited to Detroit on February 8 & 9 for public interviews. Four finalist firms were then invited to develop a concept for the park. These four designers submitted concepts by January 16, 2018, and presented to the public and the jury on February 8.
  • The jury selected Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates and introduced the firm to the public on April 10th. The team includes David Adjaye Associates, Utile, Mobility in Chain, LimnoTech, NTH, PEA, Emmanuel Pratt, HR&A, Wksps and Monstrum.

6. What are some of the elements of the park design?

  • The park’s four major features are the Delta Dental Play Garden, DTE Hill, William Davidson Sport House, and Huron Clinton Metro Parks Water Garden. Future amenities at Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park include an extra-wide extension of the Riverwalk, pathways from Jefferson Avenue that lead to the water’s edge, benches, trash receptacles and security cameras/call boxes. There will also be a park house that will house the security operations, public restrooms, and maintenance storage area. 

7. What are the plans for parking?

  • The current site plan allows for on-street parking the full length of the park along Jefferson and Rosa Parks.  The Michigan Central project built a parking deck at Bagley called the “Ford Mobility Hub”, which will also have parking and restrooms available with a link to the SW Greenway that connects directly to the Park.  

8. Will Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park have an opening/closing time?

  • All parks within the City of Detroit open at 6 a.m. and close at 10 p.m.

9. Estimated costs? Who will pay for maintenance and upkeep of the park?

  • We are currently talking with potential funding sources and are fundraising for the park if you would like to donate to the project or to the Conservancy, click here.

10. Will Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park be accessible from the east along the Riverwalk?

  • Yes, the Conservancy is in discussions with three private property owners just west of the former Joe Louis Arena site, to extend the Riverwalk across their properties so that the Riverwalk will be continuous from Gabriel Richard Park to Wilson Park. Two of these portions are complete and the last segment will be under construction in 2023.

11. Will Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park be pet-friendly?

  • Dogs that are under control and leashed at all times will be allowed in the park.

12. When will the park be open?

  • The park will be substantially complete Q2 of 2025.

For more information or to request a group presentation about Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park, please E-mail westriverfrontpark@detroitriverfront.org.