On April 6, 2022, the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and partners broke ground on the Southwest Greenway, a major milestone in the transformation of the West Riverfront that will help revitalize the area by enhancing community access to beautiful public spaces in Detroit, Michigan.
The future greenway is more than a half-mile long, spanning from Bagley to Jefferson, connecting the Detroit Riverfront and the future Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park with the Michigan Central mobility innovation district and neighborhoods throughout Southwest Detroit, Mexicantown and Corktown.
As REVITALIZATION readers already know, Michigan Central is a massive revitalization program centered on the Ford Motor Company’s purchase and renovation of the long-vacant Michigan Central train station.
The project is an $8 million investment and will be completed this fall. Partners involved in bringing the greenway vision to fruition include 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.
Matt Cullen, chairman, and Mark Wallace, president & CEO, Detroit Riverfront Conservancy were joined by Mary Culler, chair, Michigan Central and business leaders, dignitaries and community partners.
“The Southwest Greenway will make it easy and fun for people living and working on the west side of Detroit to get to the Detroit Riverfront,” said Cullen. “The Southwest Greenway will provide a similar experience to the Dequindre Cut. We are tremendously grateful for Michigan Central’s partnership in this project and all of our partners for working together to make this a reality.”
The Southwest Greenway is a key part of the Joe Louis Greenway, a 27.5-mile greenway in Detroit that will provide the community with greater connectivity throughout the city, as well as access to the riverfront. Southwest Greenway and Joe Louis Greenway are a part of 160 miles of greenways in southeast Michigan.
“This really is an extraordinary time in Detroit with so much work being done to create beautiful new recreational opportunities that connect our neighborhoods to our riverfront and to each other,” said Mayor Mike Duggan.
“When it opens this fall, the Southwest Greenway will provide a beautiful and critical link between the new Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. riverfront park, Corktown and Mexicantown, as well as to the Joe Louis Greenway. We are fortunate to have such a great partner in the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy to lead much of this work, which will improve Detroiters’ quality of life for generations to come,” he added.
Michigan Central announced a $5 million commitment to the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy for the Southwest Greenway that will connect the riverfront with the Michigan Central mobility innovation district and to neighborhoods throughout Southwest Detroit and Corktown.
“We are proud to partner with the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy to make this historic link to the Detroit waterfront a reality,” said Culler. “We’re all about building a better, more accessible world for the communities surrounding Michigan Central, and the Southwest Greenway is a great example of how we are working to increase accessibility for all. This greenway will not only provide a beautiful amenity and increased connectivity for residents and visitors, but as an extension of the open innovation platform we are creating at Michigan Central, it will also provide opportunities for innovators to pilot new solutions that will result in greater mobility access for everyone.”
Next month, the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy will break ground on the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park on May 10, a 22-acre park located on the West Riverfront. The future Ralph Wilson Park is one of the most significant projects on the horizon for the Conservancy and a major step forward in completing its goal of developing 5.5 miles of revitalized riverfront. It will dramatically change the landscape along the downtown riverfront, and it is expected to boost economic benefit in the area as well.
In October 2018, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation announced a $50 million commitment to the Conservancy for the future Ralph Wilson Park. The Foundation also provided additional capital support to ensure key connections to the park could be made between the East Riverfront and West Riverfront and beyond with the addition of the Southwest Greenway.
“The development of both Ralph Wilson Park and the Southwest Greenway, as part of the Joe Louis Greenway, have been guided and informed directly by community voice and the residents who are the ultimate beneficiaries of these public spaces,” said David Egner, president & CEO, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. “Parks and trails contribute greatly to quality of life in our region bringing with it better public health outcomes and helping people connect more to one another and places.”
The park will feature a water garden, the William Davidson Sport House with basketball courts, the Delta Dental Play Garden with an array of animal structures and an expansive lawn for special events. When the Ralph Wilson Park opens in 2024, users of the Southwest Greenway will have easy access to the new park.
“Southwest Detroit is full of amazing neighborhoods and amazing families. When you look at the demographics of Mexicantown, Corktown and the other communities in Southwest Detroit, you see that they are full of children, families, and seniors. This trail will make it very easy for them all to get to the Detroit Riverfront,” said Mark Wallace, president & CEO of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy.
Named the best Riverwalk in America by USA TODAY, the Detroit Riverfront attracts 3.5 million visitors annually. The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy has invested more than $200 million in the revitalization of the Detroit Riverfront, which in turn has generated more than $2 billion in public and private investment.
Unless otherwise credited, all images courtesy of Detroit Riverfront Conservancy.