City seeks plans for riverfront, rec center

Ian Thibodeau
The Detroit News

While the city looks for two developers to tackle their Fitzgerald neighborhood revitalization project, officials also are seeking ideas that would work as a framework for two other sites in the city.

Preliminary designs seek an “urban boulevard” for Jefferson Ave.

The city’s Planning and Development Department needs general ideas for the Wigle Recreation Center site in Cass Corridor as well as a large portion of the east riverfront. Officials are gathering community input for both projects in community meetings.

Sample concepts are for townhouses, apartments and a park on the Wigle Recreation Center site. The city will have a concrete idea for the site and issue a request for proposals soon, according to Maurice Cox, director of the city’s Planning and Development Department

Both of the projects are in their infancy, Arthur Jemison, director of the city’s housing and revitalization department, told The Detroit News.

While the city might soon seek a developer for the Wigle site, the east riverfront project is far more conceptual. Essentially, the city is looking to map out an idea of what could be done with the area between the Renaissance Center and the MacArthur Bridge. That’s a 3-mile stretch.

Jemison said the city is not ready to knock out a project of that scope yet, but it doesn’t hurt to prepare.

It will be a year or two before any development tied to the city’s project happens on the riverfront, Cox said.

According to the city, over 50 percent of the public land on east riverfront is vacant or underutilized.

Preliminary designs look to turn Jefferson Avenue into a dense “urban boulevard” and capitalize on the popular RiverWalk to build more walkable neighborhoods along the river. Space between warehouses and other buildings could be used for parks, and mid-block alleys could become walkways or smaller public spaces.

The designing phase is a lengthy process, but it allows public input on city-backed projects indicative of a growing Detroit.

“In any healthy city there are dozens of projects like this going on at the same time,” Cox said.

Mid-block alleys could become walkways or smaller public spaces.


Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau