Long-awaited outdoor center to opens in Detroit

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Detroit — The culmination of a years-long project along Detroit’s riverfront was recognized Thursday with the unveiling of a new adventure center celebrating the state’s outdoor attractions.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Outdoor Adventure Center is slated to open Monday after nearly three years of planning, renovation and construction for the historic building through a public-private partnership.

Officials say the center, across from the William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor at the intersection of Atwater and the Dequindre Cut Trail, is designed to bring the “Up North downtown.” It will bring hands-on, interactive exhibits about the state’s outdoors in the three-story, 41,000-square-foot indoor facility, officials say.

Among its features, the center has bicycle, kayak, canoe and fishing boat simulators, indoor archery range, a 3,000-gallon freshwater fish aquarium and a man-made waterfall with a 36-foot drop.

Gov. Rick Snyder, just prior to a ribbon-cutting ceremony, said he’s hopeful the exhibits will expose Detroit’s children to new experiences.

“We can share this with all the citizens of Michigan and particularly all the kids of Detroit,” Snyder told a crowd during a news conference Thursday. “This is another step forward in the comeback of Detroit and the comeback of Michigan.”

DNR officials say the center is a one-of-a-kind space that could set the standard for outdoor interpretation in the future.

Chelsea Terberg, 22, of Dearborn Heights fish in the fishing simulator at Outdoor Adventure Center.

Mayor Mike Duggan was also on hand Thursday to recognize the extensive efforts to bring the center to the city.

“For much of Detroit’s history, the public didn’t have access to the waterfront,” Duggan noted. “We are headed toward a city where the public has access to the waterfront from the Belle Isle Bridge to the Ambassador Bridge. We’re getting there. Today is another major step forward in making the riverfront attractive to the residents of the city of Detroit.”

Nicole Curtis, star of the television show “Rehab Addict,” which documents home renovations, said she’s long been watching the project.

“This has been such an incredible transformation,” Curtis told a crowd gathered underneath a tent just east of the building. “It’s one more step in the direction we’ve been wanting the city to go for so many years.”

Opening week, the facility will operate from noon to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday. Regular hours begin on July 25 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from noon to 5 p.m. on July 26.

Opening day activities include the story of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, physical fitness and outdoor games.

Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors ages 62 and up and $3 for children ages 2-12. Children younger than 2 are free.