Festivities mark opening of Detroit’s Beacon Park
During her lunch breaks, Javeair Ester, 26, sometimes walks more than a half mile from her job at DTE Energy headquarters to enjoy a park in downtown Detroit.
The new Beacon Park at Cass and Grand River gives her another option.
“It’s more convenient because it’s closer,” she said. “It’s a good spot for employees.”
Ester was among hundreds who gathered Thursday for the ribbon cutting for the 1.5-acre green space. The event was the first of four days of festivities that include free concerts, a light show and the city’s first night market.
The park, financed by DTE Energy, is being touted as a beacon for development for the area. In the spring of 2018, Lumen restaurant, which will feature roof-top seating, is expected to open at the park.
During the ribbon cutting ceremony, Mayor Mike Duggan said he considers the park another major step in building a downtown that’s open to everyone. He reflected on the property’s prior condition.
“For as long as I could remember, you came down Grand River and there was some old industrial building,” Duggan said. “There was a fence with barbed wire out there. You drove by this as an eyesore and you never gave it a second thought. And today, an acre and a half park. Everything from a sit-down restaurant to food trucks. It will be opened to everybody. ... The transformation of this space is nothing short of remarkable.”
The Downtown Detroit Partnership will manage the more than 600 events planned for the park through the end of the year. The DTE Foundation is financing the programming, which will total $1.5 million for this year.
DTE Energy Chairman and Chief Executive Gerry Anderson said the initial plan for the property was to clean it up and wait for an idea.
During a trip to Boston, Anderson said, he was inspired by Leventhal Park, a popular lunchtime destination with a central lawn.
“I was just struck by the vibrancy of the park,” he said. “It clicked for me that we shouldn’t just clean up and green up this parcel, that we should try to create our own version of Leventhal Park.”
On Thursday afternoon, Detroiters Brenda Harris, 68, and Carl Tucker, 81, sat in the shade along the edge of the Beacon Park’s circular lawn as they listened to a band performing on a stage.
“I think it’s lovely, it’s large,” Harris said. “It’s bigger than I thought it would be. This is really a change. ... It’s another plus for Detroit.”
Just yards from the park’s lawn sits Lumen restaurant, still under construction and expected to open in March. It will seat 85, with the capability to seat an additional 120 on the patio during warmer months, said Scott LePage, whose family will operate the restaurant.
LePage said this will be the first Detroit restaurant for his parents, Norm and Bonnie LePage, after a nearly 50-year career. The LePage family’s restaurants include Big Rock Chophouse and Griffin Claw Brewing Co. in Birmingham and Clubhouse BFD in Rochester Hills.
A menu for Lumen is still in the works, Scott LePage said.
“It’s a moving target,” he said. “We want to make sure we fit the park and the customers coming to the park. We want to make sure we price ourselves accordingly.”