Work begins Monday to create new Detroit beach

James David Dickson
The Detroit News
This is an artist’s rendering of a busy day at Atwater Beach, one of five Detroit projects awarded grants in the Knight Cities Challenge.

Construction is set to start Monday for the creation of Atwater Beach, a man-made beach on Detroit's east side that is part of the city's ongoing mission to change the face of its riverfront.

The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, along with partners in the project including the Michigan Department of Transportation and the philanthropy community, will outline their vision for the beach and officially break ground on the land. 

What will result, in the end, is as The News has called it before, "an oversized sandbox and playground with amenities for families," and will give the city a second beach on the Detroit riverfront, along with that at Belle Isle. 

But, as conservancy spokesman Marc Pasco said in the past, one thing the beach won’t have is water access. Given the harsh current, Pasco said, “If you jumped in the river, before you knew it you’d be in Wyandotte.”

The proposed Atwater Beach area near Chene Park is in the background.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation granted the conservancy $225,000 last year to bring Atwater Beach to fruition. 

At the time, Mark Wallace, CEO of the conservancy, told The News that he hoped the prize would attract enough donations and sponsorships to pay the $1 million to $2 million tab for the beach project, which includes an MDOT-built bridge over the wide boat slip and a barge that will serve as a path across it.