Detroit's City Council may reconsider vote on Spirit Plaza on Woodward

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News
Spirit Plaza, the pedestrian gathering space on Woodward between Jefferson and Larned, will not be a permanent fixture as City Council failed to pass a proposal to keep it closed from traffic.

Detroit — The Detroit City Council is set to decide Tuesday whether it will reconsider a vote that effectively quashed a pedestrian plaza along a shuttered section of Woodward. 

Councilman Scott Benson filed a motion with the City Clerk's Office on Wednesday that will return the measure to council's formal session agenda next week if a majority of members agree to cast another vote, the Clerk's Office confirmed. 

The move comes a day after the council failed to reach a majority decision, voting 4-4 on the proposed five-year closure of Woodward off of Jefferson Avenue just west of City Hall for its Spirit of Detroit Plaza.

Benson, who supported the long-term closure, said he regards the venue as a "best practice" around the world and wants the full council to have the ability to weigh in on the space that's part of a pedestrian-friendly pathway from Campus Martius Park to Hart Plaza.

"I really believe Spirit Plaza has now become a fixture," he said. "People have now come to depend on it."

Others who voted in support of retaining the plaza were James Tate, Gabe Leland and Raquel Castaneda-Lopez. Councilman Andre Spivey was absent.

President Brenda Jones, president pro tem Mary Sheffield and members Janee Ayers and Roy McCalister Jr. voted against the measure, citing traffic and safety concerns.

The pedestrian plaza, between Jefferson and Larned, has been controversial since its inception two years ago, when it was launched as a three-month pilot without input from the city's legislative body. 

Brad Dick, a city group executive for services and infrastructure, said Wednesday that the administration is pleased Benson has filed a motion that would allow the vote to be reconsidered. 

"We are hopeful that it passes this time, but also are prepared to shut down the plaza if the measure fails," he said. 

A separate measure tied to the plaza was postponed. It calls for a nearly $800,000 build-out of the plaza with a stage, eating area, playscape for children and landscape.