Contentious intersection between Detroit, Grosse Pointe Park to reopen
Kercheval Avenue will open to two-way vehicle traffic again in Grosse Pointe Park after the Detroit City Council approved Tuesday an agreement with the east-side suburb.
The intersection dividing both cities, which has been a point of contention in the years since Grosse Pointe Park restricted traffic there, will reopen to two-way travel by Aug. 1, according to the unanimously approved memorandum of understanding.
“I’m very pleased that we will return back to two-way traffic in Grosse Pointe and out of Grosse Pointe into Detroit to create that seamless border and improve our relations among both cities,” Detroit City Councilman Andre Spivey said following the vote. Spivey’s district includes the Detroit neighborhood bordering Grosse Pointe Park.
City Council also unanimously approved Tuesday an agreement involving the planned development of a 40,000-square-foot nonprofit performing arts center on Jefferson Avenue on the border between the cities, and the widening of Jefferson west of Lakepointe Street to better allow Detroit Department of Transportation buses to turn around.
The Detroit vote follows the Grosse Pointe Park City Council vote Monday night to approve both agreements.
“We’re excited to move forward on both of those,” said Grosse Pointe Park Mayor Robert Denner.
The Kercheval agreement comes five years after Grosse Pointe Park completely blocked the border, and later built a one-way roundabout that allowed entry into Grosse Pointe Park but not back into Detroit. More than a dozen massive terra cotta planters were set out to create a visual barrier. The move by the affluent, mostly white community was seen as antagonistic toward the predominantly black city with nearly half of its residents in the bordering ZIP code below the poverty level.
The reopening of Kercheval to two-way traffic comes as the powerful Cotton family of Grosse Pointe Park has planned a $16 million mixed-use development that will sit in both cities on Kercheval between Alter and Wayburn. Streetscape improvements are planned and will include bike lanes in both directions.
Spivey said he expects improvements along Kercheval on the Detroit side leading toward Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV's impending $1.6 billion expansion of its Mack Avenue facilities and $900 million investment to modernize the Jefferson North Assembly Plant.
“We have a great opportunity for thoroughfare improvement,” Spivey said. “There’s some conversation about some home development in that Detroit east-side area as well, and to the south Jefferson East is doing what they’re doing. That area in the next two to three years you’ll see a major change. This is an important part of the puzzle that will be part of the process.”