Agreement Paves Way For Large Expansion of Detroit’s Riverside Park And Room For Maroun’s Bridge

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The City of Detroit and the Ambassador Bridge Company have struck and agreement that would enable expansion and improvements to Riverside Park and the exterior of Michigan Central Depot.

If the agreement is approved by Detroit City Council, the Ambassador Bridge Co. would transfer 4.8 acres of waterfront property to the city. This transfer will allow the city to expand Riverside Park to the west. The Bridge Co. would also pay the city $3 million to be invested in Riverside Park improvements.

“This agreement gives the city the land and funding it needs to create a marquee park at Riverside and give Detroiters even greater access to our riverfront,” Mayor Mike Duggan said. “At the same time, it provides a dramatic improvement in the appearance of the Michigan Central Depot, making the future redevelopment of that landmark more likely.”

concept plan

Along with the improvements to Riverside Park, the city under the deal will also redevelop a 3.4 acre piece of unused city land to expand Riverside Park to the north.

Phase one of the improvements will begin in the fall of this year. These improvements include:

  • New Riverfront Playscape
  • New baseball diamond, soccer field, and multi-use play areas on the northern city parcel
  • New benches, picnic tables, and shelter
  • Improved landscaping
  • Improved waterfront promenade
  • 1,050 windows will be installed in the Michigan Central Train Depot by Dec. 31, 2015 (progress which was already under way).

If approved by state and federal regulators, which could take years, the City will give the Bridge Co. title to a three acre strip of undeveloped city parkland immediately west of the Ambassador Bridge. In return for the land, the Bridge Co. will give Detroit another $2 million, which will fund phase two of the expansion project.

rendering-riverside-park

If the Ambassador Bridge Company gets the necessary approvals, the company intends to use the three acre parcel for a planned second span of the Ambassador Bridge. They say this would facilitate additional development and create more jobs in Detroit and Windsor, however, this plan is met with fierce opposition on the Canadian side who is fully behind a second, $2.1 Billion span further down the river that the Canadian Federal government is basically footing the entire bill for.

Phase two improvements are expected to begin in 2018, after the lease expires for the warehouse on the 4.8-acre western parcel. Planned improvements for phase two include:

  • Seawall improvements
  • Extended promenade
  • New benches
  • New sidewalk

newspaper-warehouse-detroit-new

Not Everyone Is On Board

Councilwoman Raquel Castaneda-Lopez, who represents Council District 6 that Riverside Park is in, isn’t on board with the plan. She also supports a Community Benefits Ordinance that would define responsibilities for those who take public subsidy or money for a project, which is a political hot potato in city development circles as almost all large scale projects in the city currently receive some sort of incentive.

Her statement, in part, says:

As a city, it is our responsibility to thoroughly vet a developer’s blight and environmental track record, whether that’s an individual or a multi-billion dollar corporation. This information must be factored into the conversation in order to protect the quality of life for our residents.

Moving forward, we must shift how development occurs in our city. This deal highlights the need for a community benefits ordinance as neither I nor any of the residents who have been fighting for Riverside & the surrounding communities were involved in the negotiations. If a deal is good for the public, then the public should be involved in the process.

do-not-enter

State Representative Stephanie Chang (D) told the Detroit News she also has issues with the deal.

“I am deeply concerned about the lack of community engagement in deciding the future of Riverside Park,” said state Rep. Stephanie Chang. “From my conversation with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, there is still quite a bit of work to be done to clean up and assess the soil before people can safely use the land.”

westcott

Three Spans Of The Detroit River?

Mayor Mike Duggan seems to support both new bridge projects, for a total of three spans across the river.

“As everybody knows, the Moroun family are major employers in the city; they’re major property owners in this city and we’re looking to build stronger relationships,” said Duggan at the press conference.

What do you think? Is this a good deal?

3 comments
  • […] Agreement Paves Way For Large Expansion of Detroit’s Riverside Park And Room For Maroun’…www.dailydetroit.comThe City of Detroit and the Ambassador Bridge Company have struck and agreement that would enable expansion and improvements to Riverside Park and the exterior […]

  • I think Duggan needs to quit playing both sides of the fence. There will not be three spans, the Canadian government has made that pretty clear. Moroun had pretty much a monopoly for generations. He would not even have made the effort if someone else had not pushed the subject and threatened his monopoly. Let the Canadian government build the second bridge and Moroun will still continue to make millions off of the bridge, the expensive gas and the duty free shop. Detroit needs to make Moroun do something definitive with the train depot as windows alone will not solve the decay nor the tying up of good property in downtown Detroit. Detroit needs to get on with tearing down the abandoned houses and worry less about a Riverfront park that people won’t use unless the blight, crime and destruction of Detroit is reversed.

  • The SW Detroit people, have received broken promises from the Marouns and their bridge company for over 4 decades. There is an illegal “funnel” road to the bridge NOW at Clark and I-75. How about the illegal wall between the bridge and Saint Anne’s Church?
    If Marouns bridge company can openly break the law, why would anyone make an agreement? Money.

    The Love of Money is the root of all evil. Someone will sell your (public) own park, pool or hospital for a piece of green paper. If it was in the public’s interest, we’d do it freely.

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