The Detroit Riverfront has gone through a host of changes over the last few years – and more are coming, thanks to a goal-breaking fundraising campaign that netted a whopping $163 million for projects on Detroit’s waterfront.
The original goal had been to raise $140 million.
Every great city has a gathering space where the entire community feels welcome and feels a sense of civic pride,” said Detroit RiverFront Conservancy President & CEO Mark Wallace. “Everyone who visits the RiverWalk can feel what a special place it is for our region.”
So far, 3.5 miles of riverwalk have been completed, but the Conservancy’s ultimate vision is to revitalize 5.5 miles of riverfront from Gabriel Richard Park, which is just east of the MacArthur Bridge to Belle Isle, to Riverside Park, which is west of the Ambassador Bridge.
The investment in the public space along the Detroit River was intended to stimulate significant economic development in the riverfront district. A recent economic study found that more than $1 billion in public and private investment has occurred along the riverfront from 2003 to 2013. The same research forecast an additional $1 billion of investment during the next 10 years. In the last two years, more than $195 million has been invested in the East Riverfront district.
Notable construction projects along the riverfront and Dequindre Cut (which the conservancy also oversees) include Orleans Landing and the Dequindre Cut expansion, as well as Ducharme Place (included in our list of development projects not the Red Wings arena).
The initial support for the Conservancy came from three partners: the Kresge Foundation, the City of Detroit, and General Motors. Many other foundations, private individuals, and government entities joined these efforts to complete the East RiverWalk campaign.
“We are proud of the incredible transformation of the riverfront from underutilized, blighted industrial land into a world-class public space,” said Matt Cullen, chair of the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy’s Board of Directors. “The capital campaign was an overwhelming success, and illustrates the broad coalition of business, philanthropic and governmental leaders who have come together to make this dream a reality.”
The non-profit RiverFront Conservancy is responsible for the construction, operations, security and programming for all the public spaces located along the riverfront, The RiverWalk and the Dequindre Cut.