FIRST LOOK: Inside The New Spirit of Detroit Plaza In Downtown Detroit

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One of our most-talked about stories last week was the announcement that Woodward was going to be closed to cars between Jefferson and Larned for a new “Spirit of Detroit Plaza.”

Today it officially opened and so we decided to go check out the 20,000 square foot space.

There were three food trucks.

Look, Cornhole!

Also, dancers performed in front of the Spirit of Detroit statue.

Here are a couple of examples of the barriers around it. The above is along Larned, below, Jefferson.

And, a massive outdoor light string.

If there’s one early days criticism right off the bat – intensified by the weather today – the space needs more shaded spaces desperately. The sun was intense out there.

Although some think it’s terrible for traffic, the city believes it will actually help traffic move better through downtown.

“We are anticipating growth by planning to move an increased amount of vehicular traffic through downtown more efficiently while at the same time encouraging other kinds of mobility.” said City Planning Director Maurice Cox here. “This will be another key piece in making a more vibrant, walkable, diverse downtown. By simplifying the downtown grid and consolidating traffic flow, we are creating a more inviting street and safer pedestrian crossings. And of course, if something changes or the design doesn’t work as well as we expect, we can adjust it or even restore its original design. We expect this will reset expectations for what is possible on neighborhood streets across the city.”

Here’s a map of how traffic now moves around the plaza from the city.

The project is a three month test costing about $300,000 and was funded by a mix of foundations, businesses and government. The funders include the William Davidson Foundation, Knight Foundation, Rock Ventures, Bank of America, the Michigan Department of Transportation and the city of Detroit.

The city is taking feedback through the test period of the project here.

PREVIOUSLY: The Motor City will say goodbye to cars in front of the iconic Spirit of Detroit statue

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