Detroit’s riverfront just took another major step forward.
The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation — in honor of what would be Ralph C. Wilson’s 100th birthday — is making a $50 million grant to redevelop West Riverfront Park.
Who gets what: $40 Million will go to the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy (a group that’s been on a roll as of late) and $10 million will go to the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan to seed an endowment to support the park.
A big step forward: We’re in the final phases of designing the park, according to press materials. The total park cost will be $55-60 million, so this doesn’t pay the whole freight but the Detroit RiverFront conservancy is adept at fundraising and has exceed their goals in the past. West Riverfront Park is now estimated to be completed in 2022.
West Riverfront Park will be renamed “Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park.”
A twin project in Buffalo: The overall gift is $200 million. $100 million to the Detroit area, and $100 million to Buffalo. Buffalo is getting a riverfront park, too. Additionally, there’s $50 million set aside to build and maintain a network of recreational trails in each city.
Just who was Ralph C. Wilson? He was the owner of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills and a Metro Detroiter, living in St. Clair Shores. He died in 2014, and the $1.2 billion endowment in the Ralph C. Wilson foundation was made mostly from selling the Buffalo Bills after his death for $1.4 billion. He had a minority stake in the Detroit Lions at one point, too.
What will it look like? Here are some preliminary renderings.