The Emergence of West Riverfront Park

As the City of Detroit enters an era of thriving economic developments, booming real estate and a determination to create a future of success – a new project has emerged.


Changing Landscapes



In April 2018, the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy announced, at a press conference in the GM Wintergarden, a new plan to transform West Riverfront Park into an energetic and iconic gathering place for all Detroiters – reshaping this 22-acre region of prime riverfront property.


With an amazing riverfront what could we possibly be missing? Turns out the DRFC found a new way to provide just about everything on the riverfront – and this time they’re providing one of the only places, besides Belle Isle, where visitors have access to the water.


Besides this addition of a dramatic inlet called “The Cove,” the DRFC explains that their team has many plans to reshape the park – including the addition of an island of the shore, basketball courts, waterslides and even concert areas.


The park’s estimated cost is $50 million, and will be run by DRFC’s West Riverfront Park Community Advisory Team. This group of 21 Detroit residents come from various cultures, careers and neighborhoods – to fully ensure that the project will adhere to the all types of interests in Detroit. This board was asked to judge a design competition to find the best team of consultants, architects and engineers for this monumental transformation of the riverfront.


The DRFC initially faced the fear of failing to blend the passionate insight of Detroit residents with the professional expertise of top designers – and made sure to take their time assembling the perfect team to ensure the West Riverfront was elevated to its full potential. In February 2018, the advisory team selected major designer Michael Van Valkenburgh and his team, alongside architect David Adjaye.


How can we ensure this will work for the city? Besides the fact that Detroit’s riverfront is quickly becoming a favorite attraction within the city, these designers have a reputation for success.


Valkenburgh is one of America’s most well-known landscape architects who has been recognized on major design projects including the Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York City. Adjaye has also been acknowledged for his designs, including his work on the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C.


When will we finally be able to visit the park? The DRFC says the project will be complete within the next four to five years – but don’t get sad just yet, summer on the riverfront is just getting started on GM Plaza!


The Evolution of the Riverfront



The Detroit Riverfront extends 5.5 miles extending from the Ambassador Bridge, all the way to Belle Isle in the east. Among the many shops, marinas, restaurants and parks lies the GMRENCEN – right in the heart of the riverfront action.


How has the GMRENCEN impacted this future development on the riverfront?


For starters, General Motors’ renovation of the Renaissance Center to become their global headquarters in 2004 led to major projects such as the GM Plaza – an addition to the riverfront that quickly become a spectacular space for city gatherings and events.


General Motors also donated the first half-mile of the riverfront to the Conservancy, and continues to draw residents and visitors to the river through concert series, shopping and a beautiful view of the Detroit River.


What’s next?



As the city prepares for the launch of the West Riverfront Park, it’s time to soak up the sun and enjoy this transforming part of Detroit’s beautiful city and head to the riverfront!


Maybe you’ll head to GM Plaza for On the Plaza concerts, Chevrolet Rockin’ on the Riverfront Concert Series or the Eastern Market farm stand – or perhaps you’ll make your way to Belle Isle to enjoy the beach and rent a kayak on the beautiful island. Either way – there’s something for everyone on the riverfront, and we can’t wait to see what comes next.


Want more information? Head down to the GMRENCEN to check out the West Riverfront Park display!

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