A rendering for the long-term vision for Capitol Park as outlined Thursday by Dan Gilbert. Source: Quicken Loans and the Detroit Free Press.
Quicken Loans Chairman and Founder Dan Gilbert announced his continuing commitment to revitalizing Detroit at an “Opportunity Detroit” event Thursday, that included Fred Kent of Project for Public Spaces. The plans, which included an announcement of a Papa Joe’s grocery store opening in the heart of downtown, are very consistent with the League’s placemaking message. In fact, a good portion of the two-hour session had Kent discussing the elements of placemaking and how to create lively urban places to live, work and play.
Kent told the audience at the event that Detroit has major assets and a passion for redevelopment that he has not see elsewhere, according to a Detroit Free Press article by John Gallagher.
"Downtown Detroit’s geographic location and particularly the half mile from the Detroit River to Grand Cricus Park is the most concentrated diversity of urban assets and placemaking opportunities anywhere in the world,” Kent said.
Many of the changes envision for downtown Detroit are reminiscent of a European capital, including sidewalk cafes, retail kiosks, food stands in parks, lawn games, beach volleyball in parks, traffic-calming devices such as raised crosswalks, retail storefronts open to the sidewalk, boutique hotels and pedestrian walks protected from traffic. They also called for a narrowing of Jefferson Avenue near Hart Plaza because the current eight-lane boulevard leaves a feeling of disconnect between downtown the Detroit Rivewalk. This narrowing of major roads is also something League CEO Dan Gilmartin has called for in his Economics of Place blog.
Media reports from the Opportunity Detroit event were truly exciting and League members will get to see many of these changes taking place first hand when they attend the League's 2013 Convention in Detroit this September. Learn more about our event here.
"We're all in," Gilbert told an audience of about 400 business and civic leaders invited to the City Theatre at the Hockeytown Café. "It's more than fluff ... A big chunk of this is going to happen this summer. It's agreed, funded."
Matt Bach is director of media relations for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (734) 669-6317.
Another rendering of Detroit's future. Source: Quicken Loans and the Detroit Free Press.