The award-winning jewel that is the downtown Detroit Riverfront just got even sparklier.
The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy recently celebrated the completion of a 3.5-mile section of its East Riverfront. The half-mile Uniroyal Promenade was officially opened in October. This latest phase in the downtown Detroit Riverfront project represents what the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy says has been a 20-year vision of a revitalized riverfront. Included in the project are a series of world-class parks and trails running from Huntington Place convention center to Belle Isle, which is the largest island park in the United States.
“Our vision for the 3.5-mile East Riverfront is complete,” says Marc Pasco, Detroit Riverfront Conservancy director of communications.
The Uniroyal Promenade features an extra wide walkway with separate paths for pedestrians and people on bicycles, Pasco says. Additional highlights include benches and other seating surfaces, lights, and security call boxes.
“Twenty years ago, a fledgling new conservancy made a promise to the people of Detroit that we would transform the Detroit Riverfront through the creation of a 3.5-mile system of parks and trails,” conservancy board of directors founding Chairman Matt Cullen said in a press release, adding, “Working together, we have brought that bold vision to reality.”
The conservancy has led a public-private partnership over the last two decades, with founding partners including the City of Detroit, The Kresge Foundation, and General Motors. In that time, some $300 million has been invested in the riverfront.
Next up is the completion of 2 miles along the West Riverfront, running from just west of the former Joe Louis Arena site to Riverside Park. A few sections are in progress and expected to open in 2024, while one piece has not been started or assigned a timeline yet.
Included in this phase of downtown Detroit riverfront development is construction on the 22-acre Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park along the West Riverfront, which began in 2022. Ralph Wilson Park will include four zones: The Delta Dental Play Garden, Huron-Clinton Metroparks Water Garden, William Davidson Sport House, and the DTE Energy Lawn.
“When this park opens in 2025, it will be a destination like no other anywhere in the world,” Pasco says. “We anticipate it to draw more than a million people a year to the riverfront.”
Meanwhile, the Detroit International RiverWalk was named Best in America in 2021, 2022, and 2023 by USA Today. Pasco says such accolades continue to be a source of pride for the city.
“For years, we’ve known that we have a special riverfront here, but now the entire country is taking notice of all our riverfront has to offer,” he says. “People are looking at Detroit as a place for a long weekend or an extended vacation, in addition to a vibrant and beautiful destination for trade shows, conventions, and events.”