Detroit’s Southwest Greenway Begins Construction, Draws $5M Gift from Michigan Central

The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and its partners broke ground today on the $8-million Southwest Greenway, a mile-long passage that will run from near the Detroit River to Michigan Central, where Ford Motor Co. is building a mobility innovation district in and around Michigan Central, a former train station.
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The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and partners broke ground on the mile-long passage that will run from near the Detroit River to Michigan Central called the Southwest Greenway. // Courtesy of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy
The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and partners broke ground on the mile-long passage that will run from near the Detroit River to Michigan Central called the Southwest Greenway. // Courtesy of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy

The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and its partners broke ground today on the $8-million Southwest Greenway, a mile-long passage that will run from near the Detroit River to Michigan Central, where Ford Motor Co. is building a mobility innovation district in and around Michigan Central, a former train station.

The greenway, scheduled to open in the fall, also will connect to the future Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Centennial Park along the west riverfront district and neighborhoods throughout southwest Detroit, Mexicantown, and Corktown.

Partners involved in bringing the greenway vision to fruition include the city of Detroit, Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, Michigan Central (set to open in early 2023), Michigan DNR and Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, Michigan Department of Transportation, and the Walters Family Foundation. Today, Michigan Central announced a $5 million commitment to the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy for the Southwest Greenway

Matt Cullen, chairman, and Mark Wallace, president and CEO, of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy were joined today by Mary Culler, chair of Michigan Central, along with business leaders, dignitaries, and community partners.

“The Southwest Greenway will make it easy and fun for people living and working on the west side of Detroit to get to the Detroit Riverfront,” says Cullen. “The Southwest Greenway will provide a similar experience to the Dequindre Cut (on Detroit’s near east side). We are tremendously grateful for Michigan Central’s partnership in this project and all of our partners for working together to make this a reality.”

The Southwest Greenway is a key part of the Joe Louis Greenway, a 27.5-mile greenway in Detroit that will provide the community with greater connectivity throughout the city, as well as access to the riverfront. Southwest Greenway and Joe Louis Greenway are a part of 160 miles of greenways in southeast Michigan.

“This really is an extraordinary time in Detroit with so much work being done to create beautiful new recreational opportunities that connect our neighborhoods to our riverfront and to each other,” says Mayor Mike Duggan. “We are fortunate to have such a great partner in the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy to lead much of this work, which will improve Detroiters’ quality of life for generations to come.”

On May 10, the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy will break ground on the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park, a 22-acre park located on the West Riverfront. The future Ralph Wilson Park is one of the most significant projects on the horizon for the conservancy and a major step forward in completing its goal of developing 5.5 miles of revitalized riverfront.

It is designed to dramatically change the landscape along the downtown riverfront, and is expected to boost economic benefit in the area as well.

“We are proud to partner with the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy to make this historic link to the Detroit waterfront a reality,” says Culler. “We’re all about building a better, more accessible world for the communities surrounding Michigan Central, and the Southwest Greenway is a great example of how we are working to increase accessibility for all. This greenway will not only provide a beautiful amenity and increased connectivity for residents and visitors, but as an extension of the open innovation platform we are creating at Michigan Central, it will also provide opportunities for innovators to pilot new solutions that will result in greater mobility access for everyone.”

In October 2018, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation announced a $50 million commitment to the conservancy for the future Ralph Wilson Park. The foundation also provided additional capital support to ensure key connections to the park could be made between the East Riverfront and West Riverfront and beyond with the addition of the Southwest Greenway.

“The development of both Ralph Wilson Park and the Southwest Greenway, as part of the Joe Louis Greenway, have been guided and informed directly by community voice and the residents who are the ultimate beneficiaries of these public spaces,” says David Egner, president and CEO, Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation. “Parks and trails contribute greatly to quality of life in our region bringing with it better public health outcomes and helping people connect more to one another and places.”

The park will feature a water garden, the William Davidson Sport House with basketball courts, the Delta Dental Play Garden with an array of animal structures, and an expansive lawn for special events. When the Ralph Wilson Park opens in 2024, users of the Southwest Greenway will have easy access to the new park.

“Southwest Detroit is full of amazing neighborhoods and amazing families. When you look at the demographics of Mexicantown, Corktown, and the other communities in Southwest Detroit, you see that they are full of children, families, and seniors. This trail will make it very easy for them all to get to the Detroit Riverfront,” says Wallace.

Named the best Riverwalk in America by USA TODAY, the Detroit Riverfront attracts 3.5 million visitors annually. The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy has invested more than $200 million in the revitalization of the Detroit Riverfront, which in turn has generated more than $2 billion in public and private investment.

For more information, visit www.detroitriverfront.org.

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