Former Atwater Beach on Detroit’s East Riverfront Named Robert C. Valade Park

The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, in partnership with the Molly and Mark Valade Family Fund, today announced its newest public space along the waterfront would be named Robert C. Valade Park when it opens this fall.
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Robert C. Valade Park rendering
The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy has named the former Atwater Beach the Robert C. Valade Park. // Rendering by Groundswell Design Group

The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, in partnership with the Molly and Mark Valade Family Fund, today announced its newest public space along the waterfront would be named Robert C. Valade Park when it opens this fall.

Currently in the final stages of construction, the park — formerly known as Atwater Beach — is located in the East Riverfront neighborhood at 2670 Atwater Street. The park’s official name celebrates Valade, a native Detroiter and former chairman and CEO of Carhartt Inc. in Dearborn.

“My dad loved the city of Detroit and I know he would be proud to have his name associated with a part of this cultural and recreational development on the Detroit River,” says Mark Valade. “He loved being outdoors on the riverfront and participated in numerous activities — from sailing to power boating to ice skating — and we hope that families across metro-Detroit and throughout Michigan get to create as many special memories out here as my father did.”

The Robert C. Valade Park project transformed a former industrial site along the East Riverfront into a family-orientated park. Most recently, the 3.2-acre parcel was used as a buoy storage yard and a cement factory.

When it opens to the public, the Robert C. Valade Park will complete a series of family-oriented parks along the East Riverfront, each located approximately a 10-minute walk from each other. It will also include a bridge along the RiverWalk, which connects Stroh River Place to Aretha Franklin Amphitheatre.

The project has been supported by the William Davidson Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which selected the project as one its 2017 Knight Cities Challenge winners, the Walters Family Foundation, and the Mona and Richard Alonzo Fund. The Conservancy also received a grant for the project from Gannett/USA Today Network as part of the “A Community Thrives” initiative, which supports programs that positively impact local communities.

The Robert C. Valade Park will feature:

— A large, sandy beach area with chairs and umbrellas, and a community pavilion with barbecue grills.

— Colorful playground houses, inspired by lifeguard stations with areas for children to climb, slide, and jump.

— A musical garden that where children can learn in an interactive way about different objects that make musical sounds and tones.  Ample seating areas around the play scape and music gardens provide areas for parents and caregivers to keep an eye on children.

— A 3,600-square-foot shed with garage door-style openings designed to flood the space with natural light and fresh air. A soaring overhang and patio provide visitors with shelter from the elements. Food will be available in The Shed. The space will also be used for a mixture of programming, special events, and occasional retail.

Additionally, the park will have Detroit’s only floating bar. Named in honor of Robert C. Valade, “Bob’s Barge” will span two boat slips in the Detroit River. The barge will be 120-feet-long and feature multiple unique seating areas and planters made of recycled truck tailgates from Detroit automakers.

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