A small part of the Riverwalk has made a big impact. The half-mile Uniroyal Promenade opened this weekend, connecting Mt. Elliott Park to Gabriel Richard Park, and completing the 3.5-mile East Riverfront.
The Riverwalk now runs from just past the old Joe Louis site to Gabriel Richard Park on East Jefferson. The Uniroyal Promenade is a key element; people would have to go up to East Jefferson from Mt. Elliott Park if they wanted to continue on to Belle Isle or Gabriel Richard Park.
Detroit's riverfront was not largely open to the public before the riverfront. It had many industrial sites, including the Uniroyal site; the factory closed in 1980 and was demolished in 1985. It's been vacant since.
The Uniroyal Promenade took $11 million to build. The site needed extensive remediation, and the Conservancy worked with the City of Detroit, the Michigan Department of Transportation, and the Environmental Protection Agency on the project.
“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 between what is now Huntington Place and Belle Isle,” said Matt Cullen, founding chairman of the Conservancy’s Board of Directors. “Today we celebrate the fulfillment of that promise. Working together, we have brought that bold vision to reality. It’s a special moment for all of us and one that will be celebrated for generations to come.”
In the future, the Riverwalk is expected to run 5.5 miles, all the way to the Ambassador Bridge. The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy is also working on the Ralph C. Wilson Centennial Park, which is expected to open in 2025. Earlier this year, they opened the Southwest Greenway, connecting Michigan Central to the Riverfront.
“It’s rare for a city to complete such a bold vision,” said Mark Wallace, president & CEO of the Conservancy. “The transformation of the Detroit Riverfront has been supported for 20 years by the love of the community and the investments of countless foundations, corporations, and individuals. No one has done what we’ve done here in Detroit. It is a testament of what happens when we all work together for a common goal.”