Historic Fort Wayne sits in Delray, along the Detroit River and right next to where the upcoming Gordie Howe International Bridge will land in the U.S. The site is full of history, and for the last few decades, has largely been run by volunteers. It's home to historic buildings and sites, plus vast green space.
In recent years, it's been used for events, historical reenactments and education, recreational soccer leagues, and a popular site for photographers. The land itself presents an incredible opportunity to become a destination for families and visitors. It combines a unique military history with green space along the Detroit River. The plan for its future is up for discussion.
The City of Detroit has built out a strategic plan, and is holding meetings this month for public comment. A short meeting will be held February 15, with a longer meeting February 22. Both meetings will be held via Zoom.
In recent years, along with volunteers, neighborhood organizations, the city, and the National Park Service have become stakeholders in the planning. The strategic plan notes that stakeholders agree on overall "three-pronged approach" to redevelopment:
- "Enhancing interpretation and educational opportunities with respect to the most unique historic resources such as the star fort and burial mound
- Providing increased park amenities and recreational offerings
- Finding new and compatible uses for presently vacant historic buildings"
Improvements to the green space area could include a walking path, increased accessibility, and lighting. The plan notes that the star fort, barracks, and burial mound should be used for historical purposes, and partnerships could be strengthened in order to fulfill this purpose.
A number of challenges face the planning of the area, including the increasing deterioration of many of the buildings closest to Jefferson and the difficulty in access to the park. Much of the neighborhood around the park has been torn down for the Gordie Howe International Bridge, and the Port of Entry will lie just north of the bridge, bringing it to view for international travelers. Across and down the river, the area is highly industrial.
The area itself is quite isolated right now. But in a few years, along with the new international bridge, the upcoming Joe Louis Greenway will link up to Historic Fort Wayne.
Upcoming meetings will address rezoning within the park and potential partners who could lease sites within the park. A number of structures are up for adaptive reuse.
The strategic plan itself goes into further detail about the history and partnerships already in place. If you want to get involved with planning, follow this page.