Press Releases

Strategic Framework Plan to Preserve and Expand Access to Detroit’s East Riverfront Unveiled

Officials from the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy, the City of Detroit Planning & Development Department, and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation announced the details of a plan that will preserve more riverfront land for public use, generate greater community access to the Detroit River, and spur investment along the East Riverfront. The strategic framework plan, developed by a team led by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM), forges new connections between the East Riverfront and surrounding neighborhoods, expands green space, and makes pedestrian-friendly streetscape improvements.

The strategic framework plan was realized after an intensive six-month program of community meetings, workshops, tours, and interviews. Under the plan, the East Riverfront area will continue to be transformed from a formerly blighted, industrial area into a vibrant public waterfront accessible to all Detroit residents. The plan outlines the addition of eight acres of park space to the East Riverfront and envisions keeping significant portions of the waterfront free from private development in perpetuity. The Beltline, a new greenway, will directly connect inland neighborhoods to the Detroit River, while the existing Joseph Campau Greenway will receive new lighting, paving, and landscaping. Improvements along Jefferson Avenue will reduce vehicular accidents, improve walkability, and beautify the corridor—improvements that are designed to boost local businesses and facilitate safer access to the waterfront.

Project stakeholders aim to make significant enhancements to the riverfront over the next several years: The Detroit RiverFront Conservancy is slated to break ground this year on a promenade that will connect the RiverWalk from Mt. Elliott Park to the Belle Isle Bridge along a 30-acre former Uniroyal site. Improvements to Jefferson Avenue will begin in 2017 with the redesign and beautification of the street between Rivard Street and East Grand Boulevard.

New York–based HR&A Advisors provided real estate and economic consulting services, and landscape design concepts were created by Paris-based Michel Desvigne and Inessa Hansch. Six local firms—McIntosh Poris, Birmingham; Giffels Webster, Detroit; Kraemer Design Group, Detroit; AKT Peerless, Detroit; Rich & Associates, Southfield; and E. Austell Associates, West Bloomfield—provided significant consulting and advisory roles during the planning stages.

About Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) is one of the leading architecture, interior design, engineering, and urban planning firms in the world. Since its founding more than 80 years ago, SOM has earned a reputation for design excellence with a portfolio that includes some of the most important architectural accomplishments of the 20th and 21st centuries, and has been a leader in the research and development of specialized technologies, new processes and innovative ideas, many of which have had a palpable and lasting impact on the design profession and the physical environment. The firm’s longstanding leadership in design and building technology has been honored with nearly 2,000 awards for quality, innovation, and management. The American Institute of Architects has recognized SOM twice with its highest honor, the Architecture Firm Award—in 1962 and again in 1996. The firm maintains offices in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., London, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Mumbai.

About the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy

The Detroit RiverFront Conservancy is a non-profit organization founded in 2003 with the mission to develop public access to Detroit’s riverfront and serve as an anchor for economic development. As the permanent stewards of the RiverWalk and the Dequindre Cut, the Conservancy is responsible for raising the funds needed for construction, operation, maintenance, security and programming of the public spaces located along the riverfront. The Conservancy’s ultimate vision is to develop five-and-a-half miles of riverfront from the Ambassador Bridge on the west to Gabriel Richard Park, just east of the MacArthur Bridge to Belle Isle. Visit for more information.

About the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation

Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC) is a non-profit organization that serves as the lead implementing agency for business retention, attraction, and economic development initiatives in the city of Detroit. DEGC is led by a 60-member board comprised of business, civic, labor, and community leaders. Its 40 professionals provide staff services for key public authorities that offer tax credits and other forms of financing for projects that bring new jobs or economic activity to the city. Among them: the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), Detroit Brownfield Redevelopment Authority (DBRA) and Economic Development Corporation (EDC). DEGC also provides planning, project management and other services under contract to the city of Detroit. Visit for more information.