The city began work Tuesday on a $6 million effort to add plaza spaces, event lawns and other amenities at Roosevelt Park, the entryway to the towering Michigan Central Station in Corktown.
By next spring, the 9.5-acre park on Michigan Avenue will grow to 13 acres, with the addition of a promenade connecting the thoroughfare to The Station, event spaces, benches and tables for seating and landscaping.
Mayor Mike Duggan joined with lawmakers, community groups, the city’s infrastructure executive and Michigan Central’s CEO to detail the park plan they bill as an amenity for southwest Detroit neighborhoods as well as the 5,000 workers anticipated in the former train depot.
“I’m going to predict to you that this particular site is going to end up being one of the most beautiful and iconic sites in the City of Detroit,” Duggan said during a Tuesday morning news conference. “All those images that went around the world for years about the abandoned train station you’re going to see gatherings, and wedding parties, in Roosevelt Park. This is going to be the image in our city and this is the image that the city deserves.”
The mayor also made note of residents in the immediate neighborhood and nearby Mexicantown who stuck with Detroit even when there wasn’t much activity or hope for rehabilitation of the site.
“Nobody could go down this street and see Roosevelt Park and say ‘that’s the way it should be,’ Duggan said.
Brad Dick, the city’s Group Executive, Services & Infrastructure, said the project – to be funded with $5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds and $1 million from the city’s general fund – builds on Detroit’s overall progress in renovating 150 of its approximately 300 parks in recent years. The city has spent roughly $56 million in the past four years on parks.
The park is the latest in southwest Detroit to get underway. The city recently broke ground on the Southwest Greenway portion of the Joe Louis Greenway and work also has begun on the Ralph C. Wilson Centennial Park along the west Riverfront.
As part of the Roosevelt Park project, West Vernor, which bisects the park, will be rerouted to trace the western edge of Roosevelt Park, now 16th Street, to continue as the primary connector to the Mexicantown business district. Nearby businesses, the city noted, will remain open during the nine-month construction period.
Joshua Sirefman, CEO of Michigan Central, the 30-acre walkable community anchored by The Station, noted that the park emerged after the 1912 construction of the train station as a “grand gesture for those arriving to the city.”
“Now, it’s this beautiful entryway to pull people back into the station and to pull people back into everything happening here,” he said.
The unified park space was recommended in results from the Greater Corktown Framework Plan initiated in 2019. Last summer, Detroit began conducting community engagement in its Hubbard-Richard and Corktown neighborhoods and officials hosted community meetings in November and January.
Michigan Central is also working to improve and strengthen connections among the southwest Detroit neighborhoods, and attract workers and visitors to Detroit with its rehabilitation of The Station and surrounding developments, including supporting the City in its work in Roosevelt Park, officials added.
State Sen. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, said the park will provide space for families and children and the alterations will make the roadway safer. She stressed community engagement with the park and train station developments have been “strong.”
“The community has been incredibly engaged,” she said. “It’s a really good example of how we need to continue that community engagement is very very strong.”For more information, visit detroitmi.gov/rooseveltpark.