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A rendering of Detroit’s Southwest Greenway, a half-mile route from Bagley to Jefferson that will link neighborhoods in southwest Detroit, Mexicantown and Corktown with the riverfront, the future Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Centennial Park, and with the Michigan Central mobility innovation district being developed by Ford Motor Co.

An $8 million greenway project is getting underway to help connect residents in several southwest Detroit neighborhoods with parks and amenities along the city’s riverfront.

The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and partner groups on Wednesday began work on the Southwest Greenway, a half-mile route from Bagley to Jeffferson that will link neighborhoods throughout southwest Detroit, Mexicantown and Corktown with the riverfront,  future Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park, and with Michigan Central, a mobility innovation district being developed by Ford Motor Co. 

The greenway project, a partnership between the city of Detroit and Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. and Walters Family foundations, Michigan Central and state transportation and parks agencies, will be completed in the fall. 

“Our goal is to change the way people in Detroit spend time together and to change the way that people in Detroit interact with each other,” Mark Wallace, president and CEO of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, said during a Wednesday news conference. “The Southwest Detroit Greenway will change the way our community comes together.”

The greenway will be a key part of the Joe Louis Greenway, a larger, 27.5-mile greenway in the city designed to improve connections and access to the riverfront. The two projects are part of 160 miles of greenways in southeast Michigan. 

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan noted in a statement that the project is one of several in the works to add recreational opportunities that connect neighborhoods with the riverfront. The work, he said, “will improve Detroiters’ quality of life for generations to come.”

Detroit’s Planning and Development Director Antoine Bryant, also a board member for the conservancy, said it’s his goal to “be a part of a city that was going to represent things for all of Detroiters.”

A rendering of Detroit’s Southwest Greenway, a half-mile route from Bagley to Jefferson that will link neighborhoods in southwest Detroit, Mexicantown and Corktown with the riverfront, the future Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Centennial Park, and with the Michigan Central mobility innovation district being developed by Ford Motor Co.

“We have been intentional as a city of departments to include our neighborhoods in all of our outreach and all of our engagement when it comes to quality parks space and quality opportunities in this city,” Bryant said. 

Michigan Central announced Wednesday a $5 million commitment to the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy toward the greenway project to connect the riverfront with Michigan Central and neighborhoods throughout southwest Detroit and Corktown. 

Mary Culler, chair of Michigan Central, said the greenway will improve connectivity for residents and visitors and it’s an extension of the platform being created at Michigan Center. 

“One of the things that’s going to be critical is that everyone has access to this greenway,” Culler said, noting Ford will be creating a 14-acre park that also will connect with the greenway.

Michigan Central, she added, is building a “Bagley hub” at the trailhead with a plaza, public restrooms, streetscape upgrades and other amenities for park and greenway users. 

Next month, the conservancy is going to break ground on the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park, a 22-acre park located on the West Riverfront. The future park is part of the conservancy’s overall development plan for 5.5 miles of the riverfront.

The foundation in 2018 committed $50 million for the park and other dollars toward connections to the park between the East Riverfront and West Riverfront with the addition of the Southwest Greenway. 

The park will feature a water garden, the William Davidson Sport House with basketball courts, the Delta Dental Play Garden and vast greenspace. It’s scheduled to open in 2024. 

The city’s riverfront attracts about 3.5 million visitors each year, according to the conservancy, which has invested more than $200 million toward revitalization efforts.

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