Detroit Officials Break Ground on Roosevelt Park at Michigan Central Mobility Campus

Rendering of completed Roosevelt Park, estimated for spring 2023. // All renderings courtesy of the City of Detroit

The city of Detroit today broke ground on a $6-million transformation of Roosevelt Park in front of Michigan Central Station at Michigan Avenue and 14th Street. The park, named after President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, was part of the original campus design when Michigan Central opened in 1913 as Detroit’s main rail depot.

The redesign of the park, with construction now underway, includes the removal of the existing roadway that split the park in half for years.

When completed in spring 2023, the currently 9.5-acre park will grow to 13 acres after the road removal and reconfiguration. It also will include a promenade connecting Michigan Avenue to Michigan Central, a new pedestrian gateway entrance at Michigan Avenue, key neighborhood entryways and walkways, plaza spaces, event lawns, benches and tables for seating, and landscaping.

A current photo of Roosevelt Park.A current photo of Roosevelt Park.

The newly unified park will serve as an amenity, not only for southwest Detroit residents, but also for the 5,000 workers who will be employed at Michigan Central. Next year, Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn, which acquired the station and neighboring properties starting in 2018, will open what it calls a mobility innovation campus.

Michigan Central is the centerpiece of a 30-acre open innovation platform to help define the way people and goods move around in the future. The once world-class station had been abandoned since 1988.

Ford officials say the project is on track, attracting partners from around the world to create an inclusive, vibrant, walkable mobility innovation district in Corktown, Detroit’s oldest neighborhood.

Entrance to Roosevelt ParkEntrance to Roosevelt Park

The public-private partnership between Ford’s Michigan Central, the State of Michigan, the City of Detroit, community organizations, and others like Google will make the district a hub for talent, mobility innovation, entrepreneurship, sustainability, affordable housing, small business opportunities, and community engagement.

“One of the biggest things driving our city’s revitalization is what we’ve done to create more and better parks and green space in our neighborhoods,” says Mayor Mike Duggan. “In this area of ​​southwest Detroit alone, we just broke ground on the Southwest Greenway portion of the Joe Louis Greenway (that will connect with) the incredible Ralph C. Wilson Centennial Park along the west Riverfront. This transformation of Roosevelt Park will be another major benefit to residents and visitors of this area of ​​southwest Detroit.”

Roosevelt Park BoardwalkRoosevelt Park Boardwalk

The park improvements are funded through $5 million from the American Rescue Plan Act and $1 million from the general fund. As part of the reunification of the park, West Vernor, which currently bisects the park, will be re-routed to trace the western edge of Roosevelt Park (currently 16th Street) to continue as a primary connector to the thriving Mexicantown business district.

While there may be some traffic restrictions during the nine-month construction period, nearby businesses will remain open.

The city of Detroit has spent the last year doing intense community engagement in Southwest Detroit’s Hubbard-Richard and Corktown Neighborhoods preparing to unify Roosevelt Park.

Community engagement began in summer 2021, with an official kickoff community festival event in August. The city also hosted community engagement meetings in November 2021 and January 2022, and met with key community groups throughout the planning and design process. Results from the Greater Corktown Framework Plan, initiated in 2019, recommended a single unified park space.

Roosevelt Park Central LawnRoosevelt Park Central Lawn

“Whenever we do project like this, we always hold extensive community meetings to get feedback from residents, since this will be their neighborhood park,” says Brad Dick, group executive of services and infrastructure for Detroit. “Roosevelt Park is in a great location but has been underutilized. Thanks for the input and ideas we received from residents and other stakeholders, we’re able to create something truly special that everyone can enjoy.”

Michigan Central is also working to improve and strengthen connections among these neighborhoods, and attract workers and visitors to Detroit with its rehabilitation of the station and development of the surrounding areas.

“Roosevelt Park and Michigan Central Station have long been partners in civic grandeur and will be once again with this investment,” says Joshua Sirefman, CEO of Michigan Central. “Together, they root us in both the rich heritage and bright future of the surrounding neighborhoods and all of Detroit. The restored Roosevelt Park, with its beautiful boulevard in the middle, and the grand public space in the station, will create a seamless blend of respite and connection.”

Roosevelt Park PlazaRoosevelt Park Plaza

Other offerings within Ford’s Michigan Central campus include the Book Depository Building just east of the station (originally Roosevelt Warehouse and designed by famed Detroit architect Albert Kahn). The square, four-level structure, scheduled to reopen this year following extensive renovations, will offer maker spaces, mobility studios, labs, and exhibit spaces.

In addition, Ford acquired The Factory at Michigan and Rosa Parks Boulevard (12th Street), where today some 250 employees are working on autonomous vehicles, and is nearing completion of the newly built Bagley Parking Hub, a parking garage and mobility hub that will provide 1,250 parking spots for Michigan Central workers as well as serve the community with a pedestrian-oriented streetscape and new public amenities.

Overall, Ford’s vision includes creating an open platform for innovators, startups, entrepreneurs, and other partners from around the world to develop, test, and launch new mobility solutions on real-world streets, in real-world situations.

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