Detroit is looking for planners to envision its East Riverfront

Development Midwest News Urbanism
The East Riverfront area in downtown Detroit to be master planned.

The East Riverfront area in downtown Detroit to be master planned.

Detroit has begun the search for planners to envision new development along its East Riverfront of the Detroit River. Penned by the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy (DRFC) and the City of Detroit Planning and Development Department, a request for qualifications is now open until December 4th.

The Dequinre Cut is one of the current points of access from the river to other parts of the city. The new plan would improve on and expand such through-ways.

The Dequindre Cut is one of the current points of access from the river to other parts of the city. The new plan would improve on, and expand, such through-ways.

The DRFC and the City are looking for multidisciplinary teams with experience in public/private partnerships, completed work of similar scope and scale, as well as an understanding of the immediate context.

The ultimate goal of the City and the DRFC is to develop a district plan to stimulate mixed-use development by re-connecting the city to the river. With a growing density of residence in the downtown, public access to the river and new recreational space are a high priority for the nearly 400 acres to be developed.

Recent success of the Detroit RiverWalk, as well as riverwalks in other urban centers, has helped to refocus city attention on downtown river areas. Along with economic benefits, ecological improvements are major part of the city’s redevelopment. The new plan will include improved public transit and bicycle access, as well as wetland areas and storm water retention infrastructure.

The Detroit RiverFront Conservancy has already played a major roll in redeveloping over three miles of river front for the public in Detroit.

The Detroit RiverFront Conservancy has already played a major role in redeveloping over three miles of river front for the public in Detroit.

The plan, to be implemented immediately, will comprise of outlines of Community Engagement, Land Use, Infrastructure, Market Assessment, and Stakeholder Engagement. The comprehensive nature of the plan will hope to address the growing needs of the downtown area that has recently seen a resurgence of interest from young residence. Despite past hardships, Detroit’s downtown has a 98 percent housing occupancy rate.

With the increase in demand for housing has come an increase in demand for amenities. Along with the proposed developments, three miles of the river front have already been improved, and a planned bike share program may be launched as early as spring 2016. Restaurants, jobs, and cultural attractions have also added to the downtown’s revitalization. This includes the $300 million renovation of the river front Cobo Convention Center.

The deadline for the RFQ is December 4th, with interviews of shortlisted teams taking place before January 14th. The winning team will have 120 days starting in March 2016 to produce the report, working with the community and civic stakeholders.

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