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Community Leaders "Walk the Water’s Edge" as Detroit RiverFront Conservancy Announces Progress, Plans and Membership Campaign


July 21, 2006 - Detroit - Construction is moving full speed ahead along the Detroit International Riverfront, as the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy (DRFC) provided key stakeholders and community leaders with a full update on efforts to transform the riverfront. The program, complete with boat and hard hat tours, a thank you to recent funders and the announcement of a membership campaign, took place today in a breakfast briefing on the riverfront.

“Our goal is to have 75 percent of the east RiverWalk – along with the two plazas and pavilions – completed by year’s end, so plan on joining us for our grand opening celebrations next spring,” said Faye Alexander Nelson, DRFC President & CEO.

A sizeable portion of the Riverwalk and two of the four planned plazas and pavilions, at Rivard Street and at Gabriel Richard Park, are currently under construction. Construction is already complete on all shoreline work, below grade utilities and foundations, as well as the creation of a RiverWalk segment that extends over the river adjacent to the Talon Center and Omni Hotel. Additional landside work is being completed along the Stroh and Harbortown areas.

In addition, work is expected to begin on creating a greenway in the Dequindre Cut this year, which will provide a valuable connection to neighborhoods enroute to the Eastern Market from the riverfront. Other updates provided at the briefing included an economic development update on the Riverfront by Detroit Economic Growth Corporation President George Jackson, as well as updates on progress at the Tri-Centennial State Park and Harbor, the Port Authority’s new terminal and the recently-completed Bates Street outfall.

The DRFC also recognized three of its most recent funders - Kellogg Foundation, Ford Foundation and Toyota Motor Company - for their recent support of the DRFC. “We still need to raise an additional $55 million in these challenging times to complete our $300 million project”, said Matt Cullen, DRFC Co-Chair. “For that reason, I am so pleased to be able to publicly acknowledge our newest funders, including the Kellogg Foundation, the Ford Foundation and Toyota, who have so generously contributed to our fund-raising effort.”

A membership campaign was also announced, which will include the sale of bricks and pavers, as part of the Conservancy’s fund-raising efforts. “We are launching a membership program that has two important goals: to invite all members of the community to participate and invest in our riverfront project and to build a strong base of financial support for the conservancy,” said Derrick Miller, DRFC Co-Chair. The bricks and pavers are available for purchase by contacting the conservancy by phone at 313.567.4333 or by visiting the Conservancy’s website at The bricks and pavers will be installed at the plazas at Rivard Street and Gabriel Richard Park and will be unveiled as part of grand opening ceremonies next spring.

The Conservancy also announced the leaders of an online poll, which selected ride creatures for the new water carousel that will be installed at the Rivard Plaza. The carousel will include a variety of river- and lake-based ride creatures that the public voted upon at the Conservancy website. More than 800 votes were received by members of the community; top vote-getters will be developed into ride creatures and include a swan, heron, river mermaid and imaginary river monster, among others.

Finally, the Conservancy announced the launch of a river festival to be scheduled for July 2007, in conjunction with the city of Detroit’s birthday. “As the Conservancy, we want to officially launch a new tradition along the riverfront, and we plan to start it next year,” Nelson said. “We are calling it ‘River Days’ and we envision a festival on the riverfront for all ages, with entertainment, food, and river-related activities. We want to announce it this year, so we can engage the community into getting involved with this significant undertaking and ‘walk the waters edge’ on the Detroit International Riverfront.”

The Detroit RiverFront Conservancy is a 501 (c)3 public-private partnership formed in 2003 to undertake the establishment, improvement, operation, maintenance, security and programming of the Detroit International Riverfront, including the creation of a RiverWalk and all of the parks and green spaces along the Detroit International Riverfront, from the Ambassador Bridget to the MacArthur Bridge at Belle Isle and beyond. The Conservancy is funded by private and public grants and contributions. A $140 million campaign is underway to fund construction, maintenance and operations of East RiverWalk project. To date, $85 million has been raised toward that goal.


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