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DETROIT-A $500-million redevelopment of land along the Detroit River, in a prominent Downtown location, has been unveiled by a study organized by Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. The project would include a new port facility to welcome cruise and dining ships, 1,000 residential units, a state park along the river and a continuous public walkway stretching along the Detroit River from Joe Louis Arena to the Belle Isle Bridge.

The funding for the redevelopment comes from many public and private sources, including the city, the Downtown Development Authority, Wayne County, General Motors and the Kresge Foundation.

Planning was undertaken by the 34-member East Riverfront Study Group in a 90-day process under the direction of co-chairs Derrick Miller, chief administrative officer to Kilpatrick; and Matthew Cullen, general manager of economic development and enterprise services for GM.

“The key thing about today’s announcement is that this group has a vision, the $500 million has been committed from a variety of sources,” Bob Berg, a spokesman for Kilpatrick, tells GlobeSt.com. “This will be more than just a plant to sit on a shelf. These are developments that are going to happen.”

Miller says the project emphasizes access to the river combined with a recreational, commercial and residential development.

“The process has included public input at every stage as well as enlisting two planning teams, Cooper, Robertson and Partners and Thomas Balsley Associates, both of New York City, to assist in developing this riverfront vision,” Miller notes.

The development builds on current river projects, including Stroh RiverPlace, Harbortown and the GM Renaissance Center.

“Unlike previous plans, this strategy does not rely upon public dollars alone to redevelop the riverfront. Rather it uses public, private and foundation funds to create an environment that encourages private investment along the river,” Cullen says.

Kresge will spend $50 million to build the three-mile public pathway. The Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority will spend $8 million to build the new port facility.

The state has committed to build a 25.5-acre park with $10 million, with a planned future expansion to 40 acres. Phase One is 16 acres and includes the incorporation of the existing St. Aubin Marina. Phase Two includes removal of the existing LaFarge cement plant.

General Motors is continuing its plan to build a plaza and promenade, complete with a mixed-use building offering eight levels of parking, ground-level retail space and a fitness center.

While the riverfront was the reason for the creation of Detroit, most residents do not venture near the area. City officials hope to change this view of the riverfront with this project.

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