DETROIT — A nonprofit in Detroit has sent two dozen residents to Chicago, Philadelphia and New York to gather ideas for a 22-acre riverfront site west of downtown.

The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy builds and maintains the RiverWalk, a development that extends across Detroit River frontage. The nonprofit hopes to eventually develop 5.5 miles (8.85 kilometers) of riverfront from the Ambassador Bridge to Gabriel Richard Park, the Detroit Free Press reported .

Some residents who participated in the out-of-town visits in July said that whatever happens on the west riverfront needs to cater to all people from Detroit, not just an upscale downtown market.

“We don’t want this to feel like Manhattan dropped down on our city,” said Mark Wallace, president and CEO of the riverfront conservancy. He said the development should reflect nearby communities like Corktown, Mexicantown and southwest Detroit.

Residents said it also needs to be something unique to Detroit.

“We want it to be designed for people to interact across different boundaries, across ethnic boundaries, across demographic boundaries,” Wallace said. “The RiverWalk has such a legacy of welcoming everyone. We want to take it to the next step. We want it to be a place where people are actually meeting new folks and talking to new people, and the community can come together in that way.”

Donna Lindsey-Law, a resident of the northwest side who visited parks in Chicago, said she liked the elaborate playground equipment for children there and hopes to see something similar on the west riverfront.

“We certainly can’t take Chicago and put it in Detroit,” she said. “But we can make Detroit a wonderful environment for all, for generations to come. Not just for today, for generations to come.”

The conservancy will conduct public interviews this week with eight firms hoping to win the contract to design the park. The selected team will produce a final design for the park by the end of the year.


Information from: Detroit Free Press, http://www.freep.com

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