Thursday, October 29, 2009

Detroit getting minor facelift with Paradise Valley open space improvements

The big projects – like hotel restorations and RiverWalk developments – are easy to spot. Some you can even see from the freeway. But every now and then during a lunchtime walk, I stumble across something happening in downtown Detroit that’s a little quieter.

Smaller in scope but huge in impact, a new park is being built on a pie-shaped chunk of land in what used to be called the Paradise Valley area of Detroit. Just a few blocks from Comerica Park (you can barely see the stadium lights in the photo) but set in what feels like a quiet little neighborhood, the park will be bound by Grand River, Randolph and Centre streets. It’s across from Coaches Corner, if you’ve ever been there.

In building the park, the entire piece of property, it appears, was dug out five or six feet. Stonewalls and sidewalks wind through, and a fountain is being built. The water lines have all been installed, and when I walked past the other day a landscape crew was putting in tons of plants.

Like I said, it’s a small project. But it creates the park-in-the-big-city, Brooklyn-type atmosphere that Detroit is sorely lacking. And after you’ve spent any amount of time walking past broken storefronts and down aging sidewalks downtown, it makes an enormous difference.