Thursday, August 11, 2011

Lafayette Greens taking shape in downtown Detroit

I have no idea what you expected when news broke of Compuware's plans to develop the site of the old Lafayette Building into an urban garden. Heck, I'm not sure what I expected.

But it wasn't this.

As plans become reality, the Lafayette Greens development is blossoming into an impressive site that far exceeds the rows of cabbage and corn that may have popped to mind with initial word of the project. Surrounded by a wrought-iron black gate, the triangular-chunk of land between Lafayette Boulevard and Michigan Avenue is already an enormous scenic enhancement to a neighborhood anchored by the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel.

Rows of vegetables in raised beds do line the parcel's interior, but saplings and other landscape features stand more prominently. Facing Lafayette is a series of three oddly shaped but not unattractive wooden buildings. And the tattered red-brick wall of the old (and soon returning?) Arcade Bar is a pretty cool contrast to the newly planted greens in front of it.

The urban garden idea was much-maligned when Compuware's projects were initially announced, and with regards to their food-production, maybe that criticism was warranted. I have no idea how much food this thing will produce.

But the corner where the Lafayette Building once stood is no longer an eyesore. By some measure, that has to be considered progress.