We bitch about government a lot: the red tape, the bureaucracy, the hypocrisy and scandalous actions of politicians, you name it. But every once in a while the Government Gods get together and conspire in our favor. The latest example comes from Detroit, Michigan, a city with a questionable downtown and a riverfront that has often been described as “trashy.” Detroit, by no stretch of the imagination, has ever offered much for outdoor enthusiasts. That’s about to change.
Back in the 1860s, an industrial complex was constructed in downtown Detroit, first serving as the Dry Dock Engine Works, later the Detroit Shipbuilding Company, the Detroit Edison Co., finally the Globe Trading Co., and now sits abandoned and destitute alongside a similarly abandoned and destitute rail line. Not for much longer.
On October 6, Republican Governor Rick Snyder (who it should be noted has plenty of detractors with legitimate political concerns), joined by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, announced that the historic Globe complex would begin making a transformation from broken windows and vacancy to a thriving outdoor adventure center. The cost is expected to reach $12.8 million, and the center will feature a climbing wall, a kayak simulator; it will host school field trips, offering students the opportunity to learn about the outdoors through exhibits and simulators, plus all sorts of other goodies for the outdoorsy and adventure-prone crowd. Whatever your politics, the project is a slam-dunk for people who dig recreation.
According to the Detroit Free Press, Snyder made the announcement to a crowd of about 100 people. After gesturing toward the Globe, which by all descriptions makes it sound like a pile of standing rubble, he said, “I want everyone to remember what that looks like today, so when we come back and see what it looks like, we can see what the power of working together can do.”
The project is part of the city’s grander plans to steadily “reinvent Detroit.” That is, “remake the Detroit riverfront as a year-round live, work, and play environment.” The Globe complex itself will become a part of the bordering Milliken State Park.
Funds for the transformation are being provided by a grant from the state’s Department of Natural Resources. Construction will begin later this year and the goal is for the Globe to reopen no later than late 2013 or early 2014. Keep an eye out for developments, and for you go-getters, consider looking to the Globe as a model for reinvention in your own town.
By Bryan Schatz