Daylighting Detroit, Michigan’s Bloody Run Creek will be no small feat, but it’s a project that truly embodies a new and sustainable direction for the city. St. Louis developer, Richard Baron, has been pitching redevelopment ideas to Detroit since the 1980’s, but until now, nothing’s stuck.
Flowing south, just east of downtown and into the Detroit River, Bloody Run Creek was named after a particularly gory battle between the British and Chief Pontiac’s warriors in the mid-18th century. As the city grew, sanitation and public health became a major concern. Several rivers, including Bloody Run, were channelize and buried to create an urban sewer system.
These methods were universal for cities experiencing urban expansion during the industrial era. Recently, a mounting awareness of sustainable infrastructure, combined with the practice of urban planning and landscape architecture, many places have taken on extensive daylighting projects. Some successful projects include: Cheonggyecheon River in Singapore, Singapore; Providence River in Providence, RI; Saw Mill River in Yonkers, NY; and Arcadia Creek in Kalamazoo, MI.
The proposed 3,000-acre greenway and urban development promises environmental, economic, as well as community benefits to Detroit’s near east side. It will restore natural habitat, reduce the strain on Detroit’s water treatment plant, and prevent sewer over-flows into Detroit River. As an urban design project, daylighting will increase property values, encouraging private investment and creating desirable residential units.
It’s a big investment. According to Crain’s Detroit, the $1 Billion plan will take 10 years to complete, but with $450,000 from the Kresge Foundation and over half the land currently vacant or city owned, the conditions seem right to begin Phase I. Baron is collaborating with architect, Stephen Vogel, and designers at University of Detroit Mercy Collaborative Design Center, as well as Forest City Enterprises Inc. and Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellow, Ceara O’Leary.