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Web Exclusive - February 2019
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Detroit Creates a Community

By Deborah L. Vence


Driving engagement, development and programs that benefit businesses, residents and visitors in Detroit, Mich., is the mission of the Downtown Detroit Partnership (DDP).

"Through our parks program, we have been able to create iconic public space programming in Campus Martius, Beacon Park, Grand Circus, Capitol Park and Cadillac Square that has become central to the Detroit experience and recognized internationally," said Bob Gregory, chief planning and parks and public spaces officer for the DDP.

"Since 2000, the DDP, in collaboration with the city of Detroit, has been the recognized leader in creating programming and managing downtown Detroit's historic and transformational public spaces and urban parks. DDP parks receive over 2 million visitors annually and offer 1,600 events at the parks annually," he said.

The DDP brings together business, philanthropic and government partners to ensure that the efforts in the creation of a vibrant urban core for Detroit are balanced and all perspectives are considered.

What's more, DDP's affiliates, such as the Detroit Experience Factory, which connects locals and visitors to Detroit's people, places and projects through contextual storytelling, interactive experiences and innovative resources, and MoGo, Detroit's first public bike sharing system, connect Detroit residents and visitors with neighborhoods and offer new ways for people to explore their surroundings and connect with the city.

"In May 2018, Detroit became one of the first cities in the nation to launch an adaptive bike sharing program (MoGo), which provides people with disabilities access to hand-powered bicycles, tricycles and other cycles made specifically for those unable to ride a traditional bicycle," Gregory said. "This organization's partnerships and expertise have strengthened the city's core and these assets are leveraged for the good of all Detroiters."

In terms of how the DDP has created public spaces around Detroit, Gregory said that the "DDP's involvement in public spaces was born out of our role in creating critical plans for the revitalization of downtown Detroit. In the late 1980s and 1990s, there was a perception of downtown Detroit as a ghost town of empty buildings, deserted retail storefronts, poorly managed public spaces and unsafe streets. This began to change in 2004 with the creation of Campus Martius Park and the development of other downtown spaces."

The public spaces are:

  • Grand Circus Park
  • Spirit Plaza
  • Campus Martius
  • Beacon Park
  • Cadillac Square
  • Capitol Park

They bring people together in that "Each public space is located in a distinct downtown neighborhood or district," Gregory said. "The programming is tailored uniquely in each space to the neighborhood where the space is located. Ongoing community and stakeholder engagement ensures that the activities and programming are designed to bring together local residents, employees, visitors and tourists."

For more information on the Downtown Detroit Partnership, visit www.downtowndetroit.org.