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baldy

Ford Auditorium demolition

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I remember reading not too long ago about plans to demolish Ford Auditorium and build something else there. What is that something else and when is this supposed to start? For some reason, a government run harbor, but not the coast guard sticks in my mind. Either way, I think Ford Auditorium is a building that needs to go.

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I really don't know. The place has sat unused since the late 80s, except for a short time when it was a homeless shelter. In the early 90s, Comerica Bank offered to raze the auditorium and build its headquaters on the site, but that offer was turned down. City Council has voted to demolish the structure...in fact, they voted to demo the building back in 2001 or 2002. However, I don't know what, if anything, will be built on the site. Last I heard, the plans were to demolish it, and make the site park of the new Riverfront Park.

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if i remember correctly it was going to be a dock/harbor for cruise ships passing through the great lakes.

go wander over to the eastern riverfront website (can't remember the url now) and go through the renderings, ford auditorium is clearly missing.

The only sticking point i've ever heard surface was that the fords wouldn't be happy about this.

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Yeah, I don't imagine that the Fords would be happy. But I think it's best to tear it down & use the land for the riverfront. It's certainly better than having it sit there unused for the next twenty years.

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I was reading one of the other articles and I think it was the Detroit Wayne County Port Authority which is to take over the site of the Ford Auditorium.

Here's an article I found which has some nice pictures

http://www.detnews.com/2003/business/0309/07/d01-264008.htm

East riverfront plan takes shape

More than $200 million committed for promenade and public parks

By R.J. King / The Detroit News

Detroit Riverfront Conservancy Inc.

A state park, riverside walkway, housing and a port terminal are envisioned. Planners hope to see most of the project completed in time for the 2006 Super Bowl.

Detroit Riverfront Conservancy Inc.

In recent months, the riverfront plan has gained momentum with a commitment of $50 million from Kresge Foundation, $30 million from the city, $25 million from Detroit Economic Growth Corp. and $10 million from the state for a park.

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DETROIT -- An ambitious plan to redevelop three miles of the city's east riverfront into a lively residential, cultural and recreation district is picking up steam.

A commitment of more than $200 million has been made to the project by a host of private and public sources.

A state park, riverside walkway, housing and a port terminal will replace the weed-filled lots, cement silos and abandoned industrial plants that dot the long-maligned stretch from the Renaissance Center to Belle Isle.

Planners hope to see most of the project completed in time for the 2006 Super Bowl at Ford Field.

The five-year effort, first announced last December by a host of business and political luminaries including Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, seeks to convert the riverfront into a linked waterfront community like those found in Chicago and San Francisco.

For several decades, Detroit's business and political leaders have floated plans to convert the largely industrial section of waterfront into a residential, office and retail area, but the efforts failed because of a lack of money, will, land acquisition and vision, community activists say.

But in recent months the plan has gained momentum with a commitment of $50 million from the Kresge Foundation, $30 million from the city, $25 million from Detroit Economic Growth Corp., a quasi-public agency, and $10 million from the state to build a riverfront park.

In addition, Detroit Riverfront Conservancy Inc., a nonprofit group of business and political leaders, was formed in December to oversee the development and maintenance of the riverfront promenade and public parks.

"We're encouraged by efforts made in recent months to improve the waterfront, but some of the vacant buildings are still being broken into and we do see stripping (of materials) going on," said Anne Scott, president of Riverfront East Alliance, a nonprofit, community activist group with 250 members who live and work in the east riverfront district.

The vacant buildings, some of which date to the late 1800s, should be redeveloped into lofts and offices, Scott said. "We don't want to see totally new development like in the suburbs," she added.

Upcoming improvements along the riverfront include:

* A $10.5 million port terminal. Next month, the Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority plans to complete a deal with General Motors Corp. to buy land between Ford Auditorium and the Detroit River for a two-story port terminal. The 30,000-square-foot complex would include port offices, public viewing area and customs facilities to process cruise ship passengers.

Construction is expected to start next year on the terminal, which would open in time for the 2005 shipping season, said Steven Olinek, deputy director of the port authority, now on East Jefferson near Belle Isle. The new facility would be at Bates and Atwater, and border the riverfront promenade.

"We have $9 million committed for the project from federal and state grants, and we're in the process of raising the additional $1.5 million for the project," Olinek said.

* GM plaza and promenade. At the RenCen, which GM purchased for its world headquarters in 1996, the automaker will begin installing a plaza and promenade between the complex and the river in the next month, said Matthew P. Cullen, general manager of GM's economic development and enterprise services group and co-chairman of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy.

The project should be completed by the end of next year.

"We have secured right of access from all the property owners along the east riverfront to begin to plan for the promenade to Belle Isle," Cullen said.

"That allows us to do engineering studies, develop a plan and then return to seek out property easements for the promenade."

* River East. In the coming months, GM will issue bids seeking developers for residences, shops, offices and entertainment offerings on 25 acres of mostly vacant land the automaker owns east of the RenCen, Cullen said. The project will take five years or more to complete.

* Redevelopment of the Uniroyal site. The city is planning to have private developers construct housing along East Jefferson with a large public park facing the river, said George W. Jackson Jr., president and chief executive of Detroit Economic Growth Corp.

Other areas of the 537-acre district will be defined for future development as well.

"We plan to have a master development plan for the entire east riverfront by the end of the year," Jackson said. It will "give developers a good idea of where to renovate and build homes, condos, stores and offices."

And the city has completed deals to buy two of the three cement silos on the east riverfront, with the third agreement now in negotiations, Jackson said. The silos are expected to be demolished in the next two years.

You can reach R.J. King at (313) 222-2504 or [email protected]

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