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GM unveils riverfront plaza at Detroit HQ

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General Motors Corp. officials touted their commitment to reviving the automaker's home city by unveiling a plaza and promenade along the river, seen Friday outside GM's world headquarters in Detroit. The Renaissance Center plaza is part of a series of projects aimed at turning Detroit's long-neglected riverfront into an urban playground.

GM unveils riverfront plaza at Detroit headquarters

By Sarah Karush / Associated Press

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DETROIT -- General Motors Corp. officials on Friday touted their commitment to reviving the automaker's home city as they unveiled a plaza and promenade along the Detroit River outside GM's world headquarters.

The Renaissance Center plaza is part of a series of projects aimed at turning Detroit's long-neglected riverfront into an urban playground. When they are completed, the RiverWalk is to span nearly 6 miles.

"This is another step in the revitalization of the city of Detroit and the waterfront," GM chairman and chief executive Rick Wagoner said. "We are pleased to make this donation as part of our commitment to economic development."

Wagoner handed over a symbolic deed to the plaza and promenade to Faye Alexander Nelson, chief executive of Riverfront Conservancy Inc., the nonprofit organization that was set up to build and maintain the RiverWalk.

The plaza, located behind the Renaissance Center's Winter Garden entrance, features rows of trees and benches and a fountain that children can run through.

The $25 million plaza and promenade is the latest in a series of major investments GM has made downtown. The company bought the Renaissance Center in 1996, revamped it to make it less of a labyrinth, moved its headquarters there, and attracted other corporations and retailers.

The total cost of the renovations since 1996, including the plaza and a more welcoming front entrance to be unveiled Jan. 7, is about $500 million.

Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick praised the world's largest automaker for its commitment to the city.

"GM's decision to reinvest in the community is driving the growth we are experiencing today. This facility not only houses nearly 11,000 people but has the largest single concentration of retail space in Detroit," he said.

Friday's ceremony came a day after GM said Thursday it would spend roughly $450 million to expand and refurbish two plants in Flint, a city it was portrayed as abandoning in Michael Moore's 1989 film "Roger & Me." The expansions will create 300 new jobs.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm said the events in the two cities represent GM's strong corporate commitment throughout the state.

GM also announced it would host economic development forums next year in four regions around the globe, including Detroit. The forums are aimed at bringing together development officials, community leaders and GM staff experts.

The other forums will be held in Zurich, Switzerland; Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Shanghai, China.

On the Net:

General Motors Corp.: http://www.gm.com

Detroit Riverfront Conservancy: http://www.detroitriverfront.org/

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Detroit Riverfront Conservancy President Faye Alexander Nelson, center, smiles as she is presented with the deed to the promenade along the Detroit River in front of General Motors headquarters at the Renaissance Center by GM chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner, second from right, and Matt Cullen, GM general manager of economic development, right. Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, left and Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick enjoy the moment with Nelson.

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The new plaza is very nice from what I've seen. I have only seen it at night so far, but I've heard that the next section of the riverwalk is under construction, and should be completed next year.

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