New public art projects, streetscape improvements coming to east riverfront

What’s happening: More than 40 acres of Detroit’s east riverfront is set to receive significant upgrades by way of public art and green beautification projects, as well as a larger yet-to-be-announced vision that the primary property owner, Bedrock, is hinting will transform the area to become “the ideal sustainable neighborhood.” Work on the public art projects is already underway, while the broader beautification efforts should be completed by spring 2023. The larger vision that Bedrock hints at is expected to be announced later this year.

A mural created by the Gilda Snowden Estate will celebrate the artist’s legacy in native Detroit, extending across the entire southwestern facing of the 5-story Atwater Brewery Parking Lot structure. (Photo courtesy of Bedrock)What it is: Bedrock, Dan Gilbert’s real estate firm that owns more than 100 properties in downtown Detroit, has a footprint along the east riverfront that totals more than 40 acres and more than 900,000 sq. ft. of office, amenity, and residential space. The developer has collaborated with the City of Detroit to install new planters, flowers and trees, benches, and lighting in the area, generally centered along the Atwater, Chene, and Jos. Campau corridors there.

Streetscape work: Among the planned improvements include a new event lawn adjacent to Atwater Brewery, replacing the parking lot there. Bedrock will also construct a new boardwalk along the Atwater Street frontage, from Valade Park to Jos. Campau Street, complete with benches, RGB lighting in the trees, and more. Festoon lights will be strung across Jos. Campau and along the new boardwalk. Also, all of the Bedrock-owned buildings will receive façade up-lighting.

Public art projects: A mural created by the Gilda Snowden Estate will celebrate the artist’s legacy in native Detroit, extending across the entire southwestern facing of the 5-story Atwater Brewery Parking Lot structure. Detroit artist Patrick Ethen is installing a custom light installation, Ellen Rutt will paint a 200 ft. mural on Atwater Street, and Darius Barber is installing illuminated structures embedded with images that honor Detroit musicians, including Aretha Franklin.

Why it’s important: “Jefferson East, having worked to support the Rivertown neighborhood for years, is thrilled to have Bedrock as a major anchor and investor to further the revitalization of this amazing and historic Detroit community," says Jefferson East, Inc.’s CEO Josh Elling. "This important work will promote walkability, create a sense of place and establish wonderful amenities for residents, all Detroiters and visitors in the Rivertown neighborhood and the Detroit Riverwalk."

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MJ Galbraith is Model D's development news editor. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.