It wasn’t long ago that the western edge of downtown Detroit was isolated in a sea of abandoned buildings and parking structures. DTE employees didn’t venture out to walk or ride a bike to lunch, or spend time in the community. In fact, only four years ago this month Detroit – the heart of the automotive industry – became the largest city in U.S. history to file for bankruptcy.
It was soon after the 2008 recession that the leadership at DTE Energy began looking closely at what the Fortune 500 company could do to support the city, help create jobs, and provide a stronger sense of security in the neighborhood. They made the conscious decision not to lay off employees and looked outside their campus for opportunities.
DTE purchased the old Salvation Army building on Bagley Ave., across from its headquarters in 2012, renovated it and re-opened it as the Navitas House in 2014. Today the building houses employee offices. In 2013, DTE purchased a second piece of land on the corner of Cass and Grand River Ave. – now known as Beacon Park – Detroit’s newest public green space in the city.
“We began purchasing land with the idea of protecting the neighborhood,” said Dave Meador, Vice Chairman of DTE Energy. “We obtained the land that is now Beacon Park with the idea of creating a simple green space for our employees. Eventually, our vison evolved into building an active public park to help support a more vibrant community, attract employees and serve as catalyst for economic development in the area.”
Investing in Michigan
Not only is the western edge of Detroit beginning to thrive with new life and activity, the construction of Beacon Park has also provided jobs and opportunities for local businesses. Twenty Michigan companies and three minority-based businesses were hired to be a part of the construction of the park.
“We’ve refocused our efforts on buying Michigan and investing in the companies that support the city and our state,” said Bob Richard, senior vice president, Major Enterprise Projects. “The building of Beacon Park will be one important chapter in the story of our commitment to the city and its people – a commitment that will continue well beyond the opening of the park.”
Female-owned and Detroit-based landscape architecture firm, Living Lab, was hired to create the beautiful, elegant and impressive design of Beacon Park, incorporating more than 150 lights, along with 42 new trees and hundreds of plants. Minority-based Dixon Masonry of Detroit, was hired as a subcontractor to waterproof the foundation of the building and other masonry work.
“Being a part of the park has changed my business,” said Elmer Dixon, owner of Dixon Masonry. “The exposure has been very positive and the park is phenomenal – like nothing I’ve ever seen before.”
The western edge of downtown Detroit is on the move!
Since Beacon Park ’s groundbreaking in 2016, the neighborhood surrounding the park has experienced a resurgence of investment and growth:
- The Briggs Houze, 114 W. Adams, underwent a $10 million redevelopment in 2016
- Town Residences Apartments, 1511 First St., completed a $5 million renovation in 2017
- The Ilitch company resurfaced several of its parking lots this spring and are investing $160 million in a residential development of six Detroit buildings, including two in western Detroit – the United Artists Theater building, 150 Bagley Ave., and Hotel Fort Wayne, 408 Temple St.
- The highly anticipated restoration of Book Tower, 1265 Washington, began last year with an estimated cost of $400 million.
Beacon Park will open on July 20 as a world-class public green space for the people living, working and visiting in Detroit. To learn more about the fun activities planned throughout the grand opening weekend at Beacon Park visit BeaconParkDetroit.com.