The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, the State of Michigan, Wayne County, funding partners, dignitaries, and community members celebrated the official opening of the Southwest Greenway on Thursday, May 25, 2023. The greenway is a paved trail running from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park on West Jefferson to Bagley Street. The greenway connects the Detroit Riverfront to Michigan Central and the Joe Louis Greenway.
The celebration also included an announcement of more than $70 million in new funding for the Unified Greenway Campaign, a collaborative effort to raise $350 million which will be used to complete the world-class Detroit Riverfront, fund construction of the Joe Louis Greenway, and create an endowment that will support the maintenance and operation of both projects for future generations. In April, Mayor Duggan’s administration and City Council collaborated to authorize the City of Detroit’s commitment to providing up to $6 million per year to support the operations and maintenance of the Detroit Riverfront and Joe Louis Greenway.
“The grand opening of the Southwest Greenway is the perfect occasion to celebrate the tremendous progress of the Unified Greenway Campaign, which will complete and sustain the Detroit Riverfront and Joe Louis Greenway for generations,” said Matt Cullen, Chairman, Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and architect of the Unified Greenway Campaign. “The early success of this campaign thanks to our funding partners, together with the City of Detroit’s commitment of ongoing support, is historic for our community and is nationally significant in the development of urban public spaces.”
“Today is a great example of what can be accomplished when the whole community comes together,” said Mayor Duggan. “We are so fortunate to have incredible partners like the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, the Unified Greenway Partnership, and all of our funders, as well as the strong support of Detroit City Council, to ensure this beautiful greenspace will be here for generations to come. The Southwest Greenway will be one of the most popular sections of the entire 27-mile path because it will feed directly into the stunning new Ralph Wilson Centennial Park.”
Ford Motor Company contributed $5 million to the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy for the $8 million Southwest Greenway. The balance of the funding for construction of the greenway was provided by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Michigan Department of Transportation and the Walters Family Foundation.
“We are proud to partner with the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and Mayor Duggan to create a public space for the community to enjoy,” said Mary Culler, Chair of Michigan Central and President of Ford Motor Company Fund. “The Southwest Greenway will connect Detroit to all that we are building at Michigan Central and will help strengthen community bonds by joining the west side, east side, and northern neighborhoods of our city.”
The Unified Greenway Campaign is an unprecedented partnership which includes the City of Detroit, Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, and the Joe Louis Greenway Partnership (JLGP). Launched in early 2022, the campaign is a unique collaboration of corporate, philanthropic, and governmental funders. The campaign has raised $229 million in less than two years, making it one of the most successful campaigns in the country.
“Together, we are making investments in local parks and recreation to make communities across Michigan better places to live, work, and grow,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “Since I took office, we have made the largest investments in state and local parks in Michigan history. We also funded greenways in Detroit and long-overdue improvements to Belle Isle. Over the last few years, we have all seen how important access to outdoor spaces is to community-building and mental and physical health. Let’s keep investing in every region of our state to improve quality of life for Michiganders.”
The Southwest Greenway is the latest addition to the Detroit Riverfront, which has been transformed over the past decade into a world-class destination. The greenway is a key part of the Conservancy’s vision to create a continuous, 27-mile riverfront park that will provide Detroiters and visitors with a place to connect with nature, enjoy the outdoors, and participate in a variety of activities.