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Stories of Impact

Economic Vitality

Creating a Space for Community at Atwater Beach in Detroit

“We’re helping to develop a new community asset for Detroit, a gathering space for all.”

Matt Walters, Board Member, Walters Family Foundation

The mission of the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy is to transform Detroit’s international riverfront – the face of the city – into a world-class gathering place: beautiful, exciting, safe, accessible and welcoming. Part of this mission includes improving the East Riverfront, which comprises 3.5 miles of waterfront from Joe Louis Arena to Gabriel Richard Park. The area is now 80 percent complete and includes three plazas and two significant fountains.

Groundbreaking ceremony for Atwater Beach. (Photo: The Detroit News)Download a high-resolution version of this photo.

Atwater Beach is the latest vision for a new public space on the East Riverfront. Carefully designed and crafted to attract visitors of all ages and backgrounds, this place-making opportunity is inspired by Detroit’s legacy of beaches as gathering spaces, and reinvigorated for today. The space will feature a beach with beach chairs, umbrellas and games, a music garden embedded with melodic sounds, a public art installation inspired by the illumination of ships at night and a public area for programming, gatherings and social entrepreneurship.

“We’re excited to fund this project because it's one more connecting piece of the Detroit riverfront story,” says Matt Walters. “The project also touches on many of our Foundation priorities. It’s a space for community. It provides a boost for economic development because of the area for small businesses. There's also an environmental component with plans for stormwater redistribution into the riverfront.”

Successful places are guided by core principles that encourage accessibility for all, direct the programming of activities, ensure comfort for visitors and work to break down social barriers. Atwater Beach will invite people of all backgrounds to relax, interact, enjoy nature and create memories for a lifetime all under the Detroit skyline.