Our energy overlords (DTE) are the new owners of a gigantic triangular lot neighboring the GAR Castle, and they've got a plan: Mini Campus Martius, complete with green space, seating, and events. That occasionally desolate area surrounding DTE Headquarters and our future park? The corporation has branded it Western Downtown, and they're looking to go shopping for real estate.
There aren't many details about Mini Campus Martius quite yet -- we get the feeling the design plans have not solidified beyond tearing down two small buildings on the property. We'll have to gaze at the rendering for now. DTE sees the park as a place where nearby office workers (which are mostly theirs) can gather and lunch.
The bigger picture is this: The area being referred to as Western Downtown isn't just a branding effort. The corporation is hoping to gather property in that area, Dan Gilbert-style, in an effort to revitalize. They've defined the neighborhood to include the huge Ilitch asphalt desert behind the Fox Theatre, while the southern border is at Howard Street. According to Crain's, DTE hopes to see a major transformation within 5 years. Isn't it refreshing to hear a realistic time estimate on something, for once?
Assuming the park goes through, the few blocks surrounding the GAR could really become an anchor for the surrounding area. Not only is the GAR itself coming online with offices, a bar and a diner, but the vacant office building just across the street (1922 Cass) is slated for renovation as part of the Ilitch arena plan. At the very least, that means people will be in the area. Think of it this way: it might only be a few years before you can tell visiting friends that you were here back when the GAR was just an abandoned castle, Mini Campus Martius was just a crumbling parking lot, and downtown Detroit was still just vacant as it was bustling. We can't guarantee they'll care, but it's worth a shot.
· Potential for 'mini Campus Martius' in DTE's plan for western Detroit neighborhood [Crain's Detroit]