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New Capitol Park design includes tree canopy, nod to history [updated]

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Speak up!

Courtesy of DDP, design by PUBLIC WORK

Update: This story was originally published September 12 and the DDP has been reading your comments. Please find a statement addressing them at the end of the article.

The Downtown Detroit Partnership (DDP) and Toronto-based urban design and architecture firm PUBLIC WORK revealed almost final renderings to the public, in one of the last steps toward redesigning Capitol Park. The new design has some green space, large trees, and historical elements.

Courtesy of DDP

The natural features will include a variety of trees meant to be smaller to larger going toward the river. The park will also have minimal green space and river gardens. Much of the feedback from the community meeting stated that people would like more green space and more fountains.

Courtesy of DDP

The history of the park will also be a major feature. The park is the site of Michigan’s first capitol building and the burial place of Michigan’s first governor, Stevens T. Mason, who drafted Michigan’s constitution. Capitol Park was also home to Finney Barn, one of the final stops along the Underground Railroad. A communal table at the park will have the State’s constitution inscribed, and the Mason statue could move to the ground level so people can interact with it.

The park will also have space for food and beverage kiosks and food trucks.

The need for a new park stems from the increase in residential and retail in the area. Over the past few years, many of the buildings which once stood vacant have been renovated. The renderings also feature a new, modern 11-story building, but from what we’ve heard, that may be a long way off.

The design will be presented to the Historical District Committee at their September 13 meeting. Those interested in submitting feedback can email the DDP at through the end of September. Groundbreaking on the project should begin in spring 2018, with construction finished in fall 2018.

9/13/17: Bob Gregory, Chief Public Spaces Officer, DDP, has been listening:

“The Downtown Detroit Partnership (DDP) would like to thank everyone who has provided feedback on the Capitol Park design, thus far. We began this engagement process in 2015 through surveys and resident meetings, and we have collected extensive community and stakeholder feedback on the future of the park, which is at the center of a growing residential and retail district.

DDP has been working closely with property owners, small business owners, non-profits, and the city of Detroit to help shape the park’s future, making this design process a truly collaborative effort. We’re thrilled with the overwhelming interest and support from the community in regards to the proposed designs, but we also know that there are areas of the design that need more thought and development, which is why we take your feedback seriously.

Throughout the engagement process, we have heard five major themes raised in written and public comments:

1. More green

2. Need dog amenities for neighborhood residents

3. Desire for a water feature

4. Questions about the purpose of the kiosk and how will it be operated

5. Questions about the appropriate role of the Stevens T. Mason statue and other historical elements

We will be collecting public comments ‪until September 30. If you’d like to provide us with your feedback, please email us at After we finish collecting public comments, the DDP will work closely with urban design and landscape architecture studio PUBLIC WORK to incorporate the public’s feedback into a revised design.

Once the design is finalized, it will be presented to the community in a public meeting later this fall.

Once again, thank you to everyone who has participated in this process. Please know that your comments are taken very seriously, and that you are helping to shape the future of this beloved park in Downtown Detroit!”