The former Detroit Dry Docks Engine Works complex and Globe Trading Company building, parts of which date back to 1892, will begin its transformation into an adventure and discovery center as part of an expansion of the William G. Milliken State Park & Harbor, Michigan’s only urban state park.
The project was announced in May 2011 but has seen some delays. “The languishing has ended,” says David Di Rita, owner of the Roxbury Group, the Detroit-based development firm overseeing the renovation. They closed on construction financing for the project in mid-March. Activity on the building will start within in the next two weeks.
The $12.8 million project is essentially a build-to-suit project for the Department of Natural Resources. Plans include the adventure and discovery center with rock-climbing, zip-lining, and other activities, but much more beyond that. “Really it amounts to a multi-use facility for the benefit of park visitors as well as people who may just wish to visit the Globe and participate in its activities, which includes a combination of exhibit and meeting space all designed around the idea of introducing the public to the state park system and provide year-round opportunities for people to enjoy the state park.”
There will be activity space as well as permanent and rotating educational exhibits. The DNR will move its operations offices from Southfield into this building. The design includes a lot of attractive open space that can be used for business meetings and private events; the DNR envisions this space being utilized in much the same way as Eastern Market’s Shed 5.
People will also be able to access the services of any state park office, such as getting their hunting and fishing licenses.
“The idea is really to take people here in the largest point of population in the state and give them a point of entry into the state park system,” says Di Rita.
The project requires a partial demolition of some of the older portions of the complex, though Di Rita says, “We’re doing our best to preserve as much of the facility as possible and are really focusing on the portion of the building that is most recognizable to the public.”
Di Rita expects construction on the Globe to be complete around this time next year.
Nicole Rupersburg, modelD.