DDP in 2024: The First 100 Days

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I know we generally reserve this type of retrospective for elected leaders, particularly first-timers, but since January 1, within the Downtown Detroit Partnership, there has been a whirlwind of activity nothing short of astounding. The DDP team is always busy, but never to the degree of intensity and demand that I’ve witnessed in the more than 28 years I have been associated with the organization. It deserves acknowledgment. 

Let’s start with the Detroit Lions. While the team was having a storied season on the field, behind the scenes were the many calls and conversations on everything from servicing the throngs of fans coming Downtown for the playoffs to the possibility of a Super Bowl parade and gathering in Campus Martius Park. The Downtown felt the impact through our small businesses, public spaces, and most importantly, the One Pride seen on the national stage.

Thanks to a Kresge Foundation grant backed by their leadership and vision, we hit the ground running on the I-375 Reconnecting Communities project. This project by MDOT aims to transform the depressed highway into a street-level boulevard, and the DDP has stepped up to enhance community engagement and test the design through a peer review with one goal – push to ensure the project achieves its stated goals of reconnection, restoration, and revitalization.

While I-375 is rightfully considered a once-in-a-generation opportunity, on its heels and potentially equally impactful is the I-75 Overbuild Planning Project to determine the feasibility of constructing a “park deck” on a portion of I-75. This investment could knit Downtown Detroit and Midtown back together via a pedestrian-oriented connector. The DDP applied for and was awarded a $2 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to support community engagement and conduct a thorough mobility analysis. Additionally, the Kresge Foundation again funded DDP’s initial planning efforts, and the City of Detroit received a $1.9 million federal grant which together will allow DDP with its public partners resources to fully assess this opportunity.

A regular line item on our to-do lists continues to be the NFL Draft, April 25-27. Preparing a city for hundreds of thousands of fans and hosting them in Downtown is no small feat, but, like the projects above, it’s what we do best. With the NFL Draft stage in Campus Martius Park more than 60 million eyes over the three days of broadcast will witness the incredible progress our city has seen. DDP will also be activating our other public spaces in the Downtown to ensure there is something for everyone during Draft weekend.

All the while, our talented and experienced team planned a sold-out annual meeting, produced an annual report, and continued planning for Summer in the Parks and the Detroit Grand Prix, for which the DDP serves as fiduciary. We also deployed static wayfinding; added lighting to the People Mover; enhanced our small business approach; continued work on the Grand Circus Park master plan, MoGo, RAP projects; and planned the Detroit Tiger’s Opening Day celebration.

The common denominator? A team of passionate and talented individuals who pour their hearts out for our organization and our city day in and day out.

Of course, we could not do all this without the commitment and support of a committed Executive Committee and Board of Directors lead by Board Chair Cindy Pasky and Vice Chair Dan Loepp that guides and encourages the DDP team to constructively challenge old ways and embrace new ideas and for the businesses and organizations that support our work through membership. As we continue to navigate 2024, our ability to innovate and adapt will be critically important. 

We are creating enormous value for Downtown Detroit and, in turn, the DDP’s work has never been more valued. The pace is faster, the stakes are higher, and the possibilities are exciting. We wouldn’t have it any other way. We’re ready for the next 100 days.

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