The Detroit riverfront has spurred $1 billion in investment on or along the riverfront during the past 10 years, which includes projects currently under construction or planned for completion in the next several years, according to an Economic Impact Study released by the non-profit Detroit RiverFront Conservancy.
“The Conservancy was launched in 2003 to not only develop public access to the riverfront, but to also serve as a catalyst for economic development,” says Matt Cullen, chairman of the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy Board. “As we mark our 10th anniversary, we think it is the right time to take a deeper look at how the new riverfront is contributing to an improved quality of life for Detroiters and our region, and at the same time driving significant economic development for our community.”
The study was commissioned by the conservancy and conducted by Conventions, Sports & Leisure International (CSL), a leading advisory and planning firm. CLS worked closely with the conservancy throughout 2012, as well as with the city of Detroit and numerous public agencies and private sector entities, to conduct extensive research to better understand the economic impact return associated by the riverfront investment that has taken place over the last decade.
“The impact of the Detroit riverfront development goes beyond the construction completed by the conservancy and our public and private partners over the last decade,” says Faye Alexander Nelson, president & CEO, Detroit RiverFront Conservancy. “We have partnered with others to lay the foundation for an active and vibrant downtown that has and will continue to contribute to the attraction of businesses, residents and visitors to Detroit.”
The study prepared by CSL also estimates more than $1 billion in future riverfront public and private investment and annual spending that would continue to add to the transformation of the riverfront area into a vibrant live-work-play environment. These include the future development of the 40-acre Uniroyal site and various east riverfront mixed-use projects. Riverfront improvements have supported 16,700 construction jobs during the course of the project and provide ongoing annual support for 1,300 jobs.
“The Detroit riverfront is perhaps the most valuable waterfront property in the United States that still has significant opportunities for development,” says George W. Jackson Jr., president and CEO of Detroit Economic Growth Corp. “The Detroit RiverFront Conservancy and its public, philanthropic and private partners have literally paved the way for economic revitalization by building the Detroit RiverWalk and making other infrastructure improvements. The economic impact reported today is only the first wave of results we expect to see as we all contribute to the accelerating momentum here.”
More than 3 million visitors enjoy the highly landscaped, well-maintained, secure and active riverfront annually. During 2012, CSL’s partner Custom Intercept Solutions (CIS) conducted 1,500 in-person intercept interviews with visitors to the riverfront. The study reported a number of findings, including:
- Annual spending by visitors, residents, employees and other operations along the riverfront is estimated at $43.7 million.
- Tax revenue generation supported by ongoing riverfront activity is estimated at $4.5 million annually.
- 90 percent of visits to the riverfront would not have taken place without the significant riverfront improvements.
- Approximately 77 percent of respondents indicated they came to the riverfront from home, indicating the riverfront was their destination as opposed to being in the riverfront/downtown area for work or other purposes. Approximately 55 percent of those that came to the riverfront from home traveled more than 10 miles to do so.
- Approximately 72 percent of “person on the street” respondents indicated they visit the riverfront on a monthly or more frequent basis. Of those frequent visitors, approximately 40 percent do not live or work downtown, illustrating the drawing power of the riverfront as a destination.