Gov. Snyder touts launch of $12.8M Globe Building project

Gov. Rick Snyder announced Saturday the launch of the $12.8 million project  to transform the abandoned Globe Trading Co. Building near the east Detroit  riverfront into the Outdoor Adventure and Discovery Center.

“I want everyone to remember what that looks like today,” said Snyder during  a press conference at Milliken State Park, gesturing across the street to the  abandoned warehouse. “So when we come back and see what it looks like, we can  see what the power of working together can do and the opportunity to reinvent  Michigan and the opportunity to reinvent Detroit.”

The project, which is scheduled to begin later this year and continue through  late 2013, will be a state-funded effort through the Department of Natural  Resources. Most of the money to fund the project will come from the Natural  Resources Trust Fund, according to the DNR.

The goal is to “open up the outdoors in downtown Detroit,” said Ron Olson,  chief of the DNR’s parks and recreation department. Plans for the center include  ziplines, archery, rock climbing and other activities.

Keith Creagh, director of the DNR, said the center will also provide a chance  to expand on classroom experience for students.

“Whether you want to fly fish or kayak or cut a tree down or learn about the  outdoors, the Globe Building will allow that to occur,” he said.

The Globe building, located on Atwater Street near the Dequindre Cut, has  been abandoned since the 1980s. Despite its appearance — busted windows, loose  bricks and graffiti-covered walls — the building’s structure is solid, says  Robert Hoida, a senior associate with Hobbs and Black the architecture firm  hired to design the center.

“It’s a unique old relic, and you want to preserve as much of it as you can,”  said Hoida, whose company was brought in by the developer, the Roxbury Group.  “It’s a great old shell, and it’s got great bones.”

Hoida said the current plans involve using about half of the current  structure and leaving that façade in tact and demolishing the other half. The  steel that makes up the building inside is strong and will remain, he said.

Originally known as the Detroit Dry Dock Engine Works in the late 1800s, the  Globe Building started out as a maintenance center for ships traveling the trade  routes on the Great Lakes. The building had many uses over the years and is  believed to be the place where a Henry Ford apprenticed as a machinist.

Previous attempts to transform the building into lofts and retail space  failed. The building has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places  since 2009. The state’s efforts are part of a larger plan to improve the overall  livability of the area near the Detroit River.

George Jackson, CEO of the Detroit Economic Development Corp., which helped  make the deal for the building possible, said the project marks an “important  transition” for the entire riverfront renovation

“(We’re moving) from the era when our riverfront was once an important asset  from a manufacturing and industrial standpoint to a riverfront that is going to  continue to be a veritable asset,” said Jackson. “But as opposed to our  industrial history here, it will become a place where people live, work and  play.”

No representatives from the city of Detroit spoke during the press  conference.

The discovery center will be part of Milliken State Park, which is one area  of the Detroit Riverwalk. The goal for the Riverwalk is to have it stretch the  entire five-and-a-half miles from Belle Isle to the Ambassador Bridge.

Speaking to reporters after the event, Snyder said he was confident of the  state’s ability to fund the Outdoor Adventure and Discovery Center. The Detroit  Science Center in Midtown closed down in September 2011 after facing financial  problems.

Snyder also addressed the issue of Belle Isle. The state and the city are  currently at odds over control of the city-owned island, which Snyder wants to  turn into a state park. He said he wasn’t discouraged by the City Council’s  less-than-favorable reaction to the deal to lease Belle Isle to the state.

“It’s just working together, and I appreciate there are questions and they  are putting questions forward from the City Council, and we’re getting answers  to the questions, and hopefully, we’re going to continue a good dialogue and  move forward,” Snyder said. “Clearly, I’m positive about this because if you  think about it, it’s a great opportunity.”

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