Detroit City Council rejects plan to make Spirit of Detroit plaza permanent

Posted at 4:38 AM, Jul 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-17 05:18:33-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — The Detroit City Council voted down a proposal that would make the Spirit of Detroit Plaza in downtown Detroit a permanent fixture, keeping Woodward Ave. closed between Larned and Jefferson.

During the hearing on Tuesday morning, the council voted 4-4 on the resolution, which rejected it as they didn't reach a majority on either side. President Brenda Jones, president pro-tem Mary Sheffield, and council members Janee Ayers and Roy McCalister Jr. voted against the resolution, while council members James Tate, Gabe Leland, Scott Benson and Raquel Castaneda-Lopez voted for it. Andre Spivey was not at the vote.

McCallister, during the hearing, said that he isn't against activities for Detroit citizens and youth, but that the plaza is centered around a public building that could be targeted.

Castaneda-Lopez supported the measure, saying that the plaza was one of the only free public spaces for citizens to use, and mentioned several events that they have hosted at the plaza during the two years it's been open. Leland added that he wasn't happy with the way it was rolled out in the beginning, as the council wasn't brought in on the measure, he ultimately supported the measure.

"The ability to have new public space, and to take away from the built environment I believe is an asset to the area," Benson said. "We don't have this type of recreation space, typically, in the city. If you look at best practices around the country and around the world, Spirit Plazas are what municipalities are doing"

During the hearing, Jones had concerns over traffic in the city, since the plaza shut down a major road in the city with Woodward Ave. Currently, those who are on Woodward and want to get to Jefferson have to turn left at Larned, right on Randolph and then turn onto Jefferson.

"There are, right across the street, Hart Plaza, that can host a lot of good things," Jones said in the hearing. "Though it's been a temporary closure, I had out-of-town company here this weekend and on Friday, they commented on the traffic and how it was moving along on Jefferson and Woodward. I still have a concern seeing a closure there on the main street."

"I like it, I enjoy it, but I don't like it as a permanent structure," Sheffield said.

Originally, the plaza opened in June 2017, but was only planned to be a temporary fixture lasting for three months.

Earlier in the session, the council postponed a vote that would provide nearly $800,000 to provide improvements to the plaza.