Detroit, Grosse Pointe Park working out deal to remove controversial physical barrier between cities with sale of land

Posted at 2:51 PM, Jul 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-02 18:13:37-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — With the sale of a parcel of land to Grosse Pointe Park, that city and the city of Detroit are working out a deal to remove a physical barrier that separates the two cities.

The barrier at the intersection of Kercheval Ave. and Alter Road is symbolic according to Detroit and removing it would end long-simmering racial tensions between the wealthier and majority white city of Grosse Pointe Park and majority black Detroit.

In 2014, Grosse Pointe Park began closing off vehicle traffic at the intersection by erecting physical structures, starting with a large barn before settling on large planters, with a stated goal of encouraging foot traffic among Kercheval Avenue businesses.

But Detroit residents have long said closing off the intersection was a symbolic representation of urban-suburban angst across the two borders.

For the first time in more than 5 years Grosse Pointe Park and Detroit are studying the removal of the barriers on Kercheval ahead of a vote by Detroit City Council.

If approved Kercheval at Alter would be open to two-way traffic by August 1.

Much of the proposal hinges on the sale of a land parcel owned by Detroit in Grosse Pointe Park.

The City currently owns a parcel at 15003 Jefferson, which it has planned to sell to the Urban Renewal Initiative Foundation (URIF) for $300,000.

As part of the land sale, Grosse Pointe Park has agreed to:

  • Modify their traffic island located on Jefferson Avenue immediately west of the intersection at Lakepointe Street to make it easier for DDOT buses to turnaround and head west on Jefferson Avenue
  • Construct a parking area for DDOT buses on westbound Jefferson Avenue on land that GPP owns between Maryland Street and Lakepointe Street
  • Remove portions of the existing plaza, creating a traditional four-way roundabout at Kercheval and Wayburn that allows traffic to enter and exit from Detroit.

With the purchase of 15003 Jefferson, URIF plans to construct a non-profit art gallery and performing arts center with theater and museum space, a commercial and office space development is also planned for the northeast corner of Kercheval and Alter.

“Detroit will support these proposed developments on the city border as long as Kercheval remains open to two-way traffic,” the city said in a post online.

Both cities would have the option to temporarily close Kercheval for special events and public programming on weekends annually between June 1 and September 30, if the proposal passes.