Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 91–102 | Cite as

A green space vision in Southeast Michigan’s most heavily industrialized area

  • Paul DrausEmail author
  • Sam Lovall
  • Treva Formby
  • Lloyd Baldwin
  • Wanda Lowe-Anderson


In 2011, Marathon Petroleum Company LP, which has operated a refinery west of the Rouge River since 1959, initiated a voluntary property purchase program in the neighborhood known as the Oakwood Heights. Approximately 80 % of residents accepted the offers made to them. Around the same time, a group of community and nonprofit stakeholders was developing a vision for revitalizing the area adjacent to the new Fort Street Bridge, through celebrating cultural heritage, preserving natural Great Lake habitats and supporting recreational opportunities along the river. As a result of the collaboration that developed, parts of the 110-acre area are now slated to become a wildlife habitat and urban forest, supporting other green infrastructure along the Rouge and Detroit Rivers. The paper proceeds in four parts: 1) we first provide background and an overview of the history of the Rouge River and its importance to the development of the culture and industry of Detroit, Michigan; 2) we then describe the development of the idea for expanded green space in this area as the confluence of two concurrent investments, one by government and one by industry, and a series of discussions between local stakeholders and community residents; 3) we present the vision for two contiguous green space areas, including a small interpretive park and a landscape designed to maximize ecosystem services; and 4) we conclude with a discussion of this project’s significance as it relates to both the city of Detroit and other cities facing similar challenges, exploring how private industry can work with NGOs and public agencies to transform such interstitial areas into multifunctional landscapes that provide tangible benefits to community residents as well as measurable environmental outcomes.


Green infrastructure Environmental justice Industrial areas Collaborative research Novel ecosystems 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Draus
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sam Lovall
    • 2
  • Treva Formby
    • 3
  • Lloyd Baldwin
    • 4
  • Wanda Lowe-Anderson
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Behavioral SciencesThe University of Michigan-DearbornDearbornUSA
  2. 2.PEA, Inc.BrightonUSA
  3. 3.Marathon Petroleum Company LPDetroitUSA
  4. 4.Michigan Department of TransportationLansingUSA
  5. 5.Boynton Subsector 48217 Core GroupLincoln ParkUSA

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