Cities from Seoul, South Korea to Auckland, New Zealand, to Yonkers, New York have enjoyed the effects of daylighting rivers previously covered over and largely forgotten. Many of these rivers were historically open sewers, and cities covered them when their water quality posed health hazards. With ecological and urban renewal efforts gaining momentum around the globe, more and more hidden rivers and creeks are being uncovered for use as storm drains, recreational hubs, and visual enhancements.
Unknown to most, Detroit has a number of hidden creeks running throughout the city. The most notable of these creeks are Bloody Run Creek, May Creek, Baby Creek, Conner Creek, and Savoyard Creek. The Motor City is experiencing a renaissance, but vacant land is still plentiful. The chance to daylight the city’s creeks is now, while neighborhoods are growing but before developers snatch up more land.
Everyone wants to live on some sort of body of water. Zillow reports that “Nationally, waterfront homes are worth more than double of the value of homes overall.” Kalamazoo, Michigan uncovered portions of Arcadia Creek in 1995, running through downtown. Along with storm water retention and environmental benefits, property tax revenue increased from $60,000 annually before to $400,000 after daylighting.
Daylighting Future in Detroit
Look at thriving cities around the globe and you’ll often find a well-utilized river at the center. Although we boast one of the busiest rivers in the world, it also has one of the highest average discharge rates among U.S. rivers meaning the fast current isn’t the most conducive for waterfront activities. Uncovering the smaller creeks in the city would provide citizens with more manageable waterways for kayaking, fishing, and relaxing. The creeks would also take pressure off of the city’s sewer system during storms.
Real estate agents joke that “They just don’t make waterfront property like they used to anymore.” But, as we’ve seen time and again over the past century, tell Detroiters they can’t do something and watch them amaze you.