New Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan wants to see a new vision for the old Tiger Stadium site and will direct city staff to issue an RFP for redevelopment of the area.
The plan is to preserve the historic playing field — albeit with smaller dimensions, according to Tom Lewand, the city’s new Executive of Jobs & Economic Growth — and surround it with a mixed-use development of housing and commercial space. In theory, this sounds like a fresh start for development of the former ballpark site, but it may not be: the last plan from the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. pretty much called for the same thing. Still, a smart development plan that ties into Tiger Stadium history — similar to the Indianapolis Bush Stadium apartment plan, which is completedly leased and by all accounts a huge success — could be a big hit.
And at least Detroit now has a mayor and economic chief that aren’t openly opposed to embracing the Tiger Stadium legacy. George Jackson, the former president of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., is gone, resigning after Duggan’s election. Over the years Jackson became a dogged opponent of any preservation of Tiger Stadium, even when federal funding was arranged for preservation of the original Navin Field grandstand. He held the vision of the ballpark site as hosting a big-box retailer even after it became apparent that the likes of Home Depot or Best Buy had absolutely no interest in Corktown. Tearing down the Navin Field grandstand for scrap was a terrible and unnecessary mistake: just think of the redevelopment opportunities if it had been left standing. He thought small — and, as Daniel Burnham warned us more than a century ago, little plans have no magic to stir men’s blood.
Photo: Briggs Stadium, 1945 World Series.
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