Riverfront transformed

While businesses and nonprofits in our communities had to shut down or close their doors temporarily during the pandemic, the outdoors remained open. This allowed us to get back to the basics, spend time outside and reevaluate what makes a community’s heartbeat.

Often that heartbeat is centered around togetherness. And Michigan’s beloved summers allow for neighbors, friends and family to safely regather at parks and outdoor gathering spaces.

At Delta Dental of Michigan, we’re proud to build those spaces.

Delta Dental’s $5 million investment to the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy will help build a five-acre playground in Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park along the west portion of the Detroit River. Earlier this spring the project broke ground with donors as well as local and state officials including Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist.

This was our company’s largest single investment to date and a major contribution to the overall $60 million placemaking project.

The Delta Dental Play Garden is set to open in 2024 and will engage families from downtown Detroit and surrounding neighborhoods in fun and active programming, helping us achieve our purpose of building healthy, smart, vibrant communities.

Detroit Riverfront Conservancy's renderings of Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park five-acre playground

Our team has been incredibly efficient in their work to keep the riverfront a safe, beautiful space to be.

—Matthew Cullen, chair of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy

Delta Dental is investing in what we believe to be the most amazing playground environment in the nation.

—Margaret Trimer

“The Delta Dental Play Garden will be a safe, fun and educational space for the children and families of Detroit and southeastern Michigan,” said Goran Jurkovic, president and CEO of Delta Dental of Michigan. “Beyond fun and exciting, we fully expect the West Riverfront projects to drive economic development and energy just like the Riverwalk has done on the east.

The park will allow visitors to gather for community events and receive information about local health programs and allow children to spend time outside getting physical activity.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that children should get at least 60 minutes of vigorous activity outside every day, yet only about one in five elementary school students spend 20 minutes or fewer of recess time each day, according to a survey by the Coalition for Michigan Schoolchildren’s Right to Play.

Play has a key role in the development of all children, especially the cognitive, social and emotional. As such, the playscape will offer structures for interactive, inclusive play where children and their caretakers can laugh, learn and grow.

In 2024, when the park opens it will feature:

  • a 20-foot bear slide
  • a water garden providing direct access to the river
  • a sport house pavilion with basketball courts
  • open lawn for special events, concerts and movies

Nikki Call, supervisor for training and quality has been a marcher in America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for several years and loves the spirit of Detroit and the energy it brings.

She’s just as excited to see her company’s investment in this part of the city bring family fun and safe activity.

“I have been going to the river for over 45 years and seeing all of the positive changes has been amazing, but knowing that the company that I work for is a huge part of those changes makes it an even more enjoyable time when I am there.”

The transformation of the riverfront has been in the works for years and is fully supported by the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, a 501c3 nonprofit with the mission of developing access on the Detroit International Riverfront.

The project started in 2012 beginning with the former Uniroyal site and includes redeveloping more than five miles of the riverfront property.