The River Rouge Fights Its Way Back

The River Rouge Fights Its Way Back


The River Rouge is a 127-mile river between the cities of River Rouge and Detroit and a catalytic opportunity for economic and recreational development.


Wayne County, Michigan received an EPA Area Wide Planning Grant to study over 100 acres of brownfield sites resulting from the impending closure of the DTE Energy Rouge River Power Plant in 2020 at the confluence of the River Rouge and the Detroit River.


The study area encompasses the DTE Power Plant site as the catalyst site, and additional brownfield redevelopment sites across the City of River Rouge and a portion of Southwest Detroit.

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The project area represents a critical economic opportunity for the region due to its proximity to both the Detroit and Rouge Rivers, availability of a deep water port, adjacent manufacturing uses, and the proposed Gordie Howe International Bridge, given the site’s excellent reuse potential for new, cleaner industrial redevelopment centered around the manufacturing and logistics sectors.

A robust public engagement plan engaged the community and stakeholders in the redevelopment concepts and built consensus support for the potential uses and implementation.

The DTE Power Plant site concepts address multiple market demands. Potential reuses could include various storages facilities, data centers, a repurposed factory, and greenspace to allow for connections to the riverfront.

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MKSK was engaged as the planning, stakeholder engagement, open space, and urban design consultant as part of a multidisciplinary team of experts that includes specialists in environmental science and brownfield redevelopment (Environmental Consulting & Technology, Inc.) and economic development and market analysis consultants (Greenstreet Ltd.).

Additional reading on the River Rouge can be found in the July issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine, ‘Into Detroit’s Backwater: The River Rouge remains the opposite of a marquee waterfront’ by F. Philip Barash.