A stage, a playground, and more: Downtown Detroit's Spirit Plaza getting $800K upgrade

The City of Detroit announced Wednesday the Spirit Plaza near downtown's infamous Spirit of Detroit statue is getting nearly $800,000 worth of improvements.

Following the Jazz Festival in September, the plaza near Woodward and Jefferson will undergo construction. City officials plan to add a stage for live performances, increase seating, remove the median that separates the plaza into two halves, and build a wall-type structure and create a playground for kids.

The area was transformed from a roadway into pedestrian plaza in June 2017 as a temporary summer fixture for live performances and peaceful demonstrations. Now the City Council has voted to make the public gathering space permanent. 

"Spirit Plaza is place of arts and culture, so we want to make sure we have a stage," said Parks & Recreation Special Events Manager Erica Hill.

During construction, plaza programming will be limited but the food trucks will still gather there.

RELATED: Spirit of Detroit area to become pedestrian plaza

The were original concerns about blocking Woodward, but Hill says both pedestrian safety and vehicular flow on Jefferson has improved. She says about 10,000 people come through the area during summer.

Between the underutilized Hart Plaza and Campus Martius, which is a for-pay space that isn't necessarily accessible to everybody, Detroit City Councilman Scott Benson says Spirit Plaza is a segue between the two and would give people, including city employees especially, a place to hang out.