After demolition, Detroit to connect Joe Louis Arena land with downtown

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It was emotional for a lot of people to say good-bye to Joe Louis Arena but a plan is in the works to finally connect this area to downtown.  

Before The Joe closed its doors last year it kept that section of the city alive. But now, a new era involves plans to revamp the west side section of downtown with the rest of the district. 

"It's difficult for people to imagine a public space there because it's been the back door of the Cobo Convention Center," said Maurice Cox, Detroit director of planning.

Cox is giving a first look of what the area will look like after Joe Louis is torn down scheduled for the end of this year.

"What kinds of connections are needed to make that site a viable place for redevelopment," Cox said. 

If you've been to the JLA you know it sits tangled among tunnels and parking structures that seclude it from downtown. The plan is to clear all of that out to make it accessible for walkers, which right now it's not convenient at all.

"It is mostly about connecting that site, taking something that is a back door and making it the front door," Cox said.

Cox and his team envision a bridge from Third Street to the promenade along the water for walkers and bikers. And neighboring Second Street would have more direct route across Congress to get to the waterfront.

Cox says they want to open it up now so building can happen down the road.

"If development were to happen five, seven years from now, the infrastructure is in place," Cox said.

The private stakeholders of the Joe Louis Arena land are on board with the city's plan, now it is a matter of finding the tens of millions that it will cost to take to make the renderings reality. 

"It's a fitting legacy that the city takes the role to make that space into something we can all be proud of," Cox said.