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Alter Road border

Detroit, Grosse Pointe Park officials could reopen controversial Alter Road border

Proposal to go before Detroit City Council

Public officials in Detroit and Grosse Pointe Park will study removing physical barriers at the intersection of Kercheval Avenue and Alter Road, which would bring an end to long-simmering tension between the two cities residents say is steeped in racial and cultural opposition.

In 2014, Grosse Pointe Park began closing off vehicle traffic at the intersection by erecting physical structures, starting with a large barn before settling on targe planters, with a stated goal of encouraging foot traffic among Kercheval Avenue businesses.

But Detroit residents have long said closing off the intersection was a symbolic representation of urban-suburban angst across the two borders — the wealthier, predominantly white suburb walling itself off from a mostly black city. 

Should a proposal presented by Detroit officials to City Council be approved, Detroit and Grosse Pointe Park official would open Kercheval at Alter to two-way traffic by August 1. Much of the proposal hinges on the sale of a land parcel owned by Detroit in Grosse Pointe Park. 

The City currently owns a parcel at 15003 Jefferson, which it has planned to sell to the Urban Renewal Initiative Foundation (URIF) for $300,000. As part of the land sale, Grosse Pointe Park has agreed to modify their traffic island located on Jefferson Avenue immediately west of the intersection at Lakepointe Street to make it easier for DDOT buses to turnaround and head west on Jefferson Avenue; and construct a parking area for DDOT buses on westbound Jefferson Avenue on land that GPP owns between Maryland Street and Lakepointe Street.

Under the proposal, Grosse Pointe Park will remove portions of the existing plaza, creating a traditional four-way roundabout at Kercheval and Wayburn that allows traffic to enter and exit from Detroit. Once complete, two-way traffic will return for the first time in over five years at the Detroit-Grosse Pointe Border.

With the purchase of 15003 Jefferson, URIF plans to construct a non-profit art gallery and performing arts center with theater and museum space, a commercial and office space development is also planned for the northeast corner of Kercheval and Alter. Detroit will support these proposed developments on the city border as long as Kercheval remains open to two-way traffic.

With the proposal, both cities would have the option to temporarily close Kercheval for special events and public programming on weekends annually between June 1 and September 30