By Robert Mattler

DETROIT — At a CoreNet sponsored luncheon on February 21st at the GM Riverfront Conference Center in the Renaissance Center, members and guests had an opportunity to hear from Margaret A. St. Andre, MCR and President of the Michigan Chapter of CoreNet Global, on the full slate of activities planned by the local chapter for the Spring and Summer. 

Members and guests also enjoyed the networking opportunities and a wonderful sit down lunch while listening to a presentation from Vicki Anthes,  Chief of the Planning Section for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The rehabilitation of the Globe Building in Detroit was the subject of Anthes’ presentation. 

While it’s true nature surrounds us, even in the urban environment, it might not be as apparent as in  rural areas. No matter, as the Michigan DNR has upped the ante on making its presence known in the biggest city in the state with its stake in rehabbing an old industrial building next to the Milliken State Park & Harbor,  just east of downtown Detroit. 

For those not in the know, the Milliken State Park and Harbor is the first urban state park in Michigan. It is replete with a 52 slip harbor for boats, wetlands, “Anglers Avenue” for fishing, riverwalk and lighthouse. It is located on the riverfront, bordered by Orleans and St. Aubin Roads and quickly becoming a “go to” destination in the city.  

Slated for opening in the Summer of 2014, the Michigan DNR’s Outdoor Adventure and Discovery Center is certain to bring the best of Michigan’s natural resources and outdoor recreation to visitors interested in learning more about our Great Lakes States’ abundant outdoor opportunities for recreation and enjoyment of the best nature has to offer. 

The building is centrally located at the beginning of the Dequindre Cut Greenway Trail, which makes it a superb location for walkers, joggers and bikers who avail themselves of this new recreational jewel in the “Big D.” Having the Milliken State Park & Harbor as an anchor and being along the extensive Riverwalk will also enhance its presence as a “go to” destination for both residents and visitors alike.  

The DNR hopes to have as many as 1 million visitors annually to this state of the art outdoor adventure and discovery center.

With recent declines in fishing and hunting licenses, as well as the younger generation taking less advantage of the bounty of recreational activities offered by our state’s natural resources, this new center becomes a local focal point on reversing such a trend. 

The facility becomes not just a place to look and learn, but an opportunity for anyone to enjoy a first hand experience to fish, shoot a bow and arrow, put up a tent, stand in an eagle’s nest, crawl through a beaver dam or see an unfettered view of the night sky as if standing in the middle of a state park in the wilderness. It affords those who haven’t truly enjoyed a Michigan outdoors recently an opportunity to experience what it might be like to do so. The center is part exhibit, training center, classroom setting, student lab and “hands on museum” rolled into one.  The Outdoor Adventure and Discovery Center can also be rented out for weddings, birthday parties and corporate events. It truly has the opportunity to become a “must see” for both visitors and residents alike.    

With the abundance of recreational opportunities in this state, it’s not possible to provide an exhibit for all of them under one roof. However, the DNR has certainly tried to provide a well rounded experience for visitors who come to the Outdoor Adventure and Discovery Center. There will be three floors of nature, activities, campground experiences, simulators and learning experiences.  Whether you are interested in mountain biking, recycling, composting, wildlife, gardening, camping or a plethora of other outdoor activities, you will find something to do or learn about at this center. The DNR is working hard to make this outdoor adventure and discovery  center an experience for all to enjoy.

This center will become a mecca for those interested in learning more about our state’s rich natural resources, those who want to learn more about a specific outdoor activity or those just interested in trying a new outdoor activity through a simulation or with an experienced professional nearby. Children of all ages will love the climbing, crawling, learning and viewing with the “hands on experience” this new center affords them.

The DNR realizes this center will afford much of the public a first time opportunity to interface with their department and they are eager to provide a great outdoor experience at this facility coupled with top notch customer service. They know if this center attracts the numbers of visitors expected, corporate and community support will soon follow, making it easier to provide even better services to those visiting DNR state parks, campgrounds and facilities. Let’s hope the experiment of a new urban outdoor experience indoors becomes a major hit and lends further evidence that Michigan is one of the best state’s in the country for tourism.

ROBERT E. MATTLER, Associate Broker, Attorney and LEED AP BD+C, is Director of Green Brokerage at Armada Real Estate Services in West Bloomfield Township. He speaks and writes about emerging green real estate issues in Michigan and elsewhere.  Mattler is also the senior news correspondent for  and a consultant at Newman Consulting Group. For more information, contact Mattler at Armada Real Estate (248) 855-1221 or  .


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