Outdoor Adventure Center History

Back of the Outdoor Adventure Center, with the Globe Trading Company sign still visible on brick

Late 1990’s – Under Governor Engler the State and the Department of Natural Resources commit to creating an outdoor recreation presence along the Detroit riverfront.

2004 – The DNR invests over $5 million from the Michigan State Waterways Fund to renovate Tri-Centennial State Harbor (St. Aubin Harbor).

2007 – The DNR and the City of Detroit execute a long-term lease agreement to create Tri-Centennial State Park and Harbor. This is Michigan’s first urban state park, with 31 acres on the Detroit riverfront. During lease negotiations, the DNR attempts to include the Globe Building, as a future interpretive center. They are unsuccessful. 

2009 – The DNR invests over $5 million into development of the Tri-Centennial lowlands park, a wetland that demonstrates effective treatment of urban surface runoff from surrounding properties. The park is William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor.

October 2010 – The DNR begins a partnership with The Roxbury Group to look at potential building partners and a plan for Globe Building redevelopment.

2011 – The DNR awards three grants to buy the Outdoor Adventure Center, easements along the waterfront and three to six properties or easements along the Detroit riverfront. There is flexibility to get more parcels.

2012 – The DNR exhausts known entities for OAC partnership, and determines to reduce the building footprint to meet DNR needs only (estimated to be 43,000 square feet).  Based on the developer/owner's detailed estimate, the cost to the DNR would be $11 million.  The building cost is actually more, $12.8 million, which includes brownfield development tax credits that the developer agrees to apply to the project.

February 2013 – The DNR executes a purchase agreement with the developer to buy the building without exhibits. They pan to ask for exhibits from many sponsors/partners.

Late 2013 – The DNR is not successful at securing exhibit partners. The building completion timeline creates an urgency to secure exhibit funds. The developer hires a professional fund developer.  The DNR agrees to have $2.5 million of exhibits installed in the building using part of the Trust Fund grant monies.

April 2014 – Final cost to complete exhibits is $5 million.

June 2015 – The DNR and the Belle Isle Conservancy execute an agreement to have the Belle Isle Aquarium operate the OAC’s aquarium. This includes transitioning fish from the wild.

June 2015 – Exhibit contractor completes the exhibits.

July 16, 2015 – OAC Ribbon Cutting event.

July 20, 2015 – OAC opens to public.

2016 – In its first full year of operation the OAC saw 100,000 visitors.