Mark Wal­lace

RIVER­FRONT CON­SER­VANCY CEO WORKS TO LEAVE LAST­ING MARK ON DETROIT

The Detroit News - - Front Page -

Mark Wal­lace is all about tap­ping into un­re­al­ized po­ten­tial. As CEO of the Detroit River­Front Con­ser­vancy, the 40-year-old Cork­town res­i­dent has spent the last three years lead­ing the charge to trans­form the city’s water­front into a des­ti­na­tion for all.

The non­profit is forg­ing ahead on ma­jor im­prove­ments along Detroit’s east and west water­front and, Wal­lace said, it is com­mit­ted to projects it can de­liver.

“There’s some­thing re­ally spe­cial about do­ing some­thing that you can ac­com­plish in a short num­ber of years that has an echo for gen­er­a­tions,” Wal­lace said. “We want to be a place that makes com­mit­ments to the pub­lic, ex­e­cutes on those com­mit­ments and con­tin­ues to ask the pub­lic what else they would like to see.”

In late Au­gust, four fi­nal­ists were se­lected for a de­sign com­pe­ti­tion for Detroit’s West River­front Park, a 22acre site be­tween Rosa Parks Boule­vard and Eighth Street.

Each firm’s de­sign con­cept will ap­pear in a pub­lic ex­hi­bi­tion in Jan­uary.

Mean­while, the con­ser­vancy and its part­ners want to break ground next spring on a plan that would turn a for­mer blighted in­dus­trial site on the East River­front into At­wa­ter Beach, an over­sized sand­box and play­ground with ameni­ties for fam­i­lies.

Wal­lace landed his po­si­tion with the con­ser­vancy in 2014, just over a decade af­ter he served as project man­ager for the sec­ond phase of the Detroit

Ed­u­ca­tion: River­Walk from Ri­vard Plaza to Gabriel Richard Park.

The Prince­ton Univer­sity grad­u­ate spent three years as a Detroit Pub­lic Schools teacher be­fore tak­ing an in­ter­est in real es­tate de­vel­op­ment in grad­u­ate school at the Univer­sity of Michi­gan.

Matt Cullen, who chairs the con­ser­vancy and is prin­ci­pal of Rock Ven­tures, said he first met Wal­lace af­ter ap­pear­ing at the univer­sity for a speak­ing event on pub­lic spa­ces.

“He came up to me af­ter class and said he wanted to get in­volved. He was very pas­sion­ate about the city,” said Cullen, who noted Wal­lace re­mained in touch and ac­tive. “He’s just sort of made Detroit his home and has im­mersed him­self in it with the idea of mak­ing a bet­ter place for ev­ery­body.”

Wal­lace formerly headed up leas­ing at the Re­nais­sance Cen­ter, re­cruit­ing nu­mer­ous ten­ants, in­clud­ing Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michi­gan, one of the largest leases in Detroit in the past decade.

He also served as a di­rec­tor with Hines In­ter­ests LP, work­ing on ma­jor projects in­clud­ing Chicago’s mas­sive River Point de­vel­op­ment, a 50-story tower on the Chicago River and 1.5-acre pub­lic park.

A long­time mu­si­cian, Wal­lace also has gained at­ten­tion for his Wal­lace Detroit Gui­tar, a firm that crafts gui­tars with wood re­claimed from Detroit build­ings.

“I am a per­son who is al­ways an­tic­i­pat­ing what could be in­stead of what is.” Fam­ily: Sin­gle Why hon­ored: For his vi­sion to trans­form Detroit’s river­front

Chris­tine Ferretti

Dale G. Young / The Detroit News

Al­lie Green­leaf Mal­don­ado, chief judge of the Lit­tle Tra­verse Bay Bands of Odawa In­di­ans, has worked to help bring Michi­gan into com­pli­ance with the In­dian Child Wel­fare Act.

Max Or­tiz / The Detroit News

Mark Wal­lace, CEO of the Detroit River­front Con­ser­vancy, also owns Wal­lace Detroit Gui­tars, a busi­ness that crafts gui­tars with wood re­claimed from Detroit.

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