Grosse Pointe Park blocks off main road at Detroit border to build farmers market

Grosse Pointe Park crews work on a market square that has blocked off Kercheval at Alter. All photos by Michael Brouwer for MCM.

A main road from Detroit to Grosse Pointe Park has been closed as crews begin converting a section of Kercheval Avenue into a farmers market that will cut off the historic east-west route in what some critics charge is yet another attempt to keep out Detroiters from the suburban community.


But Park officials emphasized that the farmers market will attract residents from both sides of the border and will enhance an area with more walkable space.

It is the fourth such barrier that Grosse Pointe Park has erected that prevents Detroit traffic from entering the predominately white community. That same location was blocked for months late last year because of what Park officials said were sewer line problems. And this winter, Kercheval at Alter was also blocked off  by massive snow piles.

The latest plan is to create a farmers market in the middle of Kercheval at the border of Detroit at Alter, which has long been the symbolic dividing line between impoverished Detroit and affluent Grosse Pointe.

Crews have already blocked off the street and are building a concrete market square in the middle of Kercheval.

“I want to say I’m shocked,” Cynthia Jackson, who lives near Alter in Detroit, said. “But this has been happening for as long as I remember. Might as well put up a sign that says, ‘No coloreds.'”


But Grosse Pointe Park officials say the market square has nothing to do with keeping out Detroiters, pointing out that the plan calls for rerouting traffic to accommodate anyone traveling north on Kercheval. The market, they said, also is expected to attract Detroiters to an area that will be walkable with plenty of retail and restaurants.

Like most areas, the Park is trying to attract young professionals, many of whom are looking for walkable communities.

The market “will make the whole area more attractive for all,” Councilman Daniel C. Grano told us. “We are moving our farmers market down there to draw folks down to use the whole commercial district and expanding days to offer fresh farm produce to the area more regularly.”

Blueprint for the farmers market

Despite stereotypes of Grosse Pointe as a conservative enclave, the Park is considered the least conservative of the communities and even has a growing progressive movement.

“In front of the (market) stalls there will be a roundabout so traffic can turn around and go back down Kercheval without having to turn down Wayburn,” Councilwoman Laurie Arora said. “There will be access to Alter through the alley and vice versa – access from Alter through the alley to Kercheval.”

Mayor Pro Tem Gregory P. Theokas said the “inspiration came from Stone Creek in lower Manhattan,” where there are “outdoor restaurants, taverns and open market stalls.”

He added: “Foot traffic will be emphasized.”

Round-A-Bout for GPP
Rendering of the round-a-bout

The road closure comes at a time when the community is still trying to overcome a police scandal in which white officers were humiliating a mentally impaired black man.  The city acted promptly and suspended the officers involved.


From Detroit, looking north to Kercheval
From Detroit, facing Kercheval
From Grosse Pointe, looking south at Kercheval
From Grosse Pointe, facing Kercheval
Grosse Pointe Park retail area
Grosse Pointe Park retail area


Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

  • Lady

    Okay ,guys. First thing ,did the city receive approval from Wayne County Road Commissions? it is a county road. Secondly, the design reads inclusive simply because the structure is turned inward not welcoming at all.

  • Jim Tocco

    I don’t see any sign of racism here — and the story is being reported in a slightly misleading, possibly malicious way. The street with the round-about is actually Wayburn, not Alter Rd., one block to the north. But by mentioning the name Alter — it is guaranteed to bring to mind the long running border wars between GGP and a crime infested area of Detroit. I think that closing this street to vehicle traffic at the end of one block is a terrific idea — and not simply because it could help reduce potential crime by eliminating a quick getaway path, but because it will create a much more social and intimate level of interaction for those who do visit — regardless of the neighborhood they are coming from. I just wish those responsible had taken it a few steps further. I would have also closed the two access points from Wayburn that allow GGP traffic to still feed into the circle to close it entirely to vehicle traffic — making it a truly pedestrian experience like a European piazza with outdoor dining, a real stone fountain (not one of those goofy fiberglass monstrosities you see at malls these days) and street vendors. Maybe I’d retire with a roasted chestnut cart. Then, on the “other” side, in place of some of the useless blight I would encourage the construction of office, residential, and retail by constructing a decent parking deck to serve the area. To my way of thinking, this would have the potential to foster development long Kercheval in both directions — with the “piazza” serving as the centerpoint. Note: I do hate the barn, not because it blocks the view in from Detroit, but because it is hideous and cheap looking from every angle. Come on GPP — you certainly have the resources to do better than this.

  • Jailin Rose

    This is very biased and misleading “reporting.” For one, the barrier will restrict traffic in both directions – yet the author only discusses it preventing black Detoiters from accessing the mostly white suburb. Very telling that he included a very volatile quote suggesting it be replaced with a sign that reads “no coloreds.”

    Secondly, there are numerous other ways to drive between GPP & Detroit that are literally one block over from that particular intersection.

    Lastly, this will help Detroiters that live or work nearby. Bleeding hearts like this “journalist” often will cry about Detroit being a food desert. This will help make local, fresh produce more available to city residents. Its actually moving an existing market CLOSER to the city, and it will be open more often than it currently is. But speaking about positives like that would destroy the bigoted narrative this hack is trying to create!

    • angel grimes

      Now I will have to walk to the Texas bar, damn it.

  • Ryan Healy

    There are a lot of dismissive comments questioning the necessity of this post, but I think it has newsworthiness. For one thing, it sheds light on the multiple other barriers Grosse Pointe has erected to Detroit, which likely only east siders are familiar with, and for another, it actually ought to make Grosse Pointe Park residents reflect more about the return on investment for their tax dollars, and whether public works projects like these actually cause a community net benefit.
    In this case, it initially looks like an overwhelming “yes”–the collective huddling together of businesses paired with the limited access of Detroiters to the business district ensures that residents won’t see any people in hoopties when buying their discount Driscoll raspberries and flower baskets on a Saturday morning, but for east side Detroit residents who like a night out every now and then, drivability to new restaurants like Atwater and Red Crown is now unreasonably hassled. A patron who is leaving Grosse Pointe Park now has to drive multiple blocks through residential streets (Wayburn, Lakepointe, or Maryland), and these people will be driving at night.
    So, while a Farmer’s Market open only one (or two) days a week and deserted largely in winter really might necessitate a permanent roundabout rather than temporary police barriers, it actually impedes access out of the city for visiting employees and patrons to the new high-destination bars and restaurants, shuttling them through residential streets at nighttime, when some of the motorists are quite possibly drunk.
    So I do think it’s a bad idea.

    • Dust Buster

      so its bad for drunk drivers cause they might get caught? not really sure what you are trying to say but how about that a city is free to do what it wants to do as long as its residents want it? why is it always detroiters bitching about access and lines and barriers?

      i go to eastern market. there are too many turns and its a bit of a drive but if i dont like it….. i wont go

    • cas47

      So, driving a couple extra blocks is RACISM!!!, and black people drive drunk. Great argument!

      • Ryan Healy

        Where in my comment did I allege race was a factor?

  • What if we change the sailboat statue to a statue of Amistad? Will that chill everyone out?

    People are acting like it’s some giant wall…

    • Dust Buster

      oh but that sail boat represents slave ships to some detroiters so tear it down. some detroiters wont rest until gp’ers at least erect a 2nd black fist at the center of the round about

  • Joe Russo

    why isn’t the word “temporarily” in the headline. misleading clickbait headline.

  • Well told, Mr. Neavling. Thanks.

    So they’re eager to attract young professionals, huh? Isn’t every city? But does that mean the young professionals can’t stand next to someone less young, less professional when they pick up their tomatoes? WTF? Eastern Market feels blissful to attend because *everyone* is there. It’s a chance for young professionals and everyone else to realize we all want the same damn things from this world. Some of us have more money cause we grew up in enclaves that protect all the perks those enclaves afford us; because we look *right* and talk *right*, we get the good education, the job interviews, the job, the promotion, the presumption of innocence when we walk through the door. It’s a self-sustaining circle of privilege. Sure, the privileged work hard. So do a lot of poor people. Difference is, when young professionals work hard they do so with with the assurance of commensurate reward. When poor people work hard, they’re lucky to put food on the table and keep the lights on. How ’bout we reach out and share the wealth instead of building more walls? Walls didn’t work for the Romans, it won’t work here. (BTW, I realize not everyone in Detroit is poor, but that’s who this wall was built to keep out–the *other*.)

    Peace. Love.
    — Jim Welke

    • Dust Buster

      man your shoulders must be sore from lugging around so much white guilt.

      then you said the following “Difference is, when young professionals work hard they do so with with the assurance of commensurate reward.”

      really, so all young white professionals need to do is work hard and they are “assured a commensurate reward” so the legions of young professionals that cant find awesome jobs just need to work a bit harder

    • cas47

      So, the takeaway from your comment is that there is only one road out of Detroit, and black people can’t park their cars and walk to shops.

  • Steve Dibert

    Obviously, these GPP council members have never been to Stone Creek. Stone Creek is nothing like this. Cars were eliminated from that section of lower Manhattan because of 9/11 and the security risk and the economic impact a terrorist attack could have on lower Manhattan. It was not done to “Revitalize” lower Manhattan.

  • Without wanting to offend the author, and try as I might, I can’t see any legitimate point made by this article. Just what are you trying to tell us?

  • A.L. Cadillac

    My only question is: who will be the first one to mount the “no coloreds” sign at Checkpoint Charlie? “Calling Jerry Vile”…!

  • Never really understood the attraction to GPP or any of the others Grosse’s they seem pretty boring.

  • Wicker_Park

    Dear disgruntled Detroit residents:

    If you want to feel welcome in a community, buy a home and pay taxes to that community. If you live in Detroit, why wouldn’t you want to do all of your shopping in Detroit? You know, support your local merchants. GPP’s message is clear, i.e. they don’t want or need your patronage. It’s like texting and calling the guy who took you on one date. Move on, he’s clearly not into you. On the other hand, I’m sure there are some fantastic Dan Gilbert owned businesses that would love your business. And you have that whole Eastern Market thing. So put on your best “Detroit” t shirt and have fun in your city! I mean you constantly go on about how great your city is, but it seems like you all are always eager to spend time in someone else’s backyard, e.g., GP, Troy, Birmingham.

    • Angela

      Hmmm. Now I see how the Berlin Wall was erected. I guess its attitudes like this that promote separate conditions for its citizens.

  • MickinDetroit

    Is brenda jones writing for Muckraker now? I read this entire article as Onion level parody…. but I’m sure it wasn’t meant that way.

  • Guest

    Oh no, a tony neighborhood taking preventive measures so they don’t end up like the war zone next to it. Such outrage! No actually, such envy from bored rabble-rousers.

  • HankReardon

    Let me see if I have this straight (according to the article). In order to enhance the walkability of the area, the ambiance, the safety of pedestrians and the area in general, Grosse Pointe Park is investing in this area, and are providing different routes for vehicle traffic. That of course is racist and discriminatory, because…well just because.

  • Hypestyles

    bizarre design, regardless.

  • rdedr

    Horrible article. You need a little fat with that much lean.

  • Jerry Mangona

    Steve, not sure I get the outrage. Officials are going out of their way to say that Detroiters are welcome, and if they really wanted to keep Detroiters out, this is a pretty mediocre attempt at doing so.

  • Lorenacha K’uychiy

    looks fantastic. As a detroiter who grew up over there I dont care what you have to do to keep some areas with shops and safe feeling. detroiters majorly benefit by having these areas (bike rides, shopping, etc). you cant let it all go to shit just because detroit can’t keep it together (reminder: Im a Detroier). This is an increasingly diverse neighborhood. anyone who really knows the dynamics over here would know that its not so simple as keeping people in or out (its impossible first of all, there are other streets). nothing wrong with reduced car access – for a multitude of reasons. I say the plan looks beautiful – the area has lots of potential. yay for walkability.

  • Bruce Channell

    “GPP Officials said the plan calls for rerouting traffic to accommodate anyone traveling north on Kercheval”Anyone traveling north on Kercheval better be walking because if they are in a vehicle they are going to run into a building!