In the heart of Detroit, near the river, people will soon be able to experience things not typically found in an urban setting: snowmobile and offroad driving simulations, faux-piloting an environmental reconnaissance Cessna, and hunching into a deer blind with a rifle.
It’s all part of a $13 million state project that has been transforming the 50,000-square-foot, 19th century Globe Building into a Department of Natural Resources Outdoor Adventure Center.
The project has been funded by Natural Resources Trust Funds as well as a fundraiser for the interactive exhibits the department has been working to put into the building.
The building itself should be complete in about a month, but the exhibits are taking a bit longer than expected to come together, said Vicki Anthes, the DNR’s planning section chief.
“The exhibits are running a little bit behind, so we don’t think we’ll have the building open until the latter part of the summer or early fall,” she said. The DNR is also still looking for corporate sponsors for some exhibits, Anthes said.
Exhibits will include simulated offroad driving – two-tracking, if you ill – and that will change into cruising on a snowmobile in the winter months.
Kayaking-themed exhibits will feature some of the state’s winding rivers. Fishing simulators will allow people to feel what it’s like to reel in a bluegill, or fight to land a steelhead. A hunting display will have a deer blind and a variety of pelts.
Already installed is a Cessna airplane that will be suspended from the ceiling, and that visitors can climb into. “We use planes to help spot and control fires,” Anthes said. “We also use them to regulate wildlife, and also see where people are poaching illegally.”
The DNR expects about 1 million visitors each year to come and check it all out when the project is complete.
There will be an admission cost, but Anthes said that has not been settled on yet.
The redevelopment of the 50,000-square-foot, 19th century Globe Building, which is also known as the Detroit Dry Docks Engine Works, is seen as a key piece of the ongoing revival of Detroit’s riverfront by the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy.
Perhaps bringing things full circle, one of the exhibits will have a simulation of the Dequindre Cut, which is a stone’s throw from the Outdoor Adventure Center.
“Our mission is to teach people about being good stewards of the natural resources,” Anthes said. “And of course, encouraging people to get outside and play.”