In 1970, Henry Ford II conceived of the Renaissance Center as way to help the city retain residents who were moving to the suburbs. The group announced the first phase of construction in 1971. Detroit Mayor Roman Gribbs touted the project as part of "a complete rebuilding from bridge to bridge," referring to the area between the Ambassador Bridge that connected Detroit to Windsor, Ontario and the MacArthur Bridge, which connects the city with Belle Isle Park. He presented architectural renderings of "linked riverfront parks" from Renaissance Center to MacArthur Bridge, like a necklace, for public access.
The first Renaissance Center tower opened on July 1, 1976. Architects initial design for the Renaissance Center focused on creating secure interior spaces, while its design later expanded to connect with the exterior spaces and waterfront through a reconfigured interior, open glass entryways, and a Wintergarden.
Late in 1973, Detroit elected its first African American Mayor, Coleman Young. During his administration major developments completed included, the Renaissance Center, the Joe Louis Arena, the Detroit People Mover, the General Motors Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly Plant, the Detroit Receiving Hospital, the Chrysler Jefferson North Assembly Plant, the Riverfront Condominiums, the Millender Center Apartments, Harbortown, 150 West Jefferson, One Detroit Center and the Fox Theater restoration, among other developments.
The city's Mayor in the mid-to-late 1990s, Dennis Archer, a former Michigan Supreme Court Justice, supported a plan to add casinos as a catalyst for the development of Detroit. Initially, Archer's plan was for a casino cluster along the east riverfront. Ultimately, three large hotels with attached casinos were constructed in or near Detroit's downtown area: the Greektown Casino Hotel, the MGM Grand Detroit, and the Motor City Casino. In 2007, USA Today reported the State of Michigan gets more than $8.3 million yearly from Detroit's three casinos and that in 2006 Detroit ranked fifth in U.S. casino markets with $1.3 billion in annual revenue. Archer also championed the construction of two new sports stadiums, Ford Field for the Detroit Lions and Comerica Park for the Detroit Tigers.
In June 2007, the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, a 501(c)(3) organization, celebrated the first significant opening of new public space on the Detroit International Riverfront since its inception in early 2003. It has raised hundreds of millions of dollars to develop and manage Detroit's riverfront. The International Riverfront area ranges from the Ambassador Bridge to Belle Isle in downtown Detroit, Michigan encompassing a multitude of parks, restaurants, retail shops, skyscrapers, and high rise residential areas along the Detroit River.