The Illegal Workout That Never Happened

I love a good exercise adventure, whether it’s kayaking for the first time, or running up one of the steepest streets in the country. Sometimes, though, my adventures don’t quite work out as planned. This is the story of a failed exercise adventure.

A few miles from my parents house are the ruins of a failed community called Bloomfield Park. Twenty years ago, developers dreamed up a $500 million “lifestyle center”, as they called it, for an 87-acre piece of land: over 1,500 condos and homes, 80 shops and restaurants, a luxury hotel, office buildings, a multiplex, parks, and more, all clustered around a lake.

An original rendering of what Bloomfield Park.

An original rendering of Bloomfield Park.

It was fraught with issues from the beginning. After many hurtles and false starts, construction finally began in 2006. The developers had lined up $350 million in financing for the first phase. Then the housing market crashed, the financing disappeared, and, in 2008, construction stopped. For good. A mess of legal actions followed: lawsuits, foreclosures.

Since then, A dozen partially-built structures have remained, slowly rusting, as weeds grow higher and higher.


It’s all visible from a major 8-lane road, and when I drove by last week, an idea popped into my head: It would be fun to explore those ruins. The tallest structures were parking garages: one seven stories, the other nine. I could get in a good workout running those ramps and stairs! What a wonderfully unique venue for a workout!

The property, of course, was fenced off, and I was fully aware that entering the property would be trespassing. But the property had sat vacant for 8 years, and it was far enough off the road that no one would see as they drove by at 50 mph. So I decided to ignore the law, and find a way into Bloomfield Park.


I did a little scouting, and found the perfect point of entry: a low gate, easily jumpable, at the end of a short road off to the side. Then, on my last full day in Michigan, I woke up at 7am and drove there. I parked a little bit down the road, at a shopping center, and made my way to the low gate.

And that’s when I saw… the demolition crew. DAMMIT.

I had read an article saying some light demolition work was scheduled (mostly moving dirt and removing small trusses) but the article was from last December, and I was certain it would be over. Guess I was wrong.

Even worse, the crew was working pretty close to the gate I had been planning on jumping. Getting past them could be tricky, especially since I didn’t know the lay of the land on the other side.

So I went on a walk, around part of the perimeter, looking for another entry point further away from the crew. I could see the stairwells that I couldn’t get to.


I couldn’t find another point in the fence that I could use to my advantage. I continued to walk the fence, taking these photos, as I noticed more activity at the neighboring buildings. Delivery vans leaving a carpet store. An oil change place opening for business. I decided to abort my plan to trespass for exercise purposes and head home.


What will come of Bloomfield Park? It sounds like it does have a future. A new developer wants to sink $180 million into the property. Some of the buildings would be finished, others torn down. The new community, smaller in scale and prestige than before, would be called Village at Bloomfield, in an effort to distance itself from what came before.

As for me, I was due for a rest day anyway, so I took one. I had exercised the prior seven days in a row. And I had exciting plans for the next day: a return to Belle Isle Beach for another open water swimming session.

Keep it up, David!


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2 Responses to The Illegal Workout That Never Happened

  1. Jeff Dinkin says:

    Maybe you should have worn an orange vest and hardhat to look like you belong. 😉

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