Residents, community groups and business owners at City Quay held a walkabout to show how rundown the area has become.
The event was organised by the City Centre and Harbour Community Council following months of discussions with council officials about the upkeep of the area.
Much of the quay is owned by private landlords — including Port of Dundee owner Forth Ports — resulting in patchy maintenance.
Stakeholders in the area are now urging the local authority to order land owners to clean up their act.
Bill Newcombe, chairman of the community council, said the harbour area was at risk of becoming the “forgotten child” of the Waterfront.
“We keep reminding people in the council that they had the Queen and Prince Philip brought up to show off the harbour development,” he said.
“But if you look at it now, it’s a disaster. It’s a disgrace. With the V&A bringing people in, and with visitor attractions like Foxlake bringing people to the harbour, is this really what the council wants people to see?”
City Quay was regenerated at the turn of the millennium and, following a troubled spell, has been the subject of heightened interest thanks to the Foxlake watersports centre.
Local resident Alice Simpson said: “The problem is, there are too many owners. Foxlake have cleaned up their bits of the harbour wall but that’s it.”
Vaseem Salimi, general manager of the Taza restaurant, said optimism around City Quay when it was renovated had faded.
“What we were told from the beginning was that there was a lot of promise for this area and that hasn’t been delivered,” he said.
“With all this work going on to connect up the Waterfront we want people to come and enjoy this area.
“But we need Dundee City Council to demonstrate leadership and show support.”
David Webster, port manager at the Port of Dundee, claimed Forth Ports bosses “regularly” maintained the land they own. He said: “Forth Ports has limited responsibility at the City Quay area in Dundee, with the majority of the area being owned and maintained by residents and their factors.
“However, the areas that are our responsibility are regularly maintained by our port operations team to keep them tidy.
“We have attended local community meetings to listen to residents’ concerns and feedback and, where we can, we have arranged for maintenance or changes as necessary.”
A council spokesman said: “The council is continuing discussions with the community council.”