Expanded Sports and Entertainment District in Detroit to Break Ground in Fall 2014

DETROIT – Olympia Development of Michigan July 20 announced plans for a sweeping transformation of dozens of underutilized blocks between downtown and midtown Detroit into a Sports and Entertainment District. The project, to break ground in fall 2014, will connect existing and new development efforts in downtown and midtown Detroit along Woodward with five walkable, livable mixed-use district neighborhoods.

Arena concept: Dennis Allain Renderings
Arena concept: Dennis Allain Renderings

“It’s always been my dream to see a vibrant and energized downtown Detroit,” said Mike Ilitch, chairman, Ilitch Holdings Inc. “I want people to look at Detroit’s new sports and entertainment district and see what I see: the potential for something very special. I couldn’t be more excited and proud to bring this vision to life.”

The district will encompass dozens of blocks along and near Woodward. Development
in the district will be integrated with existing sports and entertainment venues in or adjacent to the space, including the Fox Theatre, Comerica Park, MotorCity Casino Hotel, Ford Field, the Detroit Opera House, the Fillmore Detroit and more.

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“We’ve done business in Detroit for nearly 50 years, and this is our most significant and ambitious project here yet,” said Christopher Ilitch, president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings Inc.

“Our great city is home to some of the world’s most legendary people, teams and venues in sports and entertainment. Detroit deserves no less than the best – a world-class sports and entertainment district we can all be proud of. And that’s exactly what we will build.”

Organization expands its investment
The Ilitch organization has expanded its planned investment in the district to now include tens of millions of dollars in new neighborhood public infrastructure improvements such as lighting, sidewalks, green spaces and streets. These investments will occur concurrently with the development of the new district neighborhoods and arena.

“The resurgence of Detroit has incredible momentum already, and a project of this magnitude and geographic reach will extend our progress, creating much-needed jobs for Detroiters, strengthening our public infrastructure both downtown and in the neighborhoods, and attracting new, permanent residents to our city,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

Arena cross section concept: Dennis Allain Renderings
Arena cross section concept: Dennis Allain Renderings

Development of new, mixed-use neighborhoods in the district will occur concurrently with construction of the Detroit arena. Groundbreaking is slated for fall of 2014. Accelerating this investment to the first full year of the project will jump-start mixed-use development. “By accelerating our investments in important neighborhood infrastructure and new mixed-use development, we will stabilize and develop dozens of underutilized blocks, create more jobs more quickly and allow the city to spend public funds on other priorities,” said Christopher Ilitch.

The neighborhoods are inspired by historical roots, beloved places or geographical highlights in each area. Each neighborhood has its own distinct personality, expressed by the following working names:

  • Columbia Street – A neighborhood near the Fox Theatre and the Fillmore Detroit that offers entertainment and dining.
  • Wildcat Corner – this neighborhood, anchored by Comerica Park and Ford Field, offers energetic, athletic experiences.
  • Working name to be determined – The bustling home of the new Detroit arena.
  • Cass Park Village – An energized, eclectic and primarily residential neighborhood.
  • Columbia Park – A fresh, modern neighborhood anchored by a new public green space.

$1.8B in economic impact, 8,300 construction and 1,100 permanent jobs
The construction of the District, including the arena, is expected to create approximately 8,300 construction-related jobs and 1,100 permanent jobs in Detroit. Dozens of community meetings relating to jobs have taken place already, with many more planned as groundbreaking occurs in the fall and full construction begins next year. The project will spur at least $1.8 billion in economic impact for the city, region and state.

“The expanded vision for this important project will immediately begin building on the success of other investments along Woodward Avenue,” said Gov. Rick Snyder. “This is a powerful example of how public-private partnerships have multiplier effects that benefit the city, the region and the state.”

Arena to open summer of 2017
The arena built concurrently with the district will be a model of innovation for such a facility in a downtown setting. It will serve not only as a powerful, continual generator of activity, but also as a good urban neighbor.

“Our vision for the new arena is for a one-of-a-kind facility that fits in with its neighborhood, that is authentic to our Detroit roots and offers an unmatched fan experience,” said Christopher Ilitch. “We will build a revolutionary venue for hockey, music, entertainment and community events, and at the same time, a vibrant mixed-use neighborhood surrounding it.”

Community Connect
The Ilitch organization also announced a number of plans through its Community Connect program. These efforts will ensure this transformational initiative benefits the community in many different ways.

Additional, evolving plans include an internship program with Detroit Cass Technical High School; lending city officials and in others urban planning and related expertise to benefit central business district “Main Street” redevelopment throughout various Detroit neighborhoods; dedicated support of minority entrepreneurship in the district; dedicated support of innovation space in the district and more.

Community Connect is considered an integral part of the district’s success, and it will continue to evolve as the project evolves. More information on the development is available at districtdetroit.com

Olympia Development of Michigan is a Detroit-based full-service real estate company owned by Michael and Marian Ilitch. Among their developments and holdings are Comerica Park, the Detroit Tigers, the Detroit Red Wings, Little Caesars Pizza, Blue Line Foodservice Distribution, Olympia Entertainment, Champion Foods, Ilitch Holdings and Uptown Entertainment.

Press release provided by Doug Kuiper, [email protected].