Olympia Development (aka, the Ilitch Organization) has agreed to spare the Eddystone Hotel but yearns to demolish the Park Avenue Hotel. That's been the leading plan for months, and Olympia used yesterday's City Council hearing to reveal the juicy details.
The Eddystone got a cheery new rendering in which the building is literally glowing. Plans call for a rehab into 80-100 apartments, 20% of which would be affordable hosing. The Park Avenue, however, was accused of ruining the arena in an entirely new way.
The latest of Park Avenue's arena-ruining qualities: It'll make Detroit inferior to Auburn Hills. Olympia now wants Park Avenue's real estate for an underground, high capacity loading dock, which they claim would make the venue more attractive for bigger events. "We have to compete and be better than the Palace," said Olympia's planning consultant Richard Heapes.
If out-gunning the Palace is the goal, this arena already falls short by about 4,000 seats and something like 6,000 on-site parking spots. In exchange for the loss of architecture, Olympia envisions a public park where the building used to be. Loading Dock Park will make the development "much more neighborhood-oriented," says Heapes. In case you were wondering how many different reasons have been given to demo the Park Avenue, we're keeping score in the timeline below.
July 2014: Chris Ilitch, to the Free Press: "Our goal is to use those buildings in this project. If we can't figure out a way to use them productively, then they become liabilities, and they may go away." [Source]
November 2014: Richard Heapes tells City Council that "a federal homeland security guideline" required by the NHL would necessitate bricking over all the windows on two sides of the Park Avenue Hotel, since it sits less than 100' from the arena.The NHL has declined to confirm any such requirement. "It's not so much the cost. But then, what do we put in there?" [Source]
January-February 2015: Pressure to preserve the buildings leads to negotiations between the city and Olympia development. Councilman George Cushingberry says the Park Avenue hotel is "too dangerous and too far gone" to be saved. This leads to the current compromise to save one, demo the other. [Source]
March 2015: Heapes tells City Council that the Park Avenue Hotel prevents the arena from building a high-capacity underground loading dock, which could help draw larger events. "We have to compete and be better than The Palace," Heapes says. [Source]