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Joe Louis Arena redevelopment plans could change; developer sues city

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Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

What will be the fate of the Joe Louis Arena site? For the last few years, we believed a 30-story hotel would replace the hockey arena. Times have changed since Detroit’s bankruptcy, and now the creditor wants to reconsider the plans.

The Detroit Free Press reports that the development firm under the Financial Guaranty Insurance Co. filed a lawsuit Monday, seeking more time from the city to develop a plan for the site. Financial Guaranty has development rights to the Joe Louis Arena site; they took big losses in the Detroit bankruptcy for those rights.

Demolition of the Joe Louis Arena will start this spring.

One reason for the reconsideration is the influx of hotels and plans for hotels in downtown Detroit in the past few years. Last year, the Foundation Hotel opened across from Cobo Center. The Siren Hotel at the Wurlitzer Hotel will open this spring, followed by the Shinola Hotel this fall and the Element Detroit Hotel at the Wurlitzer. The Crowne Plaza, also across from Cobo, also has future plans to build another tower. Further out, Olympia has hinted at a hotel near the new arena for a while (although no clear plans have been announced yet), and a building in Cass Corridor will be converted into a boutique hotel.

This begs the question, if not a hotel, then what should rise on that waterfront property? As it is now, it is configured somewhat like a fortress. But it sits at the end of the Riverwalk, along the People Mover route, next to Cobo Center, and near the Riverfront Towers (residential) and a new redesign of the West Riverfront Park.

Let’s hear your ideas. In the past when we’ve discussed this site, commenters were hoping for something taller. Should this still be a hotel? Offices? Residential? Shopping? Maybe some sort of attraction for visitors? What would you like to see here?