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Sterling Group looks to secure development rights for Joe Louis Arena site

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Though what will be built there is still not known

View across the Detroit River of a partially deconstructed buildings. All that’s left is the steel support structure.
Deconstruction of Joe Louis Arena is underway.
Getty Images

As the demolition of Joe Louis Arena nears completion, plans for what’s next at the site are starting to form.

Crain’s Detroit Business reports that the Detroit-based real estate company Sterling Group is “nearing a deal to redevelop” the site. New York City-based Financial Guaranty Insurance Co. currently has the development rights, which it negotiated as a creditor to the city during its municipal bankruptcy. But last year, the firm sued the city saying it needed more time to submit a development proposal after reconsidering its original plan to build a 30-story hotel.

Detroit City Council may take up the rights transfer this week. As of now, neither plans nor the cost of the sale have been released, and no one that’s part of the potential deal spoke to Crain’s on the record.

The site of the former Detroit Red Wings arena is in an intriguing yet difficult area for development. It’s proximity to the Detroit River is appealing, especially with the eventual development of the west riverfront. But the existing arena infrastructure and lack of pedestrian access make it a challenge.

Sterling Group was founded by TCF Bank executive chairman Gary Torgow and is now run by his children. It’s currently working on or involved in a number of projects in Detroit, including a new TCF Bank (formerly, Chemical Bank) headquarters downtown.

Detroit River

, Detroit, MI 48226