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Mapping the District Detroit

Taking a look at all the development—or lack thereof—at the Ilitch-owned properties near Little Caesars Arena

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In 2013, the Downtown Development Authority and Ilitch-owned Olympia Development revealed details of a $650 million plan (which would eventually reach $862.9 million) to build a new arena for the Detroit Red Wings. Public funding for the development would reach $324 million.

As part of that agreement, the Ilitches agreed to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in spinoff development to create a vibrant, 50-block district around the arena. In 2017, Olympia unveiled grand plans for the area it called “District Detroit,” which would consist of five vibrant, mixed-use neighborhoods.

Fast forward to today and only a handful of buildings have actually been built or redeveloped. Instead, you’ll find mostly surface parking lots and vacant buildings. Olympia has also missed numerous development deadlines, interfered with nearby small businesses, and actively fought against the creation of the Cass-Henry Historic District.

That said, there’s been more movement lately in the district.

Here’s a map of all the proposed developments, and their current state, around Little Caesars Arena.

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Little Caesars Arena

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The $863 million arena opened in September 2017 with a series of Kid Rock concerts. The state-of-the-art facility that hosts the Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Pistons, and regular concerts has 20,000 seats, the largest center-hung scoreboard in the world, several restaurants and bars, as well as offices for Google.

Little Caesars World Headquarters

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The $150-million Little Caesars World Headquarters broke ground in September 2016, but its completion was delayed for over a year because of an unusual design choice: windows shaped like pizza slices. The 234,000-square-foot, nine-story structure finally opened as Detroit’s first newly constructed corporate headquarters building in more than a decade and only the seventh since 1950. The first floor also has about 25,000 square feet of retail space.

Teal pizza-slice windows on Detroit building are only partially installed Photo by Michelle Gerard

WSU Mike Ilitch School of Business

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Wayne State University's Mike Ilitch School of Business broke ground in summer 2016 and opened for students in 2018. Funded in large part from a $40 million gift from Mike and Marian Ilitch, the facility has classrooms, laboratories, faculty offices, a cafe, working “coves,” a terrace, a courtyard, and more.

Sports Medicine Center

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In May this year, ground broke on a $70 million sports mixed-use building. Plans for the five-floor, 127,000-square-foot building call for office space, medical facilities, and ground floor retail. Olympia entered into a 20-year agreement with the Detroit Medical Center to operate the 50,000-square-foot sports medicine facility. Boston Consulting Group and the law firm Warner Norcross + Judd will also occupy office space.

Rendering a multi-story glass building with black window frames and brick columns. People move in and out of the building on the ground floor. Olympia Development

Columbia Street Promenade

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In 2018, Olympia announced a “European-style promenade boasting Cobblestone paving, festoon lights, and al fresco dining space” along Columbia Street, in between the Fox Theatre and the new Little Caesars World Headquarters. Construction has been ongoing. Cuban burger restaurant Frita Batidos has opened a location there in October.

A brick walkway in between rows of buildings. There’s festive lights hanging above the street. Photo by Michelle Gerard

Detroit Women's City Club

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Olympia recently announced that it would redevelop the historic Women’s City Club Building downtown for $25 million. Spaces, a global coworking company and subsidiary of Switzerland-based IWG plc, will lease approximately 47,000 square feet of the six-story building. There will also be around 10,000 square feet of ground floor retail.

A six-story, square brick building with an arched entrance and rows of widows on each floor. Wikimedia Commons

United Artists Theater Building

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Olympia leased the development rights of the historic building to Bagley Development Group LLC, which is planning a $56 million redevelopment. The project would convert the 18-story downtown building, which has sat dormant for years, into 148 apartments. But developer Emmett Moten also wants to demolish the theatre, designed by C. Howard Crane and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.

There’s been plenty of controversy about whether demolition of the theatre is necessary.

Olympia Development

Hotel Eddystone

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Plans for the former 13-story hotel called for 96 apartment units, 20 percent of which would be designated as “affordable.” But Olympia missed its August 2018 deadline to begin work on the building in August 2018. It also demolished its larger neighbor, the Hotel Park Avenue, in 2015.

In May this year, it agreed to new terms with the city. In exchange for developing an unspecified number of apartments at a cost of $40.9 million, the city of Detroit demanded a $33 million performance bond in case the project isn’t completed. The building has been winterized, but it’s unclear what other work has been done since.

A tall, vacant stone building in front of a cement parking lot. There’s graffiti around the first floor. Photo by Michelle Gerard

The Hotel Fort Wayne

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Another dormant building in the district. In 2017, Olymipa announced that the American, formerly the Hotel Fort Wayne, would be redeveloped into 163 units with ground-floor retail. Renovations were supposed to start in 2018, but little work has been done on the building since.

A vacant rectangular brick building at an intersection. Photo by Michelle Gerard

The Alhambra

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Redevelopment of the Alhambra at 100 Temple called for 46 more residential units and ground-floor retail. Renovations were supposed to start in 2018, but little work has been done since.

A multi-story boarded up building whose bricks have been painted red and white. Photo by Michelle Gerard

Detroit Life Building

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Mike Ilitch bought the historic building, along with the Fox Theatre, in the 1980s. A new roof was installed in 2005 and it had some facade work done in 2018. Olympia has proposed various development plans for the building over the years, but none have come to fruition.

Olympia Development

Columbia Park

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Olympia once described Columbia Park as a green space where "people will be able to stroll through the manicured gardens, people-watch while lounging on the lawn, or give the pup some exercise at the dog run." Instead, the area behind the Fox Theatre is still a sea of surface parking lots.

A huge surface parking lot. Many buildings stand in the distance. Photo by Michelle Gerard

111 Henry Street

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Initially dubbed the “Arena Lofts,” this development called for a new-build condo building with ground-floor retail. Plans eventually changed for this to become an office building. But there’s been little news since Crain’s Detroit Business last reported that construction was moving slowly.

Google Street View

120 Henry Street

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Another project that was supposed to be residential but has been converted into office space. It’s also under construction.

Unknown hotel project

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First speculated as a hotel for visiting athletes, there’s been no news about this vacant site just south of Little Caesars Arena. Olympia has missed multiple deadlines to submit development plans to the DEGC.

Google Maps, Oct. 2016 (this area looks a lot different now)

Cass Park Village

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This whole giant area, including Masonic Temple and Cass Park, from Grand River to Cass, I-75 to Charlotte, was supposed to be a neighborhood called Cass Park Village. Per their District Detroit website, it was described as “home to independent shops, local markets and galleries.”

But today, Cass Park is in a similar state as it has been since this was announced.

Google Maps, Cass Park looking at the Masonic Temple

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Little Caesars Arena

The $863 million arena opened in September 2017 with a series of Kid Rock concerts. The state-of-the-art facility that hosts the Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Pistons, and regular concerts has 20,000 seats, the largest center-hung scoreboard in the world, several restaurants and bars, as well as offices for Google.

Little Caesars World Headquarters

Teal pizza-slice windows on Detroit building are only partially installed Photo by Michelle Gerard

The $150-million Little Caesars World Headquarters broke ground in September 2016, but its completion was delayed for over a year because of an unusual design choice: windows shaped like pizza slices. The 234,000-square-foot, nine-story structure finally opened as Detroit’s first newly constructed corporate headquarters building in more than a decade and only the seventh since 1950. The first floor also has about 25,000 square feet of retail space.

Teal pizza-slice windows on Detroit building are only partially installed Photo by Michelle Gerard

WSU Mike Ilitch School of Business

Wayne State University's Mike Ilitch School of Business broke ground in summer 2016 and opened for students in 2018. Funded in large part from a $40 million gift from Mike and Marian Ilitch, the facility has classrooms, laboratories, faculty offices, a cafe, working “coves,” a terrace, a courtyard, and more.

Sports Medicine Center

Rendering a multi-story glass building with black window frames and brick columns. People move in and out of the building on the ground floor. Olympia Development

In May this year, ground broke on a $70 million sports mixed-use building. Plans for the five-floor, 127,000-square-foot building call for office space, medical facilities, and ground floor retail. Olympia entered into a 20-year agreement with the Detroit Medical Center to operate the 50,000-square-foot sports medicine facility. Boston Consulting Group and the law firm Warner Norcross + Judd will also occupy office space.

Rendering a multi-story glass building with black window frames and brick columns. People move in and out of the building on the ground floor. Olympia Development

Columbia Street Promenade

A brick walkway in between rows of buildings. There’s festive lights hanging above the street. Photo by Michelle Gerard

In 2018, Olympia announced a “European-style promenade boasting Cobblestone paving, festoon lights, and al fresco dining space” along Columbia Street, in between the Fox Theatre and the new Little Caesars World Headquarters. Construction has been ongoing. Cuban burger restaurant Frita Batidos has opened a location there in October.

A brick walkway in between rows of buildings. There’s festive lights hanging above the street. Photo by Michelle Gerard

Detroit Women's City Club

A six-story, square brick building with an arched entrance and rows of widows on each floor. Wikimedia Commons

Olympia recently announced that it would redevelop the historic Women’s City Club Building downtown for $25 million. Spaces, a global coworking company and subsidiary of Switzerland-based IWG plc, will lease approximately 47,000 square feet of the six-story building. There will also be around 10,000 square feet of ground floor retail.

A six-story, square brick building with an arched entrance and rows of widows on each floor. Wikimedia Commons

United Artists Theater Building

Olympia Development

Olympia leased the development rights of the historic building to Bagley Development Group LLC, which is planning a $56 million redevelopment. The project would convert the 18-story downtown building, which has sat dormant for years, into 148 apartments. But developer Emmett Moten also wants to demolish the theatre, designed by C. Howard Crane and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.

There’s been plenty of controversy about whether demolition of the theatre is necessary.

Olympia Development

Hotel Eddystone

A tall, vacant stone building in front of a cement parking lot. There’s graffiti around the first floor. Photo by Michelle Gerard

Plans for the former 13-story hotel called for 96 apartment units, 20 percent of which would be designated as “affordable.” But Olympia missed its August 2018 deadline to begin work on the building in August 2018. It also demolished its larger neighbor, the Hotel Park Avenue, in 2015.

In May this year, it agreed to new terms with the city. In exchange for developing an unspecified number of apartments at a cost of $40.9 million, the city of Detroit demanded a $33 million performance bond in case the project isn’t completed. The building has been winterized, but it’s unclear what other work has been done since.

A tall, vacant stone building in front of a cement parking lot. There’s graffiti around the first floor. Photo by Michelle Gerard

The Hotel Fort Wayne

A vacant rectangular brick building at an intersection. Photo by Michelle Gerard

Another dormant building in the district. In 2017, Olymipa announced that the American, formerly the Hotel Fort Wayne, would be redeveloped into 163 units with ground-floor retail. Renovations were supposed to start in 2018, but little work has been done on the building since.

A vacant rectangular brick building at an intersection. Photo by Michelle Gerard

The Alhambra

A multi-story boarded up building whose bricks have been painted red and white. Photo by Michelle Gerard

Redevelopment of the Alhambra at 100 Temple called for 46 more residential units and ground-floor retail. Renovations were supposed to start in 2018, but little work has been done since.

A multi-story boarded up building whose bricks have been painted red and white. Photo by Michelle Gerard

Detroit Life Building

Olympia Development

Mike Ilitch bought the historic building, along with the Fox Theatre, in the 1980s. A new roof was installed in 2005 and it had some facade work done in 2018. Olympia has proposed various development plans for the building over the years, but none have come to fruition.

Olympia Development

Columbia Park

A huge surface parking lot. Many buildings stand in the distance. Photo by Michelle Gerard

Olympia once described Columbia Park as a green space where "people will be able to stroll through the manicured gardens, people-watch while lounging on the lawn, or give the pup some exercise at the dog run." Instead, the area behind the Fox Theatre is still a sea of surface parking lots.

A huge surface parking lot. Many buildings stand in the distance. Photo by Michelle Gerard

111 Henry Street

Google Street View

Initially dubbed the “Arena Lofts,” this development called for a new-build condo building with ground-floor retail. Plans eventually changed for this to become an office building. But there’s been little news since Crain’s Detroit Business last reported that construction was moving slowly.

Google Street View

120 Henry Street

Another project that was supposed to be residential but has been converted into office space. It’s also under construction.

Unknown hotel project

Google Maps, Oct. 2016 (this area looks a lot different now)

First speculated as a hotel for visiting athletes, there’s been no news about this vacant site just south of Little Caesars Arena. Olympia has missed multiple deadlines to submit development plans to the DEGC.

Google Maps, Oct. 2016 (this area looks a lot different now)

Cass Park Village

Google Maps, Cass Park looking at the Masonic Temple

This whole giant area, including Masonic Temple and Cass Park, from Grand River to Cass, I-75 to Charlotte, was supposed to be a neighborhood called Cass Park Village. Per their District Detroit website, it was described as “home to independent shops, local markets and galleries.”

But today, Cass Park is in a similar state as it has been since this was announced.