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Olympia Development of Michigan Updates Planning, Progress and Impact in The District Detroit

The District Detroit was first announced as a bold vision for public/private investment designed to bring sports, entertainment, economic vitality and a new, world-class arena to the area between downtown and Midtown. This stretch of Woodward Avenue is now a dynamic, connected stretch that has grown and attracted new businesses and investment with the promise of much more to come. 

Since just before The District Detroit was announced, data from the Detroit Downtown Development Authority shows that property taxes in the Catalyst Development district have increased by an estimated 456 percent, which provides significant new revenue for the city. And since plans were first announced, more than 200 new, development projects have been announced nearby with an estimated investment total of $2.8 billion. In the year since Little Caesars Arena opened, the award-winning venue has drawn nearly 3 million guests to the city and is expected to be among the busiest arenas in the world.

“One year in, the award-winning Little Caesars Arena is an example of the job-creating and economy-building results the community can expect from future investments in The District Detroit,” said Chris Granger, Group President of Sports and Entertainment at Ilitch Holdings, Inc. “One of the things I am most proud of is the superior experience fans and guests have been able to enjoy from the employees and technology at our venues, office buildings and retail outlets.”

Little Caesars Arena brings new retail, office, and community spaces

Little Caesars Arena was awarded the prestigious Sports Facility of the Year by industry trade magazine, SportsBusiness Journal. The honor recognizes a broad array of operational criteria, including design, functionality and user-friendly fan experience. To date, Little Caesars Arena has won 16 design and construction awards.

Inside Little Caesars Arena, the Via Concourse not only enhances arena events, but it also proves to be a unique destination for hosting a variety of public and private events. Little Caesars Arena is surrounded by unique dining and shopping opportunities like Mike’s Pizza Bar, The District Market and the Team Store.

Likewise, the adjacent Chevrolet Plaza and Budweiser Biergarten have expanded the event experience to the outdoors and are destinations on their own for hosting thousands of people at a time in a unique setting.

In the area around Little Caesars Arena, more than $18 million have been invested in the city’s infrastructure, including blocks of landscaped medians which both beautify the area and provide traffic control and security benefits.

Future development will bring more density, opportunity and experiences

Keith Bradford has been named Senior Vice President of The District Detroit, Operations and Development to lead ongoing and anticipated development. Bradford brings decades of experience, most recently from Disney Springs, to his new role providing leadership, strategy, financial insight and leasing success. Bradford will play a key role in taking The District Detroit development to the next level. Recent and anticipated hiring will continue to boost in-house development planning, execution and construction in The District Detroit.

“Development in The District Detroit has been diverse, deliberate and successful,” Bradford said. “I am pleased to join a team with such confidence in and commitment to Detroit, and we will continue to bring more job-creating development including new residential units and historic redevelopment in properties like the former Eddystone Hotel and the Detroit Life Building, as well as restaurants, shops and more.”

Newly-announced additions to the Columbia Street shopping and dining destination at Woodward Avenue include The M Den and Frita Batidos. Both are expected to open in 2019. An additional 40,000 square feet of retail space is currently under construction, which will create a contiguous row of storefronts on the north and south sides of Columbia Street.

Historic development will include office, retail and residential space

Bagley Development Group continues pre-construction planning for 150 Bagley St., formerly the United Artists Building, which is expected to bring nearly 150 new market-rate and affordable residential units. The 18-story building overlooking Grand Circus Park was designed by C. Howard Crane in the 1920s.  Olympia Development of Michigan continues to evaluate proposals for the properties at 408 Temple St. (formerly the American Hotel) and 100 Temple St. (formerly the Alhambra). Work is already underway in preparation for new, historically-accurate windows at the former Eddystone Hotel at 110 Sproat St., slated for residential units of which 20 percent will be affordable. Olympia Development of Michigan continues to pursue a goal of 20 percent affordable housing across total district residential.

The Detroit-based Brinker-Christman joint venture was selected as the construction management team for three previously-announced historic rehabilitation projects: the 10-story former Detroit Life Building at 2210 Park Ave; the six-story, Albert Kahn-designed building at 1922 Cass Ave and the six-story former Women’s City Club at 2110 Park Ave.

New office space for Little Caesars world headquarters campus expansion and Sports Medicine

The $150 million, 9-story Little Caesars world headquarters campus expansion is nearing the final phases of construction and will open early next year, becoming home to 700 employees and supporting explosive growth in the U.S. and around the world. The building will enhance research and development and will provide employees with state-of-the-art technology and amenities.

Earlier this year, Olympia Development of Michigan and Detroit Medical Center announced the Sports Medicine Institute will occupy two floors of a new building at 2715 Woodward Ave. with additional tenants expected to be announced later this year. As previously announced, buildings at 111 Henry St. and 120 Henry Street are set to bring 150,000 square feet of office space and 27,000 square feet of street-level retail to meet the high demand for Class A office space in Detroit.

Massive investment attracts the Pistons, Google and new businesses

Little Caesars Arena’s location was selected in part because it could connect the city’s downtown and Midtown by revitalizing an area that was largely underutilized, partly due to the impact of Interstate 75. Investments in this area were expected to catalyze future residual investment. Thanks to projects like Little Caesars Arena, the Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University and new activity brought by others, this area has been rejuvenated as expected.

Olympia Development of Michigan’s commitment to invest an additional $200 million in ancillary development around Little Caesars Arena is on pace to be achieved next year, nearly five years early. $200 million in private bonds used to finance Little Caesars Arena and surrounding development have already been paid off and refinanced at lower rates nearly 30 years early.

Little Caesars and the creation of The District Detroit have made possible other moves which would have been hard to imagine just a few years ago. When the Detroit Pistons decided to move to Detroit, they also saw the benefit of playing in the new Little Caesars Arena. When Google decided to move about 100 employees to Detroit, they chose space in the new office building adjacent to Little Caesars Arena.

Dedication to community includes support of education, art

The District Detroit has had a direct and positive impact on local students. The Ilitch companies recently completed the fourth paid summer internship program with Cass Technical High School students. This program earned high marks from students and administrators at Cass Tech as well as various business units at the Ilitch companies, including the Detroit Tigers, Little Caesars and Olympia Development of Michigan.

“Students who complete the internship program are always eager to share their positive experiences with classmates and staff,” said Lisa Phillips, Principal of Cass Tech. “They return to school with first-hand experience and remarkable accomplishments that will make them competitive scholars and young professionals in the future.”

A new internship partnership is currently underway with MBA students from the Sport and Entertainment Management program at the Mike Ilitch School of Business. Students are participating in and learning from a wide range of real-world experiences with the Tigers and Red Wings.

“This rare opportunity gives Wayne State students unmatched access to one of the densest sports and entertainment districts in the U.S., along with professionals at world-class companies,” said Scott Tainsky, Associate Professor of Management and Director of Sport and Entertainment Management. “By the end of the program, students would have worked on high-profile projects and gained competitive experience in their chosen field. We are excited about bringing on even more students in Fall 2019.”

An $800,000 donation launched a partnership between the College for Creative Studies and the Ilitch companies that will bring a unique sculpture to the public space around Little Caesars Arena. This partnership has exposed dozens of students to real-world applications of their creativity through classroom support from experts within the Ilitch companies.

“We announced our plans for Little Caesars Arena and The District Detroit with bold expectations for excellence and an unmatched commitment to the city we call home,” said Christopher Ilitch, President and CEO of Ilitch Holdings, Inc. “We have achieved many of the goals set out in our initial plans and will continue to contribute to the city’s remarkable comeback.”

For a list of achievements reached in The District Detroit so far, click here.

About The District Detroit

The District Detroit is a dynamic urban destination in the heart of Detroit. One that includes something for everyone—a dense neighborhood experience with a variety of developments alongside Detroit’s premier sports and entertainment venues. Connecting downtown Detroit to growing nearby neighborhoods such as Midtown, Corktown and Brush Park, The District Detroit is having a dramatic economic impact on Detroit and is a driving catalyst of the city’s remarkable resurgence. The District Detroit represents $1.4 billion in new investment to Detroit including the new Little Caesars Arena, Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University and Little Caesars world headquarters campus expansion. Additionally, new office, residential and retail spaces will continue to add momentum to Detroit’s amazing comeback for years to come.