Ilitch family's arena plan will transform Detroit

New Red Wings arena is just piece of massive development

By Hank Winchester - Reporter

DETROIT - The state-of-the-art arena may by the centerpiece, but the surrounding development is the happy surprise.

It's a mix of residential and retail space which will not only change the neighborhood but also change the face of Detroit.

The Ilitch family is behind this massive project.

"We're looking at an area that has been blighted. There's a lot of open land and space in the Cass Corridor area where this going, and we said we want to build a robust district," said Chris Ilitch, of Ilitch Holdings, Inc.

Lofts, restaurants and bars will not only surround the arena but also Comerica Park. The new neighborhoods will help connect the core of downtown Detroit to its Midtown neighborhood and beyond. Of course, hockey fans will be thrilled to watch the action in the arena which will put them closer to the action than ever before.

"This venue we're calling affectionately the 'baddest bowl' in the NHL because we're trying to create something that has that energy and proximity and great sidelines, so it's very, very exciting," said Chris Ilitch.

The Ilitch organization has spent the past decade quietly buying up real estate in the area. They have worked with architects and traveled the country visiting stadiums.

The family has spent decades investing in Detroit, but this particular project is a special one.

"My parents Mike and Marian Ilitch have been very involved in this. In many respects, I look at this incredible building out of a world-class sports and entertainment district as a culmination their life's work," said Chris Ilitch.

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