New Red Wings arena plan changes a bit

Parking, historic hotels at center of debate

Historic Hotel Eddystone and Park Avenue Hotel
Historic Hotel Eddystone and Park Avenue Hotel

DETROIT – Olympia Development has tweaked its original plan for a new Detroit Red Wings arena and entertainment district.

For starters, it has expanded green space near the proposed arena.

"It increases our public square, park, piazza area -- almost double. So now we're going to bring a public space that's almost the size of Campus Martius," said Richard Heapes, design manager.

Detroit City Council members like that. However, Councilmember Raquel Castaneda-Lopez worries about the impact of two parking garages. Traffic would enter off Cass. She wants to protect local drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.

"While it's a luxury to be able to park right outside the facility, it's not a right or a requirement," she said.

She asked for the zip codes of Red Wings suite holders, who would use most of the on-site parking.

"I would put that in the 'none of your business' category," said Heapes. "But we can give a summary of that."

Developers have agreed to reduce the parking structure spaces from 1,200 to 1,100. But they'll go no lower than that. The garage currently used near Joe Louis Arena is more than twice as big.

"I want to make sure we're addressing the needs of residents in the surrounding area as well as people coming in to visit just for the game alone," said Castaneda-Lopez.

The developers also confirmed that the Park Avenue Hotel will be torn down but the adjacent Hotel Eddystone will be rehabilitated. Twenty percent of the units will be reserved for affordable housing -- a percentage that also will apply to a 50-block area surrounding the arena.

The subcommittee delayed sending the plan to the full City Council. The design manager warns that the timetable for the Red Wings opening at the arena in 2017 is getting "uncomfortably close."