Ilitch's $650 million Detroit development proposal is more than new arena for Red Wings

Ilitch Organization's massive development proposal for downtown Detroit includes arena, retail, housing

By Mara MacDonald - Reporter

DETROIT - It is being called a district where a state-of-the-art events center would be the centerpiece surrounded by retail and residential units.

It's much more than a simple arena for Mike Ilitch's Detroit Red Wings. The Ilitch Organization's $650 million development proposal for downtown Detroit has made it clear Olympia Development wants to get into the entertainment business.

Read more: Ilitch's downtown Detroit plan could be long process

Rumors of the plans announced Tuesday have been ongoing for years. How much of it is a "pie-in-the-sky" proposal and how much of it is real?

It's all real, according to University of Michigan professor Mark Rosentraub, who has been working the feasibility study of Ilitch's downtown Detroit dream.

"Successful sports teams developing neighborhoods like they did in Columbus, San Diego and Los Angeles can change the face of cities," he said.

Rosentraub says the numbers make sense, and he should know. He has been involved in high-profile developments such at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

"I think everybody should be excited. It's a game-changing day for the city of Detroit," he said.

Ilitch said it has always been his dream to "once again see a vibrant downtown Detroit."

"From the time we bought the Fox Theatre, I could envision a downtown where the streets were bustling and people were energized," he said in the press release on Tuesday. "It's been a slow process at times, but we're getting there now and a lot of great people are coming together to make it happen."

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