Ilitch Organization exploring development of new residential, retail, office, events center district in downtown Detroit

Mike Ilitch: 'It is going to happen'

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DETROIT - The Ilitch organization announced Tuesday it is taking a step forward with the public sector to explore the viability of a partnership to support the development of an innovative district in Detroit's downtown core comprised of residential, retail and office facilities, anchored by a new state-of-the-art, multi-purpose events center.

The Ilitch organization is supporting House Bill 5463, as amended on Tuesday, that allows the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) to continue capturing existing funds that would support a catalytic development in Detroit.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing expressed his excitement about the proposal in a statement:

"I am very pleased that the Ilitch organization is exploring another significant development project that would continue the ongoing transformation of Detroit's downtown and Midtown communities," Bing said. "A development of this magnitude, anchored by a world-class, multi-purpose events center, would be a vital contribution to a more vibrant downtown and the strengthening of our city's economy."

---Mike Ilitch

In the press release, Ilitch said his dream to turn downtown Detroit around has, at times, been a slow process but he knows it's going to happen.

"It's always been my dream to once again see a vibrant downtown Detroit," said Mike Ilitch, chairman, Ilitch Holdings, Inc.  "From the time we bought the Fox Theatre, I could envision a downtown where the streets were bustling and people were energized.  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.  It's going to happen and I want to keep us moving toward that vision."

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Next investment in downtown Detroit

The Ilitch organization is now preparing to make another substantial investment in the development of a new residential, retail, office and entertainment district in downtown Detroit, adding to the more than $1.9 billion the Ilitch companies have already invested.

"We have a tremendous opportunity through a large-scale project to make a positive impact on our community," said Christopher Ilitch, president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings, Inc.  "A project of this magnitude requires continued due diligence and a strategic partnership with the public sector.  Working together we can ensure this opportunity connects Detroit's existing set of initiatives and assets strengthening the downtown core and enhancing the image of our city, state and region."

The sum of the total mixed-use development in the district, including residential, retail, office facilities and events center, is approximately $650 million, which incorporates a significant private investment supplemented by existing dollars currently collected by the DDA supporting economic development and requiring no new taxes.

Why the plan could work

"This plan makes good business sense for two reasons," said George W. Jackson, Jr., president and CEO of Detroit Economic Growth Corporation.  "First, it's not a plan for an isolated, single-use structure.  Instead, it builds on the clear successes we've already had downtown integrating districts that feature entertainment, and support commercial, retail and residential development around them.  Second, it doesn't impose any new tax burdens; it simply continues a program for retiring debt related to economic development.  It's hard to argue with that."

The building of the new district is anticipated to create approximately 5,500 jobs for the events center alone and approximately 8,300 jobs for the entire residential and commercial mixed-use district. Michigan can anticipate an estimated economic impact of $1.8 billion from the completion of this district.

Case studies throughout the country reveal the most successful districts include a public-private partnership that support a balance of residential, business, education, cultural, sports and entertainment activities embedded with public spaces.

"Leadership in communities such as Columbus (OH), Los Angeles, San Diego and Indianapolis have shown how prudently created partnerships can create new downtown neighborhoods and spur growth in the population and increase the levels of activity and vitality in central cities," said Professor Mark S. Rosentraub, University of Michigan. "In those cases, districts anchored by events centers led to the creation of financially viable and successful new neighborhoods that are economically and socially integrated."

--Detroit Red Wings head coach Scotty Bowman with team owner Mike Ilitch in 2002

While the exact location of the district has not been determined, it will be strategically located to serve some of the most underutilized areas in Detroit's downtown core, strengthening the link between Detroit's existing assets through a continuous, walkable environment connecting one district to the next and serving to improve the quality of life for residents and visitors alike.

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Passage of House Bill 5463, sponsored by Representative John Walsh (R-Livonia), will allow the public and private sector partners to begin the next steps in the process to develop the structure, scope and timeline of this economic development project.

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