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Ilitches touted 6 housing buildings in The District Detroit in 2017; here's where they stand today

Posted at 12:30 PM, Jun 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-09 20:37:56-04

Four years ago, the District Detroit announced a new residential development initiative boasting 686 units across six developments. But four years later, the buildings come up short of what was planned.

The District Detroit called it the "largest single announcement of new apartment units, affordable units and redeveloped historic buildings in more than 20 years."

Renovation and construction were expected to start on all six developments in 2017 and 2018.

According to a press release from the 2017 announcement, 139 of the buildings were expected to be designated as affordable housing at no more than 80% of the area's median income. The press release also states that the projects would have met Olympia Development's goal of 20% affordable housing throughout The District Detroit.

"The District Detroit will be one of the most exciting places in the country to live," Christopher Ilitch, president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings, Inc, said in the 2017 release "These six uniquely Detroit residential developments will be in the heart of the action, in a city on the rise."

The Ilitches declined an on-camera interview recently but pointed us to a number of press releases showing, for example, new tenants coming to a newly constructed office building next to the arena and progress being done on the Eddystone. In a statement they said, “It is not uncommon for the pacing of development projects throughout the country, including in Detroit, to change or alter over time. This is due to a variety of reasons, including community and market needs, demand, tenant interest, the need for additional planning, as well as general economic conditions (including COVID-19).” You can read their full statement below the graphics.

Use our slider tool below to see what the renderings looked like, and what it actually looks like today.

The Alhambra (100 Temple) – Renovation was expected to start in 2018

The American (408 Temple) – Renovation was expected to start in 2018

The Arena Lofts (120 Henry) – Construction was expected to start in 2017

The Eddystone (110 Sproat) – Renovation was expected to start in 2018

One Eleven West (111 Henry) – Construction was expected to start in 2017

150 Bagley – Renovation was expected to start in 2017

Full statement from The District Detroit and Olympia Development (ODM).

Throughout the pandemic, Olympia Development of Michigan (ODM) continued its commitment to steady, balanced and community-minded development throughout The District Detroit. Notable accomplishments in the past year included:

● The recently completed, state-of-the-art office development at 2715 Woodward, which will be occupied by Warner, Norcross + Judd and Boston Consulting Group.

● The former Eddystone Hotel which will provide our community with new affordable and market-rate housing and street-level retail as part of a historic redevelopment (on schedule for completion in 2021).

● The continued restoration of the historic Women’s City Club which will bring new business tenants and retail to The District Detroit (also on schedule for completion in 2021).

Additionally, pre-development activity continues on other important projects:

● We are continuing to review the historic redevelopment of multiple buildings on Henry Street, which, when approved by the city and state, will bring market-rate and affordable housing to Detroit at levels as low as 30% of the average median income level.

● Progress continues with respect to the historic redevelopment at Residences @150 Bagley, the former United Artists building, which also includes affordable units. Our development partner, Bagley Development Group, has indicated that construction is expected to begin this year after the HUD loan process is completed.

● We continue to review development options for 100 Temple, 408 Temple, as well as for 110 and 120 Henry

These most recent projects build on several years of completed development within The District Detroit, including:

● Little Caesars Arena (the second-busiest arena in the country, behind only Madison Square Garden, which, along with Comerica Park and the Fox Theatre, brings about 14 million people into the arena district each year, which benefits many local businesses).

● Chevrolet Plaza (public space).

● Detroit headquarters for Google.

● The Little Caesars world headquarters (Detroit’s first newly constructed corporate headquarters building in more than a decade and only the seventh since 1950).

● The Mike Ilitch School of Business (made possible, in part, through a $40 million gift to Wayne State University from Mr. and Mrs. Ilitch).

● The Columbia Street development (a pedestrian-only street with multiple retail and restaurants, including Frita Batido’s).

● Additional shops and restaurants like Starbucks, and Tin Roof, a bar and restaurant offering live entertainment.

ODM worked closely with city and state officials to create a plan that would enable the arena while providing a significant return on investment for the City and residents.

It is important to note that at the time of the arena groundbreaking in 2013, the city was emerging from bankruptcy and development and investment were near a standstill.

ODM’s willingness to invest $450 million (later increasing to more than $800 million) into the city at such a time was a massive show of capital support for the city. This was recognized as critically important by all parties, including the Financial Manager, DDA and the State of Michigan.

While funding of the arena did include public incentives, all of the obligations (as verified by the DDA) associated with the funding for the DDA-owned arena have been met. Indeed, the required ancillary development obligations were met years ahead of schedule.

The jobs and economic impact as a result of all of the above developments have been significant:

  • To date, over 20,000 men and women have been hired for highly paid skilled trades and construction, construction related and permanent jobs for these developments.
  • ODM contributed approximately $6 million in fees toward workforce development funds that would provide skilled trades training for Detroiters.
  • Forty-three Detroit-based companies received 60 percent of arena contract awards worth more than $530 million.
  • New businesses have, and continue to, find a home in the arena district, including Google, the Detroit Pistons, Boston Consulting Group, Warner Norcross and Judd, and retail like Tin Roof, Starbucks, The M Den and more.

Because of the new construction in The District Detroit, the tax base in the Detroit Downtown Development Authority’s Catalyst Development district increased an estimated 456 percent from 2013 to 2018.

It is not uncommon for the pacing of development projects throughout the country, including in Detroit, to change or alter over time. This is due to a variety of reasons, including community and market needs, demand, tenant interest, the need for additional planning, as well as general economic conditions (including COVID-19).

ODM’s approach has been to prioritize or accelerate certain developments based on community and market need, including, for example, Women’s City Club, 2715 Woodward and pre-development activities at Henry Street (all referenced above).

We remain optimistic for our city and communities and will continue with our steady and balanced development throughout The District Detroit.