It's an area promising to take the lead in Detroit’s comeback. But, some are questioning if the District Detroit has lived up to the plans that were originally promised.
It first came with all the hype and publicity worthy of a monumental investment. LCA had a price tag of $862.9 million dollars, with help from taxpayers. “You’ve got this beautiful jewel” a tour guide first told us.
We were also shown futuristic renderings of four historic buildings set to be renovated, including the Eddystone and former Hotel Fort Wayne. Both were right near the arena, along with two brand new mixed use buildings with affordable housing.
Ilitch Holdings CEO Chris Ilitch told reporters back in May, 2017 “They’re going to be the best place to be in the country because of all the excitement around this neighborhood. Cafes. Restaurants.” The mayor of Detroit added “Buildings that have been part of our landscape for a century. Instead of knocking them down and building new, they are renovating them and moving people in.”
Only today, not everyone is buying in and some are even suggesting certain promises have gone to the birds. “Stop promising and start doing. That’s what needs to happen. Just like that” Detroiter Robert King told us. Another neighbor Sean Gullette said “Its definitely surprising to see so many buildings that are still in this state.”
Looking around the new arena today, you can see some buildings don’t look much different. But, there is a new Mike Ilitch School of Business being built in partnership with WSU. We called the Ilitch organization to ask about the vacant properties but our calls were not returned. In part of a statement from the city, we were told:
"Steps have been taken to designate them as historic, requiring demolitions to be placed on hold... They have until July 9th to obtain a Certificate of Compliance. On July 10th neighbors will either see the two buildings boarded and the properties cleaned up, or they'll see tickets posted.”
Business owner Joe Locricchio who owns property nearby, says he’s still a believer in the promises made. “The growth is coming and the resurgence is midstream” says Locricchio.