Development, Job Engines, News

Detroit’s three new winning numbers: 8,900 jobs, $650 million in investment, $1.8 billion into the Michigan economy


Retail and shopping are the magic words in Downtown Detroit these days, and the possibility of new retail attached to a new multipurpose event center and more residential space is just plain way too cool.

The Ilitch organization is exploring a partnership to develop an innovative district in Detroit’s Downtown core that would be made up of residential, retail and office facilities. It would be anchored by a new state-of-the-art, multi-purpose events center … could it be a new hockey stadium for the Red Wings? I’m betting yes!

“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.”

The Ilitch organization has already invested more than $1.9 billion in Detroit.

Here’s more good news. The building of the new district should create approximately 5,500 jobs for the events center alone and approximately 8,300 jobs for the entire residential and commercial mixed-use district. There’s more. Michigan can anticipate an estimated economic impact of $1.8 billion from the completion of this district.

So where is this new vibrant center going to be? No one’s saying yet other than it will be strategically located to serve some of the most underutilized areas in Detroit’s Downtown core and provide a continuous, walkable environment that connects one district to the next. I’m betting it will be near the Fox.

The total cost of the mixed-use development, which includes residential, retail, office facilities and the events center, is approximately $650 million. It includes significant private investment supplemented by existing dollars currently collected by the Downtown Detroit Authority (DDA) to support economic development and requiring no new taxes.

Thanks to the Michigan legislature for that. The amended House Bill 5463 allows the DDA to continue capturing existing funds that would support catalytic development in Detroit.  That allows 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.

“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 track record for public-private partnership is very good. Communities where such partnerships have taken root, such as Columbus (OH), Los Angeles, San Diego and Indianapolis, have created new downtown neighborhoods, spurred growth in the population and increased the levels of activity and vitality in central cities, says Mark S. Rosentraub, a professor in the Department of Sports Management, School of Kinesiology at the 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,” he says.

“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.”

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