Hockey Haven

The new $650 million Red Wings arena and entertainment district vows to dazzle Detroit.


Published:

The new $450 million Red Wings arena (shown without its roof) and the $200 million 50-block District Detroit is under construction along Woodward Avenue, just north of I-75. Attached to the arena will be apartments, stores, and restaurants. Surrounding amenities include a hotel, apartments, offices, and entertainment.

Photograph by Nick Martines | Illustration by Kevin T. Chin

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If bankruptcy indicates a city has reached rock bottom, the optimist would say there’s nowhere to go from there but up. And if you’re in a position to take what’s down, start from scratch, and build it back up — well, that could be where the fun starts.

That’s the purview of Olympia Development as it commences the $650 million development of District Detroit. The most high-profile element of District Detroit is, of course, a new $450 million arena for the Detroit Red Wings, and it’s projected to open before the 2017-2018 season. It will be an element unlike anything Detroit has ever seen in a sports venue, designed almost as much to be a community square as to serve as a great venue for fans to watch hockey.

The hockey arena, though, is just the start. The vision of the Ilitch family-owned organization is far broader, encompassing a 50-block area of the central city. Consider some of the elements Olympia is planning:

• A new five-star hotel on Woodward just south of the arena property, which is located roughly at the northwest corner of Woodward and I-75. It isn’t yet clear who the developer would be, or whether Olympia would be involved.

• A massive arena parking structure with one side consisting of new townhomes.

• New single- and multi-family developments within a walking distance of a few blocks from the arena.

• Various new commercial developments, including a new downtown headquarters for Little Caesars, also owned by the Ilitch family.

All of this, adjacent as it is to the Fox Theater District including Comerica Park and Ford Field, is intended, among other things, to create one of the greatest explosions of foot traffic Detroit has ever seen.

“We want to see foot traffic that, five years ago, was nonexistent,” says Tom Wilson, president and CEO of Olympia Entertainment.

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