New Vision for The District Detroit Shows U-M Innovation Center, Hotel, Housing, and More

Olympia Development of Michigan, part of Ilitch Holdings Inc. in Detroit, along with Related Cos. in New York City, have shared a new vision for future development in The District Detroit that will bring new opportunities for affordable and market-rate housing, as well as sustainable green spaces, commercial office spaces, retail, and restaurants.
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Rendering of a future hotel development on Henry Street near Little Caesars Arena in The District Detroit. // Courtesy of Olympia Development/The Related Cos.
Rendering of a future hotel development on Henry Street near Little Caesars Arena in The District Detroit. // Courtesy of Olympia Development/The Related Cos.

Olympia Development of Michigan, part of Ilitch Holdings Inc. in Detroit, along with Related Cos. in New York City, have shared a new vision for future development in The District Detroit that will bring new opportunities for affordable and market-rate housing, as well as sustainable green spaces, commercial office spaces, retail, and restaurants.

In December 2021, the companies revealed that the Detroit Center for Innovation DCI) would be built in The District Detroit and that the organizations would explore further possibilities for future development. The District Detroit is a 50-block, multi-use area that includes Little Caesars Arena, Comerica Park, Ford Field, the Fox Theatre, and multiple other buildings and uses.

The DCI will be anchored by a world-class estimated $250-million, 200,000-square-foot research and education center operated by the University of Michigan. The three-building DCI campus is to be built on what is currently a 4-acre, development-ready surface parking area between Cass and Grand River avenues, and between W. Columbia Street on the north and Elizabeth Street on the south. The area is located two blocks behind the Fox Theatre.

The research and education center is expected to be accompanied by a technology incubator in the to-be restored and expanded former Loyal Order of the Moose Lodge building located at 2115 Cass Ave. A third building will be new construction and create nearly 300 units of housing along Cass. The DCI campus will also include green space.

Rendering of future office, retail, and green space developments along Columbia Street in The District Detroit. // Courtesy of Olympia Development/The Related Cos.
Rendering of future office, retail, and green space developments along Columbia Street in The District Detroit. // Courtesy of Olympia Development/The Related Cos.

Programs will focus on research and innovation, with the goal of supporting the economic development of Detroit and the state with a pipeline of talent.

The DCI will also include a technology incubator, housing, and green space, while providing a critical skills pathway for students from Detroit Public Schools Community District and beyond. It is scheduled to break ground next year and be completed in 2025.

Meanwhile, new renderings explore conceptual initial areas of focus for future development in The District Detroit such as commercial development on Columbia Street, a residential corridor along Park Avenue behind the Fox Theatre, a hotel on Henry Street just south of Little Caesars Arena, and new parks and green spaces including an envisioned community space over I-75.

The conceptual renderings also show preservation and adaptive reuse of existing historic buildings, new office space and amenities, restaurants, shopping, and more.

Rendering of future office and retail developments along Woodward Avenue adjacent to Comerica Park in The District Detroit. // Courtesy of Olympia Development/The Related Cos.
Rendering of future office and retail developments along Woodward Avenue adjacent to Comerica Park in The District Detroit. // Courtesy of Olympia Development/The Related Cos.

“More now than ever before, people are looking for dynamic, walkable neighborhoods that have great places to work, mixed income living options, and an abundance of culture, dining, and retail in close proximity. Working with Olympia Development on the DCI, it was immediately apparent how much opportunity there is to build on their progress in The District Detroit and make our work together a model for inclusive urban development,” says Stephen Ross, founder and chairman of Related Cos.

“Anchored by innovation and dynamic sports and entertainment venues, The District Detroit will become one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in the nation, and there’s no place I’d rather be realizing this vision than in my hometown.”

Ross, the nephew of the late industrialist Max Fisher, grew up on Detroit’s west side, near Six Mile and Livernois, in the mid-1940s and graduated from U-M in 1962 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. From there, Ross attended Wayne State University Law School in Detroit, earning a juris doctor in 1965, followed by a Master of Law in taxation at New York University in 1966.

Related Cos. is the largest private owner and preservationist of affordable housing in the nation. By teaming with Olympia Development, Ross gains a partner that has decades-long experience designing, building, renovating, and operating multi-use venues such as the Fox Theatre, Little Caesars Arena, Comerica Park, and much more.

Rendering of future residential, retail, and office developments along Park Avenue in The District Detroit. // Courtesy of Olympia Development/The Related Cos.
Rendering of future residential, retail, and office developments along Park Avenue in The District Detroit. // Courtesy of Olympia Development/The Related Cos.

“As we continue to envision the amazing possibilities for Detroit’s future, today is another important step forward in making The District Detroit a signature live, work, and play neighborhood that improves lives in our community,” says Christopher Ilitch, president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings Inc. “The feedback we receive from the community will guide us as we work to continue creating life-changing opportunities through new housing, good jobs, and education.”

Olympia Development and Related are in the process of actively engaging stakeholders from the community to gather feedback on this vision for The District Detroit to best reflect and support local priorities that will influence how and when the development takes shape as it relates to education, engagement, employment, and other factors.

The companies have begun work together in these areas, including through the recently announced partnership with Project Destined to offer a real estate internship program for public school students in Detroit.

Courtesy of Olympia Development/The Related Cos.
Courtesy of Olympia Development/The Related Cos.

Olympia Development recently completed a new world headquarters for Little Caesars Enterprises along Woodward Avenue just south of the Fox Theatre, while the following projects are under development, including 2715 Woodward and the Women’s City Club along Park Avenue, and three residential projects — the Eddystone Residences, the Residences @150 Bagley, and the planned revitalization of seven historic buildings on Henry Street west of Little Caesars Arena — all of which include affordable housing.

Related Cos. has offices and major developments in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, West Palm Beach, Miami, Washington, D.C., Abu Dhabi, and London, with a team of approximately 4,000 professionals. With more than $60 billion in assets owned or under development, including the 28-acre Hudson Yards neighborhood on Manhattan’s West Side, The Square in Downtown West Palm Beach, The Grand LA and Related Santa Clara in California, and The 78 in Chicago.

For more information about Related, please visit www.related.com. To read DBusiness magazine’s cover story about Stephen Ross, visit here.

Olympia Development’s portfolio includes multiple sports and entertainment venues, retail, residential, institutional, and commercial office spaces. Learn more here.

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