After broken promises, Ilitches want several more years to develop vacant land


Vacant property on the southern side of Little Caesars Arena. - STEVE NEAVLING
  • Steve Neavling
  • Vacant property on the southern side of Little Caesars Arena.

The largely vacant area surrounding the tax-financed Little Caesars Arena in Detroit is the product of broken promises by the Ilitch family’s business empire.

By now, the area between downtown Detroit and Midtown should be teeming with retails shops, apartments, and a major hotel.

The Ilitches’ Olympia Development of Michigan is asking the city of Detroit for permission to delay until September 2022 a decision on what to do with a block-long piece of vacant property at Woodward Avenue between Henry Street and the I-75 service drive. That property was supposed to be a 350- to 400-room hotel with retail shops set to open nearly two years ago, according to the original agreement.

Now the organization is offering to give two lots to the city to be used for parks in exchange for giving developers more time to come up with a plan for the property just south of the arena, The Detroit News first reported. That could delay development of the block-long vacant property by four or more years.

City officials tell Metro Times that the deal would allow the city to create new parks in Brush Park and the Cass Corridor.

“Receiving these two strategically located parcels will give us the final land we need to improve and expand two major parks in areas of the city that are seeing significant residential growth,” Brad Dick, general services director for the city’s Parks & Recreation Department said in a written statement. “This is a great example of partnership between developers and the city that directly benefits our residents.”

It’s still unclear when the Ilitch group will redevelop a handful of large vacant apartment buildings at Temple Street and Cass Avenue. The family owns dozens of vacant properties citywide.

Undeveloped land at Woodward Avenue and Henry Street. - STEVE NEAVLING
  • Steve Neavling
  • Undeveloped land at Woodward Avenue and Henry Street.

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