Events center announcement more good news for downtown Detroit

A rendering of the new events center planned for downtown Detroit.

A rendering of the new events center planned for downtown Detroit.

by Dan Rafter

Detroit’s bankruptcy filing was shocking. But the news coming out of the city since that time has been decidedly better. As the brokers doing business in the Detroit market will tell you, the city still faces a struggle. But investment dollars are now flowing back into its core.

The latest positive news for the city came earlier this week, when the Downtown Development Authority voted to approve a financial plan that will lead to the construction of a new events center to be located in the heart of downtown Detroit. The authority will work in partnership with the Michigan Strategic Fund and Olympia Development of Michigan to make the center a reality.

The multi-purpose building will become the center of a new sports and entertainment center in downtown Detroit. The 785,000-square-foot center will be home to the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings and seat 20,000. It will also host concerts and special events throughout the year.

And the events center is just the start, Detroit officials hope, of the rejuvenation of downtown Detroit. Olympia Development of Michigan will also invest an additional $200 million to bring new residential, retail and office development to a 45-block area of the city reaching from Grand Circus Park to Charlotte Street between Woodward Avenue and Grand River Avenue. At least 56 percent of the total district development costs will be privately funded.

“It won’t be long before we see shovels in the ground and a transformation happening before our eyes,” said Brian Holdwick, executive vice president for business development at the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, in a written statement.

The plan for funding the events center calls for the Michigan Strategic Fund to issue two series of 30-year bonds that total $450 million. The interest on the $250 million in Series A bonds will be tax-exempt. The interest on the $200 million in Series B bonds will be taxable.

Christopher Ilitch, president and chief executive officer of Ilitch Holdings and the owner of the Detroit Red Wings, said that the vote to approve this financing was another important step in a rebirth of Detroit. As Ilitch said, the events center and sports and entertainment district will bring $1.8 billion in economic impact to Detroit and its surrounding areas.

“Today’s meeting was an important next step in this public-private partnership that will create a world-class sports and entertainment district in Detroit,” Ilitch said in a written Christatement.

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