Chris Ilitch: 52 projects in works around Wings arena

Louis Aguilar
The Detroit News

Christopher Ilitch, president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings Inc., said “we’ve got about 52 projects right now on the board” for the area around the future Little Caesars Arena being built now north of downtown Detroit. Also, Ilitch again expressed hope that the Detroit Pistons will move downtown.

In a CNBC interview Monday, Ilitch upped the ante of how much the Ilitches may invest in the 50-block area around the Little Caesars Arena, the $627.5 million, 20,000-plus seat venue opening next year. Entities linked to the Ilitches Olympia Development of Michigan own dozens of properties in that 50-block area, including several long-vacant buildings and empty lots.

“We are on track to be at about $2 billion,” in Detroit investment, Ilitch said. “We’ve got about 52 projects right now on the board. We’ve announced about $1.2 billion and got about another billion yet to be announced.”

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Some of the big projects the Ilitches are already working on include the Little Caesars Global Resource Center. The $150 million, nine-story corporate headquarters is being built on a parking lot next to the pizza chain’s current headquarters in the Fox Theatre. Across the street from the planned 234,000-square-foot headquarters is Comerica Park, home to the Detroit Tigers.

The Little Caesars headquarters is three blocks south of the future Little Caesars Arena. Next to the arena is the future Wayne State University Mike Ilitch School of Business, a $50 million facility.

“The arena is going to open in 2017; there will be offices, retail and residential all around the arena that will have been opened by that time, in addition to some supporting parking structures,” Ilitch said last month.

On CNBC, Ilitch expressed support for the Detroit Pistons moving downtown. In 2010, the Ilitches were in talks to buy the Detroit Pistons, offering more than $400 million for the team. But that deal fell through.

Ilitch was on CNBC alongside Dan Gilbert, the billionaire founder of Quicken Loans Inc and Rock Ventures, whose Bedrock Detroit has invested more than $2 billion in downtown properties since 2010. As the interview took place in Detroit, about one block away some were protesting that a fundraiser for Donald Trump last week in a downtown Detroit was held in a building owned by Gilbert’s Bedrock. Gilbert has not commented on the fundraiser.