Ilitches to add 686 residences near new Detroit arena

Louis Aguilar
The Detroit News

Detroit — Four long-vacant buildings owned by entities linked to the Ilitch family will be redeveloped as a part of their grand ambitions to overhaul 50 blocks of the city that will be anchored by the new Little Caesars Arena.

The four historic buildings, along with two new structures, is being described as the largest residential development in the city in more than two decades. The six developments add up to 686 residential units, with 139 of those units reserved for “affordable housing.”

“We are keeping the best of our history, while we build the rest of our future,” Mayor Mike Duggan said at the Friday announcement.

Creating new housing is one of the key elements of the Ilitch plan to transform the blighted patches surrounding the Little Caesars Arena, being built on the northern edge of downtown, with new housing, retail and offices.

This is a rendering of the Arena Lofts adjacent to the new Little Caesars Arena.

Christopher Ilitch, CEO and president of Ilitch Holdings Inc., said the residential project marks a new chapter in the company’s efforts.

“We envision thousands of residential units over the long term as the project and the market allows,” Ilitch said.

But when the arena opens this September, the area will remain a mix of newly-redeveloped structures alongside empty lots and vacant buildings, some of which are owned by entities linked to the Ilitches’ Olympia Development of Michigan.

Those entities include several vacant properties, ranging from notable historic buildings such as the former Royal Order of Moose Lodge, on Cass and Elizabeth, and the Detroit Life and Blenhiem buildings on Park, to other structures such as a former bus garage on Cass near the new arena. Olympia Development also controls many surface parking lots and empty spaces in the area.

In Friday’s announcement, the four historic buildings to be renovated were:

■ The former Hotel Eddystone, a 13-story Italian Renaissance-inspired structure on the northwest corner of Park and Sproat. The Louis Kamper-designed building, next to the new arena, will have 96 units and be renamed the Eddystone. Renovation is expected to start next year.

■ The former Hotel American, an 11-story building at 408 Temple at Cass, next to the Masonic Temple. The building will have 163 units and be renamed the American. Work is expected to begin next year.

■ The former United Artists Theatre in Grand Circus Park, 150 Bagley. The 18-story former “movie palace” was bought by Olympia Development in the 1990s, when it was already vacant. The C. Howard Crane-designed building will have 148 units and first floor retail. It will be renamed 150 Bagley. Renovation is expected to start later this year.

■ The Alhambra on Temple between Cass and Woodward. It is near the future Wayne State University Mike Ilitch School of Business, which is being built at Woodward and Temple. The building will have 100 residential units and be called the Alhambra. Work is expected to begin next year.

The two new structures scheduled are:

■ The Arena Lofts, 120 Henry. The 152 residential units with first floor retail structure will be close to the Chevrolet Plaza at the southern border of the arena. Work is expected to start this year.

■ One Eleven West, 111 Henry, near the corner of Park. This will be a mixed-use building with 80 residential units. Construction is expected to begin later this year.

The properties will remain owned by the Ilitches’ Olympia Development of Michigan. Another firm, American Community Developers Inc., which has extensive affordable housing experience, will manage and develop five of the properties. The developers said affordable housing units are reserved for residents who make less than 80 percent of the area’s median income.

Another building in the plan, 150 Bagley, will be developed by the Bagley Development Group.

Ilitch Holdings is part of the billionaire-dollar business empire created by the Ilitch family. Among its holdings are Little Caesars Pizza, the Detroit Red Wings and Tigers, the MotorCity Casino and Hotel, and Fox Theatre.

Little Caesars Arena will become the home for the Red Wings, while the deal to have it also become the home of the Detroit Pistons is winding its way through the approval process.

The arena also is expected to become the main concert venue in Metro Detroit, additionally hosting up to 100 concerts and other events a year.

Twitter: @LouisAguialr