Demolition of Detroit's Joe Louis Arena to begin in four weeks

Candice Williams
The Detroit News
According to the city, the demolition project, including remediation, will cost about $10 million.

Detroit — A shell of its former self, Joe Louis Arena is set for demolition in about four weeks.

Detroit-based Adamo Group will handle the demolition using machinery to disassemble the building. The site should be cleared by the end of the year or early 2020, said Detroit Building Authority Director Tyrone Clifton.

“They’ll start on the inside of the facility and work their way out,” he said. “It won’t be anything glamorous like the Hudson’s site. They’ll start to deconstruct the building inside, taking materials down. There will be truckloads of stuff going out.”

Passers-by will notice exterior demolition in June or July.

According to the city, the demolition project, including remediation, will cost about $10 million.

Deconstruction was chosen over implosion in part because of the building's location along the Detroit River, the People Mover route and near an apartment complex, Clifton said.

“We’d have to mitigate anything going into the river,” Clifton said. “Obviously, it is a neighbor to Cobo. Us doing it this way is the proper way to do it considering all of those safety issues.”

The work is not expected to affect People Mover and Cobo Center operations.

The city-owned Joe Louis Arena, the former home of the Detroit Red Wings and a familiar concert venue, opened in 1979. It closed in the summer of 2017. The Wings moved to Little Caesars Arena on Woodward that fall.

In December, the Michigan Economic Development Corp.’s Michigan Strategic Fund board approved a $10 million loan for demolition. The board also approved the Detroit Brownfield Redevelopment Authority’s request for a  plan to capture local and school taxes to repay the loan.

The arena and its adjacent parking garage were given to bond insurer Financial Guaranty Insurance Co. under an agreement struck during Detroit's Chapter 9 bankruptcy. The New York firm was a major creditor that lost $1.1 billion in the bankruptcy. Under the deal, Detroit is required to facilitate the demolition.

The parking garage will remain standing, Clifton said.

The stadium's seats and other memorabilia were auctioned to the public last year. The city received close to a half-million dollars from the sale of the seats and other personal property.

Remediation of hazardous materials began last fall and was completed in mid-February, Clifton said.

Leftover raw materials removed from the site, such as steel and copper, will head to the salvage market.

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN