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Neighbors get glimpse of Red Wings arena proposal

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Detroit – — As a Wayne State University student who hopes to live in Detroit, Kaileigh Bianchini is interested in learning how the proposed Red Wings arena and entertainment district affect the city — especially rent for any new housing.

That’s why the 22-year-old attended a meeting Friday night at Wayne State University Law School coordinated by the neighborhood advisory committee working with the project developer, hoping to share concerns and learn more details.

“It’s definitely necessary to have community involvement to make sure people are informed,” she said.

That was the focus of the first public meeting with the committee.

The panel was established under an agreement this year between the city and Olympia Development of Michigan, an entity owned by Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch, heading a $650 million development encompassing a new hockey arena and entertainment district.

The City Council approved a land transfer that paved the way for the 650,000-square-foot, $450 million arena to be built on Woodward. An accompanying, 45-block entertainment district is set to span from Grand Circus Park to Charlotte between Woodward and Grand River.

The approval hinged on several conditions — among them creating the advisory committee, which aims to inform the community about the project and communicate their concerns with the developers.

On Friday, committee members presented an overview of the project plans, including detailed renderings of the arena and proposed districts, as well as what the group has been pursuing with developers.

Among the requests being explored: stepping up police presence three hours before and after arena events, providing for clean-up and maintenance, and adequate parking.

The group also fielded questions about traffic, project timelines, surveillance and how the development might impact some streets.

The goal is to incorporate public input as the plans progress. “We’re excited by the feedback that we heard tonight and we’ll take it all into consideration,” member Jason Gapa said.

The City Council has set a public hearing for 9 a.m. Tuesday.

The neighborhood advisory committee members said they want to ensure developers follow procedures when reviewing the status of historic structures.

But some city residents feared not enough was being done to address some of their concerns.

Cindy Darrah, who lives in the Cass Corridor, questioned the scope of the development project and hoped for more plans to boost mass transit.

“I’m not a supporter of using public funds to build any private stadium,” she said.