DETROIT (AP) - The Ilitch family on Sunday unveiled more details of its plans for an entertainment and residential complex centered on a new Detroit Red Wings hockey arena.
"It's always been my dream to see a vibrant and energized downtown Detroit," Mike Ilitch, chairman of Ilitch Holdings Inc., said in a statement. "I want people to look at Detroit's new sports and entertainment district and see what I see: the potential for something very special. I couldn't be more excited and proud to bring this vision to life."
The Ilitch organization said the new sports and entertainment district on the northern edge of the city's downtown "will encompass dozens of blocks along and near Woodward Avenue."
Christopher Ilitch, president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings at the Fox Theatre, is shown at his office Thursday in Detroit. The Ilitch family has unveiled more details of its plans for an entertainment and residential complex centered on a new Detroit Red Wings hockey arena. (AP photo)
The Ilitches own the American League's Detroit Tigers, who play at Comerica Park, as well as the Fox Theatre. Ford Field is home of the NFL's Detroit Lions.
The Detroit City Council in February approved transferring vacant city-owned parcels for the new, 18,000-seat hockey arena and a 45-block entertainment complex. The overall project has been priced at $650 million.
The Red Wings now play at the riverfront Joe Louis Arena, which opened in 1979.
Christopher Ilitch, Mike Ilitch's son and president of Ilitch Holdings, said the family has decided to speed up its investments in the project. That, he said, will "stabilize and develop dozens of underutilized blocks, create more jobs more quickly and allow the city to spend public funds on other priorities."
In particular, the Ilitches said that they were speeding up private investment of "at least $200 million for new, mixed-use development to now occur concurrently with arena construction and transform dozens of blighted blocks into five new neighborhoods."
Construction is scheduled to start in the fall, with the mixed-use part of the project getting underway in 2015. The new Detroit Red Wings area is scheduled to open in summer 2017, the Ilitches said.
Mayor Mike Duggan, whose city is going through bankruptcy proceedings under an emergency financial manager, said a project "of this magnitude and geographic reach will extend our progress, creating much-needed jobs for Detroiters, strengthening our public infrastructure both downtown and in the neighborhoods, and attracting new, permanent residents to our city."