Bankrupt Detroit set for $650m building boom

Olympia Development of Michigan announced on Sunday that it plans to spend $650m on turning a large area of central Detroit into a sports and entertainment district. 

The centrepiece of the redevelopment is to be the Red Wings arena for the local ice hockey team. It will also create up to 2,000 homes and shops. 

The scheme is the brainchild of Christopher Ilitch, president of Ilitch Holdings, which owns Olympia. He told the Detroit Free Press: "Our vision is to build out a sports and entertainment district that is world-class and rivals anything in the country, perhaps the world. We’re not just building a hockey arena. It’s really about the district."

The Ilitch family owns much of the land already and has been buying up lots in the down-at-heel Cass Corridor. The new district will stretch from Grand River on the west to Ford Field and Brush Park on the east, and roughly 10 blocks from Grand Circus Park to Charlotte on the north.

The development will be integrated with existing sports and entertainment venues including the Fox Theatre, Comerica Park, the Motor City Casino Hotel, Ford Field, the Detroit Opera House and the Fillmore Detroit.

The plan, which will be one of the first signs that the city is returning to life, comes at the same time as it tries to deal with the consequences of an $18bn debt that has forced the city into bankruptcy, including a controversial plan to disconnect the water supply of up to 200,000 people who are more than $150 in arrears.

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