Real estate billionaire Stephen Ross and the Ilitch organization, who are collaborating on the University of Michigan’s planned Detroit Center for Innovation, released conceptual renderings Thursday showing new retail, housing, hotel and office developments in and near downtown.
The projects in the renderings, which include new construction and adaptive reuse of existing buildings, would be located in Detroit’s sports venue district, known as The District Detroit.
In a phone interview Thursday, Ross said he considers the Detroit Center for Innovation as the catalyst for the new developments.
“People want to live in downtown areas, and I don’t think there’s a site anywhere in the country that has the opportunity that this has,” Ross said.
Ross’s New York-based real estate firm, Related Cos., expects to break ground sometime in 2023 on the $250 million Detroit Center for Innovation, or DCI, which would be an academic research center for U-M.
The 200,000-square-foot center will be built on a surface parking lot situated west of the Fox Theatre, and be part of a three-building campus. The Ilitch organization is donating the land for the DCI campus.
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The new plans follow earlier proposals from the Ilitch organization that haven’t fully come to fruition. In 2014, the Ilitch group released a series of colorful renderings of anticipated new construction and redevelopment around Little Caesars Arena, the home of the Red Wings and Pistons, showing lots of housing and a new hotel.
The organization later faced criticism after the arena opened in 2017 and numerous buildings in the renderings were unbuilt.
More recently, some developments in the earlier renderings have been completed, including the 92-unit Eddystone apartments and a new five-story office building next to LCA.
Ross told the Free Press that the visions in this latest batch of renderings are serious development projects.
“I don’t think we’d be involved in trying to accomplish something if we didn’t think they were going to be built,” he said.
One of the renderings shows an all-new office tower near Comerica Park. Ross said he believes there will be a market for all that new office space, even though some office tenants in general have been reevaluating their space needs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and work-from-home setups.
“Absolutely. We’re very excited about that,” Ross said of the office tower. “When we show people what we’re doing in that site, they really love that.”
Related Cos. would leverage its national relationships to find some tenants from outside Detroit to help fill the new tower, as well as the other developments.
“We’re looking to bring in a lot of tenants from the outside,” Ross said. “I think there will also be some (local) companies that see what we’re doing, and will want to relocate there.”
Construction of the new hotel depicted in the renderings, as well as the office tower near Comerica, could begin at about the same time as work on the DCI, or shortly thereafter, he said.
“As we continue to envision the amazing possibilities for Detroit’s future, today is another important step forward in making The District Detroit a signature live, work and play neighborhood that improves lives in our community,” Christopher Ilitch, president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings, said in a statement.
The new renderings show:
A future hotel on Henry Street, next to Little Caesars Arena:
A future office tower with ground-floor retail space along Woodward Avenue next to Comerica Park:
Future residential, retail and office development along Park Street in downtown:
Future office, retail and residential along Columbia Street in downtown:
Just outside the district, the Related Cos. still plans to build an 83-unit, all-affordable apartment development near the Masonic Temple, called 3rd & Charlotte. Its partners on the project are Detroit-based The Platform and Olympia Development.
Groundbreaking for that three-story, L-shaped building is dependent on the developers obtaining Low-Income Housing Tax Credits from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, which could happen later this year.
The Ilitch organization also plans to soon rehab a block of six old apartment buildings near LCA along Cass and Henry Street. That project would create 170 newly renovated units, half of them reserved at below-market rents for lower-income individuals. It is scheduled to start in the first quarter of 2023, a spokesperson said.
In downtown, the Ilitch organization recently renovated the old Women’s City Club building, 2110 Park Ave., for flexible office and coworking space.
And the Ilitch-owned United Artists Theater Building, a vacant 18-story building at 150 Bagley St., is being rehabbed into 148 apartments to be called Residences @150 Bagley. That project is to finish in late 2023.