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  1. #1

    Default The Guardian - Not Impressed with District Detroit

    Big promises for a thriving urban core in Detroit vanish in a swath of parking lots.


    The city’s billionaire Ilitch family made ambitious promises in 2013, but now the area remains a redevelopment deadzone.

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/oct/08/detroit-the-district-redevelopment-ilitch-companies

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by stinkytofu View Post
    Big promises for a thriving urban core in Detroit vanish in a swath of parking lots.


    The city’s billionaire Ilitch family made ambitious promises in 2013, but now the area remains a redevelopment deadzone.

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/oct/08/detroit-the-district-redevelopment-ilitch-companies
    Count me among their number. I don't know - or care - if their smarmy website is still up but it had absolutely ludicrous blurbs about creating avant guard neighborhoods out of thin air.

    Hawkers of low-quality pizza from Garden City. They seem like their cognitive powers froze in a strip mall in 1959. Churched up a theatre 30 years ago, made money from stadia and flattened everything else. Really, really loathsome record.

    Had they not demolished everything, those buildings would be satisfying some of the demand for housing in downtown/midtown right now.

  3. #3

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    Seems like the perfect time to develop and capitalize on location. I personally don’t think it’s as simple as stalling or worst still, reneging.

    If I had to guess, I’d say:

    1. After Mikes death, the family is fragmented and can’t come to a unanimous decision on moving forward, or

    2. They can not secure skilled trades labour to start building.

  4. #4

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    yikes...this is pretty shameful

    Victor Matheson, a sports economist at College of the Holy Cross, said what’s playing out in The District is unique.

    “It’s not rare at all that new development does not materialize or takes very long to materialize – that’s very common,” he said. “It is extremely rare to see a stadium cause a neighborhood to go backwards – that is very rare.”

  5. #5

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    Detroit never seems to learns from her mistakes. Whether it's the casinos, the Marathon expansion, Little Ceaser's Arena or the impending Michigan Central/Ford development. Sweetheart deals are made with developers and corporations under the assumption that all the lofty promises will come to fruition. Instead of assuming, they must demand!

    I hope that some day these ridiculous tax breaks for the wealthy are abolished. That said, if deals like this are signed in the future everything promised needs to be fulfilled and the consequences of not doing so need to be concrete and powerful enough to make it happen.

  6. #6

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    I've long been an Ilitch critic, and still am. They still have a lot to prove with their promises to undue some of their past damage.

    To their credit, they've made progress in the LQ HQ (although the facade is stalled). They still have a lot more to prove.

  7. #7

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    Its frustrating when Santa Claus doesn't show up but how many politicians have also promised an elixir?
    Last edited by oladub; October-08-18 at 11:48 AM.

  8. #8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by SammyS View Post
    Seems like the perfect time to develop and capitalize on location. I personally don’t think it’s as simple as stalling or worst still, reneging.

    If I had to guess, I’d say:

    1. After Mikes death, the family is fragmented and can’t come to a unanimous decision on moving forward
    I would guess this to be the case. Chris seems to be much more cautious and calculated than his father, who seemed to understand that LCA and its surroundings were going to go a long way to repair and define his legacy. The fact that he died when he did certainly didnt help with a family with obvious fractures, running a multi-billion dollar empire, and a development with the scale of The District Detroit.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by DetroitSoldier View Post
    I would guess this to be the case. Chris seems to be much more cautious and calculated than his father, who seemed to understand that LCA and its surroundings were going to go a long way to repair and define his legacy. The fact that he died when he did certainly didnt help with a family with obvious fractures, running a multi-billion dollar empire, and a development with the scale of The District Detroit.
    The thing is, from a P.R. standpoint, just renovating a single building into residential, which could have been completed by now,would go a very long way.

  10. #10

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    Guys. We just need to wait.


  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by 401don View Post
    The thing is, from a P.R. standpoint, just renovating a single building into residential, which could have been completed by now,would go a very long way.
    This is exactly what I don't get from a PR standpoint. They tear everything down for parking lots and drag their feet on any sort of promised development (other than what directly benefits their business, such as the new headquarters). Even after benefiting from huge tax givebacks. Its so obvious that they could benefit greatly from actually moving forward on at least ONE other notable project. Such as the Eddystone (instead of having missed deadlines on it).

    .

  12. #12

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by SammyS View Post
    Seems like the perfect time to develop and capitalize on location. I personally don’t think it’s as simple as stalling or worst still, reneging.

    If I had to guess, I’d say:

    1. After Mikes death, the family is fragmented and can’t come to a unanimous decision on moving forward, or

    2. They can not secure skilled trades labour to start building.
    No family fragmentation.... Marion Ilitch was and still is the power behind the throne.... been that way for 50+ years. She writes the checks. Once Marion passes away... that's when the fragmentation may start...

  13. #13

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    I drove by this building on Sunday. Located about a block from LCA, I was dumbfounded that this building was not rehabbed. The rent that could be obtained from its advantageous location to LCA would be staggering. My guess is residential development is beyond the grasp of the family.
    Designed by William S. Joy.& Company.
    Alhambra Apartment Building 112 Temple built in 1895 Cass Park Historic District Detroit, MI.

    This is an older photo of the building, I refuse to take a photo of the building in its current state.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  14. #14

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    The Ill-itch Klan is all about them selves, no one else. They have NO concern for the city as a whole.

    That said, they seem to be turning their backs on ready cash which is a bit befuddling.

  15. #15

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    So far as redevelopment goes, the Illitches have done one undoubted good thing in their long history in downtown, which is the Fox renovation. The arena and the stadium are mixed bags, and everything else they've done is pretty much bad, consisting mostly of finding excuses for turning things that weren't parking lots into parking lots. They are clearly much more comfortable with parking lots than with anything else.

    I never thought they would pursue the non-arena aspects of District Detroit energetically, and they have not. Eventually the economics of actually developing the surrounding area may become sufficiently compelling that they will either do something or sell some of the land to someone else. Hopefully that won't take too long, but parking lots can be pretty profitable.

  16. #16

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    This article is, with all respect to the author, in my opinion, stupid.

    First of all, by the description and all intentions, the LCA was supposed to be the anchor of the area. That anchor opened in September of 2017. So it's been just about one year since the first piece of the puzzle is complete. And, the author's suggestion seems, they are supposed to be done with the rest of development in a year thereafter?

    Next, let's analyze this gem of a paragraph:

    "In recent years, Ilitch companies in and around The District leveled at least 30 buildings and currently maintain nearly 40 blighted or vacant structures. On blocks where historic buildings once stood, they have laid dozens of surface parking lots. Those are controversial because the Ilitches charge up to $50 per spot, and a vast stretch of once-dense downtown real estate is now a sea of Ilitch-owned parking spaces."

    This idiocy requires lacking understanding (and failing to seek to understand) the following:

    1. Were the buildings there actually occupied? Hint: no.

    2. Was the plan "build everything at once," expressed to anyone at any time? Hint: also no.

    3. When you're tearing down a blighted building, and you create a parking lot, is it always going to be a parking lot, or can the owner build something there later? Hint: cmon.

    This is a perfect example of an author coming up with a theory and seeking out facts to match the theory. There is a passing reference to the rest of the development in the area, which is massive. There is no discussion (although I'm sure Midtown Detroit would have given them the data on a silver platter, for free no less) about the absorption period for office, retail or apartment space in the area. No discussion about whether bringing 40 buildings to market at one time would be financially wise (no).

    People can and do have different opinions about the LCA and whether the TIF was justified. But to say that the area hasn't improved with the LCA there is positively insane.





  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by BankruptcyGuy View Post
    This article is, with all respect to the author, in my opinion, stupid.

    First of all, by the description and all intentions, the LCA was supposed to be the anchor of the area. That anchor opened in September of 2017. So it's been just about one year since the first piece of the puzzle is complete. And, the author's suggestion seems, they are supposed to be done with the rest of development in a year thereafter?

    Next, let's analyze this gem of a paragraph:

    "In recent years, Ilitch companies in and around The District leveled at least 30 buildings and currently maintain nearly 40 blighted or vacant structures. On blocks where historic buildings once stood, they have laid dozens of surface parking lots. Those are controversial because the Ilitches charge up to $50 per spot, and a vast stretch of once-dense downtown real estate is now a sea of Ilitch-owned parking spaces."

    This idiocy requires lacking understanding (and failing to seek to understand) the following:

    1. Were the buildings there actually occupied? Hint: no.

    2. Was the plan "build everything at once," expressed to anyone at any time? Hint: also no.

    3. When you're tearing down a blighted building, and you create a parking lot, is it always going to be a parking lot, or can the owner build something there later? Hint: cmon.

    This is a perfect example of an author coming up with a theory and seeking out facts to match the theory. There is a passing reference to the rest of the development in the area, which is massive. There is no discussion (although I'm sure Midtown Detroit would have given them the data on a silver platter, for free no less) about the absorption period for office, retail or apartment space in the area. No discussion about whether bringing 40 buildings to market at one time would be financially wise (no).

    People can and do have different opinions about the LCA and whether the TIF was justified. But to say that the area hasn't improved with the LCA there is positively insane.

    I agree that there is no reason to think the area should have sprung to life all at once, but there is very little happening at all that I can see. In particular, in an area where there seems to be a lot of housing absorption, there has been no residential development at all. There are, however, an increasing number of parking lots. Given that downtown has improved in general since the inception of the project, and considering the amount of public money sunk into District Detroit, there might be a bit more progress toward the vision which they originally presented.

  18. #18

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    I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle. First of all, the area has been improved upon. And yes some new planned residential development has instead been turned to commercial space. And yes, the Detroit Life Building on Park is finally (after 15 years of announcements) getting restored.

    But there are some disturbing developments. The Cass-Henry block of 6 attractive 100 year old apartment buildings had to be turned into a Historic District in order to prevent the Ilitch's plan to flatten them for a few more parking spaces. The 13 story Eddystone could have had some new windows and a new roof added by now, to prevent further deterioration (this will be the 2nd winter of being open to the elements after the promise of restoration).

    And then we have the Fine Arts Building on W. Adams.... the "Perma-Scaffolding" has been on the surviving facade since 2009. With the restoration of the Broderick Tower, David Whitney Building, Madison Building and Detroit Opera House, as well as the under construction of the Village Green Apartments all facing the facade of the former fine Arts Building... what are visitors to Detroit thinking when they see this abomination?

    And then behind the new Little Caesar's HQ going up... there is still the boarded up (for 20+ years) Blenheim Apartments, and farther afield the Moose Lodge, surrounded by a sea of parking in the west Foxtown area.

    I agree that they cannot do the entire District Detroit at once (it could take 10 years). But they have some old buildings that need some long deferred maintenance that has been in the planning stages for up to 20 years.

  19. #19

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    Could it be that the high and mighty Ill-Itches simply got caught with their pants down so-to-speak and didn't believe in, anticipate or plan for the resurgence of the area?

  20. #20

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    http://www.districtdetroit.com/press...strict-detroit

    In the area around Little Caesars Arena, more than $18 million have been invested in the city’s infrastructure, including blocks of landscaped medians which both beautify the area and provide traffic control and security benefits.


    CHERRY ON TOP

    The District Detroit is a dynamic urban destination in the heart of Detroit. One that includes something for everyone—a dense neighborhood experience with a variety of developments alongside Detroit’s premier sports and entertainment venues.
    Last edited by hybridy; October-08-18 at 08:26 PM.

  21. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gistok View Post

    And then we have the Fine Arts Building on W. Adams.... the "Perma-Scaffolding" has been on the surviving facade since 2009. With the restoration of the Broderick Tower, David Whitney Building, Madison Building and Detroit Opera House, as well as the under construction of the Village Green Apartments all facing the facade of the former fine Arts Building.
    That mess demonstrates Olympia’s total lack of giving a damn about their neighbors investments on Grand Circus Park and sets the tone as the gateway to their property from downtown. Lifeless wreckage with empty promises.

  22. #22

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    When you get everything for free, what's the incentive to make a go of things? The Ilitch organization has one major talent, and it isn't neighborhood development: It's priming the pump with public gifts of direct subsidies, tax abatement, donations of land, and various other gifts. That skill set ensures a steady flow of corporate welfare money.

    If they had been required to pay for all their land, would they have relegated it to the lowest form of real estate -- surface parking? If they didn't have the pull they do with the city, would they have been able to avoid blight fines for so long, or fine for not conforming to landscaping rules for parking lots?

    People who actually buy land in the city and take a risk have no choice but to develop everything as best they can. But when you are given the land, the money, the tax breaks, and the free publicity of the major news media, you don't need to do shit.

  23. #23

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    ...is anyone actually impressed by District Detroit? We have a brand new shiny arena surrounded by half finished buildings, surface lots and garages, and abandoned buildings that were supposed to be under renovation right now, but of course aren’t. Olympia’s quick to fall back on their restoration of the Fox when they’re critiqued about this, but at the same time they’ve leveled dozens of buildings in the blocks around Columbia Street and Comerica Park. The only things they’ve successfully built are parking lots, parking garages and the arena. The majority of what they own is either abandoned or related to parking. There’s nothing dense about District Detroit as it is now or in their more immediate “plans”, which involve reusing buildings that are already standing.

    And let’s not forget the illegal demolition of the Madison Lenox. They claimed it would be a “paved and landscapes parking lot”, but of course it still sat as gravel for nearly a decade after. I believe the American Hotel was slated to begin renovations this year. Instead they recently had the entire building boarded up. Or the Ansonia down Cass, where they waited until their given deadline to secure the building after months of attempting to tear it down. There’s also the US Motor Sales building on Woodward, which was occupied until they purchased it. Now it’s without power sitting unused after locals protested its demolition by neglect by Olympia.

    The only thing Olympia cares about is sports, parking and pizza. I’d be stunned if they ever got around to restoring any of their property, let alone create an entire “exciting” and “dense” neighborhood.

  24. #24

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by stinkytofu View Post
    Big promises for a thriving urban core in Detroit vanish in a swath of parking lots.


    The city’s billionaire Ilitch family made ambitious promises in 2013, but now the area remains a redevelopment deadzone.

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/oct/08/detroit-the-district-redevelopment-ilitch-companies
    Sorry to say it, but who couldn't predict this would happen? I'm all but sure even those selling the dream knew that it would.
    Last edited by bust; October-08-18 at 11:36 PM.

  25. #25

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    NSorti.... the Ilitch's got a $700,000 DEGC or DDA loan for the city's unannounced demolition of the Madison-Lenox... with the understanding that if they built something in its' place within 7 years, they wouldn't have to pay it back. Well it's been double that amount of time... no replacement building, and I don't think they ever had to pay back a dime.

    The M-L was on the National Trusts 'List of 11 Most Endangered Historic Places' in 2006. In the entire 31 year history of the National Trusts "list"... only 1 building has ever been torn down in the USA in the year it was on the list... namely the Madison-Lenox.

    Even back in 2006 Chris Ilitch (Mike stayed out of the fray) refused to meet or talk with the National Trusts president Richard Moe. So what did the National Trust do? They shamed the Ilitch's by putting the facade of the 'abandoned by neglect' Detroit United Artists building (with all the graffiti painted windows) on the cover of their (4 million readers) National Trust Magazine... for the country to see. But that didn't seem to phase the Ilitch's.
    Last edited by Gistok; October-08-18 at 11:19 PM.

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