This is not a good day or good time to post this article…
But the Guardian’s Tom Perkins wrote a thorough article discussing the fact that development around Little Caesars Arena has either stalled or has resulted in the establishment of parking lots instead of thriving retail-and-or-residential neighborhoods in the “District Detroit,” and that’s a problem:
Along the streets leading to Detroit’s recently minted Little Caesars Arena, colorful banners hang from temporary fencing, informing visitors they have arrived in the District Detroit. The neighborhood holds “a dynamic mix of shopping and dining” with “places to live in the heart of the action”, the signage reads. The banners depict a thriving urban core with smiling families holding hands while well-dressed people drink under patio lights.
Beyond the fencing, the landscape isn’t quite so lively. There are few places to live in the District, and little to eat. Vacant, decaying buildings make up entire city blocks. There are almost no lights, save for those illuminating surface lots and parking garages.
The arena, the Red Wings ice hockey team that plays there, and almost all the blighted property in the District share the same owner: Detroit’s billionaire Ilitch family. Their company hung the banners, but there’s growing frustration among many Detroiters over the discrepancy between the Ilitches’ imaginative marketing and the neighborhood’s stark reality.
Just down the street from LCA, Sean Swierkosz, general manager of the longstanding sports bar Harry’s, watched the Ilitches make progress, “but then it stalled”, he said. “I feel like I’m looking over the fence at my neighbor’s yard at his half-finished project or garage.”
Continued, and I truly and sincerely hope that in 5-10 years, the District Detroit will look like those thriving neighborhoods we were promised as part of $200 million in development to take place around the arena. I understand that that kind of investment takes time and takes effort, and I don’t fault the Ilitches for putting up parking lots in the interim…
But it doesn’t look good, and should the promises Olympia Entertainment made to secure public funding for the arena go unfulfilled, they need to be held accountable for inaction.