DDA bond approval puts shovels in the ground for $650 million investment

Ceremonial shovels went into the ground for the new $650 million sports and entertainment district Downtown just nine days after the Detroit Downtown Development Authority (DDA) approved the financial plan for building the new event center in partnership with the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) and Olympia Development of Michigan (ODM).

The DDA approved a preliminary agreement 15 months ago for developing the new sports and entertainment district around a new multi-purpose center that will be home to the Detroit Red Wings and programmed with other events throughout the year. The 785,000 sq. ft. center will seat 20,000 people.

Besides the $450 million arena, which will be home for the Detroit Red Wings, ODM is committed to investing, or causing to invest an additional $200 million in new residential, retail and office development in an approximately 45-block area that generally reaches from Grand Circus Park to Charlotte St. between Woodward Ave. and Grand River Ave. Overall, at least 56 percent of the total district development costs will be privately funded. The district is going to be an exciting place to be, as well as a great job creator for Detroiters and Detroit-based businesses.

“The DDA vote was an important next step in this public-private partnership that will create a world-class sports and entertainment district in Detroit,” said Christopher Ilitch, President and CEO of Ilitch Holdings. “This initiative will produce 8,300 construction and construction-related jobs, and deliver $1.8 billion in economic impact to our city, region and state. We appreciate the ongoing efforts of the DDA, MEDC and others toward the transformation of this key area in downtown Detroit.”

According to the plan, MSF will issue two series of 30-year bonds that total $450 million. The interest on the $250 million in Series A Bonds will be tax-exempt because a special DDA Tax Increment Tax capture of property taxes within the district will be used to retire them. The interest on the $200 million in Series B Bonds will be taxable because they will be paid off by an ODM affiliate under terms of the Concession and Management Agreement (CMA) it has with the DDA. Issuing two series of bonds for one project recognizes the difference in public and private contributions that will retire them.

Brian Holdwick
Executive Vice President, Business Development

EDC approves site remediation for Orleans Landing


Orleans Landing, a 290-unit apartment and retail complex in the East Riverfront District has taken one more step towards construction as the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) approved Rickman Enterprise Group, Detroit, to provide remediation services for the site. The approval paves the way for site clean up to begin this month.

Rickman will perform the environmental remediation services through the financial support of a $1 million remediation grant provided by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

McCormack Baron Salazar Development Inc., St. Louis, Missouri, is developing Orleans Landing in five blocks of the east riverfront adjacent to the soon-to-open Michigan Department of Natural Resources Outdoor Adventure & Discovery Center. The developer expects to build 210 one-bedroom units, 46 two-bedroom units and 34 two-bedroom townhouses, with some retail space.

The EDC is remediating the site in support of a project that is an important, catalyzing development for the East Riverfront. Since 2005, the EDC has invested city, state, foundation, and EDC funds to construct more than $8 million in road infrastructure, $2.7 million for the first elements of the RiverWalk, and $5 million for the Dequindre Cut and Dequindre Trail.  Those investments and other key public investments by the state, city and Riverfront Conservancy allow for continuing implementation of the EDC East Riverfront Development Plan.

Will Tamminga
Director of Project Management

Photos of Orleans Landing supplied by Urban Design Associates

DDA Contributes to a new “front porch” for COBO Center

Cobo Center Streetscape

The Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is collaborating with the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority to transform the area in front of the main entrance to the center at Washington Boulevard and Jefferson Avenue.

The two organizations are making striking changes to improve the look and the functionality of what we call the “front porch” of Cobo. The Regional Authority is creating two attractive new public spaces — Cobo Square, right in front of the main center entrance, and Cobo Terrace, next to the former Cobo Arena, now the Riverfront Ballrooms.

The DDA is managing the construction of $3.4 million in streetscape improvements that will blend well with the striking new face of Cobo. The project will improve overall vehicle flow in front of the facility by creating a traffic drop-off circle and wider visitor drop-off lane near the main entrance of Cobo. A small parking lot and other space around the former Cobo Arena will be renovated to provide a seamless transition between the public right of way, Cobo Square and Cobo Terrace.

The project will also include the removal of the existing ramp connecting the entrance of Cobo Center to the lower level on Atwater Street and construction of a second traffic circle on that level.

The State of Michigan approved a City of Detroit application to assist in funding for the project, while the Regional Authority contributed required matching funds. The DDA is managing construction.

Besides the much more appealing look for the area, the project will also improve access to the facility for visitors arriving by car, bus or other means as well as the freight delivery for all of the conventions that COBO hosts. In all, this is a significant improvement to our newly renovated world class convention center’s front porch!

Tim Miles
Senior Project Manager

Public Invited to Help Rethink Detroit’s I-375 Freeway

I-375 project map in Detroit

As part of the I-375 Alternatives Study, a seven month-long effort to develop possible alternatives for recreating the 1-375 corridor, the public is being asked: “Do you think that I-375 as currently configured is still the best gateway into Downtown Detroit, or can it be improved to better meet the city’s needs now and in the future?”

On Thursday, Feb. 13, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., the public is invited to share their thoughts and ideas at the first of a series of three community meetings on the study. The meeting will follow an open house format and will feature exhibits of how other cities have transformed urban freeways to better suit community needs, as well as the opportunity to speak with transportation and urban design experts. The meeting will take place at the Stroh River Place South Atrium, 300 River Place Drive in Detroit.

The primary project study area extends along I-375 from Gratiot Avenue to Atwater Street. Additional study areas include the I-75/I-375 interchange, portions of Gratiot Avenue and the Gratiot Connector, and Jefferson Avenue between Washington Boulevard and Joseph Campau Street.

The alternatives evaluation process will address a number of issues including:
• defining a vibrant entryway into Downtown Detroit and the East Riverfront;
• making better connections to the Entertainment, East Riverfront, Greektown, Stadium, Convention Center, and Eastern Market districts; and
• improving pedestrian, non-motorized and transit connectivity.

The final report also will detail whether there are environmentally and economically beneficial ways to adapt and reuse the below-grade roadway.

For more information on the I-375 Alternatives Study, visit www.I375Detroit.com .

Will Tamminga
Director, Project Management

Construction on Livernois “Avenue of Fashion” continues

Livernois Avenue of Fashion

DEGC is making continual efforts in the revitalization of Livernois Avenue to get more and more businesses into the area and make this historic “Avenue of Fashion” a thriving community once again. For example, through its REVOLVE program DEGC partners with business owners to activate empty storefronts and encourage pop-up and permanent retail to enter the community.

The latest in the series of plans for Livernois involves an approved initial phase of construction. This first phase includes 2.8 miles of streetscape improvements on Livernois Avenue between the Lodge Freeway and 8 Mile Rd., consisting of boulevard landscaping, irrigation and pedestrian amenities. Construction is set to begin in the spring of 2014 and finish by summer 2014. The City of Detroit Department of Public Works will oversee the construction. The Economic Development Corporation of the City of Detroit (EDC) will oversee the project design implementation.

This initial phase of construction will enhance the image and elevate the brand of the area as a special place, creating a unique experience for anyone who gets off of the Lodge or turns off of 8 Mile. This end-result of the construction will elevate the role of arts in the community and will aim to bring new businesses to the area.

The construction is one project done within the context of a much larger series of investments taking place with many partners. There is approximately $5 million in redevelopment in the pipeline for the upcoming few years,

“There are lots of exciting developments to come including plans for improved lighting along the avenue and several great real-estate projects like the opening of The Hunters Supper Club building and Kuzzo’s Chicken and Waffles ” said Michael Forsyth, DEGC business development manager.

Funding for this initial construction will come from grants from the Michigan Department of Transportation, the City of Detroit Planning and Developing Department, in addition to grants from the University of Detroit Mercy and the Kresge Foundation. Be on the lookout for changes coming this spring and summer.

David Tobar – Project Manager