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Tom Wilson weighs in on Wings’ rink project, as do Duggan, Snyder; there’s a sticky wicket, too

I would generally just update the afternoon rink post to keep things in one place (see: Sunday morning's post about the rink proposal and the overnight report regarding the balance of the "District Detroit" project), but this trio of stories/interviews merit their own "update" entry.

First, Olympia Entertainment CEO Tom Wilson spoke with Detroit Sports 105.1 FM's Neal Ruhl and Mark Champion on Monday afternoon, and Wilson hasn't really weighed in on the project yet--a project that's "his baby" to some extent--so this is a must-listen...

The Free Press's John Gallagher spoke with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder about the project...

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said his administration would work closely with the Ilitch family to make sure the sprawling new district on the northern edge of downtown would be developed in a way to benefit the city and its residents, including holding the Ilitches to pledges of buying Michigan-made materials and hiring Detroit residents for the project.

“It’s very positive, and I think it’s very thoughtful,” Duggan said Monday. “My biggest issue is going to be to make sure Detroiters participate in this process both in terms of jobs and in terms of opportunities for restaurants and businesses. If this is done in a way that includes Detroiters, I think it’ll be very successful.”

Many of the reactions centered on the large tax subsidies and incentives provided by various levels of government for the project. Others said they were worried about traffic spilling over into their neighborhoods and others said the money spent on an arena should be spent to fix schools, roads and other public needs.

Gov. Rick Snyder defended the substantial investment of public dollars, which includes state-backed bonds and some local property tax revenue to pay them off. The extra property tax revenue collected because of the value added by the development would be used, as well as some money the Ilitches make from the operations.

“It’s based on each individual case,” Snyder said Monday of his support for public-financed arena projects. “I can tell you, in some ways I’m not a big supporter unless they have a strategic purpose. This one in particular has a huge strategic purpose and that’s why I think it is so exciting, because it’s going to connect downtown and Midtown. If you really look at it, it’s the glue between the two. ... And then you add M-1 (Rail) on top of it and everything else, and it is very exciting."

And Gallagher duly noted that the, "This is nice, but you've got a lot to prove" line of thought persists, too:

Francis Grunow, a member of the recently elected neighborhood advisory council in the Cass Corridor area, said the plans are impressive but the council still has concerns about traffic, historic preservation, environmental sustainability, and employment opportunities for Detroit residents in the new district.

“It’s hopeful, but there’s a long way to go before that becomes reality, and there’s a lot of concerns along the way,” he said.

The Metro Times' Ryan Felton also pointed out that the financing for the ancillary development hasn't been finalized as of yet. He offered this take on the Free Press and Crains Detroit's coverage of the rink project:

Still, after reading the exhaustive coverage offered by both outlets, we had one question: How is Olympia going to pay for the $200 million in new development? This portion of the project, as we previously reported, is a stipulation that came with little obligation in Olympia’s contract with the Downtown Detroit Development Authority (DDA).

(According to city documents, if  at least $200 million in private development takes place in and around the arena district, the DDA would credit Olympia $62 million for the ancillary development. If Olympia defaults on that commitment, the arena would nevertheless still be constructed.)

So, this morning, in an interview with Tom Wilson of Olympia, we asked just how the company would finance these aforementioned ancillary buildings cited by Crain’s and the Freep. He said the details were still being worked out.

We confirmed that with an Olympia spokesperson, who sent this in response:

“Those details are not finalized yet but all of that development will be our private investment. What is finalized is that the development of the district will take place concurrently withe construction of the arena, and that we will have expanded our planned investment to include millions of dollars to stabilize public infrastructure including paving streets, sidewalks, curbs, developing green spaces, in addition to the private development plans that were released yesterday.”

Just to be clear: the company wants to develop the ancillary projects concurrently with construction of the new arena — it just hasn’t finalized financing details on how that will happen, yet.

WDIV's Hank Winchester filed an evening-news report regarding the non-rink development plans:

Update: Via RedWingsFeed, Snyder spoke to WWJ as well:

“When you look at a project like that, what I find so exciting is that the Ilitch’s are moving ahead very aggressively — not just with the arena, but with additional development,” Snyder said. “Where this project is going I think is really exciting because it would be the connector between Midtown and Downtown and we could really create something special through a much longer corridor than we have today with these two somewhat separate areas.”

Snyder, speaking before the Detroit Economic Club, said this is the type of development that might draw foreign investment to Detroit. He and former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson spoke to the Economic Club about trying to attract such investments in Michigan.

The massive entertainment complex surrounding the new Red Wings arena will cost around $650 million, $283 million, of which, will come from taxpayers. But as Ilitch Holdings CEO Chris Ilitch explains, the project is expected to create many permanent and temporary jobs.

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DocF's avatar

As we now live about 1300 miles from Detroit, I, of course, am an witness to the situation.  I think this whole development idea is the last best chance to salvage a city that I loved that has been so badly abused by Coleman Young and Kwame Kilpatrick.  They not only stole from the treasury, they stole the very soul of the city.  That is why it never cam back from the riots of 1968.

I was there for the riots.  I was a stringer for UP and I drove around in my little Falcon with “Press” painted on the sides in Glass Wax.  Folks perceived I was on their side, so I was safe.  It was straight downhill from there.


Posted by DocF from Now: Lynn Haven, FL; was Reidsville, NC on 07/21/14 at 08:35 PM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

In the last seven years this Montana boy has moved from Billings, MT to Cincinnati, OH then on to Long Beach, CA and finally back to Billings. While living on Ohio was one of the most trying times of my life financially and career-wise, the spirit and friendly of your neighbors back in the “rust belt” is almost unparalleled. They know their town is struggling and is falling apart. They know the crime rate is atrocious and the divide between races/cultures still exists to this day, yet they will never give up. That’s admirable. I missed home (both wife and I) so we got the hell out of LA. But if I couldn’t live here, I’d move back to Ohio/Michigan in a heart beat. My wife’s sister lives up in the Petoskey area and it is some of most beautiful country I have ever seen. Keep rocking on, Detroit.

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 07/22/14 at 08:14 AM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.


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