By: Ian Thibodeau

DETROIT ‐ Olympia Development of Michigan and Olympia Entertainment have been playing plans pretty close to the chest for the initial 12‐acre build out at the site of the new Red Wings arena, but the developer announced Monday that they’re opening a new preview center.

The $450 million arena and $200 million entertainment district, dubbed the Detroit Events Center for the time being, effectively has the green light from the city, though quite a few details have yet to be made public.
Until 2016, the public might have a tough time getting a look inside the minds at Olympia, the development arm of the Ilitch family, too.

The 10,000‐square‐foot preview showcase offers a “fully immersive experience of the transformative project.”
Currently, it’s open to businesses and investors “who are interested in opportunities in The District Detroit and the new Detroit arena.”

It’s located inside the building on the northeast corner of Comerica Park.
According to a release, the preview center contains large models of the District, the arena, a complete listing of suite, sponsorship and season ticket options, a full‐size model of a suite, examples of the Red Wings lockers, memorabilia and a historic Zamboni.

“A space like this helps all of us visualize how transformational this project is going to be for the city,” Tom Wilson, President of Olympia Entertainment said in a release. “Through the use of incredible models, video, sound, graphics and technology, the Preview Center creates an immersive experience that is sure to amaze.”
To date, Olympia has released the following information on the arena and entertainment district:
• The arena will be 785,000‐square‐feet
• The arena will be 100‐ to 120‐feet tall
• It will be sunk 40 feet into the ground
• There’ll be 20,000 seats
• Also, 52 suites
• There will be 168 apartment units and 16 townhouses containing 32 unit

Renderings and conceptual drawings of the facility have been periodically released and updated.
The Detroit City Council also required in their initial approval of the site plans that Olympia redevelop the historic Hotel Eddystone into a mixed‐use apartment complex.

The company has high hopes for the chunk of Cass Corridor around the arena. They foresee the arena and district transforming the area, establishing multiple neighborhoods ‐‐ each with its own name ‐‐ in a 50‐block area, referred to as “The District Detroit.”

Olympia has been working with Detroit‐based design firm Kraemer Design Group by going through historically‐designated buildings in the district to see what can be saved.

Recently, Olympia got approval to raze the historic Park Avenue Hotel. The city last week approved demolition permits on the building.

The events center will be used for more than just hockey, Olympia has said. In fact, hockey will only account for 33 percent of the action inside the bowl.

Olympia said in a press release that the arena will open in 2017. Excavation on the site of the Detroit Events Center is halfway done.

Foundation work for the arena will begin in June, and utilities work will wrap in July.

In a Monday release, Olympia said that since opening, 26 of the 52 suites offered at the new arena have sold.

Retail, residential and office leasing is expected to “accelerate in the summer and fall of this year.”

The project will redevelop a big portion of land that’s been owned by the Ilitch family, who own Olympia, for years.

It is the fact that the project is landing between these two parts of Detroit ‐ areas where development has been most prevalent ‐ that has led city and state officials to justify the use of public money in helping to fund the $650 million project.

The $650 million development project is to be funded with a mix of $365.5 million in private investment and an estimated public investment of $284.5 million.

According to Olympia, the project will have an economic impact of at least $1.8 billion, while creating thousands of jobs, some of which will be permanent. The arena alone will create 8,300 construction and related jobs, in addition to 1,100 permanent jobs, according to the company.

Olympia has promised that 51 percent of the construction work on the site will be done by Detroiters.
The Detroit City Council wanted ‐‐ but did not get ‐‐ assurances from Olympia that once the arena and district are built, Detroiters will be employed in the various positions created.

Read this story on MLive.