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Joe Louis Arena Future: Residential, Retail

Joe Louis Arena

With the Detroit Red Wings (NHL) now safely ensconced in Little Caesars Arena, the city is now turning its attention to a Joe Louis Arena future that includes retail, residential and commercial development.

It’s always been the assumption that the longtime Red Wings home would be torn down once Little Caesars Arena opened. Between Little Caesars Arena and Cobo Center, there’s enough event space in the downtown Detroit area, and the five-acre Joe Louis Arena site is seen as a prime spot for development. Detroit is in the midst of a renaissance, so big visions abound, and that extend to the Joe Louis Arena future developments. From the Detroit News:

Maurice Cox, director of Detroit’s Planning & Development Department, said he envisions a more walkable area, a destination for visitors and an attractive place to live.

The city wants to see “high-density” structures that stand out and create an address and identity for the west riverfront, Cox said.

Retail development could especially benefit neighboring Cobo Center, which hosts 10-15 major conventions each year.

“There is no question that you can accommodate residential, retail and commercial all mixed together,” Cox said. “We have a chance to make a very vibrant place that has its own kind of unique identity.”

Despite the move of the Red Wings, Joe Louis Arena isn’t totally vacant, and there are plenty of challenges to integrating the arena site into downtown; when used as an NHL arena, it was a destination unto itself with no regard to interaction with the rest of the area. Olympia Entertainment still has its offices there, at least through November. And the entire process will be complicated by Detroit’s 2014 bankruptcy filing, with the land pledged to bond insurer Financial Guaranty Insurance Co. Still, an plan from FGIC calls for a hotel with 300 rooms, offices, retail and residential.

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