The Ilitch organization and Olympia Development play a huge part in this investment for the city as it shares a commitment to develop and revitalize the city.
Michael and Marian Ilitch established Ilitch Holdings Inc. in 1999 to provide services to all of the Ilitch-owned businesses, including Little Caesars, Olympia Development, the Detroit Tigers and MotorCity Casino Hotel.
Olympia Development, which is a subsidiary of Ilitch Holdings, was created in 1996 to focus on all of the projects within the city, according to the Ilitch Holdings website.
The organization is behind the city’s entertainment district, including Comerica Park, which is home to the Detroit Tigers, Ford Field, which is home to the Detroit Lions, and its newest investment, The District Detroit.
“This type of investment spurs more of an interest by people to come to Detroit to live, work and visit,” Monforton said. “That generates a greater tax base for the city, more jobs, more business for local shops and restaurants, etc.”
Within The District Detroit are five neighborhoods — Columbia Street, Columbia Park, Woodward Square, Wildcat Corner and Cass Park Village — with the shared goal of connecting downtown Detroit and Midtown along with providing opportunities for people to work, play and relax.
In the center of The District Detroit is the Columbia Street neighborhood, an area filled with shops, boutiques, galleries and cafes. It’s home to the Fox Theatre and the Fillmore Detroit.
Columbia Park started off as an industrial center but is being transformed into green space with offices, retail shops and loft-style condos.
The creative, artistic and entrepreneurial side of Detroit will be on display in the Cass Park Village. Featured in this neighborhood are shops, markets and galleries, Cass Technical High School and the Masonic Temple. Nearby is Wayne State University.
Wildcat Corner, home to the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Lions, is the neighborhood for baseball and football.
Woodward Square — home to Little Caesars Arena where the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Pistons will play — is the central core for the District Detroit. It will include restaurants, shops and public space for events and activities. The arena opens in September.
Money and jobs
“Little Caesars Arena is a Michigan-made, Detroit-built project with more than $345 million in contracts awarded to Detroit-based businesses, representing nearly 60 percent of total contracts, and more than $575 million, or 90 percent of contracts, awarded to Michigan businesses,” said Ed Saenz, communications manager for Olympia Development. “This is a sports and entertainment district that will draw visitors from around the region.”
According to Saenz, this investment will have an economic impact of more than $2 billion and will create more than 12,500 construction and construction-related jobs along with 1,110 permanent jobs.
He added that there are approximately 1,200 people working on the construction sites and about 200 apprentices have worked or are working on the arena.
Monforton said, “More than $11 billion of new investment has been pumped into the local economy, including investments that draw tourism, such as our revitalized riverfront, the Q-Line rail system, new retail like Nike, Under Armour and more than 100 new restaurants in just a couple of years.”
“If you haven’t been to Detroit in the past five years, then you really haven’t been to Detroit,” she said
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The Detroit Experience Factory focuses on tours that connect locals and visitors to the people, places and projects in the city.
“We’re helping people understand the assets that we have here but also understand the challenges and frequently breaking down the myths that exist mostly within our local population,” said Jeanette Pierce, lifelong resident and DXF founder.
DXF has taken more than 85,000 people on walking and bus tours in the city and hopes to reach 100,000 people this year.
The organization puts Detroit, the region and its history into context by having visitors step off buses, walk in the city and meet business owners.
“Detroit has world-class assets including an international riverfront, four major sports teams within walking distance, and 13,000 theatre seats in a five-block radius,” said DXF’s experience coordinator Ian McCain.
“Detroit is unlike any other place on this earth,” McCain said. “Despite the city’s challenges, what you will find is a group of thoughtful, caring and passionate citizens leading Detroit through her toughest challenges and celebrating the creative, innovative solutions that lead to her greatest triumphs.”
The organization helps anyone wishing to live, work or engage in the city by providing information and opportunities such as tours to meet business owners.
Sue Krause, DXF’s community liaison, said people should visit Detroit to see for themselves all that the city offers by taking one of the Detroit Experience Factory tours.
DXF provides tours throughout greater Downtown Detroit, which is 7.2 square miles and includes Downtown, Midtown, Woodbridge, Eastern Market, Lafayette Park, Rivertown and Corktown neighborhoods.
Greater Downtown Detroit features over 400 eateries, 350 shops and 64 arts and cultural institutions, according to the 7.2 Square Mile report.
According to Pierce, DXF’s most popular tour is the “Detroit Innovation & Inspiration” tour, where participants get to see the people behind the projects that help reinvent Detroit, including the Greening of Detroit, Detroit Bikes Factory and Artesian Farms.
The “Downtown & Beyond” bus tour, another popular tour, lets people get a sense of community and collaboration by visiting neighborhoods within greater Downtown Detroit.
Other tours include “Art & Architecture,” “Best of Downtown” and “Tasting.”
Pierce’s favorite part about Detroit is “the people, the small businesses and the sense of community where you know your neighbors and this friendliness that you don’t get in other big cities.”
The winter tour schedule runs from November to May and includes the “Art & Architecture” tour at noon Fridays, the “Downtown & Beyond” bus tour on the first Saturday of each month and the “Best of Downtown” tour at 2 p.m. Saturdays.
Summer tours for DXF run from May to October and features the same tours as the winter schedule plus bar tours including an “Eastern Market Bar Tour” and the organization’s first “Livernois Bar Tour.”
“Detroit is big enough to matter in the world and small enough for you to matter in it,” Pierce said.
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