Oct 28, 2019
A new analysis by the Detroit News found that 147 properties in the city of Detroit owned by Olympia Development, the company tied to the family of the late billionaire Mike Ilitch, continue to stand empty. The properties include 70 within the area known as District Detroit, which surrounds the recently built Little Caesars Arena.
The Ilitch family are the owners of Little Caesars pizza, the Detroit Red Wings, and the Detroit Tigers. They received over 400 million dollars from the City of Detroit and State of Michigan for the construction of Little Caesars Arena (LCA), where the Red Wings play, near downtown Detroit. In requesting money for the project, the Ilitches made grand promises of transforming the area into a “walking neighborhood” complete with hundreds of new residences, restaurants and small shops to benefit city residents. They promised the area would be transformed by 2017.
The Ilitches and Olympia Development got their arena built. They pay no property tax on the LCA. They also got the rights to all revenue from the arena, including parking, food and beverage sales, souvenirs, TV and radio broadcasting contracts, fees for luxury suites, and naming rights.
Over the years, with help from local governments, the Ilitches succeeded in gobbling up the land in and around District Detroit and pushing out people who lived in the area, many of them poor and black.
The Ilitches now give all kinds of excuses for why the transformation has not been completed, but they made no mention of any potential obstacles when they sold the public on their need for money for the project.
The more time goes by, the more apparent it becomes to city residents that the promised “development” had nothing to do with them—except for paying the bill.