Detroit development officials give Ilitches yet another break

July 03, 2019, 7:13 AM by  Violet Ikonomova

Another free pass for the Ilitches as the taxpayer-subsidized District Detroit falls further behind schedule.
(Photo: Violet Ikonomova)

The Ilitch organization was supposed to submit plans to the Detroit Downtown Development Authority to develop a plot of land along Woodward at I-75 by June 28.

It's July 3. There is no plan, there is no known penalty, but there is reportedly a new extension from the DDA: According to Crain's, the Ilitches will get another year to put together a proposal for the site.

This is business as usual for the unelected economic development body tasked with holding the Ilitches to their end of the arena district deal that required some $400 million in taxpayer dollars.

In our February report, Can Detroit’s Downtown Development Authority Keep The Ilitches In Check?, we offered an accounting of all of the times the group of mayoral appointees from the development community gave the Ilitches a free pass on their promise to develop 50 blocks surrounding Little Caesars Arena.

At the time, the DDA had:

  • Failed to penalize the Ilitches for missing deadlines on other key projects, like completion of the Little Caesars global headquarters and redevelopment of the Hotel Eddystone.
  • Failed to request that the Ilitches show evidence of their involvement in community development or youth programs, as the agreement requires.
  • Said it would allow two parking structures and development within the arena to count toward a $200 million ancillary development requirement that triggers a $74 million public reimbursement.
  • Approved development plans for projects for which the Ilitches said they would need additional tax incentives

Since then, a barrage of news coverage on the lack of progress in the District Detroit put some pressure on the city and DDA to hold the Ilitches to account. The month of May saw development officials ink a deal with actual teeth on the Hotel Eddystone, in which the Ilitches would have to put up money to allow the DDA to complete the project in the event that newly built-in incremental deadlines were missed.

But it's summer now, a holiday in fact, and some of that pressure appears to have eased. The DDA would not answer questions from Crain's on whether the Ilitch Organization would incur a penalty for its latest delay.

Read more:  Crain's Detroit Business

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