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The District Detroit & Little Caesars Arena: A mixed-use development case study

The District Detroit is a vibrant mixed-use development in the heart of Detroit, Mich. Anchored by the Little Caesars Arena, the 50-blocks encompass new construction dedicated to office, retail, residential, hospitality, and entertainment.
Aerial photo of Little Caesars Arena, the new home of the Detroit Red Wings and the Detroit Pistons, and Detroit, Michigan, skyline

The District Detroit is a vibrant mixed-use development in the heart of Detroit, Mich. Anchored by the Little Caesars Arena, the new home of the Detroit Red Wings and the Detroit Pistons, the 50-blocks encompass new construction dedicated to office, retail, residential, hospitality, and entertainment.

A multidisciplinary team of real estate experts from Plante Moran Cresa (PMC) and Plante Moran Real Estate Investment Advisors (PMREIA) serves as the overall program manager/monitor throughout all phases of the $2 billion real estate development. Specific to each project, we act as financial and development consultant for Olympia Development of Michigan, LLC (ODM), the real estate development organization for Ilitch Companies.

Comprehensive real estate & development consulting services

Our services for The District Detroit include financial feasibility underwriting, master planning and development consulting, real estate advisory, and comprehensive program management/monitoring services for the planning, design, and construction phases.

Master planning & development consulting

We assessed optimum development and delivery approach scenarios by asset, which included an analysis of self-development, joint venture, ground lease, or sell options. We also assisted ODM with the preparation, negotiation, and review of development agreements, partnership structures, developers’ request for proposals, and similar agreements.

Financial feasibility underwriting

For many projects, we also prepare financial pro forma to analyze all components of the project. This included cash flow forecast analysis; identification of assumptions related to capture rates, supply and demand, market rates, and similar metrics; and development of the capital stack with a description of ODM’s debt, equity, and incentives.

Financial services

PMC assisted with the acquisition of debt sources. This included managing lender correspondence, conducting term negotiation and analysis through closing or syndication, and preparing investment documentation to support the lending process.

Overall program manager/owner’s representative

Our role as overall program manager is to plan, coordinate, report, and foster communication and collaboration between ownership, developers, and vendors throughout all projects within The District Detroit. We assist with development structure and programming, program governance, team assembly, financial tracking, development financing, and real estate leasing.

Real estate strategy

We are also engaged to develop and execute a real estate strategy that brings a unique blend of local and national retailers and office users to The District Detroit.

Additional project details

  • Construction of the 820,000-square-foot Little Caesars Arena started in 2015, with the grand opening in 2017.
  • The project included 8,500 structured and surface parking spaces, inclusive of five structured garages and 30 surface lots.

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