Ilitches said he wants the proceeds from the county’s sale in exchange for Comerica upgrades

Ilitches said he wants the proceeds from the county’s sale in exchange for Comerica upgrades

Negotiations continue between Wayne County and the Ilitch Organization over land adjacent to Comerica Park, delaying construction of the $1.5 billion Detroit-area development.

The negotiations concern five parcels of land that Ilitch’s organization needs to build or rehabilitate at least three of the 10 new buildings planned for Detroit County.

The land, used mostly as surface parking, is owned by the county through the Detroit-Wayne County Stadium Authority. The Stadium Authority is also the owner of Comerica Park and Ford Field.

Ilitch’s Olympia Development of Michigan is developing the Detroit area in collaboration with New York developer Stephen Ross The Associated Cos.

In an interview Friday, the Stadium Authority’s chief negotiator, Richard Coffman, a former district attorney, said the main sticking point now in negotiations is what happens to the proceeds from a potential land sale.

more: Officials are in deep negotiations with the Ilitch Organization over parking prices

Kaufman said Ilitch’s organization wants the money to go toward future improvements at Comerica Park, where Ilitch’s Detroit Tigers play.

However, the county prefers that proceeds from the sale go into county coffers instead.

“It will be public money, not public money going for private purposes,” Coffman said.

An appraisal ordered by Olympia in the fall of 2022 estimated the value of the five parcels at $25.5 million. A more recent appraisal ordered by the county put the value at $35.3 million.

Although the sale price has not yet been finalized, Kaufman said the biggest question in the negotiations now is what will happen to the proceeds from the sale. This sticking point was first reported by Axios Detroit.

“That’s the key item. There are other issues we haven’t agreed on yet, which I don’t expect to be an issue, but you don’t know that for sure until you solve the bigger issue,” Kaufman said. “.

The Detroit District’s initial timeline envisions groundbreaking for the first of the 10 buildings in the summer of 2023: a 17-story high-rise at 2200 Woodward, currently a surface parking lot. But this is on one of the plots of land still owned by the Stadium Authority.

Olympia Development declined to comment for this article.

“It is our general practice not to comment on ongoing conversations with third parties,” Olympia said in a statement.

From the Stadium Authority’s point of view, there is no deadline for reaching an agreement to sell the plots of land.

“The county is happy for things to continue as they are,” Kaufman said. “It’s the Ilitch family, as part of the Detroit area, that wants to purchase this Stadium Authority property to use for a different purpose. It’s really their need to get the property. We have no need to get rid of the property.”

Comerica Park opened in 2000, and this spring saw several upgrades for the first time, including new LED lighting fixtures, new exterior walls and clubhouse renovations. Ilicic’s organization recently hinted at the possibility of further improvements to the stadiums in the future when speaking with the media.

Groundbreaking is expected sometime this year for a separate but connected Detroit-area project: an academic research center in downtown Detroit known as the University of Michigan Innovation Center.

The UM Board of Trustees last month approved construction of the $250 million project. UMCI will be built west of the Fox Theater, on what is now mostly surface parking lots that Ilitch’s organization owns and donates to the project.

As part of the deal, UM will pay Olympia $9.6 million for a nearby 1.2-acre parcel of land needed to build a parking structure.

Formerly known as the Detroit Innovation Center, UMCI could eventually enroll up to 1,000 students and is seen as a catalyst for the expected future demand for office space and housing that justifies building in the Detroit area. If UMCI does not launch this year, the center will lose $100 million in state appropriations.

Contact JC Reindl: 313-222-6631 or Follow him on Xjcreindl

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