By Zahra Huber

DETROIT (CBS Detroit) – There’s been quite a bit of progress on the new Red Wings arena and entertainment district in Detroit’s Midtown.

Crews completed mass excavation and, by Thursday morning, had dug the dirt down to a 40-foot level. Elevator shafts are now being built, as are foundation walls.

As for any problems they’ve encountered so far, Senior Construction Manager Sean Hollister says they did run into foundations from the old hotel that was recently demolished.

“Then when we got down to the lower areas, it’s very interesting soil conditions — it’s a lot of wet soil — so, it’s very interesting from the point that, if it dries out, it becomes almost like concrete…and it’s wonderful,” Hollister said. “As soon as any moisture hits it it gets very, very muddy.”

Looking into the future, Hollister said weather is a concern: “We’re hoping obviously the weather is as mild as possible, but we are prepared to go through the traditional Michigan weather.”

The next step, he explained, is to bring in a crane to erect steel beams. Work will continue over the winter.

Work over the summer included initial ground clearing, utility relocation and earth retention — and officials say the project is coming along as anticipated.

More than 68 percent of the construction contracts have been awarded to Detroit based and headquartered businesses. Additionally, there is an average of 158 employees on the site daily, and the majority of the workers, 56 percent of them, are Detroit residents.

“It all goes to the bottom line,” said Douglass Diggs, President and CEO of Heritage Development Services. “It helps rebuild the tax base for the city. We’re getting more people involved in the skilled trades. The economic impact is significant by having those Detroit businesses and Detroit residents working on the project.”

The new Detroit Red Wings arena and initial office and retail space are scheduled to open in the fall of 2017.

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