DETROIT (CBS Detroit) – After months of debate and multiple delays, the Detroit City Council has unanimously approved a rezoning plan for a new Red Wings Arena.
The vote was taken a shortly before noon, after union representatives spoke out in favor of — and some community members spoke out against — the development.
Tuesday’s action by council members means construction at the site can begin at anytime.
At issue has been the preservation of some historic buildings. As part of the agreement, it was decided the Eddystone Hotel will be saved, while the Park Avenue hotel across the street will be demolished to make room for arena parking.
Council received a letter on Tuesday in which Olympia Development put in writing its commitment to rehab the Eddystone as part of the project.
Saying that trust was an issue, Council President Brenda Jones had previously told Olympia representatives she wanted another written statement detailing how many Detroiters would be hired for the project, and promising that Detroiters would remain employed at the arena.
She did not receive that letter.
“I will continue to hold you to that word,” Jones said. “Even if I’m not on council anyone, I’m going to be a spook behind council that will hold you to the word that you will continue to hire Detroit residents and keep Detroit residents employed at the arena once the arena is finish, although that was not put in writing.”
The project includes a total of $650 million in arena costs and retail, residential and restaurant development around the arena, over 45 acres. The Ilitch family has said the new arena will open in 2017 and stands to have an $1.8 billion economic impact in the area, including 8,300 construction jobs and 1,100 permanent jobs.