By Edward Cardenas

DETROIT (CBS Detroit) – The first visible signs of work on the new Detroit Red Wings arena can be seen along Woodward as site preparation begins for the 20,000-seat event center.

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Heavy machinery has taken over the property on west side of Woodward, and north of I-75, for site preparation, light demolition and the start of mass excavation for the new facility.

Crews were able to start work on the site with the approval of Olympia Development’s zoning application by City Council last week.

“The vision for a connected, dynamic District Detroit where our community can live, work and play will begin in earnest in the coming weeks as we mobilize on the site, bringing new activity, jobs and investment to Detroit, the region and the state,” said Christopher Ilitch, President and CEO of Ilitch Holdings, in a release.

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The rezoning had been held up over the preservation of some historic buildings near the proposed development. As part of the agreement, the Eddystone Hotel will be saved and will include market-rate and affordable housing along with first-floor retail space.

The neighboring Park Avenue hotel will be demolished for arena parking. In addition to the new Detroit Events Center, the zoning application includes residential, office and retail space, community greenspace and a piazza.

As the site is prepared for the new arena, subcontracts for the new Detroit Events Center have received approval from the Downtown Development Authority.

These include:

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  • A $50 million contract comprising most of the structural steel work for the new Detroit Events Center was awarded to Midwest Steel, a Detroit-headquartered business,
  • Ram Construction Services of Michigan was recommended for below-grade waterproofing,
  • Rohrscheib Sons Caissons, Inc. was recommended for deep foundations.

The new arena, which is center piece of a five neighborhood District Detroit development, is expected to completed in 2017.