Monday, June 17, 2024
Urban Planning

The Ilitch Perfidy Makes It To The Media Majors– Now What?

With HBO now coming after Detroit’s second-favorite billionaire family in the city’s Holy Trinity– comprising the Ilitches, Dan Gilbert, and Matty Moroun- a city waits with bated breath to figure out what’s next.

The Time Warner subsidiary, which is known more for its smash hits like Game of Thrones than for dabbling in what the Ilitch machine decried as “sensationalized” and “inaccurate” journalism, produced a segment covering what has been called a series of broken promises to deliver substantive development activities beyond the bowl of the Little Caesar’s Arena, where the Red Wings lose for a mostly empty stadium of unaffordable red– wait, they’re actually black– seats.

Ah, the vibrant urban core! There it is!

The Crain’s article and others point out that the Ilitches didn’t materially challenge specifics in the HBO segment. Aaron Mondry called the District “mostly a sea of parking lots.” That’s not incorrect, if the above photo is any indication. Prime real estate and they want to use it for parking lots. I speculate that they don’t have the internal staff or management capacity to actually handle the redevelopment of an entire district, seeing as how much of the process of engineering and design for the LCA was actually contracted out but limited to basically a single site, versus the more nuanced, complex process of redeveloping a substantial area of the downtown core.

But what’s next? Will the city actually hold the Ilitches accountable? Will the taxpayers hold elected officials accountable for failing to hold the Ilitches accountable, in turn? Will Steve Yzerman End Up Being The Guy Who Saves The District?

It seems to me that the major discourse around the District from These Macomb County Types is “oh, parking is so expensive, but I could never take a bus with Those People!” or, more unctously, “But Downtown’s Really Coming Back! You People Need To Be Grateful For What That Great Man Did For That Horrible City!”

Certainly the Detroit Building Department is unlikely to hold them accountable. As I periodically have a wee bit of downtime when I haven’t been buried in textbooks in that whole graduate school life, I plan on digging into this a little bit more when I can get some face time with the good people in BSEED. In March, I flagged one of their buildings on Temple Street as substantially in violation of the Vacant Property Ordinance, and was working off a list of a few dozen properties, of which I think about one or two were actually registered in accordance with the law. I would be curious to see if anything has been done with it, and why not. Seems like now’s the right time to start paying attention and demanding some accountability, right?

Nat M. Zorach

Nat M. Zorach, AICP, MBA, is a city planner and energy professional based in Detroit, where he writes about infrastructure, sustainability, tech, and more. A native of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, he attended Grinnell College in Iowa, the Kogod School of Business at American University, the POCACITO transatlantic program, the SISE program at the University of Illinois Chicago, and he is also a StartingBloc Social Innovation Fellow. He enjoys long walks through historic, disinvested Rust Belt neighborhoods at sunset. (Nat's views and opinions are his own and do not represent those of his employer).

Leave a Reply