Tuesday, June 25, 2024
Urban Planning

End of an Era: Fall of the Last Holdout Against the Little Caesars Arena

In the year 472, a Romanized Germanic general named Flavius Ricimer assumed control of the languishing remains of the Western Roman Empire. Never mind that the Empire had been crumbling slowly for centuries; historians now think of 472 as the year that definitively marked the end of the fall of Rome. In modern contexts, future historians of the Motor City may well mark August 8th, 2022 as the date that marked the final capitulation of the last holdout against another Roman Empire of sorts– that of Little Caesar himself, a.k.a. Mike Ilitch and his Olympia Development empire, which developed the Little Caesars Arena. In the wee small hours of Monday morning, the last house sitting in the footprint of the trumpeted District Detroit project, which includes the Pizzarena itself and a sea of parking lots and structures, burned down. The dilapidated, historic structure, had been listed at $2.5 million, and the Ilitches weren’t biting.

The fire was a complete loss. Completely mysterious, too. @amyfisherprice had some clever commentary, as posted on the Terrible Ilitches Facebook page. The owner is listed on BS&A as “THE SCHEHERAZADE LOVE LR TRUST,” and the taxpayer is listed as an owner-occupant, while an exhaustive search of the presumed shell company owner– and various permutations of the same name- cannot be located in LARA. It’s not clear what is going on. Except that this building will make a great parking lot, I assume.

An alternate interpretation of the late Mike Ilitch’s economic empire by @amyfisherprice, in which the Little Caesar is holding a molotov cocktail as opposed to his usual pizza impaled on a spear. The owners had the house listed for as much as $5 million in recent history, but the property had most recently been listed for $2.5 million. The developers of the Little Caesars Arena, Olympia, were not biting. Photo courtesy of Terrible Ilitches.

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).

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