New hotels, a new downtown park, and more: June development news round-up

It's been another busy month for development news in the city. Let's catch up on some of the biggest stories from the past four weeks.

June started off with Louis Aguilar of the Detroit News wondering if the Illitches can deliver their 'District Detroit', a 45-block mixed use development surrounding the new Red Wings hockey arena, by the time the sports and entertainment venue opens in the summer of 2017--or if they even plan to. An agreement with the city affords Olympia Development a 5-year window to spend $200 million in development money after the arena is complete. Either way, the historic Hotel Park Avenue is definitely coming down.

The folded glass of the recently renovated Crowne Plaza Pontchartrain Detroit could reflect the construction of a second tower for the 367-room hotel, some 50 years after the original hotel first opened. Crain's is reporting that the hotel's owners are considering a second tower, one that would bring the hotel's total room count up to 800 or 850 rooms. The $30 to $35 million investment could help all of downtown's hotels by attracting more conventions to the city. Richard Branson, billionaire founder of Virgin Group, says that a Virgin hotel in Detroit is a real possibility and he had a representative searching for potential sites in the city.

DTE Energy released some attractive renderings of their planned "mini-Campus Martius" in June. The park, currently a gravel lot, should be complete by spring of 2016.

The abandoned, sprawling Herman Kiefer Health Complex could be saved through an enormous redevelopment project by New York-based developer Ron Castellano. The historic complex sits on an 18-acre site just south of the Boston-Edison neighborhood.

John Gallagher of the Detroit Free Press takes readers on a tour of the environmentally-minded rehab of the old El Moore apartment building in Midtown. In addition to the renovations, developers built two 'urban cabins' on the roof, an elevator shaft along the building's exterior, reserved garden space for each resident, and a newly-built and free-standing green house and community meeting space built from recycled materials.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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MJ Galbraith is Model D's development news editor. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.
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