Southfield firm takes lead for new Detroit entertainment complex

By: Jessica Strachan | Southfield Sun | Published April 23, 2014

SOUTHFIELD — Southfield construction group Barton Malow-Hunt-White has been chosen as the general contractor for Detroit’s new multimillion dollar events center.

The firm, which is a joint venture between Barton Malow Co., Hunt Construction Group and White Construction, comprises team members who have worked on notable sports and entertainment projects, including Ford Field, Comerica Park, the expansion and renovation of the University of Michigan football stadium, and the Detroit Riverfront.

“We are thrilled and honored to be selected as the construction team to build the new events center right here in Detroit,” Ryan Maibach, president of Barton Malow-Hunt-White, said in the announcement. “This project will be locally sourced and have a significant economic impact on our community. It is a core component of Detroit’s revitalization strategy, and we are proud to lead the efforts of the many Detroit workers and businesses that will play a major role in building this state-of-the-art events center.”

According to the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., the district would include the $450 million sports and entertainment center, and a $200 million residential, retail and office development.

The development will span an approximately 45-block area that stretches from Grand Circus Park to Charlotte Street, between Woodward Avenue and Grand River Avenue. The plan is for the event center to be an approximately 650,000 square foot facility with 18,000 seats that can accommodate Red Wings hockey games, as well as other sports and entertainment events year-round.

“We have outlined a deal that will do far more than build new home ice for the Red Wings. When it’s done, it will redefine Detroit’s downtown. We will have incorporated all three of our major league sports venues into an exciting, walkable sports and entertainment district that will rival anything in the world,” George W. Jackson Jr., president and CEO of DEGC, said in a statement.  The DEGC managed negotiations on behalf of the Detroit DDA.

Michael and Marian Ilitch-owned Olympia Development of Michigan — the company behind some of the region’s most visited venues, including Comerica Park — recommended the Southfield construction team to the Detroit DDA, and the plan was approved April 9 at their board meeting.

Michael Ilitch owns the Detroit Tigers, and Marian Ilitch owns MotorCity Casino Hotel.

“Barton Malow-Hunt-White has built some of the most innovative sports and entertainment venues across the country,” Christopher Ilitch, president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings Inc., said in a press release. “They are the right team to help Olympia Development bring to life the energy and excitement of the new events center. The state-of-the-art facility will be the new home of the Detroit Red Wings and instantly a preferred destination for every arena concert, family show and premier sporting event.

“The venue will set a new standard of amenities while retaining characteristics that are uniquely Detroit,” he added.

Brian Holdwick, executive vice president for business development at DEGC, said they are pleased to be working with a construction team that has “great credentials and a commitment to … ongoing success in revitalizing the city.”

The Detroit events center project aims to redevelop an underutilized area in downtown Detroit, transforming it into a mixed-use development of residential, retail and office space. Of the project costs, Olympia Development of Michigan will contribute $367 million — or 56 percent — and the state of Michigan and the Detroit DDA will contribute $283 million — or 44 percent.

According to the announcement, many proposals were submitted from top construction firms in the industry. Southfield’s firm won the bid due to its sports and entertainment construction, recognized construction management leadership and dedication to working with the local community.

As part of the construction, Barton Malow-Hunt-White will implement the workforce and business participation plan. The comprehensive plan was created by Olympia Development of Michigan, with input from the city of Detroit Ethics and Human Rights Office, Detroit Employment Solutions and the local construction trade unions.

Included in the plan are outreach, training and apprentice programs to prepare the current and future workforce of Detroit for construction jobs. The construction of the entire events center, residential and commercial mixed-use district will create approximately 8,300 jobs and $290 million in job-related income, according to Barton Malow-Hunt-White.

The building of the new events center itself is expected to create around 5,500 jobs, with more than half of those construction jobs — mainly to be filled by Detroit residents — and over $100 million in income for workers.

It is expected that the project’s economic impact on Detroit, the region and the state will be $1.8 billion.

Kelly McNair, marketing manager for Barton Malow-Hunt-White, said the stadium is expected to be ready for the Red Wings’ 2016-17 season, and work is beginning this spring.

With over 185 years of combined experience, the sports and entertainment builders behind Barton Malow-Hunt-White rank among the top contractors by Engineering News-Record. Crain’s Detroit Business has also ranked White Construction as one of the largest African-American owned businesses. The group’s portfolio also includes Birmingham Public Schools, Grosse Pointe Public Schools and the Warren City Hall and Civic Center.