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Olympia Development Names Director to Serve as Liaison to Neighborhood Advisory Committee for Events Center District

Olympia ready to meet with neighbors to ensure community input on project that will create 8,300 jobs and $100 million in income for Detroit residents.

DETROIT, Feb. 5, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Olympia Development of Michigan has appointed Rod Blake, Director of Real Estate and Development, to serve as its liaison to the Neighborhood Advisory Committee for the proposed events center district project in downtown Detroit.  

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"Olympia Development is excited and anxious to begin receiving ideas, thoughts and input from the Neighborhood Advisory Committee," said Steve Marquardt, Vice President of Olympia Development.  "Rod brings 23 years of experience in leading public-private partnerships for several real estate and development projects.  His background in public policy and development and expertise in working with community representatives will make him a valuable asset to the success of the advisory committee."

"For my entire professional career I have been working closely with neighborhood and community groups on large public and private development projects.  This is an exciting opportunity to work with the Neighborhood Advisory Committee on this important project," said Rod Blake, Director of Real Estate and Development for Olympia Development of Michigan.

The Neighborhood Advisory Committee was established as part of the transfer of land to the Downtown Development Authority that was approved by the City council on Tuesday, February 4. The community and Detroit City Council will select the members of the Neighborhood Advisory Committee. The committee will provide input to development issues related to the proposed events center district project.  Under the proposed events center district project, an underutilized area of Detroit's downtown corridor will be redeveloped into a mixed-use district of residential, retail and office space, anchored by a new state-of-the-art events center.

The project will provide many benefits to the community.  The construction of the entire events center, residential and commercial mixed-use district will create approximately 8,300 jobs. The construction of the new events center alone is anticipated to create approximately 5,500 jobs with more than half of those construction jobs being filled by Detroit residents and over $100 million being paid to Detroit-resident workers.  Thirty percent of all construction work will be performed by Detroit based businesses.  Once opened, there will be a projected 67 percent increase in the number of jobs at the new events center than currently exist at the Joe Louis Arena. It is estimated that the project's economic impact on Detroit, the region and State will be $1.8 billion.

Mr. Blake, who joined Olympia Development in 2013, has worked on real estate and development projects for the City of Pontiac and The Taubman Corporation as well as real estate development and management firms in Chicago.

Rod Blake, Director of Real Estate and Development 
Olympia Development of Michigan

Rod Blake joined Olympia Development of Michigan in 2013 to lead the organization's efforts to identify business and partnership opportunities for the development of a mixed-use district of residential, retail, entertainment and office space, anchored by a state of the arts events center.

Rod brings extensive real estate and development experience in both public and private sectors to identifying business opportunities and bringing together government, business, and community organizations to create mixed-use developments that provide high economic and   community benefits to stakeholders. 

He has extensive experience advising municipal and private equity clients on financing, acquisition,   development, operation, disposition of assets, and lease negotiations.  Major public and private development projects include:

  • Managed more than  $75 million in state and federal funds for land acquisition and road improvement projects, including The Community Benefit Effort Program, for the City of Pontiac and led the redevelopment of City's golf course to create a 300 unit residential condominium community. 
  • Managed several projects for metro Detroit-based Taubman Centers, Inc. including the development of 1.1 million square foot retail and mixed-use project, Charlotte, North Carolina and the development of a 700,000 square foot shopping center in Richmond, VA.
  • Managed the development of a 1.2 million square foot open-air center in Maumee, OH and the development of a 300,000 square foot lifestyle and power center expansion for Baton Rouge, LA while at Chicago-based General Growth Properties.

Rod has developed and presented lectures on creating successful public private developments for    communities at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania; he has consulted on government relations for the Michigan Motion Picture Studio project; and coordinated research and prepared recommendations for the City of Detroit Tax Task Force led by Mayor Dennis Archer.

Rod has a B.A. in Political Science from Yale University in New Haven, CT.  He is a member of several professional organizations including Oakland County Business Roundtable; Yale Alumni Association of    Michigan; Yale Alumni Schools Committee; International Council of Shopping Centers; and the North Oakland County Board of Realtors.

History of Ilitch Organization in Detroit 
The catalyst development project will be the next major investment in Detroit made by Mike and Marian Ilitch since they began operating their businesses in the city 46 years ago. This ongoing commitment has positively influenced additional development and investment in downtown Detroit, including the development of Ford Field next to Comerica Park, and the opening of several theatres, hotels, restaurants, residential developments and other new businesses.

Milestones over the 46 years include: Little Caesars opens its first restaurant inside the City of Detroit in 1967;  purchasing the Detroit Red Wings in 1982 and turning the then-struggling franchise into four-time Stanley Cup champions and one of the most respected franchises in professional sports; purchasing and restoring the historic Fox Theatre and adjacent Fox Office Center in 1987; purchasing the abandoned Hughes and Hatcher clothing store in 1987 and renovating it into what is now the Hockeytown Café and City Theatre; moving their Little Caesars world headquarters from the suburbs to downtown Detroit in 1989 during a time when most businesses were leaving the city; purchasing the Detroit Tigers in 1992 and providing the majority of funding to build Comerica Park in 2000; and opening MotorCity Casino in 1999 followed by expansion to include the MotorCity Casino Hotel in 2007.  With the completion of the events center district, the Ilitches investment in downtown Detroit will reach approximately $1.2 billion in brick-and-mortar projects.  Ilitch companies currently employ over 7,500 colleagues in the city of Detroit, and annually attract more than 10 million visitors to their downtown venues.

About Olympia Development of Michigan 
Olympia Development of Michigan is a Detroit-based full-service real estate company owned by Detroit entrepreneurs Michael and Marian Ilitch. The company is responsible for developing and investing in some of Detroit's most recognized and visited venues, including the nationally acclaimed Comerica Park.  Other Ilitch companies in the food, sports and entertainment industries include: Little Caesars Pizza, Blue Line Foodservice Distribution, the Detroit Red Wings, Olympia Entertainment, Little Caesars Pizza Kits Fundraising Program, Champion Foods, Ilitch Holdings and Uptown Entertainment. Michael Ilitch owns the Detroit Tigers. Marian Ilitch owns the MotorCity Casino Hotel.

SOURCE Olympia Development of Michigan

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