- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 4, 2014

DETROIT (AP) - The Detroit City Council on Tuesday approved transferring vacant city-owned parcels for a new hockey arena and a 45-block entertainment complex just north of downtown.

Once complete, the 18,000-seat arena will become home to the Detroit Red Wings, who will move out of aging Joe Louis Arena.

The transfer is the third part of council action on the $650 million project. In December, the board approved financing for the project and broadened the boundaries of the city’s Downtown Development Authority.

The authority would own the arena and event center. Olympia Development would have exclusive rights to use, manage and operate it, and hold naming rights.

The Ilitch family owns Olympia Development and the Red Wings.

The council approved the measure 6-3 on Tuesday. City Council President Brenda Jones and members James Tate and Raquel Castaneda Lopez voted no.

“I am wholeheartedly behind the development,” said Tate, who added that he opposed the proposal because it is “extremely important” to have a more defined commitment to employ Detroit residents in the project.

Unlike an earlier proposal, the new contract includes a guarantee for security and policing in and near the stadium and a neighborhood advisory council.

Councilwoman Saunteel Jenkins said the deal isn’t perfect but is an improvement over the previous proposal.

“It’s much better than what we had originally and certainly better than what sits in that space right now, which is nothing,” Jenkins said.

Before the vote, members of the public addressed the council.

“I believe this project has a wonderful chance for success that will benefit the city and the region as a whole,” said Joel Landy, a developer who owns 50 residential and commercial properties north of Interstate 75.

Jerry Belanger, owner of buildings that house Cliff Bell’s jazz club, the Park Bar and Bucharest Grill, said the plan gives Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch an unfair competitive advantage.

“He can’t go toe-to-toe with me on a fair playing field. He can’t win without public money,” Belanger said.

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