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Auburn Hills, MI—May 25, 2017—The City of Auburn Hills, in cooperation with Palace Sports & Entertainment, is initiating a rezoning request to the City’s Planning Commission on June 14, 2017, for the arena property. Palace ownership, which announced earlier this year that it would move the Pistons Basketball Team to Little Caesars Arena in downtown Detroit, is proactively working with City officials in preparation for potential future uses of the site.
The Pistons practice facility will remain functioning for at least another season in Auburn Hills as will the executive offices located at the arena. As a result, this gives the City and PS&E plenty of time to work together to consider future opportunities at the site.
The first step in that consideration is a zoning that both the City and Palace ownership agree will provide for the highest and best use of the property should it no longer remain viable as a sports and entertainment venue. The 109-acre site currently has two separate and distinct zonings. The property on which the practice facility is located is zoned Technology and Research District (T&R) and contains approximately six acres; while the property on which the arena sits is zoned General Industrial District (I-2), and contains approximately 103 acres. The City and PS&E have agreed that the T&R zoning is best suited for the entire property, with the T&R zoning classification also being presented for an amendment to permit the arena to remain as an allowable use in the T&R district at that location should that be the final outcome for the property.
“I am pleased to know that the owners of the franchise and the arena are eagerly willing to work with us to produce an outcome that is favorable to not only the owner but also to the City,” said Mayor Kevin McDaniel.
Auburn Hills is well established as a high-tech community where dozens of major corporations from thirty-two countries have a presence. Numerous North American and world headquarters call Auburn Hills’ home, and the property could accommodate one or more substantial future uses that would greatly support the local economy and potentially produce hundreds of jobs. The change to T&R zoning would attract exactly these kinds of uses.
“When making the announcement to move downtown to Little Caesars Arena, we pledged our commitment to working alongside Oakland County and the city of Auburn Hills to ensure that future use of The Palace and its property remains beneficial to the local community,” said Mario Etemad, Executive Vice President of Operations for PS&E. “While no decisions have been made regarding the future of The Palace, rezoning the property increases our optionality for the venue moving forward.”
“The recommendation of the T&R zoning came as a result of an internal site redevelopment analysis involving various City staff members, led by Director of Community Development Steve Cohen,” said Tom Tanghe, Auburn Hills’ City Manager. “The study produced a two-pronged approach; one being more of a ‘wish list’ for the redevelopment of the property and the other recommending what we are best known for -- uses that are typically categorized as research and development or advanced manufacturing,” Tanghe said. “The latter of the two is a natural for us,” he added.
Mr. Cohen explained, “The key to our planning analysis was not to focus on the past, but to create a realistic guide for the future.” The City’s study and the proposed rezoning change will set the stage for a quick and streamlined review process for new development at the site if use of the arena is ultimately discontinued. Auburn Hills’ officials believe this proactive, “redevelopment ready” approach will better position the City and PS&E officials when working with the State of Michigan and Oakland County to attract new companies to the location,” Cohen added.
Following the rezoning request at the Planning Commission on June 14th, an affirmative vote of the commission would send the request to the City Council on June 26th, at which time they are expected to take final action on the proposed rezoning.
“Whether or not the arena remains or the site becomes available for redevelopment, we are highly optimistic about what the future holds and we plan to collaborate for the best possible outcome,” Mayor McDaniel concluded.
About Auburn Hills
The City of Auburn Hills is a distinguished leader in southeast Michigan. Home to approximately 23,000 residents, as well as a workday population of approximately 100,000, Auburn Hills continues to be a thriving global business address. It is home to over 70 international corporations and hosts the World and North American headquarters for numerous outstanding businesses such as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Continental Automotive Systems, Faurecia, and BorgWarner. Auburn Hills’ residents enjoy the amenities of city and suburban living with parks, a revitalized downtown district and a welcoming city complex with a library and community center. Additionally, the city has five colleges and universities, the award-winning Palace of Auburn Hills entertainment complex and Great Lakes Crossing Outlets, one of the state’s largest destination shopping centers, providing a variety of cultural, social and educational opportunities to residents, workers and visitors. Learn more at www.auburnhills.org.