One of the last Cass Corridor holdouts in the area of the Little Caesars Arena is tussling with developer Olympia Entertainment over its proposed traffic stadium traffic plan. Harry Kefalonitis, owner of longtime neighborhood sports bar Harry’s Detroit, tells WDIV that the traffic plan proposed by the Red Wings stadium developer would cut off business to his bar for hours on game nights.
The new stadium construction looms over the bar building located at the corner of Henry and Clifford Street near the Fisher Freeway. Under the current plan, traffic would flow down the streets surrounding Harry’s, effectively blocking off the bar’s driveways. “There's going to be a choke point right around us and it's going to hinder our business,” Kefalonitis says. Likewise, plans for a pedestrian walkway next to Harry’s call for it to end before his bar meaning he could not offer patio seating.
Kefalonitis took his complaint to Detroit City Council on Friday after representatives from Olympia failed to address his concerns. City Council member George Cushingberry came out in support of Harry’s Detroit at the meeting, stating that the issue needs to be addressed.
In a statement in response to the disagreement, a representative for Olympia writes, “We're working hard to continue to optimize traffic flow near businesses including Harry's through our city-approved traffic plan.” If the city fails to intervene, Kefalonitis says he may file a lawsuit.
The Little Caesars Arena and the larger residential and entertainment project known as The District Detroit has faced controversy since the beginning. The Ilitch family, which founded Little Caesars Pizza and owns the Detroit Red Wings, notoriously received around $250 million in public funding for its arena development just days after the city declared bankruptcy despite having a net worth of roughly $5.1 billion. The Detroit Piston’s move to downtown Detroit may now be blocked as a result of a lawsuit attempting to prevent taxpayer money from being used for the project.
Olympia is also facing pushback from community members who are unhappy with the developer’s plans to demolish several historic buildings on Cass Avenue.