Apr 26, 2023 - News

District Detroit gets "transformational" public subsidy

An office building proposed at 2200 Woodward Avenue. Rendering: Courtesy of District Detroit

The $1.5 billion District Detroit project was unanimously approved for a major $615 million tax capture Tuesday from the Michigan Strategic Fund, a state economic development board.

The big picture: District Detroit is among just three projects, including a package of Dan Gilbert developments, to secure a "transformational brownfield" plan since 2017. They allow large-scale developers to capture certain Michigan taxes over 35 years.

  • The project from the Ilitches and Stephen Ross still requires final approval from Detroit City Council for local tax breaks.

What they're saying: Attorney and activist Tonya Myers Phillips called the deal a “reverse Robin Hood proposal."

  • "What about the inevitable displacement of Black and brown residents around the district? Where will they go?" Phillips asked during public comment, which lasted 2.5 hours before the vote in Lansing.

The intrigue: Public commenters from Detroit gained an unlikely ally during the meeting: conservative Marshall residents speaking against a planned EV battery plant — a highlight of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's economic development strategy — which would give millions in tax breaks to Ford Motor Co.

  • “Congrats MEDC for being the entity that finally brings the west side and the east side together!" one commenter said.

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