Detroit City Council member Raquel Castaneda-Lopez says land deal could have been improved.

Stephen Henderson talks with Detroit City Council member Raquel Castaneda Lopez about the Riverside land swap deal between the city and the Detroit International Bridge Company. The deal passed 7-2 yesterday, Tuesday, July 28.

  • Room for improvement: Lopez says she felt there were red flags and room for improvement in the deal. She believes that the bridge company should clean up the land before it gives it to the city, and there are other environmental concerns that have not been discussed. 
  • Political motivation: Lopez says that the vote on the deal was pushed back multiple times to create the illusion of negotiation on the part of some council members, but that she still has a lot of unanswered questions.
  • Environmental concerns: The estimated cost of environmental cleanup for the land the city will receive is $100,000. Lopez is skeptical that the cost will really be that low, given that there are unaddressed costs, such as a parking lot that needs repair. She thinks environmental mitigation could eat up all of the $3 million the city will make on the deal. 
  • Industry vs recreation: Stephen asks if there is a conflict in Southwest Detroit between recreational and industrial development on the riverfront. Lopez says there does not seem to be, and that Detroit Future City has designated the area as a purely industrial zone, which the city is following. She says that the focus must be on making the area livable even with industry. 
  • Relationship with Morouns: Lopez says she has not had much contact with the Morouns herself, and that they have historically approached new administrations with the stated intent of turning over a new leaf. She says that the Morouns worked more closely with some other council members, but did not respond when her offices reached out to them. She says she does believe in redemption, and the most important thing is to act in the interests of the community, rather than on personal feelings or trust. 
  • Empowered city: Lopez says that Detroit should shift to a new mode of discussion, and approach deals from the perspective of an empowered city.  She believes that Detroit should be more selective and demanding from developers in order to give the city the type of development it deserves. 

Click the audio link above to hear the full conversation.