Detroit City Council approved a $60 million dollar tax break for the Hudson’s site project. The measure passed on a narrow 5-4 margin before officials recessed for the summer.
Union members showed up to support the tax breaks for the downtown property owned by Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock real estate firm. Members of the city’s grassroots activist community came to oppose what they say is corporate welfare for the billionaire Gilbert.
City Council President Mary Sheffield voted for the deal. She says tax abatements are necessary to solicit development in the city.
“Detroit has one of the highest tax rates in the nation amongst other major cities and putting us at a competitive disadvantage. So tax abatements are a symptom of a much larger problem,” Sheffield said.
Councilmember Latisha Johnson voted against the deal. She says discussions about the project have been marred in controversy.
“I don’t feel like even when we had the conversation that the residents in the community even heard us, because they thought we were biased,” Johnson said. “They thought I personally had already made a decision, and I had not.”
Developers with Bedrock Detroit say they added seven amendments to the deal as the proposal languished for weeks. That includes setting some retail space at the Hudson’s site aside for Detroit-owned small businesses. Bedrock says they’re also committing $5 million towards a Detroit neighborhood improvement fund and investing $1 million in a digital literacy center.
Photo Credit: Nate Pappas, WDET