Detroit Evening Report: Brownfield board passes $616M tax break for $1.5B District Detroit project, heads to city council for review

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Rendering of a proposed building in District Detroit.

A development panel in Detroit has approved $616 million in tax breaks Wednesday night for a proposed $1.5 billion project in the district around Little Caesars Arena.

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The Brownfield Redevelopment Authority voted 5-to-2 in favor of the tax breaks for the so-called “Transformational Brownfield,” with construction intended to start this summer if fully approved.

Olympia Development and billionaire Stephen Ross’ companies say they need the incentives to build or rehabilitate 10 structures in the District Detroit zone, and to offset the cost of setting aside affordable housing units.

Critics say Olympia has failed to deliver on promises to create a thriving neighborhood around the arena.

Rendering of a proposed building in the District Detroit.
Rendering of a proposed building in the District Detroit.

Maggie DeSantis, one of the board members who voted no, questioned why the billionaires needed such a large tax break when existing neighborhoods in the city are struggling.

“I vote no on principle,” DeSantis said. “When we have neighborhoods in Detroit that are as marginalized and disinvested and as desperately needy as we have, in my mind, it’s terrible public policy to offer this much subsidy in the District Detroit neighborhood in particular.”

The proposal will head to Detroit City Council in March for review, but will also need the green light from Michigan Economic Development Corp.’s governing body, the Michigan Strategic Fund board.

Other headlines for Feb. 9, 2023:

  • Michigan lawmakers vote to revise Read By Third Grade Law
  • Neighborhood groups can apply for $15K grants to beautify community
  • City of Detroit, DNR asking for community feedback to make Belle Isle safer
  • Palmer Park celebrating Black History Month, Valentine’s Day this Saturday

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  • Sascha Raiyn
    Sascha Raiyn is Education Reporter at 101.9 WDET. She is a native Detroiter who grew up listening to news and music programming on Detroit Public Radio.