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Allen Park close to selling site of failed film studio project

A New York-based developer has agreed to buy the site of a disastrous movie studio project that pushed Allen Park to the brink of bankruptcy.

The downriver Detroit suburb bought the 104-acre complex specifically for the project known as Unity Studios.

But the developer walked away after a year –after Allen Park had issued $25.5 million in bonds to support Unity Studios.

That debt eventually led to the state taking control of the city’s finances.

Joyce Parker has been Allen Park’s emergency manager since 2012. She says if the $12 million sale (including a $3.6 million down payment) goes through, it will be “a major piece in getting the city back on track.”

“Right now, the city is paying about $2.6 million a year in debt service,” Parker says.  “If the city is able to restructure the debt, we’ve estimated that amount would fall to $1.2 million – which is within their budget.”

The developer, Time Equities, Inc., has a 45-day due diligence period before finalizing the sale.

There’s no formal site plan yet. Parker says Allen Park will use the due diligence period to rezone the property for more “flexible” uses, including retail, business development, and light industrial.

Parker says if the deal goes through, she’ll likely transition out of office before the end of the year, transferring limited financial control back to the city’s elected leaders.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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