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Despite missing deadline, Duggan confident Fiat Chrysler deal will get done

City of Detroit
City of Detroit
A rendering of the proposed Fiat Chrysler expansion on Detroit's east side.

A 60 day deadline to pull together a major deal between the city of Detroit and Fiat Chrysler has come and gone, but city leaders insist it will still get done.

Fiat Chrysler wants to invest more than two billion dollars to expand two plants, including one that's currently defunct, on Detroit’s east side. The automaker says the project will bring about 5,000 jobs. It will be the city's first new automotive production facility since the 1980s.

But there are some conditions. The final details of an agreement, first announced in late February, were supposed to come together within 60 days. That deadline expired last weekend.

One of those conditions is that the city is supposed to assemble 200 acres of land for the project.

That initial timeline now appears to have been flexible. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says the sides are still negotiating, and are making “significant progress.”

“This is maybe the most complicated deal I’ve ever been involved with,” Duggan said this week. “And 60 days might have been a little bit too ambitious. Maybe we should have given ourselves 65.

“At one point we had three teams of people in three rooms on Monday, now we’re down to one team of people in one room.”

Duggan said that both a community benefits packageand a development agreement for the project have both been completed. What remains are negotiations over the final acres of land.

Duggan refused to provide details. But the major sticking point appears to be an 80-acre former industrial site owned by the Moroun family, owners of the Ambassador Bridge and more than 500 properties citywide.

Duggan has previously said he wants to get the land deals done via land swaps for other city-owned properties. The city has already reached deals with multiple other property owners in the area. The Detroit City Council approved those swaps this week. Fiat Chrysler also plans to seek $160 million in state tax exemptions for the project.

Duggan declined to say if there’s any firm timeline for continuing negotiations, only saying he’s confident the deal will get done. “We’ll have an announcement when everything’s signed,” he said.

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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