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Detroit City Council delays vote on $1.5 billion downtown development project

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

The Detroit City Council delayed a vote Tuesday on a proposed $1.5 billion construction project to build 10 new buildings in Downtown Detroit.

The developers call it District Detroit. They've said it will create 6,000 permanent jobs and nearly 140 units of affordable housing.

Nicole Sherard-Freemen oversees the city's workforce and jobs programs. She supports the project and said delaying the vote poses economic concerns — including expected support from the state government.

“We are up against construction season. We are up against the Michigan Strategic Fund. And while that is not the primary concern of this body, I know that this body is very concerned about the bigger picture,” she said.

District Detroit is counting on approval from the Michigan Strategic Fund Board. Sherard-Freeman said it's already missed one deadline for the fund's April meeting, so it will not be eligible for consideration until May at the earliest. She said that may affect groundbreaking dates for projects.

Opponents said they're concerned about the project's cost to the public. District Detroit is up for about $750 million dollars in tax incentives and government subsidies.

Local leaders, like Mayor Mike Duggan, also say it will stimulate Detroit’s economy with new shopping centers, office spaces, and hotels.

Sherard-Freeman addressed detractors in her comments to the council. “This project does not take one single cent from our schools or our libraries and in fact will be of significant benefit to them,” she said.

Briana Rice is Michigan Public's criminal justice reporter. She's focused on what Detroiters need to feel safe and whether they're getting it.