Aerotropolis promise finally being fulfilled between Willow Run Airport, DTW

Officials say Aerotropolis will be vital economic engine

By Rod Meloni - Reporter, CFP ®, Derick Hutchinson

ROMULUS, Mich. - Aerotropolis is a world that's been heard around Metro Detroit for years. Officials from Wayne and Washtenaw counties have told residents it will be a vital economic engine, and it hasn't been, but that's quickly changing.

It's an old real estate developer's saying that "they're not making any more land." That's well-known in New York, San Francisco and Boston, but in Metro Detroit, there's plenty of land, and the Aerotropolis promise is finally being fulfilled.

The original footprint encompassed the land between Willow Run Airport and Detroit Metro Airport, but it's since grown.

The Amazon Fulfillment Center is a massive monument to the phrase, "location, location, location." It's right next to DTW.

The American Center for Mobility, the high-tech autonomous car test track, sits in the shadow of the old and shuttered General Motors Willow Run plant.

Those are some of the latest arrivals to the Aerotropolis, and the traffic is getting thicker in the area, according to outgoing Aerotropolis Development Corporation Director Robert Luce.

"The Aerotropolis was always here to respond to inquiries or respond to the communities and help with the project," Luce said. "But over the past couple of years, we're starting to see companies contacting us, asking, 'What are the opportunities?'"

Suburu is currently building an R&D center right next to the mobility center, and others, such as Penske and a medical distribution center, have sprouted there in the past two years. Businesses are looking to expand in a big way.

"They may need a million square feet," Luce said. "They really don't have much of a choice but to build new. Now, where are you going to find 100-acre sites in Southeast Michigan other than this one around the airport?"

The Aerotropolis includes Van Buren and Huron townships, Romulus and Taylor, and it gets support from Wayne and Washtenaw counties.

It currently boasts 6,000 available acres and connects to every kind of business transportation except for space.

Aerotropolis announced it will have an interim director. You can see the full release below.

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