Concerns raised after City Council postpones vote on $1.5B District Detroit project

Detroit faith leaders urge approval of project

DETROIT – The Detroit City Council has delayed a vote on whether to approve the new District Detroit project, a $1.5 billion proposal backed by the University of Michigan, billionaire Steven Ross and the Ilitch organization. Many Detroiters are deeply concerned that the city is giving away too much in the deal.

The proposed development would upgrade the area behind Little Caesars Arena and across from Cass Tech. However, there is serious concern the deal could get scuttled if the council doesn’t vote soon. Two of the city’s well-known faith leaders are saying it should go forward.

Detroiters lined up in the city council auditorium on Tuesday, demanding the incentive-laden, $1.5 billion District Detroit deal have more teeth to benefit the city or go away. City

Council President Mary Sheffield likes the development but agreed to postpone a vote until next week. “We’ve had promises, we’ve seen projects like this come before council and some of the promises or guarantees never came to fruition,” Sheffield said.

Yet more delays could mean the entire project could face trouble, downsizing or worse. Detroit reverends like Charles Williams of the Historic King Solomon Baptist Church say passing up thousands of jobs is a bad idea.

“These huge developments need partnership from the city to provide more jobs and, of course, help spur the economy, and we don’t really have the right to turn anything down but our collar in this city,” Williams said.

“District Detroit is a moment in history,” said Bishop Charles Ellis from Greater Grace Temple. He sent a letter to the city’s planning department and points to Detroit’s River Walk, rated best in the country, a new Gordie Howe Bridge going up along with the arenas, and he believes this addition to District Detroit does something similar, and big, for the city.

The Reverend Wendell Anthony sent a similar letter of support to the city. Pastor Williams says he believes the city needs to be vigilant that all promises made are kept and calls on the city and the developers to watch the actions and the contract.

About the Author:

Rod Meloni is an Emmy Award-winning Business Editor on Local 4 News and a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional.