February 25, 2014 at 3:53 pm

After Shinola donation, Detroit council explores fees for branded gifts

Detroit — The installation of a clock near Cobo Center bearing the name of Detroit-based watch and bicycle maker Shinola has prompted the City Council to explore whether the city can charge companies a fee for branded gifts.

Shinola is donating the clock and three others to the city to pay tribute to the historic Kern’s Department Store clock on Woodward Avenue. The company plans to install all of the 13-foot-tall “city clocks” in Detroit by early next month.

Councilman Gabe Leland raised the revenue-generating idea during Tuesday’s formal session before the council approved zoning for the pole-mounted clock, which will temporarily go up at the southwest corner of Washington Boulevard and West Larned Street. It will later be moved to the Cobo Square outside its new food court.

While the panel ultimately decided not to pursue a fee for the Shinola project, it did direct its legal staffers to evaluate a policy for future donations.

“I support companies like Shinola coming into Detroit, making an investment and growing jobs,” Leland said after the meeting. “(But) we have to think about revenue streams in a time of economic instability. We as council have an obligation to do what we can to find revenue.”

Leland said discussions about attaching a fee to gifts, such as the Shinola clock, did not materialize prior to Tuesday.

“I just kind of woke up this morning and thought I wanted to gauge my council colleagues on it to see how they felt about it,” he said. “We have a good, strong company like Shinola, that does want to advertise itself on the clock. So, I guess if there’s an opportunity to find a way that makes sense to us for some revenue at a time of our city where we’re seeing economic instability. It’s at least worth the conversation.”

The Shinola clocks will be paid for by the company and donated to four organizations or businesses within city limits.

“It’s a gift to the people of Detroit and the region,” Shinola’s president, Jacques Panis, previously told The Detroit News.

All four will be up and running by the start of Daylight Savings Time, March 9.

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