Detroit City Council delays vote again on Hudson's project tax break

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

The Detroit City Council has again voted to postpone a decision on Bedrock's request for $60 million in property tax breaks for its Hudson’s site development.

The council is expected to vote in one week on the firm’s request for a commercial rehabilitation exemption certificate. If approved, the tax break would be effective Dec. 31, 2024, and result in savings of $6 million annually for 10 years, officials said. 

The delay comes as there has been some pushback from residents who have spoken out against the tax incentive request. City Council President Mary Sheffield said Tuesday she requested a delay in the vote to address concerns raised by residents during four community meetings held Monday. 

"There was a lot of residents that expressed support and opposition, but I wanted to just allow more time to really digest some of the concerns, some of what was raised at those meetings," she said. "I've been working with ... Bedrock around some of the retail portion of the building, some of the affordability of the building and also the event space.

"I know there's some commitments made verbally, but I'm trying to continue to negotiate that this actually benefits Detroiters. I just think that more time can only make it stronger."

Sheffield said she wants a written commitment regarding how often community organizations will be able to use the event space as well as how much access Detroit businesses will have to the retail space.

The city council first postponed the vote last week with some council members saying they wanted to focus on educating residents regarding tax abatements. . In a statement Tuesday, Bedrock said it fully supports council's decision to bring the matter back in another week.

"We have participated in valuable dialogue and educational sessions with Council members and the community until late yesterday evening," the statement said. "We were heartened by the strong support we heard from community stakeholders who understand the need for these economic development tools as well as the building trades who want to see investment continue.

"This additional time will ensure that every question gets a thorough response and that all relevant feedback is addressed. We are confident that taking this time will lead to even stronger support and a positive outcome for downtown Detroit and the community."

Plans for the under-construction project include a hotel, retail, office space, event spaces, rooftop amenities and a public plaza. The tower portion of the development will be 685 feet high, making it the second-tallest building in Detroit and Michigan when the project is complete in 2024.

Bedrock contends the tax abatement is needed to make the project viable. 

“Applicant must demonstrate that ‘but for’ the abatement the project is not financially feasible,” according to Commercial Rehabilitation Act guidelines outlined by the quasi-governmental Detroit Economic Growth Corp. “The approval of an abatement must provide a net positive revenue gain to the city.”

On Monday, Kenyetta Hairston-Bridges, executive vice president of economic development and investment services for the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., said Bedrock has met the need-based requirement to request the incentive.

"From a need perspective, DEGC has evaluated the project’s financial proforma including developer returns and this project has met the 'But For' Test and requires an incentive to support the current proposal as presented," Hairston-Bridges said.

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN