Detroit has 'substantial' agreements for the 200 acres of FCA plant land
Detroit — City officials said Thursday that Detroit has “substantial” agreements for the 200 acres of land needed for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' proposed plant expansion on the city's east side.
“We are working around the clock to wrap things up with Chrysler,” Matt Walters, with the administration’s jobs and economy team, told the City Council’s planning and economic development committee on Thursday. “We have substantial agreement with FCA and the landowners that occupy the 200 acres that are needed for this project. So we are dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s with all those different parties.”
But city officials declined to comment on whether the 200 acres includes the 83.37-acre manufacturing site at 12141 Charlevoix, tied to a Moroun-owned company, Crown Enterprises. Officials with Crown Enterprises did not return a call seeking comment.
Earlier this week, the administration touted "significant progress" two days past a 60-day deadline to gather 200 acres of land for the $2.5 billion plant expansion.
Fiat Chrysler plans to invest $1.6 billion in expanding its Mack Avenue facilities with a new plant and investing $900 million to modernize its Jefferson North Assembly Plant.
Walters' comments Thursday came as the planning and economic development committee addressed FCA-related matters including a public hearing on the establishment of an industrial development district. The committee was also presented a zoning change request and a community benefits report.
The committee voted Thursday to send the Industrial Development District request to the full council with a recommendation to approve.
An industrial development district would pave the way for FCA to request tax incentives, said Kenyetta Hairston-Bridges, executive vice president of Economic Development and Investment Services for the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation.
"The company would have to come back at a later date in order to get approval for any incentives that would be tied to this district," she said. "The term of the district is in perpetuity, as districts never expire, however, the certificate request once it comes before you would be for a period of up to 12 years."
The company confirmed this week that it has applied for up to $160 million from existing state incentive programs.
The committee also voted Thursday to send to the full council a recommendation to set a public hearing for the rezoning of 266 parcels to a restricted industrial district. The parcels, currently in two-family residential, thoroughfare residential, or general business districts, are generally bounded by East Warren to the north, St. Jean to the east, Kercheval to the south and Lillibridge and Beniteau to the west.
The automaker, the city and a neighborhood advisory council reached an agreement on community benefits last week after a series of community meetings.
That agreement provides Detroit residents first access to plant jobs as well as FCA’s investment of $13.8 million into workforce training, education, housing and neighborhood revitalization.
On Thursday, the planning and economic development committee voted to keep the proposed community benefits agreement with the committee on May 9 rather than send it to the full City Council on Tuesday. Some committee members expressed concern about addressing the agreement before the city has completed the land acquisition.
"The recommendation that I was going to have was to keep it in committee because I know there was an issue at the formal," Councilman James Tate said. "So there's no need to have that same situation again."
During the City Council meeting Tuesday, Councilwoman Raquel Castaneda-Lopez said voting on the initial land transactions presented to them was "premature," considering other land agreements, tax abatements and a community benefits plan were pending.
The panel voted 7-2 in favor of those land transactions involving Hantz Farms, DTE Energy Co., Detroit Land Bank Authority and property owner Michael Kelly. Castaneda-Lopez and Pro Tem Mary Sheffield voted no.
Known land acquired for the project includes 40 acres from the closure of St Jean Street, 40 acres from DTE Energy's old Conners Creek power plant site, 14.45 acres of leased land from the Great Lakes Water Authority as well as land from Hantz Farm and Kelly.