Wayne County approves $40 million development deal for former Pinnacle race course
Detroit — Wayne County's Commission on Thursday unanimously signed off on a $40 million development deal for the shuttered Pinnacle race track.
Wayne County Executive Warren Evans said Texas-based Hillwood Enterprises L.P. is acquiring the Pinnacle Aeropark Property from the county for about $4.9 million. The company, founded by Ross Perot Jr., is expected to develop the site within five years.
The purchaser has until Dec. 1 to complete inspections of the 650-acre site before closing on the deal, the county said in a news release. A spokeswoman for Hillwood could not be immediately reached for comment on Thursday.
The Huron Township race track closed in 2010 after the Ficano administration spent $26 million in taxpayer money there for infrastructure improvements. The venture failed two years after the track opened in 2008.
“Pinnacle has been a difficult chapter for Wayne County and Huron Township, and there is a lot of work yet to do, but I’m excited about the prospect of selling Pinnacle to people who are going to finally put it into productive use in a way that makes sense for this location,” Evans said in a statement.
“It’s a large tract of land near a renowned international airport, and there’s a lot of potential for development that will help expand our tax base and create jobs.”
The site, bordered by Pennsylvania, Wayne, Sibley and Vining roads, includes 350 acres of county-owned land and the 300-acre racecourse site, which was acquired after foreclosure in 2019 under the right of refusal process, the county said.
Plans for the site, depending on how much is ultimately developable, would include mixed-use development such as light manufacturing or logistics warehousing, said Assistant Wayne County Executive Khalil Rahal.
In 2016, structures and debris on the racecourse parcel were removed following an agreement between the county and the property’s then-owner to clear the site. Rahal said officials hope the project will break ground in the spring.
“Situated near two highways and an international airport, we think Hillwood’s plans for a mixed-use industrial development to drive commercial activity along the I-275 corridor is a great fit as we continue to build toward a world-class logistics hub,” Rahal added.
The horse racing site is the latest in Metro Detroit to seek out plans for reuse. Last spring, the Hazel Park Raceway shut its doors after 70 years in favor of new development and the Northville Downs announced it sold its track to a housing developer.
Hillwood, Rahal said, is partnering with Detroit-based Sterling Group on the project. The two previously teamed for the development of an Amazon fulfillment center in Shelby Township.
Once the deal closes, taxes paid on the property will go toward back debt from $13 million in bond funding issued for the site under Ficano. With interest, Rahal said, that cost ballooned, bringing the county's overall investment to $40 million.
As part of the agreement, Hillwood is expected to make efforts to award construction contracts to Wayne County-based and veteran-owned businesses and ensure that 51% of jobs created by development will go to Wayne County residents.
“This represents another major step in bringing investment and job growth in the area surrounding Metro Airport," Commission Chair Alisha Bell said. "It shows that Wayne County is moving forward and the airport region will help lead the way.”