The controversial plan to build a new Detroit Red Wings arena north of downtown cleared a major hurdle Tuesday after the Detroit City Council approved a crucial land transfer during a heated meeting today.
The deal, approved by a 6-3 vote, calls for selling 39 vacant parcels just north of downtown for $1.
The $450 million arena development is a joint venture between companies controlled by Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch and the Detroit Downtown Development Authority, which captures taxes to promote development.
If all goes as planned, the development would stretch across eight blighted blocks and help breathe life into the Cass Corridor, a long-dormant stretch between downtown and Midtown that has become synonymous with drug-dealing, homelessness and abandonment.
The overall project would cost $650 million and is to include new residential, entertainment, retail and office buildings over a 45-block area.
“This an improved agreement,” Councilwoman Saunteel Jenkins said. “It’s not perfect, but it provides jobs and income taxes.”
Council President Brenda Jones said she needs a guarantee that Detroiters will receive most of the jobs once construction is complete.
“I am not going to change my mind on that,” Jones said. “I don’t think no one can say they want more skilled trade jobs than I do.”
After the vote, one resident shouted out: “The citizens of Detroit thank you for selling them out!”
Also voting no were James Tate and Raquel Castaneda-Lopez.
Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.