Detroit City Council Votes Yes on Amazon Distribution Center

The former Michigan State Fairgrounds is in for an industrial transformation.

In a 5-2 majority vote Tuesday, Detroit City Council officials approved plans to build an Inc. distribution center in place of the historic Michigan State Fairgrounds.

City Council members James Tate, Janeé Ayers, André Spivey, Scott Benson, Gabe Leland and Roy McCalister were all in agreement with the sale. Council President Brenda Jones and Member Raquel Castañeda-López voted against the change. Council President Pro Tem Mary Sheffield was not in attendance during Tuesday’s vote.

The decision came with some pushback from council members as well as Detroiters. 

Critics were concerned that the distribution center would not meet the expectations of supporters who say the company will help to create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the state. 

“This deal…sets no goals or metrics for outreach or a partnership with Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation to ensure the 1,200 permanent jobs are filed by Detroiters,” Jones wrote in a statement. “These non-skilled labor jobs pay $15 per hour with benefits. These are jobs that can easily be filled by Detroit residents who are ready to work and bring value to Amazon, while providing a meaningful quality of life to their families and contribute to the city’s tax base. These are the types of jobs many Detroiters need.”

Others worry the industrial site will have negative effects on the health of citizens. 

Amazon plans to hire a minimum of 1,200 Michiganders in connection with the new distribution center. 

A standing condition in the sale, The Sterling Group and Hillwood Investment Properties, the buyers involved with developing the site, are required to pay for a Detroit Department of Transportation transit center totaling $7 million. They are also required to hire Detroiters for more than half of construction work hours and are expected to work with local unions. Failure to do so will result in fines. 

“With Council approval now in place, construction is expected to begin in the coming weeks,” Mayor Mike Duggan said in a statement.

The project is set to be completed in 2022.

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