WCCC strikes deal over arena garage completing Detroit bankruptcy plan

The city's offer to give its final creditor the Joe Louis Arena parking garage was a crucial piece of an important deal to get the city out of bankruptcy.

There was just one problem - the city didn't own all of the garage. Problem Solver M.L. Elrick revealed that hitch last month and now has some good news.

Wayne County Community College officials say the city never consulted them before giving away the college's share of the nearby arena garage, but instead of trying to block the deal, they started working on their own bargain.

"This is the last piece of the entire plan of adjustment of debt for generally to leave bankruptcy," said Butch Holowell, Detroit city attorney.

Hollowell, the city's top lawyer, came to the community college hoping to close a deal and he brought a powerful friend: Mayor Mike Duggan and he's pretty eager to exit bankruptcy, too.

"There's a lot of these issues that we're just grinding through," he said. "And as they pop up we work them out."

No one is saying the city was out of line when it gave away 100 percent of Joe Louis Arena garage -- even though the college owned 10 percent.

"I don't think that anyone tried to do anything inappropriate," said Curtis Ivery, Wayne County Community College chancellor

Ivery was concerned that one of the city's creditors could end up with property that belonged to the college.

"I felt perhaps that we all needed to take a look at some of the paperwork," he said.

After several days of intense negotiations, the college is feeling pretty good about what it got from the city. 

The list includes:
  • City-owned land to the west of the downtown campus.
  • City-owned land on Lafayette Boulevard.
  • The city may use college for future workforce development and training programs.  
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says there was never any doubt a deal would get done.

"We were confident we could work something out to swap out their 10 percent interest for the property and it worked out smoothly," he said.

If college officials are sore that the city tried to pull a fast one, they are hiding it pretty well.

"We think we've got some significant pieces of land that will not only give us some parking, but will give us ability to expand the college in a westerly fashion," said Godfrey Dillard. "Therefore we think it's a good deal."

FOX 2 asked college officials how they felt about being offered land by the same folks who tried to give away their land. they said some deals still need to be worked out but they are confident there are no surprises ahead.

Once the college gets the land, it will use it for parking because it will lose some spots in the short term due to the garage swap. 

Officials may expand parking and expand the campus. 
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