Detroit City Council approves $51.8M tax break for District Detroit development

The Detroit City Council has approved a tax break of close to $52 million for the next decade to make way for four residential and commercial buildings in downtown as part of the Ilitch organization and Stephen Ross' District Detroit development plan.

The 10-year, $51.8 million tax break was unanimously approved on Tuesday by the City Council to convert part of the office space in the historic Fox Theatre into a new hotel overlooking Woodward Avenue and facing Comerica Ballpark.

By approving the tax break, the developers will save $51.8 million in property taxes while the city nets $77 million in taxes over that same period. 

The nearly $52 million break is part of a larger plan that the Ilitch organization and Ross' Related Holdings are seeking. They want $798 million in tax incentives and breaks from the city and state. They already secured $615 from the state in April as they aim to build three mixed-use buildings while renovating a fourth across from the Fox, which is owned by Ilitch.

Andrew Cantor, the Executive Vice President of Related Companies says this is the next phase in downtown.

"We hope that it brings continued economic growth, opportunity, a sense of downtown as a place for all Detroiters," Cantor said. "With proposed mixed-use project that includes residential hotel, office, retail, and all of that being built around an academic center that the University of Michigan will be building."

The two companies say it will also come with jobs and more benefits for the city of Detroit.

"The plan anticipates approximately 12,000 construction jobs being created through this project approximately 6000 permanent jobs from the jobs range from everything from property management and retail jobs," Cantor said.

The city council had no issues green lighting the plan.

"It also will address the major issues we talk about which is affordable housing, housing and stability is huge here in Detroit this project pushes forward for residential housing project," Detroit City Councilman Fred Durhal III said.

But opponents said they already subsidized Little Caesar's Arena a decade ago and that the Ilitches didn't follow through.

"The things we need you all to focus on for the residence you pay us no mind, but when it comes to corporate, y’all roll out the red carpet and get offended when we pointed out," one person said during public comment at the council meeting.

"You’ll sit here and please Ross and Ilitch, and all these millionaires that come here and take our money and what are they doing for us, giving it to someone else outside – the gentrifiers," another commenter said.

Regardless, the plan passed and developers hope to start construction sometime this year