Detroit City Council approves $800M District Detroit tax incentive for promise of jobs

The Detroit City Council approved an $800 million District Detroit tax incentive on Tuesday.

Not everyone is happy. Opponents said they already subsidized Little Caesars Arena a decade ago and the family didn't follow through with their promises. Now, comes hundreds of millions in tax incentives the developers asked for - approved with an overwhelming 8-1 vote.

Council president Mary Sheffield cast the lone 'no' vote.  The city has touted the project would create a $1.5 billion investment, bringing 12,000 construction jobs and 6,000 permanent jobs.

The District Detroit development near Little Caesars Arena has been developed the Ilitch family and others.  The project will renovate or construct a new properties including 700 residential units, commercial buildings, and two hotels.  

Some still have questions.

"To contribute to the minority trust fun and Minority business development, it is critical we do that,"  said Councilwoman Mary Waters.

For many council members the approval by city council of a $1.5 billion  District Detroit project boiled down to three words.

"Detroit-based businesses," said Councilwoman Latisha Johnson.

And the ambitious project doesn’t define what that means, but the intent is to provide benefits, jobs and housing to Black and brown Detroiters. But most like District Detroit.

"I also understand the risk on a legislative level of why you cannot define that because it creates a sense of bias," said Councilman Fred Durhal. "Particular even as ... has expressed their intent of what that means talking about Black or brown. The state  constitution explicitly prohibits an agreement based on race."

But what has dominated multiple hours of council and public discussion has been what they call a community benefits agreement - an agreement that spells out how much of the building and jobs will be obtained by Detroiters.

"This is too big of a project, it's going to help too many people, it is going to put too many people to work," said Councilman Coleman Young.

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The Ilitch group wants about $800 million in tax incentives. Most of the monies will be captured because of the where these buildings will be constructed- in Detroit’s DDA.

"I just want to say from my perspective, I appreciate this, but one thing I know since I've been here is that resolutions are not binding." Sheffield said.

Beginning construction could start - as early as July.