Detroit City Council approves land swap with Moroun family in exchange for Riverside Park improvements

Despite protests from some neighbors, Detroit City Council voted Tuesday to approve the final piece of a land swap deal with the Moroun family, who owns the Ambassador Bridge.

"I think it's important that even though the vote went through we will hold you accountable to your word and I do believe that he will continue to negotiate," Council President Mary Sheffield said after the 6-3 vote.

This deal includes the city receiving $5 million in improvements to Riverside Park.

As part of a 2015 deal between the city and Morouns, Riverside Park was cleaned up. 

Matthew Moroun promised to work with the city and in particular Southwest Detroit on a future. However, he said he wants the city to uphold its end of the deal from 2015.

"We've got other issues that are unrelated to Riverside Park. Those need to be dealt with, and I promise that we can deal with them, and I promise that we can come to mutually positive outcomes," he said.

The 2015 deal involved Detroit getting 4.71 acres in Riverside Park, while Moroun would demolish a building and clean up the environment. Moroun's company got 3.71 acres, and he withheld his part of the agreement.

"The fact that we are in current breach of the 2015 land exchange agreement places the city in potential jeopardy," said Conrad Mallett, Detroit's corporation counsel.

The city council previously rejected a similar land swap deal with the Moroun family after bowing to intense public pressure. Land swap deals are intended to include benefits to the community that are funded or serviced by the business that is receiving the land. 

Neighbors are worried that by swapping the land over to the bridge owners, the Moroun family's business will expand, sending more truck traffic near local neighborhoods.