Detroit City Council approves sale of state fairgrounds for Amazon distribution center

The historic Michigan State Fairgrounds at the corner of 8 Mile and Woodward will soon be home of an Amazon distribution center after the Detroit City Council voted five to two to approve the sale of the property.

The $400 million Amazon Distribution Center is slated to be built at the old State Fairgrounds. But some have raised questions including U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) about working conditions and the possible demolition of historic buildings.

But despite the efforts of protesters and the public commenting portion of Tuesday's virtual city council meeting, the sale went through.

"It’s a much-needed change because it will definitely improve the quality of life for everyone in the area.”

But not everyone is happy about it.

"It seems to me that the mayor is rushing all bodies to approve this project," one commenter said.

The city says the center on the 142-acre plot would mean 1,200 permanent and new jobs plus temporary construction jobs. The city also said it will generate $43 million in tax revenues over the next 10 years.

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"For some, they see it as a patch of land that needs some improvement and other folks they see it as a place for where their heart and their memories are," said Nicole Sherward-Freeman with Workforce Development for Detroit.

But others are raising questions about working conditions and the possible demolition of historic buildings. Protesters met at the site on Woodward on Friday.

"I live in this area, I'm a native Detroiter and I'm just concerned about my neighborhood and my city," said Earline Smith.

Those in opposition told the council they are also concerned about environmental issues and an increase in traffic and a decrease in air quality.

Others say they don’t believe Detroiters will truly benefit.

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Among the detractors is City Council President Brenda Jones who said there was no guarantee for permanent jobs with Amazon for Detroit residents.

"This deal also sets NO goals or metrics for outreach or a partnership with Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation to ensure the 1,200 permanent jobs are filled by Detroiters. 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 meaningful quality of life to their families and contribute to the city's tax base. These are the type of jobs many Detroiters need," Jones said in a statement.

Advocates for the plan say they would like to see the site come back to life and they also say those jobs are desperately needed.

"The opportunity of having jobs in the city does allow people that start off slower in life - It allows us to advance. I’m a very big supporter of the transit center," one commenter said.