Group protests sale of state fairgrounds to Amazon

DETROIT – A group protested Friday morning against the sale of the Michigan State Fairgrounds to Amazon.

The State Fair Development Coalition says the sale price is too low and questions the number of jobs that will be available to Detroiters if it goes through, WXYZ Detroit reports. They gathered at the fairgrounds to make their voices heard.

Amazon is looking to buy a portion of the fairgrounds at Woodward Avenue and 8 Mile from the city of Detroit for $9 million. The plan is to build a $400 million mega distribution center – 3.8 million square feet – that would create 1,200 new jobs for Detroiters. If the project goes ahead as planned, the center will open in 2022. The plans were announced in August, after more than a decade of failed development attempts at the site.

RELATED: Amazon to build distribution center at Michigan State Fairgrounds in Detroit

Before finalizing the sale, Amazon needs city council to change the zoning to industrial, the TV station reports. The council is expected to vote on it Tuesday.

Frank Hammer, founder and co-chair of the State Fair Development Coalition, is questioning whether the 1,200 jobs will come to fruition, the report said. He also says the city is being shortchanged on the sale since a neighboring city recently sold half the amount of land for twice the price.

The protest’s intent was to encourage city officials to slow the process and think twice about the deal and its potential consequences, the report said.

RELATED: ‘Last mile’ Amazon delivery station now open in Southeast Michigan

Under the terms of the proposed deal, the project would be privately financed, and without tax breaks or other financial incentives. The development team would pay $9 million for the land based on a recent appraisal, and $7 million for a new Detroit Department of Transportation transit center, according to a news release from the mayor’s office. The developer also would pay the cost of demolition and environmental remediation to prepare the land for construction.


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