Amazon plans $400M Detroit distribution center at site abandoned for a decade

Site would bring approximately 1,200 jobs paying $15 per hour to the area

Amazon is planning to develop a $400 million distribution center in Detroit at the old Michigan State Fairgrounds site, according to the Detroit Free Press.

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Private real estate developers and investors agreed to develop the 142-acre property for more than $16 million, the city's official website states.

Amazon is currently in negotiations with Hillwood Investment Properties to be the first anchor tenant to occupy the land with a 3.8 million-acre building that would bring approximately 1,200 jobs offering $15-per-hour minimum wage to the area, according to the city.

"What Detroit needs more than anything right now is jobs, and we are deeply appreciative that Hillwood and the Sterling Group have made our city its choice to purchase the former Michigan State Fairgrounds with the potential to bring more than 1,200 good-paying jobs," Detroit Mayor Duggan said in a Tuesday statement.

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He added that Hillwood, Sterling and Amazon "will be working closely with our team at Detroit at Work, which will be helping to provide outstanding candidates who are residents of the city."

Detroit Amazon site rendering (photo: City of Detroit)

Of the $16 million development investment from Hillwood and Sterling, $7 million would go toward Detroit Department of Transportation transit.

Construction on the project could begin as early as October if the Detroit City Council approves plans by September, and Amazon's distribution center could open as soon as 2022.

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"This agreement for the proposed sale of the State Fair Grounds is a tremendous opportunity, not only for District 2 and the City of Detroit, but for the unification of Southeast Michigan," Councilman Roy McCalister said in a statement. "The potential for 1,200 Amazon jobs this new facility represents an opportunity to diversify our economy while employing residents of our City."

He added that he hopes the new Amazon development "will become a major employer, as well as a dynamic training ground for Detroit workers for years to come."

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The property, which hosted the state fair from 1905 through 2009, has been abandoned for more than a decade. A number of failed development projects have come and gone since then-Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm cut funding for the state fair in 2009 to focus on other local projects during the Great Recession, The Detroit News reported.

Duggan said during a Tuesday press conference that he expects some existing historic buildings such as the Hertel Colessium to be torn down as a result of the project, according to the outlet.

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"I think they're probably all going to get knocked down," Duggan said. "We've all got emotional attachments, but in the last 10 years, not a single person has been able to figure out how to use these old agricultural buildings in a way that follows a business plan."

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