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Detroit City Council Approves Sale of Former State Fairgrounds, Amazon to Open 3.8 MSF Facility at Site

The developers plan to build a massive facility for Amazon as well as a new indoor transit center for the Detroit Department of Transportation. Pictured is a rendering of the transit center.

DETROIT — The Detroit City Council has approved the sale of the former Michigan State Fairgrounds, providing the green light for a $400 million redevelopment of the site. Detroit-based Sterling Group and Dallas-based Hillwood Investment Properties have agreed to pay $9 million for the land, with plans to build a 3.8 million-square-foot distribution center for Amazon at the property.

The e-commerce giant will occupy half of the 142-acre site, located at the corner of Woodward Avenue and 8 Mile Road. Its facility is projected to bring more than 1,200 new full-time jobs to the area. The remaining acreage will be dedicated to auto part suppliers or other employers, according to the developers.

The Michigan State Fair took place annually in Detroit from 1849 to 2009 when the publicly funded event was removed from the budget. In 2011, the fair went private and moved to nearby Novi. The redevelopment plans call for the demolition of several buildings at the old fairgrounds, including the 5,600-seat arena built in 1922, according to local news outlets.

The project also includes the development of a new indoor transit center to replace the current one on Woodward Avenue near the fairgrounds. As part of the agreement, the developers will pay $7 million for the construction of the new center, which will include an indoor waiting area with heat and air conditioning, a bus operator break room, bathrooms and free Wi-Fi. The center will provide service to roughly 30,000 riders per week from nine separate bus routes, according to the city.

The Amazon facility and the transit center are both expected to begin operations in mid-2022.

Hillwood has built Amazon centers in states across the country, including recent ones in Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Wisconsin and Tennessee. Sterling has managed major projects such as the renovation of the historic Guardian Building in downtown Detroit.

The developers and Amazon plan to work closely with Detroit at Work, an organization that helps prepare Detroiters for job opportunities.

— Kristin Hiller

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