Gordie Howe bridge authority inks multi-million dollar property deal with Detroit
A major hurdle for the construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge was cleared Friday with the announcement of a $48.4-million property deal with the city of Detroit.
The agreement will see governments on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border fork over the cash to the City of Detroit to buy property, spur on neighbourhood development, while providing job training and health monitoring for several communities, explained Detroit Mayor Mike Dugan.
The plan was unveiled during a news conference in the Motor City on Friday morning, but will still need approval by Detroit city council. The municipality plans to sell 36 parcels of land to the state.
"The only way we reduce poverty in the city is to raise the skill level of our residents, raise their employment levels and raise pay," said Duggan. "We've demolished a lot of houses in this city. It is great to have a $33-million fund to renovate them."
The agreement involves the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority, the State of Michigan and City of Detroit. The city will receive $22.9 million from the Michigan Department of Transportation, funded by the bridge authority. Detroit will also receive $10.1 million from WDBA for leases and service payments.
The $33 million will be invested in a neighbourhood improvement fund, while another $15.4 million will be funded by the state.
Delray community improvement
The deal will bring improvements to communities around the proposed bridge, especially in the community of Delray, an area in southwest Detroit where the bridge will be built, Duggan said.
"We want to take 240 vacant houses owned by the land and we want to renovate them with the funds being given," Duggan said. "People in the Delray community will get the first opportunity to swap their current house for one in the new subdivision."
The Delray Community Advisory Group was on hand for Friday's announcement.
"When the idea of the bridge first came up, residents didn't want it to happen in Delray," said Simone Sagovac. But "it became really clear that the most likely location was going to be Delray because it had the most vacant publicly-owned land at the cheapest price."
The advisory group says once it knew the bridge was coming to Delray, it began to focus on the best outcomes for the community.
Construction is set to begin in 2018.