Court grants temporary restraining order blocking sale of Michigan State Fairgrounds for Detroit Amazon facility


State Fairgrounds Development Coalition members (from left): Tonya Phillips, Marya Sosulski, Gary Hanafee, Frank Hammer, Al Martin, and Adrienne Warren. - STATE FAIRGROUNDS DEVELOPMENT COALITION
  • State Fairgrounds Development Coalition
  • State Fairgrounds Development Coalition members (from left): Tonya Phillips, Marya Sosulski, Gary Hanafee, Frank Hammer, Al Martin, and Adrienne Warren.

Wayne County Circuit Court issued a temporary restraining order on Wednesday that halts the City of Detroit sale of the 142-acre site of the former Michigan State Fairgrounds for a $400 million Amazon distribution center.

The restraining order was issued because of a lawsuit filed by the State Fairgrounds Development Coalition, a group of community activists who allege the city sold the land for less than it's worth and is therefore subject to the Community Benefits Ordinance (CBO), which requires large-scale developers to negotiate benefits packages with neighborhoods. The group is represented by the nonprofit Sugar Law Center for Economic & Social Justice.

The Detroit City Council on Tuesday approved the sale earlier this month.

The coalition alleges the city sold the land for $9 million, but it's worth at least $11.1 million, according to a draft appraisal.

"The stakes are too high, especially with environmental and health impacts, for Plaintiffs to be deprived of their opportunity to receive benefits and a means to hold the developer, Amazon, and other corporations that stand to profit accountable under the Community Benefits Ordinance (CBO)," Tonya Myers Phillips, Director of Partnerships and Development at the Sugar Law Center, said in a statement.

"Detroiters were entitled by the Detroit CBO to a Community Benefits Agreement," State Fairgrounds Development Coalition co-chair Frank Hammer said in a statement.

Detroit’s top attorney, Lawrence Garcia, told Metro Times the lawsuit is "a media stunt" and denies the land was sold for below market value.

A hearing on Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction is scheduled for noon on Monday, Nov. 9 before Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Sheila Ann Gibson.

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