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Key development projects slated to impact Downriver in the years ahead

The Detroit Regional Partnership, an economic development nonprofit, held the Downriver Economic Development Summit on Monday, where a number of new projects impacting the region were discussed.

Gordie Howe International Bridge

The Gordie Howe International Bridge soon will give travelers a new route between the United States and Canada. An agreement for the new bridge was agreed upon in 2012 and is moving forward as a private-public partnership with Bridging North America.

“A private-public model provides a lot of benefits for an infrastructure project of this size and scope,” said Heather Grondin, vice president of communications of the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority.

The fixed-price contract with Bridging North America is worth $5.7 billion Canadian dollars, at a length of 36 years — six years for the construction schedule and 30 years for operations and maintenance.

Construction began in October 2018. The bridge is expected to open at the end of 2024.

“Right now, our design phase is 70 percent complete, but we’ve been able to start all four phases of construction,” Grondin said. “The bridge will have six lanes, three each way as well as a multi-use path.”

Grondin said the Gordie Howe bridge will come with workforce and neighborhood development plans. She said the bridge will be union-contracted, with peak construction slated between 2021-2023.

“This ensures the opportunity for local workers and local contractors to play a role in the project,” she said. “$10 million will be spent on each side of the border for a home repair program, a community safety program, a community partnership fund and investments in southwest Detroit development.”

Hillwood Development

Private investment firm Hillwood Development, owned by Ross Perot Jr., is expanding to Michigan. An industrial warehouse distribution and manufacturing space is in the works to be built at the location of the former Pinnacle race track in Huron Township.

Hillwood works with an array of clients from the automotive industry to the online space. The 650-acre property, titled Commerce 275, was purchased on Dec. 16.

“Phase 1 for us will be building a 350,000-square-foot building and a 250,000-square-foot building” said Don Schoenheider, senior vice president for the Midwest region of Hillwood Development. “We want to do big things here. We’re thrilled to be here in Wayne County.”

The facility will be used for logistics and will designate 51 percent of the jobs it creates to Wayne County residents.

Detroit Region Aerotropolis

The Detroit Region Aerotropolis is a public-private economic development partnership that spans four communities, centered between Willow Run and Detroit Metropolitan Airports.

“We were designed as the next Michigan development corporation to build on those two economic engines,” said Christopher Girdwood, executive director of Aerotropolis. “We want to make sure we utilize these airports to full capacity.”

Girdwood said Aerotropolis is focusing on bringing distribution, transportation and logistics to the 6,000-acre area that includes Huron Township, Romulus, Taylor and Van Buren Township.

“Think of it as a blank canvas,” he said, contrasting the possibilities of the Aerotropolis with that of Chicago. “It’s a built-out environment. When you look at us, we have a lot of greenfield space. We don’t have legacy infrastructure, and we can be more sustainable with our developments.”

DTE Energy power plants

DTE Energy is slated to retire two Downriver power plants by 2022. The coal-fired plants in Trenton and River Rouge will be phased out in an effort to move towards a future of clean energy.

“During the transition, we’re taking steps towards continuing to serve the community, even if Trenton doesn’t produce power,” said Brian Kincaid, director of DTE Energy’s South Area Generating Facilities. The Trenton site is scheduled to be open for redevelopment by 2024.

The River Rouge plant will take several more years to be open for redevelopment. Later this year, the plant will switch from coal to recycled gas until 2022. The plant has a contract to pulverize coal for AK Steel until at least 2028.

Kincaid said the location of both plants should make them dynamic opportunities for future developments.

“One thing that’s unique about both is that they have water and road accessibility,” he said. “We have rendered office space for Trenton, and the River Rouge plant can be a shipping hub for port activity.”


Posted By: The News Herald on February 5, 2020.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.

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