Detroit is accelerating its plan to spend $95 million in federal COVID pandemic aid for commercial demolition and site preparation
Kyle Morton, vice president of development at Ashley Capital, calls assembling the land a “really complicated task”.
“(The $95 million) is a good first step, but it’s not a perfect solution to move all these (projects) forward,” he said.
Ashley Capital, a New York-based industrial and warehouse developer, has been active in the redevelopment of major sites in Metro Detroit. This includes the 450,000 square foot Means Logistics Park in Detroit and Highland Park – a difficult development in package assembly, zoning and street vacations, as well as the sudden death of its top champion, Eric Means. Ashley is also a minority partner in an industrial/warehouse development in southwest Detroit as part of a black-owned business campus.
Any help from the city with the complex processes of assembling land, rezoning it for new use, starting any necessary demolition work, or dealing with environmental contamination is good and makes a site more attractive, a said Morton, because Detroit lacks “easy” sites. Choose. It costs more time and money.
He said Ashley Capital is following the city’s land assembly process and looking for opportunities, but “it’s really a city government decision” where projects can go.
“There’s no land to create in Detroit…it’s a built-up city that has old infrastructure and old street patterns,” Morton said. “If they had a pitch to help start that process, that would be great.”
Sherard-Freeman said there are national companies that she thinks will be interested in these properties once the city shows it is investing in them. But developers also have to do their part.
Ashley Capital is “excited to see where this is going,” Morton said. He wants to see Detroit find supplier factories and other job sites that can keep workers in Detroit instead of sending them to the suburbs. The Stellantis auto factories on the east side, for example, have attracted interest from suppliers including Dakkota Integrated Systems, and General Motors Co.’s Factory Zero has attracted Lear Corp.
“Major manufacturers typically seek open land on which to build or turnkey facilities that can be made available quickly and easily. The administration of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan has prioritized increasing competitiveness of Detroit to attract this segment of the industrial market, but the number of sites that currently meet industry criteria is limited,” reads the Detroit Future City report.