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Warren Towne Center plan remains stalled as mayor, city council disagree on proposal

Posted at 5:35 PM, Feb 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-07 17:35:13-05

WARREN, Mich. (WXYZ) — The open space on the south side of Warren City Hall could one day host a hotel, apartments and businesses, including a high-end supermarket.

Warren would have a downtown. Some residents like the idea.

“If you want to go to downtown you have to go to, like, Detroit," resident Kawsar Ahmed said.

Resident Tarena Begun said, “There will be new jobs available for people nowadays. People (are) looking for jobs. So yeah, that would be great.”

Another resident, Mary Jansen, said not so fast.

“I’m just very much against taking the land and making it more crowded, I guess," she then chuckled.

Jansen will be glad to know the $170 million Warren Towne Center project is stalled. City council and the mayor disagree on a $30 million bond proposal that’s included in the total cost of the project.

Mayor Jim Fouts said he wants the incentive approved for the developer. However, city council rejected the bond. The mayor then vetoed their rejection.

“The courts have indicated overwhelmingly that you can have a public-private partnership with bonds as long as there’s a benefit to the taxpayers and the city,” Fouts told 7 Action News.

The mayor wrote a letter to city council with what he said are the pros of the project. Among them, he says $2.5 million in new tax revenue will be generated, 1,000 construction jobs will be created, 500 commercial jobs and $250 million in new investment in Warren.

“We don’t disagree. It is a great thing," City Council President Patrick Green told 7 Action News.

Green said council members like the project, but he calls the bond proposal “bad policy.”

“We don’t give money away for a private development, and as many times as the mayor would like to say that this is a public-private partnership, just saying it doesn’t make it so,” he explained.

The mayor said the bond doesn’t put a burden on taxpayers. In part, brownfield redevelopment credits would be used.

“Brownfield will pay $15 million of the $30 million, and then the other $15 million will be recaptured funds that the city will get roughly $2.5 million a year. So within six years, that’ll be paid,” Fouts explained.

Green said, “It’s not in any way, shape or form a legal model for us to be able to give money away and then expect to get paid with the taxes that it generates.”

The issue is not on the next agenda for the next council meeting.