May 8, 2017
After hitting a few speed bumps along the way, it looks like billionaire Dan Gilbert is on his way to getting more money in tax breaks from the State of Michigan. The state House passed a bill to allow big real estate developers like Gilbert to get reimbursed for developing “brownfield” sites.
Gilbert threatened the state to not go forward with plans to redevelop the old Hudson’s department store site in downtown Detroit if he wasn’t given these tax gifts.
This might seem like a reasonable idea. The federal government originally provided funding for the cleanup of brownfield sites abandoned by private companies that met strict definitions from the Environmental Protection Agency as being polluted.
But the Hudson’s site isn’t polluted. So, the Michigan House bill, which is expected to pass the state Senate and be signed by Governor Rick Snyder, broadens the definition to include “foreclosed, dangerous and blighted property.”
Now, with some creative descriptions, the Hudson’s site can be called a brownfield site and Gilbert can get his tax gift!
These kinds of tax breaks take away money to pay for roads, water and sewerage, and street lighting, and amount to a gift to real estate tycoons like Gilbert to help them snatch up more prime real estate in cities like Detroit – all the while, pushing out poor and working class people and leaving the tax bill for people who can least afford it.