Submitted by Clerk Jeremy R. Cady and Treasurer Colleen Lazere as a joint letter to Huron Township Residents.
This afternoon the Huron Township Board of Trustees voted 7-0 in favor to move forward with Wayne County and the Hillwood and Sterling companies in an effort to come to an agreement on a project development plan on the 600+ acres at Sibley and Vinning Roads, the former Pinnacle Horse Race Track property.
This vote came after months of vetting by Wayne County and Huron Township. Two developers applied to develop on the property after a Request for Qualifications process was initiated by Wayne County. Hillwood, a Dallas based Perot Company (https://www.hillwood.com) has partnered with Detroit based Sterling Group and the second proposal came from the New E.R.A Community Group (https://www.neweracg.org).
The proposals that were submitted gave two options for the property:
1- Hillwood/Sterling- Mixed use development (Entertainment/Lodging, Commercial/Retail, Hospitality, Office, Research and Development, Warehouse /Distribution and Light Industrial/ Manufacturing).
2- New E.R.A Community Group- One of the largest recreational complexes in the United States. (Baseball, Softball, Basketball, Soccer, Hockey, Archery, Volleyball, Athletes Lodging, Visitor Lodging, Championship Stadiums)
As you know, I have supported New E.R.A Community Group’s conceptual plan from the beginning. Unfortunately as the clock was running out facing a tax foreclosure auction in August on the property, New E.R.A could not obtain the financing needed for their proposed project. Typically, in a RFQ process, funding proof must be verified up front, however with New E.R.A being a non-profit corporation, they were allowed more time to obtain the funding.
The Township Treasurer and I did everything possible to secure New E.R.A’s plan in Huron Township. I even asked for New E.R.A to present publicly to the residents and prove their financial ability for the project, after Wayne County disputed the validity of New E.R.A’s finances. However, at the request of the New E.R.A Chief Executive Officer and Wayne County Officials, I attended a phone conference call with New E.R.A’s lender Kennedy Financial, on Friday July 26, 2019 at 2:30 p.m. I was told by the lender’s representative that there is no way they can get the loan processed in time. There were still several steps of the application process that had to be vetted out by the Lender as well as studies that needed to be done on viability of the project before a loan could be processed. There were also questions of environmental and development agreement issues that could further reduce the property value making the loan that much harder for New E.R.A to obtain. Further, there were hundreds of thousands of dollars that were needed to in cash payment to the bank in order to close the 10-Million dollar loan requested by New E.R.A.
After this call, and through several communications over the weekend, New E.R.A’s CEO informed me that New E.R.A will no longer be perusing the development at this time in Huron Township.
As of today, the Township Board has agreed to move forward with working with Hillwood/Sterling to see if a project development agreement can be had. The Pinnacle property has been vacant for over 10 years and that is unacceptable. I can not sit here and watch you, the taxpayer continue to pay your taxes and that property just keep getting kicked down the road, not paying any taxes. As a matter of fact, that property has not paid a penny to offset your tax burden since 2009.
The Resolution attached is what the Board of Trustee’s passed today. I believe it provides protection against industry that does not fit the Township Master Plan. It retains the zoning process that Huron Township has as well as it allows us to put stipulations on the types of developments that Hillwood/ Sterling can build on the property. We also included that we will not accept ANY industrial development along Sibley Road and that if any truck traffic were to come AND if such existed, the developer would have to use any and every reasonable measure to drive the traffic north, an effort to prevent further backup at Sibley and I-275.
I hope as we move further in to this due diligence process, residents will continue to stay involved and active in the process. I will always try to keep the community up to date and share whatever information I know in regards to the Township’s happenings. I know that property has been a mess since it closed as a horse race track and I will do everything I can to keep that from happening again. I will not vote for anything that I feel will not survive at that location, doing what is possible to prevent that property from being an eye-sore any further.
As always, thank you for asking questions and staying involved in your community.