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I-94 Industrial Park begins its first phase

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I-94 Industrial Park begins its first phase

May 15, 2004

BY JOHN GALLAGHER

FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER

Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and other civic and business leaders dedicated the first phase of a new east-side industrial park in Detroit Friday. The project will bring at least 275 jobs to a neighborhood once a manufacturing mainstay but down and out for decades.

The I-94 Industrial Park building at 6500 Huber near Mt. Elliott is owned by CenTra Inc., a privately held transportation and development firm owned by Grosse Pointe businessman Manuel (Matty) Moroun.

The new building will house the operations of two auto supplier firms, TDS/US and Exel. Both are logistics suppliers to the Chrysler Group, providing sequenced deliveries of components for Chrysler's just-in-time manufacturing process at its Detroit-area assembly plants.

At the I-94 Industrial Park, the firms will perform various support services, light assembly and warehousing operations.

The district surrounding the industrial park flourished in the 1920s as an industrial area in the midst of a residential neighborhood. The area decayed from the 1970s onward as economic blight gripped Detroit. Remaking the mostly abandoned area as an industrial park has taken several years of land assembly and financial negotiations.

The new project is the first of what city officials hope will be several phases in the industrial park.

The first phase consists of a 300,000-square-foot building that cost $26 million.

The facility can be expanded to 500,000 square feet if there is demand.

George Jackson, president of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., a quasi-public arm of the city that helped assemble land for the industrial park, said about 90 nearby acres could be available for similar projects.

"This is a major, major deal in the city of Detroit," Kilpatrick said at Friday's ceremony.

"There's plenty of room to grow, and I anticipate a lot of future ribbon-cuttings not far from here," Matthew Moroun, vice-chair of CenTra, said at the ceremony.

The opening of a clean, new industrial facility, with 50-foot-wide bays and dozens of truck docks, in the middle of the decayed neighborhood, drew dozens of well-wishers to the ribbon-cutting. Not the least of the project's attractions is that it returns manufacturing jobs to a city that has lost hundreds of thousands of them since its industrial heyday.

"It's always good to come back to where you came from," Kilpatrick said.

In other development news, Harbortown, a retail, residential and marina complex on Detroit's east riverfront, held a rededication ceremony Friday.

The apartment and condominium development, which opened in the mid-1980s, will be upgraded with new condominiums and other improvements.

{Contact JOHN GALLAGHER at 313-222-5173 or [email protected]}

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