Hats off to Jonathan Oosting of MLive.com who wrote the only article in town about the Detroit Economic Development Corporation’s recent rejection of a site proposal that included preservation of the ballfield at the Tiger Stadium site.
The $65.3 million redevelopment proposal was a multi-use plan that included the headquarters of two prominent Detroit non-profits, (The Greening of Detroit and the WARM Training Center) a charter school (Cornerstone Charter Schools), retail shops and housing surrounding a rehabilitated ball field re-purposed as a community recreation center. The proposal also had the backing of the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy.
This rejection was done despite the fact that the proposal was a multi-use plan as asked for in the Request for Proposal and it was put forward by a consortium of credible and prominent individuals and groups for a site that enjoys a tax free renaissance zone and qualifies for a $3.8 million federal earmark for redevelopment. (I am told the earmark is set to expire in September.) Apparently other proposals were also rejected by the DEGC but I do not know the content of those plans.
As they have done consistently for the past decade, the DEGC headed by George Jackson, rejected the plan citing “significant concerns about the overall financial feasibility.”
By definition, isn’t the DEGC supposed to bend backwards for developers to help facilitate development and even help find financing? My God, look what the DEGC did for the Book Cadillac Hotel! Apparently the Tiger Stadium site is a special exception.
I wonder if perhaps George Jackson and someone influential behind the scenes simply have ulterior motives for the site along with a total disregard for ball field historic preservation. Could it also be out of spite since stadium preservationists were once at severe odds with the powers-that-be in Detroit?
For a historical perspective of what has gone on with the DEGC and the city relative to efforts to preserve and redevelop the Tiger Stadium site I strongly recommend reading the following articles that appeared in the Metro Times over the last several years.
My dream (and many others) was to have seen the field and a portion of the original horseshoe stands of Navin Fields preserved — but George Jackson and the DEGC made sure that wasn’t going to happen when they demanded unrealistic deadlines and created hurdles in a very tough economy before moving to have the structure totally demolished just as the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy was making significant progress.
At this point I would love to see the site placed into a trust, have the field and diamond preserved with trees planted in the perimeter and have it become a park and the “village green” for Corktown.
In the meantime I think it’s great that under the leadership of Tom Derry the field is being maintained by a dedicated group of volunteers and that fans of the historic site can still play baseball at the diamond.