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LIVONIA, MI-A new industrial park in Livonia is providing less revenue to the city than its former tenant, a horse racetrack. The Ladbroke DRC track at I-96 and Inkster Road was demolished in 1999, and the land was sold to developers Ashley Capital, Millennium Park LLC and Livonia Corporate Center LLC.

The track land became Millennium Park, a 194-acre retail and warehouse industrial park. Ashley is developing 120 acres into warehouse/industrial use. They have built a 715,000-sf distribution/warehouse/packing facility on the site for Technicolor Inc., and plan two more buildings with a combined 950,000 square feet.

About 70 acres are being developed into a retail strip with stores and restaurants, and the rest of the land will house two light industrial buildings, a combined 100,000-sf of space.

Jeff Bryant, economic development director for Livonia, said the park, with its current tenants, pays less to the city than the racetrack, but only because the betting facility gave a cut to the city as part of its payments. The race track paid about $222,000 in taxes in 2000. The track paid about $854,000 to the city in 1998, when it was still open.

Technically, the track only paid about $67,000 in property taxes, Bryant said. The rest of the tracks’ dollars came from a receiver fee, a portion of each bet made at the track each year. Bryant said it’s not fair to compare the two fees brought in during the different years. “It’s difficult to compare the two, because it’s like apples and oranges,” Bryant said. “We’re actually seeing more taxes from this development.” There has been some criticism of the city that it should have instead brought in research and development uses instead of warehouse/retail uses. The city assessor’s office said a largely R&D development would bring thousands more in taxes than bulk warehouse space.

Bryant defended the city’s decision, saying they had to make do with what was offered after the racetrack closed, and that it would have taken at least six years to fill space with R&D. “Sometimes, you just have to go with what they put in front of you,” he said. “We’re very happy with what we got. We were able to bring in 1,000 new jobs to these buildings in a very short period of time since the track closed, and more businesses to multi-tenant buildings.”

A public hearing was recently held with the City Council regarding a new pharmaceutical tenant going into one of the light industrial buildings. The company has asked to use that space for research and development, Bryant said.

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