Mayor Fouts: Time to make Warren’s new, futuristic downtown a reality

For more than 50 years, Warren leaders have been pursuing a new downtown dream.

As the third-largest city in the state, we are also the largest not to have a downtown area. Finally, this Tuesday, there should be a vote on the new Towne Center.

We have been working on the current proposed Towne Center for nearly five years. Finally, we have a team that has been able to pull together the funding necessary for this long-term pursuit to become a reality. It is a reality because, among other things, no residential taxpayer will have to pay one cent for this new downtown. Instead, the cost will be shared between the developer, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and re-captured money from the Downtown Development Tax on businesses in the Downtown Development Authority area. 

This project will create more than a thousand construction jobs and a minimum of 500 to 600 commercial jobs. It will also spur investments estimated by Robert Gibbs, the planner of this project, at $250 million. It will initially guarantee an additional $2.5 million dollars in new taxes. The revenues from this project will help pay for a much needed funding infusion into Warren’s economy. Gibbs is so excited about this project that he indicated he would be teaching a course at Harvard University next June on this new futuristic downtown for many cities Warren’s size or bigger.

After more than 50 years of declining population, Warren is again a growing city. We have a higher population today than we did in the 2000 U.S. Census. We are becoming very diverse, and that means we are now a transformational city. The future looks good. The two new county commissioners who represent Warren manifest that diversity, and I am proud to say that I supported both County Commissioner Michelle Nard and Mai Xiong in last year’s election, and that they, too, are supporting this project.   

Virtually every major elected official at the county level is supporting the Towne Center, including Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, Macomb Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller, Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham, Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido, County Commission Chairman Don Brown, Macomb County Clerk Anthony Forlini and Macomb County Treasurer Larry Rocca. County Democrats and Republicans are united in support of the Towne Center.   

Leaders from all sectors support this project across our community including General Motors, Chrysler/Stellantis, the Chamber of Commerce, labor including the Michigan Building Trades, Council of Carpenters and others.

All these leaders support this project because it will be truly a jewel for Macomb County’s largest city. This $170-million project includes a Marriot Tribute Hotel, the only full-service hotel in Macomb County. It includes high-end retail shopping, dining and pubs, and upscale loft apartments. It will also include a new fire station and an Ascension-St. John medical facility. In the works is a new little theatre. This project will make Warren a destination place equal to Royal Oak, Ferndale, Detroit, Birmingham and Rochester.   

This exciting new walkable green space can become a reality on Tuesday, Sept. 14 at 7 p.m. in the Warren Community Center auditorium — providing our city council votes in favor of this long-overdue project. There is every reason to support this: It includes new revenues for the city, jobs for construction, and jobs for commercial, with no tax burden to the residential taxpayers.

More revenues, more jobs, and a bright future for our city makes this a must-do project! On Tuesday night, the city council can make this dream a reality.

Watch a detailed video presentation of our vision at: