GM’s widely touted factory of the future, forced on a town desperate for jobs and hailed decades later by former President Barack Obama, is set to wind down over the next few years, leaving beleaguered Hamtramck wondering what happened.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said at a news conference Monday that he told GM chief executive Mary Barra Monday that “we moved thousands of people out of that neighbourhood … to create that assembly plant and I felt that the city of Detroit deserved more consideration.”
The Detroit-Hamtramck plant stands on 465 acres of land that was once a neighbourhood known as “Poletown.”
In 1981, the Michigan Supreme Court approved a decision to allow Detroit to tear down up to 1,500 homes, more than 140 businesses, a hospital and six churches to build the $500 million plant. The Detroit News reported 4,200 people lost their homes as a result.
GM convinced officials in the cities of Detroit and Hamtramck, the state of Michigan – and ultimately the state’s highest court – to use eminent domain, a controversial process in which government seizes private land.