- Associated Press - Monday, March 28, 2016

DETROIT (AP) - DTE Energy Co. plans to develop a solar energy array in Detroit as part of a project designed to help stabilize a neighborhood and make use of vacant public property.

The array would be built on a city-owned site on Detroit’s west side known as O’Shea Playground that was decommissioned in 2011, the Detroit Free Press reported (https://on.freep.com/1Rw0A0z ). Since then, the O’Shea recreation center has been stripped and damaged by fire.

City Council is expected to vote Tuesday on whether to approve a 20-year lease.

If approved, the city will receive a one-time payment of $25,000 and DTE has agreed to maintain a portion of the city property around the 10-acre solar array. DTE’s use of the land would put the property on the tax rolls, generating about $1.4 million in new tax revenue over 20 years.

City officials partnering with the Detroit-based utility said the solar array will help to enhance the neighborhood, alongside plans to use federal funds for the demolition of blighted properties and a commitment to train residents for jobs focused on the reuse of vacant land.

“If people are envisioning what is the most energy-efficient quarter square mile of the city, it will be known as this neighborhood from here on out, and with that comes an opportunity to attract renewable energy enterprises,” said Detroit planning and development director Maurice Cox.

“We are going to aggressively market this neighborhood as a place to possibly locate startup businesses.”

Plans for the Detroit solar array stem from a 250-acre DTE solar energy project under development in Lapeer, about 45 miles northwest of the city. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan persuaded the company to bring a portion of the project to Detroit, the newspaper reported.

“Not only does this project provide a productive use for a large piece of vacant, blighted land in an environmentally sustainable way, it will bring considerable benefit to the O’Shea Park community,” Tom Lewand, Duggan’s group executive for jobs and the economy, said in a statement.

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Information from: Detroit Free Press, https://www.freep.com

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