Howell approves rent- to-own agreement for motor sports complex on 216 acres

February 24, 2021

Read the full article by Livingston Daily here

Owners of JD Racing


Jordan and Mark Dick of JD Racing negotiated a rent-to-own style agreement with Howell city officials for more than 200 acres of vacant land in the city.

The father and son are planning to develop a motor sport complex featuring racetracks, event venues, car garage condominiums, indoor and outdoor go-karts, and retail and hospitality businesses, among other features.

The proposed complex would be located on 216 acres north of Interstate96, between Michigan avenue and Lucy Road.

City officials Monday Approved a $3 million agreement. JD Racing would lease the land for two years, and rent would go toward the future purchase. Proposed plans for the motor sports complex would need to be approved by city officials.

Howell Community Development Director Tim Schmitt said JD Racing would pay $7,500 a month in rent.

Jordan Dick  is a race car driver who co-owns Novi-based high speed go-kart center JD Racing Indoor Karting with his father.

The motor sports complex in Howell could feature separate racetracks for automobiles, off road vehicles and go-karts and an autonomous vehicle track, Dick told city officials during a presentation of the concept in May.

“Our passion for this whole project is to share a genuine motor sport experience,” he said at the time.

Garage condominiums would be available to motor sports enthusiasts and car collectors. The site could also feature event spaces such as an amphitheater and conference center, and hospitality industry businesses such as restaurants and lodging.

City officials have been trying to sell the land since acquiring it in a 2012 lawsuit settlement.

A previous plan to build housing and commercial space fell through during the recession. The city ended up acquiring the property in the $2 million settlement.

The previous owners of the land, Highland-Howell LLC, were in the process of selling the land to Ivanhoe-Huntley Homes, which had obtained almost all the necessary approvals from the city it would have needed to move forward.

The city planned to start construction of a road that would have looped around the property when those plans fell through, and the road was never built. Highland-Howell LLC sued the city for breach of contract for not building the road.

In 2017, Banoff Randle Real Estate signed a $3 million options to buy the land.

The real estate company proposed a plan for potentially hundreds of apartments and homes and retail. But the company let the option expire.

In May, city officials had two different $3 million offers to purchase the land and voted to move forward with negotiations with JD Racing. Biltmore Development also offered to purchase the property for a new housing development.

Among a number of terms in the agreement, JD Racing would have to hit certain development milestones on a timeline, get approvals for alternations and invest a minimum of $2.5 million in improvements.

At the end of the two-year lease, should JD Racing decide not to purchase the property, they would have to restore the property.

The city would have the right of first refusal on any land more than 10 acres, should it come up for sale in the future.

The lease agreement is “something that protected the city without hurting the developers,” Howell City Manager Paul DeBuff said.

Mayor Nick Proctor said while he is enthusiastic about the idea for the motor sports complex, he is concerned that it took seven months for JD Racing to negotiate terms with city attorneys.

“I was very enthusiastic about this project when it came to us,” Proctor said. “But that enthusiasm has been tempered. I’m concerned it took seven months to get to this point.”

He said while it made him skeptical and he expects JD Racing might allow themselves every delay allowed in the contract, he also said he is comfortable that the terms of the agreement will protect the city’s interests.


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