Danou to net billboard proceeds

Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK – The city will not receive rental income from a billboard on its former studio property after a deal with a controversial businessman.

The deal, originally signed in 2009, allows Samir Danou, from whom the city purchased the failed movie studio property on Southfield, to collect proceeds on the billboard, owned by CBS Outdoor, for the next 99 years.

But the agreement never actually went into place, Assistant City Attorney Chris Forsyth said Tuesday.

City Council members Tuesday approved the agreement, which awards Danou the assignment of rights for the billboard for $1. It also allows Danou rights to the parking lot of the building, which Plante & Moran recently reported was costing the city’s general fund $2.1 million this fiscal year alone, for as long as he has some interest in the property. The agreement will begin Jan. 1.

Under the terms of the agreement, Danou will not seek back payments from the city’s failure to institute the deal when it was originally signed and will release the city from all future indemnity.

The agreement negates the possible $1,000 monthly rental proceeds the city thought its could net from the billboard.

“Is this something that’s good for the city? No,” Forsyth said. “But the city entered into a contract in 2009, and
we’re bound to honor that contract.”

Councilman James Flynn said approving the agreement avoided “increased and protracted” legal expenses for the financially struggling city.

Council members also said the approval of the agreement represents the end of business dealings with Danou, who along with Unity Studios head Jimmy Lifton drew controversy when the studio closed unexpectedly in September 2010.