DETROIT — The leader of the team behind Detroit’s bid for Amazon’s second headquarters blames the city’s poor reputation for not making the online retail giant’s list of 20 finalists.

Businessman Dan Gilbert told bid committee members in a letter released Wednesday that “old, negative reputations do not die easily.”

Detroit’s population has dropped below 700,000 people from 1.8 million in the 1950s. Over that time, the city lost thousands of manufacturing jobs and its tax base suffered. Detroit emerged in 2014 from the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

Seattle-based Amazon received nearly 240 bids for the $5 billion project. Detroit’s bid included office space, vacant land, a low Michigan corporate tax rate and economic development tax incentives.

Gilbert is the founder of online mortgage lender Quicken Loans and Bedrock commercial real estate.