As Wayne County's overbudget tab for that new downtown prison gains additional commas, the idea of simply giving up has gained some traction. Turns out, there's already an empty prison over on Mound Road owned by the state. It might—might!—make more sense to stuff the prisoners in there rather than spend $300M to build a new jail in downtown Detroit. Too bad no one had their thinking caps on two years ago, when the state offered to sell Wayne County that prison for a mere $1.5M. Live and learn, right?
The Detroit News predicts that throwing in the towel would mean demolishing the partially built prison, which--at over $100M invested so far--would make it something like the world's priciest sand castle. Adding to the hilarity, Wayne County would probably end up selling the land to Greektown Casino, the very entity they bought it from in 2011.
Even if abandoning the prison would be quite a financial loss, downtown Detroit would be the better for it. We'll have to see how this one plays out, but let's close by reflecting on the fact that Wayne County Sheriff/Mayoral candidate Benny Napoleon's fingerprints are all over this project, which has actually been scaled down from the orgy of private bathrooms and tablet computers he originally wanted it to be.
According to a recent Free Press/WXYZ-TV poll, Benny Napoleon would win the mayoral election if it were held today.
· New Downtown Jail Somehow Manages to Lower Expectations [Curbed Detroit]
· Wayne County in talks to scrap partially built jail in Detroit [Det News]
· Napoleon: Wayne Co. jail project a 'mess' [Det News]
· Wayne County plans to buy casino land to build new jail [Crain's]