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Jail or soccer stadium? County will vet Gilbert’s proposal

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Courtesy of Rock Ventures

It seems like it’s been a long time since Dan Gilbert’s Rock Ventures submitted an offer for Wayne County’s fail jail site. At first, it seemed like an offer Wayne County couldn’t refuse: Rock Ventures wants the land for a soccer stadium and massive development, and they’d build the criminal justice complex for Wayne County about a mile down the road at I-75 and Forest. It would include:

  • Three new state-of-art buildingso 1,632-bed Adult Detention Facility
  • 160-bed Juvenile Detention Facility
  • Criminal courthouse with 29 courtrooms and five hearing rooms
  • Sherriff’s Office
  • Prosecutor’s Office

Since this happened a week and a half ago, a few things have happened, and at the same time, not much has happened.

The day after the offer was submitted, Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans issued this statement:

“Since Day One we’ve put the interests of our residents, communities and taxpayers first. We’ve spent two years getting our fiscal house in order. This allowed us to be in position to finish the Gratiot jail.

Four days before my deadline, Rock has submitted an alternative proposal that is much better than their previous offer. It is unlikely this improved offer would have come without all the fiscal progress we’ve made in Wayne County. Working with the County Commission, we’ll vet the offer thoroughly. We will take the same thoughtful, measured approach in vetting this proposal as we’ve done in every step in dealing with the County’s fiscal crisis.”

The Wayne County Commission met this morning to determine its next steps and, according to the Detroit Free Press,

“Commissioners this morning approved contracts not to exceed $765,740 for private firms to dive into details of Rock’s proposal to build a $420 million county jail, criminal court and juvenile detention center near I-75 and Warren Avenue, in exchange for land where the existing jail and Frank Murphy Hall of Justice are located along Gratiot on the east side of downtown.”

According to the Free Press, the Commission is concerned with some aspects of the proposal, including, “Rock would build the complex using $300 million in county funds and assume responsibility for additional costs. But Rock also proposes sharing in any cost savings the new facility would generate for the county, something several commissioners and members of Evans’ team have criticized.”

Evans then issued this statement.

“The Commission’s actions were critical to the dual track approach that gives us the best opportunity to determine which option is the most cost-effective for taxpayers and best for the County. The Commission’s leadership served us well through the County’s fiscal crisis and it was evident again today.”

Warren C. Evans, Wayne County Executive

So, again, we’re in a holding pattern. Our commenters seemed to overwhelmingly approve of the offer. Are you listening, Wayne County? Will we see a big deal this spring? Will something finally happen with this prime piece of property that currently holds depressing half-finished construction?

It could take up until May for the county to thoroughly vet the offer. We’ll update when we hear more.

Fail Jail

Gratiot at St Antoine, Detroit, MI