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Dan Gilbert, Wayne County strike deal for new jail, plus fail jail site

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A $1 billion development will replace the unfinished jail downtown

Courtesy of Wayne County

The long saga of the failed jail site on Gratiot Avenue is nearing its resolution. Wayne County announced today that it has a tentative deal with Dan Gilbert’s Rock Ventures to build a four-building criminal justice facility. Rock Ventures will also get the Gratiot site its wanted for over a year.

The new courthouse
Courtesy of Wayne County

Here are the details:

  • The four-building criminal justice center—to be built by Rock Ventures—will be located at the I-75 Service Drive and East Warren Avenue. This will include a 2,280-bed jail, sheriff and prosecutor staff and administrative offices, criminal courthouse, and juvenile detention facility. The total cost is expected to be $533 million, with the county paying $380 million and Rock Ventures paying the remaining $153 million plus any overruns. It’s expected to be completed in 2022.
  • If the cost comes in under budget, they’ll share the savings.
  • In addition, Rock will operate and collect net parking revenues capped at $30 million present value for various parking sites around the criminal justice center, after which the County will take over operation and collection of parking revenues. The County, however, retains complete control of 119 secured parking spaces for County use at no cost.
  • Rock will invest $250 million into mixed-use development into the properties it acquires from Wayne County (the fail jail site); 51% of the employees involved with the development will need to reside in Wayne County.
  • Rock will also contribute $500,000 to Wayne County parks and $250,000 to career and technical training for previously incarcerated individuals.

According to Wayne County,

In exchange, the County will transfer to Rock, the existing Division I and II jails, juvenile detention facility and Frank Murphy Hall of Justice. Upon approval and execution of the deal, these parcels will be leased back to the County for $1.00 per year until the criminal justice center is complete and the County has transitioned to the use of the new facilities. Rock will also, in a separate transaction, purchase, the property where the unfinished Gratiot jail is located.

Last February, Rock Ventures first offered a deal for the jail site at Gratiot and 375. They initially intended to build a soccer stadium at the location; now, they intend on building a major mixed-use development estimated at $1 billion. Planning and design can now officially begin for the project.

In a statement, Dan Gilbert says,

“This agreement is an outstanding example of Detroit 2.0, where the public and private sectors partner together in a smart, cooperative and optimistic manner to find and implement the best outcome possible,” said Dan Gilbert, Chairman of Rock Ventures. “The solution here not only fixes significant mistakes of the past, but at the same time delivers to the County a completely new, ground-up criminal justice center, in addition to resulting in a large, mixed-use development on the former proposed jail site.”

The deal still needs to be approved by the Wayne County Commission and the Wayne County Land Bank.

For more information, including timelines and renderings, Wayne County released a website for the new jail.

The unfinished jail has been sitting at 375 and Gratiot for years, after Wayne County ran out of funds to build it.

Fail Jail

Gratiot at St Antoine, Detroit, MI