Watch CBS News

Gilbert Offers To Build Wayne County New Criminal Justice Center In Exchange For Current Jail Site

DETROIT (WWJ) -- Billionaire Dan Gilbert's Rock Ventures says it has made an offer to Wayne County for the much-contested downtown county jail site.

Rock Ventures submitted an offer to Wayne County for a "new, state-of-the-art, consolidated criminal justice center" that includes the construction of new adult and juvenile detention facilities and a new criminal courthouse that would replace the current Frank Murphy Hall of Justice.

The proposal also calls for the transfer of the jail site to Rock Ventures for a planned $1 billion commercial development, which would potentially include a Major League Soccer stadium.

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans released a comment regarding the new proposal on Monday night.

"Today, the County received a proposal from Rock Ventures as an alternative to completing the jail at Gratiot. We will withhold further comment on the offer until we've had the opportunity to review it," Evans said.

"The County estimates the completion of the jail on Gratiot Avenue and modest renovations to the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice will be $300 million," a press release from Rock Ventures said Monday. "Rock Ventures is prepared to build the County a new, high-tech criminal justice complex (estimated cost of $420 million) for the same $300 million, in exchange for the transfer of the Gratiot Avenue property and a credit for the savings a new consolidated criminal justice complex will provide."


Last April, billionaire Gilbert revealed sparkling plans for a brand new professional soccer stadium on the downtown Detroit site. The jail project was halted in 2013 after running wildly over budget.

Gilbert's plan included restaurants, offices and hotels, in addition to the 25,000-seat Major League Soccer stadium.

The proposed site of the new criminal justice complex is located at E. Forest Ave., east of I-75, approximately 1.5 miles north of the current Gratiot Avenue site.

"The proposal offers the County significant operational advantages including state-of-the-art design and engineering, and eliminates the substantial financial risk associated with the bidding and award of construction contracts to complete the jail facility and renovate the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice," the release states. "Rock Ventures will be responsible for all costs and financial risks associated with the proposed criminal justice center site including the demolition of the existing improvements, design fees, testing, permits and related construction."


Gilbert said he met with Evans, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and others last year to discuss a possible deal, offering $50 million for the jail site.

"We have worked hard to develop and deliver to the County a proposal that, we believe, will be the best long-term outcome for the County and for the future of downtown Detroit. Specifically, we will deliver to the County a modern, consolidated criminal justice center with no risk and at the same dollar amount they estimate it would cost them to complete the project on Gratiot," said Matt Cullen, principal of Rock Ventures.

"In addition, we are prepared to build a development on the Gratiot Avenue Site, located in the heart of the sports and entertainment district, that will provide significant economic impact and that Detroiters will be proud to have at the 'front door' to the city," adds Cullen. "We respect the County's process and look forward to working side-by-side with Wayne County Executive Warren Evans and the County Commission to do the necessary analysis to validate the assumptions in the offer."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.