County commissioner: 'the devil is in the details' of Dan Gilbert's jail offer

- Dan Gilbert is pulling out all the stops to acquire Wayne County's unfinished  jail site and county owned land around it. He's offering to build the county a new jail, courthouse and juvenile detention facilities by the Lincoln Hall of Justice on E. Forest  for $300 million.

It is the same amount it would cost the county to complete the eyesore at Detroit's front door. In exchange, Gilbert's Rock Ventures would gain control of the land and transform it into a billion dollar mixed use development likely including a Major League Soccer stadium.

"We were ready to go forward," said Alicia Bell, Wayne County Commissioner. "I have been telling my constituents the last couple years that I am committed to building the jail at the current jail site because I had no idea that they would come back at all and offer to do a complete criminal justice center."

Even so, Wayne County Commissioner Alicia Bell says the devil is in the details.

"There are tax implications with the money that we borrowed from the federal government to build that jail site," she said.

"I just want to make sure that the taxpayers are not going to foot any more than what we already pledged," said Commissioner Ilona Varga.

Commissioner Ilona Varga says if this offer falls through, the county doesn't have any time to waste.

"We cannot just wait and standby and negotiate if this is their final offer and we don't like it, we just have to say no and keep going on (with) the Gratiot site," she said.

Gilbert is teaming up with Pistons owner Tom Gores to bring a pro soccer team to Detroit and securing the unfinished jail site is essential to making it happen.

Gilbert offered just $50 million for the site in 2013. Now his Rock Ventures is offering nearly nine times that amount saying it would actually cost  $420 million to build the new criminal justice complex and that Rock Ventures would cover all costs and financial risks related to construction, demolition, testing and design fees.

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans released a statement about the offer:

"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."

The proposal's timeline allows for the county to accept it by Feb. 20 and would plan for the new justice complex to be constructed and up and running by March 2020.


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