(WJBK) - By Mike Renda, General Manager
Wayne County has been thrown a lifeline to rescue it from the disastrous downtown jail project that started in 2013 under then County Executive Bob Ficano. Its decision-makers better have the good sense to grab it.
The county has a $520 million offer from Dan Gilbert's Rock Ventures to replace the jail fail site with a billion dollar commercial development at the gateway to downtown Detroit. The plan also builds a new criminal justice complex elsewhere in Detroit.
Dan Gilbert and Tom Gores have led an effort to build a 23,000 seat stadium on this site to host a Major League Soccer team and commercial investments worth nearly $1 billion.
In return for the jail fail site, Rock Ventures would build a criminal justice center with a 2,300 bed jail, a criminal courthouse, sheriff's offices and a juvenile detention facility on a 13-acre site that's currently housing a DDOT facility just off I-75.
The deal hinges on Wayne County covering the original cost of the jail fail and buying that DDOT parcel from the city of Detroit. Rock Ventures would be responsible for any cost overruns associated with the new jail facility.
The beauty of this proposed deal is that the development of a major sports franchise and the surrounding development will be paid entirely by private money and the county will be bailed out of a terrible situation.
County Executive Warren Evans and the commissioners need to move quickly to approve the additional dollars necessary to make this deal happen.
It is mighty rare to see a private/public partnership that can continue to build on the city's momentum while at the same time resolve a huge burden on the county that the fail jail project turned out to be.
My message to the county commissioners would be the same as to Rock Ventures - Let's get it done!! What do you think? Contact the county commissioners to give your comment by CLICKING HERE.