Wayne County moving forward with Gilbert's jail proposal

- After narrowing down the future of the jail to two proposals, Wayne County announced Monday it will move forward with Dan Gilbert's plan, as long as they can work out some kinks.

The two proposals were Walsh Construction's plan to complete the unfinished jail project at Gratiot and St. Antoine near Greektown and I-375, and Gilbert's Rock Ventures LLC plan to construct a new Criminal Justice Center on 13 acres of land the City of Detroit already owns that's bounded by the Chrysler Service Drive, Russell, East Warren Avenue, East Ferry and Frederick.

The county says it's likely the proposal to finish the current jail site would cost as much, if not more than constructing a new criminal justice center. Gilbert's company would be responsible for paying any cost overruns in the construction, while Walsh's would leave the county responsible.

"The Rock Ventures proposal has more upside, less risk and a smaller financial gap than Walsh Construction's proposal," Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans said in a release. "There are, however, many issues to resolve with Rock Ventures before I could recommend the approval of a contract to the County Commission and the County Building Authority."

The next step is negotiating the terms for the criminal justice center.

"On behalf of Rock Ventures I'd like to thank Warren Evans and his dedicated team for their hard work throughout this process and their confidence in us moving forward together. We are more confident than ever that this project represents a great opportunity for Wayne County, its residents and our entire community. We remain committed to working together to make the vision of a new criminal justice complex and mixed-use gateway project become reality," said Gabrielle Poshadlo, senior communications manager.

However, if the county can't reach a deal with Rock Ventures they're happy with, then Evans has 120 days from June 28, the date Walsh submitted its plan, to begin negotiations to finish the jail on Gratiot.

The Walsh proposal includes two options at Gratiot: a finished jail with 1,608 beds at $269 million or a jail with 2,200 beds at $317.6 million, along with an estimated $36 million to renovate the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice. The total comes out to about $353 million.

Gilbert's proposal includes a jail with 2,280 beds, a juvenile detention facility with 160 beds, 25 courtrooms, five hearing rooms, and offices for the sheriff and prosecutor. The county would pay $380 million of the total $520.3 million cost, but Rock Ventures would be responsible to pay any cost overruns.

However, Gilbert's plan requires the county to acquire that 13-acre site owned by the City of Detroit - an obstacle for proceeding with that proposal.

"Over the past few weeks we've made progress with both Rock Ventures and the City of Detroit and we'll continue those efforts," Evans said. "Having a new criminal justice center is the better option, but there remain significant obstacles that need to be resolved. We will continue to work tirelessly to address them."

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