Rock Ventures offers to build Wayne County new justice center for failed jail site

Rock Ventures LLC has made an offer to Wayne County to build a new criminal justice center and court house in exchange for the "jail fail" site on Gratiot.

The new complex will be an adult detention center, juvenile detention center and criminal courthouse, while the developer would propose a $1 billion mixed-use commercial project on Gratiot. That structure could then be used to house the proposed MLS Soccer expansion team which Rock founder Dan Gilbert and Pistons owner Tom Gores have submitted paperwork for.

Jim Martinez, director of communications for Wayne County said the offer has yet to reviewed.

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

According to the release, the  new, state-of-the-art, consolidated criminal justice center that includes the construction of new adult and juvenile detention facilities (divisions 1 and 2) and a new criminal courthouse (replacing the current Frank Murphy Hall of Justice). The proposal also calls for the transfer of the Gratiot Avenue Site to Rock Ventures for a planned $1 billion commercial development.

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. 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.

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

“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.”

Plans for the transformation of the Gratiot Avenue Site contemplate some combination of office, commercial, hotel and residential space, parking and potentially a Major League Soccer stadium in conjunction with Tom Gores and Platinum Equity. Preliminary estimates show this scale of development could produce up to $2 billion in economic impact, as estimated by the University of Michigan Center for Sport and Policy. 

The criminal justice complex plans are based on similar projects developed in other jurisdictions around the country by HOK, a leading justice design firm in North America, with value engineering provided by Michigan-based Barton Malow.

Rock Ventures Wayne County Jail Cost Savings Proposal by David Komer on Scribd

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