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Wayne County scraps plans to complete stalled jail project

Dec 1, 2017

The unfinished Wayne County jail project at Gratiot Avenue near Downtown Detroit.
Credit Wayne County / via Wayne County

Wayne County announced Friday it's scrapping plans to complete construction on its stalled jail project on Gratiot Avenue near Greektown.

It will instead pursue Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert's offer to build a brand new, $380 million criminal justice center at a different location in Detroit.

Chicago-based Walsh Construction was the lone bidder to submit a proposal to complete the roughly $400 million Gratiot project.

Dan Gilbert's Rock Ventures offered to build a jail at a new location in Detroit in exchange for the current jail site.

Jim Martinez is communications director for Wayne County. He said pursuing Gilbert's deal is in the best interest of the county.

"The cost comparison, the four buildings in a criminal justice center, and the fact that Rock was willing to cover cost overruns made pursuing the Rock deal the best option," he said.

Martinez also said completing the Gratiot jail project would have been too risky at too high of a price.

"Because you're going to have to build on a structure that some other builder started and that's been sitting there for several years," he said.

The Gratiot project stalled in 2013 due to being over budget, but still costs taxpayers around $1.2 million a month, according to Martinez.

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans said in a press release:

"We're making progress and moving toward a deal with Rock. But there hasn't been a simple step in this entire process, nor will there be. We've had to vet two proposals, are working to acquire land from the city, need to settle an issue with the IRS and are negotiating a half billion dollar development deal -- it all takes time, but we're confident we'll get there."