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University of Michigan to build $300M ‘innovation center’ at failed Wayne County jail site in Detroit

'Detroit Center for Innovation’ will sit on ‘fail jail’ site

Rendering for Detroit Center of Innovation from University of Michigan.
Rendering for Detroit Center of Innovation from University of Michigan. (WDIV)

DETROIT – The University of Michigan is building a new innovation center at the site of the failed Wayne County jail project in Downtown Detroit.

Bedrock, the University of Michigan and local leaders announced the project this week that will sit on Gratiot Avenue, near Eastern Market, spanning 14-acres, named the Detroit Center for Innovation (DCI).

Anchoring the site will be a world-class $300 million, 190,000-square-foot research and education center operated by U-M. This academic building, designed by world-renowned architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox, will be a centerpiece of the first phase of a planned multi-building development at the east edge of downtown and will offer programs that focus on high-tech research, education and innovation.

The new U-M facility will eventually serve up to 1,000 graduate and senior-level undergraduate students pursuing advanced degrees in a range of high-tech innovation disciplines, including mobility, artificial intelligence, data science, entrepreneurship, sustainability, cybersecurity, financial technology and more.

Development of the academic building will be made possible by a major gift from Ross, who envisioned the Detroit Center for Innovation and is a long-term benefactor of U-M and native of Detroit, and leadership gifts from Dan Gilbert and other public and private funders.

"This announcement represents an incredible commitment to Detroit by Stephen Ross, Mark Schlissel and Dan Gilbert that will allow us to develop, attract and retain world-class talent," Duggan said. "Detroit has always been a leader in innovation and this new center will help ensure that continues to be the case into the future.

Ground level rendering for Detroit Center for Innovation (DCI).
Ground level rendering for Detroit Center for Innovation (DCI). (WDIV)

"It also sends a powerful message to our young people about the city we are trying to build together. Instead of turning this property into a place where Detroiters are taken to be incarcerated, we are going to build for them one of the finest learning centers anywhere, filled with hope and real opportunity."

Duggan, Evans and other project partners will take the next 90-180 days to assess the feasibility of the overall project and conduct community engagement with surrounding neighborhoods.

“The Detroit Center for Innovation combines vision, leadership and a deep commitment to this city and state and I am very appreciative of the efforts of all involved,” Whitmer said. “This is an exciting opportunity for students around the world and is an exclamation point on Michigan’s efforts to build, attract and retain the best workforce in America.”

Construction for the Detroit Center for Innovation is slated to commence in 2021.

In 2018, Bedrock announced that it acquired the Gratiot site from Wayne County after agreeing to build a new $533 million criminal justice center near Detroit’s Midtown neighborhood. Since acquiring the site, Bedrock demolished the half-built jail structure and is currently using the site to support construction related to other in-progress developments in Downtown Detroit.

Map of U-M innovation center in Detroit.
Map of U-M innovation center in Detroit. (WDIV)

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