Work on new Wayne County jail to stop for 60 days

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano halts construction for cost review


DETROIT – Construction on the troubled Wayne County jail will stop Friday for 60 days.

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano formally told County Commissioners that work on the project must be halted while a review of cost over-runs is conducted. Sale of the land where the new project is being built also was floated as a possibility at the meeting.

Earlier this week Matt Cullen, who is chief of Rock Ventures which buys real estate for Dan Gilbert, said the idea of purchasing the jail site arose in conversations with Wayne County officials.

"The county exec's folks had, almost in passing, said look we're taking a look at whether or not it makes sense to continue the jail that's being developed or does it make sense to move the entire criminal justice complex to Mound Road," Cullen said.

Ficano is not confirming that story. At the same time, he admitted to conversations taking place that could lead to a sale to Gilbert's company.

"I have the utmost respect for Dan Gilbert. He is a good business person. I know the state always has interests in what's happening in Detroit and at the same time, our bottom line is the proposal has to make financial sense," Ficano said.

The $100 million jail project has been the center of controversy since it began. The new jail was supposed to save the county money by combining four of Wayne County's jails into one.

As Local 4's Rod Meloni has been reporting over the past several weeks, Wayne County is all but broke and can't come up with a deficit reduction plan.