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Gilbert offers to build criminal justice center for Wayne County in exchange for failed jail site

Rock Ventures would build complex in exchange for Gratiot Avenue jail site

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WAYNE COUNTY, Mich. – Dan Gilbert's company, Rock Ventures, submitted an offer Monday to build Wayne County a new criminal justice center in exchange for the site of the failed jail project on Gratiot Avenue.

The new criminal justice center would include adult and juvenile detention facilities, as well as a new criminal courthouse.

The proposal calls for the transfer of the Gratiot Avenue site to Rock Ventures for a planned $1 billion commercial development. A rendering of the proposed development, which would include a Major League Soccer stadium, can be seen above.

The county estimates the completion of the jail on Gratiot Avenue and renovations to the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice would cost $300 million.

Rock Ventures said it is prepared to build the county a new, high-tech criminal justice complex 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 at East Forest Avenue, east of I-75. It's about a 1.5 miles north of the Gratiot Avenue site. You can view a rendering of the proposal below.

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"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 said in a release. "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."

READ: Rock Ventures' Wayne County Jail cost savings proposal

"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," Matt Cullen, principal of Rock Ventures, said. "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.

"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. 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."

Rock Ventures said plans for the transformation of the Gratiot Avenue site include "some combination of office, commercial, hotel and residential space, parking and potentially a Major League Soccer stadium in conjunction with (Detroit Pistons owner) Tom Gores and Platinum Equity."

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

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.

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