Wayne County may look to sell new jail construction site

Dan Gilbert's company may come to rescue Wayne County from jail money problem

By Rod Meloni - Reporter, CFP ®

DETROIT - Wayne County's new jail project is a work in progress, but the county may be looking for a way to get out of the costly construction effort.

The costly project on the edge of Detroit's Greektown could be a drain on the county's tight budget. At the same time, county leaders are aware of other possibilities.

The state of Michigan's Mound Road Correctional Facility in Detroit is sitting empty. Also, Quicken Loans founder and Detroit investor Dan Gilbert recently purchased the Greektown casino and has expressed interest in making additional real estate purchases nearby.

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Matt Cullen is chief of Rock Ventures, which buys real estate for Gilbert. He 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.

Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano is not confirming that story.

"We get offers, we look at offers. There has been no offer that has been formally submitted to the county at this point . We're still moving ahead with the jail," Ficano said.

At the same time, Ficano admitted to conversations taking place that could lead to a sale to Dan Gilbert.

"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.

Rock Ventures Chief Matt Cullen said the county needs to make a decision for the long term.

"The real issue for the next 50 years is how should be operate the criminal justice system in the city of Detroit, and it is it best done on Mound Road," Cullen said.

No one at the state level is commenting on the possible move, which could include moving Detroit's 36th District Court to the Mound Road site.

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