“We’re Closer To Building On Gratiot” When It Comes To The Jail, Says Wayne County Exec

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Tuesday night was Wayne County Executive Warren Evans State of the County speech, and it’s clear that Evans thinks the proposal from Rock Ventures to build a new jail simply isn’t there yet.

“While the Rock proposal is worth considering, that doesn’t change the fact we’re closer to building on Gratiot,” said Evans. “The Rock proposal is going to have to get better and move faster.”

We ran down the details of the Rock proposal to build a soccer stadium and more on the current site of what is colloquially called “The Fail Jail,” a partially finished criminal justice center at Gratiot and I-375 here.

The TL;DR on that is Dan Gilbert’s Rock Ventures wants to build the jail up the freeway a bit on the east side of I-375 near Warren Avenue, and work some financial deal to make that happen. In return, Rock Ventures would develop a soccer stadium (presumably for a Major League Soccer team) and some buildings and build the new jail.

This issue isn’t cut and dry. There are a variety of concerns including that the proposed new jail complex directly abuts a residential neighborhood and financially there’s not much room for error as Wayne County’s financial position, although improved, isn’t completely out of the woods yet. Taxpayer dollars are at play.

On the other side, many are concerned that the main gateway to downtown Detroit will be dominated visually by a jail, and that a jail is not the best use of land in the now hot downtown Detroit area.

The new jail started construction under former County Executive Bob Ficano in 2011 and was halted in 2013 after costs soared from an expected $300 million to $391 million. It’s been a rusting (though according to a recent report, structurally sound) hulk and source of debate since.

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