Detroit's former jail site: A decade of unfulfilled projects

The Detroit News
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A 14-acre parcel on the edge on St. Antoine and Gratiot in Greektown has been the site of numerous announced projects, none of which has come to fruition, over the past decade:

Rock Ventures owner Dan Gilbert flanked by Major League Soccer’s Commissioner Don Garber, left, and Rock Ventures representative Matt Cullen presents his vision for a soccer stadium at the stalled Wayne County Jail site on Wednesday.

For subscribers:Ross, Gilbert part ways on failed jail site: 'There are going to be options for them,' experts say

2011: Wayne County begins construction on a $220 million jail project, with the 2,000-bed facility to be finished in 2014.

June 2013: County Executive Robert Ficano halts construction of the half-finished lockup after $100 million in overruns and charges of corruption.

July 2013: Billionaire Dan Gilbert's Rock Ventures offers to buy the unfinished jail, as well the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice, two nearby jails and a juvenile detention facility. The company proposes a retail, housing and entertainment complex.

2014-15: Wayne County officials consider a variety of options for the site, including selling it to Rock or restarting the jail project. No decision is made.

Unfinished Wayne County Jail site at Gratiot and I-375 in Detroit, Michigan on January 27, 2017. (The Detroit News/ Daniel Mears)

April 2016: Gilbert and Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores propose buying the site and building a 25,000-seat stadium for a Major League Soccer team as part of a mixed-use development Estimated cost: nearly $1 billion.

February 2017: Gilbert's Rock Ventures offers to build a new jail on East Forest for $300 million in exchange for the site of the half-finished jail. Rock estimates completing the jail would cost $420 million.

November 2017: The Gilbert-Gores partnership, along with the owners of the Detroit Lions, announce Detroit's bid for an MLS team is switching to Ford Field.

Demolition crews begin tearing down the failed Wayne County Jail site on Tuesday, July 3, 2018.

March 2018: Gilbert, the county and the city of Detroit announce a land swap that gives the billionaire the Gratiot site in exchange for Rock constructing a $533 million jail on 11 acres along I-75, with taxpayer cost to be capped at $380 million.

July 2018: Demolition of the half-finished jail begins.

October 2019: Developer Stephen Ross and Gilbert's Bedrock announce a $300 million plan with the University of Michigan to build the Detroit Center for Innovation on the site. Ross commits $100 million to the project. 

July 14, 2021: Ross says he will not build the innovation center with Bedrock at the former jail site and will seek another location in Detroit. Bedrock says it will develop a comprehensive Innovation District on the site. No further details are provided for either project.

Max Cullen, CEO of Bedrock; Stephen M. Ross, chairman of Related Companies; and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan at a news conference Oct. 31, 2019, announcing plans for the Detroit Innovation Center.

Source: Detroit News archives

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