Ross won't build Detroit Center for Innovation with UM at old jail site
Detroit — Real estate billionaire Stephen Ross and Bedrock will not build the Detroit Center for Innovation on the 14-acre Gratiot site of the former failed Wayne County Jail.
Instead, Ross’ New York-based Related Companies said it will construct the center, to be anchored by the University of Michigan, at another location in the city.
“The pandemic illustrated the need for the Detroit Center for Innovation to have a greater catalytic economic and social impact on the people of Detroit which was not possible at its current site,” said Ross, chairman of Related Companies, in a statement Wednesday.
“I am more committed than ever to deliver my vision of an innovation hub in my hometown, and I reaffirm my commitment to the people of Detroit and the University of Michigan to create inclusive growth that propels job creation, affordable housing development and historic preservation for all Detroiters. We’re planning to move the DCI to a new location in the city with more space to ensure that we deliver.”
Ross did not specify a new site for the center.
In late 2019, Ross and Bedrock announced a $300 million plan for the Detroit Center for Innovation on the 14-acre site of the failed Wayne County Jail project, with Ross committing $100 million for the center.
With Ross' departure, Bedrock said Wednesday it will develop a comprehensive Innovation District on the site. No timeline was provided.
“Bedrock and the Rock Family of Companies have been diligently working with the Related Companies and our public partners to finalize and execute a vision for the Detroit Center for Innovation (DCI)," said Kofi Bonner, CEO of Bedrock, in a statement Wednesday. "Through a rigorous planning and engagement process we have been able to further clarify our vision and thoughtfully evaluate the best path forward. As a result, we are excited to announce a broader, more inclusive vision for residents of the city."
Bedrock will begin to announce in upcoming weeks partnerships it says will bring both local and international partners to the city. The district will also include "a leading global institute focused on the future of cities."
Bonner said Bedrock looks forward to Related Companies announcing the details of its project.
"Out of respect for that ongoing process, we will not comment further on those exciting plans," Bonner said.
The city of Detroit declined to comment on the development Wednesday, referring questions to the developers.
UM spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said Wednesday: "We understand Bedrock’s decision to announce a change in how they will use the Gratiot site and wish them well. UM remains committed to Detroit and the president and regents will discuss possible ways forward with Related and Stephen Ross in the months ahead."
The site at the edge of St. Antoine and Gratiot in Greektown has had a long history with failed plans. Construction of a $220 million, 2,000-bed jail project began in 2011 and halted in 2013 because of $100 million in cost overruns.
Gilbert, who owns the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers, in 2016 had hopes of bringing a Major League Soccer franchise and 25,000-seat stadium to the site, but Detroit's bid for a MLS franchise has not come to fruition.
In a 2018 land swap with the city and Wayne County, Rock Ventures received the site of the half-built jail in exchange for developing a new criminal justice center near Interstate 75 and Warren. The Detroit Innovation Center was announced at the Gratiot site in 2019.