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Gilbert, Gores have until Feb. 10 for stadium plan

Ian Thibodeau
The Detroit News

Detroit — Quicken Loans Inc. founder Dan Gilbert and Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores have roughly two weeks to figure out how they will secure the downtown site of the unfinished Wayne County Jail.

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

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans said Friday the county will issue on Feb. 10 a request for bids to finish the jail. After that date, the county “will not consider any alternative proposals,” he said.

Jump-starting the process to complete construction of the jail would stymie plans by Gilbert and Gore to build a $1 billion mixed-use stadium complex to house a potential Major League Soccer franchise on the site of the jail project in Greektown.

“Finishing the jail at the Gratiot site is the quickest and most cost-effective solution to this long-standing challenge facing Wayne County. In light of the considerable public interest, and to provide absolute clarity, we are announcing that the RFP will be issued on Feb. 10,” Evans said in a statement. “We will provide it to the qualified bidder, Walsh Construction, on that date.”

In April, Gilbert and Gores announced their bid for a MLS franchise, at which time they also proposed the site of the stadium.

Evans has said repeatedly he plans to build the jail on the existing 15-acre parcel on Gratiot and that there is no sale pending to Gilbert and Gores. He has also said in the past that the county would be receptive to an offer if it is reasonable and made before the county issues a request for proposals to complete the jail.

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

“Once we issue the RFP, we’re not looking back,” Evans said last year. “It’ll be full speed ahead on the Gratiot site.”

Detroit is among 10 cities competing for four MLS expansion spots. The other cities expected to compete for a team are Austin, Texas; Cincinnati; Nashville, Tennessee; Raleigh, North Carolina; Sacramento, California; St. Louis; San Antonio; San Diego; and Tampa/St. Petersburg, Florida.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan last week said during a luncheon talk with Evans and other county executives that he is “not leaving until we get five” professional sports teams in the city, referencing a MLS team.

Duggan declined to comment on the county’s deadline Friday.

Matt Cullen, president and CEO of Gilbert’s Rock Ventures, said the group has commissioned a study being done by the firm HOK that will outline the costs of building the jail at the current Gratiot site or somewhere else. The study will be provided to Evans soon, Cullen said.

Officials from Rock Ventures could not be reached for comment Friday.

ithibodeau@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau