Land Bank seeks to redevelop old Detroit prison site

Nicquel Terry
The Detroit News

Plymouth — The Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority is seeking companies to redevelop the former Detroit prison site on Five Mile and bring corporate offices and jobs to the community.

The authority announced Wednesday that it was seeking proposals for the 120-acre property, where the deteriorating Detroit House of Corrections facility sat vacant for 13 years.

Earlier this year, the state demolished the prison at a cost of $2.2 million. The land bank acquired the site in 2015.

“This has been a blighted property that hasn’t allowed this area to grow,” said Josh Burgett, director of the Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority. “Today is the first step in getting this back to productive use.”

Burgett said the vision for the property is offices for the Michigan International Technology Center which includes high-tech firms in the automotive and life-sciences sectors.

State officials say they anticipate the development will bring 6,000-8,000 jobs to Plymouth.

This project will be key to making the Five Mile corridor more attractive to new residents and businesses, said township Supervisor Kurt Heise.

“If you’re trying to market this property to somebody from Asia, to somebody from Europe, to somebody from California and you have to drive by an old prison that looks like something out of the ‘Shawshank Redemption,’ that’s a real turn-off,” Heise said. “So getting rid of that eyesore was critical.”

The property is worth $14 million and sits near the border of Plymouth and Northville.

The request for proposals will be open until Oct. 25.

State and county officials say they are eager to see new development at the site.

“I am looking forward to that becoming our field of dreams,” said State Rep. Jeff Noble, R-Plymouth. “The idea that this was a place of incarceration now is going to be a place of inspiration.”