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Wayne County approves new jail agreement with Gilbert company

The incomplete Wayne County jail.
Wayne County
Wayne County
Rock Ventures will demolish the "fail jail" site on Gratiot and build a new criminal justice center on a different property.

A long-standing jail problem in Wayne County may be resolved.

By a 14-to-1 vote, the Wayne County Commission has approved a deal with Dan Gilbert’s private development company, Rock Ventures, to build a new criminal justice center on East Warren Avenue near the I-75 service drive.

The center will include a new jail to replace three of the county's aging and crumbling jails. Conditions at two of those jails have been described as inhumane.

The project is expected to cost $533 million. As part of the deal, the county will pay Rock Ventures $380 million. Any cost overruns will be covered by the company, not the county.

In addition, the county will give Rock Ventures the “fail jail” property on Gratiot. Construction on the site’s half-built jail began in 2011, and stopped in 2013 when the project went way over-budget. The company plans to demolish what's left on the site almost immediately and then begin construction for a new mixed-use development.

Jim Martinez, spokesman for Wayne County Executive Warren Evans, says this is a crucial step for the county.

“Today really clears the way for Wayne County to finally address one of its most pressing and visible facility needs,” Martinez says. “The shovels can't hit the ground soon enough.”

Construction on the new criminal justice center is expected to start in the fall.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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