The future location of a new Detroit jail facility is still being considered. Wayne County continues to weigh two options for the possibility a site, Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans says.
Since receiving two June proposals that could remedy the issue of an unfinished jail construction on Gratiot Avenue, Evans says he has directed resources to focus on the plans presented by Dan Gilbert’s Rock Ventures – but a contract with the company isn’t approved.
Rock Ventures proposes to build a facility at a different location, while Walsh Construction wants the county to give it the green light to complete the structure that was begun on Gratiot. The framework of the building has sat for years.
“The Rock Ventures proposal has more upside, less risk and a smaller financial gap than Walsh Construction’s proposal,” Evans says. “There are, however, many issues to resolve with Rock Ventures before I could recommend the approval of a contract to the County Commission and the County Building Authority.”
Evans will work with Rock Ventures to negotiate terms for the construction of a new criminal justice center, he says, but if no contract can be established the county has 120 days from June 28 to begin negotiations to finish the Gratiot jail.
Walsh Construction’s proposal includes two jail options at Gratiot, with approximately 1,608 beds at $269 million and 2,200 beds for $317.6 million, not including the cost of renovating the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice, which is estimated at $36 million. The total cost of the Walsh proposal with the renovations to Frank Murphy is estimated to be about $353 million.
Rock Ventures proposes to build the County a new criminal justice center with a 2,280-bed jail, criminal courthouse, prosecutor offices, sheriff administrative offices and a juvenile detention facility for about $520.3 million. The county would be responsible for $380 million, plus the cost of acquiring land from the City of Detroit bounded by the I-75 Service Drive, E. Warren Ave., E. Ferry, Russell and Frederick.
Both proposals provide for increased bed capacity from 1,600 to 2,200 or 2,280 beds, with costs between $55 and $60 million for either project.
“Based on where we are today and looking to the future, it makes sense for the county to spend the additional money for the expanded jail,” Evans says. “The county’s improved finances and credit rating have given us the option of financing the larger project, in order to achieve this long-term benefit.”
A related effort to make an agreement with the City of Detroit for purchase of the land could provide for the use of jail bonds at a site other than Gratiot, specifically, Rock Ventures’ proposed site.