photo: WWJ/Vickie Thomas

Board Gives Final Approval For Wayne County Jail Construction

June 07, 2018 - 11:38 am

DETROIT (WWJ) - It's officially a done deal. 

The Wayne County Board of Commissioners has given final approval to a plan to work with Dan Gilbert's Rock Ventures group to build a new criminal justice center near I-75 and Warren Avenue. Commissioners voted 14-1 Thursday morning.  

The new center, which is expected to cost $533 million to build, will have a county jail, administrative offices for the sheriff and prosecutor, a courthouse, and a juvenile detention facility.

"We desperately need these new facilities and shovels can’t get into the ground soon enough," Wayne County Executive Warren Evans said in a statement. "Heading into summer, Wayne County is on its best financial footing in quite some time. It’s only fitting that we’ll see that unfinished Gratiot jail torn down soon."

Rock Ventures is building the complex in exchange for the 15-acre failed jail site on the edge of Greektown for future development.

The county is paying $380 million for the new complex, with Rock covering the remaining costs and any overruns. The county is expected to issue bonds to help pay for its portion of the cost later this summer.

A groundbreaking is expected this fall and the center is expected to open in 2022. 

Sheriff's Department officials say the new jail is needed because there are consistent problems with the heating and cooling units and other building problems at the current jail.

The long-expected agreement comes after well over a year of study, evaluation, negotiation, contemplation and debate on the subject.

It's not clear when demolition work will start on the Gratiot jail site. The unfinished 2,000-bed jail is an eyesore across from the county courthouse in Detroit. Construction stopped in 2013 because the project was wildly over budget, with cost overruns totaling more than $90 million.

The planned new jail will be slightly larger, with 2,200 beds.