DETROIT (WXYZ) - A $50 million deal from Dan Gilbert's Rock Ventures LLC to buy the controversial Wayne County Jail site and four downtown properties is being announced today. Watch live or follow live blog updates from 7 Action News Investigator Heather Catallo.
CLICK THE PHOTO TAB NEXT TO VIDEO TO SEE THE PROPOSED RENDERINGS
The Wayne County Commissioners are fighting back hard against Ficano's proposal with Rock Ventures. They are upset that they will be asked to vote on approving the 90-day option agreement next week.
Commissioner Shannon Price called the renderings "pretty Disney drawings," and then slammed Deputy CEO Collins for not giving them enough information or time to make a decision.
This is all just a proposed plan at this point.. If the Commissioners agree to enter into the 90-day option agreement with Rock Ventures, they will have time to decide if this is the best plan.
Rock Ventures' proposed designs look like something out of Chicago or New York. The jail site will become a major entertainment venue, with an adjacent parking structure. The Frank Murphy Hall of Justice will be turned into lofts, condos, and commercial retail space. Gilbert wants to convert the cells inside Jail Division I into a luxury residential building. The Juvenile Detention Facility will be turned into brownstone-like homes, with a new overhead walkway to the other buildings. For Division II, Rock Ventures proposes a hotel concept (called the Lantern on Gratiot), which will sit between the casino and entertainment district and the residential buildings.
The Gratiot lot jail will be closed within 90 days of the county accepting the Rock Ventures offer. Jail Division I and II will have three years to vacate to Mound Road.
Wayne County EDGE Development Officer Mike Hilfinger says the economic impact for the county will be dramatic. For the downtown properties, its estimated $836 million will be generated during the 5 year building period, with 5500 new jobs created. When the county starts building the jail and the new circuit court at the Mound Road facility, Hilfinger says $385 million will be generated, plus 575 new jobs will be created during the building period.
Former county employee and lawyer Todd Fenton's group offered a total of $7.9 million ($17.9 million less demolition cost) for the properties.
Dan Gilbert's Rock Ventures LLC offered a total of $50 million for the footprint of land that's just steps away from Greektown Casino, which Gilbert now controls. Rock Ventures will give Wayne County $20 million for the Gratiot lot (where the jail was being built up until June). That's the same lot that Greektown Casino sold to the county for $14 million a few years ago, so they could build the jail. Rock Ventures will also pay the county $30 million for the other four properties, over a three year period, when the county can vacate the buildings.
Triple Properties, which hoped to build a soccer stadium and mixed retail-residential development downtown offered the county $100 million for all 5 properties. But Triple Properties wanted to lease the buildings back to the county while they occupy them for $50 million over five years, making this actually just a $50 million deal, and the county would be on the hook for utilities, property taxes (which they don't currently pay), and maintenance.
Members of Wayne County CEO Robert Ficano's administration are presenting their recommendation to the Wayne County Commission and the Wayne County Building Authority today.
As 7 Action News first reported, they are recommending a $50 million deal from Dan Gilbert's Rock Ventures LLC to buy the controversial Wayne County Jail site and four downtown properties.
Ficano stopped construction in June on the $300 million jail after learning that it was projected to be $91 million over budget. So far, the county has spent more than $154 million on the jail, which now sits half-finished across from the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice. The county received bids from five developers for the jail site and four nearby buildings: the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice, Division I and Division II of the current jail, as well as the Juvenile Detention facility. County officials have said that the three leading offers for the properties were from Dan Gilbert's Rock Ventures LLC, Triple Properties LLC (current owners of the Silverdome and the Penobscot Building), and Todd Fenton, who represented other private developers.
The committee selected to review the bids is comprised of: Wayne County Commissioner Alisha Bell, Wayne County Deputy CEO Jeffrey Collins, Wayne County Building Authority member Jim Saros, former
EDGE leader Ray Byers (now Government Operations Director), Wayne County Sheriff's office Project Consultant Robert Dunlap, Jail Project Manager Robert Newton, and Wayne County Economic Development Department Michael Hilfinger.
The FBI is investigating the jail project, and so is a Wayne County Circuit Court one-man grand jury.