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Land swap agreement clears major hurdle for MLS stadium in Detroit

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Posted at 9:16 AM, Oct 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-05 15:37:29-04

Wayne County and the city of Detroit have come to an agreement to swap land in what is another step toward bringing Dan Gilbert's plan for a Major League Soccer stadium to Detroit.

According to the county, they will acquire part of a DDOT property near the I-75 Service Drive and E. Warren in Midtown while the city will get the former American Motors Corp. headquarters on Detroit's west side.

This is all part of a plan with Gilbert's company, Rock Ventures, to build the county a new jail and courthouse on the site of I-75 and E. Warren and use the current Gratiot Ave. site for a proposed MLS stadium.

"This agreement gets us one stop closer to a deal with Rock Ventures," Wayne County Executive Warren Evans said in a release. "Acquiring this land was one of the significant hurdles to Rock's proposed criminal justice complex."

The proposal would build the county a new criminal justice center with a jail, courthouse, prosecutor's office, sheriff's office and juvenile detention center at the cost of $520.3 million.

Wayne County would be responsible for $380 million plus the cost of buy land from the city near I-75 and Warren Ave. Rock would also pay for all of the cost overruns.

The DDOT property that will be acquired by the county is actually the land behind it and not the DDOT bus terminal itself. That means it will not affect DDOT operations at the facility.

Now, both the city and the county will work on a final agreement for the land swap deal, which will have to be approved by the Detroit City Council, Wayne County Commission and the Wayne County Land Bank.

"The city is swapping land we don't need to the county to enable the county to build a criminal justice center," Duggan said in the release. "In exchange, the county is swapping a vacant parcel in west Detroit that the city wans to take on as a redevelopment project to improve the neighborhood. This is a win-win."

The county says negotiations are continuing with Rock on the deal for the new criminal justice complex, that would include a 2,280 bed jail, criminal courthouse, prosecutor offices, sheriff administrative offices and a juvenile detention facility.

In July, the county said they were moving forward with Gilbert's plan instead of a different plan from Walsh Construction to finish the building the jail on Gratiot Ave. in downtown Detroit.

"I've directed my team to dedicate their time and resources toward attempting to reach a contract with Rock Ventures," Evans said at the time.. "The Rock Ventures proposal has more upside, less risk and a smaller financial gap than Walsh Construction's proposal."

The county said it is still working with Walsh Construction on deadlines to consier its proposal for the Gratiot Ave. site. The county has until Dec. 1 to determine whether or not it will pursue Walsh's proposal as an alternative.

Gilbert has teamed with Pistons owner Tom Gores to bring a MLS team to Detroit, but before the league would approve it, they have to have a stadium plan.