Wayne County deal with Gilbert to be debated today

DETROIT - 7 Action News has obtained the documents that lay out the potential deal between Wayne County and Dan Gilbert's Rock Ventures LLC.  The Memo of Understanding (MOU) will be the topic of debate at today's Wayne County Commission Committee of the Whole meeting.

The MOU gives Wayne County and Rock Ventures 6 months to determine if Gilbert wants to purchase 5 downtown county properties for $50 million.  At the end of the 6 month time period, if Wayne County officials choose not to sell the properties to Rock Ventures, the county will have to reimburse "an amount equal to Rock's actual expenses of any nature incurred in connection with the transactions contemplated…" in the MOU.  The agreement spells out that those expenses cannot exceed $500,000.

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano's staffers chose Rock Ventures as the leading bid for the property where the failed jail project now sits, in downtown Detroit.  Ficano stopped construction on the jail in June after learning that it was projected to be $91 million over budget.  Wayne County is now also suing the companies who were in charge of building the new jail, and the FBI is investigating the project.

The deal with Gilbert hinges on Wayne County's ability to build a jail with its remaining budgeted bond money at the State of Michigan's old Mound Road Correctional Facility on Detroit's east side.  The county's acceptance of the purchase agreement for the 5 justice properties is contingent on the County being able to use the Mound Road facility.  The MOU states: "If the County cannot obtain the aforementioned development and use agreement in a form that is acceptable to the County… this MOU shall automatically terminate…"

But it appears the taxpayers would still be on the hook for Rock Venture's expenses.

The 7 Action News Investigators will be at the 1:00 meeting, and they will bring you the very latest throughout the day.


Rock Wayne County MOU

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If you have a story for Heather Catallo please email her at hcatallo@wxyz.com or call 248-827-4473.

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