Wayne County completes initial review of Dan Gilbert's project

Posted at 5:18 AM, Feb 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-13 17:25:31-05

An initial review of Dan Gilbert's proposal to develop a criminal justice center in Wayne County has been competed, according to Wayne County Executive Warren Evans.

Gilbert's Rock Ventures is offering to build the county the new center in exchange for a prime piece of real estate in downtown Detroit.

The piece of land is the stalled Wayne County jail site and nearby buildings. That's where Gilbert wants to build a multi-use commercial real estate development and a Major League Soccer Stadium.

According to Evans, there are certain steps the county must take to vet the offer, and called for a stipend for Walsh Construction to cover costs to prepare for its proposal to complete the unfinished jail site.

Also, Evans gave the Wayne County Commission five recommendations to help vet the offer. Those are:

  1. Approve a stipend agreement of up to $500,000 with Walsh Construction to prepare a proposal in response to the RFP, which was issued on Feb. 10.
  2. Modify the contract with Carter Goble Associates LLC (“CGL”) to allow for analysis of Rock Ventures proposed jail site.
  3. Approve a contract with CGL to assist in vetting the Rock proposal from an operations and detention facility approach.
  4. Approve a contract with the National Center for State Courts to assist in vetting and analyzing the court and office programming of Rock’s proposal.
  5. Approve a legal services contract with Zausmer, August and Caldwell to assist in legal issues related to the Rock proposal. 

There were also issues with the project, according to Evans. Those issues include whether or not the facilities being built will meet Wayne County's criminal justice needs, whether it's appropriate to pay Rock Ventures for operational efficiencies form the building and resolving some tax issues.

“We must know that the $420 million proposed site will fully meet the County’s criminal justice needs and there’s a lot of work left to figure that out,” Evans said in a release. “We also need to do our due diligence on the bond and credit issues to make sure any action we take is in the County’s financial interests.”

The county expects to have a proposal from Walsh Construction by May.This all 

started when Rock Ventures proposed building the criminal justice complex for Wayne County. Both the Wayne County Commission and Wayne County Building Authority need to approve any contract.

“I agree with Dan Gilbert that this is a 50-year decision, but it’s important to remember that we’re nearly a decade into a debacle we inherited that will continue to cost Wayne County taxpayers for decades. Getting this right for them trumps any other concern I have,” Evans added in the release. “Our residents have been staring at a demoralizing Gratiot site with $151 million of their money buried in the ground that continues to hold back this County from truly surging forward.”