Final proposal for Detroit soccer stadium at jail site submitted

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Detroit soccer stadium

Detroit’s Wayne County has received two final construction proposals to choose from as it looks to either complete its stalled Downtown Detroit jail project or build a criminal justice complex elsewhere to make room for a soccer stadium downtown.

Rock Ventures, Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert’s family of companies, submitted on June 28 an expanded proposal to build a new criminal justice center on 13 acres of land bounded by the I-75 Service Drive, East Warren Avenue, East Ferry, Russell and Frederick, in exchange for the Gratiot Avenue site where an initial jail project was halted in 2013.

The failed project was on pace to run tens of millions over its $300 million budget before it was brought to a standstill, and the partially built Gratiot jail has since become an eyesore amid an economic resurgence downtown.

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans, who took office in 2014, has been looking to revive the project since bringing the county out of state-designated financial emergency in 2016. Walsh Construction submitted a proposal to complete the unfinished Gratiot jail at a cost of $269-million for 1,608 beds, or $317.6 million for 2,200 beds.

Gilbert’s initial submission in February proposed building a 1,600-bed jail, plus a court complex and a juvenile detention facility at the alternative site at East Forest Avenue for $420-million, using $300 million from the county and his own funds.

The final proposal submitted on June 28 offers a $520.3-million 2,280-bed jail, criminal courthouse, prosecutor offices, sheriff administration offices and a juvenile detention facility at a cost to the county of $380 million, plus land acquisition obligations.

Rock Ventures would be responsible for any cost overruns, and would get the Gratiot site in return.

The plan for the Gratiot site would include building a $1 billion commercial development that would include a Major League Soccer Stadium in partnership with Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores.

“The goal was to provide the County with alternative solutions to the jail project and we’ve done that. We’re finally able to fully evaluate the proposals and pursue what’s best for Wayne County,” Evans said in a news release.

“We’ll work diligently to move this forward as quickly as we can. Just like everyone else in Wayne County, I’m tired of talk. I want the jail project resolved.”

Evans expects to choose a proposal and make a recommendation to the Wayne County Commission and Wayne County Building Authority by late July.

“The logic has always been clear to me,” Evans said. “It’s not about soccer and it’s not about politics. It’s about a county, with very real fiscal limitations, financing a desperately needed jail which has already cost taxpayers millions.

“This decision is solely about what’s best for Wayne County.”

The final fate of the project is likely to be unveiled at the next Coliseum Summit America which will be hosted in Detroit, Michigan on May 9-10, 2018.

Coliseum is a global series of stadium and arena business conferences and a sports venue news online-platform dedicated to the various challenges of designing, constructing and operating of sports venues all around the world.

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