UPDATE, April 6 — Billionaire Dan Gilbert's quest to build a $533 million criminal justice center in Detroit took a major step forward Thursday with the Wayne County Commission approving a land swap deal with the city, according to The Detroit News. The commission will acquire 11 acres of property from the Detroit Transportation Department in exchange for $775,000 or the now-defunct American Motor Corp. headquarters.
Gilbert's criminal justice development will house a 2,280-bed jail and 160-bed juvenile detention building, sheriff and prosecutor staff and administrative office space, 25 courtrooms and five hearing rooms. The project could break ground as early as October, with completion slated for summer 2022.
- Quicken Loans founder, billionaire Dan Gilbert, has reportedly reached a tentative deal with Detroit and Wayne County, Michigan, officials for a three-party land swap that would allow Gilbert to develop a downtown parcel into a $1 billion soccer stadium and mixed-use complex, according to The Detroit News.
- As part of the exchange, Gilbert's Rock Ventures will buy the 15-acre site of the stalled Wayne County jail project, and the county will get a city-owned parcel on which Gilbert will build the county a $533 million criminal justice center. In return, Wayne County will hand over to Detroit the former site of an American Motor Corp. building.
- The county will lease its existing jails, juvenile detention facility and justice building from Rock Ventures for $1 a year until the new criminal justice facility is ready. The county land bank and the Wayne County Commission still must approve the deal.
Even if the city, county and Gilbert solidify the deal, Gilbert's plans could be scuttled if Major League Soccer does not give Detroit a franchise. Of the two available, the league awarded one to Nashville and is still deciding on whether the other one will go to Detroit, Sacramento or Cincinnati.
In an effort to beef up their chances, Gilbert and his partner in the team bid, Detroit Pistons basketball team owner Tom Gores, brought in the owners of the Detroit Lions and the William Clay Ford family as part of the expansion bid team. The Ford family offered Ford Field, home of the National Football League Lions, as an alternative to building a new stadium.
Even without a new soccer complex, Gilbert has positioned himself as a significant developer and redeveloper in downtown Detroit. His most high-profile project is a near-$1 billion skyscraper on the site of a former Detroit landmark, Hudson's department store. The new building will be Detroit's tallest when complete, but the complex will also include a mid-rise, mixed-use structure with a public skydeck; office, retail and event space; a market; a 700-car underground parking garage; and 93,000 square feet of exhibit space.
That's just one of many projects Gilbert is involved with in downtown Detroit, and his development activity has contributed to the $5.4 billion of projects either planned or underway in the city during the next few years, according to Crain's Detroit Business.