Wayne County, MI, officials are leaning toward a deal with Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert's development company to build a $520 million criminal justice center in downtown Detroit and in exchange give Gilbert the site of a stalled jail project for his planned $1 billion pro soccer stadium, according to the Detroit Free Press.
A $269 million to $317.6 million bid from Walsh Construction to revive the jail's construction on the existing site is also on the table, though county officials say the proposal from Gilbert's Rock Ventures is less risky.
Rock agreed to pay for cost overruns on the criminal justice center, requiring the county to pay $380 million plus land costs. The Rock deal must address legal and financial issues around the land purchase for the new site and the use of existing jail bonds or else the county will restart talks with Walsh.
Gilbert owns more than 90 downtown Detroit buildings and, according to Curbed Detroit, has reportedly taken on the city's revitalization with much enthusiasm. His vision for the stadium is that of a "front door" to the rest of the city, according to Crain's Detroit Business, complete with three towers: residential, office and hotel.
Some worry that Gilbert's projects favor new residents and corporations over existing ones — but that doesn't seem to have dampened his momentum.
Rather, Gilbert and the Ilitch family, founders of Little Caesars Pizza and owners of the Detroit Red Wings hockey team, have been major drivers of the city's downtown renewal. Along with the proposed soccer stadium and criminal justice center, another example of such investment is the Red Wings' forthcoming Little Caesars Arena, which aims to be the centerpiece of District Detroit, a 50-block mixed-use project with residential, office and retail space.
There is $5.4 billion in construction activity either underway or in the planning stages for the next three years in downtown Detroit, with the majority dedicated to mixed-use development, according to CBRE. Even so, the city is struggling to meet demand for office space and apartments generated by the companies and their employees relocating downtown in response to the renewed investment in the city's core.