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Failed Michigan Jail Site to Host Innovation Center

As PLN reported, construction was halted in 2013 on the WCJ after it was discovered the project was running tens of millions of dollars over its $300 million budget. [See: PLN, April 2016, p.58.]

At least $150 million in 2010 bond funds were spent on the half-built jail. Since construction was halted, taxpayers paid nearly $1.2 million per month in costs for debt financing, security, and other fees related to the site.

In early 2018, the site was sold to Dan Gilbert, who owns the Rock Ventures development company, for $21.8 million. His company demolished the half-built jail with plans to build a soccer stadium if Major League Soccer awarded Detroit an expansion team. Instead, teams were awarded to Cincinnati and Nashville.

UM announced in October 2019 plans to partner with Gilbert and billionaire real estate mogul and UM alum Stephen Ross to build the $300 million Detroit Center for Innovation on the former 15-acre jail site. The facility will serve up to 1,000 graduate and senior-level undergrads. It will focus on high-tech research, education and innovation, with the goal of supporting the economic development of Detroit and the state with “a pipeline of talent,” reports.

The Center will also include incubator and startup services, collaboration space for established companies, residential units, a hotel and conference center and event space. 


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