After months of delays, Dan Gilbert’s group has reached a major goal in building Wayne County’s new $616 million jail and courthouse complex. In less than two weeks, they could hand it over to the county.
Thursday, County Commissioner Glenn Anderson said that Gilbert’s real estate company, Bedrock, finally reached “substantial completion” of the Wayne County Criminal Justice Center. This means that at least 98% of the building work was finished. The next step is to officially hand over the finished complex. The county thinks this will happen by the end of the month.
County officials thought Bedrock would hand over the building in March of last year, but that date passed with hundreds of tasks still unfinished, such as fixing cracks in the walls and adding supports to the ceiling to keep prisoners from escaping. Last fall, there was disagreement about whether or not the building was mostly finished. Bedrock said it had already reached that goal, but county officials didn’t agree.
After handover, the county will have six months to vacate the current adult and youth jails, as well as the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice. These buildings will then be moved to Bedrock. Bedrock hasn’t said what it plans to do with the sites in the end, but its CEO told Crain’s Detroit that the company plans to tear down the empty buildings.
It is possible that the county could be fined $500,000 per month if it takes longer than six months to move. County officials have said they don’t know of any similar fines for Bedrock’s delays. A message sent to Bedrock on Thursday asking for comment did not get a response.
The new building is located off of Interstate 75 near East Ferry Street in Detroit. It will be home to the county’s jail with 2,280 beds, juvenile detention center, criminal courthouse, staff for the sheriff and prosecutor, and executive offices. The county hired Tamara Knapp as an expert to help plan the move from the old buildings to the new complex. The moving itself will be done by the Romulus-based Oneida Solutions Group.
“Our goal is to make the move and transition of services as easy as possible for the transition teams and stakeholders,” Knapp said. Before starting Tamara Knapp Advisory in 2020, Knapp was chief operations officer for Bedrock.
Knapp told a county commission meeting on Thursday that they plan to start moving inmates and staff to the new complex four months after the turnover date, which would be June 1 if the turnover happens on January 31. After that, the moving process would take four weeks.
The adults in jail would have to be moved during the first week. The second week would be the jail for teens. The courts, clerk, and prosecutor’s office would be open in the third week. The sheriff’s office would be open in the fourth and final week.
Knapp said that a lot of the things that will be moved are tech-related, like computers and printers. Filing cabinets and office goods will also be moved. She said that the building has a lot of new office furniture, so many of the old desks, tables, and chairs will stay put.
The county wants to sell the old things that won’t go with the move at a market. As for Commissioner Anderson, he thinks the county will be able to move within six months. He said, “It looks like they have a well-thought-out plan for the move-in. Let’s see how it goes.”
A three-year, $24.4 million deal was made by county commissioners last month with Friedman Real Estate Services of Farmington Hills to handle the new criminal justice complex’s property. In the present, Anderson says, the county does not hire an outside company to run its current jail and courthouse facilities. “They are doing something a little different,” he stated. “Because it adds so much to the county’s area, they thought they needed it.”
Managing director of Friedman Real Estate Services Jared Friedman said Thursday that the company is “thrilled to collaborate with Wayne County on the development of this state-of-the-art facility.”
In 2018, Bedrock built the new justice center for the county in exchange for Gilbert’s organization getting a piece of land along Gratiot in downtown Detroit. The county had given up on its plans to build its own $300 million jail because the costs were getting too high.
At first, it was thought that building the new center would cost $533 million. Bedrock budget records for the project show that as of November, the total amount that was expected to be spent had gone up to $616 million. The 2018 deal says that the county can only contribute $380 million. The rest of the costs and any cost overruns will be paid for by Bedrock.
But the county has to pay extra for things like change orders ($2.2 million), cleaning up the parking lot, and building a utility station ($7.5 million). The county also paid about $28 million to get Gilbert’s group out of a deal to collect parking fees in the future.