Committee considering Gilbert's bid for the unfinished jail site - FOX 35 News Orlando

Committee considering Gilbert's bid for the unfinished jail site

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It sat dormant for months but the half-built abandoned Wayne County Jail project may soon be transformed.

Sources tell Fox 2 a Wayne Co. review committee, which has spent weeks mulling over its offers, is expected to recommend Dan Gilbert's Rock Ventures Group be allowed to purchase the old jail site and its surrounding properties. Its plan is to build a 500 million dollar hotel and retail development.

"For me, I need to have those numbers add up because, short of that, I think the public would be shorted on their expectations of the dollars that we've already spent," says Ilona Varga, Wayne County Commissioner.

She says she is still in favor of the original jail project and holding the contractors responsible for finishing what they started, wants to know where is the rest of the money going to come from.

Fox 2 has learned Rock Ventures Group would pay 50 million for the 15 acres that includes the jail site, Frank Murphy Hall of Justice and the old jails, Division One and Two.
It would also be responsible for demolition of the abandoned jail project and then assist the county with transforming the old correctional facility into a jail that can house 2,600 inmates.

"There is a big shortfall. Currently my understanding is that they've already spend 150 million dollars on the old jail, and we allocated 220 million dollars where the total jail project on that old site and, so, that doesn't leave us very much money," Varga says.

Because that's clearly not enough money to construct a brand new justice department. Last week the county got the 'go-ahead' from Governor Rick Snyder to move it's justice department to the old correctional facility, but it's still not clear who would foot the bill to construct a brand new court house at an estimated 300 million dollars.

"I'm very disappointed with the Ficano administration that they would leak that before the commission even got to hear it," says Varga.

This review panel will make it's official recommendation to the Wayne County Commissioners at a meeting scheduled for 2 p.m. on Wednesday.

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