LeDuff: Wayne Co. may tear down unfinished jail, sell land

LeDuff: Wayne Co. may tear down unfinished jail, sell land

Posted: Updated:
New Wayne County Jail under construction New Wayne County Jail under construction
DETROIT (WJBK) -

We've been telling you for going on two years now how the new Wayne County Jail won't be big enough, is about $100 million over budget and we ran out of money to finish it.

Now The Detroit News has reported and we've confirmed that the county is in talks to tear down the jail and sell the land along with perhaps the old jail, the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice and the police headquarters to Dan Gilbert to recoup some loses. Then the county would take another $100 million in borrowed money to retrofit the old Mound prison facility and move everything there like we suggested a year ago.

A bad deal indeed, and now you're on the hook Wayne County for tens of millions, perhaps as much as a hundred million dollars in loses. And another thing, it's not even clear if it's legal to divert borrowed money backed by the federal government for a completely different project.

"I doubt that you can sell bonds for this project and then move it to this project. I don't think it's quite that flexible," said Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson.

"I'm very unhappy that this project's had the problems it's had all along. I'm unhappy that it's going to cost us more money than we anticipated. One way or another, it's going to cost more money," said Wayne County Commissioner Gary Woronchak. "We have to stop the bleeding. We have to stop this from dragging out. We have to get it done."

Gilbert's camp confirmed there has been talks.

"These are unprecedented times in Detroit. The level of optimism, commitment, investment and spirit of collaboration has never been greater, providing great context for discussion around the relocation of the jail and criminal justice complex out of downtown Detroit," we were told in a statement.

We've been asking for months now to see the original contracts and blueprints to see if the main contractor, Walbridge Construction, is on the hook.

Walbridge issued us the following statement: "According to our contract, Walbridge cannot comment on this project. Take care and have a good day."

Not allowed to talk on a public project? What are you building, the Pentagon?

So left with no other choice, we went to Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano for answers.

"At this point, it's premature to say anything, and we're just proceeding with the project," he said.

"Is this thing over budget?" I asked.

"At this point, we're looking at whatever challenges there are with the current budget, and we're going to make a determination of what we're going to do in the future," Ficano said.

"I don't know what that meant," I said. "Is this thing over budget?"

"We're not sure what the budget projection is at this point," Ficano said.

"You can't take bond money for a project and move it. That's against the law, correct?" I asked.

"No," Ficano said.

"Is it $80 million over budget," I asked. "$80 million, plus furniture, plus technology, $100 million?"

Ficano shut the door of his Cadillac, waved and drove away.

  • Charlie LeDuffCharlie LeDuffMore>>

  • LeDuff: Where is the respect for the real hosts of the Super Bowl?

    LeDuff: Where is the respect for the real hosts of the Super Bowl?

    Super Bowl XLVIII is in New York.  Well, not exactly.  The Super Bowl's host city is actually East Rutherford, N.J.  Sometimes it's hard to get respect in America if you're not from places like NYC or LA.
    Super Bowl XLVIII is in New York.  Well, not exactly.  The Super Bowl's host city is actually East Rutherford, N.J.  Sometimes it's hard to get respect in America if you're not from places like Los Angeles., Washington, D.C. or New York.  If you live in New Jersey, you're in the shadow of the Big Apple.
  • Ground Zero of the North Dakota Oil Boom

    Ground Zero of the North Dakota Oil Boom

    Friday, March 7 2014 12:11 PM EST2014-03-07 17:11:13 GMT
    In another installment of The Americans with Charlie LeDuff, Charlie and his crew head to Williston, North Dakota, where the oil boom is making the small town the epicenter of opportunity and big city problems.
    Tens of thousands of Americans are drifting into places like Williston, North Dakota where the oil boom is making the small town the epicenter of opportunity.

    If you're willing to work 100 hours a week you could make $100,000 in a year.  Along with opportunity there are problems and a changing landscape to small town life that's as harsh as winter on the northern planes.
  • LeDuff: Detroit's bankruptcy is helping police do their jobs

    LeDuff: Detroit's bankruptcy is helping police do their jobs

    Friday, March 7 2014 11:46 AM EST2014-03-07 16:46:27 GMT
    Detroit police are doing better because less money is being paid to creditors and more is being invested in police services. Go on an exclusive ride to see how the fight on crime is getting new support.
    Detroit is a godforsaken place.  Everyone knows that.  Detroit is a mess, no doubt. Here's the thing: some of the factors that put Detroit $18 billion in debt could be factors in your town. Cities all over the country are struggling to pay for health care and retiree pensions. They're seeing revenues from property taxes and sales taxes drop as they try to pay for expensive projects that were approved before the recession.
  • Charlie LeDuff: Off The ChainCharlie LeDuff: Off The ChainMore>>

  • Sayonara Bingaling

    Sayonara Bingaling

    Friday, December 13 2013 7:35 PM EST2013-12-14 00:35:18 GMT
    LeDuff: From my perch, I can say Bing was a mayor who preferred to get his nails polished but never dirty.
    LeDuff: From my perch, I can say Bing was a mayor who preferred to get his nails polished but never dirty.
  • LeDuff goes inside massive Detroit Police raid

    LeDuff goes inside massive Detroit Police raid

    Tuesday, December 3 2013 7:57 PM EST2013-12-04 00:57:27 GMT
    On Tuesday, police in Detroit teamed up with Michigan State Police and federal law enforcement officers to conduct a massive raid the size of a city block.
    On Tuesday, police in Detroit teamed up with Michigan State Police and federal law enforcement officers to conduct a massive raid the size of a city block.
  • Is this the crest of dawn in this thing we call a city?

    Is this the crest of dawn in this thing we call a city?

    Friday, November 8 2013 6:12 PM EST2013-11-08 23:12:53 GMT
    LeDuff: Darkness Rules. And then on a corner of a street called Crusade, a case of what should be considered normal becomes the extraordinary:a streetlight gets repaired. And the curtains get pulled back from the iron door.
    LeDuff: Darkness Rules. And then on a corner of a street called Crusade, a case of what should be considered normal becomes the extraordinary: a streetlight gets repaired. And the curtains get pulled back from the iron door.
Powered by WorldNow

KTBC FOX 7
119 East 10th Street
Austin, TX 78701

Phone: (512) 476-7777
Fax: (512) 495-7001

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices