Choose Thinking: A Blog by Dan Gilbert

“For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.”

- Rudyard Kipling

September 11, 2014

Rock Ventures Statement On Wayne County Jail Situation

The prospect of building a brand new 400 million dollar jail as the ‘welcoming’ structure at the gateway to downtown just off the busiest freeway exit into our urban core at the very same time Detroit’s center is undergoing an unprecedented positive transformation should outrage every single citizen, business and government official of our great city. At the exact moment we finally have the momentum and scale to overcome decades of decline as well as the increasingly inaccurate image and perception of Detroit being a crime-ridden decaying city, it is unfathomable there is even a thought of continuing on with a project that would put a massive county jail at the foot of the entry to downtown.

This critical land must be developed into uses that are consistent with a city that is on the rise and creating the environment to attract brain-economy companies and the kind of high-wage jobs that these businesses produce as well as residential and commercial projects that accompany this kind of growth.

Detroiters deserve better than local leaders moving forward with a short-sighted reckless plan because it may be viewed as an easier path at this point in time. Let me not mince words: Building this jail at this crucial location would be nothing short of an unmitigated disaster that will echo with negative implications for downtown and the city for decades to come. There are several well-thought out alternatives that are light years better for Detroit and Wayne County that over the long run will also be economically favorable as well. It’s a new day in Detroit and it is time we start learning from some of the senseless and illogical bad decisions of the past by not repeating them. It is clear that locating a major brand new jail at the foot of the busiest gateway to downtown Detroit would rank among this region’s worst decisions of all-time. All of us: The county, city, state, business community and citizens must come together and do much better than implementing a long-term abhorrent plan for the gateway to downtown Detroit.

Dan Gilbert
Rock Ventures

Posted by: in Uncategorized | Comments (11)


  • Comment by Mark Perner — September 12, 2014 @ 1:38 am:

    Hi Dan — I have visited downtown Detroit a few times as my son is a Detroit resident. I saw the shell of what is supposed to be the new jail and agree that it would be better built in a more out-of-the-way place. At the same time, weren’t you going to buy that property and develop it into something else? Or has the county’s plan to go through with the building of the jail put that purchase on hold?

  • Comment by James McBroom — September 12, 2014 @ 3:35 am:


    What are the alternatives you speak of?

    Id like to see them so I can make an informed decision about this.


  • Comment by Ali — September 12, 2014 @ 3:41 am:

    Hey Dan i am a huge fan of yours and i love what your doing for the City of Detroit! I agree with you about the Jail it shouldn’t be built in the heart of Downtown Detroit so my Question to you Mr Gilbert what can we the Citizens of Detroit do about this? I also wanted to ask you about the Pistons moving back Downtown i know the owner of the Pistons Tom Gores has said he would listen but they just installed a huge Jumbotron and if they did move it will be in 2017-2018 thats when the New Red Wings Arena opens up so my guess is they will share the Stadium? I can’t afford to drive 45 Minutes there and 45 Minutes back to watch a Mediocre Basketball team after the game there is nothing to do! You were right when you said it was a Open Field out in the middle of nowhere. It looks like 2017 is going to be the year with the New Red Wings Arena and Entertainment Center and the M-1 Rail We still have a lot of work to do like the Blight plan but i feel it and see it this great city is coming back thanks to people like you Penske Magic etc Is there any Training Programs i can take i want to be part of this great city’s comeback. Thanks Dan.

  • Comment by pamela jones — September 12, 2014 @ 4:36 pm:


    Yes there are many training programs contact local 58 and Brenda Jones concerning the Skilled Trades Fair Sept 23, 14.

  • Comment by Bart Lower — September 12, 2014 @ 9:15 pm:

    Danny Boy’s Drive-In is looking for a good location for our second theater!

  • Comment by Rob Adams — September 12, 2014 @ 9:34 pm:

    I completely agree with this article! The city is trying to take steps forward and this jail undermines that progress. This will prevent many business from coming here. Like a Reagan speech “Mr Duggan , tear down this jail!”
    It’s such a prime location, let’s develop it into something grand, so the gateway into downtown says something about this great city!

  • Comment by Max Menius — September 12, 2014 @ 9:54 pm:

    In keeping with a big picture view of Detroit’s past and its future, a jail is the wrong visual image and icon for what Detroit is to become. Detroit needs a new reputation. It’s not a small matter. A ton of good will and investment have been made to create a new vision of the city. Outside investors and companies looking to relocate have other options. If Detroit’s portal reminds them of a crime ridden metropolis, people will be left with a certain cringe factor.

  • Comment by Eva M — September 12, 2014 @ 10:52 pm:

    I couldn’t agree any more!!! As part of the future of this state, I may be young but I’ve learned how to spend my money wisely. Watching Detroit invest in something that is so unnecessary is truly disheartening. Shouldn’t these funds be spent elsewhere where necessary? Isn’t this going to just keep digging the city into more and more debt?!! Plus talk about an eyesore. It’s definitely not the first thing I want to see if I’m going to go enjoy a night or even live in the city of Detroit. I may be 29 & I may be blonde but I’m not an idiot. When are they going to realize they’ve already made so many critical mistakes that we cannot go back and fix! I hate the way our country looks at us, I hate the way the world looks at us. Why are we asking for them to look down upon us? We shouldn’t be the example of what happens when corruption destroys a city and is lost, we should set the example for the world to see. Sometimes I feel like Detroit is a country in its own, I just wish more people would have such faith and be building like you Mr. Gilbert.

  • Comment by Denise Froehlich — September 15, 2014 @ 2:23 pm:

    I am an ex-Detroit resident..would love to move back!

  • Comment by Rashawnda Mathis — October 2, 2014 @ 3:14 pm:

    I absolutely agree!! I really hope that you forge ahead with a plan to develop that land.

  • Comment by Al Gustafson — October 6, 2014 @ 12:03 am:

    As a three year ‘vet’ in commercial real estate in the Capital of New Zealand, common sense on property matters is better left to those who job aka passion is to watch and plan and act in a timely fashion. Our elected central planners are there on the whole to collect their monthly salary checks (cheques if you’re English like me). I have been an observer of Detroit for what seems a long time. I’ve love to visit Detroit than read about the city in books and on the web.

    Wellington, New Zealand, has its own problems with centralized planning whereby the rate payer foots the bill.

Leave a comment

Subscribe to Comments via RSS Feed or get comments in your email inbox.