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

October 9, 2014

Updated Rock Ventures Statement On Wayne County Jail Situation


We appreciate the Commission’s interest and openness in seeking the best outcome for the criminal justice complex. This is a very challenging situation that has been handed to the Commission.

Detroit is at a critical and monumentally important juncture at this point in time here in late 2014. We are coming out of bankruptcy while investment, interest and enthusiasm in downtown is at a 60-year peak.

Detroit has made some very short-sighted important decisions that have caused negative repercussions and cut off untold opportunity for many decades.

If we could have the decision back of locating the RenCen along the river (with a massive berm in front of it in the pre-GM days) versus in the heart of downtown, would we take it back?

If we could have the decision back of locating the casinos in three spread out locations versus lining them up on Woodward or the river so their impact would have been more significant in the surrounding area and district, would we take it back?

If we could have the decision back of building the People Mover 25 feet up in the air with a one-way loop versus a grade-level, curb-side, two-directional mass transit system, would we take it back?

For that matter, if we could take back the decision to tear out one of the country’s most robust streetcar systems in the 1950s would we take it back?

If we could take the decision of creating a barrier in the form of I-375 that tore apart the core of the city versus keeping it at grade, as is currently being intelligently considered, would we take it back?

And if we could take back the decision to tear out the vibrant Black Bottom neighborhood that once thrived in the path of I-375, would we take it back?

Critical decisions like the location of the jail cannot be measured solely by numbers on today’s spreadsheets. They must be measured through the prism of what opportunity, vision and ultimate value would be created in an alternative scenario. Keep in mind that no major decision related to land use in a busy thriving and growing urban core can be made in a silo without understanding how one big piece of the puzzle fits with all of the other pieces.

Whether Rock Ventures or another party ultimately develops the Gratiot site is not important. What is important is that we get it right for all of Detroit – its citizens, businesses and community.

We believe that all stakeholders need to be involved and accountable in identifying the best outcome and we look forward to being a part of that process.

Ultimately, the right solution will responsibly balance the needs of the county and its constituents with the economic  development and job creation opportunities that this important gateway to downtown represents.  We remain convinced that the correct solution does not include a new hulking jail on the Gratiot site.  This decision is too important to the future of our city, county and region to miss another opportunity to do the right thing.

Posted by: in Uncategorized | Comments (4)


  • Comment by Al Gustafson — October 12, 2014 @ 2:55 am:

    For any city, properly construed gateways are one of the biggest signals to
    all of what we are and what we stand for. And requires a Gateway Project team with expertise from those in the business of projecting and positioning cities onto the future. I am not advocating centralised planning. I am advocating the implementation of a vision. Jails are a statement of failure of society, the individual and, in particular, the family. What does Detriot want to do – walk in the past or regain its standing.

  • Comment by Lena — October 16, 2014 @ 5:18 pm:

    To them it’s all about the money. They basically threw away $157 million dollars and are left with a big hunk of nothing. Then you come in, Dan and offer them $50 million to walk away and start over elsewhere. And with that $50 million dollar price tag you want the Frank Murphy building as well as 4 others. Sorry to break it to you, but $50 million isn’t going to cut it. What you’re doing downtown is incredible, they should make a statue of you Dan, but I hate to see that we will now have a Jail system on one of the most traveled roads into downtown because of an unattractive offer on your part. Don’t want to sound like a Bitch, but Dig Deeper if you want Downtown Detroit to be the Downtown Detroit you envisioned when you started.

  • Comment by Michelle Capaldi — October 22, 2014 @ 11:31 pm:

    A good leader doesn’t focus on who’s right and who’s wrong, they focus on results and solutions. All that matters is we get it right. Thank you for being a good leader for Detroit! Nice post.

  • Comment by Al Gustafson — December 7, 2014 @ 2:00 am:

    Rights and solutions must be based within a moral framework. People matter and rightness and wrongness take account of the impact of solutions upon people otherwise the despots of business and culture and countries and nations are deemed right because they ‘got results’. Dan hasn’t crashed and burned Detroit. Previous city fathers did this while focusing on results and solutions as they saw it – and the people went to hell in a handcart.

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