No deal: Wayne Co. considering Gilbert's offer to buy jail site - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

No deal: Wayne Co. considering Gilbert's offer to buy jail site

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The Wayne County Board of Commissioners during Wednesday's meeting The Wayne County Board of Commissioners during Wednesday's meeting

By: Charlie LeDuff, Fox 2 News

Dan Gilbert is trying to expand his empire.

He put in a bid to buy the Wayne County Complex and several buildings nearby. He wants to build a big new residence downtown.

But what about the money spent on the jail?

The latest chapter in his ongoing story from Fox 2's Charlie LeDuff:

Bob Ficano crawled out of his spider hole today directly telling the Wayne County Board of Commissioners the best way to clean up his jail fiasco is to sell the site to mortgage mogul Dan Gilbert, along with the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice, the two downtown jails and the juvenile hall for $50 million.

"You're talking about a company, individual, that is the CEO, that knows what he's doing, Mr. Gilbert, and making sure that there's going to be results," Bob Ficano said.  

Gilbert's people came with colorful drawings, saying they'd build hotels and lofts. And in the meantime, the county would move the courts and the jails to the old Mound prison facility near Hamtramck.

Now the problem with Bob's new plan is: there's no blueprints for a new jail or a courthouse; there's no budget; there's no financing; there's no answers.

Sound familiar?

Ficano's representatives asked the commission for a vote next week on a 90-day study period, but with the county already having blown one-third of a billion dollars, the one-bitten commissioners weren't biting.

"I feel like this is pie in the sky, and I certainly hope it's pumpkin pie because this is a festive season," --

"There was a woman that sat in that same seat a few years ago that told us the same thing, and basically handed us stuff that we had to approve with two or three days notice, and gave us wonderful Power Point presentations and told us how great this thing was going to be, and it was complete fiasco," Kevin McNamara --  

"No disrespect to our friends from the State of Rock Financial, but today you bring us pretty Disney drawings, renderings, and ask us to vote on something next week. And I think some commissioners have alluded to the fact that getting thrown a piece of paper and saying, 'Vote on this!' is what got us in this position in the first place," -- Shannon G. Price.

"Then you decide ... there's a better idea, and this could be a better plan for Wayne County so let's stop the current project - look at this other project, and we have, like, nothing except this presentation and it's like a third of what we need," - -

So despite breathless news accounts to the contrary, there is no deal today.

Nothing's happened, except to say Dan Gilbert is the billionaire gorilla in this room.

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