Detroit Council to Vote on Land Swap for New Jail Next Week

Detroit City Council delays vote on land swap to allow development of unfinished jail site amid complaints and lawsuit.

white barred prison cells

Jake Neher/WDET

The Detroit City Council is delaying a vote on a proposed land swap with Wayne County that would pave the way for construction of a new jail near Warren Avenue and I-75.

The swap would be part of a deal to sell the site of an unfinished jail near the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice on Gratiot to Dan Gilbert’s Rock Ventures.

The Gratiot site was previously touted as a possible home for a new soccer team in Detroit. But officials now say it would house a mixed-use development.

Gilbert has said any new development would be far more “welcoming” to visitors approaching Detroit from that side of the city than the ragged girders of a half-finished jail.

But some residents near the I-75 site complain they have had little chance to raise concerns about how a new jail complex would impact safety or traffic in their area.

A resident living in the community has filed a lawsuit seeking a preliminary injunction to halt the land swap.

Bre’Anna Tinsley/ WDET

But the city council member representing the district, Mary Sheffield, says the suit may not be a factor for long.

“The premise of his lawsuit was around some zoning issues,” Sheffield says. “And we’ve been advised that the county does not have to abide by any of the local zoning that’s in place right now. And so I’m not sure if he has any basis for his lawsuit.”

Sheffield adds that she believes concerns about increasing community engagement in the project will soon be addressed.

She predicts Council will likely vote on the land swap next week.


Click on the audio link above to hear the full interview 


  • Quinn Klinefelter
    Quinn Klinefelter is a Senior News Editor at 101.9 WDET. In 1996, he was literally on top of the news when he interviewed then-Senator Bob Dole about his presidential campaign and stepped on his feet.