Detroit “Fail Jail” to Be Converted to $300 Million Tech Hub

Construction could begin as early as late 2020.

Construction of Bedrock Detroit's City Modern housing development in the Brush Park neighborhood adjacent to Downtown.  (Photo by Nick Hagen for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Construction of Bedrock Detroit's City Modern housing development in the Brush Park neighborhood adjacent to Downtown. (Photo by Nick Hagen for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
By Bonnie Stiernberg / October 31, 2019 5:06 am

The site of an unfinished jail known locally as the “fail jail” because it was scrapped after $160 million had been spent on it will soon see new life breathed into it as part of a $300 million development project to revitalize downtown Detroit.

As the Wall Street Journal reports, the project will span 14 acres and include a research and education center for 1000 University of Michigan students, a residential building, an incubator for tech startups, a hotel and a conference center.

“Instead of 1,000 prisoners, we get 1,000 graduate students,” Mayor Mike Duggan told the publication. Construction on the project could potentially begin as early as the end of next year, pending Wayne County approval.

Stephen Ross, chairman of real estate company Related Cos. and principal owner of the Miami Dolphins, pitched the project to Duggan by phone last summer. He said he hopes the development will help the city become a new tech hub.

“Today, technology is what everyone is looking for,” Ross said. “This is a way of really retaining talent in Detroit.”

Construction on the “fail jail” was halted in 2013 after cost overruns, and the half-built jail was torn down in 2018. A new jail will reportedly be built on a different site outside of the city’s downtown area, along with sheriff and county prosecutor headquarters. As of now, half of the 14 acre site has been cleared and covered with gravel.

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