Decision on Detroit soccer and jail projects expected soon

The picture is looking brighter for Detroit's Wayne County.

Its credit rating has improved, which should lower its borrowing costs. And it might be moving closer to getting its messy jail project back on track.

That would lessen the burden for Wayne County, which is reportedly paying $1.3 million a month in debt service and legal fees while a decision lingers.

One proposal, favored by county administrators, would put a proposed MLS team in line to build a stadium on the current jail site and the jail be built at another location.

The soccer component. Rock Ventures (owned by Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert) has proposed to build a soccer stadium as part of a $1 billion development on the 15-acre site of an unfinished jail in the downtown area.

The jail component.  Rock Ventures would then build a new criminal justice complex (adult and juvenile detention facilities, new criminal courthouse and sheriff's and prosecutor's offices) about 1.5 miles away. It would pay $140 million of the $520 million cost of the new complex, the difference being what the county would have had to pay for a downtown jail.

Competing proposal. A competing proposal from Walsh Construction to finish the downtown jail project remained on the table when Wayne County Commission agreed to a two-month extension of its proposal as a counterweight to the Rock Ventures' proposal. Work on the downtown jail was halted in June 2013 when cost overruns hit $90 million.

Final decision. That extension makes a final decision -- Rock Ventures or Walsh with support for both sides on the commission -- expected to be made by Dec. 1, putting it up against the mid-December deadline for the final decision by MLS on its first two expansion teams.

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