Dan Gilbert and Stephen Ross Envision a UM Center at Detroit's Former Jail Site

May 19, 2019, 10:27 AM

A University of Michigan manufacturing research center may rise on the empty Gratiot Avenue land that was envisioned for a Wayne County jail, according to Crain's Detroit Business.

The scoop by Chad Livengood and Kirk Pinho will be on the cover of Crain's Detroit Business.

The possible project is being discussed by wealthy UM alumnus Stephen Ross ('62), local mogul Dan Gilbert and the university, Chad Livengood and Kirk Pinho report in this week's issue.

The concept is a "Detroit innovation center" that could house research and development for UM, according to three people familiar with the talks who requested anonymity. It would represent a major expansion into Detroit for the university. . . .

A native of Detroit who has donated more than $300 million of his wealth to UM, Ross has expressed past interest in doing a real estate project in the city — but has largely remained on the sidelines of the revitalization of downtown Detroit that Gilbert has led since bringing his Quicken Loans Inc. to the city nine years ago.

UM President Mark Schlissel told Crain's last fall school officials were searching for partners to help the university establish "a more substantial role physically in Detroit going forward." . . .

Gilbert has exclusive development rights to the Gratiot site, existing jails and the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice as part of a deal his Rock Ventures LLC reached last year with Wayne County to build the county a new $533-million criminal justice complex at I-75 and East Warren Avenue. The half-built "fail jail" was demolished last summer.

UM's business school is named for Stephen Ross, who turned 79 two weeks ago. He earned an accounting degree there in 1962 and has given $378 million to his alma mater, more than anyone else. (Photo: University of Michigan)

The Crain's scoop has details of three local visits this spring by Ross, a developer who was born in Detroit and now lives in New York City.

Ross, Gilbert and Mayor Mike Duggan had dinner at the San Morello Italian restaurant in Gilbert's Shinola Hotel last month, according to two sources familiar with the meeting who requested anonymity.

Flight records for a private Gulfstream plane registered to Related Cos. indicate that it has landed at Coleman A. Young Municipal Airport twice in the last two months, most recently on April 14 and leaving on April 16. Prior to that, it was at the airport for about six hours on March 22. 

Read more:  Crain's Detroit Business

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By: Michael Lucido