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Posted on Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Washtenaw County to demolish vacant juvenile detention center on Platt Road

By Amy Biolchini

Washtenaw County will raze the vacant juvenile detention center at 2270 Platt Road in Ann Arbor this summer to make room for future development by the county, officials say.

Greg Dill, infrastructure management director for Washtenaw County, confirmed Wednesday that the building will be demolished this summer.


The county's former juvenile court in 2011 at 2270 Platt Road in Ann Arbor.

Angela J. Cesere | file photo

The 42,320-square-foot juvenile detention center on Platt Road is about 44 years old. It costs the county about $211,040 to operate annually.

The detention center includes cells to house inmates, which make the building difficult to re-purpose, according to county staff. It’s been vacant for nearly 10 years, as the county moved its juvenile detention services to its Hogback Road service center.

Talks of an affordable housing development on the site continue among county leaders, who have met several times in the past two months to discuss the property, Dill said.

A task force of Dill, director of Washtenaw County's Office of Community and Economic Development Mary Jo Callan and two Democratic Washtenaw County commissioners representing Ann Arbor, Yousef Rabhi and Andy LaBarre, has formed to guide the county’s development on the property, Dill said. They’re seeking additional members for the task force.

As chairman of the county Board of Commissioners in his second term, Rabhi has publicly expressed his desire to address affordable housing issues in Washtenaw County at several meetings this year.

The board has not voted on any official plans regarding the site.

Dill will be presenting a number of recommendations to the board regarding the Platt Road site in mid-March as a part of a regular report on the county’s buildings and leased space, when he said more details will be released as to the county’s vision for the property.

The juvenile detention center is one of two aging buildings on the 13.5 acres that Washtenaw County owns on Platt Road, adjacent to the county’s Farm Park and parks department.

The other building is the 6,680-square-foot O’Brien Center at 2260 Platt Road that was last used by the public defender and the prosecuting attorney.

The county hasn’t had any of its operations at the Platt Road site since May 2011, when the juvenile court moved to downtown Ann Arbor. The property saw signs of life in the summer of 2012 when Project Grow sited a number of community garden plots there.

Washtenaw County officials said earlier this year they wanted to keep the property in the county’s portfolio, rather than sell it to private investors.

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Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.


Mike K

Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 9:37 p.m.

Aw man, I was married there in 1999 by Judge Francis.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 3:18 p.m.

Repurpose the site as a NEW juvinile detention facility. There are way too many convicts-in-training to fill the place up.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 2:26 p.m.

This is an exciting and rare opportunity for Ann Arbor to build housing for low-to-middle income families. This excellent location is close to County Farm Park, the County Rec Center, Allen Elementary School, bus routes, shopping, and highway access.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 6:25 p.m.

Brad - as a long time resident of this very neighborhood, I would welcome a nicely designed low-to-middle income development in that space. It's a beautiful and uniquely situated plot of land. I don't understand your reference to 'build it in Burns Park this time'?

Life in Ypsi

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 3 p.m.

Correction - there

Life in Ypsi

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 2:59 p.m.

So refreshing to hear it's Ann Arbor for once as their is always a big push to send the low income people to Ypsi. I fully support carefully planned low income housing, but it's been long over due that Ann Arbor stop expecting Ypsi do it all.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 2:36 p.m.

Except the land doesn't belong to Ann Arbor. How about we build that in Burns Park this time?


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 1:45 p.m.

I think we need a county skate board park on that site.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 1:44 p.m.

"includes cells to house inmates, which make the building difficult to re-purpose" Sounds like the perfect new home for the DDA. Seriously, it would be a great addition to the County Farm Park. Maybe expand the community gardens there. No thanks to housing.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 1:43 p.m.

I dimly recall an article about this building from one or two years ago. The article mentioned many problems with the building, including silverfish infestation, that made it unusable. I think the city should sell ruin porn tickets ($2 a trip) to tour the building before it's razed.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 1:15 p.m.

Juvenile detention center 42,320 sf + O'Brien center 6,680 ssf = 49,000 sf, or over 1.12 acres of BUILDING size. $211,040 operations/yr/49,000 sf = $4.31/sf/yr. This includes building maintenance (roof, mechanicals, etc), site maintenance (plowing, mowing, etc) , utilities, security, insurance, administration, county overhead charges, etc. Considering this, the cost does not seem unreasonable, given that the property has been preserved while exploring further use. If there is none, it is better to demolish now, than abandoning for decay, damaging the surrounding neighborhood.

Bill Marr

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 1:14 p.m.

I'm surprised that building is still standing? Could use the property for something more useful, like build a business to generate more jobs in the area maybe?

Amy Biolchini

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 2:55 p.m.

There has been some interest by private investors in the site. The county has let the property sit as-is as they decided how it fits in to its overall space plan. County leaders have expressed that they want to keep the Platt Road property under their ownership.

Jon Saalberg

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 1:07 p.m.

"It's been vacant for nearly 10 years,.." That is incorrect - this building was in use as recently as 2010.

Amy Biolchini

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 2:53 p.m.

According to information we've reported previously, the juvenile detention portion were moved out of the building about 10 years ago and have not been in use since. The juvenile court moved out in 2011.

Lizzy Alfs

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 12:54 p.m.

Any how idea how much it will cost to demolish? I'm also curious why it cost more than $200,000 to operate the building each year.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 12:13 p.m.

"42,320-square-foot..... costs the county about $211,040 to operate annually. " whats that include besides limited electricity and sufficient heat to keep pipes from freezing?


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 11:48 a.m.

It is a very nice site, surrounded by desirable parks, established single-family neighborhoods, and numerous important non-profit organizations. It likely offers good development potential. Is the site master planned by the city?