The empty Woodward block where the famed J.L. Hudson department store once stood may soon have “one of the most significant projects built in Detroit in the last 100 years,” according to the project developer.
But details of the potential blockbuster project have been pushed back until April — the third delay in finalizing the development agreement between the city and developer since December.
On Wednesday, the board of the city’s Downtown Development Authority, DDA, approved a 60-day extension between the DDA, which owns the 2-acre property, and Rosko Development Co., an entity affiliated with billionaire Dan Gilbert.
DDA officials on Wednesday said the delay is needed to finalize small details, particularly in the sale of a 900-space parking garage underneath the site. The garage was not included in the original terms of the development agreement and the two sides are working to make it part of the deal.
Gilbert has often said the Hudson’s site development will be one of his most iconic and ambitious plans. Gilbert, through various entities, owns many major downtown skyscrapers,
Early designs of the Hudson’s site released last year show a swooping glass-and-metal structure that looks like nothing in Detroit now.
The space will have 250 residential units, 225,000 square feet of mixed-use commercial or retail space, as well as a “programmed civic space,” according to a city document provided last year.
Gilbert wants a signature building that could include some type of satellite campus by a college or maybe a cultural institution, according to sources familiar with his plans. He’s hired a highly acclaimed New York architecture firm, SHoP.
“We are making progress on our pre-development work including exploring several unique and exciting attractions that we believe will be a part of the formula that makes the Hudson’s development a one-of-a-kind destination,” said Jeff Cohen, founder and CEO of Rock Companies, whose parent company is Rock Ventures.
Gilbert is founder and chairman of Rock Ventures and Quicken Loans Inc.
“Our vision for the Hudson’s site is to create nothing less than an iconic development that will remain part of Detroit’s skyline and cultural identity for many decades to come,” Cohen said in a written statement. We want to stress that investing a few additional months of pre-development time is well worth ensuring one of the most significant projects built in Detroit in the last 100 years is done right.”
Hudson’s closed 33 years ago. Opened in 1911, it was the flagship store of the former department store and eventually grew in size to more than 2 million square feet and 32 floors.
At one point, it was the tallest department store in the world. The structure was demolished in 1998.