Gilbert’s plan for Hudson’s site could move forward

Louis Aguilar
The Detroit News

The long-delayed deal to figure out what to do with the empty J.L. Hudson’s site on downtown Woodward has taken a big step forward toward redevelopment.

Representatives for Dan Gilbert and the city of Detroit have reached a tentative agreement that will allow a Gilbert-affiliated entity to buy a 900-space parking garage underneath the site, according to a source familiar with the deal.

The parking deal is one of the final pieces in Gilbert’s plan to transform the site into a showstopper property with a one-of-a-kind building. Rosko Development Co. LLC, the affiliate linked to Gilbert, wants to buy the city-owned Premier Garage.

The board of the city’s Downtown Development Authority, DDA, a unit of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., is expected to vote on the deal Wednesday afternoon.

Development rights for the Hudson’s site are controlled by an affiliate of Gilbert’s Bedrock Detroit, the real estate arm of his many holdings.

Early designs 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.”

The original plan was to have a substantial amount of construction done at the site by December 2015 but those plans have been delayed multiple times.

Gilbert hired a highly acclaimed New York architecture firm, SHoP.

Gilbert is founder and chairman of Rock Ventures and Quicken Loans Inc.

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.