An Apple store in downtown Detroit? Maybe, maybe not

Louis Aguilar
The Detroit News

Is Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock planning to put an Apple store on Woodward where the famed J.L Hudson’s department store once stood? Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said he saw the plans for it Wednesday; shown to him by Gilbert himself.

“He showed me the Hudson’s plan. There was a freaking Apple store in it. Boy, was I pissed,” Ballmer said as he spoke to Gilbert in front of more than 300 elite locals and former Metro Detroiters. The exchange between the two billionaires was part of the opening night of Detroit Homecoming. The third annual event aims to woo former Metro Detroiters who have made fortunes elsewhere back to the area — or least invest. Ballmer grew up in Oakland County.

Ballmer was referring to plans for the empty block-long site on Woodward that Gilbert has vowed to make “an iconic statement.” Bedrock officials quickly pointed out that an Apple store has not committed to coming to Detroit, which would be a major coup.

“It was a rendering. There is no deal,” said Jim Ketai, managing partner and CEO of Bedrock.

Early designs released last year for the Hudson’s site 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 public records. Final details such as what kind of stores will be at the site have not been made public.

More details, including how much the Hudson’s development will cost, are expected to be released by the end of the year.

Bedrock is a major force in downtown Detroit. Entities connected to Gilbert and his Bedrock real estate have invested $2.2 billion since 2010 in buying and renovating more than 90 Detroit properties, mainly in the city’s downtown. The properties range from skyscrapers to parking garages and smaller buildings. He has long talked of creating a technology and entertainment hub in the Motor City.

On Tuesday, it was announced that one block from the former Hudson’s site. Bedrock and Detroit luxury-goods maker Shinola would partner in a boutique hotel to be called Shinola Hotel.

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