Shinola Hotel breaks ground in downtown Detroit

Louis Aguilar, The Detroit News

Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock development company and Detroit luxury goods maker Shinola officially broke ground on a planned 130-room Shinola Hotel downtown Tuesday that will see the overhaul of two Woodward Avenue buildings, the demolition and construction of another, and the construction of a second new building that will link to a retail-filled alley.

This artist's rendering shows the planned 130-room Shinola Hotel that will see the overhaul of two Woodward Avenue buildings.

The Shinola Hotel will be anchored at the northwest corner of Woodward and Grand River, across the street from what is now the empty Hudson’s block site. Project plans call for buildings at 1400 and 1416 Woodward to be remodeled. The building in between, 1412 Woodward, will be torn down to allow a new building to connect 1400 and 1416 Woodward.

“It’s about commitment to craftsmanship and about making things that last,” Tom Lewand, CEO of Shinola, said at the Tuesday groundbreaking. “Whether that’s a watch or hotel, it’s about a great experience.”

Shinola’s CEO Tom Lewand, left, and Dan Mullen, Executive VP, Bedrock, pose with hammers after the ceremonial busting of the wall at the Shinola Hotel groundbreaking on January 31, 2017.

Shinola doesn’t intend to open a store at the site but will use the location to show off Shinola design, Lewand said.

The new hotel in Detroit is a first for Shinola, but the second for Gilbert in Detroit, who counts the Greektown Casino-Hotel among his holdings. The future Shinola Hotel, expected to open next year, is being described as “luxury boutique.” Officials would not say how much the project will cost.

On Tuesday, in the gutted first floor of 1400 Woodward, a group of Bedrock and Shinola officials gathered as construction workers punched a hole in the wall that links to 1412 . The 1400 Woodward building was last used as the Eastern Wig & Hair Co. shop. The eight-story building is at the corner of the Woodward and Grand River and will be the main portion of the hotel. There will be 16,000 square feet of retail, officials said, which translates into at least one restaurant/bar and other unnamed shops.

This artist's rendering shows the planned 130-room Shinola Hotel that will see the overhaul of two Woodward Avenue buildings.

Beyond the Woodward Avenue buildings, a surface parking lot at Farmer and Grand River will be the site of a new building that will be linked to the Woodward structures through a four-story walkway. Between that new building and the Woodward structures is an alley that will converted into a retail strip.

A New York-based restaurant firm called NoHo Hospitality Group is also involved. The group represents several restaurants and eateries in New York City and Miami led by James Beard Award-winning chef Andrew Carmellini. Restaurants in the NoHo collection range from casual Italian to a bar with “American bites” to a French brasserie.

New York-based Gachot Studios will design the hotel. Detroit-based Kraemer Design Group is the architect of record on the project.

The 1400 block of Woodward is the heart of what Bedrock aims to transform into a major retail center. Across Grand River is the empty block-long site of the former J.L. Hudson department store. It’s a location at which Gilbert has said he wants to “make an iconic statement.”

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.

This exterior photo shows the building where the new Shinola Hotel will reside.

Shinola is a Detroit company known mainly for its expensive watches, bicycles and leather items. Its marketing campaign touts Shinola’s Detroit. Founded in 2011, it has stores in Detroit, Los Angeles, London, Washington, D.C., and other major cities. The company’s manufacturing arm is based in the College for Creative Studies in Midtown.

Gilbert 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.

Gilbert said he and Shinola officials had been in talks for some time about a joint venture. He praised Shinola for bringing “a certain cache and a traction to Detroit through its advertising and products. “