Hudson site gets taller tower, higher price tag
Detroit — A redesign of the J.L. Hudson site project will come with a higher price tag, will feature a taller tower and a market on the street level but could take longer to construction, officials with the project said Wednesday.
Bedrock officials told the Downtown Development Authority during a presentation Wednesday that they still plan to break ground on the $900 million project this December. However, they expect it will take longer to complete the project because of the changes.
The 1-million-square-foot mixed use development on the site of the former J.L. Hudson department store, affectionately known as Hudson’s, on Woodward was originally proposed to cost $775 million.
Among the changes: a tower at 800 feet, more than the 734-foot tower proposed earlier this year. It will further exceed the General Motors Renaissance Center, which stands at 727 feet tall, making it the tallest in the downtown landscape, said Jozef Guziewicz, vice president of construction for billionaire Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock.
There will be two buildings instead of one, with a walkway in between. One of the reasons for the redesign is to improve views from the residential units. The number of residential units also will increase from 270 to 330.
“We wanted to push the residential units over the top of the (One) Campus Martius building, so each of the residential units had a very good sight line,” Guziewicz said. “There’s no bad view.”
Guziewicz added moving the public space to the base podium of the project moved the entire tower up. The design incorporates weightier materials at the bottom and takes on a glassier appearance toward the top of the tower.
Market space was moved to the street level, resulting in 100,000 of space for stores and a market for produce and crafts. The market will face Farmer Street, better incorporating the east side of the development, Guziewicz said.
The project also will feature 240,000 square feet of office space, 75,000 square feet of public space and a 1,500 capacity performance space.
The project will retain 700-plus underground parking spaces as originally planned.
Guziewicz estimates about 10 percent of the project will be funded through tax increment financing and the rest through Gilbert and investors.
The project was originally scheduled to be completed in December 2020. However, Guziewicz said Bedrock officials will assess during the next six to eight weeks how much additional time they’ll need to accommodate changes to the project.
The Downtown Development Authority took no action on the matter following the presentation.
An entity linked to Gilbert has had development rights for the former Hudson’s site since 2010. The DDA has granted several extensions for the project. The project remains unnamed.
The project drew some favorable responses and questions from board members who commented after the presentation. Among desires board members expressed were the hiring of Detroiters for the construction and the possibility for retailers that would offer everyday goods, such as items found at Meijer and Walmart, for residents living downtown.
Detroit Corporation Counsel Melvin Butch Hollowell said the project was “uniquely Detroit” and “deeply Detroit.”
The design architect on the project is New York City-based SHoP Architects, the architect of record is Detroit-based Hamilton Anderson and the general contractor is Southfield-based Barton Malow.
Guziewicz said the redesign was costly but declined to give a cost figure. He said Bedrock wanted to make sure they got the project right for Detroit.
“We took a deep breath and said we’re about to spend a lot of money on this,” he said. “This is a once in a lifetime thing.”