Hudson’s Development Honors Detroit History While Signaling Comeback

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Most Detroit natives of a certain age have memories of visiting Hudson’s Department store, at one time the tallest department store building in the world. Hudson’s closed in 1983 and the building was demolished in 1998. For 20 years the site in the heart of downtown sat dormant, a blight representative of the decline of the entire city. But thanks to a $1 billion dollar investment in a residential, commercial and office complex, all of that is about to change.

“This development becomes the 21st century version of what Hudson’s was to metropolitan Detroit for so many decades in the 20th century,” said Dan Gilbert, owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers and founding partner of BedRock Detroit, the commercial real estate firm developing the project. “In addition to creating opportunities for all Detroiters, this project will put our city on the radar.”

The yet-to-be-named Hudson’s site is two separate buildings nestled between Woodward Avenue & Farmer Street: A 58-story residential tower and a 12-story multi-use building. Standing at 800-feet, the residential tower will become Detroit’s largest building. It will feature a public skydeck atop 330-450 luxury residential units, depending on the final design of the building.

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The mid-rise building will include ground floor retail space along Woodward Avenue, Detroit’s main thoroughfare. Above the commercial space will be a large exhibition center designed to accommodate a broad spectrum of events and eight floors of office space. The Farmer Street side will feature a food market while the space between the two buildings will be converted into a plaza connecting Woodward & Farmer. Beneath the complex will be a 700-car parking garage.

“We’ve been calling it a hyper mixed-use space,” BedRock Director of Architecture Jamie Witherspoon told Haute Residence. “We want it to serve as a hub of activity that will become an attractor nationally and internationally.”

The design of the complex, done in conjunction with New York-based SHoP Architects and Detroit-based Hamilton Anderson, is a nod to Detroit’s history. The base of the tower will feature a facade to match the style of many of the historic buildings along Woodward. As you move up the tower the facade gives way to glass panels, signifying the future.

“The building will be of Detroit, not a building that can just land in any city,” Witherspoon says. “It will be the tallest building in town so we want it to be a symbol.”

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And what would it symbolize? That Detroit is on the comeback. The Hudson’s site is part of a $2.1 billion development plan by BedRock in the downtown area that aims to bring thousands of new jobs to the city.

“I appreciate the investment that Bedrock is once again making in both the city of Detroit and Detroiters,” Gov. Rick Snyder said. “Just as the original Hudson’s building did, this new multi-use facility has the opportunity to serve as a beacon for all who come to live, work or play in Detroit, further showcasing the Comeback City’s incredible resurgence.”

The hope is that the new Hudson’s site will do what the old Hudson’s Department store did so well: bring the community together. At Hudson’s Department store visitors could have a meal, meet a friend, shop for any number of products or even meet Santa Claus during Christmas season. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan believes Hudson’s site will be a worthy replacement.

“Ever since Hudson’s closed its doors in 1983, Detroiters have waited and wondered what would come next and what could possibly live up to the incredible history of that block,” said Mayor Mike Duggan. “It’s taken nearly 35 years to get that answer, but when people watch this incredible new building rise and see all of the jobs and opportunity it brings, it will have been worth the wait.”

Hudson’s site broke ground in December of 2017 and is slated for completion in 2021.

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