Re-energizing downtown Detroit

Nick Myall
Monday 27 Feb 2017

This project aims to put Detroit back on the national – and even global – map for world-class architecture

After Bedrock presented preliminary designs and plans by New York City-based SHoP Architects in partnership with Detroit-based Hamilton Anderson Associates for the site of the former J .L. Hudson’s Department Store (Hudson’s Site) in Detroit USA, the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) have approved a timeline that allows groundbreaking of the development by December 1, 2017. The new timeline aligns the groundbreaking of the Hudson’s development with the Michigan Thrive Initiative, an economic development tool supported by more than 40 communities from every corner of Michigan. This coordination is critical to provide the opportunity to deliver a catalytic, transformational project on the site.

“For long-time Detroiters, we remember what Hudson’s represented. It wasn’t just a department store – it was the economic engine of Detroit. It drew residents and visitors downtown, where they spent a day shopping at Hudson’s and visiting the retail, restaurants and theatres around it,” says Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman of Rock Ventures and Quicken Loans and founding partner of Bedrock. “Our goal is to create a development that exceeds the economic and experiential impact even Hudson’s had on the city. We believe this project is so unique that it can help put Detroit back on the national – and even global – map for world-class architecture, talent attraction, technology innovation and job creation.”

Transformational Development

The plans for the new, 52-storey, 734 ft transformational development will make it the tallest building in the city. The nine-story podium and residential tower that rises from the podium will total 1.2m gross sq ft and will offer 700 parking spaces underneath the structure. The development will be among the largest construction projects in Detroit in decades and will anchor Woodward Avenue making it the economic engine of the city once again.

Transformational developments, like Hudson’s, often serve as catalysts for an entire city and region. They attract visitors; create thousands of jobs; are magnets for talent, business and investment; and create a positive ripple effect on the area around them resulting in significant economic impact for the city and its residents.

An economic impact study from New York based WSP-Parsons Brinkerhoff estimates the Hudson’s development, which is projected to attract three million unique visitors per year, will:

  • Create more than 5,800 direct and indirect jobs and $1.5 bn in new economic output during the construction of the project
  • Generate $230m in direct annual spending and support 3,000 direct jobs once the project is completed
  • Generate $560m per year in economic output, or nearly $6bn in total economic output over 10 years

Development and Design

The development plans were designed by New York City-based SHoP Architects in partnership with Detroit-based Hamilton Anderson Associates. Retail, residential, parking and an experiential destination focusing on technology, arts and culture will be among the amenities for residents and visitors alike.

“In its heyday, Hudson’s was a premier destination in the heart of downtown. After the flagship store closed in 1983, the structure would bring back fond memories of a vibrant downtown,” says Sandra Laux, Project Architect, Hamilton Anderson Associates. “We now have the opportunity to be a part of creating unique, new architecture in one of the few vacant sites downtown.”

The proposed 52-story building is estimated to include:

  • 250 residential units totaling 441,500 gross sq ft
  • A nine-story podium comprised of 733,823 gross sq ft of mixed use, commercial, office, technology, arts and culture space
  • Three stories below grade featuring additional commercial space on one level with 700 parking spaces on the other two levels

“The driving force behind our design for the Hudson's site is to create a building that speaks to the rebirth of optimism in the city's future and an experiential destination that positively impacts Detroit in a meaningful way,” said William Sharples, Principal, SHoP.

“The building is conceived around a huge and inspiring new public space, a year-round civic square that, both in its architecture and its culture, will foster and convey the feeling we all share when we work together to imagine what this great city can become.”

For more information and to keep up with the latest updates on the Hudson’s site development, visit hudsonssitedetroit.com. We are also inviting people to share their Hudson’s memories on the website.

Nick Myall

News editor

Key Facts:

Commercial Offices Retail

Want to submit your project to World Architecture News?

Contact The Team