Hudson’s Site Skyscraper Will No Longer Be Tallest in Detroit

January 29, 2020

Detroit Free Press

JC Reindl

Rest easy, Renaissance Center. Dan Gilbert is no longer gunning for your title as tallest building in Detroit.

One of Gilbert’s top lieutenants said Wednesday that designs for the Hudson’s site skyscraper have changed and the tower — set to be completed in 2023 — will not stretch higher than the Renaissance Center.

The tower’s new planned height will likely not be finalized until Memorial Day, said Matt Cullen, CEO of Gilbert’s real estate firm Bedrock Detroit.

The tallest tower of the Renaissance Center stands 727 feet. The Hudson’s tower was planned to rise 912 feet.

“It will not be the tallest,” Cullen told reporters at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual policy conference at MotorCity Casino Hotel. “What we concluded is we wanted an iconic building … and the need to be the tallest wasn’t on our highest list of priorities anymore.”

Even with a non-record height, the Hudson’s site project is still the most ambitious downtown Detroit development in years.

The $909 million project calls for constructing a new block-long building, with the skyline-piercing tower rising from its southern side. The building will be located at the site of the old J.L. Hudson department store, which closed in 1983 and was imploded in 1998.

“It’s going to be a tremendously impactful and iconic building, and we are not as concerned with the height of it perhaps as others are,” Cullen said.

The tower will contain a mix of residences and hotel rooms, he said, and the operator of the hotel could also be chosen by Memorial Day. Decisions will also be made on whether the residences will be condos, for-rent apartments or a mix of both.

“A condo is a little bit different shape than an apartment,” Cullen said. “The hotel, depending on the brand, has different floor plates and would require different square-footage.”

Earlier Wednesday, another Bedrock official said there will be visible, street-level construction happening at the Hudson’s site by this summer.

The project broke ground in December 2017 but construction has been slow. Completing the project in 2023 would put it one year behind the original schedule.

Recently, construction crews began erecting two large cranes at the site, which is more or less still a big hole in the ground.

“We are ready to come up out of the ground this year,” Cullen said.

Monroe timeline

Cullen also gave an update Wednesday for another high-profile Bedrock project, the planned Monroe Block downtown.

The roughly $1 billion development was originally to open in late 2022. Monroe Block is still happening, he said, but will come after the design of the University of Michigan Innovation Center, which is situated off Gratiot Avenue at 1400 St. Antoine St.

Bedrock is developing the Innovation Center along with real estate mogul Stephen Ross. Construction of the Innovation Center is to start in 2021.

“I think the decisions as to what goes into those first two projects, the Innovation Center and Hudson’s, will start to inform what we should be designing and building from a programming standpoint at Monroe,” Cullen said.

Original plans for Monroe Block called for a new 35-story office tower, a new 27-story residential tower and a new 10-story development with residential and retail space.

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Hudson’s Site Tower Will Not Be Tallest in Michigan After All, CEO for Gilbert’s Bedrock Says

January 29, 2020

Crain’s Detroit Business

Kirk Pinho

The state’s tallest building is not under construction after all.

Envisioned at one point to be up to 912 feet tall, the development on the site of the former J.L. Hudson’s department store in downtown Detroit isn’t going to top the 727-foot Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center on the Detroit riverfront, said Matt Cullen, CEO of Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock LLC real estate company. The RenCen hotel is the tallest building in the state.

“It will not be the tallest,” Cullen said of the Hudson’s tower in response to a question from the Detroit Free Press. He said a determination will be made by June on the precise height as well as a hotel operator.

“I think what we concluded is we wanted an iconic building, we wanted to have a lot of characteristics relative to retail and public space and a world-class hospitality component and other things, and the need to be the tallest wasn’t on our list of highest priorities,” Cullen said.

Cullen’s revelation came following remarks and a question-and-answer session with Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber, at the Detroit Policy Conference on Wednesday afternoon. Bedrock executives first hinted at the possibility that the Hudson’s tower may not be the tallest in the state last summer during a meeting with the media.

At the time of a December 2017 groundbreaking ceremony, the project was expected to be complete in 2022 and have 330-450 residential units; 103,000 square feet of retail, food and beverage space, plus a street-level market; 168,000 square feet of event and conference space; and 263,000 square feet of office space. Another 93,000 square feet of exhibit space was planned, along with at least 700 parking spaces in a below-ground garage.

The development, still a hole in the ground, is now anticipated to be complete in 2023. Kumar Kintala, director of development for Bedrock, said earlier in the day that the project is expected to reach ground level by the middle of this year.

The first conceptual rendering came in March 2015 when it was inadvertently leaked in a YouTube video discovered by the Detroit Free Press. Then, rumors began swirling about precisely how large the building would be, eventually with multiple sources confirming to Crain’s discussions of a building reaching 60 stories in October 2016.

By February 2017, the first incarnation of the plan was revealed, with a tower reaching 734 feet, eclipsing the RenCen Marriott by a mere 7 feet with a total cost of $775 million. In September 2017, another 66 feet were tacked on, bringing the tower to 800 feet, adding a public skydeck (since scrapped) and other features, which brought the project cost to $909 million.

A year later, in September 2018, Bedrock publicly confirmed it was considering an increase in the tower height to up to 912 feet, saying a decision would be made by January 2019 just how tall the building would be. However, to date, a final height has not been revealed.

The architecture firms on the project are Detroit-based Hamilton Anderson Associates and New York City-based Shop Architects PC. The general contractor is Southfield-based Barton Malow Co.

The project is one of four Gilbert has underway that, at the time that a public incentive package was approved, totaled about $2.14 billion. Combined, they received a total of $618.1 million in so-called “transformational brownfield” tax incentives from the state.

The other projects are the $830 million Monroe Blocks project immediately east of the One Campus Martius Building, the $311 million redevelopment of the Book Tower and Book Building on Washington Boulevard, and the $95 million addition to the One Campus Martius building where Gilbert has his Quicken Loans Inc. headquartered.

The Book Tower/Book Building project is expected for completion in 2022 and the addition to One Campus Martius is under construction, expected to be completed this year. The design on the delayed Monroe Blocks project is now to finish by the middle of this year, bumped back from the first quarter as was envisioned in August.

Cullen said Bedrock is moving the Monroe Blocks project back in the development sequencing because of the planned Detroit Center for Innovation project announced in October with billionaire developer Stephen Ross, a Detroit native, as well as the University of Michigan. Bedrock expects to prioritize that project, which could top $750 million on the site that was to house the Wayne County Consolidated Jail, over the Monroe project.

“I think the decisions that go into those first two projects, the Innovation Center and Hudson’s, will start to inform what we are designing for Monroe,” Cullen said.

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Bedrock: Hudson’s Site Tower Won’t Be Tallest In The State

January 29, 2020

The Detroit News

Ian Thibodeau

Detroit — Dan Gilbert’s real estate arm, Bedrock LLC, is no longer planning on making the forthcoming Hudson’s site tower in the downtown the tallest building in the state.

The company confirmed Wednesday what Bedrock officials hinted at in August when giving an update of the site plan.

The original plans called for the $1 billion, 1.4 million-square-foot mixed-use development on the former Hudson’s site to be the tallest building in Michigan at around 912 feet tall. The development was set to be completed in 2022, which has since been pushed back to 2023.

The tallest building in Michigan is General Motors Co.’s Renaissance Center, which stands at 727 feet.

Bedrock CEO Matt Cullen confirmed the height reduction following an appearance at the Detroit Policy Conference on Wednesday, Crain’s Detroit Business reported. Bedrock spokeswoman Gabrielle Poshadlo confirmed the current plans won’t make the building the tallest in Michigan.

“I should reiterate that our focus isn’t on being the tallest,” Poshadlo said. “It’s on making it the most iconic development it can be.”

Bedrock has not revealed what the final height will be. The news comes roughly six months after Bedrock scrapped plans for an observation deck.

The company broke ground on the project in 2017. It’s expected to house a hotel, retail and other mixed-use space. In May 2018, Bedrock won approval for $618 million in tax incentives for the Hudson’s site and other downtown projects.

Cullen on Wednesday also addressed the continuing recovery of Gilbert, who is founder and chairman of Rock Ventures and founder and chairman of Quicken Loans. Gilbert suffered a severe stroke last May.

“He’s getting out to the office a lot more,” Cullen said. “He’s still making all the big decisions.”

“The next decade will reflect his continued involvement at the same level,” Cullen said, “and I think we’re going to all be better for that.”

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Gilbert seeks ideas for developing Hudson’s site in Detroit

From the Detroit Free Press

February 28, 2013

By JC Reindl, 

Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert is planning an international design competition to solicit ideas for redeveloping the site of the former Hudson’s department store in downtown Detroit.

Matt Cullen, president of Rock Ventures, the real estate arm of Gilbert’s business interests, revealed the plan this morning during a presentation on current and future “Live, Work, and Play” vision for the city at the Detroit Policy Conference in the MotorCity Casino-Hotel.

More details will come in several weeks when the contest is formally announced, Cullen said.

A new building with ground floor retail and residential units on higher floors is one possibility, Cullen said, noting the nearly 100% occupancy rate for recent residential developments in downtown.

The 25-story Hudson’s building at 1206 Woodward took up an entire city block and was once the second-largest department store in the world. “It is an iconic site,” Cullen said.

The store closed in 1983 and, on Oct. 24, 1998, the building was explosively imploded before a gathering of about 50,000 spectators.

There is currently a parking structure underneath the site. The property is controlled by the city of Detroit, and Gilbert’s Rock Ventures received a time extension on Wednesday from the state’s Michigan Strategic Fund to come up with development plans for a renaissance zone there with multiple tax breaks.

Gilbert is willing to spend up to $75 million.

“We’re reaching the point where new construction will make a lot of sense for residential because there is such demand,” Cullen said.

Cullen also said that Quicken Loans and Rock Ventures expects to hire 2,000 workers during the next 12 to 18 months and hopes to bring 1,000 young interns to Detroit this summer.

Urban theorist Richard Florida, author of the influential “Rise of the Creative Class,” gave a conference presentation on the economic benefits to harnessing the potential of the many knowledge workers living in the metro Detroit.