An updated vision for Dan Gilbert's planned redevelopment of the J.L. Hudson's site downtown calls for a taller, more expensive building than previously proposed, but Detroit's most influential real estate developer needs more time to complete it.
Jozef Guziewicz, vice president of construction for Gilbert's Bedrock LLC, said the residential tower is now planned to be above 800 feet, taller than the 734-foot tower unveiled in February as part of a $775 million redevelopment of the long-vacant site. The project is now expected to cost about $900 million.
The building's height grew because some of the residential units in the previous plan would have had views obstructed by Gilbert's One Campus Martius office tower, so now all of them will be above the 15-story building across the street.
In addition, although construction is still expected to begin in December, Gilbert's team is asking the Downtown Development Authority board for more time beyond December 2020 to complete it, Guziewicz said during a Wednesday meeting at the Guardian Building downtown. No vote was taken.
As now envisioned, the project is slated to include 240,000 square feet of office space (down from 275,000), 330 apartments (up from about 250), 100,000 square feet of retail space plus 120,000 square feet of event space and an exhibition and skydeck totaling about 90,000 square feet.
Beyond the height and cost of the project, perhaps the most significant change is that the 2-acre block is no longer expected to be one large building, but instead two: One of about nine stories, and the 800-foot primarily residential tower, separated by a public alley space with retail to provide direct access from Woodward to Farmer Street.
The vision for the vacant Hudson's block has evolved over the years, but the building would still be the tallest in the city, topping the 727-foot Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center.
The previous plan called for the Hudson's site includes 1.2 million square feet of above-ground real estate, 250 residential units and 700 below-ground parking spaces in a $775 million development. This one is about 1 million square feet.
Gilbert, through his Rosko Development Co. LLC, has development rights to the Hudson's site, which is between East Grand River and Gratiot avenues and considered one of the most desirable pieces of land in downtown Detroit because of its size and prominent location in a thriving area.
Constructed as an eight-story building in 1891, the Hudson's building was a shopping destination for nearly a century. It expanded to 25 stories and 2.2 million square feet before closing in 1983. It was imploded in 1998.
New York City-based Shop Architects PC and Detroit-based Hamilton Anderson Associates are the architecture firms working on the site's design. Southfield-based Barton Malow Co. is the general contractor on the project.
Specifics about the plan had largely been kept under wraps until February, although sources said in October that multiple concepts have been considered, including one that would bring a 60-story building — which would be the second-tallest in the city — to the site.
The name "Rosko Development" is an homage to Al Rosco, the principal of Adlai E. Stevenson Elementary School in Southfield, which Gilbert and other influential members of his inner circle attended. Just a few of them are Jim Ketai, co-founder and CEO of Bedrock real estate development and management company, and Howard Luckoff, general counsel for Quicken, who is also the registered agent for Rosko Development.
Through Bedrock, he owns more than 95 properties totaling more than 15 million square feet in and around downtown Detroit.
Other proposals in the works
The Hudson's plan is one of many Gilbert has been working on the last several years and is perhaps the most iconic and anticipated.
He is also, along with General Motors Co., working on a development on about 10 acres of riverfront property next to the Renaissance Center, a GM subsidiary confirmed last year. The property is surface parking lots and a redevelopment would include office, residential and retail space.
In addition, Gilbert and Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores in April 2016 proposed a $1 billion development that includes a 20,000-25,000-seat Major League Soccer stadium along with three 18- to 28-story towers for office, hotel and residential space. That project would go on the site of the half-built Wayne County Consolidated Jail project on Gratiot Avenue at I-375, which was halted due to cost overruns. Rock Ventures has proposed moving the unfinished jail to a site at I-75 and Warren Avenue. The county said in July that it is focusing its efforts on sealing a deal with Rock Ventures for that project.
Last month, his team released a revised a two-block development east of the former Compuware Corp. headquarters building (now called One Campus Martius) that Gilbert now owns. That $800 million-plus project would include a 26-story residential tower, along with three mid-rise apartment buildings between six and 15 stories, totaling about 480 units and a 35-story office tower with at least 818,000 square feet of space.
His team was also a development partner in the plan to build more than 1,000 apartments on four separate sites in greater downtown, particularly the 22-acre site of the former Brewster-Douglass housing projects, across 25 total acres in a $416.6 million plan with three other developers. The city plans on reapplying for a federal grant for up to $30 million to redevelop the site after it was informed it didn't receive the Choice Neighborhoods grant last time.
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