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Development news roundup: impact of coronavirus, Hudson’s tower height revealed

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Plus, a boutique hotel may be built in Corktown

A tall crane sits next to a large dig site in the middle of a downtown.
Site of the Hudson’s development.
Photo by Michelle Gerard

As you’d expect when in the midst of a global pandemic, development news has been relatively slow the past couple of weeks. People are rightly consumed with finding ways to support themselves and stay healthy, and uncertainty with the economy and housing market has suspended new projects from getting off the ground.

Nonetheless there has been a bit of development news over the past couple of weeks, including some about the effects of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on construction, an update on the Hudson’s project, and a new hotel coming to Corktown.

Coronavirus and construction

Developers are trying to grapple with how COVID-19 will affect the global economy and construction. Given the uncertainty, does it make sense to build right now? And can contractors even create a safe environment for workers to prevent spreading the virus?

At least for the biggest projects underway, it seems like work is continuing as planned. The Detroit News spoke with multiple building contractors and found that few commercial developments are being cancelled. The Hudson’s development, demolition of Joe Louis Arena, and several Ilitch projects (Detroit Medical Center Sports Medicine Institute, Women’s City Club, Hotel Eddystone) are still moving forward as planned.

Two major obstacles may slow down construction. There’s a global shortage of N95 face masks, which are commonly used in both construction and health care. Vice President Mike Pence asked construction companies to donate their extra masks to hospitals. And with city services being halted or delayed, it may be difficult to get necessary building permits.

The Detroit News also found that most homebuilding projects are being delayed or cancelled. And be sure to read our report about how COVID-19 might affect Detroit’s housing market.

A huge glass building with several layers separated by metal frames. A large tower on one side grows taller than the image. Courtesy Bedrock Detroit
Hudson’s tower height finalized

After months of uncertainty about the ultimate height of the tower at the Hudson’s site development, Bedrock Detroit has finally announced the number. Bedrock CEO Matt Cullen told Crain’s Detroit Business the final height will be 680 feet.

At one point in the three-year design process, the Dan Gilbert–owned development company proposed building the tallest structure in Detroit at over 900 feet. Now it will be the second tallest behind the Renaissance Center (727 feet).

Crain’s also got an update on the final division of uses in the building. There will be...

  • 225,000 square feet of residential (150 units)
  • 286,000 square feet of hotel (200 to 250 rooms)
  • 402,000 square feet of office
  • 127,000 square feet of event space
  • 18,000 square feet of retail

The residential and hospitality component will occupy the tower, while the rest will be in the lower, 232-foot building called “the block.” The two sections will be separated by an activated alley.

As of early this week, large cranes were expected to be built by the beginning of April with the entire project finished by 2023.

Rendering of a rectangular building with regular glass windows separated by red steel framing. It’s next to a cobblestone road with a few cars. Neumann/Smith Architecture, Elkus Manfredi Architects
Boutique hotel coming to Corktown

A $45-million hotel project is looking to open at Michigan Avenue and Eighth Street in Corktown.

Developers Hunter Pasteur Homes (Farmington Hills) and Oxford Capital Group (Chicago) are trying to bring a Godfrey Hotel, part of a “boutique luxury” chain based in Chicago, to the site. Crain’s Detroit Business reports that construction could begin on the seven-story, 225-room building in the fourth quarter of this year. It’s currently slated for a summer 2022 opening.

The long-vacant City Cab building at the intersection would also have to be demolished. It’s currently owned by an entity linked to Nemo’s Bar & Grill, which bought the building in the 2011 Wayne County Tax Foreclosure Auction for $95,100. Representatives from Nemo’s and the development team declined to comment to the Detroit News, which first reported the project, on a potential purchase price.