There’s big downtown Detroit development news — and to no one’s surprise, Dan Gilbert is involved — as Bedrock Detroit plans an $800 million new mixed-use development anchored by a 35-story tower overlooking Campus Martius.
So far as I can tell from the renderings, plans for the Monroe Block project call for building two towers and other buildings on two irregularly shaped blocks bordered by Monroe Avenue, Bates and Randolph streets, and Cadillac Square.
The blocks today are mostly either surface parking lots or vacant sites of recent building demolitions.
Bedrock did not respond to messages seeking comment. The new plans update its earlier vision for the site and add 15 stories to the stepped glass office tower.
The company’s design renderings suggest that downtown Detroit is due for a significant infusion of eclectic, modern architecture that’s not out of line with what we’ve seen before from Gilbert and Bedrock.
That’s especially true when you consider Bedrock’s plans for the former J.L. Hudson’s site a few blocks away, where Bedrock wants to begin work later this year on Detroit’s tallest building along with a stunning mixed-use building fronting Woodward Avenue.
Today, downtown is dominated by grand prewar architecture, exemplified by buildings like the Penobscot and the Guardian.
Crain’s reports that floor sizes in the new office tower will range from 10,000 square feet to 45,000 near the ground floor in order to attract national tenants.
“The design, and I think this speaks to the strategy of the project, competes with Chicago and some of these larger-tier cities in that we are trying to provide a diversity of floor-plate sizes,” Jamie Witherspoon, Bedrock’s director of architecture, told Crain’s.
Here’s more, from John Gallagher at the Freep:
If the Hudson’s site tower will rank as Detroit’s tallest building, the new details available for the Monroe Block remain equally impressive: It will feature 810,000 square feet of new office space, 170,000 square feet of new retail space, 482 new residential apartments, at least 900 parking spaces — many of which will be built underground, and some 48,000 square feet of public plazas and “green” space. (…)
“What we’re doing from a public space standpoint within the development is going to be special,” said Dan Mullen, president of Gilbert’s Bedrock real estate arm. “It’s not just a big, tall building. It’s a big, tall building that interacts with street level and public spaces throughout.
“There’s going to be different pods and nods of great spaces to hang out and for people to get together.”
Renderings also suggest there’s a second flatiron-shaped tower devoted to residential use at 25 stories at the corner of Randolph and Monroe.
Construction on the Monroe Block would start early next year and be completed in early 2022. Architects on the project are Neumann-Smith of Detroit and Schmidt Hammer Lassen of Copenhagen, Denmark.
It’s believed that Gilbert may try to lump the Monroe Block project with his Hudson’s Site proposal for a $1.5 billion megaproject eligible for tax incentives under the MiThrive program passed recently in Lansing. The project still needs various city approvals before it can go forward.
It’s a good sign for a variety of reasons to see Detroit finally attracting plans to build up.
At a former job, I remember my boss looking out a 21st-floor window overlooking downtown and remarking that, absent a few buildings, the view is largely the same as it was in the 1920s.
Seems that won’t be true for much longer.