The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, September 29, 2000

Looking down…And looking up

By The Building Tradesman

AT 5:46 P.M. on Oct. 28, 1998, the 25-story shell of the former J.L. Hudson's Building sat on this site in downtown Detroit. A minute later, after the largest implosion ever of an urban building in the nation's history, this site was covered with a 60-foot-high mound of debris, weighing about 330,000 tons. Nearly two years later, the site has been cleaned up nicely, thanks to the work of the building trades. The former Hudson's basement will be turned into a below-ground parking deck to serve the Campus Martius project. Above it, developers are looking to build space for offices, restaurants or retail. Construction is expected to begin soon on the new $800 million, 16-story Compuware headquarters building, set to be erected to the south, just beyond the far wall in this photo.

Renovation of 1001 Woodward puts skyscraper back on the map

One of downtown Detroit's most visible landmarks is getting more than just a little spruced up before a very high-profile bunch of neighbors move in across the street.

The building trades are in the process of gutting out and refurbishing 1001 Woodward Plaza, a 23-story skyscraper at the corner of Woodward and Michigan Avenues, before transforming it into Class A office space available for rent. Purchased in 1998 by the Operating Engineers Local 324 Pension Fund, the building sits just to the west of the location for the new Compuware Building and the Campus Martius project.

Completed in 1965 as the headquarters for the First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Detroit (now First Federal of Michigan), the landmark building sits on a prime piece of real estate in a part of Detroit that's ready to make a comeback.

"The building is from the 1960s and the mechanical needs upgrading, but structurally, it's in great shape," said Rick Debolt, the property manager for Proquest Commerical Property Management.

The area around the 1001 Woodward is currently pretty much a concrete jungle, but tied into the Campus Martius development will be a system of parks and fountains that will help "green" up the area, said Marty West, senior vice president for Acquest, the parent company of Proquest.

More than $20 million will be spent in the top to bottom rehabilitation of the building, and to date, 14 floors have been completely gutted, including asbestos abatement. Extensive renovations will be made to the building's heating and cooling system, as well as electrical, fire protection and plumbing upgrades plus fiber optics installation. The structure's handsome black granite exterior will be cleaned and retained.

"When this building became available, we looked at it and thought it would be a great investment opportunity," said Local 324 Business Manager Sam T. Hart. "It's close to the new stadiums and to Compuware, and long-term, we think it's really going to pay off."

When it is finished next year, the renovated skyscraper will provide more than 260,000 square feet of new Class A office space for the City's Central Business District and also feature approximately 30,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and service space.

THE 35-YEAR-OLD 1001 Woodward Plaza building, which sits across Woodward from the old Hudson's site, is getting a $20 million makeover by the building trades.

A HOT WATER line is installed at the 1001 Woodward building by Ray Huddas of Pipe Fitters 636.