Gilbert's skyscraper on old Hudson's site would transform Detroit skyline

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DETROIT - The Detroit skyline will transform if and when Dan Gilbert's vision for the old Hudson's department store site comes to fruition. 

The Downtown Development Authority (DDA) approved Bedrock's design Wednesday afternoon making way for Gilbert's company to break ground on the site by Dec. 1, 2017.

View: Hudson's site project details

The plan is to construct a retail and residential development including a 52-story, 734-foot building, which would surpass the center tower of the Renaissance Center to become the tallest building in Detroit. 

The old 29-story J.L. Hudson Building was demolished in 1998 after nearly 90 years of attracting Detroiters to shop Downtown. At one point it was the tallest department store in the world. 

READ: Iconic Detroit Buildings: Hudson's Department Store

"Our goal is to create a development that exceeds the economic and experiential impact even Hudson’s had on the city," Gilbert said. "We believe this project is so unique that it can help put Detroit back on the national – and even global – map for world-class architecture, talent attraction, technology innovation and job creation."

This $700 million project includes plans for a theater, too.

The DDA has given Gilbert and his team at Bedrock until Nov. 1, 2017 to secure state taxes to pay for such a project. 

The building would sit along Woodward Avenue where Grand River Avenue, Farmer Street and Library Street all meet, right behind One Campus Martius (formerly known as Compuware Building).

Imagine the city's tallest building rising behind the One Detroit building if you were gazing from Canada: 

In 1973, Henry Ford II had a similar vision for Downtown Detroit with his ambitious plans for the Renaissance Center, which has towered over the city from its front-row seat along the Detroit River for more than 40 years.  

Here's an excerpt from a 1973 WWJ-TV special on the project: 

"It's being built by the people of Detroit and for the people of Detroit. I'm convinced, and I know many other people are as well, that this will be a catalyst for the renaissance of Detroit," said Ford. "The renaissance has already started, but this will be another great step forward."

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