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H&M makes history in downtown Detroit

H&M storefront

H&M has entered the Motor City.

The fast-fashion giant has opened a 26,000-sq.-ft.-plus store in downtown Detroit, at 1505 Woodward Avenue. H&M is the first downtown retailer to offer a full range of men's, women's, and children's apparel in one location in decades. The store spans across three buildings owned by real estate firm Bedrock-Detroit.

As Bedrock’s largest retail tenant, H&M signals a tipping point for the historic Woodward Shopping District,” Matt Cullen, CEO of Bedrock, said in a release. “For the first time in decades, shopping for the whole family is available on our main thoroughfare, and there is much more to come.”

JGA Inc., a Southfield-based retail design firm, provided design development services, and architectural construction documents and construction administration for the store. JGA and Bedrock worked closely with the State Historic Preservation Office to preserve the character of the façade, while delicately updating and repairing key exterior features like canopies and entries.
Two years in the making, the location brought some design challenges. Years of remodels has resulted in floors that were repeatedly repatched and badly sloping, requiring extensive removal and leveling. A portion of the lower level is actually under the public sidewalk and required extensive waterproofing to convert to habitable space. Plus, each building was at a slightly different level, requiring sloped transitions between buildings to unify the space. 

“Modern building design has a lot more systems to incorporate and when you have to thread them through historic structures and knit three stores together, you need to get creative to still have useable space with decent headroom and clearance,” said JGA’s VP of studio operations Ed Doyle.

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