Old Detroit Hudson Plant Slated to Resume Manufacturing Operations (really!)

Jon B
Jon B Administrator
edited January 2014 in HUDSON

The old Hudson body plant in Detroit has been purchased by an investor who plans to turn it into a factory to produce pre-cast concrete homes.

Bill Hults, a Chicago-area developer, bought the property at 9501 Conner in mid-November from the Ivan Doverspike Company, a firm that reconditions and remanufactures used automatic screw and spindle machines. The selling price was not disclosed.

Located at the corner of Conner and Gratiot Avenues, the plant was designed by famed architect Albert Kahn (who also designed Hudson's main factory) and was built in 1925 for a Hudson supplier. Hudson purchased the building in the late 1920's. Hudson bodies were fabricated in the building, then trucked down the street to the main assembly plant on Jefferson Avenue. Hudson closed the plant when they ended operations in Detroit in 1954. In 1956, General Motors purchased the building and it served as a Cadillac stamping plant until the Poletown plant opened in 1985. The Doverspike company purchased the property in 1993 and vacated it in 2013.

Mr. Hults gained some fame last November as the high bidder for the derelict Packard factory in Detroit. However, after making a non-refundable deposit of $200,000, he failed to meet the deadline for handing over the rest of his $2 million dollar bid, and thus lost the deal. The ex-Hudson plant purchase followed soon thereafter.

Hults says he'll invest $35 to $40 million into the Conner Avenue building. "We are turning it back into a functioning manufacturing facility," he said. "We are going to put a pre-cast panel company in there and a modular pre-cast company in there, and we are going to use that to build urban, multifamily in-fill housing."

At present, ""we are essentially stripping everything out of the building," he said. "It hasn't been a stamping plant for 35-40 years, so we are doing everything you can imagine."

The plant is one of the three Hudson factories still existing. The others are Hudson's first factory (the old Aerocar factory at the northwest corner of Mack and Beaufait, in Detroit) and the Tillbury, Ontario assembly plant in Canada.

For a recent YouTube tour through part of the factory, follow this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=NqQa4ig2xTA#t=18

(PS -- I'm not 100% sure of some of these historic dates and facts...please advise if you have better information)


  • hudsontech
    hudsontech Senior Contributor
    Great video - Nice to see these as these historic buildings won't be around forever.

    Alex Burr
    Memphis, TN
  • Thanks, Jon, for the video link regarding the former Hudson body plant on Gratiot and Conner in Detroit. Great to hear the facility has a future for the time being.

    I drove around it back in 2008 and it pretty much looked like it does in the video-rough! And the neighborhood around it looked rougher. The following year in 2009, on a very beautiful sunny day and during the National at Pontiac, I drove my '50 Pacemaker in front of the plant to take a few photos of it.

  • A link to this thread showed up on a Detroit area architectural Facebook page a couple days ago, so of course, I had to join here to update you.

    Today is the first I've heard of this. I was down there May 20, 2014 photographing the plant and a lot of the neighborhood including the local YMCA where I was a member 60yrs ago, the Better Made Potato Chip factory, and for train buffs, the Gary Transfer Station on Gratiot at the RR tracks that serviced the plants. There was absolutely no visible activity except for one parked vehicle outside the gates. There were no indications that any cleaning or other work had been done. The grass was not cut, but I'm not sure it is their responsibility since some of the area where the Quonset Hut community had been is now a dedicated park.

    We were back down there last week photographing a block away, not really paying attention to the plant, so although we didn't notice any activity, we can't say for sure there hasn't been.

    We were also down there on the 2nd doing a photo update on the Gary Station. Due to the layout of Detroit and the angles of Gratiot and Conner, the NW backside of the Hudson plant can be seen from Gratiot. I snapped a near identical shot as I did in '14. All I can say is it is much worse and more trashed out now.

    Since I don't know how much more I will be posting, I will note here that we had '46, '52, & '53 Hudsons.

    I will try to run by and check on the factory soon.

  • Boy what a monster of a building. It will probably take the business at least 12 months to draw up plans, scope new work and get plans approved before even stepping onsite. I used to work on a team opening shopping centers and they worked on a 40 week time frame- this building would take 2 years min Good luck to them - great to see an old building reused
  • Ric West IN
    Ric West IN Senior Contributor
    As pointed out by "Hans" on the Club site,  Google searching "Nailhed.com/p/index-of-locations will get one to a 2 part photo essay/trip through the Hudson body plant.  The index of other locations will provide many hours of interesting reading and viewing.  Take a look!

  • Ric West IN
    Ric West IN Senior Contributor
    Thanks !    Paul  The direct links are very helpful!

    The other locations th "nailhed" has photographed are also worth a look .

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