120 East Hudson transforms downtown Royal Oak

Most people would look at 120 E Hudson
St. and think it doesn’t have a future in downtown Royal Oak, but Jim
Schneider and Jim Johnson are prognosticators of better times.

The
building is one of a set of unremarkable industrial structures
bookended by B&B Collision and the railroad tracks on the south
side of downtown. Think plain-jane brick and cinder block edifices that
have been rebuilt and expanded time and time again since their first
incarnations as machine shops in the early 20th Century. These are not
the buildings people want to hug.

That hasn’t stopped
Schneider and Johnson from giving 120 E Hudson a new lease on life.
They are at the tail end of transforming a “down-and-dirty industrial
building,” according to Schneider,
to trendy loft-style office space, adding some much needed foot traffic
and renewal to a sleepy side of downtown. And they’re not the first
ones to do that. Two others on this block have already made the
transition. Another one is on its way.

“Realistically, this is
what Royal Oak needs,” says Jim Johnson, developer of 120 E Hudson.
“There are enough bars and restaurants around here. We need more office
workers.”

What is now 120 E Hudson used to be much bigger.
Schneider, president of Royal Oak-based Schneider+Smith Architects,
literally cut the building in half and put a small parking lot in
between the two structures, creating what is now 120 and 200 E Hudson.
Both are in the process of becoming offices.

120 E Hudson,
which is nearly finished, doesn’t even look like a light industrial
building. Its exterior is now clad in brick, concrete, aluminum, and
glass, giving it a modern, contemporary look. It looks like the
developer listened to the architect when it came to the design, instead
of the other way around.

The interior is similar in appearance,
with an open floor plan flanked by a couple walls of offices on the
ground floor. The L-shaped mezzanine with its steel staircase, railing,
and caged fans above give the open area the feeling of a factory floor.
Its metallic look and brushed concrete floors complement its aesthetic
and history.

An advertising co-op of about 25 people is set to
occupy the 7,000-square-foot building later this month. Johnson is
still looking for a tenant for 200 E Hudson. That structure is still in
the down-and-dirty industrial phase, but set to come online looking
like its neighbor before the end of the year.

“It is a great use for these old buildings,” Schneider says. “It’s really green architecture if you think about it.”

Source: Jim Schneider, president of Schnieder+Smith Architects and Jim Johnson, developer of 120 and 200 E Hudson St.
Writer: Jon Zemke