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Black arts criticism journal to host book fair and fundraiser to help publish in Detroit

Taylor Renee Aldridge and Jessica Lynne, of Detroit and New York City, respectively, are bringing their internationally renowned arts criticism journal ARTS.BLACK to life in Detroit this August.

Recipients of the 2016 the John S. and James L. Knight Arts Challenge award, the co-founders of ARTS.BLACK are holding a Book Fair and "Friendrasier" at Good Lab in Detroit's Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood. The event takes place Saturday, Aug. 26, from 1 to 5 p.m.

The Knight Arts Challenge award is contingent on the recipients raising matching funds and the book fair is an opportunity for Aldridge and Lynne to do just that. Funds raised from the award and book fair will cover publication costs, payments for writers, and continued operations for the journal, which provides art criticism from a Black perspective.

"We operate online and we're constantly interacting with the different communities there. The book fair is an opportunity to take a step back and interface more intimately with each other," says Aldridge. "It's an opportunity to talk about critical literature that isn't off-putting or intimidating. It'll open it up to people."

The ARTS.BLACK Book Fair and Friendraiser features books that focus on issues of art, labor, or both. New and used catalogs, zines, history books, and more will be on hand. Many of the books have been donated by Detroiters like Janet Webster Jones, owner of Source Booksellers.

ARTS.BLACK t-shirts and totes will also be for sale at the event. Music, refreshments, and snacks may also be part of the day's festivities.

"In our research, we've found that labor is an essential theme of an artist's practice in Detroit," says Aldridge.

"We really want to examine that and explore those themes."

Good Lab is located at 14720 E. Jefferson Ave. in Detroit. Click here for more information on the ARTS.BLACK Book Fair and Friendraiser.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

NSO's Handlebars for the Homeless takes riders on a guided tour of city, with emphasis on '67

Neighborhood Service Organization is once again gearing up for its annual Handlebars for the Homeless bicycle tour. The 15-mile trek guides registered bicyclists through some of the city's more northern neighborhoods all the while raising funds for the 62-year-old non-profit organization, which promotes a comprehensive approach to eliminating homelessness, one of the largest such organizations in southeastern Michigan.

The event takes place on Sunday, Aug. 6 and begins at the NSO Bell Building, the organization's headquarters and home to 155 formerly homeless adults. On-site registration begins at 7 a.m. and the ride leaves the Bell Building at 9 a.m. and returns at noon. Riders can also register online.

Registration for the event costs $40 and includes a light breakfast, t-shirt, and spoke card. Registrants are also entered into a raffle with prizes that include an A-Type bicycle from Detroit Bikes—a $699.99 value—and bike helmet painted by Detroit artist Quinn Emery, among other prizes.

This year's Handlebars for the Homeless bicycle tour takes riders through the Live6 district, Sherwood Forest, Boston Edison, and Palmer Park neighborhoods, and the University of Detroit Mercy and Marygrove College campuses.

David Rudolph, founder of Handlebars for the Homeless and NSO board member, says this year's route will highlight some of the areas touched by the civil unrest of 1967. The event has multiple missions, celebrating the city but also addressing the struggles of those living on its streets.

"NSO's Handlebars for Homeless educates participants about the challenges that face the more than 5,000 homeless individuals living on our streets, while also highlighting some of Detroit's most beautiful, thriving and up-and-coming neighborhoods," he said in a statement.

Proceeds raised from the event will be used for NSO programs like their Homeless Recovery Services. The comprehensive program includes a mobile unit that makes direct contact with the chronically homeless, a 24-hour walk-in crisis center, and the 155-room NSO building itself, among a number of additional services.

The NSO Bell Building is located at 882 Oakman Blvd. in Detroit.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

New parks in downtown and Morningside among city's latest outdoor developments

It's summertime in the city. Let's take a look at some of Detroit's latest developments in outdoor recreation.

On Thursday, July 20, Beacon Park will get its chance to shine in the northwest section of downtown Detroit. A four day-long grand opening celebration is being held to commemorate the event, which will feature live musical performances from the likes of Thornetta Davis, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, and Lord Huron, among others. Built by DTE Energy, the park boasts downtown Detroit's largest lawn, as well as year-long programming, light installations, and a brasserie-style restaurant. Beacon Park is located at the intersection of Cass and Grand River avenues.

The City of Detroit was awarded a $2 million grant from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation to fund the design and pre-construction of the remaining uncompleted portions of the Inner Circle Greenway, a proposed 26-mile bike and pedestrian path throughout Detroit. The City of Detroit recently purchased a 7.5 mile stretch of abandoned rail to complete the greenway.

On Saturday, July 22, a dedication of the 12th Street Memorial and Pavilion is being held at the Joseph Walker Williams Recreation Center, located at 8431 Rosa Parks Blvd. The memorial and pavilion marks the 50th anniversary of the summer of 1967. A 5-by-7 foot permanent steel marker lists the 44 people known to have died from the events of that summer, while a small white cedar pavilion serves as a public gathering space and focal point for future community events. Musical performances from The Original Vandellas and The Robinson Singers are scheduled for the dedication, which runs from 2:45 to 6:30 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

Residents of Morningside have the opportunity to design a brand new park in their neighborhood, though the design competition is open to the public at large. Funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the pilot program Give a Park, Get a Park will take a decommissioned park at I-94 and sell it to residents through the city's side lot program. It will then build a bigger, more centralized park for the neighborhood at Three Mile Drive and Munich Street. The deadline for design submissions is Monday, July 31.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Fast casual dining spot opens in the old Detroit News Building downtown

In its hundredth year, the Detroit News Building has opened its doors to the public with the addition of the Press Room Cafe, a nod to the building's past as well as a sign of a dining scene that could come to the still relatively quiet southwestern corner of downtown Detroit.

Located at 615 W. Lafayette Blvd. in the old Detroit News Building, the Press Room offers quick but quality dining options to area workers and passersby. Though it first opened in April 2017, a recent grand opening event was held to emphasize the point that the Press Room is open to the public, and not just nearby workers.

Bedrock, the Dan Gilbert real estate firm, owns the property, which counts Quicken Loans and Molina Healthcare among its tenants.

The Press Room is much more than a cafe. A breakfast, bakery, and coffee bar occupy one end, adjacent to a fireplace-lit seating area ideal for meetings. The breakfast spot features Avalon pastries and Intelligentsia coffee. In the center is a market, featuring items one might need to grab on their way home from work, including a number of local products.

It's at the west end of the space wherein lies the main attraction: lunch and dinner items from celebrity chef Fabio Viviani. Eurest, the dining services company behind Press Room Cafe, custom built the kitchen and grill to Viviani's exact needs.

"That stove is made specifically for him. It's kind of like the Ferrari of wood-fired pizza ovens," says Jessica Zucker, division marketing director of Eurest.

"It's all from-scratch pastas and pizzas. Fabio brought in his team and measured the humidity of the room to figure out how to make the right dough, which is made in-house. Everything's made from scratch."

In addition to Viviani's pizzas and pastas, the Press Room includes signature burgers, paninis, and salads among its other offerings.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Info sessions announced to help Detroit business owners and landlords apply for matching grants

This Thursday and next, information sessions are being held to assist city businesses through the application process for Detroit's latest small business booster program. Dubbed Motor City Re-Store, the program is designed to help existing businesses and their landlords in rehabilitating and improving the conditions of their buildings' exteriors.

The program offers matching grants for a range of construction projects, including improved facades, landscaping, and parking lots. Matching grants for design and architectural services are also available.

Much like Motor City Match, which city officials consider to be Re-Store's "comparison" program, Re-Store will offer up to $500,000 in matching grants to Detroit businesses and landlords every three months. Unlike Motor City Match, which is designed more to help businesses that are new to having a brick-and-mortar location in the city, Re-Store is designed with pre-existing business owners in mind.

The first information session is Thursday, June 22, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Good Cakes and Bakes, which is located at 19363 Livernois Ave. The second information session is Thursday, June 29, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Matrix Center / Osborn Neighborhood Alliance, which is located at 13560 E. McNichols Rd.

Both are free and open to the public.

"The small neighborhood businesses that have hung in there over the years and have sustained our city are part of Detroit's revitalization. That's why we created Motor City Re-Store," Mayor Duggan said in a statement. "This is how we are going to bring our city back, by supporting our existing businesses and residents as we welcome new ones to our neighborhoods."

The application window for the first round of Motor City Re-Store is open from June 15 through Aug. 1. Applications are available online.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Two new businesses, a bakery and boutique, slated for fall openings in the historic Fisher Building

The ornate art deco lobby of the Fisher Building, a building celebrated as a major work of art by architects and enthusiasts the world over, stands to attract even more people craning their necks as they take in their surroundings.

This fall, two noteworthy businesses are scheduled to open there: Yama, the third women's retail store from The Peacock Room and Frida's Rachel Lutz, and City Bakery, a popular New York City-based bakery and cafe.

Lutz's first two stores, The Peacock Room and Frida, opened in 2011 and 2014, respectively. Both are located in the Park Shelton building in Midtown.

While The Peacock Room curates a more vintage-inspired collection of women's clothing and accessories, and Frida features casual and bohemian fashion, Lutz says that Yama will focus on edgy, architecturally-inspired clothing. Yama is named in honor of renowned Detroit architect Minoru Yamasaki.

"I'm excited at the thought of joining a strong, veteran retail mix at the Fisher," says Lutz. "I'm joining Gallery of Contemporary Craft, Pure Detroit, the Fashion Place, and Vera Jane. Yama will offer a fresh energy, and we'll bring a lot of destination shoppers to New Center.

"Complementing its dense population, New Center's food and retail scene is poised to blossom within the next few years. I want to jump start that by pushing our existing foot traffic up the Woodward corridor."

With its first location having opened in New York City in 1990, and a second in Japan, the popular City Bakery will open their third location in the Fisher lobby this fall.

Famous for its hot chocolate, City Bakery is also a bakery, coffee shop, cafe, and catering company. Its Annual Hot Chocolate Festival attracts more than 50,000 people each February. 

Detroit-based development company The Platform, which owns the Fisher as well as a number of other notable New Center buildings, recruited the two businesses as their tenants.

"I'm thrilled that the Fisher Building is the crown jewel of The Platform's development," says Lutz. "This architectural gem now has owners that don't see it as just square footage--they envision it as a vibrant public square."

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Local nonprofit wins grants to improve Highland Park's biking and pedestrian infrastructure

The Detroit Greenways Coalition (DGC) is getting a boost.

The non-profit dedicated to improving the quality of non-motorized transportation and recreation in and around Detroit has received a $5,000 grant from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's 2017 Doppelt Family Trail Development Fund. The money is to be used to support the development of the Inner Circle Greenway throughout the city of Highland Park.

Detroit Greenways Coalition's Inner Circle Greenway is the largest urban trail project in the state. The 26-mile series of bike lanes and greenways will connect the cities of Detroit, Hamtramck, Highland Park, and Dearborn. A 1.4 mile-long abandoned rail corridor runs through Highland Park, and this money could be used to help transform it and further develop the Inner Circle Greenway.



In December 2016, Model D asked DGC executive director Todd Scott what he'd like to see happen with green infrastructure in the region. He said then that with an abundance of vacant parcels, abandoned rail corridors, and extra wide roads, cities like Detroit and Highland Park have an opportunity to take advantage of such under-utilized spaces.

"We can use these to create safe and convenient non-motorized transportation options and green infrastructure in a way that most other cities can't. It's an exciting opportunity to build a better city," he said.

The local non-profit is one of six nationally to receive a grant from the 2017 Doppelt Family Trail Development Fund. Others include projects in Colorado, Oregon, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, and Nebraska.

This is the second grant Detroit Greenways Coalition has recently received, both of which are to be administered in the city of Highland Park. The non-profit also received a grant from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Fund for Design and Access. That money will used to develop bike lanes along the length of Hamilton Avenue as it runs through Highland Park.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Cody Rouge youth build bus stops, residents help develop comprehensive community plan

The young people of Detroit's Cody Rouge neighborhood busted out the power tools over the weekend, building several bus stop benches to be placed along W. Chicago and Evergreen roads. Sit On It Detroit helped facilitate the construction project.

Members of the Cody Rouge Community Action Alliance Youth Council, which is made up of young people ranging in ages 12 to 18 that live, work, worship or attend school in the Cody Rouge neighborhood, came up with the idea. Those young people identified a need in their neighborhood, which received approval from the group's leaders and won a grant from the Detroit2Nepal Foundation.

Sit On It Detroit is a group that builds and installs bus stop benches throughout the city. The bus stop benches are constructed from reclaimed wood and typically feature mini-libraries built into the design.

It was a busy week for Cody Rouge. The westside neighborhood also announced a comprehensive community plan that officials say will help transform Cody Rouge into a premier Detroit neighborhood. Surveys, focus groups, and community meetings by Cody Rouge residents helped guide the plan's development, as well as Cody Rouge Community Action Alliance and Community Development Advocates of Detroit.

The community plan addresses issues around neighborhood stabilization, safety, land use, strengthened commercial corridors, support for community groups, and expanded opportunities for youth. Bolstering the community plan is the announced financial support of DTE Energy, General Motors, Quicken Loans, and the Skillman Foundation.

"As a lifetime resident of Cody Rouge and someone who has worked alongside fellow residents planning and implementing our goals for this community over the past 10 years, it's clear to me that our neighborhood is on the cusp of transformation," Kenyetta Campbell, executive director of the Cody Rouge Community Action Alliance, says in a statement. "We are turning Cody Rouge into a place people are proud to call home, where children are encouraged to bloom where they are planted."

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

First-time entrepreneur opens consignment resale shop on Eastern Market's Service Street block

Miriam Pranschke's passion for re-use is culminating in the opening of her first business, the consignment re-sale store Boro. The clothing and accessories shop is opening its Eastern Market storefront this Saturday, May 20—just in time for Flower Day.

Boro is located in a storefront in the Service Street district, a block-long collection of buildings long associated with artist-occupied lofts and studios. Pranschke lives with her husband there, just three floors above Boro in the historic Atlas Building.

Re-sale is a win-win for Pranschke, helping the environment and her neighbors at the same time. "I'm very interested in keeping things out of landfills," says Pranschke. "And the consignors make 40 percent of the selling price, too."

Items sold at Boro will be hand-selected by Pranschke. She says she'll be focusing on independent, designer, and vintage high-quality clothing and accessories. Items range from clothing to shoes, purses to jewelery, and items for both women and men.

"I grew up going to thrift stores. It's what I've always done and what I've known," says Pranschke. "And then I learned about consignment stores, which are more curated. You spend less time looking through the racks."

While the storefront required some work, Pranschke says she tried to retain much of the building's historic details. High ceilings and original crown moldings remain. Marble from the original facade has been re-purposed as the Boro cash stand.

The look, though, is minimal. Pranschke wants the focus to be on the clothing.

Boro is celebrating its grand opening Saturday, May 20, and will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. A party begins at 5 p.m., with DJs, snacks, refreshments, and adult beverages. It is located at 1440 Gratiot Ave.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

One man's crusade to save Highland Park's McGregor Library from decay

Ted Strunck wants you to vote for the restoration of the McGregor Public Library in Highland Park. In fact, he wants you to vote once a day every day until midnight on May 12, specifically for a grant from the USA Today's "A Community Thrives" initiative to help reopen the 91-year old institution.

 

Last year, Strunck, a resident of Royal Oak, started a one-man exploratory mission to find out the condition of the library roof, wanting to make sure the building wouldn't fall into total disrepair. As a licensed contractor (and school teacher and musician), Strunck knew a bad roof would be an express train to permanent, irreversible damage and the rapid demise of the iconic landmark. But getting information about the building from the city of Highland Park was difficult.

 

"It was crazy. I called everyday, and either got no answer or a voicemail where I left a message," says Strunck, who is semi-retired. "After 30 calls, I got a callback."

 

His call was returned by Yvette Robinson, director of community and economic development for the city, who agreed to meet with him. And when they met, she let Strunck know that a new roof was put on the building five or six years back. But the mold situation was bad.

 

Knowing the roof was okay, Strunck figured he'd let it go. Instead, he kept thinking about it.

 

That obsession led him to a mold abatement company where he learned about the environmental assessment that had to be done before any work. An assessor agreed to do a walk through with him. But when they met up at the library, Robinson didn't show. Disappointed, Strunck called her afterward; she told him she didn't know why they should meet when the city didn't have any money to have the work done.

 

At this point, Strunck started working with native Detroiter Joe Rashid of ioby, who loved the idea of re-opening the library. They began promoting the project, with a huge response from people who love the building and want to see it reopen. They created a Facebook group to share information.

 

In the meantime, Strunck found out that there had been an environmental assessment done in 2010 that had uncovered lead paint and asbestos.

 

Not one for taking the slow, careful route, Strunck met with Robinson again and asked her directly if she, indeed, really wanted to preserve the building. She did.

 

When Rashid and Strunck heard about the grant contest through A Community Thrives, which funds ideas and creative solutions to community problems pitched by individuals through video, they decided to apply.

 

They still needed two crucial pieces before they could submit it: 1) a nonprofit fiduciary and 2) the city's approval. Strunck enlisted Upland Hills School in Oxford, where he still teaches part-time, as the fiduciary. He sent the video link to Robinson, and she quickly showed it to the mayor, who approved it. The McGregor Library Preservation project officially entered the contest minutes before deadline on April 12.

 

Success will entirely depend on how many people vote before May 12. Strunck is pounding the pavement to spread the word on social media and in person. He attended a Highland Park City Council meeting three weeks ago and gave his spiel.

 

"I told them, 'I'm here to ask two things: Is Highland Park in favor of helping this library? And can we get information out about voting on this grant?'"

 

The mayor agreed to both. The people present were excited, some even applauded. Others approached him afterward to share their email addresses to have him send the link to vote.

 

"It's the building that I love, that I want to preserve," says Strunck. "That said, it could be a boost to the entire community to get it up and running."

 

Strunck knows that building remediation is just the start of plenty of work and planning needed to reopen the McGregor Library in a town that doesn't have the funds to operate it. But he believes that, with creativity, the project can be sustained.

 

He envisions community workshops, building tours, and a wedding venueperfect with the structure's classical Roman designand a list of other ideas as tall as the full travel mug of coffee that Strunck always seems to be carrying.

 

Humble in his mission, Strunck says, "I guess it just shows what an average Joe can do that has time."

 

Learn more about the effort to restore the McGregor Library here.


This article is part of Michigan Nightlight, a series of stories about the programs and people that positively impact the lives of Michigan kids. It is made possible with funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Read more in the series here.

With a focus on Michigan-based businesses, All Things Detroit expands in Eastern Market

More than 250 Michigan-based businesses are set to descend upon Eastern Market this Sunday, May 7, for the Pre-Mother's Day edition of All Things Detroit. The shopping event will feature a wide-ranging mix of retailers and wares, from vintage clothing to all natural bath and body products, custom plants to handmade furniture. New to this year's event is a fleet of 20 food trucks, including the Delect-a-Bowl, Crepe Day-Twah, and El Charro Food Trucks.

Jennyfer Crawford started All Things Detroit out of her one-bedroom apartment about four years ago, and then hosted events at Niki's Lounge downtown, helping her friends sell homemade products like earrings and other pieces of jewelry. She moved the event to Eastern Market where it's has only grown since. A reported 10,000 customers came through the most recent iteration of All Things Detroit.

She's added a shed of vendors for this weekend's event, which now encompasses Sheds 2, 3, 4, and 5. Crawford's All Things Detroit events take place three times a year, and always at Eastern Market.

"It's just a great way to support small businesses," says Crawford. "People come from all over the state, from as far as Traverse City. I just want to bring people to Detroit and have people patronize small businesses."

This round of All Things Detroit will focus on Mother's Day, featuring 'Mom and Me' photo opportunities, fresh flowers, and games like cornhole and miniature golf. The event is family-friendly, including face-painting, and children 12 and under get in free.

Tickets for All Things Detroit are available in advance and the day of the event and range from $5 to $15, general admission and Beat the Crowd prices, respectively. General admission begins at 11 a.m. Beat the Crowd ticketholders get a first crack at the vendors' tables with a 9:30 a.m. entrance time. The event closes at 4 p.m.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Check out this Cleveland skyscraper with Detroit connections

In the 1950s, 60s and 70s, downtown Cleveland's department stores competed to be known as the utmost authority on women's fashion trends—holding regular luncheon fashion shows in their auditoriums to exhibit their collections and attract shoppers.

Dixie Lee Davis, who served as fashion director during that period for Halle's department store, and later May Company and Cleveland Saks Fifth Avenue, remembers the era well. "My whole career has been in in retail," she says, adding that the department stores were all on friendly terms with each other back then.
 
While the fashion shows, not to mention many of the major department stores, are a concept of the past, the spaces of these magnificent shopping meccas still exist, and many have been converted to offices and residential units.


 
The 192-foot-tall, 13-story 1931 Higbee Building at 100 Public Square is one such historical edifice. Today it is home to Jack Casino on the lower floors and offices such as Quicken Loans on the fourth and fifth floors.
 
The latter received much acclaim for its move to the space and subsequent remodel back in 2016 when the company brought in Detroit-based design firm dPOP to embrace the historical architecture and design elements of the former department store, while also creating a modern work environment.
 
Now, Terry Coyne, vice chairman for commercial real estate for Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, is hoping the right tenant will follow suit with the 10th floor of the Higbee Building.
 
More than 50,000 square feet on the entire 10th floor—except for the former Silver Grille, which is leased by the Ritz-Carlton hotel—in what used to be used for Higbee's regular fashion shows, is currently available.
 
Long-time locals may remember the impressive space from the three-decade-span when Higbee's would regularly hold fashion shows—complete with luncheons—to tout its newest collections.


 
"When you went down to Higbee's in the 1950s, you went up to the 10th floor," says Coyne. "This is where they had runway shows, and there's a rotunda that goes all the way up to the 11th floor. Women would wear their white gloves."
 
Davis says the auditoriums that housed the shows—several times a year for back-to-school, bridal, seasonal and trunk shows—were the best way for shoppers to view the latest fashion trends.
 
"The fashion shows were very popular and well-attended events," she recalls. "It could be a social event, but people wanted to know what the latest in fashion was. There was lots of fashion activity going on at the time and we were bringing the latest in fashion to Cleveland. All the top designers on both sides of the ocean were represented here."
 
The raw space—52,848 square feet—is wide open and in great shape, Coyne says. "They really kept the integrity of the building," he says of the building owner, an affiliate of JACK Entertainment. "The ceilings are 14 feet, all the way up to 35 feet in the rotunda area."
 
The windows overlook the newly renovated Public Square. "It is a great view on the heartbeat of the city," adds Coyne.


 
Davis remembers the old Higbee auditorium well. "It's a beautiful, large auditorium," she says. "It had a beautiful stage and wonderful lighting with a runway out to the audience."
 
The space, which is going for $18.50 per square foot, is not for just any kind of tenant, notes Coyne. Instead, he hopes the new tenant, perhaps a technology company, will embrace the space in much the same manor that Quicken Loans did, but also perhaps with a nod to the time when ladies in white gloves enjoyed catered luncheons before taking in a fashion show.
 
"We'd like a tenant to embrace what Quicken Loans has done," he says. "It's really neat that they've embraced the era."


 
Some of the vintage décor, signage and Higbee's paraphernalia Coyne may offer to tenants are tucked away in storage on an unused floor of the building.
 
"The perfect tenant is one who can utilize the high ceilings in the interesting potential layout for the space," says Coyne. "This is not going to be space from the 1990s. It is open, high ceilings, with interesting opportunities for design."

Art, design, and urbanism combine for 'groundbreaking' MFA program in Midtown

A confluence of art, design, and urbanism is coming to Detroit thanks to a new master's degree program at Lawrence Technological University's Detroit Center for Technology + Design in Midtown. Officials are touting the Master of Fine Arts program as groundbreaking and a first for the region.

The Social Practice master's degree looks at how art and design can positively impact public space in our communities, says Steve Coy, the Lawrence Tech assistant professor who developed the program.

Coy estimates there are only eleven such programs in the United States, with the first known Social Practice program developed at the California College of the Arts in 2005. Most other Social Practice programs are located on the east and west coasts of the country, with the nearest known program being offered at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

While Coy says that people have been using art, design, and urbanism to affect positive change in Detroit for years, a more formal and institutional approach can further enhance such efforts.

"This will allow us to connect people so that conversations and movements can unify, to give us a point to rally around," says Coy. "Universities are open source networks. We can share what works, what doesn't work, and make it better so people aren't acting in isolated pockets."

The program will cover a broad spectrum of ideas, from city planning and tactical urbanism to street art and public persuasion. It's a win-win, says Coy, as communities get well-thought out solutions to planning issues while students get on-the-ground training for future professions.

He adds that the program should appeal to those interested in planning, design, and the arts.

Coy first started teaching at Lawrence Tech in 2011, though he's probably best known for the Hygienic Dress League, the public art project he co-founded with his wife Dorota. The Coys also co-founded Wolf Moon Mixers.

Enrollment for the Social Practice MFA program is now open. More information is available online.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Detroit-based web series broadcasts from downtown, focuses on celebs and sneakerheads

A new web-based TV series broadcasting from the One Campus Martius building in downtown Detroit debuted this month. StockX TV documents the sneakerhead subculture, the collectors of limited edition and otherwise hard-to-find and valuable gym shoes. The company is billing StockX TV as the only program to focus exclusively on the re-sell sneaker market.

The premiere episode follows internationally-renowned DJ Steve Aoki on a "Cribs-esque tour" of his Las Vegas home, featuring a sneaker collection worth over $100,000. Episodes will debut in conjunction with the release of anticipated sneaker brands, with episode one covering the launch of the Air Jordan 4 Kaws and Air Jordan 1 Royal shoes.

The broadcast studio features an old ESPN SportsCenter desk and views of downtown Detroit, Windsor, and the Detroit River.

StockX TV is an extension of StockX, an online marketplace for high-demand and limited edition products. The company, which launched in February 2016, utilizes a live bid/ask method that can be found in the world stock markets. StockX was founded by Josh Luber and Detroit businessman Dan Gilbert.

"StockX TV represents an important step forward for both our brand and how we think about and use data and content," StockX CEO and host of StockX TV Josh Luber says in a statement. "There are only so many ways a sneakerhead can engage with sneakers, but data, which has always been a core part of our DNA, is a way to expand those opportunities."

Earlier this year, StockX announced a $6 million round of funding highlighted by a number of celebrity investors, including famed Detroit rapper Eminem. Other notable investors in the Detroit-based company include the actor Mark Wahlberg, former President and Vice Chairman of AOL Ted Leonsis, and NFL player Joe Haden.

Watch StockX TV online here.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

New guitars made from pieces of the former Detroit Fire Department Headquarters

In some sense, the guitars made by Wallace Detroit Guitars are over 300 years old. 

Since 2014, Wallace Detroit Guitars has been transforming salvaged wood into electric guitars. The company recently released the Firehouse Series, a new limited-edition line of guitars made of maple and pine from the old Detroit Fire Department Headquarters downtown. Mark Wallace, president of the instrument maker, estimates that the wood comes from trees that were growing in Detroit as far back as the 1700s.

Wallace has used wood from the David Whitney Building, the Theodore Levin Courthouse, and the Brewster Wheeler Recreation Center to build his guitars. A call from his friends at the Architectural Salvage Warehouse tipped him off about a new load of wood that arrived from the former Detroit Fire Department Headquarters.

"These guitars have a great story and they look great, but they're also great to play," says Wallace. "It's like a Cadillac. They're great to look at but they're also great to drive."

The building at 250 W. Larned St. downtown was built in 1929, though the Detroit Fire Department had operated at the site since the 1840s. In 2013, DFD left their longtime home to share a headquarters with the Detroit Police Department on the western edge of downtown.

The wood reclaimed from the old headquarters is a result of it being converted into the Detroit Foundation Hotel, a boutique hotel complete with over 100 rooms, a bar, restaurant, and even a "podcast studio." The hotel purchased one of the Firehouse Series guitars for display.

The limited edition series features twelve guitars, ten of the company's flagship single-cutaway design and two of its new offset body shape design. The guitars are built by hand; even the electric pick-ups are hand-wound.

"We want to be part of the city's long history of people that know how to make things," says Wallace.

The Firehouse Series guitars can be found online.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.
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