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September development news round-up


It's been another busy month for development news in the city. Let's catch up on five of the biggest stories from the past four weeks.

A groundbreaking was held for the Arena District last week, beginning the very expensive task of building an 18,000-seat hockey and entertainment arena and 45 blocks of mixed-use development mostly from scratch. A mix of public and private money is funding the development just north of downtown. The arena is scheduled to open in 2017.

In other sports-cum-development news, the city of Detroit is weighing proposals for the redevelopment of the historic former site of Tiger Stadium in the city's Corktown neighborhood. The city issued its latest RFP for the site earlier this year and has reportedly narrowed it down to two proposals. Each proposal calls for mixed-use development for the site, which would run along Michigan Avenue and Trumbull Street. The rest of the site will be reserved for the Police Athletic League and its own development plans, which would include maintaining the historic playing field.

The M-1 Rail construction keeps chugging along, with the first tracks being installed along Woodward this week. Crews began working on the 3.3 mile-long light rail development in July 2014.

Last week, a judge ordered Ralph Sachs to secure and maintain a downtown building of his which has become so dilapidated that the city of Detroit is suing for it to be torn down. Preservationists started a petition in response, asking that Sachs be held responsible for maintaining his building, rather than forcing the historic Albert Kahn-designed high rise be torn down.

In beer news, Dexter-based Jolly Pumpkin announced that it will open its third Michigan location in Detroit's Midtown. The brewery and restaurant will open at 441 W. Canfield St. in 2015. Meanwhile, the Michigan-based HopCat, a craft beer bar and restaurant, has delayed its opening, also in Midtown, to mid-December of this year.  

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Detroit development news round-up: July and August

It's been another busy month for development news in the city. Let's catch up on five of the biggest stories since our last round-up.

In what Detroit Free Press writer John Gallagher calls, "the city’s boldest and most significant development since the Renaissance Center of the 1970s," the Ilitch family released plans for their enormous sports, entertainment, and housing development. A taxpayer-subsidized arena for billionaire Mike Ilitch's Red Wings hockey team anchors a massive plan of new development and districts, including a potential 2,000 new residential units.

The new arena district will be built with the M1 Rail streetcar line in mind, which officially broke ground Monday, July 28. The lightrail line will run along Woodward Avenue from downtown to New Center and is expected to begin operating in late 2016. The first phase of construction has closed Woodward from Adams Street to Campus Martius park for 120 days.

Officials hope that the M1 Rail will make it easier for people to navigate a city blooming with new bars and restaurants. Eater Detroit has mapped out ten of their most anticipated Detroit restaurant openings. They include eateries from West Fort Street to Hamtramck, from the top of a downtown hotel to everyone's favorite castle building.

Boydell Development Company, the development group behind Corktown's Roosevelt Hotel restoration, announced plans to redevelop an old Wayne State University pharmacy school into a 180 apartment-unit building. The 'micro-apartments' will range from 400 to 500 square feet at the new Shapero Hall.

Winners for the Parallel Projections design contest Reanimate the Ruins were recently announced. Though conceptual in nature, the submitted proposals for redeveloping the iconic blight campus that is the Packard Motor Plant demonstrate the breadth of possibilities for the historic site.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Northern Lights Lounge adds a patio and brunch, continues to transform its street

As Northern Lights Lounge nears closer to its tenth anniversary this October, the New Center bar, restaurant, and venue has recently debuted a large patio. Detroit-based Steven C. Flum is the architect of record on the project.

Matching a facade grant from co-grantors Midtown Detroit, Inc. and Local Initiatives Support Corporation, co-owners Michael Solaka, William Steele, and Greg "Kegger" Visee have opened a patio that they have been working on conceptually for about as long as the lounge has been open. Construction began in October 2013 and the patio is now open to the public.

The patio area, once an old asphalt parking lot, now features brick pavers, outdoor furniture, and three young trees -- an oak, a maple, and a poplar. At night, soft lighting and an outdoor speaker system complement the vibe found inside the lounge itself.

More outdoor furniture is coming, says Solaka, and he hopes to get a fire pit going sometime soon. An outdoor bar is a possibility, too. A few years on and a bordering wall will be covered in the young Boston ivy recently planted at its base.

"We haven't really designed the final product yet," says Solaka. "But we figured we'd get it done, live with it, and kind of see how people used it. And I've already learned a lot working out here while people are using it."

The lounge is debuting a Sunday brunch menu Sunday, August 3 -- another patio-related feature. Solaka reveals, too, that he is planning on constructing ten studio-loft apartments on the floor above the lounge, complete with balconies overhanging the new patio. He's also looking to fill the storefront adjacent to Northern Lights. Another ten years from now and 660 W. Baltimore and its block could look as different as it did ten years ago.

Source: Michael Solaka and Greg Visee, co-owners of Northern Lights Lounge
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Summer development news round-up

It's been a busy season for development news in the city. Let's catch up on five stories that have made  headlines this summer.

The longer it takes for construction to begin, the less likely it seems that a development project will ever be built. With that in mind, Detroit light rail advocates are closer to breathing easy as the M-1 Rail project has announced a July 28 start date for construction. Work begins downtown before it makes the slow climb northward on Woodward Avenue to New Center.

Nearly a year to the day after the grand opening of the city's first Meijer store, officials broke ground on a second Detroit location of the popular grocery superstore chain. The second Meijer is being built on the site of the former Redford High School at Grand River Avenue and McNichols Road on the city's northwest side. The new store will hire up to 500 people, reports say.

Midtown Detroit, Inc. is leading a crowdfunding campaign as it seeks money for a new Green Alley. The alley slated for development “is bounded by Second Avenue, Selden, the Third Avenue alley and Alexandrine.” The Michigan Economic Development Corporation will match the campaign's $50,000 goal if it is met by July 25.

Curbed argues that the first thing the new owners of Corktown's CPA Building should do is board up and secure the building. The old building at Michigan Avenue and 14th Street has been devastated by vandals -- among others -- over the years while much of the rest of Corktown continues to experience redevelopment.

Plans to redevelop the old Detroit Fire Department headquarters into a downtown boutique hotel are still under way, assures the development team. Though the developers announced a late 2015 opening, it's still unknown when construction will begin.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here.

April Development News Round-up

April was another busy month for development news in the city. Let's catch up on six stories from the past four weeks.

Come November, downtown will add 150 jobs and 24,000 square feet of dining, drinking, and gaming -- and all under one roof. Dan Gilbert's Bedrock Real Estate Services announced that the Denver-based Punch Bowl Social will be opening a location in the recently-opened Z Garage.

There's a new name in the downtown development scene. Roger Basmajian has recently purchased three office buildings in the central business district, acquiring 104,000 square feet of office space in nine months. Basmajian expects to spend at least $7 million in renovations, says Crain's.

Midtown Detroit, Inc. announced two beautification projects in its district: a second green alley and a dog park. The green alley will run behind Avalon Bakery, from Willis to Canfield. The dog park is planned for the empty lot at Canfield and Cass. Midtown Detroit, Inc. signed a three-year lease on the lot with a two-year extension possible.

There's a new restaurant in New Center. The Zenith, a Mexican-Southern fusion restaurant, opened in the Fisher Building this month. The pictures at Eater Detroit reveal a colorful and eclectic interior, one that draws from 1940s and 1950s kitsch.

Another grocery store has opened on the city's east side. Parkway Foods joins Parker Street Market in debuting this month, providing residents with more food options. While Parker Street Market is a smaller, specialized neighborhood grocer, Parkway Foods is more of a traditional super market, not unlike the Farmer Jack that used to be in the same location.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here.

State loans millions of dollars to build M-1 Rail, demolish Joe Louis Arena

A couple of Detroit development projects have recently been approved for loans and funding assistance from the Michigan Strategic Fund, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation recently announced. Two projects, the construction of the M-1 Rail and the demolition of Joe Louis Arena, will receive $16 million from the fund.

"Michigan is America’s Comeback State, and these projects add to our growing momentum," said Gov. Rick Snyder in a statement. "These new investments in our state will strengthen our communities, spur new commercial investment in our cities and fuel new opportunities for our talented workforce."

The M-1 Rail, a 3.3-mile light rail system that will stretch from downtown to New Center, is set to receive a $10 million loan from the Michigan Strategic Fund. The $10 million Michigan Business Development Program performance-based loan has been awarded as result of the $130 to $140 million in capital investment and up to 41 permanent jobs that the construction of the line is expected to create.

While some specifics for the project remain, the $10 million in loans provided by the Michigan Strategic Fund should bring the M-1 Rail closer to reality. Recently, the first phase of construction began as crews have started utility work downtown. The M-1 Rail is a curbside light rail system that will stop at 11 planned stops along Woodward.

The current home of the Detroit Red Wings, Joe Louis Arena, will be demolished once a new hockey arena has been built in the lower Cass Corridor. Though nothing has been announced for the future former home of the Red Wings, the riverfront location is poised to receive major development interest.

Anticipating major commercial investment dollars, the Michigan Strategic Fund has approved up to $6 million in Michigan Community Revitalization Program performance-based economic assistance to go toward demolishing the arena. Joe Louis opened in 1979.

Source: Michigan Economic Development Corporation press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here.

Business is popping for these unconventional restaurants

Pop-up dining is a popular business model for many a restauranteur whether they want to eventually open their own space or not. For Detroit, the trend may have reached its pop-culture zenith when television host Anthony Bourdain featured local pop-up Guns & Butter on an episode of his CNN program Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. That's not to say that pop-ups are going anywhere any time soon. In fact, it's just the opposite.

Pie-Sci is one of the more successful pop-up restaurants in the city. Co-founders Jeremy Damaske and AJ Nanoulian started the pop-up pizzeria in March of 2011, making pizzas out of Jim Geary's Woodbridge Pub every Sunday. Though they started small, Damaske says that they now sell around 100 pizzas every Sunday. They don't even have pizza ovens, having to use the Woodbridge Pub's two conventional kitchen ovens. The business has gone so well that they're moving operations into the building adjacent to the pub. They hope to be operating daily by the end of the year.

Damaske says that the pop-up restaurant model is perfect for people looking to start a business without a lot of capital. It gives people the chance to get their product out there and build a customer base without having the up-front investment of outfitting a space. It also benefits the host business, drawing customers in that may have not come otherwise.

"There was no real liability for us," says Damske. "We got to use their servers, their liquor license, their alcohol."

The nature of pop-ups can turn going out into more of an event and especially so for less frequent pop-ups like Guns & Butter and Tashmoo Biergarten. Others are further customizing the model like the community building Detroit Soup fosters through its monthly dinners, funding creative projects throughout the city. And then there's Hamtramck's Revolver, whose whole business model is built on hosting rotating chefs and pop-ups.

Source: Jeremy Damaske, co-owner of Pie-Sci
Writer: MJ Galbraith

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here.

Co-working space round-up: Another space announced plus a new directory

The hottest new industry in Detroit may be the co-working space as the shared work venues continue to multiply. The new trend in work life offers startups and freelancers the ability to network and grow while getting those who work from home out and into a more social environment.

As the list grows and grows, it can become increasingly difficult to keep track of them all. As a result, the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation has compiled a Detroit Co-Working Space Finder that's available on their website. The directory lists 13 different co-working spaces throughout the city. They are:
The DEGC will have to update their directory rather quickly as another co-working space is already in the works. A new Detroit-based LLC called Quality Pheasant has announced plans to transform the former Saint Vincent Middle School into Saint Vincent Corktown, a boutique office space.

The 40,000 square foot building rests in the shadow of Michigan Central Station. Located at 2020 14th Street, Saint Vincent will be split into common work areas and private office suites with micro-lounges throughout. A skylit, stained-glass chapel tops the building, an architectural highlight.

As reported last week, Junction 440 is the latest co-working space to open in Detroit. It is one of seven co-working spaces to participate in the inaugural Co-Lab Detroit. The event was designed to create a community of co-working spaces rather than a competition. Open houses, tours, and free co-working days are available at each venue throughout the week. Co-Lab Detroit is happening now.

Source: DEGC, Saint Vincent press releases
Writer: MJ Galbraith

Detroit's co-working scene keeps growing and growing

Junction 440, Detroit's newest co-working space, has opened. Located in TechTown, Junction 440 will take part in the week-long Co-Lab Detroit event beginning Jan. 20 at downtown's Bamboo Detroit. Junction 440 will host an open house on Jan. 21 with food, drink, and a staff ready to answer questions about services offered and the Tech One facility itself.

Junction 440 is a membership-based co-working space, offering relative rates for day passes, 10-pass punch cards, monthly memberships, and dedicated desks and locking file cabinets. Conference space, day lockers, bike storage, and a printing station highlight some of the amenities offered. A galley kitchen is available for local food entrepreneurs.

The co-working space is on the first floor of the Tech One building, a former General Motors design facility. Leslie Smith, President and CEO of TechTown, wanted to re-design the first floor in a way that returned the space to its urban roots, she says, and restore a sense of creativity to the building where the Corvette was designed. Walls and offices were torn down to favor an open floor plan with exposed columns.

"My problem was that while there was always creativity before, you couldn't see it," says Leslie. "Our goal was to extrovert the work and make the creativity more exposed."

The space has opened in time to participate in Co-Lab Detroit. The event highlights Detroit's growing co-working scene with many of the city's different facilities offering open houses and events Jan. 20 through Jan. 24. Located in various parts of the city, the spaces participating include Bamboo Detroit, An Office in Detroit, Bizdom, Practice Space, Grand Circus, and Junction 440. OmniCorpDetroit will host the after party. On the last day of the event, Jan. 24, each space will offer a free day of co-working to the public.

Source: Leslie Smith, President and CEO of TechTown
Writer: MJ Galbraith

Pure Detroit featured in AmEx national campaign, launches Detroit Small Business Passport

If you haven't already, you might soon see a familiar brand featured in a national American Express Small Business Saturday/Shop Small campaign. Our very own Pure Detroit is one of five small businesses from across the country featured in a series of Shop Small videos from American Express. The campaign launched Nov. 4 and will run through the rest of the month.
 
The two-minute video highlights the three Pure Detroit shops and their employees, loyal customers, and the variety of cultural programming they host.
 
In this video Pure Detroit, which celebrates 15 years in business this year, announces the launch of their Detroit Small Business Passport, which encourages customers to shop at all of the other independent retailers throughout the city by receiving "Shop Small" stamps when they make a purchase at each of the 18-plus participating locations, unlocking various discounts and freebies. Passports are now available for pickup at each of Pure Detroit's locations in the Renaissance Center, Guardian Building, and Fisher Building and will be active and valid through Jan. 31, 2014.
 
Particpating passport retailers include Pure Detroit, Vera Jane, Stella Good Coffee, HUMAN, RUNdetroit, Cass Corridog, Nest, City Bird, Detroit Hardware, Source Booksellers, Emily’s Fashion Place, Todd’s Facets & Jewelry, Detroit Athletic Co., Workshop, Hugh, Nora, Detroit Gallery of Contemporary Crafts, and the Rowland Cafe. Each business is offering at least 10 percent off your purchase (terms vary per store).
 
Source: Ryan Hooper, Creative Director for Pure Detroit
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg 

Got a Development News story to share? Email Nicole here.


Zipcar increased Detroit fleet to 40 cars, will open permanent office

After a successful pilot run downtown, Zipcar has expanded its car-sharing services to include New Center, Woodbridge, and more locations downtown in addition to significantly increasing the available fleet.
 
Zipcar launched in Detroit through a partnership with Wayne State in 2011. Then, just this August, they worked with Rock Ventures to make two additional cars available downtown for a pilot run downtown, bringing them up to 10 cars total.
 
With their latest expansion, just made official last week, Zipcar has added 30 more cars to the available fleet, bringing the total up to 40 in the city of Detroit. It also added multiple Zipcar locations in New Center, Midtown, Woodbridge, and several more downtown and in Greektown. See all of the available cars, rental rates, and locations here.
 
With this expansion in the Detroit market, Zipcar will also establish a permanent office in the city. Once a permanent location is secured, three full-time employees – a market manager, fleet manager, and member services manager – will work out of the office, and additional positions will likely become available for brand ambassadors and other roles as the company continues to grow in this market. Detroit is the 25th market globally where Zipcar will have a full-time office presence (this includes all of its offices in the U.S., Canada, Spain, Austria, and the U.K. combined).
 
Zipcar's Detroit presence is sponsored by Ford Motor Company. The majority of the cars in the Detroit fleet are from Ford, thanks to a relationship formed in 2011 when Ford became Zipcar's largest university partner.
 
The new cars and locations are already online and available to rent.
 
Source: Jennifer Matthews, Public Relations Specialist with Zipcar
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

Got a Development News story to share? Email Nicole here.

U-Haul Moving and Storage of New Center now open, celebrating with VIP ribbon-cutting & public tours

After over a year of renovation work, U-Haul Moving and Storage of New Center, in the 250,000 square foot building at 899 West Baltimore Street built by Nabisco Biscuit Company in 1920, is now open for business.
 
The extensive renovation work is far from complete. The building, which includes six floors plus a basement, is only being partially occupied by U-Haul.

"We just built out two floors of storage," says Stuart Shoen, executive vice president of U-Haul International. "We still have a lot to build out. We're not sure what the demand will be for storage at this New Center site. We see all kinds of residential and economic activity (in the area); we have no idea if (this) will explode or trickle."
 
The building is a full-service U-Haul site, offering everything from rental trucks and trailers to hitch installation, U-Box moving pods, self-storage, and a host of moving and organization supplies and services. All operations are up and running. There are 430 climate-controlled self-storage units for rent, ranging in size from 5x5 to 10x20 with 24/7 access.
 
Regarding the future of the building, Shoen says that right now they are in "wait and see" mode.

"The space is so big there might one day be a demand for that whole thing to be storage, but right now we want to use the building however the community wants it. We don't know if that will mean mixed use or community space, we even talked about doing movie screenings. But we haven't had people in the building (until now). Now those conversations can finally start."
 
Other options in discussions include a loft development and incubator space to serve as a TechTown center or temporary office space. U-Haul representatives have been in discussions with Sue Mosey regarding use of the extra space. "We want to utilize the building," Shoen says. "It doesn't do us any good to just have two and half floors open. We don't want to just sit on it." He says that they company wants to be an active part of the community and also wants to be good neighbors.
 
U-Haul is celebrating the grand opening of this New Center building with a special VIP red carpet ribbon-cutting ceremony this Thursday. Community tours will be offered to the public 6-8 p.m. after the ribbon-cutting. 
 
Source: Stuart Shoen, executive vice president of U-Haul International
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

Got a Development News story to share? Email Nicole here.

TechTown's Retail Boot Camp running a second session with expanded incentives

After a successful first run in May, TechTown has decided to offer a second Retail Boot Camp this year, its intensive 10-week entrepreneurial training program designed with the intent of launching sustainable businesses.
 
"There's been such an outcry for additional classes," says Leslie Smith, TechTown President and CEO. "Our partners all have this pipeline of potential companies. We have also sweetened the pot so applications are a bit more competitive to encourage the best of the best."

TechTown will set incentivized milestones throughout the program and the last session will be a showcase where each participant will pitch their business to a panel of judges. First place will win $5,000 cash and a free pop-up space sponsored by REVOLVE Detroit over the holidays. "(The winner) will have this beautiful opportunity to pop up immediately and test the market." There are also cash prizes for second and third place.
 
Applications close on Sept. 11. They have space for 15 entrepreneurs but might expand this to 18-20, depending on the response and quality of applicants.
 
TechTown has also developed an aftercare program. "A lot of programs after the conclusion of the class leave the entrepreneurs out in the wilderness on their own," Smith says. "We bring them together and help them create a formal network. We have found this has been one of the differentiators of this program; our aftercare is more focused on launch."
 
Previous Retail Boot Camp graduates are "in actual stages of launch towards being an entrepreneur, which is the goal – not just having a theoretical conversation." Smith estimates 70 percent of the spring session participants will launch by the end of this year.
 
This session will occur Monday nights 6-9 p.m. from Sept. 23 to Nov. 11. Program fee upon acceptance is $499.

Source: Leslie Smith, TechTown President and CEO
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

Got a Development News story to share? Email Nicole here.

Stella Cafe remodeled and rebranded as Stella Good Coffee in the Fisher Building

Stella International Café inside the Fisher Building in New Center has gone through a major renovation and rebranding.
 
Now called "Stella Good Coffee," the café – owned by Shawn Santo and Kevin Borsay, owners of Pure Detroit, Rowland Café, a second Stella location inside the Guardian Building, and Vera Jane (a women's clothing store) – will focus on all things Detroit, starting with the design.
 
After closing last fall, the space was stripped down to bare walls and floor, grinding away layers of concrete to reveal the original Albert Kahn-produced floor from 1928 (which has a slightly different design than the floor of the main lobby, also original). Santo and Borsay oversaw all of the renovation work themselves, working closely with James Willer of Reclaim Detroit on material sourcing and design. They also worked with local companies and artists on the fixtures, including lamp shades from the Detroit Wallpaper Company (which will feature the designs of local artists and will be rotated regularly) and a white neon sign that reads "Drink Good Coffee" from Spectrum Neon Sign Company.
 
The redesign also allows for more seating inside the café, which will have free WiFi, and additional seating will be available in the Fisher lobby.
 
In addition to a new look, a new name, and a new logo (a complicated geometric figure with a long technical name that includes the word "stella," also known as the "Moravian star"), Stella Good Coffee will have a whole new approach to their products. Instead of the quick grab-and-go coffee shop they were previously known as, they will offer only pour-over coffees, which take longer but, as Borsay says, "is worth it." They will also have loose-leaf teas, soups from Russell Street Deli, and baked goods from Avalon Breads and Traffic Jam & Snug.
 
Stella Good Coffee is celebrating a "soft" opening this week, with a grand opening coming later this spring.
 
Source: Kevin Borsay and Shawn Santo, owners of Stella Good Coffee
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

Got a Development News story to share? Email Nicole here.


Anew Life Prosthetics & Orthotics brings new life to amputee patients in Albert Kahn building

Anew Life Prosthetics & Orthotics is putting the finishing touches on the renovation of the Albert Kahn-designed Detroit Savings Bank Branch #3 at Woodward and Milwaukee. The company launched in 2011 as a mobile operation with partners Chris Casteel and Paul Cauley working out of their cars with their equipment and supplies stored in far-flung locations throughout metro Detroit. They knew they wanted to locate their offices (with lab and equipment) in the city, and after a previous deal fell through they found the building at 6438 Woodward in December 2011. Within two weeks they owned it.
 
Anew Life provides artificial limbs and braces to those who need them. While this does include a small percentage of trauma cases, the majority of their clients suffer from vascular disease and diabetes. They see their clients through the whole process, starting with visiting them in the hospital post-surgery, casting them, making molds and testing the prosthesis, then making the final prosthesis that will last for three to five years. "I love seeing people return to life and thrive," says Casteel, who also runs a support group for amputees.
 
The renovated Detroit Savings Bank building will be home to Anew's offices, a lab where the devices will be built, and a physical therapy gym for recovering patients. They are also completing renovations that will make the building ADA accessible and are awaiting certifications that will enable them to bill Medicare and Medicaid for their patients. 
 
Built as a bank branch, the building has previously been used as a church and a nightclub, among other things. Renovation work included gutting much of the interior, though Casteel says they are "trying to save as much Albert Kahn as we can." Casteel and Cauley were working out of the building during the renovation, and are now at a point where they are able to start accepting patients.
 
Anew's offices, storage, and lab don't quite fill up the whole space, so they have made their basement available to Burners Without Borders, where Danielle "Doxie" Kaltz is able to store all her supplies to assemble backpacks of hygiene and emergency items for the homeless. "We want to help support everything local," Casteel says.
 
Source: Chris Casteel, co-owner of Anew Life Prosthetics & Orthotics
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

Got a Development News story to share? Email Nicole here.
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