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Belle Isle Disc Golf Course opens daily operations after three years of work

Belle Isle has seen a lot of changes over the last three years. Attempts at transferring the iconic island park from city to state control were proposed, rebuffed, and, after the appointment of emergency manager Kevyn Orr, eventually approved. And over the last three years, a small group that calls itself Detroit Disc Golf has been working with city and state officials to bring their sport to the city of Detroit.

After many volunteer clean-ups, tournaments, and discussions with the state, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has given Detroit Disc Golf the go-ahead to open Belle Isle Disc Golf Course for daily operations. The first 18 hole disc golf course in Detroit opens at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 12.

The course will be open to the public July 12 through October 31 from noon to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. While a price of admission has yet to be set, Detroit Disc Golf says that it will cost disc golfers less than five dollars for a day's worth of play. A weekends-only shop will also open, selling disc golf equipment, apparel, and snacks and refreshments.

Belle Isle Disc Golf Course is located across from the Detroit Yacht Club on the site of the island's long-derelict standard golf course. Detroit Disc Golf has organized a number of clean-ups at the site, slowly transforming an overgrown and under-utilized section of the park into a new recreation destination.

Having achieved their goal of bringing everyday play to the Belle Isle Disc Golf Course, the group turns its attention to bringing national tournaments and Professional Disc Golf Association world championships to Detroit. The group also organizes its own tournaments.

Source: Detroit Disc Golf press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Mt. Elliott Park Fun Shop opens in time for summer

The grand re-opening of Mt. Elliott Park has brought more than a new water park and pavilion to Detroit's riverfront. Entrepreneurs Richard Roy and Charlene Dwyer and Chief Fun Officer Abby have opened the Mt. Elliott Park Fun Shop in the River Park Lofts building at Mt. Elliott and Wight streets.

Having opened in the first weeks of June, the Fun Shop is already quite a presence on the block that faces the park. Roy has some of his homemade corn hole boards in front of the shop, ready for passersby. They rest on a sidewalk covered in colorful chalk drawings. He says that he likes to take one of those big-hoop bubble makers and teach the nearby kids how to use it.

Roy and Dwyer come from the art and advertising worlds. Though still involved in those industries, they decided a storefront across from the new Mt. Elliott Park would be an ideal location for a shop that specializes in, well, fun. Much of the shop is geared toward kids of all ages -- which the new Mt. Elliott Park has no problem attracting -- with bubble makers, kites, and frisbees for sale. There are a few refreshments, too.

"It's a lot of fun. It's fun when we sell bubbles or those snap poppers and you hear them used outside. Or we'll sell a couple of kites and you watch them out there flying the kites, laughing and running around," says Roy. "It's great."

Another important component of the shop is local art. It's made by friends of Roy and Dwyer who create everything from iconic concert posters to porcelain wares, Detroit-themed t-shirts to jewelry. The pair saw the shop as an opportunity to provide artists a place to sell their work, something that's not always so easy or affordable.

The store is currently involved in a micro loan campaign.

Source: Richard Roy and Charlene Dwyer, co-owners of Mt. Elliott Park Fun Shop
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Major RiverWalk developments to debut this summer

The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy is preparing to unfurl a number of Detroit RiverWalk extensions and attractions this summer. The group is working toward extending the RiverWalk from “bridge to bridge,” or from the McArthur Bridge, which connects Belle Isle to mainland Detroit, to the Ambassador. Much is planned for several new stretches of promenade.

On June 6, the conservancy will be hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the re-opening of Mt. Elliott Park. The longstanding park, located on the riverfront at the foot of Mt. Elliott Street, has received a number of improvements to its landscaping. It has also received new amenities including a pavilion similar to the ones found at Rivard Plaza and Gabriel Richard Park. Though not ready for the ceremony, a cafe is planned for the pavilion.

The site will also feature an interactive water feature with water jets and cannons organized around a Great Lakes schooner shipwreck sculpture.

Another big development for the RiverWalk is taking place on the west side. Though no opening date has been announced, the conservancy is nearly finished with a 20 acre addition to the RiverWalk that stretches from the Riverfront Towers Apartments to Rosa Parks Boulevard. The park will open once the newly-planted grass matures, according to Marc Pasco, director of communications for the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy.

The westward extension will feature a 30 foot wide riverwalk, wider than the rest of the pathways along the riverfront. "Fishermen have always loved that location," says Pasco. "This will give them some extra room."

The development of the two smaller parcels of riverfront real estate immediately east and west of Chene Park, as well as the property for the once-planned and now-defunct Watermark development, is also planned for the summer. All will receive the promenade and railing treatment that characterizes the rest of the RiverWalk.

Source: Marc Pasco, director of communications for the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy
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.

Detroit Yacht Club offers tours of its historic clubhouse

As Belle Isle transitions from city park to state park, people afraid of changing traditions can rest easy on one front as the Detroit Yacht Club keeps humming along. In fact, the Detroit Yacht Club Foundation has recently announced its 2014 schedule for guided tours of the historic clubhouse.

The first tour of the year is coming up, occurring April 1 at 6:30 p.m. Tours scheduled for the rest of the year will take place on May 6, June 3, July 1, Sept. 3, and Oct. 7. The tours are free and open to the public. History and architecture groups may schedule private tours as well.

The focus of the tour is the clubhouse, one of the largest yacht clubhouses in the country at 93,000 square feet. Built in 1922, the clubhouse was designed by George D. Mason, one of the city's most notable architects. Mason is responsible for many of Detroit's famous buildings, including the Masonic Temple and Gem Theater. He's also responsible for the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.

The building falls into the Mediterranean Revival category and features a one-of-a-kind Pewabic Pottery fountain. Other highlights of the tour include the clubhouse's famous fireplace, ballroom, and grand stairways. The clubhouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The yacht club itself predates the building, having been founded in 1868. A Belle Isle institution, the Detroit Yacht Club is a private club that offers a harbor with 380 slips spread across seven docks. Food and dining is a focus for the club and it hosts weddings and events too.

The Detroit Yacht Club Foundation asks that those interested in taking a tour of the historic facilities contact the group no later than two days before the tour date.

Source: Detroit Yacht Club Foundation press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Photographer-turned-mechanic opens up shop in Rivertown

There's a new automotive repair shop on Detroit's east riverfront. Chris Lee opened the Straits Garage, located at 217 Joseph Campau St. The garage, in a historic warehouse built in 1880, offers a range of services, from simple oil changes to drivetrain and transmission work.

Though Lee didn't originally plan on locating his garage in Rivertown, he's glad he did. The shop has been busy since opening in late January, revealing an obvious need for the surrounding area. The building's proximity to downtown and a provided shuttle allows commuters to drop off their cars before work and pick them up on the way home.

A photography instructor at Oakland University, Lee has been working on cars since he was a teenager. The idea for a garage hit him about a year or two ago, he says. The Detroit native started to notice that the new residents of downtown and Midtown didn't know where to take their cars in for repairs. Realizing that there just weren't that many options in those immediate neighborhoods, Lee became certified as a mechanic and began the search for his own garage. He was stymied, however, by the landlords in downtown and Midtown.

"I spent the last year trying to find a good space in those neighborhoods," says Lee. "A lot of landlords in Midtown don't want an un-hip mechanic shop. They're looking for bars, cafes."

Lee stumbled on a building in Rivertown that had been a repair shop for decades previous, making for an easy move-in. He was excited, too, by the building's history and character--not to mention it being just blocks from the riverfront. The building offers Lee the ability to expand operations, should he need it.

Source: Chris Lee, owner of the Straits Garage
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Architecture firm Hamilton Anderson celebrates 20 years with new developments, hires

Detroit-based architecture firm Hamilton Anderson is ramping up for a busy year with seven new hires and a search for several more. The firm, which is celebrating its 20th year, has an immediate need for two architects, a designer, and one or two project managers. The firm is involved in a number of projects that will alter the landscape of downtown, the riverfront, and Midtown. A recent conversation with principal, president, co-founder, and CEO Rainy Hamilton reveals updates on some of their more high profile projects.

The firm is working on Orleans Landing, the five block development along the east riverfront. Hamilton Anderson is applying more industrial design influences to the previously released illustrations. Townhomes are planned for the blocks facing the Dequindre Cut. The rest of the development will consist of mid-rise lofts featuring mixed-use and residential units.

Hamilton and co-founder Kent Anderson spent the early part of their careers in an office in Rivertown, making their involvement in the Orleans Landing development extra special to them. "For us to be involved in the first new development in the east riverfront, it's really quite an honor and a thrill," says Hamilton.

Hamilton Anderson has been selected by New York-based SHoP Architects as the local architects to collaborate with on the Hudson's site building. Hamilton says a concept has been presented to Bedrock Real Estate Services and was well-received.

The firm is the design architect and architect of record for the adaptive re-use of the old Strathmore Hotel in Midtown. Hamilton says that an original light well is going to be preserved and that developers are hoping that a new parking structure will be built nearby.

It's looking like Radio One, a national broadcasting company, will move into the Queen Lillian Woodward Office Building at Stimson and Woodward Ave. once completed, says Hamilton.

Source: Rainy Hamilton, president, co-founder, and CEO of Hamilton Anderson
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

East riverfront development reserves 20 percent of units for affordable housing

Development company McCormack Baron Salazar is planning on reserving 20 percent of its east riverfront development for affordable work-force housing. The units will be available for those whose income does not exceed 80 percent of the area median income.

The company plans to close on the east riverfront property this summer. It's expected to take 18 months of construction to complete the project. McCormack Baron Salazar chairman and CEO Richard Baron, a Detroit native, has ties to the east riverfront, where he worked at his grandfather's wool company as a young man.

The St. Louis-based developement firm is also involved in a high-profile project in Detroit's Midtown. The company plans to close on the neighborhood's old Strathmore Hotel in the first quarter of 2014. Baron expects that the 129-unit apartment building will also take 18 months before it's ready for residents.

While the Strathmore development is required to provide affordable housing as a result of tax credits used to fund the deal, Baron says that he wanted the riverfront development to provide work-force housing too, even if it didn't demand the same housing requirements. The majority of units in each development will be market-rate rentals.

"It's always been part of what we wanted to do. To have people working for the city and public agencies, to have teachers (be able to) live in the community," says Baron. "It's important for people who are working at public agencies and nonprofits to have opportunities."

The riverfront development will be bordered by Atwater Street to the south, Woodbridge Street to the north, Riopelle Street to the west, and the Dequindre Cut to the east. 291 apartment units are planned for the development.

The Globe Building, which neighbors the future development, is currently being transformed into the Outdoor Adventure & Discovery Center by Michigan's Department of Natural Resources.

Source: Richard Baron, CEO and chairman of McCormack Baron Salazar
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

I-375 Alternatives Study hosts first public meeting

Business owners, residents, and commuters affected by a potential transformation of I-375 were joined by the otherwise curious Thursday evening, Feb. 13, as the Downtown Development Authority hosted the first of three public meetings. A crowd gathered at Stroh River Place in an open house setting as the DDA and their partners in the study, the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, guided visitors through a series of informative stations.

Each station provided data regarding project study areas, ranging from cost estimations to current vehicular usage. One station had a map of the area and visitors were asked to place stickers at the points where they felt unsafe as pedestrians. Another map asked visitors to place stickers at places they thought to be aesthetically unpleasing. Visitors were asked, too, of their overall opinion of I-375 and whether think it should remain an expressway or be transformed for a different use.

The I-375 Alternatives Study is a result of the impending reconstruction of I-375. Current estimates place reconstruction costs at $80 million. MDOT has enlisted the help of area stakeholders to determine whether the land in question could be utilized in a more effective way, such as demolishing the below-grade expressway and transforming it into a street-level boulevard.

Taking into account the information gathered from Thursday's public forum, the group behind the study will craft a number of alternative developments for the project areas. Five alternatives will be crafted for the primary study area, the nearly one-mile stretch of I-375. Two alternatives will be crafted for each of the secondary study areas, the I-75/I-375/Gratiot interchange and the I-375/Jefferson interchange. These alternatives will be presented to the public at a later date this spring.

I-375 was built in 1964.

Source: I-375 Alternatives Study public meeting, Feb. 13, 2014
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Belle Isle disc golf course hangs in the balance

Count the team behind Detroit Disc Golf as one of the many curious to see what happens with Belle Isle once the near 1,000-acre island officially transitions from city park to state park Feb. 10. Since 2011, the group has been working to bring an everyday disc golf course to the island. Currently limited to an events-only course, Detroit Disc Golf is hoping to have a daily insurance policy in place by spring, allowing for everyday play on the island. Much remains in the air, however, as the state has yet to decide the group's fate.

Chris Haag, co-founder of Detroit Disc Golf, says that with six disc golf courses already established on Michigan's state parks, it's not a stretch to believe that the state will want to continue disc golf operations on the island. Though nervous at first when hearing of the state's lease agreement, Haag and his partners are now optimistic that day-to-day operations will begin come spring.

Nothing has yet to be agreed upon but a few conversations with the state leads Haag to believe that the course will open. No one is sure, however, if DDG will continue to manage the site or if the state will take over. Just who runs it isn't a concern for Haag, saying that he just wants to see the project through and open to the public. The state takeover is just another challenge they've had to address.

"We've been working on this since 2011 so we've seen many ups and downs, lefts and rights, north, south, east, and west," says Haag.

While Haag waits on word from the Department of Natural Resources and the state, the group recently hosted the first Detroit Ice Bowl on Belle Isle. Held Jan. 26, the group accepted non-perishable food item donations and money was raised from tournament registration fees to benefit the Capuchin Soup Kitchen.

Source: Chris Haag, co-founder of Detroit Disc Golf
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

The new Jefferson East Inc. focuses on development from downtown to Grosse Pointe Park

While the transition has been ongoing for about a year now, a recent luncheon for Jefferson East, Inc. (JEI) was the official debut of the recently-formed economic development organization that combines the efforts of the Jefferson East Business Association and the East Jefferson Corridor Collaborative. The biggest thing to note here is that JEI will reach from downtown all the way to Grosse Pointe Park, encompassing the whole of the East Jefferson Corridor.
 
The luncheon, held Nov. 7 at the Rattlesnake Club, introduced Richard Baron, chairman and CEO of St. Louis-based developer McCormack Baron Salazar, as the keynote speaker. Baron's company has developed 146 projects in 35 cities with development costs in excess of $2.4 billion.
 
McCormack Baron Salazar is behind a $60 million plan to build five blocks' worth of apartments, townhouses and small-scale retail on mostly vacant land east of the Renaissance Center, to be developed in two phases with potential for expansion beyond the initial proposal. While funding is still being finalized (as with most major developments that happen in the city, the funding is coming piecemeal from a variety of sources), Baron said that he hoped to start land remediation next month and break ground on the project by June 2014. 
 
The East Jefferson Corridor has been getting a lot of buzz lately with the Globe Building renovation, support from TechTown's SWOT City program, the extensive Alden Towers renovation – in fact, Crain's just reported over the weekend that Alden Towers developer Triton Properties just bought four more apartment buildings along and near the East Jefferson Corridor – and local developer Shelborne Development's investments in the Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood, a community eager to engage outsiders and grow with pop-up businesses and community gatherings.
 
JEI's new campaign "Go East," officially launching later this month, will highlight all of the various developments and investments happening along Jefferson and market the neighborhoods, businesses, and recreation options that exist in the East Jefferson Corridor.
 
Read more about Jefferson East, Inc. Economic Development Director Ritchie Harrison on UIX.
 
Source: JEI; Richard Baron of McCormack Baron Salazar
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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

Storey Commons pops up in Jefferson Chalmers as a result of cross community collaboration

The Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood saw some success with activating vacant storefronts earlier this year during their June on Jefferson pop-ups. Local developers Shelborne Development renovated several vacant buildings, then the Jefferson East Business Association (JEBA) in partnership with the American Institute of Architects Urban Priorities Committee activated them with several lifestyle pop-up concepts to attract people from outside the neighborhood to the area and also to serve the people in the neighborhood.
 
Now JEBA is introducing the Storey Commons, a new pop-up storefront in one of the previous pop-up locations that will serve as a community library of books.

"In my time here at JEBA, in speaking with folks from the community, I found people are really looking for the types of amenities that make their community more liveable," says Ritchie Harrison, Economic Development and Policy Director at JEBA. They want places like sit-down cafés and bookstores where they can connect with other members of the community.
 
Storey Commons is a place where people can bring a book or borrow a book. Made to look like a bookstore, the space was designed by architect Mike Styczynski and his team at Midwest Design, who had worked on the original pop-up spaces over the summer. Books were donated by a cohort of community residents in Jefferson-Chalmers and Grosse Pointe Park during the inaugural meeting of AlterGather, a new community organization gathering residents of the East Riverfront neighborhoods to have conversations about how the community divide can be bridged. The first-ever meeting was held at Coffee and (______), a coffeeshop and bakery located next to Storey Commons. Peter Ruffner, owner Detroit-based publishing company OmniGraphics, also provided substantial book donations.

"We got more books than I expected," Harrison says. "So many folks came out to give books that love the idea, the concept and what it could mean for community development."
 
On the other side of Storey Commons is another new pop-up, the Jeff Chalmers Pop-Up Gallery, curated by local artist Halima Cassells featuring artwork from area residents. Harrison says that the whole project is made possible by the generosity of Shelborne Development, which owns the properties and has allow JEBA to use the spaces for the pop-ups.  
 
These pop-up projects are a cross-community collaboration made successful only by the number of separate groups involved with and supporting them, from the developer to area economic development organizations to nearby residents.

"It's all about helping to rebuild the community," Harrison says. "My hope is that this encourages the possibilities in the neighborhood for the vacant commercial storefronts we have and encourages revitalization and the opportunity for someone to see this and want to bring this type of business to the community (permanently)."
 
There is no official end date for the Storey Commons pop-up, but the space is available for a permanent tenant.
 
Source: Ritchie Harrison, Economic Development and Policy Director at Jefferson East Business Association
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

Late October Development News round-up

Dan Gilbert's Bedrock Real Estate Services has purchased another two downtown buildings, adding 84,000 square feet to the company's already swollen downtown commercial real estate portfolio. The new acquisitions are the eight-story 1505 Woodward, built in 1931 and designed by Albert Kahn, and the six-floor 1265 Griswold, built in 1897. According to a press release from Bedrock, this latest purchase brings Bedrock's portfolio up to nearly 8 million square feet of commercial and parking space over more than 40 properties in downtown Detroit. Rumors abound that Gilbert is also looking at the historic National Theatre on Monroe for a new residential development that will partially demolish the theatre. 

The Shanghai-based DDI group is the new owner of the 38-story David Stott Building at 1150 Griswold (purchased for $9.4 million and besting Dan Gilbert, the other bidder on the property) and the Albert Kahn-designed Free Press building at 321 W. Lafayette (purchased for $4.2 million). The group plans a $40-50 million redevelopment of the Free Press building and may add residential units to the Stott in the future

A press release from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation says that a $1 million Community Revitalization Program performance-based grant has been awarded to Harbortown Riverside, LLC and Harbortown Riverside Financing, Inc. to construct a 164,620-square-foot, five-story riverfront residential apartment building within the existing Harbortown complex on approximately 4.6 acres of land on the Detroit River. The residential apartment building will include 134 rental units, with a mix of one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments. All units will offer views of the river. The project is expected to cost nearly $20 million.

A press release from Midtown Inc. announced that a fund of $30 million designed to spur development along the Woodward Corridor is now accepting applications and will award loans in the amount of $500,000 to $5 million. This fund is backed by NCB Capital Impact and Kresge Foundation, among others. It will allow residential developers to take advantage of long-term, fixed-rate loans for mixed-income projects that feature a commercial component.

The NSO Bell Building celebrates completion of its $52 million renovation with a ribbon-cutting ceremony this Wednesday. 

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

Link Detroit celebrates groundbreaking of five-phase cycling and greenway infrastructure project

The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, in partnership with the US Department of Transportation, State of Michigan, City of Detroit Department of Public Works, DEGC, Eastern Market Corporation, Midtown, Inc., and the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, will celebrate the groundbreaking of the five-phase Link Detroit greenway infrastructure project next Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 6 p.m. in Eastern Market's Lot 1 (adjacent to Shed 2).
 
"This goes back a few years," says Tom Woiwode, director of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan's GreenWays Initiative. He says that when the Dequindre Cut opened in 2009, it was always intended to run further north than where it currently ends at Gratiot. When the first portion of the Midtown Loop opened in 2010, it was intended to go further south and connect to Eastern Market. Link Detroit is the fulfillment of those intentions.
 
The full $25 million scope of this project is fully-funded, thanks in large part to a $10 million TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant in addition to support from the Community Foundation and other partners (see above).
 
There are five phases to this project, and most are able to operate on independent construction schedules simultaneously. Though the "ground-breaking" celebration is next Tuesday, the event is mostly ceremonial. Woiwode says they hope to already have bulldozers at work by then.
 
The five phases include extending the Dequindre Cut north from Gratiot to Mack, rebuilding five bridges over the Dequindre Cut's extension (with funding from the Critical Bridge Fund), extending the trail system and providing some infrastructure improvements and amenities in Eastern Market along Wilkins and Russell St., connecting Wilkins to the Midtown Loop which will be extended south along John R, and the construction of bike lanes and greenways along Dequindre Rd. north of Mack connecting the Dequindre Cut to Hamtramck. Ultimately Link Detroit will connect Midtown and Wayne State to Eastern Market to the Dequindre Cut to both Hamtramck and the Detroit River.
 
They hope to have construction of all five phases completed by this time next year.
 
Source: Tom Woiwode, director of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan's GreenWays Initiative
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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

Development news round-up

The $300 renovation of COBO Center continues to spur on major investment nearby in hospitality and tourism development. A historic firehouse located across from COBO, built in 1929, has been sold for $1.25 million to local developer Walter Cohen, owner of 21 Century Holdings LLC, who plans to turn the property into a 75-80-room boutique hotel. The total estimated cost of this project is $23 million. 

Meanwhile, established hotels are upping their game to meet increased demand as well as increased competition in the marketplace. The Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center plans a $30 million renovation to begin early 2014 that will impact all of the hotel's 1,329 guest rooms and 100,000 square feet of meeting space. 

Developers behind the Tushiyah United Hebrew School, located at 600 and 609 E. Kirby St. in Midtown, have received a $1 million state loan to renovate the historic building into 25 market-rate lofts with gated parking. The project, operating under the name 609 E. Kirby Lofts LLC., has also received a 12-year Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act abatement from the city valued at about $300,000. The completed project will cost about $6.6 million. 

VernDale Products Inc. also received a grant from the Michigan Business Development Program, this one worth $436,000, to open a second facility for their dried milk powder manufacturing. The company will renovate a long-vacant building at 18940 Weaver St. on Detroit's west side. VernDale is also receiving a 12-year plant rehabilitation tax abatement from the city worth about $3.3 million. This expansion will cost about $16 million and create 13 new jobs. 

The former Crain's Detroit Business buildings at 1400 and 1432 Woodbridge St. and 1370 Franklin St. near Chene Park have been sold to ME Enterprise LLC, a Birmingham-based partnership between T.J. Elia and Clint Mansour, who plan on spending about $3 million to renovate and re-lease the office buildings. 

In un-development news, though certainly significant given the city's overwhelming number of vacant, blighted buildings, the city of Detroit has received $52.2 million out of $100 million in newly allocated federal funds to tear down blighted structures.

Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

Have a Development News story to share? Send Nicole an email here.
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