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First round of Hatch voting ends Thursday as 10 startups vie for $50K prize

The popular Hatch Detroit contest has entered its fourth year and the ten start-ups announced as semi-finalists are doing all that they can to garner votes. The eventual winner of the small business competition will receive a $50,000 grant and a suite of business support services.

Voting for the semi-finalist round is open to the public and ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on August 14. Voters may select four businesses during the first round and may vote once a day. Voting for the second round will begin August 15, when the field of competitors is narrowed to four businesses. The eventual winner of the $50,000 prize will be announced August 20.

While there is only one winner, just making it into the top ten is a great source of exposure and motivation for businesses.

"Hatch has given us a faster pace to run to," says Jen David, co-founder of Third Wave Music. "I've been meeting new people and talking to many musicians and students excited for a new spot to get what they need and have support. It's been really encouraging to hear positive feedback. It's really motivating."

The semi-finalists are:Source: Jen David, co-founder of Third Wave Music
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.

Historic Corktown hotel to re-open by summer 2015

Since purchasing the Roosevelt Hotel in 2010, Detroit real estate developer Dennis Kefallinos has offered little information on his plans for the historic and long-neglected Corktown hotel. It's now confirmed that the Roosevelt Hotel will once again operate as a hotel, opening somewhere within a year's time.

While details of amenities remain vague, Kefallinos's senior project manager Eric Novack says that construction crews are currently working on the building infrastructure. The hotel will have 76 rooms and feature commercial space on the ground floor.

Kefallinos owns and manages a number of buildings and businesses throughout the city, including the Lafayette Lofts and the Russell Industrial Center. Though the Roosevelt could have been redeveloped as an apartment building, Kefallinos has long-wanted to open a hotel and the Roosevelt's floor plans remain well-suited for that. Larger rooms lend themselves to extended stay customers, a situation the company sees happening often.

"This has been quite a while in the making," says Novack. "We haven't been resting on our laurels. We've been doing the work in the background like with the historic preservation people to get approval for new windows for the building."

Not wanting to suggest an opening date for fear of it being pushed back, Novack says that people will once again book rooms at the Roosevelt sometime in the next six to twelve months. It's infrastructure work in the meantime.

The hotel opened in the early 1920s across from a bustling Michigan Central Station and its fate followed that of the now-vacant and blighted train depot. The Roosevelt sat empty and unsecured on 14th Street for years before Kefallinos purchased it from Wayne County at auction.

This announcement follows recent news of improvements to neighboring Michigan Central Station, though the intentions of that building's owner, billionaire Manuel Moroun, remain mysterious. His camp has yet to offer any details of redevelopment plans for Detroit's most iconic vacant building.

Source: Eric Novack, senior project manager at Boydell Development Company
Image: Corktown History

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

A second baseball diamond being built at old Tiger Stadium site

Since 2010, a group of volunteers calling themselves the Navin Field Grounds Crew has dutifully maintained and restored the old Tiger Stadium site. They've removed rubble, demolition debris, and weeds as they've lovingly tended to the historic baseball field every week. Now they're building a second baseball diamond.

The hard work of several volunteers has provided communities near and far a well-maintained public greenspace for five years now. While baseball remains at the heart of the site, from pick-up games among families and friends to organized little league games, the field has also become a place for picnics and pop-up dog parks. The park is so popular, in fact, that different groups often show up to use the playing field at the same time.

In addition to its regular maintenance work, the Grounds Crew is now building a second baseball diamond, this one situated in the northwest corner of the historic site. Through volunteer work and a donation of 50 tons of dirt, a smaller baseball diamond with youth baseball dimensions will eventually be completed.

At nearly 10 acres, the park is certainly big enough to accommodate two baseball diamonds. And while adding a second diamond should alleviate some of the congestion that occurs at the field, Grounds Crew founder Tom Derry readily admits that it's also to demonstrate that the site can be used for youth baseball while also preserving the historic diamond.

A recent development proposal for the site would utilize the historic playing field for youth baseball. It's not clear whether that means altering the dimensions of the diamond to suit smaller players, like shortening the distance between bases and reducing the size of the infield.

"Whatever happens, we hope that the field is accessible to the public," says Derry. "Everything is up in the air. We don't know what will happen."

No development is currently confirmed for the site.

Source: Tom Derry, founder of Navin Field Grounds Crew
Photos: Navin Field Grounds Crew

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.

West Corktown: Creating Detroit's newest neighborhood

Whether you know it or not, there's a new neighborhood being dreamt up for an area west of downtown just beyond the I-75 and I-96 interchange. Its epicenter is the corner of 23rd Street and Michigan Avenue, where a nearly century-old bank building was recently purchased by Lynne and Mike Savino. It will become their new home as the couple works to adapt the old bank into a loft-style building.

They're calling the area West Corktown, "a neighborhood within a neighborhood," and they're thinking that as Corktown's storefronts continue to fill up and become unavailable, the stretch of Michigan Avenue between I-75 and W. Grand Boulevard is the next logical place for development.

As Lynne tells it, the West Corktown name started as a joke and, rest assured, there's still a good deal of humor involved in the branding. But when she and her husband decided to leave the Green Acres neighborhood, Lynne found herself constantly telling her friends that she was moving just west of Corktown. It just grew from there. It's a way for the Savinos to draw attention to -- and, they hope, find some buyers for -- the vacant buildings along that stretch of Michigan Avenue.

As the couple continues to work on their own corner, the Savinos see a lot of potential in the historic buildings that neighbor their own. They've already seen interest from potential buyers, too.

"There are nice buildings here. This red building next door is a great building. There's a lot of small buildings that individuals could purchase for a reasonable amount of money, fix them up," says Lynne. "Corktown is getting packed and expensive. This really is just the next natural direction, hopefully, for things to go."

Bundled in the estate sale through which they purchased the bank was Leroy's U.S. Star Bar -- its liquor license, too. Unlike the bank, which was almost completely stripped by scrappers, Leroy's was left in remarkably decent condition. The Savinos are currently weighing offers from people interested in bringing the bar back to life. Though dusty, there's a great old wooden back bar, a vintage Bevador beer cooler, and plenty of character left in Leroy's.

Source: Lynne Savino, resident of West Corktown
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

El Dorado General Store to open in Corktown

Another historic building along Corktown's stretch of Michigan Avenue has been leased. Erin Gavle is opening her El Dorado General Store, a curated vintage shop, at 1700 Michigan Ave.

El Dorado General Store will feature vintage men's and women's clothing, household items, trinkets, talismans, textiles, and jewelry, both vintage and handmade. As the store cycles through inventory, Gavle hopes to begin mixing in products from local artists and artisans.

For Gavle, the idea for the store started with a Cadillac Eldorado. A Michigan native, Gavle spent some time in the corporate advertising world of New York City before relocating to Los Angeles. It was in L.A. when she began to get serious about her line of handmade jewelry, some of which will be available at El Dorado. But it was during an October 2013 visit to Michigan that she became entranced by the Cadillac Eldorado and, eventually, the mythical El Dorado, the legendary lost city of gold.

Inspired, Gavle returned to L.A., bought a 1990 cargo van, and took the long way back to Michigan. She weaved through the American southwest, stopping at small vintage and resale shops along the way and buying what will eventually be stocked in her store.

She's hoping to host events, too, envisioning El Dorado as more than a place to shop.

"The whole idea of a general store is to provide a sense of community," says Gavle. "Back in the 1800s and early 1900s, when there were only a few stores in a town, a general store was the place where you got things, but also where you talked to your neighbors and found out what was happening in town."

Gavle plans to open El Dorado General Store within the month.

Source: Erin Gavle, owner of El Dorado General Store
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Michigan Central Station's owner pulls permits for $676K in construction work

The recent sound of construction work coming from inside Michigan Central Station has piqued the interest of many a passersby lately. Today, information coming from city hall helps clarify at least some of what is happening at what was once the tallest train station in the world.

Manuel "Matty" Moroun, owner of Michigan Central Station, has pulled permits for $676,000 (or 0.045% of his $1.5 billion fortune) in construction work at the historic train station. According to HistoricDetroit.org, a nonprofit devoted to Detroit's historic landmarks, "a 9,000-pound capacity freight elevator inside the old smokestack mechanical shaft and safety improvements such as railings on interior staircases" will be installed.

According to reports, JC Beal Construction, Inc. has been hired as general contractor and Quinn Evan Architects as the architectural firm. It is said that the 9,000-pound capacity elevator will be used to hasten the installation of windows throughout the building.

Michigan Central Station opened in 1913 as the city's main rail depot. 18 stories of offices sit atop a Beaux-Arts lobby. The station, closed in 1988, has been open to the elements for years and became blighted as scrappers stripped the building of many of its architectural treasures.

Several plans to redevelop the depot have come and gone since its closure. In 2004, then-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick announced plans to redevelop the train station as the city's police headquarters. Those plans were eventually abandoned. In 2009, the Detroit City Council voted to demolish Michigan Central Station. That plan fell apart due to a lack of funding as well as difficulties stemming from the station's National Register of Historic Places designation.

Source: Dan Austin of HistoricDetroit.org
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Vintage retail shop Detroit Sperm opens in Corktown

A new retail store selling vintage housewares has opened in a historic Corktown storefront. Featuring mostly glass housewares along with some clothing, Detroit Sperm is the storefront for Kat Baron's Orange Sperm collection of vintage goods.

Detroit Sperm was never intended to be a storefront retail business. Originally, the storefront display was an advertisement for Kat's online store. As the spring wore on, however, enough people contacted Kat asking her when the shop was going to open that she decided to go ahead and do it.

With limited store hours from noon to 6 p.m. every Saturday, each opening is a bit of an event. Kat brings drinks and cupcakes and hires musicians to play outside. Friends are always coming and going and she'll chat up just about everyone else. It's a fun place to be.

"Look at this, this is so cute," Kat says, pointing to a group of people sitting around the musician out front. "People coming and singing and wanting to be a part of it. I just like creating a really neat energy out here."

With a real disdain for cheap housewares made of plastic, Kat champions well-crafted and American-made items. She sells vintage clothes, too, with an emphasis on 1950s lingerie and slips -- her grandmother was assistant lingerie buyer at Hudson's department store.

As long as business holds up, Kat plans on sticking around until the fall. Located in the front of an unfinished building can get pretty cold once the weather turns, she says. The building itself is going through an extensive restoration effort. She ended up there after meeting its owner at the old Tiger Stadium site, where both were walking their dogs.

As for that name? Kat says its a celebration of life and positivity.

Detroit Sperm is located at 1444 Michigan Ave.

Source: Kat Baron, owner of Detroit Sperm
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

New bookstore to open in Corktown

A new bookstore will open in Detroit this July. DittoDitto, featuring new and used books, will be located at 1548 Trumbull St., a small storefront in the Corktown neighborhood.

Maia Asshaq originally co-founded DittoDitto as a small publishing and distribution house. With Andrea Farhat on board as graphic designer, the pair have been making books for a couple of years now. Asshaq also started the Detroit Art Book Fair, a small press book fair now in its second year. Detroit Art Book Fair is scheduled to be held at Trinosophes in September.

Asshaq has plenty of experience as a retailer. She previously ran the store at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, where she was tasked with ordering books. She started DittoDitto in December 2013, selling a small selection of books out of Trinosophes. The permanent location will feature books focusing on Asshaq's specialty, the arts, as well as literature and non-fiction.

The opportunity for her own storefront came out of a conversation with Wade Kergan, proprietor of Corktown's Hello Records. It was Kergan's recommendation that pushed Asshaq to pursue the location that shares the same building as Hello. It's an ideal spot, she thinks.

"I like that it's a low-key location," says Asshaq. "If you're shopping for books and records, you want a comfortable setting, somewhere to browse and hang out."

Hoping to open the first week of July, Asshaq is using June to prepare and stock the store. She'll also be hosting events every Thursday through Sunday, both introducing the shop to the neighborhood while also doing a bit of fundraising. Poetry readings, music performances, and film screenings are planned throughout the month of June. So, too, is a Bloomsday event, a marathon reading of the James Joyce novel Ulysses.

DittoDitto will be open Thursday through Sunday.

Source: Maia Asshaq, founder of DittoDitto
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

25 and still going strong, Greening of Detroit keeps humming along

In their 25th year, the Greening of Detroit is as busy as ever. The non-profit group is in the midst of another season of planting trees, urban gardening, and much, much more. A variety of programming dominates the Greening of Detroit's year, from planting roughly 5,000 trees throughout the city to conducting workforce training for citizens with challenges to employment.

Greening of Detroit is beginning the transition from tree-planting season to gardening season. The group typically plants 5,000 trees a year over the course of two periods, from March to June and from mid-September to just before Thanksgiving. The Greening recently finished a massive tree-planting project in Rouge Park, a 1,184-acre west side park where it has planted 1,703 trees since the fall of 2013.

As the weather warms, much of the group's focus shifts to its three farm gardens: Romanowski Farm Park, Lafayette Greens, and Detroit Market Garden. The Greening uses the gardens for educational programming, urban farming, and produce markets. On May 20, they'll be offering a class on how to grow wild edibles in your garden. On May 29, they'll be offering a class on backyard aquaponics. Each demonstration will be held at the Detroit Market Garden, located behind Shed 5 of Eastern Market.

In collaboration with the Lower Eastside Action Plan (LEAP), the Greening is devising ways to clear and re-green blighted lots. Trish Hubbell, marketing director for Greening of Detroit, says that the group engages the communities they work with as much as possible.

"We like to work with the communities and get their input because ultimately they're the ones who take over and run things," says Hubbell.

Adult workforce training, children's educational programming, and the popular Build-A-Garden program are also planned for the summer.

Since its formation in 1989, the Greening of Detroit has planted nearly 82,000 trees throughout the city.

Source: Trish Hubbell, marketing director for Greening of Detroit
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

City's first dog park opens in Corktown

On Thursday, May 1, another pop-up turned permanent in the city, though this pop-up, the Detroit Dog Park, has nothing to sell. The roughly 3/4 acre site is located on the former Macomb Playlot, an abandoned playground at 17th and Rose adjacent to Roosevelt Park. Michigan Central Station looms largely nearby.

Pop-up success stories have become commonplace in Detroit. They've proven efficient and effective in introducing businesses to the public without all of the initial costs that can eat up startup funding. They also serve as a means for community building, as was the case with Detroit Dog Park.

The nonprofit group first organized in the summer of 2011. By 2012, it became part of a larger group that was holding a pop-up dog park every third Saturday on Navin Field (the site of old Tiger Stadium). This month's meet-up will take place on the second Saturday instead, coinciding with the new park's official grand opening at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 10.

Detroit Dog Park came to occupy the property by way of the city's Adopt-a-Park program. Volunteers mowed the grass and cleared out brush and debris from the neglected park. PetSmart, the national pet supplies store, helped the group establish the site. The company sent a mobile dog park kit -- a shipping container with the basic components required for setting up a dog park, including the perimeter fence.

Succeeding in establishing the city's only permanent dog park, the group now shifts its focus to maintaining it. Instituting additional dog parks in other parts of the city is also a goal.

"The idea is that we'll build one, learn from it, and turn around and try to make it happen again," says Megha Satyanarayana, a board member of Detroit Dog Park.

Detroit Dog Park is free and open to the public.

Source: Megha Satyanarayana, board member of Detroit Dog Park
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

March development news round-up

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


Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Practice Space works to develop two new businesses

Detroit small business hub Practice Space has accepted two new projects into its Incubator program. One, a retro arcade bar, is searching for the perfect location while the second, a West Village property owner, is searching for the perfect tenant. Practice Space is helping each find what they're looking for.

Practice Space is assisting Donald Behm in opening Offworld Arcade, a retro-themed video game bar. In the four month-long Incubator program, the people at Practice Space are helping Behm articulate his concept and craft his business plan. They're also helping him find a building to purchase. A successful pop-up "barcade" was recently held in Hamtramck.

"One thing we've noticed is we want to work with people who want to collaborate," says Austin Kronig, cultural development director for Practice Space. "Donald realized he did everything he could on his own and now he needs support. He's an accidental entrepreneur. He doesn't have a business plan or a space but he knows the business and is an expert in classic arcade games."

In the second project, Detroit Institute of Bagels co-owner Alex Howbert approached Practice Space about identifying the right use for 1417 Van Dyke in West Village. The late-Victorian house is from the 1880s and features a storefront on the first floor of the building. It's near West Village hangouts like Craft Work, Detroit Vegan Soul, and the seasonal Tashmoo Biergarten pop-up. Practice Space is working with Howbert on architectural and concept designs, identifying the scope and breadth of the project. Kronig says that Howbert is open-minded about tenants as long as they don't need a full commercial kitchen.

This is the second term of Practice Space Incubator programming. Practice Space previously worked with Eleni Zaharopoulos and Jenile Brooks on their North End Store-House project.

Source: Austin Kronig, cultural development director of Practice Space
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

New Corktown gym opens with charity drive

A new gym is opening in Detroit's Corktown neighborhood. The personal fitness club Detroit Tough is celebrating its opening with a benefit for the homeless and under-clothed. Detroit Tough is opening with the help of an Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy grant.

Roger Dyjak is one of the people behind Detroit Tough. He's also responsible for Train like a Savage, a personal training method that uses the pressure of working out within a group to elevate individual performance. This style of personal fitness champions mental toughness as much as it does physical toughness.

Detroit Tough is not a gym in the traditional sense -- there won't be any treadmills or stationary bikes. Instead, it features physical tests like intense obstacle courses to improve fitness. The private club offers tiered training to better fit need and ability.

The gym is celebrating its opening with a charity drive on Saturday, Feb. 15 from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Organizers are asking for a $20 donation and clothing or canned food. All money raised will be given to New Life Rescue Mission and Empowerment Plan. Clothing will be donated to the Salvation Army.

Music is scheduled throughout the course of the event, including sets from Band B, Velveteen Rabbit, and Volcano and the New Radio Standard. Fellow Corktowners McShane's Pub will be there roasting a pig. University of Detroit Mercy dental students will be providing free dental screenings to the homeless.

Detroit Tough is the recipient of an OTSC grant. The money was secured by U.S. Sen. Carl Levin to redevelop the area of the old Tiger Stadium site. A total of $800,000 was reserved for businesses in the Corktown neighborhood.

Detroit Tough is located at 1244 Beech.

Source: Detroit Tough press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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