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Historic building preservation and restoration open house scheduled at Hug Factory in Eastern Market

"I always saw myself as a steward of these historic buildings. But I've found I'm at my best when helping others be stewards."

That's what Amy Swift told Model D in 2016 upon the opening of the Hug Factory, the headquarters for her Building Hugger renovation firm. The company specializes in historic window restoration and repair.

Swift continues her mission with the announcement of the second annual Building Hugger Community Mingle. She's partnered with three local historic preservation organizations for the event, which will offer guests a chance to learn about both restoration techniques as well as public policy issues affecting preservation today.

Brick + Beam Detroit, Preservation Detroit, and Michigan Historic Preservation Network will provide information on current preservation policy issues, including the state of the threatened federal historic tax credit. The organizations will then lead a postcard-writing session to advocate for the endangered tax credit.

Swift will lead a window restoration demonstration while opening up her shop to the public, allowing guests to visit employee work stations for first-hand interactions. Swift plans to open Hugs Hardware in the building, which will sell hard-to-find restoration supplies.

Michigan Women's Foundation and the Build Institute will also be on hand to provide information on their programming for entrepreneurs.

"Informing our community about the preservation policies and best practices that affect property owners in Detroit every day is core to our mission at Building Hugger," says Swift. "We're excited to be able to bring in our partners for a shared advocacy day while also celebrating our achievements and giving thanks to our supporters for helping us through such a big year. It'll be a fun afternoon."

The Building Hugger Community Mingle is free and open to the public. RSVPs are not required but are encouraged, which can be done here. The event is Saturday, Feb. 25 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Building Hugger is located in Eastern Market at 3036 Chene St.

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

Free after-school program for Detroit poets to expand and enhance services with sixth site

Detroit's Martin Luther King, Jr. High School, located at the intersection of McDougall and Larned streets on the city's east side, will soon receive a Citywide Poets site. The InsideOut Literary Arts Project's Citywide Poets is a free after-school program for teens.

Citywide Poets uses the written and spoken word to encourage teens to tell their story, examine the challenges they face, and explore solutions, says the organization. The program offers students relationships with artistic mentors and the opportunity for performances and publication.

According to InsideOut Literary Arts Project (iO), over 90 percent of students participating in the program go on to attend post-secondary institutions.

The new Citywide Poets site is the sixth for iO. It was made possible by a recently-announced $150,000 three-year grant from the Dresner Foundation.

Suma Rosen, iO Executive Director, says the organization is thrilled to have the support of the Dresner Foundation.

"Aside from improving literary skills and boosting college readiness, this program gives participants the space to embody their full selves; the power that comes from discovering one's voice through poetry and performance is truly transformational."

In addition to the new Citywide Poets site, the Dresner grant will enable iO to improve and expand other components of its creative arts programming. Among the improvements include the planned bolstering of the Youth Poet Laureate and Ambassadors program, which nurtures both creative and civic engagement. The statewide and Detroit-based youth poetry festival Louder than a Bomb will also be expanded.

Other Citywide Poets locations include the main branch of the Detroit Public Library, Detroit School for the Arts, Communication & Media Arts High School, Detroit Institute of Technology at Cody, and Detroit International Academy for Young Women.

"Citywide Poets fosters artistic excellence for youth, offers pathways for personal and professional development, and utilizes writing and performance as a method for community engagement," says Associate Director Alise Alousi.

Registration for the Citywide Poets program can be completed in person, by mail, and online.

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

Days before an RFP deadline, Gilbert makes one last play for downtown site of stalled county jail

Dan Gilbert's Rock Ventures is still attempting to acquire the current Wayne County jail site, this despite County Executive Warren Evans promising to issue an RFP to finish construction of the long-stalled jail this Friday, Feb. 10.

Gilbert and fellow billionaire businessman Tom Gores recently submitted a request for a Major League Soccer franchise in Detroit and want to build the stadium at the current site of construction, which was halted in 2013 due to estimated cost overruns in the tens of millions of dollars. The site is located at the intersection of I-375 and Gratiot Avenue on the eastern edge of downtown.

Announced late Monday, Feb. 6, Rock Ventures has submitted an offer to Wayne County where it will build the county a brand new criminal justice complex at a different location for $300 millionthe current estimated cost of completing the stalled jail site. Rock Ventures would then build a $1 billion mixed-use development on the downtown site, including a soccer stadium and office, commercial, residential, and hotel space.

The criminal justice complex proposed by Rock Ventures would cost an estimated $420 million to complete, though the company would charge the county $300 million for construction. Adult and juvenile detention facilities would be located on the campus, including a new criminal courthouse that would replace the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice downtown.

The Rock Ventures-proposed criminal justice complex would be located one and a half miles north of downtown, at I-75 and E. Forest Avenue.

"We have worked hard to develop and deliver to the County a proposal that, we believe, will be the best long-term outcome for the County and for the future of downtown Detroit," says Matt Cullen, principal of Rock Ventures. "Specifically, we will deliver to the County a modern, consolidated criminal justice center with no risk and at the same dollar amount they estimate it would cost them to complete the project on Gratiot.

"In addition, we are prepared to build a development on the Gratiot Avenue Site, located in the heart of the sports and entertainment district, that will provide significant economic impact and that Detroiters will be proud to have at the 'front door' to the city."

No word yet from Wayne County, as of publication.

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

$550M committed to private equity fund for Detroit-based Huron Capital Partners

The Detroit-based Huron Capital Partners has closed its private equity fund $50 million over its target goal and three months after marketing efforts began. New York's Sixpoint Partners, which served as the exclusive global placement agent for The Huron Fund V L.P., closed the fund with $550 million in total limited partner capital commitments.

A combination of endowments, foundations, multi-manager funds, public pensions, corporate pensions, and family offices have committed to The Huron Fund V L.P.

"We deeply value the tremendous confidence and broad support that our new and existing investors have placed with our experienced investment team and remain focused on delivering strong returns to our LP base," says Brian Demkowicz, Managing Partner at Huron. "We look forward to deploying our buy-and-build strategy in partnership with seasoned executives to improve and grow our businesses through strategic initiatives, operational improvements and add-on acquisitions."

Huron acquires middle market companies and increases value through ExecFactor, its proprietary buy-and-build investment model. ExecFactor incorporates equity recapitalizations, market-entry strategies, family succession transactions, and other strategies to run its model.

With its $550 million fund, Huron will focus on companies in the lower middle market, aiming at between $20 million and $70 million per transaction.

Huron prioritizes the business services, consumer products and services, and specialty manufacturing sectors. Its portfolio includes such companies as Drake Automotive Group, XLerate Group, and the Dundee, Mich.-based Spring & Sprout, a dental support organization.

"With over $1 billion of demand for Fund V, we believe Huron's 16-year track record drove robust demand from investors for its disciplined investment process and proven strategy," says Eric Zoller, Partner at SixpointPartners.

Huron Capital Partners is located in the Guardian Building in downtown Detroit.

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

Mini-grants awarded to community groups seeking to transform vacant lots throughout city

Ten community-led projects have been selected by the Detroit Future City Implementation Office as mini-grant recipients. Each group received a $6,500 grant to jump-start their plans for vacant land revitalization projects.

In October 2015, the DFC Implementation Office released "Working with Lots: A Field Guide." The book featured 34 different design suggestions for vacant land use in the city. Rain gardens, native butterfly meadows, and natural ground pollution remediation techniques are just some of the projects found in the 74-page guide.

The Field Guide is available online and print editions can be found at the DFC Implementation Office in New Center.

Ten projects were selected from the more than 30 applicants entered for the mini-grant competition. While it's up to the community groups how to build and spend on their projects, the DFC Implementation Office does stipulate that from the $6,500 awarded, only a maximum of $5,000 can be spent on project implementation and that at least $1,500 must be reserved for maintenance, programming, and education.

The winning groups are GenesisHOPE Community Development Corporation, Mack Avenue Community Church Community Development Corporation, Manistique Block Club 200-300 Block, Southwest Detroit Business Association, Minock Park Block Association, O'Hair Park Community Association, Popps Packing, Wyoming-Kentucky-Indiana-Wisconsin-Ohio Block Club, Motor City Grounds Crew, and Mecca Development Corporation.

"The Southwest Detroit Business Association is going to use the DFC grant to transform a currently vacant lot into an eco-friendly parking lot," says Greg Mangan, Real Estate Advocate at Southwest Detroit Business Association.

Being eco-friendly is definitely a theme. O'Hair Park Community Association, for example, is building the 8 Mile Rain Garden. "The 8 Mile Rain Garden lot design will help to manage stormwater runoff and will be a model for community members to duplicate as we begin to restore nearly 100 vacant side lots with purpose and beauty," says Joyce Daniel, O'Hair Park Community Association Treasurer.

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

Detroit to receive grant money and Innovation Team from Bloomberg Philanthropies

Detroit has been named a member of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Innovation Team program, making the city eligible for up to three years of $500,000 grants. The money is to be used to fund an in-house Innovation Team, which will focus on improving city life through the development of new and novel solutions to issues faced by city residents.

The organization says that the Innovation Team will take a measurable approach, one with clear plans and goals. By funding an in-house group that could stay for as long as three years, the team will be better able to understand the complexities local to Detroit. Bloomberg Philanthropies will also provide implementation support and facilitate an exchange of ideas between the different Innovation Team sites.

Detroit was selected from a pool of cities from all over the world and joins a group that includes Be'er Sheva, Israel; Toronto, Canada; Anchorage, Alaska; Austin, Texas; Baltimore, Maryland; and Durham, North Carolina. Eligible cities must have at least 100,000 residents and a mayor with at least two years left in office.

"I am happy to welcome the Bloomberg Innovation Team into our city to help create new ideas to better the lives of Detroiters across our city," said Mayor Mike Duggan.

Bloomberg Philanthropies is billionaire businessman and former mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg's umbrella organization for his charitable activities, which includes personal gifts and his foundation. The organization has five focus areas: Public health, environment, education, government innovation, and the arts.

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

Q&A: Todd Scott on the link between Detroit's greenways and green infrastructure

Todd Scott is the executive director of the Detroit Greenways Coalition. One of his big projects is to complete the Inner Circle Greenway, a 26-mile series of bike lanes and greenways that will connect the cities of Detroit, Hamtramck, Highland Park, and Dearborn. We asked him a few questions about green infrastructure and the Inner Circle Greenway.

Model D: How does non-motorized transportation, and perhaps transportation itself, benefit from green infrastructure?

Todd Scott: Both complement each other. Trees, plantings, bioswales and the like provide the shade and aesthetics that makes biking or walking more pleasant and more enticing. Off-road paths, wider sidewalks, and even on-road protected bike lanes provide more opportunity to introduce green infrastructure into the urban environment. It makes sense that both are considered together as a package.

Model D: What's the state of green infrastructure within the Inner Circle Greenway today?

Scott: The built portions of the Inner Circle Greenway include the Detroit RiverWalk and Dequindre Cut. Both are fairly green, and of course, there's the natural stormwater filtration system at Milliken State Park. The on-road bike lane portions along W. Vernor (SW Detroit) and St. Aubin (Eastern Market to Hamtramck) could certainly benefit from additional green infrastructure, but especially street trees. There have been some informal discussions on how those bike lanes could be improved. That would be a good opportunity to address green infrastructure as well.

Model D: What sort of green infrastructure projects can benefit the Inner Circle Greenway? Any planned?

Scott: The largest unbuilt portion of the Inner Circle Greenway is the abandoned Conrail railroad corridor that runs from Warren near Lonyo to Jos Campau near McNichols. Nature hasn't taken back much of the corridor. Still, there are significant opportunities to further green this corridor and process stormwater from adjacent roads and other impervious surfaces. Portions of the rail line were built on former drains which remain wet to this day. Not only can the greenway process this stormwater; it can tell the history of how we've dealt with it.

There's increased discussion about the proposed May Creek Greenway between the West RiverWalk and Corktown. Being that it is a former creek bed, there is a significant opportunity for green infrastructure here as well. Obviously, its connection to the Detroit River is much more direct at this location. We can tell the story of Detroit's former creeks and how they were transformed into stormwater drains.

Model D: What are the plans for next year for the Inner Circle Greenway? Anything as it relates to green infrastructure?

Scott: The City of Detroit is still negotiating the purchase of the Conrail property, so nothing can move forward until that is complete. We're also looking to confirm city ownership of the abandoned rail corridor for May Creek.

Once the land is secured, additional environmental testing will be necessary. We're hopeful that large scale soil remediation (i.e. removing contaminated soil) will not be necessary. That would add delay and cost to the eventual development of these trail corridors.

The City was not awarded a federal TIGER grant to construct the greenway this year. Our fingers are crossed that this program will continue with the next administration.

Model D:  What would you like to see happen with green infrastructure in Detroit?

Scott: We're interested in using greenways not only for trails but to manage stormwater from adjacent properties. We've participated in the Detroit Water and Sewage Department (DWSD) conversations about offsite stormwater management and drainage credits. We may be able to monetize those credits to help offset greenway operational costs.

We'd also like to see both non-motorized and green infrastructure projects implemented together as a standard practice within the city. Detroit has significant open space whether it's vacant parcels, abandoned rail corridors, or extra wide roads. 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.

This story is part of a series on measuring on the role of green infrastructure projects in Detroit's redevelopment. Support for this series is provided by the Erb Family Foundation to Greening of Detroit, Model  D, and The Nature Conservancy. Read more articles from the series here.

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

Q&A: WSU's Carol Miller on the interplay between green and gray infrastructure

Carol Miller is Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Wayne State University. She's also Director of Healthy Urban Waters, a program that advocates and researches clean water resources in the Huron-Erie Corridor. We asked her a few questions about how green infrastructure in Detroit can help sustain our larger, "gray" infrastructure water systems.

Model D: What is the current state of Detroit's water infrastructure?

Miller: The current situation is in flux; in transition. As we all are well aware, much of the water transmission and distribution infrastructureincluding pipes, pumps, and valveshas served the city for a very long time. In some instances, for 100 years and more. 
 
In addition, the stormwater and sanitary infrastructure have been a significant environmental problem in the past. Many of these issues are much more at the forefront of political, social, and environmental justice discussions these days. This heightened awareness of the critical nature of our water infrastructure has led to some relatively recent and well-deserved attention on this issue.

Model D: How can green infrastructure ease the pressure on water infrastructure in Detroit?

Green infrastructure can ease the pressure on some of the urban flooding issues associated with high flows within the combined storm/sanitary lines. Green infrastructure can hold back some of the storm runoff, allowing it to pass into the piping system after the peak discharge has receded. 
 
Also, green infrastructure can reduce the total runoff that exits a property by allowing more to drain into the soil and be used by plants. Green infrastructure can also, in some cases, improve the quality of the stormwater runoff by allowing particulates to settle out.

Model D: What will it take to create a green infrastructure that improves city water infrastructure?

It will take leadership within the city and within the communities (residential, business, and industrial) of the city. We are seeing some of that leadership come together presently, with DWSD and the Great Lakes Water Authority, as well as citizen leaders in the communities. Wayne State University, through its Healthy Urban Waters program, is also playing a key role; as are SEMCOG, MDEQ, and others.

This is critical because this is an all-encompassing and all-effecting problem, and adequate attention will require leadership from the citizens, government, academic partners, and regulatory community. For green infrastructure, often the most important component is the citizen component.

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

This story is part of a series on measuring on the role of green infrastructure projects in Detroit's redevelopment. Support for this series is provided by the Erb Family Foundation to Greening of Detroit, Model  D, and The Nature Conservancy. Read more articles from the series here.

Restoration of the Treymore Apartments building results in 28 affordable housing units in Midtown

Detroiters feeling the pinch of rising rental rates in the city's greater downtown have reason to turn their attention to Brainard Street. There, in the bustling development hotspot between Wayne State University and Little Caesars Arena is the Treymore, will be an affordable housing redevelopment that offers 28 one- and two-bedroom units to Detroiters earning 50 to 60 percent of the area's average median income.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan cut the ribbon on the redveloped apartment building this past Friday, Dec. 9.

"These are the kinds of projects the City of Detroit is happy to support because they are example of how Detroit comes back, there is room and opportunity for everyone," says Mayor Duggan. The city contributed $3.5 million in HOME program funds.

A number of other organizations contributed to the redevelopment, creating a patchwork of financing. The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) contributed $3 million in affordable housing tax credits. Cinnaire financed and syndicated the MSHDA credits. And the building's developer, Paradise Valley Investment Group (PVI), contributed hundreds of thousands in private equity and brownfield tax credits.

In all, it cost $7 million to renovate the building, which has sat vacant for over two decades. The condition of the building forced developers to completely strip it of infrastructure and start fresh, requiring the installation of new windows, energy efficient HVAC, and lighting. Also new is the roof, landscaping, and greenspace.

The Treymore is a four story, 30,000 sq. ft. building erected in the early 1900s. Two-thirds of the 28 units are already leased.

"Restoring this building has been life changing," says PVI president and CEO, Robin Scovill. "Its condition when we started, juxtaposed with the finished product, is shocking."

The Treymore is located at 457 Brainard St.

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

November development news round-up: New homes in North Corktown, a new home for basketball, and more

Let's catch up on some of the biggest stories from the past five weeks.

While it's Corktown that receives the lion's share of development attention, its neighbor across the freeway, North Corktown, has been in the news lately, too. Construction of traditionally-financed single-family homes will begin in Spring 2017 on Ash and Sycamore streets, featuring contemporary designs by Christian Hurttienne Architects. Meanwhile, an affordable housing development that stretches across 54 acres was reported by the Detroit News and includes "elite" New York architect Alexander Gorlin and possibly Grammy-winning musician Pharrell Williams. There is, however, no official word on any timeline.

The Detroit Pistons are moving back to their namesake city, 38 years after leaving the cozy confines of Cobo Arena for the Pontiac Silverdome in 1978. The basketball organization announced this month that they will be joining the Detroit Red Wings hockey team in occupying Little Caesars Arena, which is currently under construction just north of downtown. Both teams will open their 2017-18 seasons in the new arena. Rumored sites for a Pistons practice facility include a West Grand Boulevard location in New Center. The Pistons are leaving The Palace of Auburn Hills, built by former owner William Davidson in 1988.

In historic preservation news, the CPA Building across from Michigan Central Station has been saved from demolitionat least for now. It was reported earlier this month that the building's owners, the New York City-based BFD Corktown LLC, were granted a demolition permit for the building. But as news broke, preservation and neighborhood advocates quickly mobilized, gathering over 1,000 signatures to petition its destruction. Detroit City Council took note and granted the building, which opened in 1923, an interim historic building designation, delaying demolition for up to one year and opening it up to further studies.

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

Local audio equipment maker to ship products around the world

Detroit Audio Lab is going global. Well, locally manufactured and globally available, to be exact.

The decision, made official November 14, when they company felt it could pass the import/export demands of various countries, including the rigorous sustainability requirements of the European Union, says Detroit Audio Lab founder Mike Bauer.

While each country has its own rules for importing foreign products, Bauer says the fact that Detroit Audio Lab passes the strict WEEE and RoHS regulations of the European Union means that they can ship products just about anywhere. WEEE sets end-of-life waste disposal demands while RoHS bans certain hazardous substances from being used in electrical and electronic products.

"Shipping globally is more than going to the post office," says Bauer. "Products have to be packaged properly, they have to meet certain electrical requirements. Each country is a little different."

Detroit Audio Lab has taken orders from customers in the United Kingdom, Australia, and China, says Bauer.

It's a good start for the premium audio equipment company, which launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign in late October. Detroit Audio Lab products include speakers, amps, and speaker stands, sourced from wood and pipe reclaimed from deconstructed houses throughout Detroit. Its electronics are exclusively sourced from Michigan-based companies, including control boards designed in-house.

Bauer cites two reasons for Detroit Audio Lab's global appeal. It manufactures and sells premium audio equipment, handmade yet technologically advanced. And then there's what Bauer calls the "D Factor." Assembly takes place at a facility on Bellevue Street in Detroit. Reclaimed wood and pipe is purchased from the Architectural Salvage Warehouse of Detroit. The address of the house from where the material was reclaimed is laser engraved on each finished product.

"I thought the buzz would be local, in the state and in the Midwest," says Bauer. "But people all around the world are interested in the story of Detroit's renaissance."

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

Detroit dog daycare business to launch major expansion along the Cass Corridor

For all the residential and hockey arena-related developments happening along Cass Avenue, there's at least one being built for our four-legged friends. Canine to Five Detroit, the dog daycare business founded by owner Liz Blondy in 2005, has announced a major expansion, building a 10,000 sq. ft. addition adjacent to its current 6,000 sq. ft. facility.

Construction is set to begin in spring 2017 with a target completion date of fall 2017. 3,000 sq. ft. will be made available for rent to a retail business. Following the construction of the new building, the original facilities will see their own upgrades.

The $1.6 million development will result in the creation of 10 jobs and increase daycare capacity of dogs from 100 to 175. Additional features include private play areas, small breed-specific features, and a senior lounge for older dogs.

Canine to Five Detroit is the original location for the business, which expanded with a second location in Ferndale in 2013. Success was so immediate in Ferndale that Blondy was quickly forced to move to a 22,000 sq. ft. facility on Nine Mile Road. Blondy has learned from the Ferndale transition and is applying those lessons to the upcoming expansion in Detroit.

"I'm more prepared for it now. Any time you do something for the second time, it's a little bit easier," Blondy said in an October interview.

She's repeatedly gone over the plans and blueprints with not only Detroit-based architects DMET, but also with the Canine to Five staff. Mistakes are expensive, she said, and Blondy is making sure that the Detroit expansion goes as smoothly as possible, for her and the dogs.

Canine to Five Detroit is located at 3443 Cass Ave.

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

Downtown co-working space to double in size, eyes big future

The Bamboo Detroit co-working space downtown is focused on the growth of its tenants, providing facilities, resources, and programming to freelancers and startups alike.

That commitment has resulted in the company's own expansion. Bamboo recently announced a new location twice the size of their current one at 1442 Brush St., growing from 3,000 to 6,000 sq. ft. of co-working facilities and more.

Come January 2017, Bamboo will open its doors on the third floor of the historic Julian C. Madison building at 1420 Washington Blvd. Construction is currently underway.

The new Bamboo location will count 20 dedicated desks, seven private offices, and three conference rooms among its new features. The private offices are in direct response to customers' needs, says co-owner Amanda Lewan. The current location doesn't offer private offices, a fact that Lewan says led to a loss of potential tenants.

The top floor of the new location boasts a loft-style events space, something Bamboo will use for job fairs and other pro-business programs. Also planned is a large cafe area, complete with coffee and snacks. In April 2016, Bamboo won a $30,000 Motor City Match grant to help build the cafe.

"Be really clear about what you need, have a really clear budget," Lewan says to future Motor City Match applicants. "It might not be perfect, you might still be playing around with it as you get close to the end, but if you have a really clear plan, people can get on board with it."

The company believes that the expansion will result in significantly more tenants, with Bamboo expecting the amount to grow from the current count of 120 to 300 tenants. 

Bamboo currently has a pop-up co-working space at MASH Detroit on the city's east side. Lewan says Bamboo may one day have multiple co-working sites throughout the city and its neighborhoods.

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

Clothing, gifts, and more: New retail storefront coming to Eastern Market

For the first time in 40 years, a retail storefront will occupy 1440 Gratiot Ave.

The new tenants will be Well Done Goods, a men's and women's accessories shop that will be opening in the Eastern Market space. 

Well Done Goods is the result of local tie and scarf maker Bethany Shorb's move to break out of the neckwear market and expand her reach to other products. Shorb's line of ties and scarves has sold under the Cyberoptix name for ten years and will continue to do so. Well Done Goods will carry those products, plus more of Shorb's creations, along with a curated selection from makers throughout the country.

"Our customers have asked and asked for us to put our designs on other things. What better place to launch that venture than right here in our hometown?" says Shorb.

New Cyberoptix products include aprons, pillows, and poster-sized art prints, all of which are screen-printed by hand in their 4,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility, located directly above the storefront. Other Michigan products include JKM Soy Candles and sustainable tables from Union Town Woodshop. Also carried are vegan felt bags from the Los Angeles-based Mad Rabbit Kicking Tiger and 3-D printed jewelry from Boston's Nervous System.

Following its Friday opening, Well Done Goods will be open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

Well Done Goods is celebrating with a grand opening on Friday, November 4, from 6 to 10 p.m., which will include food and music, and is free and open to the public.

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

Using the literary arts to fight blight on Tuxedo Street

A sentimental drive by a childhood home is a common occurrence in the city, country, and everywhere betweeneven for Pulitzer Prize winners. Stephen Henderson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Detroit Free Press columnist and host of both radio and television talk shows, has been checking in on his own childhood home since moving back to Detroit in 2007.

He says his family's former home on Tuxedo Street on the city's west side was well-kept back in 2007 but, as the years wore on, Henderson watched the house deteriorate. In 2012, a window was boarded up. Soon, all the windows would be boarded up. Eventually, the house was stripped.

Henderson is now leading a charge to transform the vacant house on Tuxedo Street from an eyesore into an asset. A purchase agreement to buy the house from the Detroit Land Bank is nearly complete.

Dubbed the Tuxedo Project, the house at 7124 Tuxedo St. will become a literary and community center, complete with an English professor-in-residence. The house will be rehabilitated and turned into a space for students and community members to share their stories and create new ones, using the literary arts to effect positive change. Plans for other abandoned homes on the 7100 block of Tuxedo Street will follow.

"It's the idea of the power of one," says Henderson. "What happens if one person returns to where they're from and tries to make changes, what will that inspire, and will there be a ripple effect of change."

Henderson has a big team behind him. The Knight Foundation and Marygrove College are working together to bring an English professor to Tuxedo Street. Members of Henderson's 1988 graduating class of University of Detroit Jesuit High School have rallied together to form a non-profit. And the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Michigan State Housing Development Authority have included the Tuxedo Project in its Public Spaces Community Places initiative.

Should the Tuxedo Project successfully raise $50,000 by November 28, MEDC and MSHDA will contribute a $50,000 matching grant. The crowdfunding campaign is being held on the Michigan-based Patronicity platform.

"None of this is any more than an idea in my head without these partnerships," says Henderson.

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