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Q&A: Dean Hay of The Greening of Detroit talks green infrastructure in the city

Dean Hay is director of Green Infrastructure at The Greening of Detroit, a group dedicated to increasing the amount of trees and green spaces as well as jobs and education opportunities throughout the city of Detroit. As such, we figured him to be an ideal person to talk to for our series on green infrastructure.

Model D: How big of a priority is green infrastructure to the Greening of Detroit?

Hay: Green infrastructure is very important to The Greening of Detroit. We envision GI as a community development tool that improves the quality of life for Detroit residents because of its cost-effective, resilient approach to managing wet weather impacts. Plants and trees not only reduce flooding, but improve air quality and recreational access to nature. Green infrastructure provides the community with a variety of economic, social, and environmental benefits.

Model D: When did it become a priority?

Hay: The Greening of Detroit began implementing community tree plantings 28 years ago in response to the tremendous loss of trees to Dutch Elm Disease in the 1970s and 80s. Trees, as an urban forest network, are a highly effective GI treatment, especially when used with other GI treatments. The Greening of Detroit has always used a multi-faceted approach to green infrastructure.

Model D: What is Greening of Detroit's role in the strengthening of green infrastructure in Detroit?

Hay: The Greening of Detroit continues to be a strong advocate for community-based green infrastructure, as well as treatments that perform well without excessive implementation and maintenance costs. We believe the most effective GI treatments incorporate robust community engagement, education, and design. This helps to ensure that each treatment is understood and accepted by each neighborhood.

Model D: What green infrastructure projects does Greening of Detroit have planned in the future?

Hay: We are developing new prototypes with neighborhood leaders that focus on the establishment of natural ecosystems on vacant land. These prototypes will emphasize education, stormwater infiltration, natural resource career development opportunities, and place-making experiences.

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

Hay: GI treatments don't have to be complex and/or expensive. I would like communities to prioritize according to their needs, partner with organizations like The Greening, and develop GI methods that effectively work in their neighborhoods. This will mandate that more funding and access to vacant land be made available to those leaders and groups that want to bring natural ecosystem solutions and improved quality of life to their residents.

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

Use the winter to plan for your rain garden

With the Detroit Department of Water and Sewerage bringing on new stormwater drainage fees, a lot of people are looking into ways to get credits for rainwater mitigation on their properties. One easy and beautiful thing that you can do is to create a rain garden.

Rain gardens have come into vogue in the last few years as a way to keep water from inundating local waterways and sewer systems, which can cause problems with flooding and pollution when combined sewer systems overflow. These gardens also usually feature native flowering plants that provide a beautiful color palette and provide food and habitat for birds and insects.

Rain gardens are built by digging a shallow depression that collects water from a downspout or off of a paved surface. They are often planted with a well-drained soil mix containing sand, topsoil and compost. The native plants employed have deep roots that create further channels into the ground to help keep it out of sewers, basements and other places where it’s not wanted. 

Winter is an excellent time to plan next year’s rain garden. Think about where you might want to have a new garden, making sure that it’s at least ten feet away from the house. The garden doesn’t have to be that big to absorb most of the water from your roof. However, people usually build their gardens to be at least 150 to 200 square feet, so they are big enough to make a visual statement in the landscape.
 
Use a garden hose to test possible shapes for the garden. From there, take a measurement of the area taken up by the hose and transpose it to a rough scale drawing. Using graph paper can help with this process.
 
Here is a list of plants for use in rain gardens. Plants that are most tolerant of standing water should be placed at the center of the garden. When planning the garden follow basic design rules. Clump perennials and smaller plants in groups of three or more, aim for a variety of leaf texture and flower color and, if possible, select plants that bloom at different times to create continuous interest.
 
Once you have dug or mechanically excavated the depression for your rain garden, you will need to add soil, plants and then mulch. Use the winter to get quotes on prices for materials from local retailers. Also keep an eye out for help from local organizations like the Friends of the Rouge and Keep Growing Detroit’s  “Rain Gardens to the Rescue” program and contact friends and neighbors who may be able to help out. 
 
The result will be a win-win-win garden that is good for your yard, your pocketbook and the health of your local waterways and the Great Lakes. 

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.

Q&A: Kimberly Hill Knott on using green infrastructure for environmental justice in Detroit

Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice is a nonprofit organization that has launched the Detroit Climate Action Collaborative (DCAC), which is leading the development of the city of Detroit’s Climate Action Plan.  DCAC is focused on how climate change affects Detroiters, especially those living in low-income, marginalized communities. They've identified areas of the city that are most vulnerable to the ravages of climate change--which in Detroit come in the form of heat and flooding--and are focused on helping the communities in these areas build resilience.

Model D spoke with Kimberly Hill Knott, DWEJ's policy director and DCAC’s project director, to find out more about why the organization is turning to green infrastructure as a solution.

Model D: How does green infrastructure play into the work that you're doing with Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice?

Knott: Because we're leading the development of the city of Detroit's Climate Action Plan, which focuses on weather extremities, including heavy precipitation and extreme heat, we've had no other choice but to examine the role of green infrastructure. Our climatological research is showing that not only is it raining more frequently, so precipitation is increasing, but it's also more intense, and when you have aging infrastructure combined with older homes and a combined sewer system, it's a recipe for disaster.

Model D: How are you engaging the communities most affected?

Knott: We recently held a green infrastructure training with the community, in district four which is Detroit's Lower Eastside, and is most susceptible to flooding. That's the Jefferson-Chalmers community.

At the meeting, we gave an overview of Detroit Climate Action Collaborative. One of our Detroit climate ambassadors is from that community and had been talking to us about doing a green infrastructure training in that neighborhood, which has been experiencing severe flooding.

One of the reasons that we decided to do this training is because the Detroit Water and Sewage Department (DWSD) will be rolling out stormwater drainage fees this year to residential customers. Late last year, DWSD provided informational workshops to non-residential customers, so we wanted to get ahead of the game to prepare residents for the new impervious acreage rate and to show them how to install green infrastructure so that they can receive the appropriate amount of drainage credit.   We partnered with two of our climate ambassadors to do the training for a train-the-trainer style workshop, and then planted a rain garden at a church and also installed a rain barrel.

Model D: So is the idea that you're trying to encourage people to do this on their own properties?

Knott: Yes.  Green infrastructure is not only important because it reduces the risk of flooding and ultimately the cost of repairs, but it's also important because of climate change. As the intensity and frequency of these storms increases, it just makes sense to mitigate the risk.

Model D: Do people in that community understand the connection between flooding and climate change or is this sort of something that is new to them?

Knott: I think that what they're most familiar with is the combined sewer system because all of the sewage that keeps backing up into their basements. I don't know if they believe it's as much an issue of climate change as it is where they're located, and it being an issue of an aging infrastructure. Our job is to connect those dots, because whenever there is heavy rain, the sewer system will be overwhelmed, causing flooding.  

Model D: What are some of the green infrastructure tactics or types of applications that are most relevant to residents that are facing flooding?

Knott: The tactic that we have focused on during our training and the ones that are being used the most in that community are rain gardens. Rain gardens are one of the most commonly installed green infrastructure measures, because of the amount of water that they can capture.

Model D: How else does green infrastructure fit into the larger climate action work that you're doing, and what other groups have you or do you plan to reach out to?

Knott: When we release the Detroit Climate Action Plan, some of the adaptation and mitigation goals and action steps will focus on some aspect of green infrastructure. In the future, we may have a workshop for industrial and commercial business customers, but for right now, that's not as much of our focus. Right now we're just focusing on the residential.

Model D: For residents who want to implement green infrastructure on their properties, whether it's to save money on their water bills or what have you, what advice do you give to them to get started on doing something?

Knott: The first thing that they can do is to purchase a rain barrel, which is relatively inexpensive or can be free, depending on where you get it. Some rain barrels will need to be retrofitted to capture the rainwater.  We also believe it is important for people to make sure that their basements are waterproofed.

A bit more technical to install, rain gardens are also very helpful. You can't just use any plant in a rain garden.  You can’t just say, 'You know what? I like these flowers. I'm going to make a rain garden.' There are certain types of plants that must be used.  Education is key.  
 
It will be very important that DWSD has some hands-on training in the communities. They cannot just invite people to a meeting to talk to them about the new impervious acreage fees and the importance of installing a rain garden. Residents are not familiar with this tactic. 

The city is going to have to roll up their sleeves and heavily invest in community engagement. Partnering with local organizations to assist with community outreach and green infrastructure training will be very important.   

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.

Q&A: Victoria Byrd Olivier on Detroit Future City and green infrastructure

Victoria Byrd Olivier is director of land use and sustainability for the Detroit Future City Implementation Office, where she works on strategies to implement the Detroit Future City Strategic Plan. The office has been active in working on green infrastructure, particularly through its Field Guide to Working with Lots and its mini-grant program.
 
With an undergraduate degree in Urban Planning from the University of Virginia and a Master's Degree, also in Urban Planning from the University of New Orleans, Olivier began her career in New Orleans, focused on post-Hurricane Katrina recovery work with an emphasis on neighborhood planning, adaptive reuse, and historic preservation. She began working at Detroit Future City in August of 2013. She's also a co-founder of Brick + Beam Detroit, a project to help residents restore historic homes in the city.
 
Much of Olivier's work involves strategizing on how to deploy green infrastructure across the city best. Model D chatted with Byrd to find out more about her work.
 
Model D: Why did you want to leave New Orleans to come to Detroit?
 
Victoria Byrd Olivier: There are many connections with New Orleans' circumstances and the types of challenges that both cities were going through. But it was really about the energy that was going on in Detroit; the type of people who had been working here and who were starting to move here, that were collaborating. I was interested in being able to apply the skills that I had picked up in the New Orleans' environment to Detroit, and having an opportunity to explore a whole new part of the country.
 
In Detroit, you can't ignore what an amazing opportunity we have. We've started with the assumption that there were 20 square miles of vacant land and that continues to grow every day with demolitions throughout the city. We're looking now at 30 square miles of vacant land. Vacant land can be a blight, and we can't assume that just having a building down makes it a more positive environment for that neighborhood.
 
Model D: Talk about the role green infrastructure plays in the Detroit Future City Strategic Framework and the Implementation Offices' operations?
 
Byrd: The strategic framework was the first planning document where Detroit had focused on acknowledging the realities on the ground. One of those realities was the amount of vacant land. It was not looking to the traditional solution for that, which is, "Let's build more houses, let's fill that land," but recognizing that due to market conditions and other factors, it was about, "How do we intentionally turn that vacant land into open space? How do we use that land to distinguish Detroit as a national or international leader in turning a liability into an asset to improve food security, to explore renewable energy production, and to improve health outcomes? The framework took the first step in both acknowledging the issues and looking at positive solutions for vacant land.
 
But it was just a start. The DFC Implementation Office is about carrying that work forward. We also recognize that looking positively on vacant land and open space as an opportunity is still something that's relatively new in the city. DFC and groups across the city are continually trying to work on the culture shift, where vacant land can be seen as an opportunity and not just an absence.
 
Model D: What are some examples of work DFC is doing to promote green infrastructure in the city?
 
Olivier: We see green infrastructure as part of a greater open space network in the city. The strategic framework started with a map that showed the different green options across the city. There are a lot of really tough questions that go along with that, including who owns that land, how you pay for it, how you maintain it, and how you deal with liability.
 
In the past year and a half, DFC has put together two reports that look at some of those questions. The first was called Achieving an Integrated Open Space Network in Detroit. It tried to broaden the idea of what green space could look like. 
 
While green infrastructure is really important, it has to be integrated into many land uses, for example, natural areas that are a little more passive, like meadows, and wetlands, and forests, and then also productive landscapes. If you're looking at food or energy production or tree farms, green infrastructure can be a part of that, as well.
 
We have a variety of parks and greenways across the city, and those are very compatible with green infrastructure, and we have the new parks improvement plan that started to outline that idea. And we're also thinking about buffers between our industrial areas and health outcomes that can improve through addressing them.
 
We also put together a second report on open space with the Center for Community Progress that looks at ownership and funding considerations that could help inform our work. There have been several models across the country and the world that Detroit can start to look to once we figure out how we want to use that land. We interviewed many stakeholders across the city to get their input on that report.
 
We've also been convening an open space working group for the past seven months; we meet monthly with 25 to 40 different participants that are coming at this open space puzzle from various perspectives, but all with the same goal of how to best use our land. And we've been working alongside the city as they're looking at the urban planning process, to see how we can support work in tandem.
 
Model D: What role is DFC playing in DWSD's efforts to encourage ratepayers to implement green infrastructure as part of reducing their drainage fees?
 
Olivier : All of those groups that are working with open space are going to be finding ways to align with the big changes that are about to occur with DWSD's drainage fee and green infrastructure credits.

At DFC, we're working align everything we're doing and planning so that we can take tools like our Field Guide to Working with Lots or our mini-grant program and think about how the DWSD credit program is going to work, and how we can create designs as options or the credit programs. We're also thinking about how we can provide more technical assistance in the office and build up our capacities so we can help people get those designs into the ground.
 
Model D: What are the greatest obstacles and the challenges to implementing green infrastructure in the city, and how do you address them?
 
Olivier: Maintenance is a big obstacle. Just on a small scale, we've tried to address that through the second round of our mini-grant program, which provides specific funding for maintenance. It's also part of our technical assistance. We wanted to make sure we looked into resources to help sustain these projects; that's something that we prioritized.
 
Another challenge is workforce development. I think a great opportunity for green infrastructure in the city is how it can be part of improving employment opportunities for Detroiters. We've found that there is a bit of a gap in the contractors and landscapers that have the expertise and are comfortable with implementing these designs. So making sure that we can align with other groups that are doing workforce development is important.
 
And another big challenge is that there are likely different incentives and funding models for each user group--whether businesses or non-profits or residents. So we need to understand what the resources are, both financial and human resources, to see how green infrastructure can not only provide an environmental benefit but fit into other goals.
 
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.

Students hope to raise funds to build 18-hole miniature golf course in North End

Public Spaces Community Places, the statewide placemaking initiative funded by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), has set its sights on seven vacant lots in the North End neighborhood of Detroit.

It's there, just north of the New Center area, that a neighborhood youth patrol group called 4Ward Phoenix is hoping build what would be the city's only 18-hole miniature golf course. The group is trying to raise $5,000 through a crowdfunding campaign. Should that group successfully reach its target sum by Jan. 16, MEDC and MSHDA will provide a $5,000 matching grant.

The crowdfunding campaign is being hosted on the Michigan-based Patronicity platform.

"This Mini-Golf is important to our 4Ward Phoenix youth," says group organizer Phillis Judkins. "Students are creating this putt-putt to implement their professional skills from their classes. Crowdfunding is a great display of the faith and support individuals have for their specific goals. The most powerful tool is to know that someone is interested in your success by donating towards your cause. Engagement for local families, businesses, and organizations is just one of the many thing this miniature golf will support. And for the students, having an entire community behind them, donating to their success is empowering and irreplaceable."

The money raised will complement the more than $275,000 that has already been secured for the project. Plans include the 18-hole miniature golf course, green space, fencing, solar-powered lighting, benches, landscaping, and off-street parking.

[For more on the North End, check out this Model D story on the neighborhood's bright future]

4Ward Phoenix is the youth group of the North End Neighborhood Patrol. The students have taken part in a number of lessons to ready themselves to run a small business, including marketing, banking, and neighborhood outreach. They hope to open the 4ward Phoenix Miniature Golf center by March 2017.

Click here to view the status of the crowdfunding campaign.

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

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.

6 places to shop in Live6 this holiday season

The holidays are right around the corner, and now is the time to find that perfect gift for everyone on your list. A visit along Livernois and McNichols is exactly what you need. Here are a few places in the Live6 neighborhoods that you can go to get fun, unique gifts for your loved ones this season.
 
Eric's I've Been Framed

Tucked in an unassuming building across from the University of Detroit Mercy's campus, Eric's I've Been Framed is the perfect place get beautiful framing for artwork or prints, as well as smaller stocking stuffers like stationery and craft items. The warm atmosphere inside the shop is matched by the friendliness and expertise of Eric Vaughn, the owner and framer-in-chief. 
16527 Livernois Ave, Detroit, MI 48221

Detroit Fiberworks

Need a thoughtful gift for someone in your life who is hard to shop for? Check out Detroit Fiberworks, an art gallery and home goods shop that has a range of items including artwork, jewelry, clothing, and more. Gifts here range in price so there's something for every budget. Also check out one of the many exhibits held at the space and support local artists.
19359 Livernois Avenue, Detroit MI 48221

The University of Detroit Mercy & Marygrove College Bookstores

If you have a Titan or Mustang in the family, you'll want to stop by the University of Detroit Mercy or Marygrove's campus bookstores to get school-branded swag. Pick up your UDM dad hat or Marygrove sweats, and while you're in the area take some time to visit the Charles McGee Commons at the corner of McNichols & Wyoming, on Marygrove's campus.
UDM: 4001 W McNichols Rd, Detroit, MI 48221
Marygrove: 8425 W McNichols Rd, Detroit, MI 48221
 
Art in Motion Ceramic Studio

Pewabic isn't the only place in town to get beautiful ceramic art. Check out Art in Motion, Live6's neighborhood ceramic studio and showroom. Local artists regularly show their work here, and you can learn the craft too: consider a pottery-throwing class as a gift for the artist in your life.    
19452 Livernois Ave, Detroit, Michigan 48221
 
Lucki's Cheesecakes

The holidays are a great time to indulge your sweet toothand Lucki's is just the spot to do that. They have a wide variety of speciality cheesecakes, but sell pies as well. Impress your relatives with their strawberry shortcake, sweet potato, and superman cheesecake flavors.
7111 W McNichols Rd, Detroit, MI 48221
 
DCreated Boutique

For many, their children are their most precious giftsso why not deck the babies out for the holidays? Visit DCreated Boutique this holiday season for clothes and accessories for the littlest person in the family. You can get tiny couture that will melt the hearts of any grandparent.
19480 Livernois, Detroit, MI 48221
 
Kuzzo's Chicken & Waffles

An instant classic, Kuzzo's Chicken & Waffles is known by locals as a place to get delicious comfort food. After your long day of shopping settle into favorites like the chicken and waffles, or get adventurous and try the Hazel's Southern Platter. Wash it down with their legendary Kool-Aid drinks.
19345 Livernois Ave, Detroit, MI 48221

Art and coffee collide in Hamtramck with the opening of Oloman Cafe

A new cafe and gallery has opened in Hamtramck. And for owner Zlatan Sadikovic, it's an opportunity to combine many of his loves.

Oloman Cafe opened to steady crowds on the morning of Monday, December 5th. The cafe, which is part coffee shop, part art gallery, and part photography studio, is located in the former space of the Belmont Bar.

The Belmont spent most of its life as a music venue, though in its latter couple of years new ownership had turned it into a sports bar. Vacant for several years, Sadikovic obtained the venue and began working on it in 2014. Originally planning on using the space for a photography studio, the infrastructure of the building sparked Sadikovic's coffee shop idea. So he combined the two visions, spending the last few years working on an exhaustive overhaul of the building.

Sadikovic and his son Igor, who manages the business, did much of the work themselves, tearing up a floor left rotted by a badly leaking roof and coming up with their own interior designs. The old bar remains, though sharply redesigned, and a small portrait studio occupies the space of the old stage. Out on the back patio, which Sadikovic is outfitting with plants and flowers, is the old Belmont sign, something Sadikovic plans on displaying.

"I kept the sign," says Sadikovic. "People have an emotional attachment to old places."

Sadikovic is one of those people. A native Bosnian, Sadikovic and his wife left for the United States after the war of the 1990s ravaged their country. They've named the Oloman Cafe after one of their favorite cafes in downtown Sarajevo, a place where the city's artists would gather and drink espresso on the sidewalk patio. Zlatan and his wife Indira met at that cafe, which would come to be damaged and demolished over the course of the war.

"That place disappeared. We decided to create something on the other side of the world with the same feel," says Sadikovic. "It's maybe a sentimental type of thing but it is what it is. We come back to things from our past."

The Oloman Cafe has a good chance at becoming a spot where artists congregate. In addition to the coffee and food, which is purchased from local makers Golden Wheat and Guerilla Food, Oloman will have once-a-month art openings in the gallery.

Sadikovic also purchased the building next door, which he has turned into Lint Silver and Sawdust, a rentable co-working space for artists.

Oloman Cafe is located at 10215 Joseph Campau Ave. in Hamtramck.

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

City of Detroit approves $1.6 million for neighborhood planning

The city of Detroit is making good on its promise to expand development into neighborhoods with the recent commitment of $1.6 million in planning-related funding for four sections of the city.

Contracts have been approved for planning work in the neighborhoods of
Southwest Detroit/West Vernor Corridor, Northwest Detroit/Grand River Corridor, Islandview/Greater Villages, and Rosa Parks/Clairmount. This falls in line with Mayor Mike Duggan's push for "20 minute neighborhoods," where residents have amenities and resources within 20 minutes of walking or biking.
 
Sarida Scott-Montgomery, executive director of the Community Development Advocates of Detroit (CDAD), looks forward to what this can mean for the highlighted neighborhoods. "CDAD welcomes the city's plan to invest in neighborhoods. All Detroiters deserve healthy and vibrant neighborhoods that support a good quality of life," Scott-Montgomery says. "We also look forward to working with the City and the selected vendors to ensure that robust community engagement processes occur with the projects. CDAD should be viewed as a resource on this effort."
 
One of the areas targeted for planning is the Northwest Detroit/Grand River Corridor. Located in the northwest side of Detroit, the Grand River Corridor is also geographically close to Livernois and 6 Mile, another area of focus for the city. The Fitzgerald Revitalization Project is a separate city-backed initiative nearby. While developers for the Fitzgerald Revitalization Project still have not been announced, additional attention to neighborhoods in the northwest section of the city bring a connectivity to the area that could be similar to that seen downtown and Midtown.
 
"I appreciate the city's expressed commitment to community engagement through the development processes in these neighborhoods. I'm hoping the engagement strategies result in long standing relationships between the residents of the impacted communities, the partners doing the development work and city government," says Lauren Hood, director of the Live6 Alliance. She says that although trust and relationship building will be a slow at the beginning of the planning process, it will be worth it.

"Creating authentic connections now will ensure productive and robust resident participation as those neighborhoods move into the master planning stage. The city has a tremendous opportunity to redefine what inclusive neighborhood redevelopment can look like."
 
More information about the city's plans can be found here.

Nonresidential property owners learn how green infrastructure can reduce new stormwater fees

In November, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department released guides to help customers understand its stormwater drainage fees, including ways to implement green infrastructure to gain credits toward reducing those fees. 
 
The drainage fee had never before been charged to owners of approximately 22,000 parcels in the city, who began receiving letters from the agency in August, according to the Detroit News. DWSD is transitioning to a uniform system in which each customer is charged a fee based on the area of the impervious surface, such as concrete, pavement, and rooftop, located on the parcel.
 
At a workshop for Nonresidential Property Owners on Nov. 9 at SEMCOG, customers were given the basics of how the fee will work and how they can use stormwater management practices, including green infrastructure, to reduce their fee. A second session will be held Dec. 14. The presentation can be viewed here.
 
"It's highly critical that our customers understand the drainage charge, what it pays for and the credit system we are developing," DWSD deputy director Palencia Mobley told an audience of nearly 100 people. "Detroit has not done a good job over the years at communicating to customers what they pay for. This administration is serious about changing that."
 
The presentation began with an explanation of the city's combined sewer overflow (CSO system) which combines sewage and stormwater runoff. EPA regulations have forced investments in CSO infrastructure, such as the Conner Creek facility on Detroit's lower east side, to prevent overflows from the system into area waterways such as the Detroit River and the Rouge River. The new drainage fee will go toward funding operations and maintenance of this infrastructure.
 
Each parcel owner is receiving an initial assessment based on the area of imperviousness according to the following formula: 
 
Drainage charge = Total impervious surface area X Impervious acre per month (dollars per acre per month)
 
The fee is currently set at $750 per impervious acre. For example, a four-acre parcel with two acres of a parking lot would be charged $1500 per month. The new fees will be phased in over the next two years, starting with industrial and commercial properties in early 2017, followed by tax-exempt and residential properties later next year and finally faith-based properties starting in 2018.
 
Impervious area is evaluated using remote sensing technology integrated with the city's Geographic Information System (GIS). Customers can view their assessment using the city's Parcel Viewer tool. Because remote sensing data may contain errors, customers have the opportunity to contest and adjust their assessments.
 
Customers also have the opportunity to reduce their fee by taking actions on their property to reduce the peak flow and volume of stormwater runoff. 
 
Volume credits help reduce the overall burden to the system by Infiltrating, evaporating, and reusing water. Green infrastructure treatments that achieve volume reduction include redirecting downspouts to pervious areas onsite, green roofs and water harvesting. Peak flow credits help slow the transport of water into the system, reducing the chances of overwhelming the system and reducing the risk of flooding. Green infrastructure treatments that achieve volume reduction include detention basins and subsurface storage. Several types of green infrastructure, including bioretention, permeable pavers and water harvesting, can achieve both volume and peak flow credits.
 
Depending on the mix of treatments applied and existing site conditions, customers may be able to gain enough credits to reduce their assessments by as much as 80 percent.
 
More information can be found at DWSD's drainage website.

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.

New bike shop celebrates opening in downtown Hamtramck

It may have taken longer than initially expected, but the Wheelhouse Detroit bicycle shop has officially opened for business in downtown Hamtramck. The Hamtramck location complements owner Kelli Kavanaugh's original Wheelhouse Detroit, which opened on the Detroit RiverWalk in 2008.

Since we first reported on the Hamtramck location this past March, Kavanaugh has been working on getting the storefront ready for business. Permits have been approved, inspections have been passed, and numerous construction projects have been completed, including a new roof, lighting, and HVAC and electrical systems.

While it may not be prime bike-buying season, Kavanaugh wanted to open the store on Black Friday and in time for the holiday shopping rush.

"I feel relieved," Kavanaugh says of the store's opening. "It's a mixture of excitement and anxiety. It's a fruition of a dream several years in the making but there's that anxiety of spending the money on the new shop. But the exciting things in life are always a combination of those two feelings."

In stocking the store with bicycles, accessories, and active wear, Kavanaugh has placed an emphasis on selecting products that were made in the United States. Those products include bicycles from the Detroit-based Detroit Bikes, locks from Kabletek, and bags from Green Guru, Alchemy, Chrome Industries, Ironweed and Timbuk2.

Kavanaugh has also teamed up with Hamtramck-based apparel maker William + Bonnie, creating a new line of cycling clothing for professionals cycling to work. The line of apparel is available exclusively at the Wheelhouse shop.

[Check out this Model D article on the unique aesthetic of the garment shop William + Bonnie]

Other Wheelhouse features include a service department, rentals, and guided tours.

The shop's winter hours are Sunday, noon to 5 p.m., Monday, noon to 6 p.m., Thursday, noon to 6 p.m., Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The new Wheelhouse Detroit is located at 9401 Joseph Campau St. in Hamtramck.

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.
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