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Detroit Development News

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Family brings the craft of shoe repair to Grandmont Rosedale

When Moe Draper of Detroit Shoe Repair compliments the quality of shoe you've brought him, you can't help but feel a rush of pride. This is a man who's seen a lot of shoes. That pride quickly turns into a sheepish embarrassment, however, realizing just how poor of shape those shoes were in. They were going to need a lot of work. Over the next hour, Moe paced from one end of the shop to the other, re-heeling, re-soling, re-sealing, and shining my shoes and bringing them back to life. It wasn't just a lesson in shoe repair, it was a lesson in craftsmanship.

Moe and his wife Aziza opened Detroit Shoe Repair in December 2014. The Grandmont Rosedale storefront on Grand River is the second shoe repair and shine location for the Drapers, who have been running an operation out of Shed 4 at Eastern Market since 2012. This year should be a busy one for the family as they look to open a third location. Moe is also preparing his own line of boots to debut December 2015.

Moe got into the shoe business by shining at Detroit bars. He parlayed that into shoe shining gigs with the Detroit Police Department and the Claymore Shop in Birmingham. Spending so much time at shoe repair shops while buying supplies, Moe networked and built relationships with influential cobblers, eventually traveling with a shoe repair champion to Florida to learn more about the trade.

Moe takes great pride in the craft of shoe repair and enjoys educating people about shoes as much as he does fixing them. Aziza, who also works at the shop, says that most people don't even know that they can get their shoes repaired, they just throw them away and get another pair. The Drapers say that as long as they perform high quality work, word will spread and business will continue to grow.

"You have to stay consistent. When you stay consistent, more and more people will write about you. And the main thing is, when they come see you, be worthwhile to be written about," says Moe. "I just try and do the best I can every day and never get tired of selling the pitch."

Moe opened his first shop downtown in Detroit's financial district. While that shop eventually closed, it was there where he met his wife Aziza, who was running her own natural hair salon nearby. In 2012, the couple combined forces and moved on to open their shoe repair and shining station at Shed 4 in Eastern Market.

They've done well at Eastern Market, where customers can watch Moe repair shoes right in front of them. They've become part of the community there. The Drapers launched a shoe drive for the area homeless; outfitting people with proper footwear, especially in the winter months, can save lives.

In December 2014, the Drapers opened their second shoe repair location, the aforementioned storefront in the Grandmont Rosedale neighborhood. Moe grew up there and the family recently moved back to the area. They're working to establish themselves in that neighborhood as they ready location number three.

Detroit Shoe Repair is located at 18716 Grand River Ave.

Source: Moe and Aziza Draper, owners of Detroit Shoe Repair
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

It's only a matter of time before water taxis and trolley buses come to the riverfront

A multi-modal transit system along the Detroit River is one step closer to reality. Plans call for a water taxi and trolley bus system that would initially run from Belle Isle to the Ambassador Bridge. Depending on international developments, the transit system could expand to include ferry service between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.

The Detroit RiverFront Conservancy commissioned Freshwater Transit Solutions to develop the system. The conservancy is now preparing presentations for community partners as they seek to secure funding for the project. Will Smith, CFO of the conservancy, characterizes the water taxi/trolley bus service as a must-have for connecting residents in city neighborhoods to the riverfront.

"It's something that we'll be implementing, we're just not sure when," says Smith. "We're not going to build something we can't take care of. We'll get our ducks in a row and it will happen at some point soon, even if it's in phases."

In its plans, Freshwater Transit evaluated the feasibility of the project, how to implement it, and how it will impact local residents and businesses. The basics of the plan have a 40- to 50-foot water taxi with a 75- to 100-person capacity travelling along the Detroit River. Trolley buses would both travel along the riverfront and make connections to nearby neighborhoods in places like Southwest Detroit and the East Jefferson Corridor.

"This isn't going to be just a little system like a Disney ride," says Tom Choske, President of Freshwater Transit. "We want something that has wider value and makes the riverfront more accessible to everyone."

Both Smith and Choske expect the system to roll out in phases, expanding its range as time goes by. One hope is that the system will put pressure on Canada to build a docking facility similar to the Detroit Wayne County Port Authority's, a building designed with international customs operations in mind. Once a Canadian equivalent is built in Windsor, the transit system could then expand to include international ferry service between the two cities, says Choske.

While there is no official beginning date for the transit system, Smith says the conservancy could run some demonstrations this summer to see how it works. But for now, it's about finding the funding.

It will be another busy summer for the conservancy as it prepares to celebrate the opening of the DNR Outdoor Adventure Center, an extension of the Dequindre Cut, and adding more events to the RiverWalk, including the recently announced move of the Downtown Hoedown to the West RiverWalk expansion. Now that they've passed their plans to the conservancy, Freshwater Transit is focusing efforts on a crowdfunding campaign to promote the Regional Transit Authority.

Source: Will Smith, CFO of Detroit RiverFront Conservancy, Tom Choske, President of Freshwater Transit Solutions
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Corktown Inn reinvents itself as the Corktown Hotel, hopes to clean up its act

The old Corktown Inn is cleaning up its act. Though stingy with the details, an unnamed ownership group that purchased the inn in October 2014 is committed to a complete overhaul of the hotel, according to newly-hired director of sales Suzette Daye. In what's now re-branded as the Corktown Hotel, the 144 rooms could begin to see major renovations within months.

A local design firm is handling the room renovations, though Daye wouldn't say which one. Local artisans, including the Nordin brothers, will provide much of the décor for each room. Daye says that the Corktown will be a boutique hotel, meaning that each floor and even each room could be different from one another. Three concept rooms are currently available to rent.

In addition to re-designing the rooms, Daye says that a number of other improvements are planned for the site. New landscaping will better expose the hotel to the street. An old restaurant space will be revived. Workout facilities will be added. A courtyard will be spruced up and there's also mention of a green roof.

For all of the improvements and additional amenities planned for the hotel, perhaps what's most notable, at least presently, are the subtractions. Gone is the cigarette smoking. So, too, is the infamous vending machine containing lighters, condoms, and women's underwear. Room rentals in three-hour blocks have also been eliminated. Even the old security dummy has been retired.

Daye admits that the changes have led to a loss of some of the customers -- "We've lost a lot of the party people, I guess you could say," -- but that's to be expected as the inn switches to a boutique hotel. Plus, she's heard positive things from the hotel's neighbors since the new rules have been implemented.

It's a transition period for the hotel, after the "party people" have left but before all of the upgrades have been made. In the meantime, Daye's trying to drum up business, distributing promotional fliers to neighborhood bars. Drink too much at a Corktown establishment? Bring the flier to the hotel for a $50 overnight stay. While the rooms aren't "boutique" yet, they're clean and not out of the ordinary.

Source: Suzette Daye, director of sales at the Corktown Hotel
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Who's going to operate M-1 Rail? Organization seeks bids

The search is on for the third-party operator of the M-1 Rail. The group behind the winning proposal will manage day-to-day operations and maintenance of the light rail line, which is currently under construction. All submissions are due by April 16.

The M-1 Rail will be a 3.3-mile long streetcar line stretching from downtown to New Center. The organization behind the project is a nonprofit, put in place by the private businesses and philanthropic organizations that created and funded the line.

Third-party operators of light rail lines is nothing new in the U.S. Streetcar systems in Tucson and New Orleans utilize third-party operators of their lines. Other cities that are currently building their own streetcar systems, including Kansas City, Oklahoma City, and Washington, D.C., are also searching for third-party operators.

The responsibilities of running the M-1 are many, including the hiring, training, and scheduling of employees. They also include the development of a standards of practice for customer service, safety, and fare collections. Track, switch, signal, and platform maintenance is required. The maintenance and cleaning of the vehicles is also included.

"Passengers want a reliable, safe, and clean experience and the operator of the line will be a catalyst for that," says Paul Childs, chief operating officer of M-1 Rail. "The contractor we select will begin working with us at least 12 months in advance of streetcar operations. They will be instrumental in developing processes and procedures for operations and fulfilling all of the obligations required by Federal, State, and City government agencies."

Details of the contract include an initial five year operating agreement with M-1 retaining the rights to extend that contract another two to five years. M-1 Rail officials expect operating costs at $5 million a year.

Source: M-1 Rail press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Developer's second Woodbridge rehab, the "Up House," nears completion

When 4722 Avery St. was auctioned off by the Detroit Land Bank Authority in May 2014, it received 205 bids, with the winner laying down $87,100 for the historic Woodbridge home, which was built in 1881. Alex Pereira and his Secure Realty company placed that 205th bid. Don't tell the city, but Pereira was prepared to spend as much as $130,000 on the house, determined, he says, to add the home to his growing list of Woodbridge properties.

Now the owner of three homes in Woodbridge, Pereira is in negotiations to purchase two more. He says he's committed to a detailed and quality rehabilitation of these homes and a tour of his 4722 Avery property confirms as much. On top of the $87,100 purchase price, Pereira says he's investing $150,000 into the house, making it nearly as grand as it was when it was first built -- and much more energy efficient.

It's the exteriors of his houses, however, that have received all of the attention. This is because Pereira fashions the historic homes after children's stories. His first Detroit property, 4759 Trumbull, features the Lorax, the character of a Dr. Seuss book of the same name. Pereira's latest house, 4722 Avery, has been painted in bright blue, yellow, and green, modeled after the house from "Up," a Pixar and Disney computer-animated film from 2009.

Pereira's aesthetic choices have elicited a range of reactions from neighbors and passersby, both positive and negative. It's a bold color scheme, bound to spark conversation. But for whatever kickback he has received, Pereira remains unfazed, saying that the initial criticisms of the Lorax House have already waned. He suspects the same will be true for the Up House, as it's called. The longer it stands, the more accepted and part of the neighborhood it will become.

Despite the naysayers, Pereira is committed to seeing his vision through. Once construction is completed on the Up House next month, he'll begin work on a third house, this time on Commonwealth. Though he won't say which one, Pereira plans another design based off a children's book or movie. This one, he says, will be even brighter than the Up House.

"I just had a little boy, my first son. We're moving to this neighborhood, my wife and I and my son. I'm trying to create a place I think he'd like to live in," says Pereira.

The Up House is split into three flats, two two-bedroom units and a one-bedroom. The first floor has already been leased.

Source: Alex Pereira, developer at Secure Realty
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Finally: Over 1,000 new windows for Michigan Central Station

As with anything Michigan Central Station-related, the Internet is abuzz with the news that the historic train station will be outfitted with new windows. While it is unclear what the owners of Michigan Central Station ultimately have planned for the building, Chamberlain Glass & Metal, Inc. of St. Clair has announced that they've been hired to produce a new window system for the tower. Over 1,000 window openings will be filled.

According to the company, they've been working with the Maroun family, owners of the famously blighted building, to find a window system that meets the modern needs of a contemporary office while remaining true to the spirit of the historic building.

In June of 2014, Model D reported that the Marouns pulled $676,000 in city permits for construction work that included, "a 9,000-pound capacity freight elevator inside the old smokestack mechanical shaft and safety improvements such as railings on interior staircases." Though details were murky at the time, Chamberlain reveals that the elevator is being built, at least in part, to facilitate the glass operation.

The company expects elevator construction to finish soon, after which they will begin the task of installing over 1,000 windows. Chamberlain says that it will be "a few more months" before Michigan Central Station is once again fully outfitted with windows.

Michigan Central Station opened in 1913 as the city's main rail depot. Eighteen 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: Chamberlain Glass & Metal, Inc.
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Students pitch development ideas for Fisher Body Plant 21

Representatives of the city of Detroit, Vanguard Community Development Corporation, German Marshall Fund of the U.S., and University of Michigan's Taubman College of Architecture and Planning gathered Wednesday, Feb. 18, to hear University of Michigan students' pitches for the redevelopment of Fisher Body Plant 21. The event was organized by Michigan's Center for Social Impact and held at the Ross School of Business.

Dannan Hodge, Arthur Endsley, Drew Phillips, and Fulton Breen made up Team Impact, which won the Social Impact Challenge. They proposed a mixed-use development that utilized qualified workers and skilled tradespersons from the North End community, where the Fisher 21 is located. Those workers would ultimately transform the building into a space where they themselves could live and work.

A second team also pitched a mixed-use development. The third team proposed a complex devoted to 3D printing, one they theorized would make Detroit the 3D printing capital of the world.

While largely academic in nature, the event offered new ideas for the abandoned factory, ideas that could one day influence city decision-making. David Williams, senior advisor to the City of Detroit Mayor's Office and its Jobs and Economy Team, was one of the judges. He says that for all the challenges a massive development project like the Fisher Body Plant faces, it's exciting to see so many people engage with the issues facing the city. The more brains, he says, the better.

"All these ideas help push the conversation forward," says Williams. "And the further that conversation goes, the more likely we're able to renovate something like the Fisher building."

The teams had two weeks to develop a plan for the site, one that included everything from budgets to funding sources, jobs numbers to community relationships. The winning team received $2,500 for their proposal.

Source: David Williams, senior advisor to the City of Detroit Mayor's Office
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

February development news round-up

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

The on-again-off-again State Fairgrounds redevelopment is back on the upswing. A team of developers that includes NBA basketball legend and Michigan-native Earvin 'Magic' Johnson has submitted plans to the city that include the potential for hundreds of apartments, hundreds of thousands of square feet of retail, and more. Of particular note is the idea for preserving historic structures on the grounds.

Dan Gilbert and his Bedrock Real Estate Services got permission from the Historic District Commission to demolish the old Grind strip club in Capitol Park in favor of a 10-story apartment tower. The Grind was located in a 19th century building recently damaged by fire. The proposed tower could provide up to 175 more apartments downtown.

An enormous mixed use building approved by the Historic District Commission may break ground in Brush Park soon. The 200,000 sq. ft., five-story building would include 200 loft-style apartments, according to Curbed. A unique shape has the building touching Woodward Avenue, Erskine Street, and Watson Street.

Two breweries celebrated openings in Corktown this month. Batch Brewing Company opened in the old Porter Street Station building at the corner of Porter and 8th streets. Batch is the winner of the 2013 Hatch Detroit contest, which awarded the brewery a $50,000 grant to open their business. Just a block away at 1401 Abbott St. is Brew Detroit, a brewing facility that just opened a 7,000 sq. ft. tasting room. The brewing facility itself has been open since April 2014.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Gilbert draws six more businesses into downtown office space

It's not all just tech start-ups and hip restaurants and retailers that Dan Gilbert and his Bedrock Real Estate Services are trying to lure downtown. Six more companies have opened offices in Gilbert-owned buildings and they're a varied group with not a yoga mat or graffiti project among them. That we know of.

Dixon Masonry is a union construction contractor dealing in commercial masonry and restoration services. They'll be opening an office in 660 Woodward, the First National Building. Insurance and risk management provider Colburn & Colburn will become their neighbors, also opening an office in the First National Building.

JFM Consulting Group and Great Lakes Architectural Products Group are each opening offices in 1301 Broadway. JFM offers consulting services in strategy, planning, research, and evaluation for nonprofits, philanthropic groups, and the public sector. Great Lakes is a representative and consulting firm of regional manufacturers, dealing in everything from LED lighting to custom millwork.

Siegfried Group, which says it's on a mission to make accounting more fun and productive, is opening an office in One Woodward. And Ultimate Parking Management, a company which controls over 13,000 parking spaces in Detroit's Central Business District, is opening an office in 1001 Woodward. Ultimate Parking manages the Compuware Garage and The Z, both Gilbert-owned properties.

Pete Brewis is president of Ultimate Parking and has worked downtown's parking scene for more than 20 years. "I have never seen the city so vibrant and positive about its future," says Brewis.

Dan Mullen, Vice President of Leasing and Development with Bedrock Real Estate Services, says, "Companies of all sizes representing many different sectors clearly see the advantages and great benefits of locating in Detroit’s dynamic urban core."

Each of the six companies have already moved into and are operating out of their new spaces downtown.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

$20 million in upgrades to Chandler Park will include new tennis, soccer, and football facilities

In news that's sure to make other Detroit park booster groups awfully jealous, the Chandler Park Conservancy is announcing millions of dollars in private and public investment for its namesake park. A first round of upgrades in what's promised to be many includes a new turf football and soccer field, improved tennis courts, a refurbished comfort station, and new grass soccer fields. A total of $2.5 million in improvements make up this first round of what's reported to be a total of $20 million in upgrades.

According to the Chandler Park Conservancy, the turf football and soccer field and tennis courts will debut by late spring. LAND, Inc. is overseeing the construction. The City of Detroit General Services Department is renovating the historic Comfort Station, which should also be completed by spring of this year. Chandler Park Conservancy expects the new grass soccer fields to be completed by spring of 2016. Mayor Mike Duggan has committed $250,000 for seeding the grass fields.

The Detroit Police Athletic League is charged with programming the fields in conjunction with some of their own football and soccer teams as well as the U.S. Tennis Association.

Included among the contributing groups are UAW Chrysler, the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation, NFL/LISC Fund, USA Soccer Foundation, LAND, Inc., Wayne County, and the City of Detroit. Phillip Pierce is Board Chair of the Conservancy and says that all the money and work being invested in the park is for the sake of the city's children.

Chandler Park itself is a 200-acre park on the city's east side, located off of I-94 at Conner Street. The nearly 100-year-old park is also home to the Wayne County Family Aquatic Center and the Chandler Park Golf Course.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Another Capitol Park development to receive state money

The state of Michigan has rewarded developers of a multi-million dollar downtown Detroit residential and commercial project with a cool $1 million. The money goes to 1145 Griswold Street, LLC, a company rehabilitating one of Capitol Park's historic buildings.

Transforming the vacant and dilapidated building at 1145 Griswold St. into 63 residential units and around 14,900 sq. ft. of commercial space is expected to cost $22.7 million. The $1 million Michigan Community Revitalization Program award is one part of a larger combination of developer equity, deferred developer fees, federal and state Historic Tax Credits, and state Brownfield Tax Credits that makes up two-thirds of the total project capital, says the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).

The MEDC and its Michigan Strategic Fund approved the money, citing the creation of 60 jobs among the project's benefits.

"These projects will act as catalysts for viable residential neighborhoods by creating downtown living options and redeveloping obsolete buildings into vibrant commercial and residential spaces," MEDC chief executive officer Steve Arwood says in a statement. "We are pleased to support these efforts to strengthen and further revitalize these communities."

This is not the first time the MEDC has contributed to a Capitol Park development. In Sep. 2014, the organization announced a $4,798,000 Michigan Community Revitalization Program performance-based investment for a five-story residential structure to be built on top of an already-existing parking garage next to the Book Cadillac Hotel.

According to that September report, 80 one-, two-, and three bedroom units are planned for the parking garage development. Three jobs are expected to be created.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

POP, downtown's new pop-up restaurant venue above Checker Bar, to feature Detroit Delhi

For all the restaurants he's helped launch, Steven Reaume says that the opening of POP in downtown Detroit has been the most exciting and inspiring yet. Reaume's been in the metro Detroit hospitality scene for around 30 years now and he's been a part of some impressive establishments, La Dolce Vita in Detroit and Pete's Place in Ferndale among them. POP, though, is different. A weekly dinner series, POP rotates professional and amateur chefs alike through a unique downtown space every Thursday night. This Thursday, Feb. 12, features Detroit Delhi, an Indian- and Kashmiri-inspired menu from Jesse Knott.

POP is located in an old private events space upstairs of the Checker Bar, a classic downtown Detroit beer-and-a-burger bar that Grand Trunk Pub owner Tim Tharp and Grand Trunk Pub general manager Dave Gregory purchased in the spring of 2014. Complete with kitchen facilities and a bar area that's big enough to seat 65, POP is accessed through the the Checker Bar.

Reaume says that POP is a labor of love for everyone involved. Checker doesn't charge chefs to bring their pop-ups to the space, only hoping to draw customers into the bar. And they're as much looking forward to giving opportunities to less-established chefs as they are professional ones.

"There's been a lot of hard work put into POP for a return that isn't that big," says Reaume. "It's just great to open a space where a kitchen and exposure are already there for chefs to come in and take advantage of. It's one of the most rewarding things I've done."

Reaume kicked off POP's debut with his own pop-up restaurant, Noodl, on Jan. 15. He'll be announcing a new menu and location for Noodl on Feb. 15. The pop-up will be on Feb. 28 and will feature four different gnocchi plates, each with their own Croatian-, French-, Italian-, and German-inspired sauces.

The food at POP is a la carte and this week's menu includes nacho chaat, navarathan kuruma, braised goat biryani, and chai-spiced coffee ice cream. A special cocktail menu with an emphasis on gin is also being prepared.

POP is located in the Checker Bar at 124 Cadillac Square and open from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. every Thursday. Overflow seating is available in the bar and food is served until it runs out.

Source: Steven Reaume, POP manager, Grand Trunk Pub kitchen manager, and Noodl proprietor
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Cafe 78, a new bar and eatery inside MOCAD, opens Friday

The team that brought Wright & Company to downtown Detroit is now opening a new café and bar just a ways up Woodward Avenue in Midtown. Dave Kwiatkowski (of Sugar House and Wright & Company fame) and Marc Djozlija (co-owner of Wright & Company and formerly of Wolfgang Puck), are opening Café 78 this Friday, Feb. 6. The café and bar is located inside the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) at 4454 Woodward Ave.

Café 78 will operate outside of the hours of museum operations, opening as early as 8 a.m. throughout the week and staying open as late as 10 p.m. on weekends. A breakfast menu features Anthology coffee and Zingerman's pastries. Lunch and dinner include salads, soups, and sandwiches. A full bar will be tended by Sugar House- and Wright & Company-trained staff, serving up beer, wine, and craft cocktails.

"We are extremely excited to partner with MOCAD and feel Café 78 will both enhance the museum experience and also draw a new crowd that possibly wouldn’t have visited the museum otherwise," says Kwiatkowski.

Daniel Moskop of Raleigh, North Carolina-based Dan Huffman Architecture designed the space. Moskop utilizes plywood paneling and phenolic-coated plywood to create a clean, minimalistic look, one highlighted by the natural light drawn in from the pre-exisisting 14-foot glass garage door. The 4,800-square-foot space seats 179, both in tables and along the 14-foot bar.

"We are delighted to partner with Café 78," says Elysia Borowy-Reeder, MOCAD’s executive director. "Their excellent, creative and internationally-inspired food and beverages and premiere service standards are a great match for the museum, where we want to provide memorable experiences for our visitors and members, whether they enjoy a lunch or light snack during a visit to the museum, or an elegant catered dinner at a private evening affair."

Source: MOCAD press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Two artists each win $50K to bring projects to Detroit

A Detroit skate and sculpture park will be the beneficiary of a $50,000 grant awarded by the Joyce Foundation to Jamaicana-born artist Nari Ward and Detroit arts and community group Power House Productions. The two will partner on the construction of a new sculpture for the park on Detroit's east side.

Ride It Sculpture Park is located at the intersection of the E. Davison Freeway and Klinger Street, just north of Hamtramck. Power House Productions built the park, converting an unused vacant lot into a skate park, art installation, and community space. They've received national attention for the park, even drawing in legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk, who visited Ride It in 2013 and, through his foundation, awarded Power House Productions a $30,000 grant.

Ward plans on using the Joyce Award to spend the year in Detroit, where he'll take in the city and find inspiration for his sculpture. He'll also use that time to find locally-sourced materials for his piece.

"I have always wanted to come back and do another project in Detroit," says Ward. "The opportunity to work with Power House Productions on a large scale public sculpture offers me this opportunity. I look forward to encounter, experiment with, and accompany a community with humility and respect."

Also winning a $50,000 Joyce Award is Sanford Biggers. The New York City-based artist will partner with the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit in the creation of "Subjective Cosmology," a multidisciplinary piece that will explore American history. Biggers also plans on spending a year in the city as he gathers inspiration for the project and meets local artists and musicians.

The Joyce Awards presents itself as the only program to specifically support artists of color in the major cities throughout the Great Lakes region. A project in Chicago and a project in the Twin Cities join the two projects in Detroit as $50,000 winners.

Source: Joyce Foundation press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Community, city officials, and local celebs rally around re-opening of Lipke Rec Center

The Lipke Recreation Center in northeast Detroit has been closed for more than a year, and Lipke Park, though not in shambles, could use some work. A true public-private partnership, as Mayor Mike Duggan called it, has assembled $10 million to seriously upgrade the facilities and park, which will re-open as the S.A.Y. Detroit Play Center. City officials, community leaders, and local celebrities gathered Tuesday, Jan. 27, on Detroit's northeast side to announce the re-opening of the recreation center. Renovations will begin soon.

Author and Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom is largely responsible for the re-opening. His S.A.Y. Detroit foundation is the driving force, promising after-school programming for children eight to 18 years old. Kids with GPAs of 2.5 and above and good school attendance records will have access to six basketball courts, a new soccer and lacrosse field, a renovated baseball field with a new scoreboard and stands, a workout facility with machines and equipment, a dance studio, and a recording studio complete with instruments and teachers. The recording studio is provided by Note for Note.

Plans for Lipke call for the covering of its swimming pool and the construction of a digital learning lab staffed by teachers and tutors. Children who don't meet the GPA and attendance requirements will have access to the learning lab, where they will be mentored. Albom says that for every hour they spend in the lab, they'll earn an hour of use in the rest of the facilities.

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was also on hand. He and his Score 7 foundation have pledged $1 million for a new football field and training facilities. An on-field practice bubble will be provided in the winter so children can play football in the cold weather.

Albom says that earning access to the multi-million dollar athletics facility will act as an incentive to neighborhood kids who need to raise their grades, calling it a carrot in front of the horse. "I'm happy to be that carrot," says Stafford.

Both Stafford and Albom stressed a ten-year commitment to the center with hopes of extending the programming long after that. Stafford says he'll make regular trips to the football field over that time and bring some of his Lions teammates, garnering loud applause from the community members gathered to hear the announcement.

Sources: Mayor Mike Duggan, Mitch Albom, and Matthew Stafford
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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