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Live Coal Gallery in Woodbridge getting renovations, reopening in September

The Live Coal Gallery has been open in Woodbridge since April, but the owner has been steadily making improvements to the two-story duplex on Trumbull as she prepares for a new exhibit opening in September.
 
The first floor of the two-family house at 5029 Trumbull is the home of the gallery and museum. There is a gift shop in the front and a small permanent collection along with rotating exhibits. Yvette Rock, owner and curator of Live Coal Gallery, says 99 percent of the work shown is by local artists. The gallery also tries to show emerging artists on the scene. Its last exhibit on Modern Impressionists featured works by well-respected Detroit artist and professor Gilda Snowden.
 
Rock has not received any grants or funding to build her museum or its collection. "I've had to make a lot of sacrifices," she says. "I'm an artist and I love art. As an artist I want to support other artists." As a visual mixed media artist, Rock has always worked with youth, running art workshops at schools and nonprofits, and has a vision of eventually having a huge collection of artwork created by Detroit high school students.
 
Though the museum itself has never received funding, Rock received a grant from the city to do some exterior work to the house this spring. As part of the city's lead abatement program, this grant enabled her to replace the windows and build a new deck. The grant was not for the gallery itself but for the owners of the home, but any improvements done to the home also helps the business. "We would love to have a commercial space but we don't have the capital backup. I'm glad we can start at this level."
 
The gallery is currently closed through August as Rock does more "priming and scraping" to get the space ready for a new three-person photography show opening Sept. 6, featuring the work of Detroit photographers Stanley Larry, Rashaun Rucker, and Mohan Karulkar. The public reception opens at 6 p.m.
 
Source: Yvette Rock, owner of Live Coal Gallery
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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

The "Z" development parking garage will be a unique art and retail experience downtown

The so-called "Z" development in downtown Detroit, is starting to take shape, so to speak.
 
The five-story, 535,000-square-foot Z-shaped parking garage that zig-zags across a block of downtown Detroit adjacent to Greektown is on track to be completed by the end of December, and as part of this parking structure's construction plan – which will add 1,300 parking spaces to downtown Detroit – the 33,000 square feet of space on the street level will all be for retail.
 
"We have a general philosophy when building a parking deck," says Dan Mullen, Vice President of Development for Bedrock Real Estate, which is developing the property (all part of Dan Gilbert's master plan for downtown). "It has to have ground floor retail. It's really important to us to activate the area."
 
As the development progresses we will see more and more differentiation between the storefronts. Each retailer that signs on – and a few already have, though Mullen and the Bedrock et.al. team are tight-lipped regarding which – is able to develop their own storefront according to their own vision, whether they want to use reclaimed wood or metal or a different color scheme. "It really looks like we're going to have a great contrast of storefronts," Mullen says." The 33,000 square feet of space is not being partitioned off into pre-set spaces, allowing retailers to commit to only as much square footage as they need. Each storefront will have its own street entrance as well as an entrance from the garage.
 
The garage is also an attraction in itself. Bedrock, working closely with downtown Detroit art gallery Library Street Collective, plans on making the garage "exciting" and "dynamic," providing people with a unique experience from the second they pull their cars into the garage. The walls will be decorated with graffiti art from artists from around the country. They are currently working on their "art plan" for the interior of the parking deck, deciding which artists they'll be working with and so on. "If it's a parking deck we can still make it interesting," Mullen says. "We want this to be a unique experience you can't get anywhere else. We want people literally saying, 'You have to go downtown just to park in this garage.'"
 
They will also make improvements to the alley behind the building with ample lighting and stamped or colored concrete, "activating" this space as well.
 
The "Z" garage will be ready for its first cars before the new year, while retail tenants will start opening starting next spring. This project is led by Neumann/Smith Architecture, which oversees most of Bedrock's developments.
 
Source: Dan Mullen, Vice President of Development for Bedrock Real Estate
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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PNC Bank invests in LEED-certified new construction and community education in Detroit

One of the new tenants that will be opening as part of the Gateway Marketplace development at 8 Mile Rd. and Woodward is a free-standing PNC Bank branch.
 
PNC has made a name for itself as an extremely eco-conscious company, leading the industry in green building practices and spearheading city-wide transformative green initiatives in cities like Pittsburgh. The company has over 200 LEED-certified buildings in 16 different states as well as Washington D.C. and London. It has received 136 certifications for new construction, more than any other company in the world.
 
Each of the new buildings is constructed to LEED certification standards. "This is automatic," says PNC Bank Retail Market Executive Mike Bickers. "All new buildings will get that certification."
 
A new branch at 7 Mile Rd. and Evergreen in Detroit, an interior renovation (as opposed to new construction), was recently awarded a LEED certification, and the new building at Gateway Marketplace, the first full-service stand-alone PNC Bank branch in Detroit, will be as well once it is finished.
 
PNC is looking to increase its presence in Detroit in the coming years, and expect the new Gateway Marketplace to be a big stepping stone for the company in its effort to reach out to the Detroit community. At the 7 Mile location, they invite churches and nonprofit groups to come in and educate customers on their finances and how to stay out of trouble – everything from credit repair to avoiding and addressing identity theft to investment and money management. "Principally we want folks, whether they have a dime or a dollar, to learn how to manage their money better," Bickers says. "We're not interested in pushing people into getting credit. We need to get everyone into financial well-being and we will do that in every office."
 
The new Eight Mile location will offer the same kind of financial education and support. It will have three drive-through lanes, the full host of personal and corporate banking services and customer care offered by PNC, and all the most up-to-date technology, "the latest and greatest of what we do."
 
The Gateway Marketplace PNC won't open until next spring. In the meantime the bank is focused on doing all the pre-opening groundwork: reaching out to community organizations and churches to follow the same educational model it set forth at 7 Mile and Evergreen, and reaching out to other businesses in the Marketplace and surrounding community. "We can't do this without the cooperation of the businesses around us."
 
Source: Mike Bickers, Retail Market Executive for PNC Bank
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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

Hatch Detroit to announce 10 semifinalists for 2013 this Thursday

This Thursday Hatch Detroit will announce 10 semifinalists for 2013. Now in its third year, Hatch Detroit has grown from a $50,000 small business contest to a full-blown small business incubator.
 
Since it first launched in 2011, Hatch has completed two full rounds of contests in which the winner receives $50,000 cash as well as a host of free business services including legal, accounting, marketing and advertising, and IT support from Hatch and its partners.
 
2011 winner Hugh opened inside the Auburn building in Midtown last fall. 2012 winner La Feria is putting on the finishing touches and will open this fall. But the top prize winners aren’t the only winners of Hatch. Several semifinalists from the last two years are in the process of opening their own storefronts, in many ways assisted by the tremendous publicity they received from being Hatch participants.
 
Past participants include:

 
Alley Wine (2011) – received re-zoning approval needed for alley space in Midtown, now working on other licensing and still fully committed to opening (owners hope for a 2014 opening)
 
Anthology Coffee (2011) – now roasting and serving coffee while working on their permanent space inside Ponyride in Corktown.
 
Detroit Gypsy Kitchen (2011) – functioning as an occasional pop-up.
 
Detroit Institute of Bagels (2011) – working on permanent space in Corktown to open later this year.
 
Detroit River Sports (2012) – working as a monthly kayak rental pop-up on Belle Isle, still working with city to open full-time.
 
Detroit Vegan Soul (2012) – working on permanent space in West Village to open later this year.
 
Pot & Box (2011) – working on permanent space in Corktown to open later this year.
 
Rock City Eatery (2012) – working on permanent space in Hamtramck to open in September.
 
Tashmoo Biergarten (2012) – functioning as an occasional pop-up.
 
Hatch Detroit Executive Director Vittoria Katanski says that they are looking to expand the portion of their program in which they assist and promote previous semifinalists. With help from a grant from Strategic Staffing Solutions, they will be developing the pocket park that will be a key feature of Detroit Institute of Bagels, one of the first semifinalists from previous contests to open.
 
Hatch is also partnered with the Detroit Lions on their Living for the City initiative, which focuses on building up the retail presence in some of Detroit's other (read: non-Midtown, Corktown and downtown) neighborhoods. They are working together with local community development corporations (CDCs) to determine what the needs of these neighborhoods are – improving signage, facades, activating empty storefronts – and how best to address them. Their current neighborhood of focus is the Avenue of Fashion, which was recently awarded $1.7 million in beautification and streetscape upgrade investments and is also a major focus of the DEGC.
 
Kattanski says, "The whole neighborhood initiative is to help existing businesses and perk up their spaces," adding that a lot of emphasis is placed on bringing in new businesses but not as much attention is paid to those that have been working and serving Detroit's neighborhoods all along. "These are great businesses on the Avenue of Fashion and this will help improve the retail experience for their customers."
 
While the top 10 haven't yet been announced, Kattanski says that the number of quality applicants this year was much higher than before, estimating about 90 percent of the applications received were quality proposals with solid, well-thought-out ideas.
 
Source: Vittoria Kattanski, Hatch Detroit Executive Director
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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

Zipcar car-sharing now available to all downtown residents

The world's largest car-sharing service is now available in downtown Detroit.
 
Zipcar, founded in Massachusetts in 2000, is now available for use for all of the estimated 6,000 downtown Detroit residents thanks to Rock Ventures.
 
Matthew Roling, Director of Business Development for Rock Ventures, was turned on to the concept after seeing Wayne State University's own Zipcar program (available to students, faculty and staff). "Anything we can do to make downtown more desirable for young people to live, work, and play is something we're focused on," Roling says. He adds that there are a lot of different ways to encourage transit development in the city, and allowing people the opportunity to go carless by still giving them access to cars as needed is an important step.
 
Zipcar has issued two cars for this pilot downtown program. The cars are located inside the Bedrock-owned garage at 1001 Woodward across from Compuware. To utilize this car-sharing program, create an account on zipcar.com and wait for your Zipcard to arrive in the mail. The card is loaded with all of your information; this is how you will be able to access your reservation. Make a reservation online (availability is first-come, first-serve; while cars may be available on demand, in order to ensure availability it is recommended you reserve in advance), then at your reservation time you just walk up to the car you reserved and swipe your Zipcard. Et voila.
 
Reservations cost between $8 and $10 per hour, depending on the car. More cars may become available in the future depending on how much demand this pilot program creates.
 
While Rock Ventures/Quicken Loans team members are being offered incentives to use this program and go carless, this Zipcar program is available to ALL downtown residents.
 
Source: Matthew Roling, Director of Business Development for Rock Ventures
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Vanguard CDC works with Life Remodeled and others on large-scale beautification in North End

Vanguard Community Development Corporation has wrapped up a large-scale beautification project in Detroit's North End neighborhood in partnership with nonprofits Life Remodeled, ARISE Detroit!, Central Detroit Christian; corporate partners GM, Quicken Loans, Ford; and others.
 
Life Remodeled is a faith-based organization that brings in members from churches from all over metro Detroit to do large-scale beautification projects in different neighborhoods throughout the city, like an extreme home makeover but all curb appeal.
 
They did a clean-up in the North End last year, but this year's was much more aggressive. Working in conjunction with Vanguard, whose offices are located in the North End, as well as the nearby Central Detroit Christian church, they targeted 48 blocks for beautification over seven days. "They are making a really big impact in a short amount of time in a relatively large area," says Jennifer Ruud, Communications and Outreach Coordinator of Vanguard CDC.
 
Life Remodeled worked with Vanguard to identify which homes and streets in the North End needed to be focused on. "They wanted to make sure what they were doing would support and build on programs we're planning on launching in the next year," says Ruud. Vanguard conducted land surveys to determine which homes were vacant and needed to be boarded up or slated for demolition, and other finer details of the streets in the neighborhood.
 
Volunteers built one house, boarded up 250 houses, beautified about 48 blocks, and did small scale remodels on 24 houses. About 5,000 volunteers came out over seven days offering assistance, even skilled labor. Life Remodeled has received corporate support, support from community fundraising, and in-kind donations of labor and materials to help them achieve their goals.
 
In the next few months, Vanguard CDC will be launching Restore North End, which will make money available to residents on specific streets in the North End to invest in different curb appeal improvements, from new roofs and siding to repaired porches. "This will help (us) stabilize (a neighborhood) that is doing pretty good but needs a little boost," Ruud says. She remarks that this program has been in the works for awhile, and thanks to the massive beautification efforts spearheaded by Life Remodeled, "Now we can go in and focus more on that."
 
Source: Jennifer Ruud, Communications and Outreach Coordinator of Vanguard CDC
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Rubbed European-style sandwich shop to open in Corktown later this year

Corktown will soon have a new sandwich shop, but don't expect it to be anything like Mudgie's Deli.
 
Partners Jason Frenkel and Abbey Markell have worked in the restaurant industry together for the past 10 years and have been planning their own concept for the past four. Frenkel spent a few years traveling for work, then decided to move back from San Francisco this past February to work on Rubbed restaurant and deli with Markell.
 
The name "Rubbed" refers to cured meats, specifically how meats are cured with a dry salt rub. They will focus on more European styles of "deli" meats – less the corned beef Detroiters are accustomed to associating with delis, and more long-cured Italian meats like capicola and mortadella. They have a vintage prosciutto slicer and will put a large emphasis on charcuterie, also serving charcuterie platters to go.
 
Though the focus will be on cured meats, they will also feature vegetarian items and weekly specials based on what is in season and available at local farmers markets. "We want to have something for everyone," Frenkel says, which will also include over a dozen house-made pickled products (based on what's in season) at any given time, as well as items from other Detroit producers. Frenkel and Markell are also in the beginning stages of applying for a license to serve alcohol, though they are not sure yet if it will be a full liquor license or a limited tavern license that would only allow them to serve beer and wine (like Mudgie's).
 
They will be open for both lunch and dinner, serving sandwiches and salads for the more grab-and-go lunch crowd then transitioning more into shareable small plates and fresh entrée features for the evening crowd. They will be able to seat about 25 inside, but they also have a large outdoor patio which they are hoping to expand. Once open, they plan to host events like movie screenings and group bike rides.
 
Build-out of the 1,000-square-foot building at 2015 Michigan Avenue, located next to the new MotorCity Wine, will start this month. In keeping with its theme, the design will have the feel of a European cafe. Frenkel and Markell are launching a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign to help them offset some of the build-out costs (follow them on Facebook to see when the campaign is announced). They hope to be open as early as mid-October.
 
Source: Jason Frenkel and Abbey Markell, owners of Rubbed
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Detroit Disc Golf now open for free year-round play on Belle Isle

Detroit now has its own disc golf course, located on the old golf course on Belle Isle. So, how exactly did Detroit Disc Golf come to be? "It all started on a gloomy night in a gloomy bar…" says co-founder Chris Haag. He and his friends used to live in the suburbs where they had five disc golf courses within minutes of their homes. When they moved to Detroit, there wasn't a single course within 45 minutes.
 
After that one fateful night at the bar in 2011, Haag and his friends decided they were going to build a disc golf course in Detroit. After deciding a citywide course wasn't practical they thought, why not Belle Isle? They started working with Detroit's Parks & Recreation Department and within a couple of months hosted their first disc golf tournament on Belle Isle. About 150 people came to play and another 100 came to watch. "I've had people say to me it was the most spectated and received the most media attention of any disc golf tournament they've seen," says Haag.
 
Haag – along with Andrew Frazier, who owns Up in the Air Disc Golf in Waterford; Nick Oliver, who owns Commotion Designs and handles all of their graphics and print materials; as well as dozens of others who rallied around them and volunteered their time to make it happen – stayed in touch with park management through that winter and spring. Finally Belle Isle management suggested they use the old golf course – 32 acres of land with a ticket booth, covered bridge, a lake, and a small river. So Haag and the core team of Detroit Disc Golf organizers and over a hundred volunteers hosted the second annual Battle at the Belle in 2012 with food and beverage sponsors, live bands, even a puppet show. Around 400 people came out for the two-day tournament, and people even camped on the island.
 
The course they used for the tournament was a temporary one. Detroit Disc Golf received official approval from Belle Isle to build their course in the park just this spring. As soon as that happened, the Michigan Disc Golf Organization donated three baskets, and just a few days later a private donor gave them 16 more – a value of around $8,000 in donated equipment. "In a snap of the fingers we had all the equipment we needed to build the course," Haag says. They spent two months on the layout and design, and just last week completed the installation.
 
Detroit Disc Golf is now open and is currently offering free play year-round (except for leagues and tournaments). As maintaining the course is not without its expenses (like $1,200 every time they need to cut the grass, which is a minimum of twice per month), they are talking about organizing as a nonprofit and are currently running a fundraising campaign through Detroit's own Patronicity at Detroitdiscgolf.org.
 
Haag described this as his "feel-good hobby to be involved with the city;" the guys aren't in it for profit. Their ultimate goal is to bring the Professional Disc Golf Association World Championships to Detroit in a few years. "This is a bottom-up project; if people didn't want it, it wouldn't be there."
 
Source: Chris Haag, co-founder of Detroit Disc Golf
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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D MET adds a new facade and continues renovations at 4130 Cass, home of La Feria

In the emerging Cass Corridor Design District shaping up at the corner of Cass Avenue and Canfield, 2012 Hatch Detroit contest winner La Feria has been hard at work renovating their space and getting ready to open. But just last week some exterior improvements were done that have made the tapas restaurant's progress much more visible.
 
The building at 4130 Cass is a lot more than just the new home of La Feria. Owned by local artist Adnan Charara, the whole building is undergoing a remodeling. Charara's studio is located in the back of the building, where he also plans on opening a community gallery. The front of the building is sectioned off into two retail spaces about 1,000 square feet each – one is La Feria; the other he is still seeking a tenant to inhabit (this is some prime real estate and once people realize it's available, it won't last long).
 
D MET Design is the architecture and design studio that has been commissioned to do the buildout of La Feria as well as the façade for the whole building. Elizabeth Skrisson, LEED AP and co-owner of D MET along with her husband Joel Schmidt, Architect Principal, says that the La Feria renovation is moving along and is currently being framed and drywalled.
 
"La Feria" is actually an outdoor street festival held every spring in Seville, Spain. In its design for the space, D MET wanted to capture some of that exuberance – the lights, the food, the colors, the dancing. The idea behind the design is to make the interior look like an exterior: the walls are exposed brick, the ceiling painted a bright red and shaped to take on the feel of one of the outdoor tents where food is served during the festival. It is a mix of old and new: the original brick, wooden ceiling joists and terrazzo floor will remain while a new bar, kitchen, and tiles hand-made by chef and co-owner Pilar Baron Hildago will be added. Festival lights and naturally-derived colors will also be used, and during the summer the large storefront window will open with a bench seat that will connect the indoors to the outdoor patio.
 
Concurrently with the La Feria buildout, D MET has also been working on the façade for 4130 Cass. The historic building was built in the 1800s and the exterior was in disrepair when Charara purchased the building. D MET wanted to take an approach that protected the historic structure using modern materials, something that could attach to it without destroying it, so they used cement fiber board panels in "playful geometric" patterns that complement Charara's own artistic style while also reinterpreting the bay windows and cornices of neighboring buildings. Skrisson says they "wanted to get a lot of texture and play" from the panels, and the materials used are also relatively inexpensive, allowing them to stay within the budget of the façade improvement grant Charara received from Midtown Detroit Inc.
 
"This is another strong piece of the puzzle along Cass," Skrisson says, "not only occupied and lively but also a design-forward piece too. (We wanted it to) be something to push design-forward thinking in the neighborhood."
 
And so the Cass Corridor Design District has another showpiece.
 
D MET is the architecture and design firm behind Great Lakes Coffee in Midtown, Rodin in the Park Shelton, and the recent Canine to Five exterior renovation. Their next project is a new façade for the Hub of Detroit.
 
Source: Elizabeth Skrisson, co-owner of D MET Design
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Quicken Loans partners with Zagster on downtown bike-sharing program

Rock Ventures/Quicken Loans employees have a new way to cruise around town. Quicken has partnered with Zagster, a Massachusetts-based bike sharing company, to bring bike sharing to downtown Detroit. Zagster has a Detroit connection in Fontinalis Partners, Bill Ford's venture capital company that is one of the startup's investors.
 
The good news: there is now a bike sharing program in downtown Detroit. The bad news: it's only available to employees of the Quicken family of companies – all 9,200 of them.
 
However, if this program performs well with employees, Quicken is using it to vet a larger program that would extend into other parts of the city in collaboration with other entities.
 
About a year ago Wayne State University started investigating a city bike sharing system for the greater downtown area, hiring a consultant and initiating the public dialogue. Quicken was equally interested, but after finding out the significant investment of time and money required to build such a system from the ground up, they decided to partner with Zagster. "We wanted to get it up and running fast," says David Carroll, self-titled "Vice President of Miscellaneous Stuff" with Rock Ventures/Quicken Loans. "It was already April and we had 1,000 paid interns coming down here this year. We wanted to get something running, get some excitement for it, see people on the street, and also for the long term see if a citywide program makes sense" – particularly as we get into the winter months.
 
Zagster already has the bikes and racks, as well as the technology to monitor and report on usage – who is using the bikes, for how long, at what times of day, how far are they going, and so on. "This is consistent with our culture of using technology and adapting quickly," Carroll says.
 
Quicken owns 30 buildings downtown and is able to locate all bikes and racks on its own property. They have signed a two-year agreement with Zagster with a 90-day option out. Since the program was rolled out last week, already 1,000 Quicken family employees have signed up.
 
Source: David Carroll, Rock Ventures/Quicken Loans
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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CityLoft and the Detroit Shoppe come back for a fourth installment of the popular pop-ups

The Somerset Collection's CityLoft and the Detroit Shoppe are back again for round four on Woodward in downtown Detroit.
 
Somerset is bringing nearly 40 retailers from its Troy collection of luxury and lifestyle brands to 1261 Woodward, along with the popular Detroit Shoppe at 1201 Woodward, which sells items from some of Detroit's most iconic brands and donates all of the proceeds to Detroit charities. Between the permanent Troy location and previous iterations of the downtown pop-up, the Detroit Shoppe has supported over 100 Detroit charities.
 
New to this season's CityLoft pop-up are 7 For All Mankind, a California-based premium denim line, and L.K. Bennett, a London-based brand known to be one of Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton's favorites. Both stores just opened inside the Somerset Collection in the last several months.
 
The CityLoft and Detroit Shoppe summer pop-ups have expanded the hours from previous iterations, open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. until August 24. The pop-ups will rejoin Moosejaw, another brand that began as a pop-up that was so successful they decided to make their downtown location permanent.
 
"This is part of the partnership with Bedrock Real Estate and Quicken Loans to help bring retail back to the Woodward corridor," says Peter Van Dyke of Berg Muirhead and Associates, representing CityLoft. "This is a great way for retailers to test the market in Detroit."
 
CityLoft and the Detroit Shoppe reopened last Friday, and some luxury retailers have reported stronger sales over the weekend than in the permanent Somerset Collection stores.

Head over there every Thursday during lunchtime for coney dogs, Better Made potato chips, and Faygo soda for $5. Every dollar goes towards Summer in the City and the Boll Family YMCA
 
Source: Peter Van Dyke, Berg Muirhead and Associates
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Pie-Sci to open own pizzeria next to Woodbridge Pub

You may have already heard that Jim Geary, owner of Woodbridge Pub, is a pretty nice guy. One of the things he has done to help build the Woodbridge community is open the kitchen doors of his pub on Sundays to a couple of guys who are really into pie -- pizza pie, that is.
 
Jeremy Damaske and AJ Manoulian are the team behind Pie-Sci, the Sunday night pizza residency that has been going strong for two and a half years now (to call it a "pop-up" still after all this time would be disingenuous).
 
Damaske has had a passion for pizza since his teens. His first job was at a pizza place, which is where he learned to cook. Pie-Sci is his fourth job in the pizza industry. He has traveled all over the country playing music and eating pizza, which is how he developed a taste for crazy toppings -- grabbing BLT and chicken Caesar slices in New York; chowing down gumbo pizza in New Orleans.
 
Manoulian, an engineer by day and a vegan all the time, came on board to help Damaske realize his dream of opening his own pizzeria. Between the two of them they have created a line of American artisan pizzas in flavors like Thai Squash Peanut, Buf-Pho-Lo, and I Can Haz Bacon Cheeseburger (there are vegan options, but the bacon cheeseburger isn't one of them).
 
When they went looking for a brick and mortar home for their pizzas three years ago, Damaske went to the owner of his friendly neighborhood pub (that would be Woodbridge) for some advice. Instead, Geary gave him space – Sunday nights were slow and the staff and kitchen inventory were usually wiped out after a busy weekend anyway.
 
Now Pie-Sci has an established following, and soon they will have a home to call their own. Geary acquired a couple of other buildings near the pub last year, and soon Pie-Sci will be a permanent tenant – no longer just on Sundays, and located right next door.
 
The building, just south of Woodbridge, requires a complete gut. Damaske and Manoulian are doing as much of the work they can themselves, taking a cue from Geary and his DIY efforts with the pub. Geary will hire contractors for major improvements like electrical, then lease the space to Pie-Sci once it is complete.
 
Pie-Sci's new home is a little smaller than Woodbridge Pub. They will focus primarily on carry-out with a small dine-in space, and will also cater to the pub with later hours than the pub's kitchen. The building has a large backyard with a finished patio where they will add a second wood-burning oven and host private parties. They also hope to get a license to serve beer and wine.
 
The building has to be rezoned before construction can start, and it will be a long process getting the space ready to accommodate a pizzeria and bar. Still, the partners are eager and plan on moving quickly. Damaske is hoping to be open by May 2014. In the meantime, you can still catch Pie-Sci every Sunday at Woodbridge Pub.
 
Source: Jeremy Damaske, co-owner of Pie-Sci
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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

The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative promotes sustainability and community on the North End

The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative (MUFI) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 2011. Their goal is to use agriculture as a platform for sustainability, education and community.
 
MUFI founders purchased 7432 Brush Street on Detroit's North End in late 2011. The building is a vacant three-story, six-unit apartment complex in a state of disrepair, surrounded by vacant land that they use for farming. "We figured we would take a structure that is visually unique and needs work and use it as a community center and, eventually, our headquarters," says Tyson Gersh, co-founder of MUFI.
 
Gersh started MUFI along with co-founder Darin McLeskey to address issues of food security, neighborhood blight, nutrition and food preparation education. They spent most of 2012 preparing the site for growing, planting mostly pumpkins and show crops. This year they have started production farming in earnest.
 
They have 500 sweet potato plants, 200 different varieties of tomatoes, egg plants, cucumbers, squash, beans, blueberries, raspberries, a small stone fruit orchard, sweet and hot peppers, collard greens, kale, a variety of lettuces, kohlrabe, and more. 
 
They are building a table where harvested produce will be available for free to anyone in the neighborhood who wants it. They will donate to organizations like COTS, sell at places like the Oakland Avenue Farmers Market, and supply local food companies like Garden Fresh Salsa and Elie Teas. Proceeds from sales will go towards sustaining and growing MUFI. "It's important to stay relevant with revenue, (to be) sustaining (ourselves) but also serving our goal of social justice," says Gersh.
 
MUFI's infrastructure is rapidly assembling, but so far all the work in building the organization has been the efforts of Gersh, McLesky, and their volunteer coordinator Shelby Wilson. For the first eight months they funded everything out of their own pockets. Most of the money they have received has come from social media competitions – like their recent Whole Foods Market Detroit Community Support Challenge win – and pitching donations; they've never received a single grant. "It's all just us being extremely proactive in everything," Gersh says.
 
Their long-term plan is to renovate 7432 Brush Street, opening a hostel in the second and third floors with a community recreation space and commercial kitchen on the ground floor and a mezzanine that would serve as a food startup business incubator. They currently have about two blocks of land surrounding their site and an additional three acres nearby.
 
Volunteer workdays are every Saturday. If you want to help out, just show up.
 
Source: Tyson Gersh, co-founder of Michigan Urban Farming Initiative
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Riverfront Towers Apartments getting a second chance to make a first impression

Renovations on the common areas, walkways and entryways of the Riverfront Towers Apartments are set to begin in the next month.
 
Farmington Hills-based design firm Davis & Davis Interior Design is overseeing the much-touted renovation work at this prime riverfront property comprised of three towers (two are all apartment units; the third is all condominiums).
 
The $5 million project will be a complete aesthetic overhaul of the dated Tower 100 and 200 apartment buildings dating back to 1992 and 1983, respectively.
 
Each one of the 555 spacious and affordable luxury residences feature waterfront views but, as the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression -- which is precisely why the Hayman Company, the management company that took over control of the Riverfront Towers Community last November, has hired Davis & Davis to focus on the public and common areas.
 
"They wanted to create something elegant to appeal to a younger demographic," says Howard Davis, partner of Davis & Davis. "They were looking to make an investment in the property to attract young talent."
 
His design for the tower lobbies will include dark, rich woods contrasted with lighter stone, patterned carpeting reminiscent of flowing water, and fireplaces to add warmth in the evenings and winter months. He says the biggest improvements will be in the walkways and entryways, both the outdoor and indoor spaces that have the most visibility. Davis has also completed drawings for a sales and leasing office and the common area hallways.
 
"Right now they're tired, they're old, they're dated," he says. "These are all original finishes that were nice in their day."
 
Davis will add other finishing touches to modernize the spaces like contemporary club seating, planters along the side of the wall that blur the distinction between the indoors and outdoors, and a variety of pendant and recessed lighting to make the space more interesting. "We want to create a buzz about the lobbies," Davis says, reiterating that these lobbies are one of the first things people see when they visit the property and important in creating an overall impression.
 
Other improvements announced for the property include interior upgrades to all apartment units (new appliances, plumbing fixtures, cabinets, countertops, and flooring), updated elevators, new roofing and a new security system.
 
Source: Howard Davis, partner of Davis & Davis Interior Design
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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

LTU Center for Design + Technology to break ground in August

The Kresge Foundation has awarded Lawrence Technological University $300,000 to help its College of Architecture and Design consolidate all Detroit programs inside the new LTU Center for Design + Technology opening in 2014.
 
The university is based in Southfield but has a strong presence in Detroit, with four programs currently offered across the city. There is the Detroit Studio in New Center, the detroitSHOP in Chrysler House, Studio Couture downtown on Woodward Avenue, and a satellite classroom and design studio inside Ponyride in Corktown.
 
It was recently announced that LTU would be the anchor business of a new two-story commercial construction development in Midtown at the corner of Woodward and Willis. Despite the main campus being in Southfield, Associate Dean Amy Deines feels a presence in the city is integral to the students' curriculum, emphasizing the importance of having the College of Architecture and Design students engage with the urban environment.
 
"With the Center itself we'll be able to consolidate the four programs we have in a very practical way," she says.
 
LTU has received huge support from Midtown Detroit Inc.'s Sue Mosey as well as Quicken Loans. The detroitSHOP will be relocating from the Chrysler House to the Federal Reserve Building while the Design Center is under construction.
 
The Center will feature open studio spaces that encourage collaboration between students of different disciplines, from architecture to graphic design. "My interest is that students use each other's skill sets to come up with a new model," Deines says. "The way the space is designed really supports that open conversation." The Center will also host artists from all over the region and country to "expose the community to the relationship between art, design, and architecture."
 
Currently Deines is still raising money for the roughly 14,000-square-foot Center. LTU will control the whole second floor and has currently secured funding for about 7,000 square feet of space, which will include studios, conference rooms, a research lab, and a 1,200-square-foot storefront gallery on the ground floor. This first phase will also include K-12 outreach and summer camp programs.
 
Additional funding will allow LTU to further expand its programming at the Center, including makeLab, which will provide digital fabrication services for a wide range of design projects. Ideally Deines would like LTU to control the whole building and collaborate with other architecture and design schools and businesses to turn it into a shared design community space. 
 
LTU students will commute between both campuses for a well-rounded urban design center and traditional classroom experience. Deines hopes to implement a shuttle program between the two, which would also tie into the school's transit design program.
 
The Center will break ground in August and will be completed next fall.
 
Source: Amy Deines, Lawrence Technological University Associate Dean
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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