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ROSSETTI all moved into Federal Reserve building, overseeing all renovations

ROSSETTI – the architecture firm behind the Quicken renovation of "The Qube," the Greektown Casino Hotel, the Wayne State University Welcome Center, and numerous other high-profile projects throughout the state and country – has officially moved its headquarters into a new office downtown.
 
As the first non-Bedrock tenant of the Rock Ventures-owned historic Federal Reserve Building at 160 W. Fort Street, ROSSETTI is handling all of the renovation work currently being done to the 176,000-square-foot building, which has sat empty since 2004. They have completely cleared out of their Southfield office and have moved all 60 employees into their 13,000-square-foot space on the fourth floor of the building, which is nearly completed.
 
"It made a lot of sense for us to be downtown," says Denise Drach, Director of Business Development and Marketing for ROSSETTI. "We are doing masterplanning (for Detroit, including) streetscapes and concepts for retail…we are intimately involved in the design of the urban environment so it made sense for us to be in it. We didn't want to do just an office in the city; we wanted to make the entire commitment."
 
Bedrock currently has offices in the basement of the building. Once renovation work is complete, the first floor will have retail and the remaining floors will be leased as office space. According to Drach, these spaces will be "relatively unfitted," left to the new tenants to personalize. 
 
All renovation work on the 1927 building (with a Minoru Yamasaki glass and marble annex added in 1951) is being done under the guidelines of the Detroit Historic District Commission. Changes to the exterior so far have been relatively unobtrusive: they have replaced the windows, removed the bulletproof airlock in the front, and also removed a large overhang not original to the building.
 
Inside they completely gutted the fourth floor to make it more in keeping with contemporary office space sensibilities. "Offices of the past had a different work approach than what we're working in now," Drach says. "Particularly for architecture, design doesn't happen as individuals. It's really a team effort, so to be in a team environment is critical." Their floorplan is basically a big open loft-style room with lots of lounge areas. "Having a 'third place' is becoming a big trend in offices, so we have a lot of little spaces with living room furniture."
 
The space looks like a studio loft with 14-foot-high ceiling and windows across three walls. The fourth floor also has a 2,700-square-foot patio deck that looks out at the Penobscot Building and all the way to the Detroit River.
 
In addition to finishing their fourth floor offices, which will also be the new home of Lawrence Technological University's  experimental design lab detroitSHOP (which will take 3,000 square feet), ROSSETTI has been focused on finishing the lobby, adding planters to the exterior, and cleaning up the first floor and mezzanine.
 
ROSSETTI is celebrating the move with an open house on Oct. 2 from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m.
 
Source: Denise Drach, Director of Business Development and Marketing for ROSSETTI
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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

Grand Circus all moved into the Broderick, starting classes this week

Grand Circus, the start-up that offers tech training, events, and co-working space for up to 49 entrepreneurs, has now officially moved into its new home inside the Broderick Tower.
 
Previously housed inside the Madison Building during what Grand Circus CEO and co-founder Damien Rocchi refers to as an "incubation" period, the Broderick is the company's permanent home with three floors of activity located on the lower levels of the building.
 
The 15,000-square-foot space includes one level of classrooms that opens into an event space, a second level of only classrooms, and a third level that is a co-working space. The three floors of the facility feature floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook Comerica Park, Grand Circus Park, and the Fox Theatre.
 
Grand Circus was able to manage the development and design of the space themselves, working with Neumann/Smith Architecture (the firm behind the design of the Madison) and Patrick Thompson Design, which has received a lot of buzz for the design of the DIA's new Cultural Living Room. Green Garage tenant Chad Dickinson – Detroit-based builder, developer and designer – made all the furniture. "We wanted to have a lot of Detroit influence in the space," says Rocchi.
 
Grand Circus's classes are held in three main formats: in-depth classes that mirror the format of a three-credit course over a college semester, workshops held over a few days, and seminars that last a few hours. Most classes will have 20-30 students. The first workshop starts on Sept. 25 and everything else starts in October. The community space is already being used for events.
 
Grand Circus's partners include Detroit Labs, Detroit Venture Partners, Downtown Detroit Partnership, Invest Detroit, Opportunity Detroit, Venture for America, and Automation Alley. Automation Alley will also be opening its fourth office (its first in Wayne County) inside the Madison in the space vacated by Grand Circus. 

Source: Grand Circus CEO and co-founder Damien Rocchi
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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

Detroit Vegan Soul celebrates grand opening in West Village this Saturday

2012 Hatch Detroit finalists Detroit Vegan Soul will celebrate a grand opening in its new space in West Village at 8029 Agnes St. this Saturday, Sept. 28.
 
After starting out with a vegan meal delivery and catering service, Kirtsen Ussery and Erika Boyd realized that there is a real demand for homemade vegan comfort food in Detroit. Both vegan themselves, they started veganizing their family recipes and found that people really loved it.

"We were inspired by other vegan soul food restaurants, particularly in Chicago," says Ussery. "We saw that there weren't enough vegan options in Detroit. We wanted to do something that appealed to both vegans and vegetarians but also people who aren't."
 
Their niche is vegan soul food – comfort food for a plant-based lifestyle. Vegan Soul is the only 100 percent plant-based restaurant in the city of Detroit. "The meal delivery allowed us to see how people would respond to that," Ussery says. "It's one thing to have a couple of dishes on your menu but another for it to be the whole menu. We got a great response and saw Detroiters are ready for this."
 
After decades of being on every "fattest cities" and "unhealthiest cities" list, Detroiters are making proactive decisions to lead healthier lifestyles. We see this in the fast-growing cycling culture. We see this in the local foods and urban agriculture movement. And now we're seeing it with a growing number of people adopting more organic and plant-based diets. "We think now is the time," says Ussery. "More and more people are embracing this. They want healthier options. We always say there's a burgeoning vegan movement here in Detroit, just like Chicago. At one time (Chicago) was a meat and potatoes industrial city just like Detroit. Now you go there and there are many different kinds of all-vegan restaurants. Now we're kind of at the forefront (of it) here in Detroit."   
 
Co-owner Boyd says, "(D.V.S. is) both unapologetically vegan AND unapologetically soul food. We do soul food but veganize it. We see our food as being a good transition food into a plant-based diet, introduced in a way that is familiar and comfortable."
 
They pride themselves on being a place that appeals to vegans, vegetarians, and those who eat meat alike, where people know they are eating quality food made from quality ingredients – no refined flours or sugars, no GMO products, and as much organic and locally-sourced as possible. This is a place where vegans can come for comfort food and where meat-eaters can come and discover that a vegan diet, even just a couple of days a week, is totally possible.
 
The 25-seat dining room will be open Wednesdays through Saturdays 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. They still offer catering and the café will be available for private events Mondays and Tuesdays.
 
Source: Kirsten Ussery and Erika Boyd, owners of Detroit Vegan Soul
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Bamboo Detroit co-working space on Brush Street open for entrepreneurs and monthly events

With an ever-growing influx of small one- and two-person businesses, freelance and contract workers, and satellite office workers, there is an ever-growing demand for small offices and co-working spaces. Bamboo Detroit, which opened in July, has been building its roster of small businesses and freelancers looking for a space to set up shop in a community environment that isn't a coffeehouse.
 
Bamboo Detroit, at 1442 Brush Street, is a co-working space for entrepreneurs, freelancers, and small teams, providing office space and conference rooms for people to work efficiently. "Entrepreneurial team and tech (startups) are growing in Detroit and people need places to work," says Bamboo Detroit co-founder Dave Anderson, who is also the co-founder of the health app Health-Crunch. "Coffee shops aren't always conducive (to work); also for some people (permanent office space) just isn't working out or is too expensive." At Bamboo Detroit entrepreneurs and freelancers are able to work among like-minded people and share resources to create a community – and get outside of coffee houses.
 
Co-founded by Anderson, Mike Ferlito of Ferlito Construction, and Brian Davis, co-founder of mobile app Friendect, Bamboo is already becoming a creative entrepreneurial hub, hosting the Detroit branch of the monthly 50 Founders event series inspired by Chris Dixon's Founders Stories series in TechCrunch. Previous events have featured Brian Wong, creator of Kiip, and Kevin Krease and Garret Koehler, founders of Action Sports Detroit, the team behind the X Games Detroit Bid and the new annual event Assemble Detroit.
 
The building, owned by Ferlito's family for the last 14 years, had been empty for the last 10. Once the three founders had the idea, it only took them about two months to get up and running. The building has previously housed a German print shop and later and architecture firm.
 
Bamboo Detroit already has 17 companies signed up, which includes a good mix of software and web development companies, bloggers, app developers and social entrepreneurs including Health Detroit, Michipreneur, Hell Yeah Detroit, and Detroit's latest media darling Super Business Girl (featured on NBC). 

Monthly memberships start at $99 and include office desks, conference rooms, space for community events, Wi-Fi, mail services, and 24/7 access to the building. Anderson says it is "set up like a gym membership" and people come and go as they please. "What I'm hearing a lot from members now is that it feels like a strong community and family," Anderson says. "People love being there." Learn more and apply here.
 
Source: Bamboo Detroit co-founder Dave Anderson
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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

Land, Inc. launches "Green T" project, converting vacant lots to biofuel production on East Side

Over the next two years, Detroit's first green thoroughfare will take shape along the Mack Avenue corridor between Conner Avenue and Chalmers.
 
The "Green T" development project overseen by Land, Inc. will convert this corridor into a green byway in an attempt to repurpose vacant commercial land as part of the Lower Eastside Action Plan in accordance with the Detroit Future City adaptive reuse vision for blighted, vacant properties.

Green T is meant to accommodate all forms of traffic – bus, bike, car, and pedestrian – while also providing the community with more aesthetic green spaces that produce alternative forms of energy while also reducing the burden on city services.
 
Currently there are about 80 publicly-owned lots (of 111 total) along the corridor. The Green T plan includes razing vacant structures and planting fields of pennycress on the unused lots, which will then be converted into biofuel. The pennycress was selected as the ideal crop for the area because it is very low-growing, has the highest yield per acre, the highest turnover into fuel from the oil, is non-invasive, isn't appealing to animals as a food source, and also remediates the soul – a very important factor in order to get this land prepared for future redevelopment. Right now this land can't be used for food crops (or other potential developments like children's playgrounds or even other commercial development) because there is some contamination. The pennycress will take care of that, and revenue from biofuel production will also go towards maintenance and further corridor improvements.
 
Metro Ag, a global agency with an office in Detroit, will partner with Land, Inc. on the biofuel production. Land, Inc. has received $50,000 from Bank of America as well as several in-kind donations to develop the first phase of the project in a one-block area of Mack between Lakeview and Coplin. Construction on this demonstration block is already underway.
 
The total cost for the full project is estimated at $2 million. The 350-acre project will take about two years to complete. The full plan includes the demolition of 15 abandoned and unsafe buildings, way-finding signage to direct visitors to vibrant shopping areas located to the east and west, public art, a complete streets treatment, innovative green infrastructure installations like bioswales and infiltration basins for storm water runoff, and alternative energy created through the cultivation of pennycress.

Land, Inc. Executive Director Jacqueline Bejma hopes one day to be able to power the nine remaining businesses located on this corridor with biofuel produced by the pennycress. "There's so much opportunity here that will benefit the whole area. It's fun. It's exciting," she says.
 
Source: Land, Inc. Executive Director Jacqueline Bejma
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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

Link Detroit celebrates groundbreaking of five-phase cycling and greenway infrastructure project

The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, in partnership with the US Department of Transportation, State of Michigan, City of Detroit Department of Public Works, DEGC, Eastern Market Corporation, Midtown, Inc., and the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, will celebrate the groundbreaking of the five-phase Link Detroit greenway infrastructure project next Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 6 p.m. in Eastern Market's Lot 1 (adjacent to Shed 2).
 
"This goes back a few years," says Tom Woiwode, director of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan's GreenWays Initiative. He says that when the Dequindre Cut opened in 2009, it was always intended to run further north than where it currently ends at Gratiot. When the first portion of the Midtown Loop opened in 2010, it was intended to go further south and connect to Eastern Market. Link Detroit is the fulfillment of those intentions.
 
The full $25 million scope of this project is fully-funded, thanks in large part to a $10 million TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant in addition to support from the Community Foundation and other partners (see above).
 
There are five phases to this project, and most are able to operate on independent construction schedules simultaneously. Though the "ground-breaking" celebration is next Tuesday, the event is mostly ceremonial. Woiwode says they hope to already have bulldozers at work by then.
 
The five phases include extending the Dequindre Cut north from Gratiot to Mack, rebuilding five bridges over the Dequindre Cut's extension (with funding from the Critical Bridge Fund), extending the trail system and providing some infrastructure improvements and amenities in Eastern Market along Wilkins and Russell St., connecting Wilkins to the Midtown Loop which will be extended south along John R, and the construction of bike lanes and greenways along Dequindre Rd. north of Mack connecting the Dequindre Cut to Hamtramck. Ultimately Link Detroit will connect Midtown and Wayne State to Eastern Market to the Dequindre Cut to both Hamtramck and the Detroit River.
 
They hope to have construction of all five phases completed by this time next year.
 
Source: Tom Woiwode, director of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan's GreenWays Initiative
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Two James Spirits, Detroit's first licensed distillery in nearly 100 years, now distributing

After months of excited buzz, Two James Spirits in Corktown is now open for business.
 
Mostly.
 
The production facility and tasting room, at 2445 Michigan Avenue, has been under renovation since last July. Earlier this month, Two James started distributing its 28 Island Vodka, named for the 28 islands on the Detroit River that were used as hideouts by bootleggers during Prohibition, to bars, restaurants, and liquor stores in metro Detroit and Ann Arbor. Soon their Old Cockney Gin and Grass Widow bourbon will also be available, and they have more bourbons and whiskeys currently aging in barrels for future release.
 
Two James is the first licensed distillery in Detroit since before Prohibition. Partners Peter Bailey, David Landrum, and Andrew Mohr are part of the growing craft distilling movement that is taking off all over the country, in many ways ushered in by the growth of the craft beer industry as well as craft cocktail culture. The brand, named after Bailey's and Landrum's fathers (both named James), pays homage to Detroit's distilling heritage with products like the 28 Island Vodka and the Grass Widow, a brand of whiskey made in Detroit before Prohibition which they are now resurrecting.
 
The stylish tasting room features a massive solid concrete circular bar, reclaimed wood, and custom metalwork. During its "soft opening," the Two James tasting room is open limited evening hours Thursdays through Saturdays with a small list of cocktails that will eventually be expanded. Customers can also buy Two James products directly from the tasting room. Pricing is as follows:
 
28 Island Vodka: $31.99
Grass Widow: $44.99
Old Cockney Gin: $33.99
 
They plan on a production of 2,500-5,000 cases in their first year and will expand from there. Distribution will start in Michigan then expand out into the Midwest and East Coast. Two James products can be found in Detroit at Slows, Roast, and the Sugar House. They will celebrate a grand opening in the next month. 
 
Source: Andrew Mohr, partner in Two James Spirits
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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U-Haul Moving and Storage of New Center now open, celebrating with VIP ribbon-cutting & public tours

After over a year of renovation work, U-Haul Moving and Storage of New Center, in the 250,000 square foot building at 899 West Baltimore Street built by Nabisco Biscuit Company in 1920, is now open for business.
 
The extensive renovation work is far from complete. The building, which includes six floors plus a basement, is only being partially occupied by U-Haul.

"We just built out two floors of storage," says Stuart Shoen, executive vice president of U-Haul International. "We still have a lot to build out. We're not sure what the demand will be for storage at this New Center site. We see all kinds of residential and economic activity (in the area); we have no idea if (this) will explode or trickle."
 
The building is a full-service U-Haul site, offering everything from rental trucks and trailers to hitch installation, U-Box moving pods, self-storage, and a host of moving and organization supplies and services. All operations are up and running. There are 430 climate-controlled self-storage units for rent, ranging in size from 5x5 to 10x20 with 24/7 access.
 
Regarding the future of the building, Shoen says that right now they are in "wait and see" mode.

"The space is so big there might one day be a demand for that whole thing to be storage, but right now we want to use the building however the community wants it. We don't know if that will mean mixed use or community space, we even talked about doing movie screenings. But we haven't had people in the building (until now). Now those conversations can finally start."
 
Other options in discussions include a loft development and incubator space to serve as a TechTown center or temporary office space. U-Haul representatives have been in discussions with Sue Mosey regarding use of the extra space. "We want to utilize the building," Shoen says. "It doesn't do us any good to just have two and half floors open. We don't want to just sit on it." He says that they company wants to be an active part of the community and also wants to be good neighbors.
 
U-Haul is celebrating the grand opening of this New Center building with a special VIP red carpet ribbon-cutting ceremony this Thursday. Community tours will be offered to the public 6-8 p.m. after the ribbon-cutting. 
 
Source: Stuart Shoen, executive vice president of U-Haul International
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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

The Dissertation, an artists' collaborative and micro art-based business, heads to ArtPrize

Catherine Watson and Sabra Morman are the team behind "The Dissertation." It's difficult to define what exactly the Dissertation is – even when it was explained to you by one of the founders. But here goes.
 
The Dissertation is a blog. It is an arts portfolio. It is an online store. It is an art project that can be found this year at ArtPrize in Grand Rapids (Sept. 18-Oct. 6). It was even going to be a brick and mortar teashop, but Watson and Morman ultimately decided against it.

"We wanted to have a physical space to connect with like-minded others and we started studying holistic lifestyles and tea," says Watson. "But we're holding off on that because we're not really sure how financially stable it would be."
 
Ultimately the Dissertation is potentially a DIY arts career in the making. "Initially we just wanted a creative expression outlet to figure out what we want to do," says Watson, who previously worked at an ad agency. "It morphed together and we pursued everything. We use it as a teaching tool for ourselves…and to figure out different ways to bring in different streams of revenue. We really want to make a living doing this." 
 
To clarify, "this" is art and the Dissertation is an artists' portfolio. "We started off by creating a portfolio of artwork. We wanted to use that to shed light and highlight the struggles of our generation. The goal was to use the blog as motivation, a tool for positive growth capturing the entrepreneurial spirit of the city."
 
At ArtPrize, the Dissertation has a mixed-media installation piece on display. (You can vote for the Dissertation here starting Sept. 18.) After ArtPrize, their focus is on how to turn their portfolio into a profitable business. They are already working with fashion designers to put their designs on T-shirts to sell in stores, in addition to selling art prints through their Etsy site.
 
Both Watson and Morman still work part time jobs as they continue to define and grow the Dissertation, but their DIY efforts at transforming a hobby and personal passion into a portfolio and profitable business by starting on a micro level, as opposed to rushing into a big brick-and-mortar investment, is an interesting cultural experiment if nothing else. Can it work? It's probably too soon to tell, but if it's going to work anywhere, it will be in Detroit.

Source: Catherine Watson, co-founder of the Dissertation
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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

Development news round-up

The $300 renovation of COBO Center continues to spur on major investment nearby in hospitality and tourism development. A historic firehouse located across from COBO, built in 1929, has been sold for $1.25 million to local developer Walter Cohen, owner of 21 Century Holdings LLC, who plans to turn the property into a 75-80-room boutique hotel. The total estimated cost of this project is $23 million. 

Meanwhile, established hotels are upping their game to meet increased demand as well as increased competition in the marketplace. The Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center plans a $30 million renovation to begin early 2014 that will impact all of the hotel's 1,329 guest rooms and 100,000 square feet of meeting space. 

Developers behind the Tushiyah United Hebrew School, located at 600 and 609 E. Kirby St. in Midtown, have received a $1 million state loan to renovate the historic building into 25 market-rate lofts with gated parking. The project, operating under the name 609 E. Kirby Lofts LLC., has also received a 12-year Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act abatement from the city valued at about $300,000. The completed project will cost about $6.6 million. 

VernDale Products Inc. also received a grant from the Michigan Business Development Program, this one worth $436,000, to open a second facility for their dried milk powder manufacturing. The company will renovate a long-vacant building at 18940 Weaver St. on Detroit's west side. VernDale is also receiving a 12-year plant rehabilitation tax abatement from the city worth about $3.3 million. This expansion will cost about $16 million and create 13 new jobs. 

The former Crain's Detroit Business buildings at 1400 and 1432 Woodbridge St. and 1370 Franklin St. near Chene Park have been sold to ME Enterprise LLC, a Birmingham-based partnership between T.J. Elia and Clint Mansour, who plan on spending about $3 million to renovate and re-lease the office buildings. 

In un-development news, though certainly significant given the city's overwhelming number of vacant, blighted buildings, the city of Detroit has received $52.2 million out of $100 million in newly allocated federal funds to tear down blighted structures.

Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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(revolver), a new table d'hôte restaurant, will open during the first-ever Hamtramck Food Week

Hamtramck has long been known for its diversity of ethnic culinary offerings, but new concepts opening this fall promise to elevate this neighborhood to a new level of gastronomic savviness. First there is 2012 Hatch Detroit finalist Rock City Eatery, a new American restaurant serving locally-sourced items made from scratch with a Anthony Bourdain-like culinary sensibility (think: offal, and items like bone marrow fritters). It will be open this fall, pending final inspections. 
 
But one concept you haven't heard much about yet, as the partners haven't said much about it yet, is the new (revolver) in Hamtramck.
 
(revolver) is located at 9737 Joseph Campau, in the space that was previously going to be Ootie's, then Acme Food Company. Neither of those concepts ever came to fruition. (revolver) is a partnership between Tunde Wey and Peter Dalinowski, self-taught chefs with a passion for food and community.
 
(revolver) is their take on a table d’hote restaurant, a concept with origins dating back to the 1600s when countryside inns would serve large family-style meals to their guests. The hosts would decide what to prepare and all guests would be invited to the table. "Our concept is similar," says Wey. "We are inviting people to our 'table,' so to speak, and offering them a chance to eat delicious food sourced locally, and fresh, prepared by people who LOVE and are experts at what they do." To further embrace this concept, all seating is communal.
 
They are working with five chef partners, a mix of self-taught and professionally-trained chefs – Jessika Rae Warren, Oliver Honderd, Brad Greenhill, Alla Dihes and the team of Thom Ingram and Nate Bankowski – on an ever-evolving multi-course prix fixe menu. The set menu will always be changing to encompass a variety of culinary styles, and will include offerings for vegetarians. (revolver) will offer two seatings nightly by reservation only. Reservations are prepaid and available through the website.
 
(revolver) will open for the first-ever Hamtramck Food Week, happening Sept. 23-28. (Read more about Hamtramck Food Week here.) After that they will be open for dinner Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays initially, with seatings at 6:15 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. They will start with 35 available spots per seating and gradually work their way up to their 60-person capacity.
 
Source: Tunde Wey, partner in (revolver)
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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TechTown's Retail Boot Camp running a second session with expanded incentives

After a successful first run in May, TechTown has decided to offer a second Retail Boot Camp this year, its intensive 10-week entrepreneurial training program designed with the intent of launching sustainable businesses.
 
"There's been such an outcry for additional classes," says Leslie Smith, TechTown President and CEO. "Our partners all have this pipeline of potential companies. We have also sweetened the pot so applications are a bit more competitive to encourage the best of the best."

TechTown will set incentivized milestones throughout the program and the last session will be a showcase where each participant will pitch their business to a panel of judges. First place will win $5,000 cash and a free pop-up space sponsored by REVOLVE Detroit over the holidays. "(The winner) will have this beautiful opportunity to pop up immediately and test the market." There are also cash prizes for second and third place.
 
Applications close on Sept. 11. They have space for 15 entrepreneurs but might expand this to 18-20, depending on the response and quality of applicants.
 
TechTown has also developed an aftercare program. "A lot of programs after the conclusion of the class leave the entrepreneurs out in the wilderness on their own," Smith says. "We bring them together and help them create a formal network. We have found this has been one of the differentiators of this program; our aftercare is more focused on launch."
 
Previous Retail Boot Camp graduates are "in actual stages of launch towards being an entrepreneur, which is the goal – not just having a theoretical conversation." Smith estimates 70 percent of the spring session participants will launch by the end of this year.
 
This session will occur Monday nights 6-9 p.m. from Sept. 23 to Nov. 11. Program fee upon acceptance is $499.

Source: Leslie Smith, TechTown President and CEO
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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OpenCo city-wide "open house" fosters collaboration and engagement outside of the stuffy ballroom

This Wednesday and Thursday, join OpenCo as it highlights over 60 local businesses – ranging from coffeehouses to art galleries to tech startups – for a city-wide "open house" to foster collaborative professional relationships and community engagement.
 
OpenCo launched in San Francisco and has events in New York, London, and now Detroit.

"The inspiration behind it is that the current model that's in place (is) people go to an auditorium or ballroom and afterwards (feel) like, 'That was fun but what did I get out of it?'" says Liz Boone, co-owner of Midtown design shop Nora and vice president of Federated Media Publishing. "The goal here is the deeper level of learning and engagement that comes out of it. Another level of it is the collaboration piece – the Silicon Valley values of working together, collaborating, changing the environment and being in a space where work happens. The value goes beyond just another conference."
 
Boone says the lineup of participants is curated very carefully. "The first conference in San Francisco was very tech-centric. When it went to New York and London is followed a similar track of representing these companies living these values of collaboration and innovation with a triple-bottom-line focus."
 
The companies highlighted embody these sort of "new economy" values, those that focus as much on profits as they do on giving back. "The goals with the Detroit OpenCo team is to have people take greater pride in what is going on in the city so they see a viable option of living and working here – basically, 'Look at all these young enthusiastic entrepreneurs who decided to make this their home.'"
 
Another value to OpenCo is introducing area entrepreneurs to each other, connecting people who might not have known about each other but who can find creative ways to work together. Ultimately, it's about building relationships.
 
Being only the fourth city to hold an OpenCo event puts Detroit in the same ranks as some of the world's largest cities and economic centers. John Battelle, founder of OpenCo and CEO of Federated Media Publishing, visited Detroit last year. He had lunch with Toby Barlow, took a tour of city, and was very impressed overall. "We started throwing out some facts: 'Detroit has the largest trading border in the United States, with $500 million in business crossing the Ambassador Bridge every day. We have the largest number of engineers per capita than any other city in America.' It was so surprising to him."  Boone says from there, going from San Francisco to New York to London, Detroit was simply a natural progression. 

For a full lineup of participants and coordinating events, check out the website

Source: Liz Boone, co-owner of Nora and Vice President of Federated Media Publishing
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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

REVOLVE Detroit's Art + Retail on the Ave winners announced

Arguably the largest single transformation project of any neighborhood in the city of Detroit, REVOLVE Detroit's Art + Retail on the Ave – a program designed to revitalize Detroit's once-prominent Avenue of Fashion shopping district (located along Livernois between McNichols and 8 Mile) – has announced all of the winners of permanent and pop-up retail spaces, as well as art installations and programming, after issuing a call for entries in June.
 
They received nearly 100 proposals and worked with members of the community and other community organizations to make their final selections. The retail stores and art projects will make their debut on Friday, Sept. 20, when the Avenue of Fashion hosts the Detroit Design Festival, and will include four new permanent retailers, eight pop-up retail concepts, nine art projects, and nine additional programming and events concepts.
 
"We're really trying to return the Avenue of Fashion back to its prominence," says Michael Forsyth, REVOLVE Program Manager at the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation. "This is one of the city's great business and cultural districts, and there's a lot of great businesses to build on here." Forsyth explains that the goal is really to fill in the gaps between all of the great businesses that already exist here – like Baker's Keyboard Lounge, Simply Casual, Jo's Gallery, and 1917 American Bistro – and work collaboratively with these existing businesses as well as existing community organizations, institutions for higher education, and residents in the surrounding communities of Palmer Woods, the University District, Green Acres, and Sherwood Forest.
 
"This is huge," Forsyth says, "This is crazy in the best possible way. In terms of REVOLVE, Livernois has always been a high priority of ours. It has the greatest potential purely from an economic standpoint; there are amazing neighborhoods surrounding this district with some of the most beautiful homes in America…whether (we're) talking about community leadership, active residents who want to be engaged, (or) existing businesses, it's a natural progression to want to be here."
 
Art + Retail on the Ave is part of a much larger investment portfolio taking place on Livernois, which includes $1.7 million in beautification and streetscape upgrades in addition to other programs like the Living for the City initiative, a partnership between the Detroit Lions and Hatch Detroit that is currently focused on the Avenue which will improve façades and signage and activate vacant storefronts.
 
To see the full list of what's coming to the Ave, click here.
 
Source: Michael Forsyth, REVOLVE Program Manager at the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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

Coffee, gelato and sweet shop Melt next up in Midtown

Of the many (and there are indeed many) new restaurants and retailers opening in Midtown this year, it appears that Melt is going to be the next one to open.
 
Melt is a coffee, gelato, and sweet shop located at 4150 Cass (at Willis). Owner Aaron Haithcock has wanted to open a candy shop since he was a kid, but decided to diversify his concept to include coffee and gelato to support a steadier clientele base, a model he saw work while employed at a candy store in Chicago that also sold cakes and ice cream.
 
Haithcock has been developing the concept for Melt since 2010. What felt like a three-year setback – due to the recession, Haithcock struggled to find a space and secure funding – now seems like serendipity. Midtown is thriving, and the Cass Corridor is quickly becoming one of the most densely developed retail corridors in the city. The owners of this long-vacant building, previously a party store, began renovations in 2008 but had to stop for a few years due to financing issues. With the help of Sue Mosey and Midtown, Inc., they are now able to complete the renovations. The building is split into three retail storefronts – the other two are still available for rent. Haithcock finally found an available storefront suited to his needs, and it seems like the delay may actually have been a recipe for long-term success (so to speak).
 
The menu at Melt will include signature coffee and gelato drinks using different fruits, syrups, and candies, and customers can also create their own milkshake-like dessert drinks. There will also be a full espresso bar for traditional coffee beverages like cappuccinos and lattes. Melt will carry all Illy brand Italian coffee and espresso. The gelato will come from Palazzolo's in Fennville, Michigan. Melt will also sell candies from popular local brands like Alinosi Chocolates and classic candies like Swedish Fish and gummy bears.
 
There is limited room for seating inside with a couple of additional seats on the patio. Haithcock hopes to have a full patio next year. He aims to be open by the end of August.
 
Source: Aaron Haithcock, owner of Melt
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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