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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

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

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

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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

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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

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Blue Cross Blue Shield in talks to purchase Detroit Cornice and Slate Building

Blue Cross Blue Shield is finalizing plans to acquire the Detroit Cornice and Slate Building at 733 St. Antoine St. at E. Lafayette St.
Helen Stojic, director of Blue Cross Blue Shield Michigan, confirms that they are currently in talks to purchase the building, best known as the offices of local alternative weekly the Metro Times. Metro Times publisher Chris Sexson confirmed that the publication is actively looking for a new headquarters, though it has not yet made any definitive plans.

The building is also home to Paxahau, the company that produces the Movement Festival and other events in the city.
The 24,000-square-foot building is conveniently located right next to BCBS's Bricktown customer service facility and would expand the existing BCBS campus in Greektown. Their plan is to convert the second and third floors to office space for existing BCBS employees (about 100 employees total). The first floor would maintain its current lease to Flood's Bar & Grille.
Though she could not disclose the purchase price, Stojic says that it is consistent with market value. She expects the deal to close within the next month. BCBS has not yet made a determination regarding building renovations (they will once they officially acquire the property), but they hope to begin occupancy in 2014.
Source: Helen Stojic, Director of Blue Cross Blue Shield Michigan
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Woodward Gardens Block Development on track to be completed by end of 2013

Construction on phases III and IV of the Woodward Gardens project on the 3900 block of Woodward is humming along nicely. Eric Means, a representative of the Woodward Gardens Block Development, says that the project is on track to be completed by the end of the fourth quarter of this year.
The 32,505-square-foot Garden Theatre will be completed first, targeted to open by the end of the third quarter. The theatre will host live performances that "align with the Midtown energy;" more grassroots and indie performers "geared to attract the audience that makes up (the Midtown) demographic." The theatre will have a total occupancy of 1,300, with mostly standing room on the main floor and a VIP balcony for private functions. The front portion of the theatre will have a café.
The five-story Woodward Garden Apartments at the corner of Woodward and Selden will open next, featuring 52 one-bedroom units with an average of 600-700 square feet, seven two-bedroom units with a 1,500-square-foot average, and two studios with a 500-square-foot average. Some of the apartment units' amenities include bamboo floors, granite countertops, and in-unit washer/dryers. Means says they will be "market rate." They have not yet started leasing units but with Midtown already at 95 percent rental capacity, the demand is certainly high and they do not expect to have an issue leasing the units out. The 302-space parking structure at 25 W. Alexandrine, phase I of this four-phase development, will offer secured parking for residents.
The apartment building will also have two ground floor commercial spaces (currently being used as temporary construction offices). Developers are currently in talks with Chase Bank and local cupcakerie chain Just Baked to fill those spaces. "We want them to be aligned with the overall vision of Midtown," Means says. "We want them to be a recognized brand that doesn't conflict with other places in Midtown."
Phases I and II of the project are already complete, and included the renovation of the Blue Moon Building, now home to the Great Lakes Coffee bar, and Midtown Inc.'s new headquarters.
Source: Eric Means, representative of the Woodward Gardens Block Development
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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The Coors Light Sky Deck offers 360-degree birds-eye views of Comerica Park and city skyline

The new Coors Light Sky Deck on the roof of the Detroit Opera House offers the very antithesis of the kind of experience you might expect to have at the Opera House. Ditch the satin dresses and coattails and instead don your favorite Tigers jersey and sneakers; the Sky Deck is a casual destination offerings some of the best seats in Detroit.
The 6,000-square-foot rooftop patio with a 250-person capacity has multiple seating areas including tables, cushioned couches and chairs, and a small three-tier bleacher directly overlooking Comerica Park. The Sky Deck also offers a 360-degree view of the Detroit skyline. It is open every single Friday and Saturday through September, with or without a Tigers game. (They hope to extend their season for as long as the weather holds out.) On Fridays they will have DJs, and on Saturdays live music from Detroit bands.
The Sky Deck caters to baseball fans with the radio broadcast piped in through their PA system and typical ballpark foods like hot dogs, hamburgers, and chicken wings. But they also cater to any and all major events happening downtown. "This is an event-driven city," says Michigan Opera Theatre Operations Manager Jason Warzecha. "As events come up we will adjust our schedule accordingly."
This Saturday is the Jimmy Buffett concert at Comerica Park. Parrotheads will enjoy plenty of margaritas in this makeshift Margaritaville. For this event, the Sky Deck is opening at noon.
The Sky Deck's regular hours start at 6 p.m. and cover is free before 9 p.m., after which time they charge a nominal $5 cover. You do not need to purchase tickets in advance or have tickets to a show at the Opera House to visit the Sky Deck. The deck is totally open-air but is also connected to the Chrysler Black Box Theatre, so you can take a break from the sun/heat/rain and go inside where there's air conditioning when the need arises.
While Coors Light is the sponsor of the Sky Deck, Warzecha says they want this to be "an entire experience." They carry the full line of MillerCoors products – which includes Blue Moon and Leinenkugel – and also plan on hosting beer tastings with food pairings in the future.
The Sky Deck is also available for private rentals.
Source: Jason Warzecha, Director of Operations at the Michigan Opera Theatre
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Yoga in the Park weekly lunchtime yoga in Milliken State Park to benefit Urban Farming

Yoga in the Park is a new series of yoga events that will take place every Tuesday from 12 to 12:45 p.m. at Milliken State Park starting Tuesday, July 23, and running through August 13.
Katherine Austin, owner of the Karma Yoga studio in Bloomfield Hills, is leading these weekly yoga classes to benefit Urban Farming, the nonprofit organization that plants urban gardens on vacant land in the city. She has been working with this organization since 2005, and decided to make this month of classes payable entirely by donation.
"When Fresh Air Fit contacted me about doing yoga in a state park this summer, I wanted to choose Detroit because what better place to elevate and raise vibrations through yoga and meditation," Austin says. "And Urban Farming takes unused plots of land in the city for gardens and teaches people how to grow their own food, so it's win-win for uplifting Detroit."
Yoga in the Park will be simple, easy yoga with soothing music and meditation designed for all fitness levels. Austin wants it to be something that is easy to do during lunchtime, and will also have a healthy food truck on-site and hopes to bring on DROUGHT juice so that people can take their entire lunch hour here and get everything they need. "I want people to go back to work inspired and have energy in the afternoon, and see how little yoga it takes to shift your energy," she says.
After visiting the park, she decided to make the classes free with donations. "If we really want to elevate and uplift Detroit, this is the way to do it; not just for some people but for everyone." She suggests a $10 donation, but encourages everyone to come who is interested, even if they can't afford a donation.
She already sees this as a bigger mission and something that can be grown into a year-round event, and plans on looking for an indoor space to continue offering her lunchtime yoga in the winter.
Yoga in the Park will be held on the grassy area of Milliken Park by the picnic shelters.
Source: Katherine Austin, owner of Karma Yoga
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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

Downtown development news round-up

Here's what's happening as we hit July:

• Dan Gilbert's Rock Ventures has expanded its retail portfolio to include 620 and 630 Woodward, two four-story buildings located next to each other on the east side of Woodward between Jefferson and Campus Martius. The company, which now owns or controls 30 buildings downtown, plans to upgrade these buildings for office and retail use. 

• Though the acquisition of the properties happened last December, representatives of DTE Energy are now finally giving us a teaser of what plans might be in store for the 69,000-square-foot lot and the three-story former Salvation Army building near its headquarters at Third Street and Bagley. Though plans are still vague, the idea of renovating the building at 601 Bagley into mixed office and retail space or a restaurant and bar has been suggested, and they have also mentioned plans to create an urban park on the lot similar to Campus Martius. Definitive plans include tearing down two empty buildings currently located on the lot. They expect this development project to take about five years to complete. 

• The Lofts at Merchant's Row on Woodward are expanding into an adjacent building, adding 42 more rental units. The total cost of the renovation project is estimated at $10 million.

• Campus Martius Park has seen a lot of action recently. It now has a new bar called the Beach Bar & Grille, located on a wooden deck in a section of the park that has been covered in sand. The Grille is owned by J. Lambrecht, who is also co-owner of Fountain Bistro and Bookie's. There is a new summer food market held in the park every Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. featuring several local mobile food vendors.

The Market at Campus Martius has also officially launched, and will be held the fourth Friday and Saturday of the month from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. through August featuring 20 vendors and 10 retailers each month. 

Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Ford Field to get two more Slows stands, also adding Russell Street Deli and Corridor Sausage

Detroit Lions fans are in for a real treat this fall at Ford Field; the stadium will be increasing its partnership with local food businesses to include two more Slows' outposts, a Corridor Sausage cart, and a satellite location of Russell Street Deli.
"We want to provide a better local experience for our fans," says Joe Nader, Executive Chef of Ford Field. "There are a lot of places around downtown that people go to before and after games. I could do a barbecue stand inside the stadium but I could never replicate Slows or their branding and wouldn't try to."
Ford Field's partnership with Slows Bar BQ – arguably Detroit's most famous restaurant – started last year. "It made sense that we started there with the most iconic of the new Detroit brands," Nader says. Fans were happy because they could have that Slows experience right there in the stadium. But Slows was only available on the Club level (accessible only to Club level ticketholders), which made for some disgruntled fans.
But, as Nader explains, all good things in good time. Slows is responsible for running its stand in addition to two permanent locations (the Corktown institution and Slows To Go in Midtown). With 65,000 people in the stadium for every game, both Slows management and Levy Restaurants, which handles the food and beverage operations for Ford Field, had to make sure they could handle the crushing volume.
This year Slows will be available to everyone with outposts on the Club level, the North Club level, and in general concessions in Section 133. Joining them in the Club level is Russell Street Deli, and in North Club level is Corridor Sausage.
Nader has always made it a point to use products from local purveyors in Ford Field, including Better Made potato chips and Germack brand nuts. Nader has used Corridor Sausage products at special events, but now it will have its own cart and will also be available on the suite menu.
As far as Nader is concerned, this is a natural progression for Ford Field and a reflection of Detroit's fast-growing food scene. "My biggest thing is creating a Detroit experience," he says. "We get a lot of fans from out of town, and they might have heard about Slows or any of these places but they can't always have that experience while they're here. Now they can get it all inside the stadium."
Nader is also the co-founder of The Detroit Three, a new chef's collaborative that hosts culinary events with a charity component. 

Source: Joe Nader, Executive Chef of Ford Field
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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New murals in Eastern Market celebrate changemaking and all things Weird

Eastern Market has a new welcome mat: behold one of the new murals on Gratiot entering the market, courtesy of German and Austrian artist collective "The Weird," recently in town for their group exhibition at Inner State Gallery. After spending some time absorbing the history and the "characters" of the Market, the Weird created this mural, which offers their interpretation of the people and places they saw. (And, yes, it's kind of weird.) 
The Weird's murals (they did a few) are the latest in an ongoing public art effort spearheaded by the guys behind Inner State (formerly 323 East in Royal Oak) and 1xRUN. "We've been engaged in public arts projects for many years," says Jesse Cory, who founded 323 and 1xRUN along with partners Dan Armand and Ryan Brogan. "It has always been in our blood and something we thought was important."
It started with the mural on their 323 building. They then moved on to Woodward Windows, a public art project that took over vacant storefronts along Woodward Avenue and included works from local artists like Malt, Sintex, Hygienic Dress League, and the Detroit Fashion Collective. Then, last summer, 1xRUN produced the Detroit Beautification Project in collaboration with Matt Eaton. This project yielded dozens of murals throughout Hamtramck and garnered national coverage (and controversy). It was during this project that Cory and his team were approached by Plymouth Educational Center instructor Allie Gross to collaborate with her 5th grade ChangeMakers class.
The ChangeMakers are a civically-minded group of students that had already put together a winning proposal at Detroit Soup. A crowd-funding campaign was launched to cover the cost of supplies, and 1xRUN brought San Diego-based artist Persue in to work with the students on creating a mural using his signature Bunny Kitty character. Persue worked with the kids for three days last month to create the mural on Russell between Mack and Warren in Eastern Market on the side of an abandoned juvenile detention center.
1xRUN's/Inner State's focus this year is all on Eastern Market, their new home since May. They have produced nine murals in the market so far this year. The murals serve several purposes: first, they are public works of art for all people to enjoy, taken outside of the confines of a traditional gallery and put out in front of the public. Second, the murals are from internationally-renowned street artists; petty taggers are deterred from destroying them (there is a strict street art code at play) so walls previously full of junky tags are remade into actual works of art. Third, since 1xRUN/Inner State self-funds all of these projects (with occasional help from sponsors like Montana Cans) and works with artists they're already collaborating with on limited edition print runs or an exhibition, the murals give them a chance to further showcase their artists and their brand. Cory says, "It gives traveling artists the same opportunity to leave behind something better."
Source: Jesse Cory, co-founder of 1xRUN and Inner State Gallery
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

Photo credit: Sal Rodriguez

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