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The new Jefferson East Inc. focuses on development from downtown to Grosse Pointe Park

While the transition has been ongoing for about a year now, a recent luncheon for Jefferson East, Inc. (JEI) was the official debut of the recently-formed economic development organization that combines the efforts of the Jefferson East Business Association and the East Jefferson Corridor Collaborative. The biggest thing to note here is that JEI will reach from downtown all the way to Grosse Pointe Park, encompassing the whole of the East Jefferson Corridor.
 
The luncheon, held Nov. 7 at the Rattlesnake Club, introduced Richard Baron, chairman and CEO of St. Louis-based developer McCormack Baron Salazar, as the keynote speaker. Baron's company has developed 146 projects in 35 cities with development costs in excess of $2.4 billion.
 
McCormack Baron Salazar is behind a $60 million plan to build five blocks' worth of apartments, townhouses and small-scale retail on mostly vacant land east of the Renaissance Center, to be developed in two phases with potential for expansion beyond the initial proposal. While funding is still being finalized (as with most major developments that happen in the city, the funding is coming piecemeal from a variety of sources), Baron said that he hoped to start land remediation next month and break ground on the project by June 2014. 
 
The East Jefferson Corridor has been getting a lot of buzz lately with the Globe Building renovation, support from TechTown's SWOT City program, the extensive Alden Towers renovation – in fact, Crain's just reported over the weekend that Alden Towers developer Triton Properties just bought four more apartment buildings along and near the East Jefferson Corridor – and local developer Shelborne Development's investments in the Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood, a community eager to engage outsiders and grow with pop-up businesses and community gatherings.
 
JEI's new campaign "Go East," officially launching later this month, will highlight all of the various developments and investments happening along Jefferson and market the neighborhoods, businesses, and recreation options that exist in the East Jefferson Corridor.
 
Read more about Jefferson East, Inc. Economic Development Director Ritchie Harrison on UIX.
 
Source: JEI; Richard Baron of McCormack Baron Salazar
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Midtown to get another "Living Room," this one part of TechTown District Plan

Last week the Knight Foundation reported that Midtown Detroit Inc. was awarded the prestigious ULI Global Award for Excellence for superior development efforts that go beyond good design to include strong leadership, community contribution, public-private partnerships, and financial success. While many, many people helped turn Midtown into the success it has become, none have been more directly involved than Susan Mosey, President of Midtown Detroit Inc. Read more about Mosey and her efforts in this week's Urban Innovation Exchange.
 
But that wasn't the only Midtown news to come from Knight. Midtown is about to get itself another "Living Room," in addition to the Cultural Living Room that opened inside the DIA earlier this year. A new grant from the Knight Foundation – in partnership with U3 Ventures, Boston-based planning firm Sasaki, and San Francisco-based designers Rebar – will support the design work of the new TechTown Living Room, a public space that will serve as the heart of Midtown’s TechTown innovation district.

The Living Room, part of the TechTown district plan for a mixed-use neighborhood building on the area's existing anchor universities, hospitals, and major businesses, "will transform a parking lot at Cass and Burroughs streets into an active and dynamic public space," connecting to TechTown's new co-working space which will be home to more than 400 entrepreneurs. It will also have a café and programming to attract the more than 10,000 professionals, students, and residents in the surrounding neighborhoods.
 
According to Alex Feldman of U3 Ventures, the Living Room will be completed in the summer 2014.
 
Source: Alex Feldman, Knight Foundation blog
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Newly-renovated Antisdel Apartments first step in two-block development for Cass Community org

After a one-year renovation, the Arthur Antisdel Apartments at 1584 Elmhurst celebrated its grand opening last week.
 
The $10 million renovation of the 34,500-square-foot building was overseen by Cass Community Social Services. Now part of the Cass Community campus, the Antisdel will be used to house homeless and disabled men and women. Cass Community Social Services Executive Director Faith Fowler says that the first residents have started moving in and it will soon be filled with 41 residents.
 
Fowler says the building was stripped down to its studs and everything inside is brand new: the roof, elevators, electric, plumbing, heating, windows, floors, appliances, bathroom fixtures. "It's like a brand-new building with old brick," she says. There is also a new parking lot, bike rack, and green space on the surrounding land. "If fits right in as if it has always been occupied."
 
As part of the organization's campus, which encompassed 4.5 blocks with 7 buildings, residents of the Antisdel will be part of the community and have access to work, worship, and counselors. "It's all walkable," says Fowler. "The proximity is nice because you (we) can share resources."
 
This $10 million project – made possible by a creative mix of tax credits, grants, public and private funding – was the start of the development of two whole additional blocks overseen by the nonprofit. A second building that was previously drug-inhabited is now fully occupied with families, and an additional block has been purchased and cleared and the organization is moving on to the development planning stages.
 
"We're trying to create a community but also put people back into the community," Fowler says.
 
Source: Faith Fowler, Executive Director of Cass Community Social Services
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Forest Arms apartment building to celebrate "groundbreaking" this Thursday

The fire that destroyed the roof and caused interior damage to the Forest Arms apartment building on Second and Canfield in Midtown happened in February 2008. After that, local developer Scott Lowell and his wife Carolyn Howard purchased the building with plans to renovate and reopen it. Nearly six years later, the renovation is finally about to get underway.
 
Lowell and Howard own several buildings in the area, including the Beethoven and Blackstone apartment buildings and the restaurant Traffic Jam & Snug. Despite their strong track record of redevelopment, it still took more than five years to get the Forest Arms project off the ground. First they had to convince the city that the building was worth saving instead of demolishing and that they were the people to do it – which, Lowell says, was the easy part. They then had to weather the housing market collapse, banks reluctant to lend money in its aftermath, and the elimination of the state historic tax credits (a boon to recent local developments).
 
"Losing the state tax credits was horrible," Lowell says. Luckily for them, with the help of Midtown Detroit Inc.'s Sue Mosey and the Michigan Historic Preservation Network, theirs was one of the last projects to be awarded under the state historic tax credit program. "It has been an arduous process just to get to this point, but it's finally here."
 
Forest Arms will celebrate a "groundbreaking" this Thursday. Previous work they have done since acquiring the building has included adding a new roof to make it weather-tight and ensuring the structure remains sound. The renovation will include all-new plumbing, drainage, electrical, and HVAC systems. The design will also utilize environmentally sustainable technologies like solar energy for hot water and reclaimed water from the roof to flush the toilets. They will also add a new fire suppression system, Lowell says, in deference to what happened there. "I want to sleep comfortably at night and I want our residents to sleep comfortably at night," he says.
 
Once completed, the new Forest Arms will consist of 70 architecturally diverse units with five top-floor penthouses, two ground floor commercial spaces, and a totally soundproof room in the basement for bands to hold band practice – a nice nod to the building's history as a hub for local musicians, from People's Records formerly located on its ground floor to the allegorical Arms Forest album recorded by local rockers the Hard Lessons after the fire.
 
The construction schedule is planned at 18 months. Lowell hopes to have it completed by fall 2015.
 
Source: Scott Lowell, owner and developer of Forest Arms
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Kraemer Design Group wraps up work on M@dison Block, moves on to Woodward

Detroit-based Kraemer Design Group has completed historic designation consulting, architectural and interior design projects at two properties on the recently re-christened "M@dison Block" at 1520 and 1528 Woodward Avenue. Both buildings are owned by Bedrock Real Estate.
 
The two early-20th-century buildings were not previously part of a historic district. Previously owned by the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, when Bedrock took them over the state historic tax credit was still available so there was a "mad dash" to get these buildings designated as historic properties, which Kraemer assisted with.
 
According to Bob Kraemer, founder and Principal of KDG, both buildings were heavily renovated in the 1950s and 1960s and little of the original buildings' original exterior or interior design elements still remained. In their renovations, KDG restored the mid-century renovations.
 
1520 Woodward Avenue, the former Lane Bryant Building built in 1909, is now comprised mostly of office space with as-yet-unoccupied retail space on the first floor and basement. KDG worked with the fifth and sixth floor tenant Detroit Labs on interior design to create an open workspace that juxtaposes the old structural wood framing and exposed brick with new, finished interior design elements. There are no other tenants currently in the building.
 
1528 Woodward Avenue, a 45,146-square-foot, six-story building, was built in 1916. It now exudes a midcentury appeal from its renovation in 1960 when it became the headquarters for the United Foundation. The second floor contains conference room spaces and a lounge/event space, and KDG restored and updated its décor in a style that complements the remaining 60s-era components.

"It had a real modern look to it so we restored that," Kraemer says. "It has a real (mid-century) ad man feel to it." KDG created clean, bright, modern elements within each of the tenant spaces that allow future tenants flexibility in customizing their space. The office floors of the building are now fully occupied, with Sachse Construction in the top two floors, and Bizdom and a Bedrock co-working space on the third and fourth floors. Retail space is still available on the ground floor.
 
Kraemer says he is seeing increasingly more activity in Capitol Park as development along the Woodward Corridor slows in anticipation of M-1 Rail construction. The next big renovation project for KDG is the 1201-1217 Woodward block, once again for Bedrock.
 
Source: Bob Kraemer, founder and Principal of KDG
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Storey Commons pops up in Jefferson Chalmers as a result of cross community collaboration

The Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood saw some success with activating vacant storefronts earlier this year during their June on Jefferson pop-ups. Local developers Shelborne Development renovated several vacant buildings, then the Jefferson East Business Association (JEBA) in partnership with the American Institute of Architects Urban Priorities Committee activated them with several lifestyle pop-up concepts to attract people from outside the neighborhood to the area and also to serve the people in the neighborhood.
 
Now JEBA is introducing the Storey Commons, a new pop-up storefront in one of the previous pop-up locations that will serve as a community library of books.

"In my time here at JEBA, in speaking with folks from the community, I found people are really looking for the types of amenities that make their community more liveable," says Ritchie Harrison, Economic Development and Policy Director at JEBA. They want places like sit-down cafés and bookstores where they can connect with other members of the community.
 
Storey Commons is a place where people can bring a book or borrow a book. Made to look like a bookstore, the space was designed by architect Mike Styczynski and his team at Midwest Design, who had worked on the original pop-up spaces over the summer. Books were donated by a cohort of community residents in Jefferson-Chalmers and Grosse Pointe Park during the inaugural meeting of AlterGather, a new community organization gathering residents of the East Riverfront neighborhoods to have conversations about how the community divide can be bridged. The first-ever meeting was held at Coffee and (______), a coffeeshop and bakery located next to Storey Commons. Peter Ruffner, owner Detroit-based publishing company OmniGraphics, also provided substantial book donations.

"We got more books than I expected," Harrison says. "So many folks came out to give books that love the idea, the concept and what it could mean for community development."
 
On the other side of Storey Commons is another new pop-up, the Jeff Chalmers Pop-Up Gallery, curated by local artist Halima Cassells featuring artwork from area residents. Harrison says that the whole project is made possible by the generosity of Shelborne Development, which owns the properties and has allow JEBA to use the spaces for the pop-ups.  
 
These pop-up projects are a cross-community collaboration made successful only by the number of separate groups involved with and supporting them, from the developer to area economic development organizations to nearby residents.

"It's all about helping to rebuild the community," Harrison says. "My hope is that this encourages the possibilities in the neighborhood for the vacant commercial storefronts we have and encourages revitalization and the opportunity for someone to see this and want to bring this type of business to the community (permanently)."
 
There is no official end date for the Storey Commons pop-up, but the space is available for a permanent tenant.
 
Source: Ritchie Harrison, Economic Development and Policy Director at Jefferson East Business Association
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

Detroit City Distillery receives approval from the city, aims at spring 2014 opening

After a five-month-long process requiring two public hearings, Detroit City Distillery has been approved as a distillery by the City of Detroit.
 
Detroit City Distillery is a partnership between seven young professionals who are also long-time homebrewers and distillers. At the center of it is distiller J.P. Jerome, a Ph.D. in microbiology, and Michael Forsyth, manager of retail development for the DEGC and director of the REVOLVE Detroit program. The distillery will be in a 2,700 square foot space at 2462 Riopelle St. in Eastern Market, a former slaughterhouse.
 
"It has been a long time in the making," says Forsyth. "As the microbrewing industry took off our thinking evolved to getting into the craft distilling market, (and making) spirits in Detroit again."
 
The spirits industry was once second only to the auto industry in Detroit, but the industry dried up during Prohibition. Like the recently-opened Two James in Corktown, Detroit City Distillery will pay homage to the city's distilling history, as well as being inspired by their own personal history with Detroit.
 
"Everything aligns in the market for a distillery," Forsyth says "It is the center of distribution. Jerome's grandfather used to be a butcher in Eastern Market. The Market is all about local food in one place, and all the market's customers want better, fresher, locally-produced food. Those are our customers."
 
The partners behind Detroit City Distillery value working with local farmers and using all organic, locally-grown grains, and are even growing their own rye on Forsyth's family farm. They have already received federal approval and are still in the process of receiving approval from the state. Buildout of the space will begin in November and they are currently working on their packaging and labels. They plan on opening next spring. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for updates. 

Source: Michael Forsyth, co-owner of Detroit City Distillery
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Late October Development News round-up

Dan Gilbert's Bedrock Real Estate Services has purchased another two downtown buildings, adding 84,000 square feet to the company's already swollen downtown commercial real estate portfolio. The new acquisitions are the eight-story 1505 Woodward, built in 1931 and designed by Albert Kahn, and the six-floor 1265 Griswold, built in 1897. According to a press release from Bedrock, this latest purchase brings Bedrock's portfolio up to nearly 8 million square feet of commercial and parking space over more than 40 properties in downtown Detroit. Rumors abound that Gilbert is also looking at the historic National Theatre on Monroe for a new residential development that will partially demolish the theatre. 

The Shanghai-based DDI group is the new owner of the 38-story David Stott Building at 1150 Griswold (purchased for $9.4 million and besting Dan Gilbert, the other bidder on the property) and the Albert Kahn-designed Free Press building at 321 W. Lafayette (purchased for $4.2 million). The group plans a $40-50 million redevelopment of the Free Press building and may add residential units to the Stott in the future

A press release from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation says that a $1 million Community Revitalization Program performance-based grant has been awarded to Harbortown Riverside, LLC and Harbortown Riverside Financing, Inc. to construct a 164,620-square-foot, five-story riverfront residential apartment building within the existing Harbortown complex on approximately 4.6 acres of land on the Detroit River. The residential apartment building will include 134 rental units, with a mix of one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments. All units will offer views of the river. The project is expected to cost nearly $20 million.

A press release from Midtown Inc. announced that a fund of $30 million designed to spur development along the Woodward Corridor is now accepting applications and will award loans in the amount of $500,000 to $5 million. This fund is backed by NCB Capital Impact and Kresge Foundation, among others. It will allow residential developers to take advantage of long-term, fixed-rate loans for mixed-income projects that feature a commercial component.

The NSO Bell Building celebrates completion of its $52 million renovation with a ribbon-cutting ceremony this Wednesday. 

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Detroit Bus Co's Eight & Sand in Hamtramck will be an entertainment complex and business incubator

The Detroit Bus Company has officially made the move to Detroit after purchasing a 90,000-square-foot building at 3901 Christopher St. in Hamtramck that they are calling Eight & Sand, a term used in the 19th century to wish a steam locomotive conductors safe travels.
 
"The methodology around here, to borrow from Daniel Burnham, is make no small plans," says Andy Didorosi, founder and president of Detroit Bus Company. And 90,000 square feet of space certainly isn't small.
 
Eight & Sand will be used as a sort of business incubator meets entertainment complex. The industrial building was built in 1920 by the Gear Grinding Company and was turned over into a constant-velocity joints production facility in 1940. Cranes and other heavy machinery still remain from its days as a factory, and they're leaving it that way for the certain "ambiance" it gives to the place.
 
While there is still PLENTY of space to lease out, Eight & Sand already has several tenants. First is the Detroit Bus Company, which should go without saying. All DBC operations have been moved inside, including the vehicle fleet. "I always thought DBC needed to be in Detroit," Didorosi says. "Hamtramck is close enough! (It's) perfect; it's right in the middle of everything. We'll be successful here."  
 
He also says that the building, along with its five acres of parking, was affordable and they are able to provide affordable space to tenants because of it. "We can cut through the red tape when renting space to people because it's ours." He wants the Eight & Sand businesses to be able to "get things done and hire the sh*t out of people," instead of wasting time and money dealing with corporate bureaucracy. "Immediately available space is pretty finite. Here we are going to make it easy." He jokes that if you wanted to open an industrial-scale bike manufacturing facility, you could do it tomorrow.
 
Eight & Sand is perfect for small businesses looking for big spaces. Pot & Box, a semifinalist in the 2011 Hatch Detroit competition, will have a 4,000-square-foot event space inside (the Corktown retail storefront is still planned). Fowling Warehouse will be the anchor tenant, occupying 40,000 square feet in the center of the building complete with a full bar and concert stage (with hopes of drawing in some big-name talent). Fowling Warehouse is nearly doubling its space from its previous location at 17501 Van Dyke St. (which the business moved out of earlier this year) and will have 30 lanes of "fowling" – football plus bowling. 
 
Eight & Sand also houses a processing and storage space for Reclaim Detroit and is providing free space to Sit On It Detroit, a completely DIY effort to build and install benches for bus stops. Didorosi says they will provide free space for one tenant at a time that needs some help starting up. There is no limit on the amount of time the business can occupy the space. Didorosi says of Charles Molnar, founder of Sit On It Detroit, "Once he's big fish he'll move out (to somewhere bigger) and we'll give the space to someone else." Both of these tenants came with the building and are staying.
 
Eight & Sand will also have seven bays for food trucks to come and dock that come with power hookups, a wash bay, and an on-site commissary kitchen. Didorosi's long-term plan is to enable these trucks to vend indoors so they can continue running their businesses in the winter, which is a real challenge for mobile food vendors.
 
Space is still available for tenants with needs for large and slightly less large spaces. "We've got pretty specific requirements for the kind of businesses we want. We want to foster growth in terms of businesses that are going to grow the city."
 
Source: Andy Didorosi, founder and president of Detroit Bus Company
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Tour nationally-recognized historic renovations in Palmer Park this Saturday

Palmer Park continues to undergo major renovation work and receive national recognition thanks to the efforts of Shelborne Development and Malino Construction.
 
Model D has previously reported on the revitalization work being done in this neighborhood. Kathy Makino-Leipsitz, co-owner of Malino Construction and Shelborne Development along with her husband Mark Leipsitz, owns 13 buildings in the area. She is leading the development of the historic apartment buildings in Palmer Park that comprise one of the most uniquely varied and densely concentrated mixes of 20th century architecture styles in the state, spanning more than four decades of Art Deco.
 
Last month Shelborne Development was honored during the Novogradac Journal of Tax Credits conference with the "2013 Historic Tax Credit Development that Best Demonstrates Financial Innovation" award for Palmer Park Square, a $35 million affordable housing development. Makino-Leipsitz, in conjunction with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), City of Detroit and Great Lakes Capital Fund, assembled a complex financial package from seven different funding sources to rehabilitate six historically significant, blighted/vacant apartment buildings in Palmer Park that were added to the National Register of Historic Places.
 
Shelborne just completed the renovation work on the Seville Apartments at 750 Whitmore. Previously 40 efficiency units, the interior was gutted to reconfigure the space into 16 larger units. The grand two-story lobby was also restored. They are also currently renovating the Palmer Lodge, the first building built in Palmer Park in 1925. Work is ongoing, but the grand lobby is complete. "The whole building is the symbol of revitalization in the area," says Sarah James, board chair of the People for Palmer Park, a nonprofit organization that focuses on the revitalization of the nearly 300-acre park.
 
Every year the People for Palmer Park hosts an architectural tour of the historic buildings in the area, showcasing the nationally-significant apartment district as well as the park. She says the park and the apartment buildings next to it have a symbiotic relationship, and the health of one directly affects the other. The nonprofit started this tour three years ago to showcase the apartment district as well as the park. This year's tours will be held on Saturday, October 5 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
 
This is the third annual architectural tour and they have been hugely popular, attracting 200 people the first year, 400 the second year, and an expected 600 this year. Because of the significant amount of housing stock in the area, this year's tour will focus on different buildings than last year's. This year's tour includes the newly-completed Seville Apartments, the lobby of the Palmer Lodge, and the Sarasota Apartments at 325 Merton, which were completed by Shelborne in the last year. The tour will also take guests through a 3,000-square-foot unit inside the Albert Kahn-designed apartment building Walbri Court at 1001 Covington, renovated and converted to condos in 2006. The park and its 1800s log cabin will be open for visitors to explore before or after their tours.
 
People for Palmer Park will also offer free Segway tours of the park trails to anyone with a tour ticket, and there will be music, classic cars, and FoodLab vendors.
 
Tours are $15 in advance and $20 at the door with tours leaving every 15 minutes from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
 
Source: Sarah James, board chair of the People for Palmer Park
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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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

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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

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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

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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

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

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.
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