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Detroit Development News

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Creative writing center 826michigan to open Eastern Market storefront

While the educational non-profit 826michigan has been working in Detroit for three years now, the writing and tutoring lab is planting its flag in the ground with a storefront location in the city's Eastern Market. Dubbed the Detroit Robot Factory, 826michigan will open their second permanent Michigan location with a ribbon-cutting ceremony October 5.

From then until November 10, the non-profit, which offers writing and tutoring programming for school-age children, will celebrate its Detroit location with 826 hours of events. In addition to the grand opening party, featuring an appearance from best-selling author and 826 National co-founder Dave Eggers, 826michigan celebrations include open houses for students, parents, and neighbors, a youth workshop at ComiqueCon, a release party for the organization's best of anthology, the Eat Your Words gala, and the opening of Dave Eggers' sculpture show at Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.

(Check out Model D's interview with Eggers from 2014)

Detroit Robot Factory officially opens November 1.

"We cannot wait to unveil the Detroit Robot Factory this October," says 826michigan Executive Director Amanda Uhle. "826michigan programs make space for young people to explore new ideas, to be their authentic selves, to receive one-on-one attention from incredible adult volunteers, and to have their voices and their ideas amplified in the community. With the Detroit Robot Factory fully up and running, we can offer the same field trip and tutoring programming to Detroit students that has been available to Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti students for years. We are thrilled to be open the doors on this space, which will provide even more opportunities for Detroiters to volunteer with local youth and for school-aged students to take part in our free programs."

The 826michigan ribbon-cutting ceremony for Detroit Robot Factory occurs Wednesday, Oct. 5 at 5 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

Detroit Robot Factory is located at 1351 Winder St.

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

Media technology school to open in former police precinct building in Southwest Detroit

Located near the foot of the Ambassador Bridge, the old Detroit Police Department Third Precinct building has seen some creative adaptive reuses since the DPD left in the 2000s. Detroit Farm and Garden, a landscaping, farming, and gardening supply store, currently occupies the back of the building and surrounding lot.

555 Gallery rented the front of the building for a few years, converting the station and its jail cells into an art gallery. That gallery has since left and, after a period of vacancy, a new tenant has signed a ten-year lease for the front section of the old precinct at the corner or 21st Street and Vernor Highway, a building owned by Southwest Solutions.

The next tenant will be the Detroit School of Digital Technology (DSDT), a post-secondary school focused on 21st century media technologies, including video, graphic design, 3D printing, and coding. Already state-licensed and awaiting a pending national accreditation approval, DSDT students will soon be able to apply for Pell Grants and other financial aid programs.

DSDT, which is hoping for an early-October opening, will offer associate degree and other certificate programs. The school is a subsidiary of Astute Artistry, a fashion, film, and makeup trade school located in suburban Berkley.

Jamie Kothe, DSDT school director and CEO, says that the school is geared toward professionals currently unhappy with their work situations, as well as young adults not wanting to spend the money on traditional four-year university programs. Kothe also hopes to offer the space to local community groups as a sort of computer library. Freelance professionals will be able to rent equipment from DSDT.

Kothe found the space as a result of the Motor City Match contest, which connected her with landlord Southwest Solutions. In a subsequent round of Motor City Match, Kothe won a $50,000 grant. "I've met so many people that have helped me get this far," says Kothe.

She started transforming the space in December of 2015, often locking herself in at night to clean and paint the more than 7,000 sq. ft. first floor. Now it's outfitted with state-of-the-art media technologies, including dozens of Apple desktop computers, several 3D printers, and a DaVinci Resolve control board for video and image editing.

The building retains much of its original character. The old cell block is still there, each of the 21 cells now individual computer stations. But Kothe is still debating what to do with the rest of the space. A second floor is empty and unfinished, including an old locker room and basketball court, the latter of which may be converted into a conference room, events space, or art gallery. The basement contains numerous mysterious cubby holes, a utility room well-suited for students' horror film sets, and the old shooting range, which Kothe hopes to one day turn into an old fashioned movie theater.

Detroit School of Digital Technology is hosting a grand opening and open house this Thursday, Sept. 15 from 5 to 10 p.m. Tours, entertainment, refreshments, and giveaways are planned. It is open to the public.

Detroit School of Digital Technology is located at 1759 W. 21st St.

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

Two alley festivals to take place this Saturday in Midtown

Often an afterthought in most neighborhoods, the alley is kind of a special thing in Midtown. There's Dally in the Alley, one of Detroit's longest-running street fairs, which celebrates the Cass Corridor with local music, art, and food vendors lining a neighborhood alley. There are the green alleys, which convert typically dank and uninviting alleys into charming walkways, complete with green methods of storm water management and the reintroduction of native plants. There's even the Garden Bowl, which, at over 100 years old, is the oldest continuously operating bowling alley in the country.

A new micro-festival will debut on Saturday, September 10, the same day as Dally in the Alley. The new event is called The Green Alley Gathering and it takes place in the Green Alley adjacent to Jolly Pumpkin and Third Man Records. Organized by Porterhouse Presents, the Gathering will celebrate the community and promote Midtown Detroit, Inc.'s Green Alley construction projects throughout the neighborhood.

Two music stages will bookend the alley, plus Man & Pan Paella will be serving their traditional meat, seafood, and vegan Spanish paella. A cash bar featuring Jolly Pumpkin, North Peak, and Civilized Spirits adult beverages will be located in Third Man Records.

Booked to play the first Green Alley Gathering is MarchFourth, a genre-mixing party marching band that also features acrobats and stilters, the Craig Brown Band, a local country-rock group recently signed to Third Man Records, and the Silent Disco, a multimedia experience that has listeners wear headphones at the concert. Silent Disco will include sets from DJ Psycho, DJ Prim, and more.

The Green Alley Gathering is Saturday, September 10 and runs from 6:00 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. It is located in the Green Alley between 2nd and Cass Avenues and West Canfield and West Willis Streets.

Dally in the Alley is Saturday, September 10 and runs from 11:00 a.m to 11:00 p.m. between Forest Avenue and Hancock Street and 2nd and 3rd Avenues. The event is free.

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

Motor City Match winner Mama Coo's opens in Corktown as Round 6 application window opens

A full year into its small business programming and Motor City Match is starting to see some brick-and-mortar results. Vintage clothing boutique Mama Coo's has opened up shop in Corktown and coffee shop Detroit Sip and Comb-N-Weave manufacturer Black Pride Beauty are reportedly nearing the opening of their own stores in the University District and Jefferson East areas, respectively.

Those three businesses were winners of Motor City Match grants ranging from $18,000 to $60,000 each. Entrepreneurs and small business owners looking for their own shot at small business assistance from Motor City Match, which can include anything from grant money to free architectural services, business planning to tenant-landlord introductions, are in luck.

Round six of applications opens Thursday, September 1 and closes Saturday, October 1. Applications are available online.

"Now that we're a full year into the program, Motor City Match is really starting to show some positive results. Businesses are moving through the steps of the program and beginning to open their doors to serve our neighborhoods," says Rodrick Miller, CEO of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation.

Lana Rodriguez, winner of an $18,000 Motor City Match grant, recently opened Mama Coo's in Corktown. In an earlier interview with Model D, Rodriguez spoke about the importance of the grant and how it allowed her to open Mama Coo's with less debt and more resources.

"I know that now I have a better chance of longevity and success and to keep this puppy going," she said. 

For those seeking guidance through the application process, Motor City Match has partnered with Wayne County Community College to host the Small Business Summit and Resource Fair, to be held Friday, September 16 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the WCCCD downtown Detroit campus.

The Resource Fair is not Motor City Match-exclusive and will feature a number of Detroit small business support services including the Build Institute, CEED Lending, the Detroit Development Fund, the Detroit Public Library, Detroit SCORE, Grand Circus, Ioby, and Lifeline Business Consulting.

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

August development news round-up: Residential, residential, and more residential

Let's catch up on some of the biggest stories from the past five weeks.

The Detroit Tigers matchup with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim last Saturday, August 27 was as notable for an umpire's ejection of two Tigers players and two Tigers coaches as it was for another event at the game: Olympia Development of Michigan in partnership with the Detroit Tigersboth organizations being owned by the Ilitch familyto promote its District Detroit development. 10,000 fans received District Detroit-branded Tigers caps as they entered the game. They were were also treated to numerous video displays and a red carpet promotion as Olympia touted its more than $1.2 billion hockey arena, residential, and commercial development being built north of Comerica Park.

Capitol Park, a public park in the city's downtown, is experiencing its own impressive wave of development as nearly every building surrounding that park is being renovated and redeveloped into apartments and retail space. One of those buildings, the Farwell, has announced a projected fall 2017 opening. DBusiness is also reporting the construction of two brand new buildings. The eleven- and eight-story buildings will contain residential, office, and retail space, replacing a vacant low-rise building and a surface parking lot, respectively.

Another new build, the Russell Flats, will bring 82 new residential units to Eastern Market. The five-story building will also have ground floor retail space. This is part of a major 10-year plan being put into place for the market. 

A crowdfunding campaign is being held to raise funds for the historic log cabin in Palmer Park. If successful, the building and its neglected stained glass windows would be restored and the cabin would be utilized as a community space. Organizers hope to raise $25,000 by October 28 and, in doing so, would receive a $25,000 matching grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Michigan State Housing Development Authority and their Public Spaces Community Places initiative.

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

Planet Ant turns to crowdfunding to complete redevelopment of old Hamtramck banquet hall

Planet Ant Theatre is growing. Not just in the size of its audience, but physically. 

The theater that showcases Metro Detroit's longest running improv show has acquired a banquet hall kitty corner from its black box theater on Caniff Street, and is in the process of transforming it into Planet Ant Hall. While Planet Ant will continue to utilize its theatre for shows, the hall will allow Planet Ant to increase seating capacity for shows and also offer more improv comedy classes.

(Check out this Model D article on the local improv comedy scene)

Construction is already underway. The drop ceiling has been torn out but the air conditioning will remainan upgrade those familiar with Planet Ant might appreciate today. But a maxed out budget now has Planet Ant turning to the community to help finish the job. Planet Ant has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise $55,000. An August 31 deadline has been extended by ten days to help Planet Ant reach its goal.

Michael Hovitch, managing director of Planet Ant, says the money raised will go toward things like sound and lighting equipment, seating, and a renovated floor. The goal is to complete construction by the end of October, the theater's 20th anniversary, and launch the new space with a popular show from Planet Ant's past.

"Planet Ant has been around for a long time and it's become a big part of the community," says Hovitch. "It's a small black box theater but we've been wanting to expand for a while. We've been having more and more success with our classes and want to grow, offer more opportunities for our performers."

It's an impressive list of actors, comedians, and musicians that have come through Planet Ant's doors. Two of the most famous include Jack White, who performed at the Planet Ant Coffee House open mic night, and Keegan-Michael Key, who was a founding member of Planet Ant Theatre and its comedy group.

Planet Ant Coffee House opened in 1993. It transitioned to being a theater three years later.

The Planet Ant Hall crowdfunding campaign is being hosted on Indiegogo.

Planet Ant Hall is located at 2320 Caniff St. in Hamtramck.

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

Final Four local businesses compete for $50,000 grand prize

Votes have been cast and the totals have been tallied as the top ten contestants in the 2016 Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest have been whittled down to the final four. A clothing boutique, ceramic studio, urban farm-sourced cafe, and wellness center are now the last competitors standing in pursuit of the $50,000 grand prize.

The winner of the contest, which is presented by Opportunity Detroit this year, will be determined by a public vote and a presentation in front of a panel of judges Friday, August 26. The public voting also ends at noon on August 26.

While the panel of judges will help determine the $50,000 winner, Vittoria Katanski, executive director of Hatch Detroit, stresses the importance of the public's role in the process.

"A significant component of this contest is the support of the public," she says. "From the moment the Top 10 are announced to the continued support of our Hatch alumni, the public is our partner. We've had more than 21,000 public votes so far in this year's contest, and we hope the community's support for these businesses continues to grow."

The final four contestants consist of Bird Bee, a clothing, shoes, jewelry, and accessories boutique; Corbe, a ceramic design and manufacturing studio wanting to open a storefront in the North End; Coriander Kitchen & Farm, an urban farm and catering business seeking a brick and mortar location; and Meta Physica Massage & Sauna, which hopes to open a Wellness Center that includes therapeutic bodywork, infrared saunas, a raw juice bar, herbal apothecary, meditation classes, community workshops, and health-inspired retail.

The winner of the $50,000 grand prize will also receive over $200,000 in pro bono business services from local firms that include GTB, MCCI, Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn, Hamilton Anderson Associates, and the Hatch organization itself. Hatch has also provided a number of services to previous contestants who failed to reach the top prize.

Vote online here.

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

Christian organization seeks funds to complete renovations of community center

The Central Detroit Christian Community Development Corporation is $50,000 away from receiving $100,000. That's because the 21-year-old neighborhood organization is involved in the latest round of Public Spaces Community Places, the state's grant-matching program for placemaking projects across Michigan. The CDC's goal is to redevelop an old, vacant church into an active community center.

If Central Detroit Christian is able to raise $50,000 through a fundraising campaign via Michigan-based crowdfunding platform Patronicity, Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Michigan State Housing Development Authority will contribute an additional $50,000 grant toward their mission. Central Detroit Christian has until September 23 to raise the funds.

The old Tried Stone Baptist Church, located at 1550 Taylor St., is between the Lodge Freeway and Rosa Parks Boulevard, south of Clairmount Avenue. Central Detroit Christian purchased the building, which had been vacant for five years, and has performed a number of renovations, including new windows, doors, and a roof. Organizers say that the potential $100,000 raised as a result of the Public Space Community Places program would close a funding gap and allow them to complete renovations of the building.

Once construction is complete, the building will provide space for youth and family programming, a community meeting space, gymnasium, medical clinic, day care services, and office space for the CDC. According to Central Detroit Christian, 70 percent of the families the organization services live below the poverty line.

"The surrounding neighborhood would benefit greatly from the proposed redevelopment of 1550 Taylor," says MSHDA executive director Kevin Elsenheimer. "This space has the potential to inspire meaningful community-led collaboration by bringing together the diversity of the area to boost local access to important programs and services."

To view the status of Central Detroit's Christian's crowdfunding campaign, visit Patronicity.

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

2,000 affordable housing and community development professionals to convene in Detroit

Approximately 2,000 affordable housing and community development professionals are convening in Detroit this week for the NeighborWorks Training Institute. According to the national non-profit NeighborWorks America, an affordable housing advocacy and training group, the symposium is expected to generate an estimated $3.3 million in local investment.

The symposium is the third of four this year, running from August 8 through 12. A number of local and national officials will be present, including Mayor Mike Duggan, chief administration officer for the Detroit Medical Center Conrad L. Mallett Jr., national correspondent for The Atlantic James Fallows, and president and CEO of the Skillman Foundation Tonya Allen, among others.

"This is our second Training Institute in the Detroit area and it couldn't come at a more pivotal time," says Paul Weech, chief executive officer of NeighborWorks America. "Government, business and the nonprofit sector all are working on solutions to improve neighborhoods and jump-start economic activity in the city and in similar places across the United States. NeighborWorks America is excited to be in Detroit to help share what works."

Among the highlights is "Creating Places of Opportunity: Investing in Neighborhoods," a symposium on the benefits of strategic investment in communities throughout the country that result in inclusive development and growth. Examples will focus on job growth, placemaking, and affordable housing.

Mobile tours will also usher attendees around the city, displaying local examples of strategic investment and growth.

While Detroit is a NeighborWorks target, the nonpartisan, congressionally chartered nonprofit operates throughout the state. According to the organization, NeighborWorks generated nearly $45 million in investment in the state of Michigan in 2015. In that same year, 3,117 families were assisted with affordable housing, 1,616 residents received counseling and education services, and 330 jobs were created and maintained.

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

NSO bike tour to raise money, awareness in fight against homelessness

Several Detroit neighborhoods will be on display this weekend as cyclists take part in Handlebars for the Homeless, a guided and informative tour on Sunday, August 7. Neighborhood Service Organization is leading the bike ride, showing off the city while also informing participants on how the organization is working to end homelessness in Detroit.

The ride meets and ends at the Bell Building, a 225,500 sq. ft. art deco building once recognizable for its Yellow Pages neon sign visible from the Lodge freeway and now notable for the NSO's multi-million dollar renovation. NSO converted the former office building at 882 Oakman Blvd. in Detroit into apartments, providing housing for 155 formerly homeless adults.

Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. Sunday, August 7, where there will be light breakfast refreshments. Online registration is available, as well. Participants will receive a high-performance t-shirt, spoke card, and entry into a Detroit Bikes raffle. Detroit Bikes has donated an A-Type bike for the drawing, a $699.99 value. Registration costs $40 and proceeds will benefit NSO programs and services.

From 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., cyclists will be guided on a tour that takes them through the Live6 Alliance area, the Sherwood Forest, Palmer Park, and Boston Edison neighborhoods, and the University of Detroit-Mercy and Marygrove College campuses.

"The tour showcases both the thriving and bustling streets of Detroit while educating the community about the challenges that face the more than 15,000 homeless individuals living on the streets every day," says David Rudolph, founder of Handlebars for the Homeless and NSO board member. "NSO works to move and keep people off the city streets and out of poverty by providing opportunities that give individuals a chance to thrive."

Neighborhood Service Organization has been working toward eliminating homelessness in metro Detroit since 1955.

The NSO Bell Building is located at 882 Oakman Blvd. in Detroit.

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

Crowdfunding campaign seeks to transform vacant Brightmoor land

Local placemaking group Resurge Detroit has launched a crowdfunding campaign to transform vacant land in the Brightmoor neighborhood into a community center and grow house. Titled "Liberty Harvest," the campaign is part of the Public Spaces, Community Places program, a partnership between Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Michigan State Housing Development Authority.

If "Liberty Harvest" successfully raises $31,750 through a Patronicity crowdfunding campaign, MEDC and MSHDA will match that amount, providing a grant that will bring the total funds raised to $63,500. "Liberty House" has up until Sep. 18, 2016, to raise the funds.

The funds will go towards converting an old industrial shipping container into a hydroponic grow house. The 400 sq. ft. container will have solar power, a hydroponic water system, and an enclosed environment that allows for 365-days-a-year production.

Resurge Detroit has partnered with nearby Veterans Village for the project. Funds raised will also go toward an urban agriculture training program for veterans.

"The Liberty Harvest project puts vacant land to work in a way that helps address important issues in the community," MSHDA Executive Director Kevin Elsenheimer says in a statement. "Helping veterans transition back into life at home while providing local families and businesses with fresh, affordable, and locally grown produce is an innovative approach to engaging the local community."

Visit the Michigan-based crowdfunding platform Patronicity to view the campaign's status.

Placemaking update: Another Detroit placemaking project, the reactivation of Dean Savage Memorial Park in Corktown, is nearing the conclusion of its own Public Spaces, Community Places campaign. Launched on June 23, 2016, the crowdfunding campaign has until Aug. 14, 2016 to raise $27,500 in order to receive a matching grant from MEDC and MSHDA. As of time of publication, Activating Dean Savage Memorial Park had raised $14,562 of its $27,500 goal.

View that campaign here.

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

July development news round-up: Big residential projects on Selden

Let's catch up on some of the biggest stories from the past four weeks.

Two more residential developments were announced in Midtown this month. The first is the rehab of 678 Selden St., a 22,796 sq. ft. vacant apartment building. Dubbed the H.R. Finn Apartments, the $3.7 million investment will result in 28 apartments and two commercial units. Built in 1922, the building has been vacant for the past seven years. Construction, which includes brand new plumbing, heating, electrical work, and more, is expected to wrap up in late 2017.

Travel east down Selden Street and one will find another residential development, this one being built from the ground up. Slated for a summer 2017 opening, The Selden is a four story building consisting of 12 for-sale condos. Retail and office space is reserved for the ground floor while renderings reveal a roof-top deck. The Selden replaces the Marie Apartments building, which was razed in May 2016.

The city of Detroit released an RFP for the Fitzgerald Revitalization Project, a three-part strategy for stabilizing and improving life in the Fitzgerald neighborhood. The plan calls for a new park and greenway, converting empty parcels into economically sustainable and productive spaces like orchards and gardens, and saving and utilizing empty buildings throughout the neighborhood. Fitzgerald is bound by McNichols to the north, Livernois to the east, Puritan to the south, and Greenlawn to the west.

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

Motor City Match completes first year of programming, 11 more businesses awarded grants

Detroit continues to grow its base of entrepreneurs through its Motor City Match program, awarding 11 more grants ranging from $15,000 to $75,000 to area businesses. The awards, announced July 20, complete the fourth round of Motor City Match, marking one full year for the quarterly program.

That pipeline of entrepreneurs, as Detroit Economic Growth Corporation CEO Rodrick Miller calls it, consists largely of Detroiters. According to figures released by Motor City Match, 64 percent of MCM winning businesses are owned by Detroiters, 72 percent are minority-owned, and 68 percent are woman-owned.

In the program's first year, Motor City Match has awarded $2 million in grants to 40 small businesses, leveraging over $13 million in total investment in the city.

This round of grant winners include:
  • Twisted Roots, a beauty supply retailer in Eastern Market
  • Block Party, a building on Livernois that will house two restaurants and the Live6 Alliance
  • Detroit Vegan Soul, a West Village restaurant opening a second location on Grand River
  • Norma G's, a Caribbean cuisine food truck opening a brick-and-mortar location on East Jefferson
  • Live Cycle Delight, a cycling studio opening in West Village
  • Amaze-Enjoyment, an early childhood center at 20067 John R Street
  • Guadalajara #2, a butcher shop expanding into a full-service facility in Southwest
  • Lil Brilliant Mindz, an east side daycare and Head Start facility
  • Beau Bien Fine Foods, an artisanal jam, fruit preserve, chutney, and mustard maker expanding in Eastern Market
  • Meta Physical Wellness Center, an affordable holistic spa opening in Corktown
  • Third Wave Music, a music instrument retailer opening in the Forest Arms building in Midtown
"These are the kinds of businesses that help to create complete neighborhoods where people want to live," says Mayor Mike Duggan. "Motor City Match is helping dozens of Detroit entrepreneurs live their dream owning their own business while being a real part of our city’s neighborhood comeback."

In addition to the 11 businesses awarded grants, seven others will receive free design and architectural services, 26 have been connected with landlords, and 50 more will receive free business planning support.

The next round of the Motor City Match application process begins Sep. 1 and closes Oct. 1.

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

Barbers and landscapers join forces to transform vacant city lots

To work as a barber or a landscaper can mean a variety of things. To some, it can mean nothing more than a job, punch in and trim some hair, cut some lawns, and go home. To others, it's more than a job but a craft, dutifully studied and skillfully executed. They're the ones who can elevate these seemingly menial tasks into art.

A flourish to a hair cut or a landscaping job is not that different from one another. It's this idea that has launched The Buzz, an innovative approach to address the city of Detroit's vacant land management issues. The Buzz organizers have partnered local barbers and landscapers to creatively maintain overgrown vacant lots throughout the city.

The Detroit Future City (DFC) Implementation Office is responsible for the program, winning a Knight Cities Challenge grant for its efforts. The DFC Implementation Office has partnered with Urban Neighborhood Initiatives, the East Side Community Network, and the City of Detroit's General Services Department on the project.

"This creative idea of bringing barbers and landscapers together to discuss how popular hair style trends can be used with mowing patterns is another way to beautify some of the city's lots," says Hector Santiago, The Greening of Detroit's workforce development program manager. "The implementation of the designs will provide an interesting and appealing landscape in the neighborhoods."

Over 25 barbers and landscapers met this June to brainstorm and trade ideas for the program, meeting on the east side in Jefferson-Chalmers and the southwest side in Springwells Village. A "mow and show" took place on Monday, July 18 in Springwells Village to showcase what is possible with the program.

This is not the first vacant lot-related program for Detroit Future City. In October 2015, the office released a field guide for Detroiters looking to make use of the vacant lots in their neighborhoods, including transforming unused lots into rain gardens, native butterfly meadows, and more.

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

Belle Isle beautification efforts focus on fundraising events for fountain, community programming

The popular fundraising event Detroit SOUP is coming to Belle Isle. The micro grant-awarding program, typically reserved for the city's neighborhoods, is making a one-time appearance on the island park. While the dinner doesn't take place until August 31, organizers are currently seeking grant proposals, which are due August 14.

A typical SOUP event will include a five dollar fee for a dinner that's open to the public. The five dollars pays for soup, salad, bread, and a vote in the micro-grant contest. Four proposals are heard and the dinner crowd votes on which proposal they feel best benefits the community where the dinner is being held. The winner of that vote receives the money collected at the beginning of the night. Many types of proposals are heard, from business plans to community events.

Organizers say that the Belle Isle SOUP will operate in the same fashionthe one caveat being that the proposal must take place on Belle Isle. In addition to the money raised, the Belle Isle Conservancy will offer staff support to help make the winning proposal happen.

Applicants can submit SOUP proposals online or at a physical drop-off location that includes the offices of the Belle Isle Conservancy, Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation, Live6 Detroit, Osborn Neighborhood Alliance, Eastside Community Network, SER Metro Detroit, and the Joy-Southfield Community Development Corporation.

In other Belle Isle news, the Conservancy is hosting a fundraising event to help restore the historic Pewabic tile mosaic at the basin of the James Scott Memorial Fountain. The Conservancy has currently raised nearly $75,000 of a $300,000 goal to restore the mosaic.

On Wednesday, August 17, the Sunset at the Scott fundraiser will include food from El Guapo Fresh Mexican Grill and Cool Jacks Handcrafted Ice Cream + Cookies, an open beer and wine bar, and music from local band ONEFREQ.

Advance tickets range from $50 to $250 and are available until August 1. After the first of the month, tickets will cost $65 at the door.

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