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Detroit Development News

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Group seeks to reactivate Corktown park

Public Spaces Community Places, a state-sponsored placemaking initiative operated by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), has set out to yet again raise funds for a Detroit-based project. The campaign's focus is Dean Savage Memorial Park, a small park on the south east end of Corktown.

Activating Dean Savage Memorial Park is an attempt "to improve the equitable usability of open spaces throughout Corktown," organizers say. The park, characterized as overlooked and underutilized by MSHDA executive director Kevin Elsenheimer, has the potential to receive $55,000 in improvements, if the fundraising proves to be successful. MEDC and MSHDA will provide a $27,500 matching grant if the Dean Savage group is able to raise that amount through a crowdfunding campaign.

"Corktown residents and visitors deserve a great public space to relax, play, and meet neighbors," executive director of the Corktown Economic Development Corporation Chad Rochkind said in a statement. "Enhancing Dean Savage Memorial Park as a green gathering space for all people is an essential step to improving the quality of life in Detroit's oldest neighborhood, and it signals our commitment to inclusive growth as Corktown develops."

According to the Patronicity crowdfunding campaign website, the $55,000 being raised to redevelop Dean Savage Memorial Park breaks down as follows: $10,000 for pedestrian improvements; $10,000 for a dog park; $10,000 for fencing; $10,000 for a basketball court; $7,000 for tables and benches; $5,000 for lighting; and $3,000 for refurbishing the shuffleboard courts. A biergarten is also planned.

Activating Dean Savage Memorial Park has until July 22, 2016 to raise $27,500. The project only receives the funds if it meets the $27,500 mark, which triggers the $27,500 matching grant. That campaign is being held via Patronicity, a Michigan-based crowdfunding platform.

Dean Savage Memorial Park is located on Trumbull Avenue and bounded by Porter and Abbott streets.

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

Cycling, sushi, and more: June development news round-up

It's been another busy month for development news in the city. Let's catch up on some of the biggest stories from the past four weeks.

Live Cycle Delight, the winner of the 2015 Hatch grand prize valued at $50,000, has announced that it will open up a permanent storefront location in the West Village neighborhood. Expect a fall opening for the cycling studio, which will offer three different cycling classes, cold-pressed juice, snacks, and more.

The window for submitting to the 2016 iteration of the Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest is winding down, with applications accepted through July 15. Submissions opened to the public in late April. Live Cycle Delight is 15th Hatch contestant -- grand prize winner or not -- to open a storefront in Detroit since the small business competition began in 2011. Winners receive a $50,000 grand prize and a pro bono service package worth more than $200,000. Entrepreneurs are encouraged to apply via the Hatch website.

The Michigan-based sushi chain of Maru Sushi & Grill is set to open its first location in Detroit in the ground floor of the Federal Reserve Building downtown. It's the fifth location for the chain, which also has restaurants in Okemos, Grand Rapids, East Lansing, and Midland. The restaurant is being designed by ROSSETTI, an architectural firm which is itself headquartered in the Federal Reserve Building.

The local rehabilitation and preservation community was abuzz with excitement this month as it was announced that the long-running PBS home renovation program "This Old House" would be filming its first ever Detroit location. 10 episodes will be shot for next season as the team documents the renovation of a 1939-built house in the Russell Woods neighborhood. Expect the episodes to air in March 2017.

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

Detroit entrepreneurs have until July 1 to apply for Motor City Match

The clock is ticking for entrepreneurs thinking about applying to Detroit's Motor City Match program. July 1 is the deadline for the small business competition, which awards grant funding, design and technical support, and landlord-tenant match-making assistance. The quarterly competition offers up to $500,000 in grants each round.

Entrepreneurs ranging from established to nascent are encouraged to apply. The competition offers different levels of prizes to local small businesses, depending on a number of factors. For the new entrepreneurs, Motor City Match offers free business planning programming. More advanced entrepreneurs may be matched with a Detroit landlord seeking to fill a storefront or building. Design services from local architecture firms are also available.

The most advanced applicants are eligible to receive up to $100,000.

Since launching in 2015, Motor City Match has awarded $1.5 million in grant funding, which has been leveraged for nearly $10.5 million in investment.

Lana Rodriguez is the recipient of one of those grants, having received $18,000 from Motor City Match in the most recent round of competition. She's using that money to help start Mama Coo's Boutique in Corktown, an upscale resale and vintage clothing shop.

"I'm a hustler and I knew the store would open, but it would have only been partially realized," says Rodriguez. "This grant money lets me get started and go all in. I know I have a better chance of longevity and success."

According to Motor City Match, the organization has already served over 300 businesses and 180 commercial properties since 2015. Detroit-based businesses make up about two-thirds of the winners and minority-owned businesses make up 70 percent of the successful applicants.

Visit www.motorcitymatch.com to apply.

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

Retail Boot Camp accepting applications for next session

Budding entrepreneurs hoping to learn more about how to open their own brick-and-mortar locations are in luck. TechTown Detroit, a business accelerator and incubator in the city's New Center district, is opening up applications for its Retail Boot Camp beginning June 27. Classes run from September 20 though November 8.

The eight-week program consists of weekly three-hour classroom sessions. Classes focus on business development and a resulting business plan. Retail experts provide insight while students are expected to fulfill substantial out-of-class obligations, as well.

At the end of the eight-week term, Retail Boot Camp hosts Showcase, where students compete for prize packages valued up to $7,500. Prize packages can include a subsidized permanent or pop-up location, a point-of-sale system, an inventory subsidy and/or a professional services package. Up to five students can win the retail prize.

"Retail Boot Camp furthers TechTown's mission to support local businesses and drive economic growth in Detroit's neighborhoods," says Regina Ann Campbell, TechTown's managing director of place-based entrepreneurship, in a statement. "We're looking for serious entrepreneurs with great ideas that address neighborhood needs. Participants will work hard and graduate prepared to launch their business and be a meaningful part of Detroit's revitalization."

Curious entrepreneurs are encouraged to attend one of three informative workshops in the city. They are:
  • Tuesday, June 21 at TechTown Detroit, 440 Burroughs, 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, June 29 at Mash Detroit, 14711 Mack Avenue, 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, June 30 at Always Brewing Detroit, 19180 Grand River Avenue, 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Previous winners include House of Pure Vin, Paramita Sound, Tribalfare, Mama Coo's Boutique, Third Wave Music and 2015 Hatch Detroit winner Live Cycle Delight.

The cost for Retail Boot Camp is $499. Applications are being accepted June 27 to Aug. 19. Visit the Retail Boot Camp website to apply.

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

New beverage director to accompany Rock City Eatery's move to Midtown

There's a lot of work involved in Rock City Eatery's eventual move from Hamtramck to Detroit's Midtown district. An expanded menu, both thoughtful and bold, has been developed. The space itself, the old Bangkok Cuisine Express restaurant on Woodward, has been stripped to its bare form and will be re-built from the inside-out. The bar is being built and the bathrooms are nearly selfie-ready. The custom-made furniture is being assembled by hand. 

There's also hires to be made, like beverage director Elizabeth Cosby. She's been tasked with creating a drink menu that pairs with both the familiar Rock City Eatery dishes, as well as the new and adventurous menu items like Ants on a Logpickled celery, peanut butter, and, yes, actual antsand Pancakes and Sausage, which includes a duck sausage patty sandwiched between two scallion pancakes with bone marrow butter topping it off.

During a recent media preview, Rock City Eatery owners Nikita Sanches and Jessica Imbronone Sanches debuted nine plates from the new menu. These new items and more will complement popular ones from the old Hamtramck location. From Ants on a Log to a bone marrow pate, lobster rolls to blood sausage pierogi, the new menu had local food and restaurant writers abuzz.

Cosby also contributed with her carefully chosen drink pairings that included a range of beer, wine and cocktails. "We don't want to focus only on what you know, we want to provide an adventure," says Cosby. Locally-made craft beer, wine, and spirits are a focus, while so, too, are drinks that originate from the same geographic regions as particular menu items.

There is no official opening date for Rock City Eatery in Midtown, though it's not far off. It will be located at 4216 Woodward Ave. in Detroit.

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

70 units in 30 days: Forest Arms redevelopment fills up fast in Midtown

Having met Scott Lowell on the grounds of the Forest Arms redevelopment, he has the look of a person nearing the end of a long journey. He's tired, relieved, and grateful. After the better part of a decade, Lowell and his wife Carolyn Howard's rehabilitation of the Forest Arms apartment building in Midtown is going to accept its first tenants since 2008. They opened the building up to the market and, in just 30 days, it reached full capacity. 70 units. No vacancy. Residents begin to move in May 28.

The apartment building, built in 1905, experienced a devastating fire in 2008. One person died and the rest were displaced, many with their belongings destroyed. The roof caved in, leaving the building open to the elements. It was a disaster, one that some in the neighborhood believed would surely result in the razing of the historic building. Lowell and Howard, experienced developers with both residences and restaurants to their credit, decided to take on the project, their biggest to date. After six years of the stop-start nature of nailing down the financing and two years of construction, the Forest Arms is open for business.

Lowell uses words like "intense" and "tiring" to characterize the experience of redeveloping the Forest Arms. He's tired, sure, but definitely happy.

"Is it worth it? Yeah, for me," says Lowell. "The building's still standing. It was destined to be torn down. I grew up in the city and watched the neighborhood I grew up in, the east end of the Davison, just implode and watched house after house get demolished and people move away. To be part of this, to save a building, to create something where people want to move to and see the demand, there's a certain kind of reward in that."

Walking through the courtyard and up to the building, Lowell points out the front doors being installed. The wooden doors are new and fashioned after the originals, those having been ruined by fire axes. Walking up the re-built stairs to the roof, workers buzzed through the hallways, putting the finishing touches on the interior, installing light fixtures and other last-minute details.

There are two ways to take in the views from the roof. A community deck, complete with a public kitchen, is open to all of the residents. There are also five penthouses, built atop the newly-built roof, each with their own private deck. Down below the workers are preparing the sprinkler system in time for new sod, originally torn out to install an expensive geothermal heating system. Rainwater is recycled for many uses throughout the grounds. On the north side of the building are two retail units, one reserved for music instrument store Third Wave Music and a second envisioned as a bar and restaurant, still searching for a tenant.

At one point, Lowell and Howard had a deal with Wayne State University to lease the building. The deal would have ensured a steady flow of tenants for the developers while easing that school's student housing shortage. The deal fell through, however, and they opened the building to the market. Unsure how much interest the building would draw, the dissolution of the deal with Wayne State proved to be a boon for the partners. The building filled up in the span of a month. Lowell says he still receives three to five inquiries a day.

"70 units in 30 days. It's been phenomenal," says Lowell. "I'm just amazed that demand's still here. It's pretty encouraging."

With demand outpacing supply in Midtown, Lowell should be comfortable in the two more buildings they're redeveloping in the area, one with 23 units and the other around 27 units. Those are in the early stages of redevelopment, awaiting the partners' full attention once the Forest Arms project is complete.

Lowell and Howard are also moving a family barn from western Michigan to Detroit, reassembling it as a restaurant and venue in the city that will host live music, weddings, and parties. It's clear Lowell is pretty excited about the project. Though he's not divulging too much information just yet, he did say they've acquired an acre and a half site in Corktown.

Lowell began purchasing properties in Hamtramck in the 1980s and Midtown in the 1990s. Times are different, he says. Back then, people made agreements on beverage napkins at neighborhood bars, handshake deals among neighbors and friends. Today, he regularly fields calls from investors outside of Detroit, promptly turning down offers on his buildings throughout the neighborhood.

With the restoration of the Forest Arms, those phone calls and emails aren't going to slow down any time soon.

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

Corktown Farmers' Market returns this week

Vegetables from North Corktown. Microgreens from the East Side. Handmade vegan soaps from Southwest. Detroit's farmers, growers, and makers are set to see a boost in business this summer as the Corktown Farmers' Market kicks off its second year on May 26. The market, which debuted in 2015, is located in the lot adjacent to the Detroit Institute of Bagels on Michigan Avenue.

Organizers see the return of the market as an assertion of Corktown being the premier local food neighborhood the city. Indeed, the Corktown and North Corktown neighborhoods are represented more than most among the market's 20 vendors.

"One of the great things about the Corktown Farmers' Market is how many vendors come from within our own neighborhood," says Chad Rochkind, executive director of the Corktown Economic Development Corporation. "Local farms are essential to the strength and character of Corktown."

The group of vendors -- which includes urban farms and gardens, neighborhood restaurants, and handmade specialty items -- consists of ACRE, Amour de Quiches, Azz on Fire Salsas & Spices, Brother Nature Produce, Coriander Kitchen and Farm, and many more.

A rotating group of additional vendors will keep things fresh at the market. Plus, restaurants like Brooklyn Street Local, Gold Cash Gold, and the Detroit Institute of Bagels will sell their ready-to-eat dishes.

Corktown Farmers' Market is located at 1236 Michigan Ave., not far from the old Western Market, bulldozed 50 years ago to make way for the Fisher Freeway, and takes place every Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. throughout the summer.

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

Fast casual Thai food restaurant chain to open second Detroit location in Capitol Park

The Michigan-based Go! Sy Thai restaurant chain is expanding its presence in Detroit this fall.

The new restaurant will be located at 1214 Griswold St. in the recently redeveloped and rebranded The Albert at Capitol Park. The first Go! Sy Thai in Detroit is located in the Auburn building in Midtown.

It's the third business tenant for the Albert, which also hosts the Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters and a Detroit Bikes retail store. The building itself re-opened in July 2015, having been redeveloped from largely low-income housing for senior citizens to a 127-unit, 12-story luxury apartment complex. Broder & Sachse is the property management and development company for the Albert.

Go! Sy Thai is a fast casual restaurant chain owned by Cedric Lee. His brother Alexandre will be in charge of the Albert location. It's a sit-down restaurant that focuses on fresh ingredients prepared daily and made-to-order Thai food. The menu includes classic Thai dishes as well as vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. The original location opened in Birmingham in 1993.

"We are always looking to ensure our residents have diverse dining and entertainment options in their local community," says Broder & Sachse CEO Richard Broder.

According to the business, their opening a location in the Albert is an opportunity to be in the middle of downtown Detroit's burgeoning office and residential markets. Construction is flourishing throughout the Capitol Park district, including the redevelopment of the Farwell building, closed since 1984, among several others. New construction is occurring, too, with Dan Gilbert's micro-apartment development being built from the ground up on the north end of the park.

The Go! Sy Thai at the Albert will be designed by Detroit firm Patrick Thompson Design, responsible for the redeveloped Trumbull & Porter boutique hotel, formerly known as the Corktown Inn, among numerous other Detroit projects. Delivery service is planned throughout the downtown and Midtown areas.

Go! Sy Thai will be located at 1214 Griswold St.

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

Work continues on the restoration of the Detroit Yacht Club

The Detroit Yacht Club Foundation (DYCF) is kicking off another year of major repairs to its clubhouse with its spring fundraiser, "Restoring the Grandeur: City Lights Gala." The nonprofit dedicated to the restoration of the country's largest yacht club clubhouse expects another full-capacity crowd for the event, which is open to the public and takes place May 20 at the Detroit Yacht Club on Belle Isle.

The gala is an opportunity for both club members and the general public to celebrate the preservation progress already made as well as what's in store for the historic clubhouse, says DYCF president Mark Lifter. Formed in 2011, the foundation has guided a lot of crucial restoration to the building, yet much remains. Lifter estimates that 40 to 50 percent of the exterior work has been completed. At 93,000 sq. ft., it's the biggest yacht club clubhouse in the country.

He calls the current phase of repairs "sealing the envelope" -- big tasks that must be completed before focus can shift to the building's interior. This summer, as in summers past, the foundation will be repairing the roof, stucco, masonry, and windows, protecting the treasures inside from the weather outside. Lifter says that the remaining roof leaks will be finished this summer. "If you don't fix things, they're going to get worse," he says.

It's a big building with a lot of history, making it a sizable undertaking for a relatively small non-profit. Opening in 1923, it was the fourth clubhouse for the Detroit Yacht Club, which was established in 1868. It was designed in a classic Mediterranean style by George Mason, the architect famous for a stable of postcard-worthy buildings that include Detroit's Masonic Temple and the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.

Tickets for the fundraiser gala are available online and via phone. Live and silent auctions, a cash bar, and a strolling dinner are included in the ticket price, which ranges from $125 to $400 -- a significant portion of which is tax deductible. The DYCF also offers monthly tours of the facilities to members and non-members alike.

The Detroit Yacht Club is located at One Riverbank Rd. on Belle Isle. Call them at (313) 757-5240.

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

Outdoor Education Center transforms vacant land in Osborn neighborhood

This past week, the Greening of Detroit and Osborn Neighborhood Alliance have partnered together to repurpose four vacant lots into an Outdoor Education Center. The project was made possible through funding by Bank of America and American Forests.

The Outdoor Education Center is now located at the corner of Mapleridge and Schoenherr streets in the Osborn neighborhood on the city's eastside. From May 4 through May 7, volunteers from the aforementioned organizations as well as from the neighborhood and its schools have worked to install the natural ecosystems that make up the Outdoor Education Center and its grounds.

The education center presents a number of opportunities for Osborn and its residents. "The project allows residents to use the land in a productive way, giving them a place to congregate, play, and use," says Tiffany Douglas, market manager for Bank of America.

It also provides learning opportunities to neighborhood youth. The Greening of Detroit is offering up to 20 environmental education courses at the center in coordination with Detroit Public Schools.

It will also hopefully spark the imagination of area youth as they decide on possible career paths.

"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service both recognize that there's an under-representation of minorities among their ranks," says Dean Hay, The Greening of Detroit's director of green infrastructure. "That under-representation has a lot to do with minority children's lack of access to outdoor and wildlife activities. The outdoor center will get them involved with hands-on experience."

In addition to education programming, the grounds will provide rest and recreation opportunities for the neighborhood, including the installation of playscapes, benches, shade trees, and plants with edible fruits.

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

Small business contest seeks applicants for $50,000 award

It's that time of year again. The budding entrepreneurs of Detroit are being encouraged to enter for their chance to win the Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest. This year's winner will receive a $50,000 cash prize from Comerica Bank, $25,000 worth of branding and logo design from Team Detroit, plus accounting, legal, IT, and public relations consulting. Comerica has pledged an additional $75,000 to help fund other aspects of the contest, as well.

Now in its sixth year, the contest rewards entrepreneurs on the path to opening brick-and-mortar storefronts in either Detroit, Highland Park, or Hamtramck. Previous winners include men's lifestyle store Hugh, the tapas restaurant La Feria, beer-makers Batch Brewing Company, the bakery Sister Pie, and the cycle studio Live Cycle Delight.

Hatch Detroit has made it a point to help out and provide services for the businesses that haven't taken home top prize in the contest. Many of the runners-up have gone on or are going to open their own permanent or pop-up locations throughout the city. Such successful contest alums include Detroit Institute of Bagels, Detroit Vegan Soul, and Busted in Detroit.

"The Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest is a catalyst of business competitions," says Vittoria Katanski, executive director of Hatch Detroit. "Not only does it help the winning businesses establish storefronts, but it introduces us to the area's top entrepreneurs. All contest alumni are continuously encouraged and guided toward opening their doors. The 14 Hatch Alumni who have operating storefronts, and 16 more operating as pop-ups or opening soon, proves this contest is really revitalizing Detroit."

This year, Hatch has targeted four neighborhoods in their revitalization efforts and will host workshops for applicants in each. These include June 2 in Hamtramck, June 16 in Jefferson East, June 29 on the Avenue of Fashion, and July 7 in Grandmont Rosedale. Applications are accepted May 2 through July 15, 2016.

Visit HatchDetroit.com to enter.

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

April development news round-up: Retail, restaurants, and office space

It's been another busy month for development news in the city. Let's catch up on some of the biggest stories from the past four weeks.

Detroit City Football Club (DCFC), which announced a move from Detroit to Hamtramck last year, opened a retail store, office, and community space at 2750 Yemans Street this month. To celebrate, DCFC is hosting an open house there from 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 27. DCFC opens their first season at Keyworth Stadium on May 20, 2016.

Bedrock Detroit, Dan Gilbert's real estate arm, pulled in two more high-profile office tenants. Ally Financial will lease 13 floors in One Detroit Center at 500 Woodward Ave. and is consolidating more than 1,300 employees into the building. As a result of the move, Bedrock is renaming the building Ally Detroit Center. The Detroit-based consulting firm LoVasco, which specializes in insurance, employee benefits, and retirement services, is moving into the Bedrock-owned and -managed One Woodward Avenue building. 20 employees will make the move, too.

Six Detroit-based projects were announced as 2016 Knight Cities Challenge winners, receiving awards that total $638,084 of the $5 million awarded nationally. According to organizers, each of the ideas help "cities attract and keep talented people, expand economic opportunities and create a culture of civic engagement." Winners include Pedal to Porch, a monthly bike tour that gives neighborhood residents the opportunity to tell their stories; Dequindre Cut Market, a pop-up retail district along the bike and pedestrian trail; Detroit’s Exciting Adventure into the Pink Zone, which will seek to transform how the city's commercial districts are developed and designed; Give a Park, Get a Park, a micro-park system throughout the city; Sensors in a Shoebox, an educational program that enables youth to better understand their neighborhoods through sensors and data; and the People First Project, which creates a network of tactical urbanists to affect change.

The Wayne State University School of Social Work celebrated the renovation of and their moving to a new building at 5447 Woodward Ave.

Earlier this month, the city's first Panera Bread opened in the GMRENCEN, the building formerly known as the Renaissance Center.

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

Detroiter opening vintage clothing shop in Corktown discovers deep roots

As determined as Lana Rodriguez has been to open her Mama Coo's Boutique in a brick-and-mortar storefront, she's been just as determined to keep the business where she grew up, in southwest Detroit. Fortunately for her, Rodriguez recently signed a letter of intent to lease the storefront at 1707 Trumbull St. for her resale and vintage clothing business in the city's Corktown neighborhood.

Then she learned something incredible about the building when she took a picture of it soon after signing the lease. "I showed my mom the picture and she just started laughing," says Rodriguez.

Call it fate, chance, or whatever you want, but the building Rodriguez is renting in 2016 is the exact same building that housed her grandparents' first apartment when they moved from Texas to Detroit in the 1950s. Rodriguez had no idea.

The Rodriguez's roots in Corktown go even deeper. Across the street from Mama Coo's future home is a statue of Father Clement Kern, an influential priest in the community who lead the congregation at Most Holy Trinity Church for three decades. Father Kern is also the reason the Rodriguez family, previously Pentecostal, converted to Catholicism. Lana's grandmother promised Father Kern that if he said a prayer for a daughter sick with tuberculosis and she survived, Lana's grandmother would convert the family. Lana's aunt recovered and Father Kern would go on to baptize a number of her family members.

Mama Coo's Boutique is an upscale resale and vintage clothing shop. Rodriguez makes her own accessories and other wearables, which she'll sell. She'll also bring in outside artists and let them use her space for pop-ups and other events.

Earlier this month, Rodriguez was awarded $18,000 by the city's Motor City Match program. She says the money will help her get off on the right foot and not be hindered by up-front financial constraints. It will also benefit others in the community.

"Motor City Match allowed me to purchase items from local artists and makers through wholesale and not just on consignment," says Rodriguez. "This way I can support local artists directly and they don't have to wait to be paid."

Rodriguez found the storefront with the help of TechTown, where she graduated from the retail bootcamp program. While she wanted a location closer to the Bagley strip of Mexicantown, Rodriguez found the building on Trumbull to be perfect in size, aesthetics, and history.

She'll have a number of new neighbors, too. As Rodriguez hustles to open, also opening in the building will be a barber shop, a small market later in the summer, and hopefully two more businesses in the fall.

Mama Coo's Boutique is expected to open in June. It is located at 1707 Trumbull St.

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

Two new placemaking projects launched on city's east and west sides

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is once again supporting Detroit placemaking projects through its matching grant program, this time pledging a total of $65,000 if two projects can meet their crowdfunding goals.

On the city's far east side, a group is planning on renovating Skinner Playfield. Located adjacent to Denby High School, the new Skinner Park will receive significant upgrades if organizers are able to raise $50,000 through a Patonicity crowdfunding campaign. If $50,000 is raised by May 10, MEDC will contribute an additional $50,000 to the project.

According to organizers, Skinner Playfield isn't much more than a playscape, walking track, and some scattered apple trees. Among the planned improvements include two basketball courts, a volleyball court, a pickleball court, a football-and-soccer field, urban gardens, and a performance pavilion complete with a water catchment system to irrigate said gardens.

The revitalized park is the vision of Detroit non-profit Life Remodeled and Denby High School students themselves. Says Life Remodeled CEO Chris Lambert, "I only wish I had a park this awesome in my neighborhood, but what excites me even more is the fact that Denby High School students designed it."

On the west side of the city, in Grandmont Rosedale, organizers are hoping to raise funds for a wayfinding path called NeighborWay. By successfully crowdfunding $15,000 by May 20, also through a Patronicity crowdfunding campaign, the MEDC will contribute an additional $15,000 to the project.

NeighborWay will connect points of interest, like parks, gardens, and public art installations, throughout the Grandmont Rosedale neighborhoods. Money will also be used to enhance three existing sites into community hubs.

"Connecting a community in an interactive way gives residents and visitors a renewed appreciation for the area," says MSHDA Executive Director Kevin Elsenheimer.

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

Detroit outpaces rest of southeastern Michigan for new residential unit permits

In prior decades, Detroit had very little new building construction. Not anymore, especially for residential units.

According to a report recently released by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG), Detroit issued more permits for new residential units than any other city in southeastern Michigan last year.

There were 913 residential units permitted in Detroit in 2015, more than double the second-highest city on the list, Ann Arbor, at 405 units. Canton, the only other city in Wayne County to make the top ten, came in third with 397 residential units permitted.

Of the 913 residential units permitted in Detroit, 97 percent were apartment and loft units. Broke down further, there were 882 apartment units, 17 condominium units, and 14 single family homes permitted in 2015.

According to the report, "Gains continued in apartment construction due to pent-up demand for rental housing from young professionals and downsizing households, low vacancy rates, and a growing job market."

Still, it's not all rosy in Wayne County. According to this Detroit Free Press article from March 28, 2016, new census numbers revealed that the county lost 6,673 residents between July 1, 2014 and July 1, 2015, the second highest population decline in the country. Only Cook County, Illinois lost more during that period. Though second place is better than first, which is what Wane County occupied for the previous eight years.

Detroit also far exceeded any other city in demolitions, razing 4,667 residential units in 2015.

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