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Detroit Development News

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The Craft Cafe Detroit thrives on city's lower east side

The Craft Cafe Detroit is off to a fast start. The "sip and paint" party venue opened last June on Mack Avenue, just blocks from city's eastern border with Grosse Pointe Park, and it's already turning away customers as some parties reach capacity. But that's a good problem to have.

While owner Candice Meeks is considering a move to a bigger location, she says she wants to keep the Craft Cafe in the neighborhood. Its location is part of the reason for its success.

"The location at Mack and Phillip, there's nothing like this in our community," says Meeks. "You have to drive downtown and pay for parking or drive out to the suburbs for this kind of fun. We need to keep something like this in the neighborhood."

Craft Cafe Detroit hosts a wide variety of celebrations, from birthdays to bachelorette parties. Guests can bring their own food and drinks while Meeks leads the party through a painting session. Subjects are pre-sketched onto each person's canvas, allowing them to paint along while Meeks teaches different techniques like blending colors. She also offers vision mirrors, where guests create collages on mirrors and then seal them with a clear coat finish.

Other parties include Eat | Paint | Drink, where refreshments are provided, and monthly date nights, where couples paint together.

Meeks credits a number of small business programs that helped her get off the ground. She graduated from ProsperUs Detroit, where she met her current landlord. Meeks was also the recipient of a $4,000 technical assistance grant from Motor City Match. She says she plans on using the grant money to help with marketing and website construction costs.

"Going through those programs really gave me a platform to open my own business."

The Craft Cafe Detroit is located at 14600 Mack Ave. It's open Tuesday through Friday, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.

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

Downtown co-working space to double in size, eyes big future

The Bamboo Detroit co-working space downtown is focused on the growth of its tenants, providing facilities, resources, and programming to freelancers and startups alike.

That commitment has resulted in the company's own expansion. Bamboo recently announced a new location twice the size of their current one at 1442 Brush St., growing from 3,000 to 6,000 sq. ft. of co-working facilities and more.

Come January 2017, Bamboo will open its doors on the third floor of the historic Julian C. Madison building at 1420 Washington Blvd. Construction is currently underway.

The new Bamboo location will count 20 dedicated desks, seven private offices, and three conference rooms among its new features. The private offices are in direct response to customers' needs, says co-owner Amanda Lewan. The current location doesn't offer private offices, a fact that Lewan says led to a loss of potential tenants.

The top floor of the new location boasts a loft-style events space, something Bamboo will use for job fairs and other pro-business programs. Also planned is a large cafe area, complete with coffee and snacks. In April 2016, Bamboo won a $30,000 Motor City Match grant to help build the cafe.

"Be really clear about what you need, have a really clear budget," Lewan says to future Motor City Match applicants. "It might not be perfect, you might still be playing around with it as you get close to the end, but if you have a really clear plan, people can get on board with it."

The company believes that the expansion will result in significantly more tenants, with Bamboo expecting the amount to grow from the current count of 120 to 300 tenants. 

Bamboo currently has a pop-up co-working space at MASH Detroit on the city's east side. Lewan says Bamboo may one day have multiple co-working sites throughout the city and its neighborhoods.

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

Clothing, gifts, and more: New retail storefront coming to Eastern Market

For the first time in 40 years, a retail storefront will occupy 1440 Gratiot Ave.

The new tenants will be Well Done Goods, a men's and women's accessories shop that will be opening in the Eastern Market space. 

Well Done Goods is the result of local tie and scarf maker Bethany Shorb's move to break out of the neckwear market and expand her reach to other products. Shorb's line of ties and scarves has sold under the Cyberoptix name for ten years and will continue to do so. Well Done Goods will carry those products, plus more of Shorb's creations, along with a curated selection from makers throughout the country.

"Our customers have asked and asked for us to put our designs on other things. What better place to launch that venture than right here in our hometown?" says Shorb.

New Cyberoptix products include aprons, pillows, and poster-sized art prints, all of which are screen-printed by hand in their 4,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility, located directly above the storefront. Other Michigan products include JKM Soy Candles and sustainable tables from Union Town Woodshop. Also carried are vegan felt bags from the Los Angeles-based Mad Rabbit Kicking Tiger and 3-D printed jewelry from Boston's Nervous System.

Following its Friday opening, Well Done Goods will be open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

Well Done Goods is celebrating with a grand opening on Friday, November 4, from 6 to 10 p.m., which will include food and music, and is free and open to the public.

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

Using the literary arts to fight blight on Tuxedo Street

A sentimental drive by a childhood home is a common occurrence in the city, country, and everywhere betweeneven for Pulitzer Prize winners. Stephen Henderson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Detroit Free Press columnist and host of both radio and television talk shows, has been checking in on his own childhood home since moving back to Detroit in 2007.

He says his family's former home on Tuxedo Street on the city's west side was well-kept back in 2007 but, as the years wore on, Henderson watched the house deteriorate. In 2012, a window was boarded up. Soon, all the windows would be boarded up. Eventually, the house was stripped.

Henderson is now leading a charge to transform the vacant house on Tuxedo Street from an eyesore into an asset. A purchase agreement to buy the house from the Detroit Land Bank is nearly complete.

Dubbed the Tuxedo Project, the house at 7124 Tuxedo St. will become a literary and community center, complete with an English professor-in-residence. The house will be rehabilitated and turned into a space for students and community members to share their stories and create new ones, using the literary arts to effect positive change. Plans for other abandoned homes on the 7100 block of Tuxedo Street will follow.

"It's the idea of the power of one," says Henderson. "What happens if one person returns to where they're from and tries to make changes, what will that inspire, and will there be a ripple effect of change."

Henderson has a big team behind him. The Knight Foundation and Marygrove College are working together to bring an English professor to Tuxedo Street. Members of Henderson's 1988 graduating class of University of Detroit Jesuit High School have rallied together to form a non-profit. And the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Michigan State Housing Development Authority have included the Tuxedo Project in its Public Spaces Community Places initiative.

Should the Tuxedo Project successfully raise $50,000 by November 28, MEDC and MSHDA will contribute a $50,000 matching grant. The crowdfunding campaign is being held on the Michigan-based Patronicity platform.

"None of this is any more than an idea in my head without these partnerships," says Henderson.

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

It's a match! MCM winners use grant money to help cushion construction costs

Construction is starting this week on the Meta Physica Wellness Center in Corktown. The business will be located in the Bagley and Trumbull building, which counts the Bearded Lady salon and barber shop, Mama Coo's Boutique, and the Farmer's Hand market as its tenants. The latter two businesses are Motor City Match winners. All four businesses in the Bagley and Trumbull building will be women-owned.

Meta Physica Wellness Center owner Jenevieve Biernat started her massage business in Midtown, which she has since outgrown. The Corktown studio will feature expanded services, including two massage rooms, three saunas, a raw juice bar, and an apothecary. Biernat won both a $50,000 Hatch award and a $20,000 Motor City Match grant for her business earlier this year.

"Every bit of money helps," says Biernat. "You don't always know how much you need going in but it turns out you need a lot of money to do this."

Biernat says that once she's established, she'd like to put herself in a position to help others through the Motor City Match application process.

A resident of Corktown, Biernat has been visiting the other shops at Bagley and Trumbull nearly every day, learning from her future neighbors, and soaking up as much advice and information that she can.

Another $20,000 Motor City Match grant winner, Noelle Lothamer, is currently in the midst of construction of an Eastern Market storefront for her Beau Bien Fine Foods. The Michigan-sourced fruit jam-, chutney-, and mustard-makers recently celebrated the one year anniversary of their Eastern Market location, which has served primarily as a kitchen.

Lothamer says the money won from Motor City Match has quickly gone toward construction costs, including the storefront, roof, and some other much needed repairs. "As soon as we knew we could spend it, we did."

The hope is for the storefront to open by Thanksgiving, though Lothamer cautions that there is no set date. In addition to acting as a retail area for their jams, chutneys, and mustards, the Beau Bien Fine Foods storefront will also offer grab-and-go sandwiches, salads, and drinks.

Meta Physica Wellness Center is located at 1707 Trumbull Ave.

Beau Bien Fine Foods is located at 2478 Riopelle St.

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

New veterinary house call company opens in downtown Detroit

Pet owners across the city of Detroit and some of its suburbs can access a new service that improves access to veterinary care. It's called PetCalls, a company that sends veterinarians and veterinary technicians on house calls.

PetCalls offers a number of on-site services like vaccinations and digital x-rays. For surgeries and other services, the vets will "pet taxi" the animal to a clinic. House calls start at $59.

CEO and owner Kimberly Jackson says the company is perfect for senior citizens who have mobility issues and millenials that don't have their own vehicles. It's also good for the pets; Jackson cites recent cases that include a cat that would vomit every time it was put in a car and a rescue pit bull that refused to get in a vehicle.

"We started seeing patients the day after Labor Day and we've already been able to see animals that haven't been able to get to a veterinarian in years," says Jackson. "It's very exciting."

The house calls also allow the veterinarians to see pets in a more relaxed and natural setting. They can watch a dog run in its own backyard and assess potential injuries or watch a cat and observe its regular eating habits.

Though PetCalls began seeing patients in September, the company will be celebrating its grand opening Thursday, Oct. 20 from 5 to 9 p.m. at its downtown Detroit office on Washington Boulevard. The celebration is open to the public and their pets.

Rather than a ribbon-cutting ceremony, PetCalls is having an edible ribbon for the dogs to chew apart. A Halloween parade down Washington Boulevard is also planned and the dog with the best costume will receive a year's worth of heartworm protection. Other giveaways include pet bandanas, toys, and identification tags.

There will also be refreshments for the humans.

PetCalls is located at 1514 Washington Blvd., Suite 203, and can be reached by phone at (313) 788-7387.

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

Third round of grant program seeks to give $2M to Detroit non-profits

Major foundations has been very generous to Detroit nonprofits in recent years. Once again, these groups are being encouraged to apply for up to $150,000 in grant money.

The Kresge Foundation is giving away a total of $2 million in the third round of its Kresge Innovative Projects: Detroit program. $3 million has already been granted through the first two rounds of the program, which launched in 2014.

The Kresge Foundation expects to award the grants to 15 to 20 groups across the city, including at least one in each of Detroit's seven city council districts. The money is reserved for implementation grants and each project has 18 months to reach completion. Nonprofit organizations have until Nov. 21 to submit their applications, which can be done online.

The grants will be awarded to those projects that focus on vacant land use issues, public and open space, and neighborhood stabilization programs. Previous grant-winners include exercise pocket parks in central Detroit, a neighborhood clean-up and stabilization program in the Osborn neighborhood, and a green parking lot and community space in Grandmont Rosedale.

"This initiative has been successful because of the knowledge, know-how and dedication of residents and leaders across Detroit's neighborhoods," George C. Jacobsen, senior program officer of The Kresge Foundation's Detroit Program, says in a statement. "We continue to learn from the grantees we've funded over the first two rounds about what it takes to make a tangible difference in city neighborhoods as well as how we might continue to support their ability to catalyze further efforts in building stronger neighborhoods."

Two informative sessions will be held for those interested in applying for the grant. The first will be held at Jam Handy on Oct. 25 from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. and the second will be held at TechTown on Nov. 15 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.

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

Traveling retail event with focus on socially-conscious businesses comes to Eastern Market

The Mercantile is coming to Detroit.

The touring retail event, which began September 25 in Nashville and ends December 4 in Los Angeles, makes the second of three stops at The Eastern events space in Detroit's Eastern Market.

More than just a traditional flea market or arts and crafts fair, The Mercantile celebrates only those businesses that are cause-based makers and retailers, hosting socially-conscious businesses located in Detroit, Nashville, and Los Angeles. Dine Drink Detroit will provide food and drinks and the Nashville-based pop-soul band the Shadowboxers will perform.

More than 25 vendors will be on hand, including 16 brands from Detroit. They include jewelry maker Rebel Nell, which uses repurposed materials to make its products while hiring and educating disadvantaged women; Love Travels Imports, which finds and sells Fair Trade handcrafted art from around the world, emphasizing self-empowerment and sustainability; and LeadHead Glass, which recycles and reuses glass and wood from deconstructed homes in Detroit to construct terrariums and other glassworks.

The Mercantile was thought up by Matthew Ford, a former metro Detroiter who now owns Oaken Anchor, an event production company based in Los Angeles and Nashville. He approached his friend Steve Fortunato, who owns the L.A.-based Hospitality Collaborative catering company, and suggested they do something with more than the bottom line in mind. Fortunato tapped his friend Emily Henderson, a former HGTV lifestyle personality, to help design the event and soon The Mercantile was to debut.

For a lot of socially-conscious businesses, selling themselves may not be their number one priority. Ford thinks an event like The Mercantile can help businesses more concerned with helping others than themselves do both at the same time.

"So often, the term 'commerce' can be the giant elephant in the room with these businesses," says Ford. "But we're unabashed about it. We want people to spend their money on these businesses."

The Mercantile takes place Sunday, October 16 from 2:00 p.m. to 8L00 p.m. at The Eastern, which is located at 3434 Russell St. Tickets are $15 in advance and $22 at the door.

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

'Impromptu performance space' to open along Dequindre Cut

The Dequindre Cut, that two mile-long stretch of paved greenway connecting Eastern Market with the Detroit riverfront, was designed with bicyclists and pedestrians in mind. And while movement motivates much of its usage, it's a stationary feature that will soon be celebrated.

The Campbell Memorial Terrace, an outdoor performance space, will officially be unveiled this Thursday, October 13. A children's concert, its first scheduled programming, will occur during the Harvestfest Detroit celebration on Saturday, October 22.

Located at the base of the Lafayette Street ramp between Orleans and St. Aubin streets, the Terrace includes a covered stage for performances and tiered seating walls for spectators.

The Terrace was designed with the community in mind. While there will be the occasional scheduled performance, its real function will be determined by those who use it. The space has a come-what-may policyno permits or reservations required. Whether it's working musicians wanting to put on an impromptu performance, local poets wanting to give readings, or neighborhood children coming up with their own fun and games, if the stage is open, the community is encouraged to use it.

Spontaneity is the name of the game here.

"We wanted to leave it flexible and see what the community comes up with," says Mark Wallace, president and CEO of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. "We set the table and let the community bring the programming instead of us bringing the programming from the top down."

The Campbell Memorial Terrace is named after C. David Campbell, former president of the McGregor Fund and a founding member of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. A long-standing member of the Detroit non-profit community, Campbell passed away in 2014. The McGregor Fund presented the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy with a $1 million gift to honor Campbell. According to those responsible, the terrace, which incorporates all the things Campbell lovedthe outdoors, music, art, and, most of all, the communitydoes just that.

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

Detroit green infrastructure mapping project kicks off

A coalition of City of Detroit leaders is working to build a database and mapping system to track the growing number of green infrastructure projects in the city.

Members of the Blue-Green Infrastructure Workgroup are starting by developing consistent definitions for green infrastructure (GI) types in the city. That will allow the group to develop a tool for users to enter data about their projects into a standard mapping system. 
 
The project is led by The Nature Conservancy, Greening of Detroit and Issue Media Group, publisher of Model D, and is funded by the Erb Family Foundation.

The Chicago-based Center for Neighborhood Technology defines GI as "a network of decentralized stormwater management practices, such as green roofs, trees, rain gardens, and permeable pavement, that can capture and infiltrate rain where it falls, thus reducing stormwater runoff and improving the health of surrounding waterways."

The project aims to create a baseline understanding of the universe of GI projects in the city. It will also serve to coordinate actions among partners and property owners, according to project coordinator Valerie Strassberg. Strassberg directs The Nature Conservancy's Detroit City Program.

The idea for the project emerged from meetings of the Blue-Green Infrastructure Workgroup. The Erb Family Foundation facilitates the group for funding recipients implementing green infrastructure projects across the city.

"Those meetings were a catalyst for keeping everyone abreast of what was going on," says Strassberg. "We realized that if Erb weren't convening the group, how would we ever know who's doing what? There was a clear need for mapping."

The group is taking a phased approach to the project. In the first phase, the definitions and structure of the database will be developed with the input of multiple stakeholders. Ultimately, the group aims to develop a common web portal to allow users to view projects in their neighborhood and input their project data.

The data may become important as the City of Detroit moves towards implementing stormwater drainage fees. The Detroit Free Press reports that the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department will allow ratepayers to use green infrastructure to earn credit towards their stormwater drainage bills.

Strassberg says it's not yet clear who will be the ultimate steward of the database and website once the project is completed.

"Ideally it would be the city which maintains the database in the long run," she says. "But to get it off the ground, we are developing this project in partnership with the city."

Strassberg is hopeful that additional funding beyond this first phase will help garner commitment from the city for long-term ownership of the project.

The Blue-Green Infrastructure Workgroup includes representatives from the following organizations:

City of Detroit
Tetra Tech
Detroit Future City
Detroit Greenways Coalition
Detroit Water and Sewerage Department
Erb Family Foundation
Greening of Detroit
Issue Media Group
Michigan Community Resources
Michigan State University
SEMCOG
Sierra Club
The Nature Conservancy
The University of Michigan
Wayne State University

Stretch of Brightmoor sidewalk to become interactive running track

A group from the University of Michigan has won a $40,000 grant to build an interactive play space along a broken stretch of sidewalk in the Brightmoor neighborhood. Titled FitLIGHT, the project was a winner of the Play Everywhere Challenge, a national competition from KaBOOM!, a non-profit dedicated to encouraging physical activity in young people.

FitLIGHT will transform a busted up sidewalk along Burt Road into an illuminated rubber-surface running track. A solar-powered speed display will tell people how fast they are running. The track will start at a length of 50 yards and has the potential to grow, depending on the construction.

The project was designed to combat childhood obesity with the help of a little healthy competition, says University of Michigan associate professor Nick Tobier, who along with colleague and assistant professor Roland Graf headed the project. It was designed by staff from the University of Michigan Stamps School of Art and Design, with collaboration from Michael Flynn. Tobier has been working in Brightmoor for nearly ten years through a class he teaches in collaboration with Detroit Community Schools.

The FitLIGHT track is adjacent to the to-be-completed Brightmoor Maker Space, itself located on a vacant plot on the Detroit Community Schools campus. 

"There's a big opportunity to get more creative with physical education," says Tobier. "There's a lot of potential there."

Tobier's Change by Design classes at University of Michigan combine design and technology to stimulate physical activity in young people. His students work with Brightmoor students to come up with the projects, like an LED shoelace network, lighting up as students moved their bodies.

Tobier is aiming for a March 2017 construction date. In the meantime, he's soliciting bids for the construction process, organizing small workshops to get people interested, and performing informative on-the-street introductions to FitLIGHT.

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

New digs for city dogs: Detroit Animal Care and Control moves to new and improved building

Detroit Animal Care and Control (DACC) has begun moving in to its new facility, the old Michigan Humane Society building at 7401 Chrysler Dr. The building was a gift from MHS, which itself moved to a new facility at 7887 Chrysler Dr., just two blocks north of the building it called home since 1931.

The new headquarters is being heralded as a dramatic improvement for DACC in a year that has already seen its fare share. Since 2016, DACC began working with MHS, Detroit Dog Rescue, other local municipal shelters, and a number of additional partners to improve the city service, which is a division of the Detroit Health Department.

In 2015, the DACC live release rate was 26 percent. Since its new partnerships at the start of the year, the DACC live release rate has increased to 61 percent.

DAAC was previously located at 3511 W. Jefferson Ave.

"This move will enable us to better serve the City's residents and their pets," Melissa Miller, Director of DACC, said in a statement. "We're really thankful to our partners who have made this possible, including MHS for donating the facility, and we look forward to the day when we are fully operational in our new space."

DACC will offer reduced services during the transition but will keep field units on city streets. Its dispatch line, reached by phone at (313) 224-6356, is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Michigan Humane Society left its longtime Detroit headquarters for its new campus in Spring of 2016. The new building is a 35,000 sq. ft. animal care center and is located on a five-acre campus off of the I-75 service drive. Its features include an expanded veterinary center, animal cruelty investigation and rescue center, and dog play yards.

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

Grooming company to return to Detroit, open barbershop in Corktown

Detroit Grooming Company is returning to its namesake city. The company, which outgrew a small production space on Fort Street in Detroit, had since established itself in Ferndale, with both a larger production facility and, most recently, a Woodward Avenue barbershop.

At a private event for friends and family, the team behind Detroit Grooming Company announced that they would be opening a second barbershop, this one on Michigan Avenue in Detroit's Corktown neighborhood. The owners hope for a late 2016 or early 2017 opening in 2000 Michigan Ave., a building currently undergoing extensive renovations.

Detroit Grooming Company co-owner and CEO Michael Haddad says that a return to Detroit is important for the company. While it's a great business opportunity to open a new barbershop in development-crazed Corktown, Haddad says that it's also important to re-establish a presence in the city for which it takes its name.

Haddad started the company in 2013, developing his own blend of beard oil. When Detroit Grooming Company launched, it had four products; today, Detroit Grooming Company has over 200 personal care and beauty products. Though the company started in the beard oil business, it has since expanded to products for both men and women, from mustache wax to hand soap, hair pomade to combs and brushes.

At a recent party at the Detroit Grooming Company Barber Shop, the owners threw quite the event to celebrate the big announcement. A red carpet and photographer greeted the guests. Chef Brennan Calnin, formerly of Detroit's Townhouse restaurant, offered a menu that included smoked turkey neck tamales and laughing bird shrimp ceviche. Corktown's Batch Brewery was on hand, supplying an exclusive firkin of Goodrich, a wet-hopped version of their Marzen. And perhaps most befitting for a company that got its start in the beard oil business, old-timey band Shine on Kentucky Moon provided the music.

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

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.
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