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Detroit Development News

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Luxury apartments development hopes to draw residents to riverfront

Competition and cost for apartments in downtown Detroit have risen so sharply in recent years, even the luxury apartment market has become cost prohibitive for some. 

Triton Properties, the Denver-based developer which entered the Detroit market in 2009, is betting that their Waters Edge at Harbortown luxury apartment development will absorb some of that overflow.

It's a new kind of project for Triton, which has focused on redeveloping older buildings rather than developing new ones. They also say that their five-story, 134-unit Waters Edge is the first development of its kind on the Detroit riverfront in over 25 years.

"We had this great piece of land in the well-established community of Harbortown and we decided to take the risk and see how it's received," says April Sedillos, executive vice president at Triton. "There's a strong need for housing in the surrounding areas of downtown."

Waters Edge is part of Harbortown, a gated community on the Detroit riverfront. Residents have full access to the exclusive marina, tennis courts, and man-made lakes on its 35-acre grounds. There's also a private entrance to the RiverWalk. The luxury apartments start at $1,328 per month and include one-, two-, and three-bedroom floor plans.

Pre-leasing for the units began in the fourth quarter of 2015 and the first residents moved in January 2016. 40 percent of the units are currently occupied, says Sedillos, and the company is ramping up leasing and expects to reach full occupancy by the end of the summer. A community building with a fitness center, lounge area, and outdoor pool is currently under construction.

Sedillos says that 90 percent of the units have a view of the Detroit River, and every unit in the building has its own private balcony in addition to modern appliances and amenities.

Besides its Denver properties, Triton is responsible for seven residential buildings in Detroit, including Alden Towers, Spinnaker Tower, and the Kean Residences, totaling nearly 1,000 residential units locally.

Waters Edge at Harbortown is located at 3500 E. Jefferson Ave. in Detroit.

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

Move over food trucks, a flower truck is coming to Detroit

For all of the stories about new businesses that have either opened in or moved to Detroit over the past few years, some of the more familiar refrains include pop-ups and food trucks. These relatively inexpensive venues provide entrepreneurs an opportunity to do business without the up-front costs of outfitting a permanent location. One local entrepreneur is taking those concepts to create a uniquely Detroit service in the process.

Lisa Waud owns Pot & Box, a fresh floral and horticultural service with studios in Detroit and Ann Arbor. She has purchased an old ice cream truck and, with the help of a $10,000 NEIdeas grant, is customizing the truck to become a mobile floral retailer. The flower truck -- nicknamed Scoops, a result of its previous life -- has already scheduled three stops throughout the week and Waud plans on adding more. Waud will be selling flowers and plants in front of Shinola in Midtown every Wednesday, Astro Coffee in Corktown every Thursday, and Red Hook in West Village every Friday.

Waud says the truck provides her the opportunity to sell flowers without the cost and risk of opening up a permanent shop. With the flower truck, Waud can more accurately target her customers.

"I'm so excited to have this truck," says Waud. "As small business owners, we're in front of our computers a lot. I can't wait to talk to and meet customers and be out in the world."

Pot & Box has largely been an event-based service, outfitting weddings, dinners, and other occasions. But Waud also offers daily delivery and weekly subscription services. Her flowers are sourced almost exclusively from American farms, and once warm weather finally comes to Michigan, she'll focus more and more on Detroit-grown plants and flowers. 

Waud is also known for creating the Flower House art installation in Hamtramck.

The flower truck makes its debut on Friday, April 22, in front of the West Village location of the Red Hook coffee shop.

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

Church in Midtown restores historic building to former glory

A new church, in a very old building, is beginning to take root in the heart of Midtown. It's called Mosaic Midtown Church, and church leaders have taken on the rather large undertaking of restoring a historic building that dates back as far as the 1880s.

Located on Alexandrine Street, between Woodward and Cass Avenues, the church rests in the shadow of another historic restoration project, the Strathmore Apartments. Once completed, the restoration process will leave the church exterior largely as is, save for some badly needed cosmetic touch-ups, with the interior receiving the bulk of the work.

Though another church held services at the building up until Mosaic church leaders purchased it for $1 million in September 2015, the building was badly in need of repairs. Mosaic is investing an additional $1.5 million in renovating the 17,800 sq. ft. church, maintaining much of its traditional charm while simultaneously bringing it into the 21st century. The floors, windows, pews, and pipe organ will be restored, alongside installation of new HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems. Structural improvements to the walls and roof will also be completed. 

While a few monitors will be placed throughout the sanctuary, they're largely for practical reasons and not to emulate the theater-like settings of modern mega-churches. Pastor Mick Veach, who left Stony Creek Community Church of Washington, Mich. last year to start Mosaic, says that structurally-significant beams may block the views of some in the congregation, just like the obstructed view seats at old Tiger Stadium. The monitors will help alleviate that situation.

Many of the churches in Midtown don't own their own buildings, says Pastor Veach, but instead rent spaces for Sunday services. And rent can get expensive in Midtown these days, not just for apartment-dwellers and businesses, but churches, too. The pastor believes that to truly make an impact in the community, Mosaic had to put their roots down. It's a big investment, but Mosaic believes it to be an important one.

"There's a lack of trust, says Pastor Veach. "A lot of folks have had bad experiences with a church because the church, in some regards, has taken advantage of their authority, or the church is only open Sunday mornings, or the church only wants money. We believe that in the need to have a physical presence, to say that we're here long term, that we're here to collaborate, to be a blessing to the neighborhood, to join everybody else here. And the way to do that is to have an actual physical building."

According to Veach, Mosaic is a multi-denominational church, made up of different ethnicities of various financial means. They've been meeting at St. Patrick Senior Center nearby while waiting for renovations to be completed. Mosaic will continue a relationship with St. Patrick, as well as foster a partnership with the Children's Center across Alexandrine. Pastor Veach is in dialog with Mariners Inn and he says he plans on reaching out to the nearby Detroit School of Arts, too. The goal is to have a presence in the neighborhood not just on Sundays, but every day of the week.

The building itself is an interesting one. The original church, built in 1884, is far off the street, located in the back of today's building. But several additions have brought it closer to the sidewalk. Many groups have used the church over the last 130 years, including its longest tenant, the Masons. Church officials say there's a number of Mason-centric peculiarities about the building, including a secret room complete with a mural featuring Mason iconography painted on the ceiling. A stained-glass window of the Eastern Star, also a feature of the Masons, is going to be removed and gifted to an former octogenarian congregant of the old Eastern Star Temple that was once located there.

Mosaic Midtown Church is scheduled to open in June 2016. It is located at 80 W. Alexandrine St. in Detroit.

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

Wheelhouse Detroit to open new bike shop in downtown Hamtramck

Wheelhouse Detroit, the popular bike shop on Detroit's RiverWalk, is opening a second location in May on Joseph Campau in downtown Hamtramck. At 2,600 sq. ft., the second Wheelhouse will be larger than the riverfront location, allowing owner Kelli Kavanaugh to offer more bicycles, accessories, and active wear. The Hamtramck location will also feature a robust service department.

"We see the two Wheelhouse locations complementing one another," Kavanaugh says. "The Riverfront spot will continue to be the anchor for Greater Downtown residents and workers and will serve as the primary spot for tours and rentals. Our Hamtramck location offers more retail space to increase our inventory of bicycles, accessories, gear, clothing and a large service department, while serving Hamtramck and surrounding Detroit neighborhoods."

Kavanaugh says she'll highlight American-made products at the store, including the Detroit Bikes line. Other bikes carried include Sun Bicycles, Kona Bikes, and Brooklyn Bicycle Co., among others. Accessories include products from Green Guru, Chrome Industries, and Timbuk2.

Wheelhouse is a store of many distinctions. The National Bicycle Dealers Association named Wheelhouse Detroit one of the best bike shops in the United States in 2015. It's the only woman-owned bike shop in metro Detroit. Wheelhouse will also be the only bike shop in the city of Hamtramck. Kavanaugh sits on the board of the National Bicycle Dealers Association, is the ride director for Tour de Troit, and is a former Model D development news editor.

Kavanaugh has tapped Christian-Hurttienne Architects to help with the design and buildout of a storefront in a building owned by John Grossi of Amicci's Pizza. Invest Detroit’s Urban Retail Loan Fund and Technical Assistance Grant contributed to the expansion.

The second Wheelhouse Detroit is located at 9401 Joseph Campau St. in Hamtramck.

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

New hotel in Midtown offers sustainable stays and intimate access to the city

A unique hotel opened in Midtown recently, changing overnight options for visitors from both near and far.

The El Moore Lodge is a triple bottom line business, meaning that its been designed to meet social and ecological demands in addition to traditional financial ones. The building itself, built in 1898, was extensively renovated to meet the high sustainability standards of its owners, including a geothermal heating and cooling system and a super-insulated building envelope. The group behind the building, the Brennan family, is also responsible for the nearby Green Garage.

There are eleven hotel rooms and twelve apartment units at the El Moore. The apartments, located on floors two, three, and four, opened in June 2015, and the Lodge opened in January 2016. This staggered opening was by design, says Jason Peet, manager of both the El Moore Lodge and residences. The group wanted to give residents time to establish themselves as a community before taking in travelers.

But intermingling of residents and guests is also by design -- a parlor on the main floor acts as a common room for the whole building, facilitating interactions between long and short-term tenants. Visitors staying at the Lodge will have access to people familiar with the city.

"So many people that are traveling to Detroit right now are coming for the right reasons. They're very interested in what's happening here," says Peet. "So we wanted to provide our guests the opportunity to connect to that right away as opposed to arriving at a hotel, getting checked into the hotel, and saying, okay, now we gotta go find stuff, let's get in our car and find the Heidelberg Project. Here, even when you first set your bag down, you may meet a resident. The second you're here, you're doing what you came for."

Among the eleven hotel rooms are four different types of units. Two hostel-style rooms, one for men and one for women, occupy the garden level of the building. On the main floor are the parkview rooms, a more traditional hotel-style room with individual the, including the Casey Kasem room, named for the famous radio DJ who grew up next door. Also on the main floor is a residential suite, designed for extended stays, its full kitchen complete with baking tins for cupcakes and muffins.

The roof of the El Moore Lodge is a story in itself. Four "urban cabins" have been built on the roof, outfitted with unobstructed views of the city from the private patios. Their designs are unique, using materials reclaimed only from the El Moore renovations. Local designers and builders have provided much of the labor.

The El Moore Lodge is located at 624 W. Alexandrine St. in Detroit.

All photos by Marvin Shaouni.

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

New neighborhood bar opens on Carpenter Street in Hamtramck

The Perrotta brothers are familiar faces around Hamtramck. Andrew is a member of the local music community, performing with the band Sick Smile. Ian is a copy editor at the Hamtramck Review and a member of city council. Together, they started Habitat for Hamtramck. Beginning Wednesday, March 9, the Perrottas will be members of the Hamtramck bar owner community, when their new venture, Trixie's Bar, officially opens for business.

Though the bar had a soft opening and served as a venue for the recent Hamtramck Music Festival, Wednesday marks the official opening with the establishment of regular hours, Wednesday-Saturday from 6 p.m.-2 a.m. Hours may expand in the future.

Trixie's Bar is located in the old Turtle & Inky's space on Carpenter Street between Joseph Campau and Mackay. The Perrotta brothers purchased the bar last November, spending the past several months sprucing up a building the previous owner described to them as “an old horse.” The brothers re-named the bar Trixie's in remembrance to their mother, who passed away earlier that year.

While some changes have been made, including the addition of a stage for live music, Ian says the business will remain a neighborhood bar. The brothers plan on hosting live bands on Saturdays among other events throughout the week. New lighting, a drink rail, a beer cooler, and wireless Internet have been installed. A new paint job and extensive caulking have been performed. Ian, who has been attempting to open the music store Sticks, Strings, and Other Things since 2011, will use part of the space to sell musical goods, at least until a permanent location for that store opens.

"We want it to be a fun and welcoming place where you know you'll have a good time," says Ian. "A night here is kind of like being at a house party with a liquor license."

Trixie's Bar is located at 2656 Carpenter St. in Hamtramck.

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

Two stores, one in Grandmont Rosedale and one on East Jefferson, to open on 313 Day

March 13, the thirteenth day of the third month of the year, is known locally as 313 Day. It's an unofficial holiday that uses Detroit's area code, 313, in celebrating the city. This 313 Day, two businesses will be celebrating their grand openings, each of them participants in TechTown's SWOT City entrepreneurial training program.

Opening in Grandmont Rosedale is Everything Detroit. It's a branding studio and retail storefront specializing in, well, everything Detroit. The store will carry locally made products including home goods, apparel, and personal items. Everything Detroit is owned by Katrina Brown, the founder of City Talk Magazine.

The grand opening of Everything Detroit will take place from noon to 6 p.m. at 16801 Grand River Ave.

Over on East Jefferson, Clement "Fame" Brown will open his Three Thirteen store. Brown designs his own clothing, which the store will sell along with other popular Detroit brands like Detroit Hustles Harder, the Smile Brand, and more.

The grand opening of Three Thirteen will take place from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at 2642 E. Jefferson Ave. Author Shaka Senghor, Espy Thomas of Naturally Fly Detroit, and radio personality DJBJ will make appearances at the opening.

Each business utilized TechTown and its SWOT City programming. The small business assistance program nurtures both brick-and-mortar businesses and the commercial corridors they call home. SWOT City stays involved through many stages of a business, from the launch to stability and growth phases.

"SWOT City helps businesses plan, work through challenges, connect to resources and develop long-term strategies for success," Regina Ann Campbell, TechTown’s managing director for place-based entrepreneurship, says in a statement. "I don’t think there could be a better tribute to our work and our commitment to Detroit than to see two of our businesses that celebrate our great city holding their grand openings on 313 Day."

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

Sit On It Detroit to open furniture store and studio in Midtown

Sit On It Detroit is opening a store in the 71 Garfield building in Midtown. The custom furniture shop is renowned for the benches it's built, donated, and installed at roughly 50 bus stops around the city. The new location will serve as a space to both showcase some of its work and provide co-founders Kyle Bartell and Charles Molnar a place to sit down with clients and customers and hash out the planning and design part of the business.

While Sit On It Detroit is best known for fashioning reclaimed wood into free and creative benches at city bus stops, the company is also an accomplished designer and manufacturer of custom indoor furnishings. It's produced headboards for the home, the mason jar chandelier at Kuzzo's Chicken & Waffles, and tables at Thomas Magee's Sporting House Whiskey Bar, among many other products.

The Midtown showroom gives Sit On It Detroit a more central location to display its wares and meet with clients, away from the flying sawdust and noisy tools of its workshop. It's a store-studio hybrid.

The workshop is located near McNichols and John R roads.

"There's a lot going on with this space and we're still figuring it all out," says Bartell. "It's not going to be your typical showroom or furniture store."

The duo values community engagement and placemaking, he says, and their location at 71 Garfield lends itself to those objectives. The building is an art cooperative, located along the same block as the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. Among its tenants are artists, architecture firms, and pottery studios.

The spring is a busy time for Sit On It Detroit. The company hopes to install another ten benches at city bus stops as the warm weather comes. They've teamed with artists and sponsors to create new takes on the already unique benches.

Bartell says to expect a soft opening some time in mid-March. As for the official opening, they've set a target date of April 8, opening day for the Detroit Tigers baseball season.

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

Motor City Match seeks business and commercial property owners for third round of grants

Detroit entrepreneurs and commercial property owners are once again being encouraged to apply for the city's Motor City Match program. Applications are open for submission March 1-April 1. It's the third round of the program intended to stimulate Detroit's commercial corridors.

There are four major award categories for which business and property owners can apply for a share of $500,000 in grant funding. Each category is designed for business and property owners at different levels of building a business.

The first category is for business plans, which Motor City Match will help entrepreneurs develop. 

The second category seeks to match commercial property owners with business tenants. Buildings must be in good shape and entrepreneurs must have quality business plans or successful track records.

The third category will award architectural design assistance, construction documents, and priority permitting to business and building owners with recently signed leases.

The fourth and final category is for those with signed leases, quality business plans, and bids for building out the space, but who still have to bridge a financial gap. This category awards cash to such applicants.

Motor City Match was launched by Mayor Mike Duggan and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation in 2015. Roderick Miller, CEO of the DEGC, says in a statement, "After two rounds of Motor City Match awardees, it's clear this program is making an impact in Detroit. From restaurants and retail establishments to service companies and even manufacturing, Motor City Match is growing neighborhood small businesses across the city."

According to officials, the Motor City Mach program has invested $1 million in 20 businesses to date, leveraging an additional $6 million in public and private investment. Motor City Match also points out that 70 percent of the 196 businesses and property owners that have received support are minority owned. Furthermore, two-thirds are from Detroit and half are minority woman-owned businesses.

Visit motorcitymatch.com for details on how to apply.

Disclosure: Model D receives support from Motor City Match to tell stories of small business development in the city's neighborhoods.

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

Nonprofit landscape architecture group to debut market garden in Penrose neighborhood this spring

Detroit's Penrose neighborhood is set to see another development in the years-long Penrose Market Garden project. With the help of a 2015 Kresge Innovation Projects: Detroit grant, non-profit landscape architect group GrowTown and the Arab American and Chaldean Council will finish the construction and subsequent planting of a market garden and the establishment of nutrition programming this spring.

The Penrose Market Garden project is multi-layered, one that will operate as a functioning urban farm while also serving to provide project leaders key information about viable urban farming practices in the city of Detroit. Beth Hagenbuch, co-founder of GrowTown, says that for any sort of urban farm or garden project to be successful, it must be designed to be site-specific. Cookie cutter agriculture just wouldn't work.

"The idea of the site-specific concept comes from our landscape architecture backgrounds," says Hagenbuch. "Landscapes might seem almost invisible to some. Every time we step outside we can forget how much the environment affects us. But landscapes affect our bodies, our hearts, our blood pressure, our mental health, and much more."

Hagenbuch, who designed the award-winning Lafayette Greens garden in downtown Detroit, and partner Ken Weikal explain how the Penrose neighborhood is characterized by a sea of 30-foot-by-100-foot lots, providing a different set of opportunities and challenges than the garden downtown. There was a challenge, for instance, in obtaining adjacent lots from different owners. Spread different parts of the farm too far apart and it just might not work.

Once the market is up and running, Weikal says that the team will be analyzing data to determine the metrics for what it takes for an urban farmer to be self-sufficient. They are looking to determine how much space and how many crops are necessary for an urban farm to be economically viable once the grant money goes away.

In addition to the market garden and nutritional programming this spring, the team plan on using apartments above the art house and the farm house to house on-site growers. A community space will host art classes, barbecues, community meetings, and other events.

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

Neighborhood beautification and placemaking mini-grants available on city's northeast side

Residents, business owners, and others with vested interests in northeast Detroit are encouraged to apply for mini-grants of up to $2,500 for neighborhood beautification and placemaking projects. Part of the Create NED initiative, these grants are available to anyone in the city's City Council District 3. The deadline to apply is Feb. 29.

According to organizers, Create NED grants will be made available to the residents, block clubs, business owners, churches, nonprofits, and community groups. Beautification is loosely defined, covering a wide range of projects from public art to landscape architecture, urban gardens to rain catchment systems. Community clean-ups, signage, tree plantings, and more also qualify for grants.

"As an artist and designer, I know how visions can change the world we live in, especially when we have the resources to implement those visions," Ronald D. Jacobs Jr., a District 3 resident and member of the Create NED advisory board, says in a statement. "The Create NED mini grant program is an opportunity to uplift the neighborhoods we live in and revive faith in the purpose of collective work and responsibility in our community."

A mini-grant information session is being held today, Feb. 23, at 6 p.m. at the Church of Our Father at 5333 E. Seven Mile Rd. There, organizers will walk participants through the application process.

There will be 28 grant winners in 2016 with money made possible by an ArtPlace America grant awarded in July 2015. Ten grants will be between $50 and $100, and 18 grants will be between $500 and $2,500.

Create NED is an initiative of the Restore Northeast Detroit (NED) coalition in partnership with Allied Media Projects and The Work Department.

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

February development news round-up: Breweries, apartments, vacant lots, and more

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.

Granite City opened its latest restaurant and brewery location in the Renaissance Center earlier this month. It's the largest location for the chain eatery and on-site brewery, which first opened in St. Cloud, Minnesota in 1999.

Financing for the Scott, a 199-unit apartment building in the Brush Park neighborhood, was finalized earlier this month. Two weeks after, the Scott announced that pre-leasing had begun. The building is set to open in the beginning of 2017.

In October 2015, Detroit Future City released a guidebook to help residents steward vacant lots in their neighborhood. This month, the DFC Implementation Office announced that it is splitting $65,000 among 15 grassroots organizations and individuals to help facilitate lot transformations as outlined in their guidebook.

A devastating fire wiped out the home of Reclaim Detroit in Highland Park. The fire, which could be seen miles away, decimated the company's operations, destroying much of its irreplaceable stock. Reclaim Detroit, which recovers re-usable materials from vacant buildings in Detroit, is currently holding an online fundraiser to help cushion the blow.

Five hundred and twenty-seven people invested a total of $741,250 in the renovation of Keyworth Stadium in Hamtramck. The new home for the Detroit City Football Club, Keyworth Stadium is 80 years old and in need of many repairs if it's to host DCFC as their home stadium in the years ahead. DCFC officials hoped to raise between $400,000 and $750,000 in their crowdfunding campaign.

The city revealed its Detroit Home Mortgage program this month. The mortgage program is a partnership between the city, the Obama Administration’s Detroit Federal Working Group, Clinton Global Initiative, local banks, foundations, and nonprofits. The program addresses the appraisal gap, a common hindrance to purchasing a home in the city. Now, banks will be able to make loans for the agreed upon selling price of a home and not just the appraisal number, which is often much lower than what a buyer agrees to pay.

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

Cobo Square to open this spring, cap convention center renovations

Cobo Center is preparing to unveil its revamped outdoor space this spring. Dubbed Cobo Square, the 45,000-square-foot outdoor space is being touted as the capstone of a 5-year, $279-million renovation of Cobo Center. The 723,000-square-foot facility is the 17th largest convention center in the United States. It opened in 1960.

Cobo Square will have more uses than just those reserved for conventions. According to officials, it will serve to better connect Cobo Center to the community while also activating the space in between major conventions and events. Art exhibits, exercise and yoga sessions, and biergartens are just some of the programming planned for the space that is set to open this spring.

Other recent major changes to Cobo include the addition of a state-of-the-art broadcast studio, a 160-foot by 30-foot digital sign on the building's exterior, and the conversion of the building's arena into additional convention space. The arena conversion replaced previously closed off walls with glass panes, taking advantage of the building's location on the riverfront.

"I think the most important part of the reinvention of Cobo Center was the adaptive reuse of the old arena," Thom Connors, regional vice president of Cobo Center management group SMG and general manager of Cobo, says in a statement. "By cutting part of it away and creating a new atrium, it really tied the whole renovation together and gave the view from the main concourse out to the river and across to Canada. It brings people down to the newer, improved south side of the building and the majesty of the river."

Business has improved greatly since renovations began five years ago. Eighty-five major events were hosted at Cobo in 2015, a significant increase from the 35 held there in 2010. Event days have doubled from pre-renovation years, jumping from 200 event days a year to 400.

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

All-natural cocktail mix makers put down roots on Service Street, plan for growth

Up on the fourth floor of 1440 Gratiot Ave., a tasting party was being held at a local all-natural cocktail mix company's new base of operations. There were two causes for celebration: the "Wolf Moon," or the first full moon of the year, and the expanded distribution of a Detroit startup of the same name's fresh juice and vegetable mixers.

Wolf Moon, which formed three years ago, is setting up for expansion, including increased distribution and e-commerce capacities, a stronger bar and restaurant presence, and even a potential tasting room.

The Wolf Moon team has spent a significant part of the last few years optimizing their production process, from juicing to bottling to sales. Their products include Citrus, Hibiscus, and Pineapple Jalapeno cocktail mixers.

"I think with the way we approached it from the beginning, we were making very small batches, so we weren't ready for the tier of approaching bars and restaurants. That's a huge demand to keep up with -- plus, the distribution. So we just sort of held off from that," says co-founder Dorota Coy. "But now we're definitely ready."

Wolf Moon uses only all-natural ingredients in their unique cocktail mixes: fresh fruits, vegetables, and a little bit of sugar. The company keeps its products simple and classic. In doing so, Wolf Moon gives bartenders, both professional and amateur, the space to be creative. Bartenders at the Woodbridge Pub use Wolf Moon for a unique martini, while the people at Johnny Noodle King mix Wolf Moon with beer to craft a local shandy. The company has also worked with Detroit-based spirit-makers Our/Detroit Vodka and Cabresto Tequila in various capacities.

Since offering their mixers online, orders have been coming in from places like Seattle, Los Angeles, and Florida. The group plans to start a small distribution network throughout the Great Lakes region and scale up from there. And a tasting room, complete with regular hours of operation, could open on Gratiot in a few months, depending on when a liquor license is obtained. The four partners, Dorota and Steve Coy (also known for their public art work under the Hygenic Dress League moniker), Joseph McClure, and Phil Lucas, will be spending the next few weeks approaching bars and restaurants about carrying their products.

Wolf Moon Mixers are available online, as well as at several Detroit retailers including Hugh and Germack Coffee Roasting Company.

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

Crowdfunding and matching grant campaign begins for public space at 6 Mile and Wyoming

A public gathering-space in northwest Detroit called the McGee Community Commons stands to gain nearly $80,000 in grant money should it reach $38,250 through crowdfunding. By reaching the $38,250 goal, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation's Public Spaces Community Places program and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority will provide a matching grant, bringing the grand total to $76,500 in funds raised for the project. The McGee Community Commons has until April 2, 2016 to raise the money through the Patronicity platform.

The community commons is part of a larger project between Marygrove College and the surrounding community called "Connecting, Recognizing and Celebrating Neighborhood Creatives." Marygrove and McGee Community Commons are both located at the intersection of McNichols and Wyoming roads.

A vacant lot at the corner of McNichols -- colloquially referred to as Six Mile -- and Wyoming will be transformed into the Charles McGee Community Commons, a green space and public art venue. A relief sculpture by local artist Charles McGee will be installed there. The site will also feature permeable paving, a healing garden, technology access, low voltage LED lighting, and signage.

"This is a project we've worked to bring to fruition for more than five years," Rose DeSloover, Marygrove professor emerita, says in a statement. "Being able to join with Patronicity and MEDC/MSHDA is a wonderful opportunity, and all the people working on the project with us are newly energized about reaching our goal."

Other Detroit Public Spaces Community Places recipients include the Brightmoor Artisans Community Kitchen, the Commons: 7900 Mack Avenue, Fiber Art on the Avenue, the Alger Theater, It Takes a Village Garden, Brightmoor Maker Space, House Opera | Opera House, and Mosaics in the Park.

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