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Artists seek to transform Livernois with installation along Avenue of Fashion

Detroit artists Mandisa Smith and Najma Wilson are hoping to liven up the Avenue of Fashion with their unique brand of fiber art. The duo owns Detroit Fiber Works, a fiber arts studio and gallery in that district, and is looking to create an installation that will fill the empty space of a Livernois Avenue boulevard median. They also hope to offer fiber arts workshops to members of the community.

In order to reach their goal, Smith and Wilson have started a crowdfunding campaign to raise $10,000 for their "Fiber Art on the Avenue" project. Should the artists raise $10,000 by November 30, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation will award the project a $10,000 matching grant as a part of its Public Spaces Community Places initiative.

The project will receive great input from the community, organizers say, and the money raised will be used for materials, student transportation, teaching fees, and construction costs. The artists will invite community members to lectures, field trips, and lessons in creating fiber art, resulting in an installation created by those taking part in the workshops. That installation will then be located on the Avenue of Fashion median.

For the president of the Avenue of Fashion Business Association, Dolphin Michael, "Fiber Art on the Avenue" would bring some much deserved attention to his district. He says, "Recently, there has been significant national attention on many of Detroit's public art installations in other areas of the city. With the revitalization that the Avenue of Fashion is currently undergoing, including new shops and restaurants, improved street lighting and median landscaping on Livernois, this is the perfect time for our own public art project."

In crowdfunding $10,000, the artists will actually receive $40,000. By reaching their goal and successfully raising $20,000 through the combined crowdfunding and MEDC matching grant, Smith and Wilson will then match an earlier 2014 grant from the Knight Arts Challenge, necessary for that $20,000 Knight grant to be released. Raise $10,000, receive $40,000.

The "Fiber Art on the Avenue" crowdfunding campaign is occurring on Michigan-based site Patronicity and available here.

Fiber Art Works is located at 19359 Livernois Ave.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Woodbridge developer continues line of fable-themed rehabs with "Wonderland House"

Alex Pereira and Secure Realty, the team responsible for the "Lorax"- and "Up"-themed redevelopments in Woodbridge, are back at it, this time with an "Alice in Wonderland"-themed duplex on Commonwealth Street.

Consistent with his other rentals, the Wonderland house is a modern rehabilitation of a century-old building. Were he to stop there, Pereira's rentals would be simple attractive updates of classic homes; 21st century utility upgrades complement the refurbishment of early 20th century designs and hardware. Pereira, however, has opted for something with a little more panache. The front yard of his first Woodbridge rental is marked by a sculpture of and quotes from the title character of "The Lorax" by Dr. Seuss. His second redevelopment is painted in the same pastel color scheme as the house from Disney animated film "Up."

The Wonderland house is a duplex. Each unit is roughly 2,000 sq. ft. with four bedrooms and two bathrooms. Much work was done to restore the home, including a back wall that was bowing outward due to water damage. Pereira's crew disassembled the brick wall, shored up the infrastructure, and put it back together.

Sculptures of Alice and the Queen of Hearts stand out front. A quote from the tale will line the large planter box where the sculptures rest. On the third floor, Pereira has commissioned four custom-made stained glass windows, each depicting a scene from "Alice in Wonderland." Bold reds, yellows, and blues highlight the building's eaves and frames.

"People have this misconception that historic colors are bland and drab and brown and all tones of beige. It's not true," Pereira says. "Historic colors used to be very, very bold. They were just limited in the pigmentation that they used to be able to get."

Pereira says he received some flak for the pastels of the Up house, so this time he consulted the National Historic Trust to find colors more suitable for the period in which the Wonderland house was built.

Of course, that's not the only blowback he's received. From past stories Model D has run on Pereira and his Woodbridge projects, the comments section has become a place to air grievances, with arguments breaking out over Pereira's properties and practices. And while he's certainly not the only person redeveloping properties in Woodbridge, Pereira is likely the most polarizing--something he doesn't seem to mind. But whether his are designs considered whimsical or tacky, acts of rehabilitation or gentrification, Pereira believes in what he's doing.

"There's a group of people that love what I do and encourage me to do it, and there's a group of people that wants me not to do it," Pereira says. "At the end of the day, I think you have to be a little bit light-hearted with these types of projects. They're here today and they may be gone tomorrow. Who knows? Things change. But I think what most individuals fear the most is change, in general. We are in a time in Detroit's history where everything is in flux--for the better, in my opinion, but there's a subset of people that don't like change."

He's already working on a fourth property, 4305 Trumbull Ave., a stately manor in a condition of serious disrepair and neglect. No word yet on that building's future theme.

The Wonderland House is located at 3947 Commonwealth St. 

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Detroit Future City releases guide to help residents steward vacant lots

As the city of Detroit makes it easier for residents to purchase vacant lots in their neighborhoods, the Detroit Future City Implementation Office has developed a field guide for residents that informs them how to transform the empty land into neighborhood resources.

The DFC's "Working with Lots: A Field Guide" contains 34 different lot designs that residents can use as suggestions for improving vacant parcels. Examples include rain gardens, native butterfly meadows, and natural ground pollution remediation techniques. Among other features found in the 74-page field guide are tips on collaborating with neighbors; analyzing the lot for quality of soil, sun, and shade; and information on how to attain lots.

The Field Guide is available online and in print editions found at the DFC Implementation Office in New Center and every Detroit Public Library branch.

While the DFC Strategic Framework report emphasized the importance of blue and green infrastructure in future city planning efforts, the field guide is a way for residents in the city to shape those efforts based on their own needs. DFC held stakeholder reviews with members of the community in the year-long development of the guide. Andrea Perkins, a community planner and engagement specialist for Black Family Development, was a member of the review team. She says the process yielded a guide that "provides comprehensive details that address and complement unique neighborhood characteristics across the city."

Dan Kinkead, acting executive director of the DFC Implementation Office, says, "While our office has made great strides to advance the shared imperatives laid out in the DFC Strategic Framework from a systemic level, the Field Guide puts the tools to fulfill those imperatives in the hands of Detroiters."

According to officials, more than 30 projects utilizing the guide and its lot designs are already planned for before the end of the fall planting season. A number of community engagement groups are being planned for further education.

The DFC Implementation Office is located at 2990 W. Grand Boulevard, Ste. 2.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

High-priced houses, new apartments, movie theaters, and more: September 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.

Raggedy and fire-damaged, an eight bedroom Victorian home built in 1880 is on the market for $3.5 million. The reason for this otherwise unusually high price tag is its location. The house sits directly in the soon-to-be shadow of the new Red Wings hockey arena just north of downtown. The plucky group that purchased the building for $25,000 in 2002 seem determined to cash in on their long-term investment. The Ilitches and anyone else looking to redevelop an area of the Cass Corridor now being re-branded as Woodward Square have yet to bite.

Construction is to begin on The Griswold, a reported eight-floor addition of apartments to be built atop the 150 Michigan Ave. parking garage adjacent to the Westin Book Cadillac downtown. Detroit Economic Growth Corporation sold the rights to the Roxbury Group. When first announced last year, the development consisted of 80 apartment units among five floors. No word yet on how many units the new eight-floor configuration will contain.

Cinema Detroit, which has called the former Burton International Academy its home for nearly two years, has announced a move. The small first-run movie theater operation will move to 4126 Third Ave. and re-open Oct. 1. This is the second movie-showing organization to leave the old school building. The Burton Theatre group left the building in 2011.

A recent column in Crain's Detroit opines that plans for the high profile former Hudson's site and Monroe block should be released soon. Dan Gilbert owns development rights to both locations, which are currently owned by Downtown Development Authority. The parcels are also two of the largest undeveloped sites downtown. Big splashes can be expected for each.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Detroit, Hamtramck swap soccer team, restaurant

It happened in what seemed like minutes. To put it in the sports parlance of our times, the cities of Hamtramck and Detroit have completed a swap of two of their star performers, with Rock City Eatery going to Detroit and the Detroit City FC moving to Hamtramck. Each move was made with growth in mind.

The fate of Detroit City FC was decided by the Hamtramck School Board the night of Sept. 23. It was then when the board approved a lease that permits the semi-professional soccer team to use Keyworth Stadium as its home field. As part of the agreement, DCFC will fund renovations of the stadium, which are estimated to cost between $750,000 and $1 million.

Important for the city of Hamtramck was not just gaining a popular soccer team but ensuring improved facilities for Hamtramck Public Schools student athletes, who will have access to the stadium. For DCFC, it was a necessary move, going from a capacity of 3,000 to 6,000 visitors. DCFC has been consistently selling out its current home at Cass Technical High School in Detroit.

Sean Mann, co-owner of DCFC, hinted at the possibility of a move to Hamtramck during an interview with Model D in October of last year. The rehabilitation of Keyworth Stadium is expected to be completed in April 2016.

Rock City Eatery, a Hamtramck dining destination for two years, has also cited an upgrade in seating capacity as its main reason for changing locations. The restaurant is moving to 4216 Woodward Ave. in Detroit, the former location of Bangkok Cuisine Express. Ballooning from 1,600 to 3,600 square feet, restaurant owners Nikita Sanches and Jessica Imbronone say that a full service bar will be among the many upgrades planned for the new site.

"We're going to try and replicate what we do now but take it to the next level," says Sanches.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

New arts venue to celebrate Eastern Market grand opening

Detroit's latest arts venue is set to open Friday, Sept. 25, in Eastern Market. Wasserman Projects, specializing in art, design, and music programming, will open its doors in concert with the Detroit Design Festival. The grand opening and reception will feature two installations by three artists, one inside and one outside, along with music from Jeedo X and Saxappeal.

Inside the 5,000-square-foot Eastern Market space that Wasserman now occupies, German-born and current-Brooklyn resident Markus Linnenbrink has collaborated with Miami Beach architect Nick Gelpi to create "THEFIRSTONEISCRAZY-THESECONDONEISNUTS." It's art-meets-architecture, according to organizers, and allows for visitors to walk within the installation and interact with its ins and outs. During the opening reception, Jeedo X and Saxappeal will perform within the creation along a central split.

Outside will debut "Elf Waves," "Earth Loops," and "*Spatial Forces," a new work from Detroit-based Jon Brumit. "Elf Waves" is an aural, visual, and physical creation built in a modified grain silo on the grounds of Wasserman. "Earth Loops" allows users to play music along with "*Spatial Forces," which is temporarily using FM radio station 100.1 FM to broadcast the artist's music throughout Eastern Market, using 13 short-range FM radio transmitters installed on Russell Street from Mack to Gratiot avenues to create a drive-through radio collage. The artist was the recipient of a Knights Art Challenge grant.

Art from all three artists will also be on display.

"This inaugural exhibition brings together artists and designers coming from a wide range of backgrounds," says Gary Wasserman, founder of Wasserman Projects. "It is a great example of the conceptual and experiential nature we have envisioned for our programming and is just the beginning of the innovative programs we plan to realize in our new location."

Wasserman Projects celebrates its grand opening Friday, Sept. 25, from 6 to 10 p.m. It is located at 3434 Russell St. in Eastern Market.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

August 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 few weeks.

For all of the local attention downtown towers like the Broderick and Whitney receive for their historic rehabs, it's the city's houses (and mansions) that have been garnering national attention. The DIY Network recently featured the renovation of a Woodward Village home over the course of a season of their "American Rehab" program. Last month, HGTV star Nicole Curtis received an abandoned boatload worth of attention when her television and construction crew convened on the Brush Park mansion Ransom Gillis house. And this month it was Limp Bizkit guitarist Wes Borland who announced that he and fiance and fellow rocker Carre Callaway would feature the restoration of their own recently- Detroit mansion in the Boston Edison neighborhood, also on the DIY Network's "American Rehab."

Speaking of renovating downtown Detroit's historic towers, the Downtown Development Authority approved the long-abandoned Metropolitan Building's redevelopment into an extended-stay hotel with ground floor retail. According to the plan, up to 130 more downtown hotel rooms could debut after a $32 million dollar redevelopment.

The Moroun family put on quite the show for local media as it touted the nearly 600 windows it has installed in the long-neglected Michigan Central Station, about 60 percent of the building's windows. John Gallagher of the Detroit Free Press wrote a series of articles examining the latest on the train station, including whether or not the windows are historically accurate and just what on Earth are the Morouns going to do with the derelict building they've owned since the mid-1990s. As Gallagher says about the window news, "At the very least, the train station, although still empty and far from any habitable condition, will at least look more like someone cares." The Moroun organization, for its part, insists that changes are, indeed, coming in earnest.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Placemaking efforts a big hit in Greektown: Streetscape improvements to remain into November

Detroit-based Virtuoso Design+Build, the firm behind the design, fabrication, and installation of the recently-debuted updates to the Greektown streetscape, are seeing their work rewarded with a 2-month extension of the placemaking effort. Originally scheduled to come down in September, the various streetscape elements will now be taken away come November. As they were designed to be easily cycled out for the cold-weather months, the pieces should return to Monroe Street the following spring.

Before the build-out, Monroe Street, host to the many restaurants and cafes that characterize Greektown, had few outdoor dining options. Now several of the restaurants between Beaubien and St. Antoine streets offer patio seating. The efforts coincide with Greektown at Sundown, which closes a stretch of Monroe Street to vehicle traffic and opens up the street to pedestrians.

Many of the restaurants in Greektown were the benefit of the streetscape improvement efforts, receiving rails, platforms, and new Ikea-donated furniture for the patios that now dot the sidewalk. Umbrellas and greenery are also elements of the improvements. Virtuoso Design+Build worked in collaboration with the Greektown Historic Preservation Society, Rock Ventures, and local businesses.

"I've noticed a change on Monroe Street already," says Mark Klimkowski, owner of Virtuoso Design+Build. "I live right around the corner and walk along that street every day. It's more pedestrian friendly--there are more strollers and families. It's a more pleasant atmosphere."

Virtuoso Design+Build, finalists in this year's New Economy Initiative grant competition and the company behind the design of, the UFO Factory in Corktown, a Big Sean-donated recording studio at Cass Technical High School, and the forthcoming Gabriel Hall location in West Village, is currently undergoing an expansion and plans to hire more employees soon. Klimkowski says they're working internally to develop products like furniture, architectural wall coverings, and even pre-fabricated homes. The company recently moved operations to the Letts Industries building on the city's east side. They're leasing 4,000 of the Albert Kahn-designed building on Bellevue Street's 70,000 square feet.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

It's official: The Whisky Parlor transitions from soft opening into permanent downtown whisky bar

Things are coming together for the Whisky Parlor, a new food and drinks venue from the people responsible for Grand Trunk Pub and Checker Bar.

Located on Woodward Avenue in the old Motor City Wine location above Grand Trunk, the Whisky Parlor had a soft opening in July and is now ready to say that it's officially open for business. Though not a grand opening party, the occasion will be marked Friday, August 7, as the "Day 5" event makes its Whisky Parlor debut. The cocktail hour will occur every Friday, a sort of happy hour that includes complimentary hors d'oeuvres and live jazz. There is no cover for the weekly event. "Day 6," a Saturday DJ night, will make its debut later this month.

For all the new bars and restaurants opening downtown, manager Steven Reaume characterizes Whisky Parlor as the oldest new bar downtown, located in a building with a lot of history, yet hoping to provide a new presence in Detroit.

Patrons of the old Motor City Wine location (it has since moved to Corktown) will be hard-pressed to recognize the space, says Reaume. "The room looks amazing. We're very proud of it."

The drop ceiling has been removed to reveal a large cathedral ceiling, reaching up and into the above story. Though not as architecturally refined as the Grand Trunk cathedral ceiling, the exposed space provides context for an older Detroit -- the space itself saw its first business open in 1879. Since then, it has hosted a hardware store, saloon, men's furnishings shop, speakeasy, and more.

In addition to more than 100 whisky selections, the bar also offers wine, champagne, craft cocktails, and a food menu. Entertainment will play a big role. The "Day 5" events are the first of much more programming to come, says Reaume. They're especially hoping to expand live jazz offerings downtown. The Whisky Parlor Trio, the bar's house band, features three Detroiters with connections to Wayne State University. Reaume and company encouraged guitarist Kevin Miller to form the trio after hearing him performing on the street one day.

Whisky Parlor is currently open seven nights a week, beginning at 5 p.m. and stretching at least until midnight. Expanded hours are planned. It is located at 608 Woodward Ave.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Corktown to get a new exhibition space this month, downtown a wine bar and restaurant

The arts group Playground Detroit has settled down in Corktown, calling a 500 square-foot space at 1535 Sixth St. its new home. Dubbed "The Playground," the private exhibition space serves as headquarters for the company. Also new for Playground is a website featuring an e-commerce platform.

The company is marking the opening of its space with an exhibition of work by Detroit artist Cristin Richard featuring mixed media collages and sculptures. Richard manipulates animal casings to become dresses, skirts, and shoes, among other things. The art is for sale and may be purchased online or by appointment at The Playground itself.

The Playground will feature rotating artist showcases, solo exhibitions, and a semi-permanent collection of work by emerging artists.

Meanwhile, a wine-centric restaurant has been announced as future tenant of The Ashley, a recently renovated downtown apartment building. Located at 1538 Centre St., Vertical Detroit should open in September 2015.

Father and daughter team Jim and Remy Lutfy are behind the restaurant, and the co-owners plan a high-end business with over 250 vintages by the bottle and 43 by the glass. The team has hired Detroit native Alex Knezevic as head chef. He'll provide locally-sourced appetizers and small plate options. Roughly 325 to 350 wines will be available for purchase in a retail section.

The Lutfy family has been in the wine industry for more than three decades, owning Fine Wine Source in Detroit suburb Livonia. This is the first restaurant for the father-daughter team.

"From marble bar tops and elegant chandeliers to salvaged pine tables and raw steel accents, we really wanted to accentuate the elements that make Detroit and The Ashley such a great location," says Remy Lutfy.

The Lutfys have hired Detroit firm Rossetti Associates to design the space. A full bar complements a 75-seat dining area while patio seating will make its debut next spring.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Shipping containers, bike paths, Rehab Addict, and more: July development news round-up

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

After months of delays and a change of location, the first shipping container residential development in both the city and the state hosted an open house earlier this month. Developer Three Squared showed off its nearly completed building, a two-unit structure made out of shipping containers located at the corner of Trumbull Avenue and Pine Street. Two bigger shipping container developments are planned for North Corktown and Woodbridge.

After valiant efforts to stop the demolition of the Park Avenue Hotel were rebuffed by city officials, the Louis Kamper-designed building was imploded the morning of July 11. Drones outfitted with cameras documented the dramatic event. The hotel, built in 1924, was demolished to make way for a loading dock for the new Detroit Red Wings hockey arena.

The complicated task of piecing together a 26-mile bike path that circles around the city has been marked by a number of successes recently, though there are some remaining hurdles. The biggest obstacle in the bike path's completion is an 8.3-mile stretch of abandoned railroad property owned by Conrail. That company has yet to reach an agreement to sell the property necessary for completing what's being called the Inner Circle Greenway. The Midtown Greenway Loop, however, has broken ground on the third of four phases of construction.

Both film crews and work crews have convened upon the Ransom Gillis house, an 1870s-era mansion built in the Venetian Gothic style of the day. HGTV star Nicole Curtis is filming her television show around the renovation of the once-grand building in the Brush Park neighborhood. Viewers will be able to watch the complete transformation of the building from an empty shell into something promised to achieve its "former glory."

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Midtown viaducts to become art installations, destinations

Viaducts, some of the darkest and dankest spaces found in any city, are about to become some of the most artful and engaging spots in Detroit. Three viaducts in the city's TechTown district are each to receive tens of thousands of dollars in beautification enhancements.

Three teams of artists will each turn a viaduct into their canvas, with each team receiving a $75,000 budget. New Economy Initiative and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation are funding the Midtown Viaducts Public Art + Light Project, or MIDVIA. Midtown Detroit, Inc. is the administrator of the project.

At the Cass Avenue Viaduct, Becky Nix and Olek Zemplinski of bioLINIA are installing more than 7,500 reflectors and other sources of lighting throughout the passageway, illuminating an otherwise dark place. Dubbed "Reflector," the installation is said to be an interactive experience.

Cezanne Charles and John Marshall of rootoftwo, LLC, and Karl Daubmann of daub, LLC have teamed to form r+d LAB, the winning entry for transforming the Second Avenue viaduct. Titled "Resonance," the artists are also playing with light, this time through the installation of 22 LED light boxes between the archways of the viaduct, each forcing an intense series of shadow and light.

New D Media Arts, consisting of principals Gabriel Hall and Daniel Land, are employing smart phones as part of the Third Avenue viaduct experience. The "Light Bender" installation allows pedestrians to use their phones to manipulate waves of colored light throughout the pedestrian pathways while animated lights react to entering vehicles.

The project is an opportunity to demonstrate how public art and other efforts in placemaking can positively affect a neighborhood, organizers say. Katy Locker, Knight Foundation program director for Detroit, says, "These artists will help to improve neighborhood life, encouraging people to interact with their neighborhood and creating new opportunities for residents to connect."

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

West Village pop-up store to promote time spent outdoors in the city

After making an online debut, a Detroit-based outdoor equipment and lifestyle store is set to debut as a pop-up on Saturday, July 25, at the Red Hook coffee shop in the city's West Village neighborhood.

MOR & Co. is the outdoor store for city folk, says founder Sarah White, a West Village resident. The products she carries aren't meant for ambitious excursions far outside the city center, but rather for stimulating outdoor experiences on a day-to-day basis. Be it gardening or biking, recreation in the backyard or a city park, White proposes that small outdoor experiences are as important as the big ones. It's important, she says, to break away from the screens of devices we use at work and at home by being pro-active about spending time outside. She hopes that MOR & Co. will help Detroiters do just that.

White's goal is to open a brick-and-mortar location some time next year. For now, she plans to build a customer base through a series of pop-ups and an ever-present online store. At Red Hook, she'll be selling summer wares like hammocks, picnic blankets, and marshmallow roasting sticks. She's also been collaborating with other Detroit businesses and will be carrying custom-made citronella candles from Detroit Rose Candle Co. and s'more packages from the Detroit Marshmallow Company. Future collaborations include custom picnic-inspired drink mixers from Wolf Moon and tree swings from Reclaim Detroit.

A Grosse Ile-native, Sarah returned to Michigan with an MBA in Design Strategy after graduating from the California College of the Arts in 2014. In school, she studied a triple bottom line approach to business, an idea that promotes creating positive impact through people and planet in addition to profits. She's currently searching for community partners to promote outdoor activities throughout the city. It's also a program very much focused on the study of design, something that affects nearly every aspect of the way White is approaching her business.

"When I look at the design of something, it's not just what does it look like, but how does it work, where did it come from, who made it, what's their story, how am I going to sell it, what does someone do with it after it's done being used? All of those are important components," says White.

White hopes to open a permanent location by next year--she's thinking either West Village or Eastern Market as potential destinations. It's pop-ups in the mean time, which she considers a valuable opportunity to gather feedback from the community. In addition to the pop-up at Red Hook, she'll be taking part in the West Village better block initiative Aug. 1.

Red Hook Detroit is located at 8025 Agnes St. MOR & Co. will operate out of the shop from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 25.

Source: Sarah White, founder of MOR & Co.
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

District One businesses to receive investments totalling $100K

Businesses in Detroit's City Council District 1 have cause to celebrate with the announcement that $100,000 is being dedicated to their promotion and improvement. The money is a gift from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with the stated intent of being used to help businesses within the city's most northwest district scale and grow.

Tom Goddeeris, executive director of the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation; District 1 Council Member James Tate; and Jill Ford, special advisor to Mayor Mike Duggan, are leading the program.

Organizers say that the money will be used to encourage residents to shop locally and within their communities. It will also be used to survey residents on what types of businesses their neighborhoods need and desire. Additionally, the $100,000 will be put toward educating business owners on what attracts customers' support and keeps them coming back to their store. A 'buy local' program is also being researched for implementation.

While some of the program specifics have yet to be decided, the announcement dovetails nicely with D1 Discount Days. Taking place over the weekend of July 24-26, D1 Discount Days is the second annual celebration of local businesses within the district, encouraging residents to patronize their local establishments. Council Member Tate says that both the $100,000 and D1 Discount Days will drum up business, thereby improving the local economy and creating more jobs within the district.

Katy Locker, Knight Foundation program director for Detroit, agrees.

"The expansion of the District 1 buy-local program will help bring more local jobs and economic growth to our city; residents will be part of the process, helping to create the type of neighborhood where people want to live. We’re very interested in how neighborhood retail invites more people and more life into the street," says Locker. "We also hope to learn from this effort so it can be duplicated in other neighborhoods."

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Coffee shop to open in Capitol Park in September

Dessert Oasis, a Rochester, Michigan-based coffee shop, is expanding into Detroit. The company's second storefront is slated to open in the Albert in Capitol Park this September.

This marks the second retail tenant for the newly-renovated luxury apartment building, the Albert. Detroit Bikes celebrated the grand opening of its flagship store there in May 2015.

Siblings Nathan and Stephanie Hamood opened their first location in Rochester in 2008. The pair stresses quality and fairness in their offerings. Fresh desserts are baked every morning, and coffee beans are obtained from farmers on an individual basis and then roasted on-site. The company was recently recognized for its quality of coffee during the America's Best Espresso Competition at Coffee Fest in Chicago.

"We’re dedicated to providing a community experience and a focus on our craft that you don’t get at large coffee chains," says Dessert Oasis co-founder Nathan Hamood. "We hope to be the first stop in the morning work commute and the evening entertainment destination for many of the people living in or visiting Capitol Park."

Characterizing Capitol Park as an "up and coming community of artists and young professionals," Richard Broder, CEO of Broder & Sachse, the firm responsible for developing the Albert, sees the addition of a coffee shop to the building to be a good fit. The company expects five more tenants will be required to fill the remaining retail space.

Another key component of the Dessert Oasis experience will be live music every night. Stephanie Hamood curates the entertainment, both in Rochester and, eventually, Detroit. She's a musician herself, touring with national acts Nikki Lane and Social Distortion.

In addition to freshly baked desserts, the brother and sister team will offer light lunch items and chocolate and cheese fondues.

Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters will be located in the Albert, 1214 Griswold St.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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