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Building Hugger to host open house at new HQ in Eastern Market

It took a few attempts, but historic restoration business Building Hugger believes it has finally found a space into which it can grow. Building Hugger founder Amy Swift affectionately calls the 6,000-square-foot Eastern Market building the Hug Factory. It's the third re-location for the business this past year, which has grown from one to nine employees since February 2015. Swift says Building Hugger has also grown to become the largest historic window restoration company in the region, fielding calls from Port Huron to Detroit to Ohio.

An open house is being held Saturday, Jan. 30, at the building and is free and open to the public. Tours, demonstrations, and a community mingle will be held at the space from 1-4 p.m.

Building Hugger deals in many aspects of historic restoration and redevelopment work, though the bulk of its business is currently in window restoration and weatherization. It's a process that takes up a lot of space, says Swift, and with the increase in business came a need for more square footage. The work space was designed to maximize project volume. Work stations for each phase of the window restoration process have been set up to make the job more efficient.

That's not to say that the space is complete. In fact, Swift is still searching for the right use of 1,400 square feet of the building -- a storefront in need of a store. She has ideas, of course, like opening a specialized hardware store or a DIY training facility. She'd like to offer weekend courses in restoration work. Swift is planning on utilizing the open house to gather input from the public and see what's in demand among the restoration and DIY crowd -- what kinds of classes people would be interested in taking and what sort of hardware and tools she should carry.

"I always saw myself as a steward of these historic buildings," says Swift, who started Building Hugger in 2012. "But I've found I'm at my best when helping others be stewards."

Swift hopes to get the storefront up and running somewhere over the next 6-12 months.

The Building Hugger Community Mingle is a partnership between Building Hugger and Brick & Beam Detroit. To RSVP, do so online here.

The Hug Factory is located at 3036 Chene St.

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

January 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.

As we welcome in the new year, we welcome in the latest round of new bars and restaurants that open around the city. One of those restaurants is La Rondinella, an Italian restaurant from Supino Pizzeria owner Dave Mancini. La Rondinella opened in Eastern Market in early January -- right next to Supino, in fact. It was a second opening, of sorts, as the restaurant originally opened at the tail end of 2015 but had to temporarily shutter due to some official city paperwork problems.

Bedrock Real Estate Services, billionaire Dan Gilbert's real estate arm, was busy yet again, purchasing two high profile properties. In the heart of downtown, Bedrock purchased the Lofts at Woodward Center, three historic buildings that include a total of 61 residential units. Each building has its own first-floor retail storefront. A surface parking lot was also included in the deal. On the edge of Corktown, Bedrock purchased the Corktown Lofts, a three-building and two-surface parking lot bundle. The Corktown Lofts include two warehouses and a four-story building of loft-style office space.

The public is invited to join in on the development of the East Riverfront District, an area bounded by St. Antoine and Larned streets, East Grand Boulevard, and the Detroit River. Seven development teams will make their pitch for the direction of the district, which will be open to public comment Jan. 26 and 27 at the DNR Outdoor Adventure Center.

Detroiters excited by the idea of a more pedestrian-friendly downtown were dealt a blow when M-DOT indefinitely shelved a decision to remove I-375. The state transportation agency announced the possibility of replacing I-375 with a more walkable urban landscape back in 2013. While plans for removal of the highway could be resurrected, no timetable was announced.

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

Placemaking projects seek to re-energize struggling section of Michigan Avenue

A certain block of Michigan Avenue has received some special attention lately with a series of placemaking initiatives that have incorporated public benches, art, and returned citizens to make the area more welcoming to neighborhood residents and more attractive to potential businesses. The project will be completed in the spring with the installation of a pocket park.

The joint "Mi Town" Pilot and P(ART)icipate! programs are seeking to re-energize a commercial strip on the south side of Michigan Avenue between Junction and Lockwood streets. While blighted, the surrounding area does contain a number of notable businesses, including Hazel's Place lounge, El Barzon Restaurante, and Detroit Moped Works. The moped shop is the only one of the three located in the footprint of the "Mi Town" Pilot and P(ART)icipate! projects.

As part of the "Mi Town" Pilot project, public benches that incorporate planters and bike racks were built and placed in front of Detroit Moped Works. As part of the P(ART)icipate! project, returned citizens painted a mural and window installations, with aims to mitigate both blight and perceptions of returned citizens. A pocket park will be completed as the weather warms back up.

The project consists of three partners: the American Institute of Architects Detroit Urban Priorities Committee (UPC), the Michigan Avenue Business Association, and the design firm Acute E. A number of other organizations helped with various components of the project, including Detroit's Department of Planning and Development, the University of Michigan's Prison Creative Arts Project, and Southwest Solutions.

For UPC, the project was an opportunity to expand on earlier work in the area. In 2014, the group had created a visioning document for Michigan Avenue between Martin Road and I-75. It was also an opportunity to build something. Having previously assisted in a Hart Plaza design competition and pop-ups along the East Jefferson corridor, "Mi Town" Pilot and P(ART)icipate! were something that had more direct and physical results. They were, as UPC chair and Acute E owner Réna Bradley puts it, something for UPC to dig their teeth into.

"Overall, it's great to see people come and work together," says Bradley. "And it's great to do something that has life beyond what we already did."

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

20 Detroit-based projects named finalists for Knight Cities Challenge

Finalists have been announced for the second Knight Cities Challenge, and Detroit is well represented. Twenty of the 158 finalists are Detroit-based projects. The winners will be announced later this spring.

The Knight Cities Challenge is a John S. and James L. Knight Foundation contest, one that will split $5 million in grants among winning projects that address how cities can attract and retain residents, how they can boost economic activity for everyone, and how to better connect and involve citizens in their collective future. Applications closed Oct. 27, 2015.

"The finalists reflect what the Knight Cities Challenge is about: uncovering new civic innovators and motivating people to realize ideas—big and small—that can contribute to the success of their cities," Knight Foundation vice president for community and national initiatives Carol Coletta says in a statement.

While submissions were accepted from anywhere, the projects must be of benefit to one of the 26 Knight communities, which include Detroit, Miami, and Philadelphia. Detroit finalists range from individually-submitted proposals to those submitted by city and regional institutions.

An example includes a proposal entitled "Detroit's Exciting Adventure into the Pink Zone," which was submitted on behalf of the Detroit Department of Planning and Development by its director, Maurice Cox. He proposes the development of a tool that would make city development regulations more efficient. The project also aims to reshape commercial districts with the help of talented designers.

Live6 and its director, Lauren Hood, offer "Storefront Speakeasy," a pop-up cafe that would offer live music and spoken word and re-energize empty storefronts in the Livernois and McNichols corridors.

Five Detroit projects won grand prize money in last year's contest, including Brick + Beam Detroit and RE: Brand Detroit.

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

North Corktown rental to feature homage to legendary teachers union leader

Chalk it up to fate, serendipity, or otherwise, but as Detroit Public Schools teachers conduct a series of sick-outs to draw attention to school conditions in the city, a mural of legendary labor leader Mary Ellen Riordan is being pieced together in the city's North Corktown neighborhood.

Developer Jon Zemke--who is also an editor at Model D--has commissioned a mural to adorn the side of a two-unit building he is renovating at the corner of Cochrane Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The subject is Mary Ellen Riordan, the first full-time president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers who also happens to be Zemke's great aunt.

The roughly 20-by-36-foot mural features a portrait of Riordan with some students, uttering the quote, "Teachers want what children need." It's the work of Nicole Macdonald, a local artist whose work can be seen throughout town, including the recent series of Detroit literary figures installed on the outside of a Woodbridge party store.

Riordan served as president of DFT from 1960 through 1981. A significant force in teachers' labor rights, Riordan is recognized for her role as a woman leader in organized labor, a typically male-dominated field. In 1965, she led the fight to amend Michigan's Public Employee Relations Act to guarantee teachers and all public employees the legal right to collective bargaining.

Riordan led one of the largest local unions in the United States and was the first woman to lead a union of such size. At the time of her retirement, DFT counted more than 12,000 members. In 2001, Riordan was inducted to the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame. In 2004, she won the Distinguished Alumni award from Marygrove College, having graduated from that school in 1941. Mary Ellen Riordan passed away in 2010.

While Riordan may be his great aunt, Zemke says he commissioned the mural to honor all of the leaders and teachers who have helped shape the city yet might not be as familiar to its residents as mayors and other high-profile public officials.

"Like most other people in the city that have really made an impact, you kind of lose track of them over the years, the stories fade. And that's happened with her," says Zemke. "I didn't want that to keep happening."

Zemke, a Midtown resident, owns and leases several properties in the city, most of them in Woodbridge. The North Corktown building, which had seen its share of damage from squatters and scrappers over the years, has been his biggest renovation project to date, he says. The building is split into two flats and features all new heating, cooling, electrical, and plumbing work among its upgrades. Demand is high for the units, says Zemke, and on-site workers field leasing questions from passers-by nearly every single day. Units should be move-in ready within the next month.

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

2016 will be a year of big improvements to Detroit's cycling infrastructure

A new report released by the Detroit Greenways Coalition highlights five bike and trail projects that the bicycle and pedestrian advocacy group is most looking forward to in 2016. According to the DGC, Detroit will see a number of improvements to its cycling infrastructure in 2016, including the official completion of the Dequindre Cut, upgraded biking conditions along Cass Avenue, and the introduction of the much-anticipated public bike share program. The report also hints at an indoor velodrome that could be in Detroit's future.

Detroit Greenways Coalition works with both public and private entities, including city and state governments, and an array of foundations, to improve the quality of non-motorized transportation and recreation in Detroit. Todd Scott is the group's executive director.

Highlights from the DGC report include the following:
 
  • The Link Detroit project will officially be completed in 2016. Link Detroit connects a number of communities, from Hamtramck to Midtown to Eastern Market to the Riverfront, through a series of bike lanes and the Dequindre Cut.
  • Biking from Midtown to downtown should prove easier in 2016 as improved biking conditions along Cass Avenue are completed this year. Upgrades are designed, in part, to discourage bikers from using Woodward Avenue and the accompanying safety concerns of the M-1 Rail.
  • Automated counters will be installed along the Dequindre Cut and Cass to provide the DGC with real-time data as they look to better understand and utilize bicycle and pedestrian trends throughout those corridors. 
  • 2016 could also be the year that a public bike share program is introduced in Detroit. Though nothing is definite, the DGC says the Detroit Downtown Partnership is hopeful that the first phase of the program will open this year.
  • Bike lanes along a four-mile stretch of Livernois Avenue are being installed by the city of Detroit and will run from Grand River Avenue to W. Vernor Highway. Pop-up bike lanes, intended for viability tests, will also be installed along Livernois from McNichols to 8 Mile Road.
More information on the Detroit Greenways Coalition and its top projects for 2016 can be found here.

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

Detroit first and only American city to be named City of Design

Detroit has been named to the UNESCO Creative Cities Network as a City of Design. Of the 47 cities invited to join the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in 2015, just six, including Budapest and Singapore, were admitted under the City of Design designation. Detroit is the first and only American city to be designated as a City of Design.

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network was formed in 2004 in order to promote and connect cities that identify a creative field as an opportunity for sustainable urban development. In addition to the field of design, the other fields are crafts and folk art, film, gastronomy, literature, media arts, and music. Member cities collaborate with each other, promote each other, and share best practices with each other.

Not only a major validation of what Detroit's design industry has accomplished, the creative cities designation provides the city a unique platform for networking with other world-class design cities. Ellie Schneider, interim executive director at Detroit Creative Corridor Center (DC3) in the Argonaut building, says the city recently hosted a group of designers from Graz, Austria, and that the fellow City of Design will soon return the favor. That exchange of knowledge and experience can drive development.

Homegrown initiatives, like DC3's Drinks x Design and the Detroit Design Festival, further helped to improve the city's design profile both at home and abroad.

"Our work is so experimental and innovative that we have to look toward cities other than ones in the United States," says Schneider. "We have to look all over the world for benchmarks and inspiration."

Though the designation honors Detroit's design legacy and potential for growth throughout the city and region, it is the DC3 that is largely responsible for securing the City of Design title. The creative industries advocacy organization had the goal of obtaining the designation from UNESCO as part of a five-year strategy. DC3 was launched in collaboration between Business Leaders for Michigan and College for Creative Studies in 2010.

DC3 is planning a year-long celebration of the designation and will announce its plans once Olga Stella joins Detroit Creative Corridor Center as its next full-time executive director in January 2016.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Handcrafted goods from India, Bollywood dance lessons come to Sugar Hill Arts District

A new handcrafted goods store has popped up in Midtown just in time for the holidays. Tribalfare has opened in the 71 Garfield building in the Sugar Hill Arts District and will remain there through Feb. 1.

The retail store features a variety of one-of-a-kind goods selected by proprietor Ojas Akolkar and brought from her native India. She travels to India once a year to find her products, which range from clothing to housewares, jewelry to handbags. Akolkar will also use the space to provide Bollywood dance lessons.

"It became clear to me that there is a tremendous appreciation of hand-made items from India," Akolkar says in a statement. "Coming from a place where such items were commonplace, the value of my heritage was long erased from my memory. Meeting people who appreciated this so much revived my enthusiasm and my passion. I am excited to share my enthusiasm and these gorgeous, one-of-a-kind goods with Detroiters."

The pop-up is opening with the help of a $7,500 award from TechTown. Akolkar is a recent graduate of the TechTown Retail Boot Camp, where she was one of five to win that program's Kickstart Award. In addition to the prize money, the award package includes assistance from TechTown in selecting retail space and their connecting her with pro bono business support, like social media marketing.

Other recipients of the Kickstart Award include a vintage and resale clothing boutique in Southwest Detroit, an outdoor goods store in an as-yet-to-be-determined location, a musical instrument shop in the currently-under-renovation Forest Arms apartment building in Midtown, and a craft creamery, also without an announced location.

Tribalfare is located at 71 Garfield St., #40. It is open every Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sundays, noon to 5 p.m. The pop-up run is expected to close Feb. 1.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

West Village bank rehab to feature sushi restaurant, wine bar, and florist (plus lofts!)

A charcuterie and wine bar, Brix; a full-service sushi restaurant, Sushi Ono; and a florist, Goodness Gracious Alive, have been confirmed as the retail tenants of the newly-rehabbed Bank Building in West Village. The development also consists of two market-rate loft apartments, which Curbed reported in November will rent for $1,500 per month.

Much of the interior work of the old bank building at the corner of Kercheval and Van Dyke avenues was completed over the last six months, and according to organizers, exterior work will be finished by spring 2016. A Dec. 3 dedication ceremony was held at the building to celebrate the redevelopment and included a visit from Mayor Mike Duggan, among other officials and stakeholders. The mayor touts the project as an example of development happening outside of downtown and Midtown, one occurring in the city's neighborhoods.

Banyan Investments is the developer of the project. Banyan CEO Aamir Farooqi says the development is an example of "turning disused buildings into proud and productive assets for the larger community."

The Detroit-based Banyan restores, rents, manages, and sells residential and commercial property throughout the city. Another of its restoration projects, West Village Manor, is located just a few blocks away from the bank building. West Village Manor houses such businesses as Detroit Vegan Soul, Red Hook Coffee, and Tarot & Tea. Banyan is currently repairing the building and says that once improvements are completed, the project will increase residential and commercial capacity in the neighborhood.

In addition to the redeveloped retail and residential units, Banyan is building an adjacent structure on the south side of the bank. The newly-constructed building will house a restored Detroit streetcar, which will also host retail. Improved parking and a landscaped piazza are also planned for the site.

The newly-converted bank building is located at 7960 Kercheval Ave.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

House of Pure Vin opens downtown with focus on Michigan wines

House of Pure Vin has officially opened in downtown Detroit. The retail wine shop boasts 4,000 bottles of wine with plans to double its inventory in 2016.

The focus is primarily on Michigan wines, says co-owner Regina Gaines, with a secondary focus on French wines. Dedicated champagne and tasting rooms fill out the rest of the 3,100-square-foot space.

Michigan plays a large role in the shop. Gaines says she and her partners are excited to be part of what's happening downtown and the Michigan wine business as a whole. In setting up the business, they've used all Michigan-based firms and contractors, from design to construction, and a number of them are minority-owned. Even the name, House of Pure Vin, is a nod to the state's Pure Michigan tourism campaign.

"We want to participate in bringing value to downtown and setting the tone," says Gaines. "We're glad to hear of all the global brands coming soon, but we're Michigan and we're unique."

Bedrock Real Estate Services is providing the space, having selected Gaines and partners Terry Mullins and Andrea Dunbar after meeting them through TechTown's Retail Boot Camp. Gaines says the space being made available was originally going to be only 500 square feet, but Bedrock liked their concept so much that they gave them a much larger storefront.

A number of other organizations throughout the city have contributed, be it financially or otherwise, to House of Pure Vin. Gaines credits Bryan Waldron of Bedrock and Derek Edwards of Invest Detroit as two especially important players in their getting started downtown.

"If it wasn't for the business community here, that public-private partnership push, we wouldn't exist," says Gaines. "We're not rich. We're just middle-class people with a great idea."

House of Pure Vin is open Monday through Thursday from noon to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from noon to 11 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. It is located at 1433 Woodward Ave.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Group launches crowdfunding campaign to transform Mack Ave. storefront into community space

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation has selected another target for its Public Space Community Places initiative, and this time it's a community commons on the city's east side. Should a crowdfunding campaign reach its stated goal of $50,000, MEDC and its partner on the project, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, will then offer a matching grant to the group responsible for The Commons: 7900 Mack Avenue.

Mack Avenue Community Church Community Development Corporation (MACC) is the organization behind the Commons, a 12,000-square-foot commercial building on Mack Avenue. MACC has been working to rehab the long-abandoned building, repairing the facade this past summer. Improvements include new cedar siding and cleaned brick.

The group is hoping to transform the building into the Commons, a mixed-use community space that will include a coffee shop, laundromat, literacy center, legal clinic, window-lit common space, and an open-to-the-public shared work and office space.

"We are very proud to call home a community many so-called experts declared too far gone," executive director of MACC Development Jonathon Demers says in a statement. "The Commons is a wager, a confirmation that genuine, equitable stabilization in Detroit should begin and end in the city's neighborhoods. We're excited to play a small part in that stabilization through returning business, resources, and community space back to Mack Avenue."

MACC has until December 31 to reach its $50,000 goal. Once met, MEDC and MSHDA will award the community development corporation an additional $50,000.

Donations are being taken online. Rewards are given in exchange for donations and include tickets to the MACC Development 2016 Gala at the Detroit Yacht Club on Belle Isle, the Commons concept book, Mad Cap Coffee, and more.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

November 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.

Two of Detroit's most high profile real estate developments, Orleans Landing along the riverfront and DuCharme Place across from Lafayette Park, are beginning to take shape. Construction at Orleans Landing is revealing the bones of the mixed-use development, while DuCharme Place recently celebrated its ceremonial groundbreaking, though construction there had already begun weeks beforehand. Orleans Landing promises 278 residential units and DuCharme Place is kicking in another 185.

Add 230 more residential units to the combined 463 residential units of the aforementioned developments, so long as Peter Cummings gets his way in the city's New Center district. The Whole Foods developer says he has an agreement with Henry Ford Health System to purchase the parking lot at Third and W. Grand Boulevard and plans on building a brand new apartment building there. A redevelopment of the nearby Hotel St. Regis annex recently celebrated its own ceremonial ribbon cutting, announcing the December arrival of the Regis Houze and its 58 apartments.

In redevelopment news even more surprising than the decision to name an apartment building the Regis Houze is the news that someone is planning to redevelop the old Lee Plaza Hotel. Developer Craig Sasser announced plans for a $200 million redevelopment of the 17-story building. Sasser says he'll be bringing 200 luxury, market-rate apartments to the abandoned and derelict building, stripped to its bones after years of being open to the elements. One infamous incident, at least locally, was the discovery that 50 of the building's original terra cotta lions heads had been stolen, six of them found adorning a new condo development in Chicago. Even the FBI got involved. A rundown of the events can be found on Historic Detroit.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Bike share program for greater downtown on track for 2016

Detroit has more than 170 miles of bike lanes and greenways, a number that continues to grow. If all goes according to plan, soon a bike share program will complement that infrastructure.

Wayne State University's Office of Economic Development started the feasibility study and helped raise awareness and funds for the proposed bike share before transitioning the program to the Downtown Detroit Partnership (DDP) in July 2015. .

The DDP since has announced a partnership with Henry Ford Health System/Health Alliance Plan and the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT). Henry Ford/HAP has pledged a full three-year financial commitment to launch and operate the bike share, while DDOT is assisting DDP in acquiring federal grant funding as well as finding an equipment provider and operator for the bike share. The city and DDOT will issue an RFP later this month. The bike share is also receiving support from the Michigan Department of Transportation, Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, Hudson Webber Foundation, and Kresge Foundation.

Officials say roughly 350 bikes and 35 bike stations will be scattered throughout greater downtown following the first phase of implementation.

"We are super excited that a public bike share program is coming to Detroit," writes Todd Scott, executive director of Detroit Greenways Coalition, a greenways and bike lane advocacy group in the city, in an email to Model D. "This will be a great opportunity to get more people interested in biking throughout the greater downtown. We appreciate that the Downtown Detroit Partnership (DDP), Henry Ford Health System/HAP, and the city of Detroit have the vision and commitment to make this happen."

According to the League of American Bicyclists, Detroit is the fastest growing city in the country for commuter bicyclists. The group utilized census data to determine that instances of bike commuting in Detroit grew over 400 percent between the years 2000 and 2014.

More than 70 U.S. cities offer bike share programs. Should all go according to plan, Detroit's own will debut in 2016.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Efforts to speed up development along the Detroit River take off with new RFQ

In an effort to stimulate development along the city's east riverfront, the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy and the city of Detroit Planning Department have issued a request for qualifications for a development plan. Firms have until 5 p.m. on Dec. 4 to submit a bid for the site bounded by St. Antoine Street to the west, E. Grand Boulevard to the east, Larned Street to the north, and the Detroit River to the south.

Mark Wallace, president and CEO of the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy, says that a pretty aggressive schedule has been set and that a firm will be picked by the end of February. Once a firm has been selected, a series of community engagement meetings will be held to identify the needs and concerns of those with ties to the river -- be they financial, residential, emotional, or otherwise.

"A lot of people have strong attachments to the riverfront and we don't want to enter the planning phase with any preconceived notions," says Wallace. "It's important that this framework isn't prescriptive but instead be a vision."

The conservancy is looking for a comprehensive vision which takes into account possibilities for retail, residences, greenways, parking, and transit.

In requesting a plan, the conservancy and the city look to maximize the development potential of the area. They're hoping to speed along an economic resurgence already evidenced by the recent groundbreaking of the Orleans Landing townhomes and the almost-completed Water's Edge residential development, both happening along the RiverWalk. Private property owners, too, may be inspired to re-activate vacant buildings that have been dormant for years.

The Detroit RiverFront Conservancy is the group responsible for transforming 3.5 miles of the Detroit riverfront from a largely industrial and often inaccessible stretch into the celebrated and popular RiverWalk that exists today.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Retail Bootcamp complete, Detroit startups work to establish permanent locations

Five Detroit start-ups are receiving a financial push from their alma mater, TechTown's 2015 Retail Boot Camp program. Nearly $40,000 will be split among the five graduates of the entrepreneur training program in an effort to help them make the transition to brick-and-mortar locations.

The businesses include a music store, ice cream shop, handmade Indian crafts store, creamery, and resale/vintage clothing boutique. According to TechTown, each business is "on-the-verge." Each received a kickstart package that includes up to $7,500 in subsidies that can be used toward a permanent location, pop-up location, inventory, and/or a point-of-sale system.

Alana Rodriguez hopes to use the money to open Mama Coo's Boutique in her Southwest Detroit neighborhood. She has previously sold vintage/resale clothing as well as personally handmade jewelry and crafts at the Detroit Institute of Arts and Eastern Market.

Either West Village, East Jefferson, or West Rivertown will land an outdoor goods store as Sarah White looks to open her MOR & Co. on the city's east side. In a previous interview with Model D, White said that a lot of thought goes into selecting her inventory. "When I look at the design of something, it's not just what does it looks like, but how does it work? Where did it come from? Who made it and what's their story? How am I going to sell it, and what does someone do with it after it's done being used? All of those are important components," she says.

Third Wave Music, a 2014 Hatch finalist, is the recipient of one of the 2015 Kickstart Awards, which will be used toward opening the musical instrument store in the soon-to-be renovated Forest Arms apartment building in Midtown. Look for Third Wave to make its debut in April 2016.

Chris Reilly's Reilly Craft Creamery will use the money toward a pop-up in a yet-to-be disclosed location somewhere in the city in the summer of 2016. The creamery gets its products from Michigan organic farms.

Another Eastern Market vendor, Ojas Alkolkar, hopes to open Tribalfare in either downtown, Midtown, or Corktown. In addition to selling one-of-a-kind, handcrafted goods from her native India, Alkolkar will also offer Bollywood dance lessons, yoga, and other community events at her eventual location.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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