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Link Detroit celebrates groundbreaking of five-phase cycling and greenway infrastructure project

The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, in partnership with the US Department of Transportation, State of Michigan, City of Detroit Department of Public Works, DEGC, Eastern Market Corporation, Midtown, Inc., and the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, will celebrate the groundbreaking of the five-phase Link Detroit greenway infrastructure project next Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 6 p.m. in Eastern Market's Lot 1 (adjacent to Shed 2).
 
"This goes back a few years," says Tom Woiwode, director of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan's GreenWays Initiative. He says that when the Dequindre Cut opened in 2009, it was always intended to run further north than where it currently ends at Gratiot. When the first portion of the Midtown Loop opened in 2010, it was intended to go further south and connect to Eastern Market. Link Detroit is the fulfillment of those intentions.
 
The full $25 million scope of this project is fully-funded, thanks in large part to a $10 million TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant in addition to support from the Community Foundation and other partners (see above).
 
There are five phases to this project, and most are able to operate on independent construction schedules simultaneously. Though the "ground-breaking" celebration is next Tuesday, the event is mostly ceremonial. Woiwode says they hope to already have bulldozers at work by then.
 
The five phases include extending the Dequindre Cut north from Gratiot to Mack, rebuilding five bridges over the Dequindre Cut's extension (with funding from the Critical Bridge Fund), extending the trail system and providing some infrastructure improvements and amenities in Eastern Market along Wilkins and Russell St., connecting Wilkins to the Midtown Loop which will be extended south along John R, and the construction of bike lanes and greenways along Dequindre Rd. north of Mack connecting the Dequindre Cut to Hamtramck. Ultimately Link Detroit will connect Midtown and Wayne State to Eastern Market to the Dequindre Cut to both Hamtramck and the Detroit River.
 
They hope to have construction of all five phases completed by this time next year.
 
Source: Tom Woiwode, director of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan's GreenWays Initiative
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Two James Spirits, Detroit's first licensed distillery in nearly 100 years, now distributing

After months of excited buzz, Two James Spirits in Corktown is now open for business.
 
Mostly.
 
The production facility and tasting room, at 2445 Michigan Avenue, has been under renovation since last July. Earlier this month, Two James started distributing its 28 Island Vodka, named for the 28 islands on the Detroit River that were used as hideouts by bootleggers during Prohibition, to bars, restaurants, and liquor stores in metro Detroit and Ann Arbor. Soon their Old Cockney Gin and Grass Widow bourbon will also be available, and they have more bourbons and whiskeys currently aging in barrels for future release.
 
Two James is the first licensed distillery in Detroit since before Prohibition. Partners Peter Bailey, David Landrum, and Andrew Mohr are part of the growing craft distilling movement that is taking off all over the country, in many ways ushered in by the growth of the craft beer industry as well as craft cocktail culture. The brand, named after Bailey's and Landrum's fathers (both named James), pays homage to Detroit's distilling heritage with products like the 28 Island Vodka and the Grass Widow, a brand of whiskey made in Detroit before Prohibition which they are now resurrecting.
 
The stylish tasting room features a massive solid concrete circular bar, reclaimed wood, and custom metalwork. During its "soft opening," the Two James tasting room is open limited evening hours Thursdays through Saturdays with a small list of cocktails that will eventually be expanded. Customers can also buy Two James products directly from the tasting room. Pricing is as follows:
 
28 Island Vodka: $31.99
Grass Widow: $44.99
Old Cockney Gin: $33.99
 
They plan on a production of 2,500-5,000 cases in their first year and will expand from there. Distribution will start in Michigan then expand out into the Midwest and East Coast. Two James products can be found in Detroit at Slows, Roast, and the Sugar House. They will celebrate a grand opening in the next month. 
 
Source: Andrew Mohr, partner in Two James Spirits
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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U-Haul Moving and Storage of New Center now open, celebrating with VIP ribbon-cutting & public tours

After over a year of renovation work, U-Haul Moving and Storage of New Center, in the 250,000 square foot building at 899 West Baltimore Street built by Nabisco Biscuit Company in 1920, is now open for business.
 
The extensive renovation work is far from complete. The building, which includes six floors plus a basement, is only being partially occupied by U-Haul.

"We just built out two floors of storage," says Stuart Shoen, executive vice president of U-Haul International. "We still have a lot to build out. We're not sure what the demand will be for storage at this New Center site. We see all kinds of residential and economic activity (in the area); we have no idea if (this) will explode or trickle."
 
The building is a full-service U-Haul site, offering everything from rental trucks and trailers to hitch installation, U-Box moving pods, self-storage, and a host of moving and organization supplies and services. All operations are up and running. There are 430 climate-controlled self-storage units for rent, ranging in size from 5x5 to 10x20 with 24/7 access.
 
Regarding the future of the building, Shoen says that right now they are in "wait and see" mode.

"The space is so big there might one day be a demand for that whole thing to be storage, but right now we want to use the building however the community wants it. We don't know if that will mean mixed use or community space, we even talked about doing movie screenings. But we haven't had people in the building (until now). Now those conversations can finally start."
 
Other options in discussions include a loft development and incubator space to serve as a TechTown center or temporary office space. U-Haul representatives have been in discussions with Sue Mosey regarding use of the extra space. "We want to utilize the building," Shoen says. "It doesn't do us any good to just have two and half floors open. We don't want to just sit on it." He says that they company wants to be an active part of the community and also wants to be good neighbors.
 
U-Haul is celebrating the grand opening of this New Center building with a special VIP red carpet ribbon-cutting ceremony this Thursday. Community tours will be offered to the public 6-8 p.m. after the ribbon-cutting. 
 
Source: Stuart Shoen, executive vice president of U-Haul International
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Development news round-up

The $300 renovation of COBO Center continues to spur on major investment nearby in hospitality and tourism development. A historic firehouse located across from COBO, built in 1929, has been sold for $1.25 million to local developer Walter Cohen, owner of 21 Century Holdings LLC, who plans to turn the property into a 75-80-room boutique hotel. The total estimated cost of this project is $23 million. 

Meanwhile, established hotels are upping their game to meet increased demand as well as increased competition in the marketplace. The Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center plans a $30 million renovation to begin early 2014 that will impact all of the hotel's 1,329 guest rooms and 100,000 square feet of meeting space. 

Developers behind the Tushiyah United Hebrew School, located at 600 and 609 E. Kirby St. in Midtown, have received a $1 million state loan to renovate the historic building into 25 market-rate lofts with gated parking. The project, operating under the name 609 E. Kirby Lofts LLC., has also received a 12-year Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act abatement from the city valued at about $300,000. The completed project will cost about $6.6 million. 

VernDale Products Inc. also received a grant from the Michigan Business Development Program, this one worth $436,000, to open a second facility for their dried milk powder manufacturing. The company will renovate a long-vacant building at 18940 Weaver St. on Detroit's west side. VernDale is also receiving a 12-year plant rehabilitation tax abatement from the city worth about $3.3 million. This expansion will cost about $16 million and create 13 new jobs. 

The former Crain's Detroit Business buildings at 1400 and 1432 Woodbridge St. and 1370 Franklin St. near Chene Park have been sold to ME Enterprise LLC, a Birmingham-based partnership between T.J. Elia and Clint Mansour, who plan on spending about $3 million to renovate and re-lease the office buildings. 

In un-development news, though certainly significant given the city's overwhelming number of vacant, blighted buildings, the city of Detroit has received $52.2 million out of $100 million in newly allocated federal funds to tear down blighted structures.

Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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(revolver), a new table d'hôte restaurant, will open during the first-ever Hamtramck Food Week

Hamtramck has long been known for its diversity of ethnic culinary offerings, but new concepts opening this fall promise to elevate this neighborhood to a new level of gastronomic savviness. First there is 2012 Hatch Detroit finalist Rock City Eatery, a new American restaurant serving locally-sourced items made from scratch with a Anthony Bourdain-like culinary sensibility (think: offal, and items like bone marrow fritters). It will be open this fall, pending final inspections. 
 
But one concept you haven't heard much about yet, as the partners haven't said much about it yet, is the new (revolver) in Hamtramck.
 
(revolver) is located at 9737 Joseph Campau, in the space that was previously going to be Ootie's, then Acme Food Company. Neither of those concepts ever came to fruition. (revolver) is a partnership between Tunde Wey and Peter Dalinowski, self-taught chefs with a passion for food and community.
 
(revolver) is their take on a table d’hote restaurant, a concept with origins dating back to the 1600s when countryside inns would serve large family-style meals to their guests. The hosts would decide what to prepare and all guests would be invited to the table. "Our concept is similar," says Wey. "We are inviting people to our 'table,' so to speak, and offering them a chance to eat delicious food sourced locally, and fresh, prepared by people who LOVE and are experts at what they do." To further embrace this concept, all seating is communal.
 
They are working with five chef partners, a mix of self-taught and professionally-trained chefs – Jessika Rae Warren, Oliver Honderd, Brad Greenhill, Alla Dihes and the team of Thom Ingram and Nate Bankowski – on an ever-evolving multi-course prix fixe menu. The set menu will always be changing to encompass a variety of culinary styles, and will include offerings for vegetarians. (revolver) will offer two seatings nightly by reservation only. Reservations are prepaid and available through the website.
 
(revolver) will open for the first-ever Hamtramck Food Week, happening Sept. 23-28. (Read more about Hamtramck Food Week here.) After that they will be open for dinner Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays initially, with seatings at 6:15 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. They will start with 35 available spots per seating and gradually work their way up to their 60-person capacity.
 
Source: Tunde Wey, partner in (revolver)
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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TechTown's Retail Boot Camp running a second session with expanded incentives

After a successful first run in May, TechTown has decided to offer a second Retail Boot Camp this year, its intensive 10-week entrepreneurial training program designed with the intent of launching sustainable businesses.
 
"There's been such an outcry for additional classes," says Leslie Smith, TechTown President and CEO. "Our partners all have this pipeline of potential companies. We have also sweetened the pot so applications are a bit more competitive to encourage the best of the best."

TechTown will set incentivized milestones throughout the program and the last session will be a showcase where each participant will pitch their business to a panel of judges. First place will win $5,000 cash and a free pop-up space sponsored by REVOLVE Detroit over the holidays. "(The winner) will have this beautiful opportunity to pop up immediately and test the market." There are also cash prizes for second and third place.
 
Applications close on Sept. 11. They have space for 15 entrepreneurs but might expand this to 18-20, depending on the response and quality of applicants.
 
TechTown has also developed an aftercare program. "A lot of programs after the conclusion of the class leave the entrepreneurs out in the wilderness on their own," Smith says. "We bring them together and help them create a formal network. We have found this has been one of the differentiators of this program; our aftercare is more focused on launch."
 
Previous Retail Boot Camp graduates are "in actual stages of launch towards being an entrepreneur, which is the goal – not just having a theoretical conversation." Smith estimates 70 percent of the spring session participants will launch by the end of this year.
 
This session will occur Monday nights 6-9 p.m. from Sept. 23 to Nov. 11. Program fee upon acceptance is $499.

Source: Leslie Smith, TechTown President and CEO
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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REVOLVE Detroit's Art + Retail on the Ave winners announced

Arguably the largest single transformation project of any neighborhood in the city of Detroit, REVOLVE Detroit's Art + Retail on the Ave – a program designed to revitalize Detroit's once-prominent Avenue of Fashion shopping district (located along Livernois between McNichols and 8 Mile) – has announced all of the winners of permanent and pop-up retail spaces, as well as art installations and programming, after issuing a call for entries in June.
 
They received nearly 100 proposals and worked with members of the community and other community organizations to make their final selections. The retail stores and art projects will make their debut on Friday, Sept. 20, when the Avenue of Fashion hosts the Detroit Design Festival, and will include four new permanent retailers, eight pop-up retail concepts, nine art projects, and nine additional programming and events concepts.
 
"We're really trying to return the Avenue of Fashion back to its prominence," says Michael Forsyth, REVOLVE Program Manager at the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation. "This is one of the city's great business and cultural districts, and there's a lot of great businesses to build on here." Forsyth explains that the goal is really to fill in the gaps between all of the great businesses that already exist here – like Baker's Keyboard Lounge, Simply Casual, Jo's Gallery, and 1917 American Bistro – and work collaboratively with these existing businesses as well as existing community organizations, institutions for higher education, and residents in the surrounding communities of Palmer Woods, the University District, Green Acres, and Sherwood Forest.
 
"This is huge," Forsyth says, "This is crazy in the best possible way. In terms of REVOLVE, Livernois has always been a high priority of ours. It has the greatest potential purely from an economic standpoint; there are amazing neighborhoods surrounding this district with some of the most beautiful homes in America…whether (we're) talking about community leadership, active residents who want to be engaged, (or) existing businesses, it's a natural progression to want to be here."
 
Art + Retail on the Ave is part of a much larger investment portfolio taking place on Livernois, which includes $1.7 million in beautification and streetscape upgrades in addition to other programs like the Living for the City initiative, a partnership between the Detroit Lions and Hatch Detroit that is currently focused on the Avenue which will improve façades and signage and activate vacant storefronts.
 
To see the full list of what's coming to the Ave, click here.
 
Source: Michael Forsyth, REVOLVE Program Manager at the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Coffee, gelato and sweet shop Melt next up in Midtown

Of the many (and there are indeed many) new restaurants and retailers opening in Midtown this year, it appears that Melt is going to be the next one to open.
 
Melt is a coffee, gelato, and sweet shop located at 4150 Cass (at Willis). Owner Aaron Haithcock has wanted to open a candy shop since he was a kid, but decided to diversify his concept to include coffee and gelato to support a steadier clientele base, a model he saw work while employed at a candy store in Chicago that also sold cakes and ice cream.
 
Haithcock has been developing the concept for Melt since 2010. What felt like a three-year setback – due to the recession, Haithcock struggled to find a space and secure funding – now seems like serendipity. Midtown is thriving, and the Cass Corridor is quickly becoming one of the most densely developed retail corridors in the city. The owners of this long-vacant building, previously a party store, began renovations in 2008 but had to stop for a few years due to financing issues. With the help of Sue Mosey and Midtown, Inc., they are now able to complete the renovations. The building is split into three retail storefronts – the other two are still available for rent. Haithcock finally found an available storefront suited to his needs, and it seems like the delay may actually have been a recipe for long-term success (so to speak).
 
The menu at Melt will include signature coffee and gelato drinks using different fruits, syrups, and candies, and customers can also create their own milkshake-like dessert drinks. There will also be a full espresso bar for traditional coffee beverages like cappuccinos and lattes. Melt will carry all Illy brand Italian coffee and espresso. The gelato will come from Palazzolo's in Fennville, Michigan. Melt will also sell candies from popular local brands like Alinosi Chocolates and classic candies like Swedish Fish and gummy bears.
 
There is limited room for seating inside with a couple of additional seats on the patio. Haithcock hopes to have a full patio next year. He aims to be open by the end of August.
 
Source: Aaron Haithcock, owner of Melt
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Corktown will soon have another spot for breakfast, lunch and brunch at La Villa

Corktown will have another new breakfast, brunch, and lunch spot opening, and this one is right next to Mudgie's Deli.
 
La Villa is a new concept by sisters Sarrah Willoughby and Rai Jackson. Opening later this fall, La Villa will offer an alternative twist on breakfast and lunch fare.
 
While Corktown is not without its casual breakfast and lunch spots – like Mudgie's, Brooklyn Street Local, Le Petit Zinc, Astro Coffee, and the soon-to-open Detroit Institute of Bagels and Rubbed – La Villa will target more of the specialty breakfast crowd: think more along the lines of popular suburban spots like Toast in Ferndale or Mae's in Pleasant Ridge.
 
The sisters have been cooking and entertaining together all their lives and have often heard compliments on their cooking end with, "You should open a restaurant." Now they are putting the final touches on their own space at 1411 Brooklyn, which will include dine-in seating for about 35 people, a separate 30-person café-style seating area for those just getting coffee and hanging out, and an additional outdoor patio.
 
While the menu will include both breakfast and lunch items, their specialties include items like Strawberry Cream Rose Pancakes and Paradise French Toast made with coconut milk and pineapple.
 
Renovation work is almost complete and they are finalizing the last necessary details they need in order to open. They hope to be open by late October.
 
Source: Sarrah Willoughby, co-owner of La Villa
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Live Coal Gallery in Woodbridge getting renovations, reopening in September

The Live Coal Gallery has been open in Woodbridge since April, but the owner has been steadily making improvements to the two-story duplex on Trumbull as she prepares for a new exhibit opening in September.
 
The first floor of the two-family house at 5029 Trumbull is the home of the gallery and museum. There is a gift shop in the front and a small permanent collection along with rotating exhibits. Yvette Rock, owner and curator of Live Coal Gallery, says 99 percent of the work shown is by local artists. The gallery also tries to show emerging artists on the scene. Its last exhibit on Modern Impressionists featured works by well-respected Detroit artist and professor Gilda Snowden.
 
Rock has not received any grants or funding to build her museum or its collection. "I've had to make a lot of sacrifices," she says. "I'm an artist and I love art. As an artist I want to support other artists." As a visual mixed media artist, Rock has always worked with youth, running art workshops at schools and nonprofits, and has a vision of eventually having a huge collection of artwork created by Detroit high school students.
 
Though the museum itself has never received funding, Rock received a grant from the city to do some exterior work to the house this spring. As part of the city's lead abatement program, this grant enabled her to replace the windows and build a new deck. The grant was not for the gallery itself but for the owners of the home, but any improvements done to the home also helps the business. "We would love to have a commercial space but we don't have the capital backup. I'm glad we can start at this level."
 
The gallery is currently closed through August as Rock does more "priming and scraping" to get the space ready for a new three-person photography show opening Sept. 6, featuring the work of Detroit photographers Stanley Larry, Rashaun Rucker, and Mohan Karulkar. The public reception opens at 6 p.m.
 
Source: Yvette Rock, owner of Live Coal Gallery
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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The "Z" development parking garage will be a unique art and retail experience downtown

The so-called "Z" development in downtown Detroit, is starting to take shape, so to speak.
 
The five-story, 535,000-square-foot Z-shaped parking garage that zig-zags across a block of downtown Detroit adjacent to Greektown is on track to be completed by the end of December, and as part of this parking structure's construction plan – which will add 1,300 parking spaces to downtown Detroit – the 33,000 square feet of space on the street level will all be for retail.
 
"We have a general philosophy when building a parking deck," says Dan Mullen, Vice President of Development for Bedrock Real Estate, which is developing the property (all part of Dan Gilbert's master plan for downtown). "It has to have ground floor retail. It's really important to us to activate the area."
 
As the development progresses we will see more and more differentiation between the storefronts. Each retailer that signs on – and a few already have, though Mullen and the Bedrock et.al. team are tight-lipped regarding which – is able to develop their own storefront according to their own vision, whether they want to use reclaimed wood or metal or a different color scheme. "It really looks like we're going to have a great contrast of storefronts," Mullen says." The 33,000 square feet of space is not being partitioned off into pre-set spaces, allowing retailers to commit to only as much square footage as they need. Each storefront will have its own street entrance as well as an entrance from the garage.
 
The garage is also an attraction in itself. Bedrock, working closely with downtown Detroit art gallery Library Street Collective, plans on making the garage "exciting" and "dynamic," providing people with a unique experience from the second they pull their cars into the garage. The walls will be decorated with graffiti art from artists from around the country. They are currently working on their "art plan" for the interior of the parking deck, deciding which artists they'll be working with and so on. "If it's a parking deck we can still make it interesting," Mullen says. "We want this to be a unique experience you can't get anywhere else. We want people literally saying, 'You have to go downtown just to park in this garage.'"
 
They will also make improvements to the alley behind the building with ample lighting and stamped or colored concrete, "activating" this space as well.
 
The "Z" garage will be ready for its first cars before the new year, while retail tenants will start opening starting next spring. This project is led by Neumann/Smith Architecture, which oversees most of Bedrock's developments.
 
Source: Dan Mullen, Vice President of Development for Bedrock Real Estate
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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PNC Bank invests in LEED-certified new construction and community education in Detroit

One of the new tenants that will be opening as part of the Gateway Marketplace development at 8 Mile Rd. and Woodward is a free-standing PNC Bank branch.
 
PNC has made a name for itself as an extremely eco-conscious company, leading the industry in green building practices and spearheading city-wide transformative green initiatives in cities like Pittsburgh. The company has over 200 LEED-certified buildings in 16 different states as well as Washington D.C. and London. It has received 136 certifications for new construction, more than any other company in the world.
 
Each of the new buildings is constructed to LEED certification standards. "This is automatic," says PNC Bank Retail Market Executive Mike Bickers. "All new buildings will get that certification."
 
A new branch at 7 Mile Rd. and Evergreen in Detroit, an interior renovation (as opposed to new construction), was recently awarded a LEED certification, and the new building at Gateway Marketplace, the first full-service stand-alone PNC Bank branch in Detroit, will be as well once it is finished.
 
PNC is looking to increase its presence in Detroit in the coming years, and expect the new Gateway Marketplace to be a big stepping stone for the company in its effort to reach out to the Detroit community. At the 7 Mile location, they invite churches and nonprofit groups to come in and educate customers on their finances and how to stay out of trouble – everything from credit repair to avoiding and addressing identity theft to investment and money management. "Principally we want folks, whether they have a dime or a dollar, to learn how to manage their money better," Bickers says. "We're not interested in pushing people into getting credit. We need to get everyone into financial well-being and we will do that in every office."
 
The new Eight Mile location will offer the same kind of financial education and support. It will have three drive-through lanes, the full host of personal and corporate banking services and customer care offered by PNC, and all the most up-to-date technology, "the latest and greatest of what we do."
 
The Gateway Marketplace PNC won't open until next spring. In the meantime the bank is focused on doing all the pre-opening groundwork: reaching out to community organizations and churches to follow the same educational model it set forth at 7 Mile and Evergreen, and reaching out to other businesses in the Marketplace and surrounding community. "We can't do this without the cooperation of the businesses around us."
 
Source: Mike Bickers, Retail Market Executive for PNC Bank
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Hatch Detroit to announce 10 semifinalists for 2013 this Thursday

This Thursday Hatch Detroit will announce 10 semifinalists for 2013. Now in its third year, Hatch Detroit has grown from a $50,000 small business contest to a full-blown small business incubator.
 
Since it first launched in 2011, Hatch has completed two full rounds of contests in which the winner receives $50,000 cash as well as a host of free business services including legal, accounting, marketing and advertising, and IT support from Hatch and its partners.
 
2011 winner Hugh opened inside the Auburn building in Midtown last fall. 2012 winner La Feria is putting on the finishing touches and will open this fall. But the top prize winners aren’t the only winners of Hatch. Several semifinalists from the last two years are in the process of opening their own storefronts, in many ways assisted by the tremendous publicity they received from being Hatch participants.
 
Past participants include:

 
Alley Wine (2011) – received re-zoning approval needed for alley space in Midtown, now working on other licensing and still fully committed to opening (owners hope for a 2014 opening)
 
Anthology Coffee (2011) – now roasting and serving coffee while working on their permanent space inside Ponyride in Corktown.
 
Detroit Gypsy Kitchen (2011) – functioning as an occasional pop-up.
 
Detroit Institute of Bagels (2011) – working on permanent space in Corktown to open later this year.
 
Detroit River Sports (2012) – working as a monthly kayak rental pop-up on Belle Isle, still working with city to open full-time.
 
Detroit Vegan Soul (2012) – working on permanent space in West Village to open later this year.
 
Pot & Box (2011) – working on permanent space in Corktown to open later this year.
 
Rock City Eatery (2012) – working on permanent space in Hamtramck to open in September.
 
Tashmoo Biergarten (2012) – functioning as an occasional pop-up.
 
Hatch Detroit Executive Director Vittoria Katanski says that they are looking to expand the portion of their program in which they assist and promote previous semifinalists. With help from a grant from Strategic Staffing Solutions, they will be developing the pocket park that will be a key feature of Detroit Institute of Bagels, one of the first semifinalists from previous contests to open.
 
Hatch is also partnered with the Detroit Lions on their Living for the City initiative, which focuses on building up the retail presence in some of Detroit's other (read: non-Midtown, Corktown and downtown) neighborhoods. They are working together with local community development corporations (CDCs) to determine what the needs of these neighborhoods are – improving signage, facades, activating empty storefronts – and how best to address them. Their current neighborhood of focus is the Avenue of Fashion, which was recently awarded $1.7 million in beautification and streetscape upgrade investments and is also a major focus of the DEGC.
 
Kattanski says, "The whole neighborhood initiative is to help existing businesses and perk up their spaces," adding that a lot of emphasis is placed on bringing in new businesses but not as much attention is paid to those that have been working and serving Detroit's neighborhoods all along. "These are great businesses on the Avenue of Fashion and this will help improve the retail experience for their customers."
 
While the top 10 haven't yet been announced, Kattanski says that the number of quality applicants this year was much higher than before, estimating about 90 percent of the applications received were quality proposals with solid, well-thought-out ideas.
 
Source: Vittoria Kattanski, Hatch Detroit Executive Director
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Zipcar car-sharing now available to all downtown residents

The world's largest car-sharing service is now available in downtown Detroit.
 
Zipcar, founded in Massachusetts in 2000, is now available for use for all of the estimated 6,000 downtown Detroit residents thanks to Rock Ventures.
 
Matthew Roling, Director of Business Development for Rock Ventures, was turned on to the concept after seeing Wayne State University's own Zipcar program (available to students, faculty and staff). "Anything we can do to make downtown more desirable for young people to live, work, and play is something we're focused on," Roling says. He adds that there are a lot of different ways to encourage transit development in the city, and allowing people the opportunity to go carless by still giving them access to cars as needed is an important step.
 
Zipcar has issued two cars for this pilot downtown program. The cars are located inside the Bedrock-owned garage at 1001 Woodward across from Compuware. To utilize this car-sharing program, create an account on zipcar.com and wait for your Zipcard to arrive in the mail. The card is loaded with all of your information; this is how you will be able to access your reservation. Make a reservation online (availability is first-come, first-serve; while cars may be available on demand, in order to ensure availability it is recommended you reserve in advance), then at your reservation time you just walk up to the car you reserved and swipe your Zipcard. Et voila.
 
Reservations cost between $8 and $10 per hour, depending on the car. More cars may become available in the future depending on how much demand this pilot program creates.
 
While Rock Ventures/Quicken Loans team members are being offered incentives to use this program and go carless, this Zipcar program is available to ALL downtown residents.
 
Source: Matthew Roling, Director of Business Development for Rock Ventures
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Vanguard CDC works with Life Remodeled and others on large-scale beautification in North End

Vanguard Community Development Corporation has wrapped up a large-scale beautification project in Detroit's North End neighborhood in partnership with nonprofits Life Remodeled, ARISE Detroit!, Central Detroit Christian; corporate partners GM, Quicken Loans, Ford; and others.
 
Life Remodeled is a faith-based organization that brings in members from churches from all over metro Detroit to do large-scale beautification projects in different neighborhoods throughout the city, like an extreme home makeover but all curb appeal.
 
They did a clean-up in the North End last year, but this year's was much more aggressive. Working in conjunction with Vanguard, whose offices are located in the North End, as well as the nearby Central Detroit Christian church, they targeted 48 blocks for beautification over seven days. "They are making a really big impact in a short amount of time in a relatively large area," says Jennifer Ruud, Communications and Outreach Coordinator of Vanguard CDC.
 
Life Remodeled worked with Vanguard to identify which homes and streets in the North End needed to be focused on. "They wanted to make sure what they were doing would support and build on programs we're planning on launching in the next year," says Ruud. Vanguard conducted land surveys to determine which homes were vacant and needed to be boarded up or slated for demolition, and other finer details of the streets in the neighborhood.
 
Volunteers built one house, boarded up 250 houses, beautified about 48 blocks, and did small scale remodels on 24 houses. About 5,000 volunteers came out over seven days offering assistance, even skilled labor. Life Remodeled has received corporate support, support from community fundraising, and in-kind donations of labor and materials to help them achieve their goals.
 
In the next few months, Vanguard CDC will be launching Restore North End, which will make money available to residents on specific streets in the North End to invest in different curb appeal improvements, from new roofs and siding to repaired porches. "This will help (us) stabilize (a neighborhood) that is doing pretty good but needs a little boost," Ruud says. She remarks that this program has been in the works for awhile, and thanks to the massive beautification efforts spearheaded by Life Remodeled, "Now we can go in and focus more on that."
 
Source: Jennifer Ruud, Communications and Outreach Coordinator of Vanguard CDC
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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