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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Downtown loses clothing boutique to North End

Zarkpa's Purses and Accessories boutique has moved to the North End neighborhood. The lifestyle and clothing boutique celebrated two years of business with its grand re-opening at the new location. In addition to setting clothing and accessory trends, Zarkpa's hopes more businesses open in the North End.

Formerly located in the Harmonie Park/Paradise Valley neighborhood, Zarkpa's left downtown because of rising rents. Unfazed by this development, the boutique is optimistic about its future.

"The North End is an up-and-coming neighborhood just a mile or two away from Detroit’s new transit station," owner Tracy Garley says in a statement. "Downtown rents were rising, and as a new business you have to cut costs when you are paying way too much for rent. We also wanted to expand our business and better serve Detroit residents and other cities around us."

Another advantage to the new location is it being across the street from the Detroit International Academy for Young Women. Garley and partner Courtney Sims plan to offer those students internships in a retail and small business program. Being a good neighbor in the North End community is important to Garley and Sims.

Zarkpa's sells a number of items, many of which are locally-sourced and locally-designed. In addition to high-end purses, Zarkpa's offers clothing including dresses, shirts, and sweaters, as well as accessories including jewelry, glasses, and more.

Garley, a native of Monrovia, Liberia, moved to Detroit at age 11. Zarkpa is her birth name, as well as the name of her grandmother's tribe. Zarkpa translates to “debt-free,” and the boutique says that their customers feel free and independent as a result of their shopping there.

Zarkpa's Purses & Accessories is located at 9033 Woodward Ave.

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

So you want to save a house? Brick + Beam can help

Brick + Beam Detroit has been hosting monthly building rehab workshops and classes since July 2015. This month, the group is adding a second workshop specific to vacant homes. It's called "So you want to save a house?" and will take place Wednesday, Jan. 27, from 6-8 p.m. on the University of Detroit Mercy campus. The event is being produced in partnership with Live6 Detroit.

Brick + Beam provides classes, resources, and networking access to fellow building rehabbers. Co-founder Emilie Evans says that the organization strives to offer classes that are relevant to Detroiters. With that in mind, "So you want to save a house?" aims to teach residents how to identify the owners of abandoned houses, then figure out what they can do about it, a question Brick + Beam routinely fields. At the time of publication, nearly 200 people have RSVP'd for the class.

"We've found it helps that these concepts don't only exist in the abstract," says Evans. "That's why we have classes with hands-on components and first-hand experiences."

Loveland Technologies will be on hand to demonstrate how city residents can track down and identify property owners. They will also explain what can be done about publicly-owned properties. Dan Cousino of business law firm Honigman will offer legal tips for property acquisition from private owners. Detroit resident Claire Nowak-Boyd will provide her first-hand account of successfully working with the Detroit Land Bank Authority to acquire and then auction properties on her block, properties now filled with neighbors.

Evans says that a main component of the organization is providing people an opportunity to meet each other and network. In order to facilitate even more networking and the sharing of resources, Brick + Beam has launched a new website where building rehabbers can connect, build contacts, share recommendations, and more.

"So you want to save a house?" is being held at the University of Detroit Mercy Architecture Exhibition Space at 4001 W. McNichols Rd., though the entrance is on Livernois Avenue. The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place Wednesday, Jan. 27, from 6-8 p.m. RSVP online here.

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

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.
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