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Detroit Development News

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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

Got a Development News story to share? Email Nicole here.

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

Got a Development News story to share? Email Nicole here.

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

Got a Development News story to share? Email Nicole here.

The Dissertation, an artists' collaborative and micro art-based business, heads to ArtPrize

Catherine Watson and Sabra Morman are the team behind "The Dissertation." It's difficult to define what exactly the Dissertation is – even when it was explained to you by one of the founders. But here goes.
 
The Dissertation is a blog. It is an arts portfolio. It is an online store. It is an art project that can be found this year at ArtPrize in Grand Rapids (Sept. 18-Oct. 6). It was even going to be a brick and mortar teashop, but Watson and Morman ultimately decided against it.

"We wanted to have a physical space to connect with like-minded others and we started studying holistic lifestyles and tea," says Watson. "But we're holding off on that because we're not really sure how financially stable it would be."
 
Ultimately the Dissertation is potentially a DIY arts career in the making. "Initially we just wanted a creative expression outlet to figure out what we want to do," says Watson, who previously worked at an ad agency. "It morphed together and we pursued everything. We use it as a teaching tool for ourselves…and to figure out different ways to bring in different streams of revenue. We really want to make a living doing this." 
 
To clarify, "this" is art and the Dissertation is an artists' portfolio. "We started off by creating a portfolio of artwork. We wanted to use that to shed light and highlight the struggles of our generation. The goal was to use the blog as motivation, a tool for positive growth capturing the entrepreneurial spirit of the city."
 
At ArtPrize, the Dissertation has a mixed-media installation piece on display. (You can vote for the Dissertation here starting Sept. 18.) After ArtPrize, their focus is on how to turn their portfolio into a profitable business. They are already working with fashion designers to put their designs on T-shirts to sell in stores, in addition to selling art prints through their Etsy site.
 
Both Watson and Morman still work part time jobs as they continue to define and grow the Dissertation, but their DIY efforts at transforming a hobby and personal passion into a portfolio and profitable business by starting on a micro level, as opposed to rushing into a big brick-and-mortar investment, is an interesting cultural experiment if nothing else. Can it work? It's probably too soon to tell, but if it's going to work anywhere, it will be in Detroit.

Source: Catherine Watson, co-founder of the Dissertation
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

Got a Development News story to share? Email Nicole here.

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

Have a Development News story to share? Send Nicole an email here.

(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

Have a Development News story to share? Send Nicole an email here.

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

Got a Development News story to share? Email Nicole here.

OpenCo city-wide "open house" fosters collaboration and engagement outside of the stuffy ballroom

This Wednesday and Thursday, join OpenCo as it highlights over 60 local businesses – ranging from coffeehouses to art galleries to tech startups – for a city-wide "open house" to foster collaborative professional relationships and community engagement.
 
OpenCo launched in San Francisco and has events in New York, London, and now Detroit.

"The inspiration behind it is that the current model that's in place (is) people go to an auditorium or ballroom and afterwards (feel) like, 'That was fun but what did I get out of it?'" says Liz Boone, co-owner of Midtown design shop Nora and vice president of Federated Media Publishing. "The goal here is the deeper level of learning and engagement that comes out of it. Another level of it is the collaboration piece – the Silicon Valley values of working together, collaborating, changing the environment and being in a space where work happens. The value goes beyond just another conference."
 
Boone says the lineup of participants is curated very carefully. "The first conference in San Francisco was very tech-centric. When it went to New York and London is followed a similar track of representing these companies living these values of collaboration and innovation with a triple-bottom-line focus."
 
The companies highlighted embody these sort of "new economy" values, those that focus as much on profits as they do on giving back. "The goals with the Detroit OpenCo team is to have people take greater pride in what is going on in the city so they see a viable option of living and working here – basically, 'Look at all these young enthusiastic entrepreneurs who decided to make this their home.'"
 
Another value to OpenCo is introducing area entrepreneurs to each other, connecting people who might not have known about each other but who can find creative ways to work together. Ultimately, it's about building relationships.
 
Being only the fourth city to hold an OpenCo event puts Detroit in the same ranks as some of the world's largest cities and economic centers. John Battelle, founder of OpenCo and CEO of Federated Media Publishing, visited Detroit last year. He had lunch with Toby Barlow, took a tour of city, and was very impressed overall. "We started throwing out some facts: 'Detroit has the largest trading border in the United States, with $500 million in business crossing the Ambassador Bridge every day. We have the largest number of engineers per capita than any other city in America.' It was so surprising to him."  Boone says from there, going from San Francisco to New York to London, Detroit was simply a natural progression. 

For a full lineup of participants and coordinating events, check out the website

Source: Liz Boone, co-owner of Nora and Vice President of Federated Media Publishing
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

Got a Development News story to share? Email Nicole here.

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

Got a Development News story to share? Email Nicole here.

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

Got a Development News story to share? Email Nicole here.

Five Dollars a Day crowdfunding campaign launches today for Ford Highland Park Plant buildings

Today, Aug. 20, the Woodward Avenue Action Association (WA3) is officially launching its "Five Dollars a Day" crowdfunding campaign to raise the $125,000 needed to purchase two Albert Kahn-designed buildings in the historic Ford Highland Park Plant complex in Highland Park.
 
WA3 has secured the majority of the $550,000 needed to purchase the two buildings, including a $400,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation, another $15,000 grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corp., and $10,000 from the WA3’s reserves. They need to raise the outstanding $125,000 by Oct. 1 in order to purchase the buildings.
 
The two intended buildings are the Woodward-facing Administration Building and the adjacent 8,000-square-foot executive garage. WA3's plan is to turn these historic structures, located on the site where Henry Ford's moving assembly line was born 100 years ago on Oct. 7, 1913, into an international automotive welcome center and visitor attraction.
 
The "Five Dollars a Day" campaign pays tribute to the wages that workers were paid at this plant - $5 a day, double the standard industrial wage at the time and enough for workers to afford to purchase the products they made. These higher wages launched the middle class.
 
Donations in denominations of $10, $25, $50, $100, and $500 will receive special automotive-themed gifts from WA3. Each dollar donated will be matched with $4 by the State of Michigan (up to $400,000). To donate, click here.
 
Source: Lori Ella Miller, WA3 Marketing Manager
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

Got a Development News story to share? Email Nicole here.

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

Got a Development News story to share? Email Nicole here.

Palmer Park's new splash park is now open

Palmer Park has a brand-new splash park thanks to the Lear Corporation.
 
Lear has made a commitment to make improvements to various city parks. Alicia Minter, Director of the City of Detroit Parks and Recreation Department, recommended Palmer Park as a good site for a splash park because it is an active "adopted" park (managed by the nonprofit group People for Palmer Park). This is the second splash park Lear has built in a Detroit park.
 
The splash park is on the site of the former pool. It is motion-activated and will be on from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the summer (hours will change based on the weather). The structure is made entirely of rubber and because it is all water jets there is no accumulation of water and thus no risk of anyone drowning. Because it is motion-activated, it doesn't require constant staff oversight like a pool would. The city will also build a playscape right next to the splash park, making this a great recreation area for kids. (If all goes to plan, construction on the playscape will start this fall.)
 
The splash park required a new pump station, which is being turned into a community art project with a mural painted by area kids. Lear also wants to work on the pool house to restore it as a community center.
 
People for Palmer Park plan to have a grand opening for the new splash park on Sunday, Aug. 18, 2-5 p.m..
 
Source: Rochelle Lento, attorney, representative for People for Palmer Park
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

Got a Development News story to share? Email Nicole here.

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

Got a Development News story to share? Email Nicole here.

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

Got a Development News story to share? Email Nicole here.
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