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Round-up: Crepes are here, new banquet hall and dining for Southwest, and more

Several tidbits from around town...
  • Ooh la la! Good Girls Go to Paris Crepes is open with regular hours of Monday through Thursday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 a.m. The stand, located on John R just east of Woodward, serves both sweet and savory crepes ranging in price from $3 for a plain one to $5 for hearty ones (like the Sarah, with mushroom, chevre, spinach and red pepper) that make for a complete meal. Fair trade coffee is just a buck.
  • Mi Pueblo is putting finishing touches on the brand-new banquet facility they are building across the street from their restaurant on Dix. Expect a fall opening.
  • Due to popular demand, Cafe D'Mongo's is now open on Saturday nights. Read more about the coolest gin joint this side of Griswold here.
  • Inferno Rotisseria & Chargrille is open and serving nuevo Latino, a blend of Cuba, Spain, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Chile and Argentina cuisines. It's at 8626 W. Vernor, west of Springwells. Learn more about owner Mike Cortez and his vision for the restaurant here.
Got a tip? Email it, please.

Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Wayne County land bank to release 7,000 properties

Today, the Wayne County Land Bank will release a list of their inventory of 7,000 tax-reverted parcels. Qualifying non-profit organizations and adjacent residential landowners will be able to purchase property for a nominal fee as long as they adhere to certain criteria that includes maintaining and/or rehabilitating the property.

Properties will be disposed of on a first-come, first-served basis to qualifying entities. 

The Land Bank is a collaborative effort between County Executive Robert Ficano and Treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz. The process begins today at 3 p.m.
with an informational session for qualified non-profits. Further information is available at the Land Bank website.

Source: Jill Ferrarri,
Executive Project Manager, Wayne County
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Recycle Here! expands reach throughout city, adds drop-off locations

Recycle Here! is expanding its reach, making it easier for residents from various neighborhoods to drop-off their goods. New drop-off sites are located in Southwest Detroit, East English Village and Palmer Park.

In its first 18 months of operation, the program has reached more than 20,000 participants and has collected more that 1.3 million pounds of recyclables.

Its main facility, at 1331 Holden, is open every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The  full schedule of rotating drops sites is as follows:

1st Saturday of every month:
Eastern Market, Wilkins and Russell, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
2nd Saturday of every month:
Corktown, Roosevelt Park, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
East English Village, E. Warren Ave. and Farmbrook, 8 a.m. to noon
3rd Saturday of every month:
Palmer Park, swimming pool lot, from 8 a.m. to noon
Rosedale Park, Christ The King Church, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

4th Saturday of every month:
Southwest Detroit, Clark Park, 8 a.m. to noon
Creekside, Jefferson and Chalmers, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Source: Matt Naimi, Recycle Here!
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Detroit preservation group releases list of 10 endangered buildings, announces name change

In an effort to instigate a citywide dialogue about historic buildings that are in danger of demolition, Preservation Wayne — now called Preservation Detroit — has released a list entitled Endangered Buildings List 2008. It includes iconic structures like the Michigan Central Station, Lee Plaza Apartments, Forest Arms and the Vanity Ballroom.

The list also draws attention to several broader categories such as religious buildings no longer in use, retired schools and foreclosed single family houses.

"These are widespread issues that will require widespread solutions," says the organization's executive director Francis Grunow. "A wholesale approach is a better approach."

Conversation about endangered buildings was a focal point of the group's annual membership meeting that was held on Thursday, May 22 at the Detroit Boat Club on Belle Isle -- another structure on the list.

At the event, which was attended by 150, Grunow also made the announcement that the organization was changing its name to Preservation Detroit. "It's exciting and very long overdue," he says.

Preservation Detroit host an awards ceremony on September 25 at the Colony Club on Park Avenue and are inviting nominations, which are due on June 13 and can be downloaded here: http://www.preservationwayne.org/docs/Awards_Nomination_2008.pdf.

Source: Francis Grunow, Preservation Detroit
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

D-Biz: Hygrade Deli serves select meats, friendly service for 37 years

When Stuart Litt's father bought HyGrade Deli 37 years ago, its stretch of Michigan Ave. was quite a bit different, with lots of small businesses that were supported by the numerous major employers in the area, like the Clark St. and Fleetwood assembly plants, Serta Mattress and Superior Coffee. Those are all gone.

There are some bright spots in the area, like Brinker's headquarters, Habitat for Humanity houses and the new University of Detroit Mercy Dental School. But Litt says that, over the years, "For every new customer we've gained, we've lost two."

So how has HyGrade survived when so many others have not? The diner appeals to a diverse clientele of neighborhood residents and blue and white collar workers. He hires hard-working multi-taskers and pays them fairly so that they stay with him -- one of his waitresses has worked at Hygrade for 14 years.

And he serves the best corned beef in town. "We cook it right, we cut it right," he says.

While the corned beef keeps customers returning, so do the tasty, inexpensive breakfasts -- and the decor. Litt describes the colorful walls, chairs and stools as "atmospheric." He says, "Some people come here not just for the food, but for the atmosphere."

HyGrade is open Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Saturday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. It is located a few blocks west of I-96 at 3640 Michigan Ave. Call 313-894-6620.

Source: Stuart Litt, HyGrade Deli
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

New Detroit greenways coordinator will boost efforts to create city trails

Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance has created a new position dedicated to furthering a network of trails in Detroit.

The new Detroit greenways coordinator, Todd Scott, will coordinate maintenance, fundraising, security, programming, promotions and development for the eight greenways under various stages of planning and development within the city.

Scott comes to the position with a great deal of experience in cycling advocacy. He is the former director of the Michigan Mountain Biking Association and has been involved with numerous other initiatives, including the citizen’s committee for Michigan State Parks, MDOT Metro Region Nonmotorized Advisory Committee, City of Ferndale Bicycle Committee and the League of Michigan Bicyclists.

"Todd’s skilled advocacy, wealth of knowledge about nonmotorized transportation and recreation, and understanding of and enthusiasm for the revitalization of Detroit are key ingredients that he brings to this project," stated Nancy Krupiarz, Executive Director of MTGA.

Scott is currently acclimating himself to the various greenways projects on the table, including the Midtown Loop, Corktown-Mexicantown Greenlink and Connor Creek Greenway. "The greenways in Detroit have so much variety in terms of where groups are at," says Scott. "I'm finding that there are similar challenges and different challenges."

Finding affordable liability insurance for the nonprofits sponsoring the various greenways was Scott's first task. He also hopes to work on integrating Detroit's burgeoning trails network with the larger regional one and has some ideas about encouraging on-road cycling. "One thing that I really bring to the table because I ride so much is that I know how to get around," he says. "We can make connections between these trail networks."

Source: Todd Scott, MTGA
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Speaker Series follow-up: How Southwest Detroit Grows

Why Southwest Detroit?

"It's dense. It's diverse. It's exciting," Margaret Garry of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority told the crowd at Model D's April Speaker Series event last week at the Detroit Yacht Club.

"It's the one part of Detroit that's growing," added John Van Camp of Southwest Solutions, a nonprofit that works to build investment and housing opportunities in the neighborhoods there.

Kathy Wendler of the Southwest Detroit Business Association told the audience that a building the group developed in 1995 cost $80,000 then, plus $1.3 million to renovate. A similar property alone would cost about $1 million now, without the renovations. She talked about how the neighborhood has added 15 taquerias -- or restaurants -- in 5 years, and the demand for such services has outpaced her own expectations. "People are there for the opportunity," she said. She and others spoke of national retailers interested in the area, as well as successful locally owned enterprises that are expanding.

Audience members asked about plans for the Michigan Central Station structure and old Tiger Stadium. Panelists said what they'd like to see at the old station: Trains or a tourist attraction. As for Tiger Stadium, the crowd was directed to efforts to save part and redevelop the rest, and told to go to the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy's web site, which should be online soon: www.oldtigerstadiumconservancy.org/. They were also directed to the Greater Corktown Development Corp. for more info.

Tours of the neighborhood will be offered in May from Inside Detroit. Go to www.insidedetroit.org.

And read this week's FilterD for more on the Cinco de Mayo celebrations there, which are another great way to Explore the Detour.

Thanks to all on our panel for participating, and watch Model D for info on next month's event.

Writer: Clare Pfeiffer Ramsey, editor, Model D

Springwells Village in Southwest Detroit sees investment in 5 parks

The Springwells Village area of Southwest Detroit is seeing quite a bit of green these days -- in the form of greenspace investment. Neighborhood Centers Inc. has invested into five community parks.

The first park NCI sank its teeth into was All Saints Neighborhood Park, which, in 2005, transformed seven vacant lots with a walking trail, playing field, playscape and gardens.

Next up was Lafayette-NYCRR Playlot, a city-owned park that had lost its luster. With partners that included the Skillman Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, KaBOOM! and Oscar Mayer’s Lunchables Division, the park has been transformed. Final touches are being completed and it will be dedicated on June 21.

NCI now has its sights set on Weiss Park, a park with a prime location near Woodmere Cemetery that has outdated and unsafe equipment. Plans for its transformation have been devised, and fundraising is underway. Weiss will be developed as a play area that is fully inclusive to handicapped children. Dennis Nordmoe, NCI's executive director, hopes to begin construction this fall.

Nordmoe hopes to begin construction this summer on the play area that is adjacent to Phoenix Middle School. In collaboration with Detroit Public Schools, soccer fields, a trail, playscapes and greenery are planned for the park.

Calahan Park is being developed just blocks from ASN Park and will complement it with a playscape for smaller children. Its location is very close to Springwells Townhomes, which Bridging Communities is developing in the area.

"There is the opportunity to regrow the neighborhood, to repopulate the neighborhood around a newly created asset, which this park would be," Nordmoe says. "This helps the process of the positive development of children."

In the long term, Nordmoe hopes that the parents of these children will choose to remain in Springwells Village even if their income level increases, affording them the opportunity to move elsewhere. This progression will help to create a "stable community."

Source: Dennis Nordmoe, NCI
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

D-Biz: Counting 21 businesses in 19 neighborhoods, and we want more of your faves

In October 2007, Model D kicked off a recurring series called D-Biz that is designed to draw attention to small businesses in Detroit that are unique or fill an important niche in their community.

Part of the reason we wanted to start this series was to highlight businesses that are not new but still deliver important services to Detroiters. The city's small businesses are a big part of what make Detroit's neighborhoods liveable, but they don't often get media attention.

As of last week, D-Biz has covered all of our featured neighborhoods. Here's a look at the 21 businesses in 19 neighborhoods that we've covered in the last six months, from bike shops to optical shops, from coffee shops to photo studios, and even a tennis racquet repair shop:

D-Biz will continue, and Model D encourages readers to share their neighborhood faves to be considered for coverage. Email kellibkav@issuemediagroup.com with your ideas.

Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

24-unit Springwells Townhomes break ground, to include 11 units of 'grandfamilies' housing

After more than two decades of planning, Bridging Communities has realized a dream: the development of the first housing in Detroit specifically designed for grandfamilies.

In developing the Pablo Davis Elder Living Center in Southwest Detroit, Bridging Communities began to see a need for this specific type of housing. “There are 30,000 instances in the city of Detroit alone of grandparents raising grandchildren,” says Marion Bloye of Bridging Communities.

Bloye explains that a grandfamily has unique needs that typical supportive housing does not provide. “There is a need for a different kind of housing: senior facilities don’t have what kids need, like playgrounds,” she says.

The Springwells Townhomes development is 24 rental units on three scattered sites, 11 of which will be reserved for grandparents raising grandchildren. Units are two and three bedrooms, some with handicap access. There is a clubhouse with a computer lab available for residents' use.

Bloye characterizes the development as one that, along with concurrent efforts of other members of the Springwells Village Collaborative, will stabilize its immediate area.

Source: Marion Bloye, Bridging Communities
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Greening of Detroit expands Corktown offices, plans busy spring season

Greening of Detroit is spreading its roots: it has expanded its Michigan Ave. office space by a third, to 3,000 square feet. The extra room was desperately needed: the organization will grow from nine employees in 2007 to 25 by the end of 2008.

The additional staff will be busy this spring planting season. Its core mission is reforesting the city, and tree plantings are scheduled weekly from April 19 through June 7, with an estimated 1,500 trees going into the ground.

Planting so many trees requires plenty of volunteers; call the office at 313-237-8733. A special call is out for hands at a May 17 planting in East English Village, for which 250 slots still need filling.

Greening is also a partner in the ever-growing (no pun intended) Garden Resource Program, which supports urban agriculture in the city. Last year, over 5,500 residents participated in 220 family, 115 community and 20 school gardens. More than 120 tons of food were grown, and Greening is anticipating a 20% increase in both participation and output this year.

Little marketing is done to promote such an increase, says Greening's Ashley Atkinson. "It is literally growing down the street from house to house," she says. "It's really cool, committed people that we are attracting, and that's encouraging." Visit GRP's website to find out how to sign up and when plant pick-ups and workdays are scheduled.

One last thing: Greening's annual tree sale is scheduled for April 19 at Eastern Market, but Atkinson recommends reserving plants ahead of time. With just a month to go, half of the 1,400 trees, bushes and shrubs are already sold.

Source: Ashley Atkinson, Greening of Detroit
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh
Photograph: Marvin Shaouni
Marvin Shaouni is the managing photographer for Model D & Metromode

Detroit one of 9 cities chosen for AIA sustainability audit, planning session

The American Institute of Architects has selected Detroit as one of nine cities that will receive a sustainability audit from a Sustainable Design Assessment Team later this year.

Teams of volunteer professionals like architects, urban designers, planners, hydrologists, economists and attorneys will come to the city for a three-day charette and team up with local architecture and engineering students, along with government officials, community groups and other stakeholders.

Diane VanBuren Jones of WARM Training spearheaded the SDAT application and is now coordinating the assessment itself. She says the out-of-town experts will arrive with "a national eye on how sustainability will work in your community."

Jones is particularly interested in mapping the city's energy systems. "We will take it down to the level of each business," she says.

The group could look at a tortilla factory, for example, she says. "It brings in corn and wheat -- some of it from Ohio instead of Michigan -- and the production uses a ton of natural gas. There is people energy and transportation energy and energy to heat and light the building." A map of all such systems would allow experts to close some energy loops. "How much would be spent on all of those energy systems if we got smart about it?" she asks.

The process is motivated by the environment and economics. Money saved by increased energy efficiency can create prosperity and new jobs, says Jones.

Which is why her next task is identifying funding sources for entrepreneurs, neighborhoods and developers interested in investing in green technologies such as solar panels or anaerobic digesters.

Jones anticipates that the SDAT will focus on areas with a framework for environmental initiatives already in place, like Southwest Detroit, the Woodward Corridor and Eastern Market.

Jones is currently working with several universities, including Wayne State, Michigan State and University of Michigan, to select the date for the SDAT.

Source: Diane VanBuren Jones, WARM Training
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

City looking for developer to create 4,000 units of permanent housing for homeless

The City of Detroit has released a request for proposals for the development of 4,000 units of service-supported rental housing targeted to the homeless. The NEXT Detroit Permanent Supportive Housing Initiative is looking for developers  teamed up with service providers to deliver such a product.

The city, along with partner organization Detroit Collaborative to End Homelessness Together, recently completed a ten year plan for the elimination of homelessness that calls for a three-pronged strategy: the development of permanent housing called for in this RFP along with prevention and rapid re-housing.

Elterro Carroll, deputy director of the planning and development department hopes that this first round will generate 250 to 500 units over the course of the next two years. He anticipates that applicants will be both teams of developers and service providers as well as single organizations, such as Southwest Solutions, that already do both.

The RFP is deliberately vague as to the size and scope of proposed developments, leaving the door open for large projects sited on large parcels as well as smaller ones; types of housing called for include units designed to serve families, youth and the chronically homeless.

Prospective applicants can pick up an RFP from PDD's Welcome Center on the second floor of Cadillac Tower. They also can view and download the RFP at the City’s Website, www.detroitmi.gov/pdd. On Feb. 27, applicants are invited to attend an RFP information session at 10:30 a.m. in the department’s 23rd floor conference room. Completed proposals are due on March 28 and development teams selections will be announced on May 1. For more information call 313-224-1538.

Source: Elterro Trent Carroll, PDD
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

State's first HOV lane to debut on Michigan Ave.

Anyone who has driven in D.C., San Francisco or Toronto might be familiar with the concept of high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, which reserve specific travel lanes for cars -- and buses -- with multiple riders to reduce congestion.

Michigan is set to get its first HOV lane this Friday along Michigan Ave. between Wyoming and the Lodge Freeway. The lanes adjacent to the parking lanes will be reserved for HOVs on weekdays, eastbound between 6 and 9 a.m. and westbound between 3 and 6 p.m.

The introduction of the HOV lanes ties in with the closure of a significant portion of I-75 for the Gateway Project, which will be a headache for thousands of Metro Detroiters. In anticipation of commuter confusion, DDOT and SMART are debuting a new bus line called the Gateway Express that will connect downriver to downtown during construction.

Both projects will premier on Feb. 15 with a press conference and ribbon cutting at 9:30 a.m. at O’Blivion’s Corktown Café, 1824 Michigan Avenue. The event consists of a continental breakfast and a preview bus ride. RSVP to to Denise Brazer at 248-483-5107 by Feb. 12.

Source: Transportation Riders United, MDOT
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Historic Fort Wayne Coalition clocks 6,000 volunteer hours in 2007, accomplishments are many

As 2007 marches to its end, the Historic Fort Wayne Coalition has a list of accomplishments as long as the fort's history.

Well, that's a bit of an overstatement, but the group has much to be proud of -- starting with the fact that their membership has grown from 35 to 176 this year alone.

Founded in 2004 by fewer than ten Fort Wayne enthusiasts, the group focused mainly on the grounds for its first few years of existence. In January of 2007, the coalition decided to actively recruit members and to expand its purview. Working with Ford Motor Co., General Dynamics and the Boy Scouts of America, a lot of ground has been covered in just one year.

Accomplishments include:
  • The Fort Wayne Advisory Committee, which works directly with the Detroit Recreation Department, was established;
  • Vegetation was removed from all walls;
  • The Guard House, Barracks (pictured) and Gymnasium/Visitor's Center were stabilized;
  • The front staircase and back fence of the Commander's House were rebuilt;
  • The Blacksmith's Shop was rebuilt;
  • Dead elm trees were removed and ash trees were inoculated against borers;
  • Fences were painted;
  • Windows were refurbished and replaced and woodworking tools were refurbished at the Quartermaster's Shop; and
  • Bulkhead doors were secured and rebuilt on all buildings.
All told, more than 6,000 volunteer hours were donated to the efforts this year.

Big plans are afoot in 2008, beginning on January 5, the year's first volunteer work day. The coalition will be seeking out corporate sponsors for their "Wrap a Roof" program to secure all building roofs.

Because it has power and heat, Building 106 will be restored, although it is not particularly historically significant. The four-lane bowling alley in the Gymnasium will be restored and the Tuskegee Airmen Museum will be painted and receive a new roof.

For more information on how to participate, visit the Historic Fort Wayne Coalition's website to join the organization or find out about up-coming work dates.

Source: Bob Hovansian, Historic Fort Wayne Coalition
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

198 Southwest Detroit Articles | Page: | Show All
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