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Redevelopment : Detroit Development News

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Upscale-bar Rodin set to open in Park Shelton

Rodin, an upscale bar overlooking the Detroit Institute of Arts, is set to open Wednesday.

Rodin is a reference to famed-artist Augeste Rodin's The Thinker, the statue that sits vigil at the entrance of the DIA a stones throw away. The night spot features high-end drinks, gourmet food and dancing in a casual atmosphere in the Park Shelton's ground-floor commercial space at Woodward Avenue and Kirby Street. The business' tagline: "Eat, Drink, Dance."

"People will be very impressed with the food," says Torya Blanchard, describing the food as the French-version of small plates fare. "Chef Kate (Williams) is amazing. It's fun. It's different. It's whimsical. It's fresh. It's something people in Detroit haven't seen."

Blanchard also owns Good Girls Go To Paris Crepes a few doors down in the Park Shelton's Woodward frontage. She has been working to bring Rodin to life for two years and does so with a staff of 25 people. Blanchard plans to host a New Year's Eve Party as Rodin's first big event.

Blanchard describes Rodin as a fun and sexy place that will take its cues from French culture, art and jazz/Motown/northern soul music. It will have both DJs and live bands.

Source: Torya Blanchard, owner of Rodin
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

City leaps to help in auction-house-demo disaster

Kristine Diven got the shock of her life last week when she went to check on the house of her dreams and found a pile of rubble.

Diven is a 36-year-old photographer who co-owns an art gallery called District VII in Detroit's rivertown district with her partner, Micho Detronik. She moved to Detroit from New York City four years ago and she and her partner planned to put down roots in the Motor City this fall. (Full disclosure, Diven contacted this writer for advice about buying a tax foreclosure house last summer because of this writer's experience buying and rehabbing such buildings.)

The couple bought a vacant duplex and the lot next to it on Beaconsfield Street near Mack Avenue in East English Village at the Wayne County Tax Foreclosure Auction for the auction's minimum bid of $500. Coincidentally, Detronik had done work on the house in recent years for a previous owner.

"We were blown away that we could get a home like that," Diven says. "It had a new roof. The basement had no cracks in the foundation. There was no water damage. All it needed was new electric and two new tubs. We estimated it would be take $8,000 to get it up in working order."

The house was open to the elements. Diven and Detronik were afraid the sale would be canceled if they did any work on the house before they had the deed, so they periodically drove past it and waited, but held off closing it up. When Diven went by on Thursday she found a pile of rubble where her house once stood. She still has yet to receive the deeds to the house or the vacant lot.

Later that day she posted a "Thanks Detroit" missive about what happened on her Facebook page (a similar note on WhyDontWeOwnThis can be found here) and the news spread quickly across social media. Within a few hours, she had dozens of comments on her original post and a helping hand extended by Karla Henderson, group executive for planning & facilities for the city of Detroit and one of Mayor Dave Bing's top lieutenants.

"Of course Kristine and her family are the kind of citizens we want to live in the city," Henderson posted on Facebook on Friday. "After speaking with her this morning and hearing all the wonderful things she is involved in, it would be our loss if she left. Please know that the City will work with her to find a comparable house. Although the City was not responsible for the demo, we feel it is the right thing to do."

Henderson explained that the demolition was executed by the Michigan Land Bank after getting the green light from the Wayne County Treasurer's Office. The demolition is part of Gov. Rick Snyder's initiative to demolish abandoned and dangerous homes within a half mile of specifically targeted schools in Southwest Detroit, the Bagley neighborhood on the city's West Side and in the Morningside/East English Village neighborhoods on the city's East Side. Diven's house was within a half mile of J.E. Clark Preparatory Academy, one of the schools used as a radius for the half-mile-dangerous-building demolition circle.

Kim Homan, executive director of the Michigan Land Bank, explains that her agency received the green light from the Wayne County Treasurer's Office last summer to demolish Diven's house on Beaconsfield, along with several others in the area. The house and several others were also on the auction list for this fall's Wayne County Tax Foreclosure Auction. Homan says Detroit firefighters had identified it as open, dangerous and irredeemable, and that her office executed the demolition as a way to help protect students walking to school.

"Our primary concern was the safety of the kids," Homan says.

Eric Sabree, deputy treasurer for land management at the Wayne County Treasurer's Office, confirmed those details, adding his office gave the Michigan Land Bank the greenlight to raze any dangerous buildings within a half-mile radius that were left over from the 2011 auction.

When those were done and the Michigan Land Bank requested more demolition candidates the treasurer's office gave the go ahead to begin the demolition process for properties that were coming up in this year's auction. Sabree says his records show the deed was recorded for Diven's property on Nov. 28 and the demolition was finished Nov 27.

"The decision to do this with the state land bank was made late in the process," Sabree says. "We knew it was risky."

He adds the sales for properties where buildings were demolished will be canceled; and next year if an auction property is on the demolition list it will be listed on the bidding website. In the meantime, Diven and her partner will not be held responsible for demolition costs and will be reimbursed their purchase price.

"They will get a refund, no doubt about it," Sabree says. "If there is property that no one bought (at the last auction) we will offer that to them."

Henderson's office at the City of Detroit is allowing Diven to go through its backlog of available homes in hopes of finding something at a comparable quality and price. Homan says the Michigan Land Bank is prepared to do the same and says the entire episode is regrettable.

"A thing like this is really unfortunate," Homan says. She adds her office routinely works to cross check her lists with those at the city, county and other local agencies. "We have a lot of trouble reconciling data with other agencies," Homan says.

Both Henderson and Homan say they are working to not only find a house-replacement solution that works for Diven but also to help prevent this sort of thing from happening again.

"We want residents with that spirit here," Henderson says. "Anything we can do to soften that blow we stand ready to do."

Source: Kristin Diven; Kim Homan, executive director of the Michigan Land Bank; Karla Henderson, group executive for planning & facilities for the city of Detroit; Eric Sabree, deputy treasurer for land management at the Wayne County Treasurer's Office
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Detroit Yacht Club Foundation aims to preserve DYC building

The Detroit Yacht Club has created a namesake foundation to help preserve its historic structure on Belle Isle.

The Detroit Yacht Club is a private sailing club founded in 1868 and its current Mediterranean-villa-style clubhouse was designed by George Mason (who also designed Mackinac Island's Grand Hotel and Detroit's Masonic Temple) and opened in 1923. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places last year.

The Detroit Yacht Club Foundation is a nonprofit that will focus on fundraising and coordinating the preservation of the yacht club's nearly 100-year-old clubhouse. Although the building itself is still sound, the foundation will focus on securing and preserving its envelope features, such as its roof, walls, doors and windows.

"All of these areas are 89 years old," says Mark Lifter, president of the Detroit Yacht Club Foundation. "With Michigan's freeze-and-thaw cycles, water always finds a way."

The Detroit Yacht Cub Foundation's first order of business is to conduct an engineering study of the building before moving forward with any improvements. In the meantime the foundation is working on raising money and resources from members and people with a connection to the yacht club.

"Over time, there are probably millions of people with a connection or an affinity for the Detroit Yacht Club," Lifter says.

Source: Mark Lifter, president of the Detroit Yacht Club Foundation
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Locals work to open Detroit Dog Park in shadow of MCS

A group of Detroiters are working to create a dog park next to the iconic Michigan Central Station in Corktown.

The Detroit Dog Park is a off-leash dog park that would be built on the Macomb Playlot at the corner of 16th and Rose streets, adjacent to the Roosevelt Park. The organizers have reached an agreement with the city of Detroit to build the lot and are currently fundraising for the effort. It hopes to open next summer.

"There are a lot of people who live in an urban setting with dogs and don't have backyards," says Carly Mys, chair of the Detroit Dog Park. "There is a need for a place to let them run off leash, a place for them to socialize with other dogs and people."

The Detroit Dog Park is currently in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign to raise $15,000 for the dog park's construction. It has raised nearly $12,000 as of Monday. The money will go toward buying construction materials and services. Mys says the project will have a heavy emphasis on green construction, employing things like rain barrels.

"We want to be sustainable, using things like recycled materials is high on our list," Mys says.

Source: Carly Mys, chair of the Detroit Dog Park
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Gilbert buys 10th building downtown, One Woodward

Rock Ventures purchased it's 10th building in downtown Detroit yesterday, picking up the iconic One Woodward at the corner Woodward and Jefferson avenues.

World famous architect Minoru Yamasaki designed the 26-story office building, which was built in 1962. Yamasaki's work includes the former World Trade Center towers in New York City. One Woodward is considered an early version of the World Trade Center, which was built in the early 1970s.

Rock Ventures is the real-estate arm of the Quicken Loans family of companies, which are controlled by Quicken Loans Founder and Chairman Dan Gilbert. The billionaire-owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers has bought and refurbished nine other buildings in downtown Detroit over the last few years, moving thousands of his employees into these office towers and helping spearhead the Central Business District's rebirth.

"The office space downtown is not abundant anymore," says Jim Ketai, managing partner of Bedrock Real Estate Services, the real-estate management company of the Quicken Loans family of companies that is overseeing the renovation of One Woodward. "We need more space."

One Woodward is 60 percent occupied with existing tenants. Ketai expects that number to hit the 90 percentile within the coming months as Bedrock Real Estate Services renovates the building and recruits new companies to fill it. Work began earlier this week and the first new tenants are expected to begin moving in within four weeks.

One Woodward is also an expansion of the footprint of Gilbert's cluster of downtown office towers. Gilbert has purchased buildings in the Lower Woodward corridor between Grand Circus Park and Campus Martius as part of an effort to turn that area into a hotbed for tech firms being branded as WebWard. That footprint now stretches south of Campus Martius to Jefferson, and more acquisitions are possible in the near future if the right opportunity presents itself.

Ketai says his team is looking for ways to better connect Gilbert's cluster of buildings with the nearby Riverwalk and Renaissance Center. "We would love to figure out how to bring everything together," Ketai says.

Source: Jim Ketai, managing partner of Bedrock Real Estate Services
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Woodward Garden Apts sprints toward opening next fall

Construction is moving forward in earnest to complete the rest of the Woodward Garden Block between West Alexandrine and Selden streets in Midtown.

Workers are working on rehabbing the long-shuttered Woodward Garden Theater in the middle of the block and building the Woodward Garden Apartments at the corner of Woodward and Selden. The theater is set to open in May 2013 and the apartment building the following September.

"It is basically on schedule," says George Stewart, managing member of the development team for Woodward Garden Block. "We hope to have it all enclosed before the bad weather comes."

The Woodward Garden Block project has been a long time coming. A large section of office space in the middle of the block was renovated two years ago, along with the construction of a parking garage behind it. The old Blue Moon building at the corner of Woodward and West Alexandrine was gutted and opened as the new home for the Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Co's signature cafe.

The Woodward Garden Theater will reopen as a 32,000-square-foot entertainment venue that can seat as many as 1,300 people. It was originally designed by C. Howard Crane (architect that designed the Fox Theatre) and has been derelict for many years.

A small one-story commercial building at the corner of Selden and Woodward was recently razed to make room for the 5-story Woodward Garden Apartments. The mixed-use building will feature room for ground floor commercial space and 61 apartments on the upper floors. The apartments will be a combination of market-rate one- and two-bedroom spaces. Workers have poured the concrete for the basement of the new building and are currently working on erecting its steel skeleton.

Source: George Stewart, managing member of the development team for Woodward Garden Block
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Shipping-container apts set to break ground in Woodbridge, Corktown

Detroit's first shipping container building is about to break ground in Corktown.

Three Squared (formerly Exceptional Green Living) plans to begin building a couple model units of the larger multi-family project destined for Woodbridge in early 2013. The two live-work units will be made of old shipping containers. The units will go up on Michigan Avenue next to the Grinnell Place Lofts.

"We will have this entire model center framed in four hours," says Leslie Horn, CEO of Three Squared.

Three Squared, and the six people working to make it happen, plans to build out two areas of multi-family shipping container developments in Corktown and Woodbridge. The Woodbridge development will go up on the southeast corner of Warren Avenue and Rosa Parks Boulevard. It will consist of 20 units ranging in size between 853 and 1,920 square feet.

The second development will consist of 6-12 units at Michigan Avenue in Corktown. The units will first be marketed as for-sale condos that Horn describes as "extremely competitive with market-rate sales." If condo sales don't work, Horn is ready to go forward with construction of the projects and marketing the developments as rentals.

Shipping container construction is considered one of the greenest forms of construction because it reuses so much material. Such construction has been proven not only viable across the U.S. and around the world but popular.

"We know they will be LEED certifiable, gold or maybe platinum," Horn says. "But we won't go for certification until we have our first units up. We want to prove our concept as soon as possible."

Source: Leslie Horn, CEO of Three Squared
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Woodward rapid transit pushes forward with RTA, community meetings

The options for traveling up and down Woodward Avenue are about to grow significantly.

The Michigan State Senate recently passed a series of bills that would establish a regional transit authority that would oversee the construction and operation of a light rail line on Woodward between Jefferson Avenue and Grand Boulevard. It would also oversee the construction and operation of a bus rapid transit systems along the rest of Woodward and across the region. The State House of Representatives is reportedly expected to take up the bills within the coming days.

Working in parallel in those efforts are series of community meetings envisioning what rapid transit along Woodward Avenue could look like and what local residents want to see happen. The meetings are being hosted by the Michigan Suburbs Alliance, Woodward Avenue Action Association and SEMCOG, which is creating a Woodward rapid transit alternatives analysis that will work in parallel with the proposed regional transit authority.

"This is an attempt to create a rapid transit system on Woodward Avenue," says Richard Murphy, programs director of the Michigan Suburbs Alliance. "We're looking at the entire length from Jefferson Avenue to Pontiac."

Among the issues that will be discussed are which mode of transit works best for the Woodward corridor (light rail or bus rapid transit), how such a system should be funded and whether it should have dedicated lanes or mixed in with traffic.

The meetings will be be held along the Woodward corridor. The Detroit meetings will be held today (Tuesday, Dec. 4) at SEMCOG offices in downtown Detroit (535 Griswold St, Suite 300) from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and at the Detroit Police Dept's Central District (7310 Woodward) from 4-6 p.m. Another one will be held on Dec. 11 at the Detroit Police Dept's Palmer Park Station (12th Precinct, 1441 W. 7 Mile Road).

Source: Richard Murphy, programs director of the Michigan Suburbs Alliance
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Avalon expands into East Side, Midtown and New Center

Avalon International Breads has long been a staple of the Cass Corridor but it's now becoming a staple in other Detroit neighborhoods.

The artisanal bakery launched in 1997 and steadily built itself into the anchor business near the corner of Cass Avenue and West Willis Street in Midtown. It has since garnered national attention for its breads and goodies made of organic and sometimes vegan-friendly ingredients. Its small storefront at 422 W. Willis is routinely packed with customers and employees making food 24 hours a day to meet demand.

That success prompted Avalon to begin searching for a new space to facilitate its expansion a few years ago. It has now opened a retail outlet at Henry Ford Hospital in New Center, is looking to expand its Midtown presence and is in the process of opening a much bigger production facility on the Near East Side not far from the Packard Plant.

"We have been over capacity for quite some time, at least since 2008," says Ann Perrault, co-owner & CEO of Avalon.

The new production facility is Avalon City Ovens, a $2.2 million project turning a dilapidated industrial building into a state-of-the-art bakery. Avalon bought the old warehouse at 6555 E. Forrest Ave. (near Bellevue Street) at the 2010 Wayne County Tax Foreclosure Auction. The 50,000-square-foot building is a major upgrade from its 3,000 square-foot-storefront in Midtown. Perrault expects to open the new facility in January.

That project comes not long after Avalon opened its second retail location last summer in the West Grand Boulevard building of Henry Ford Hospital. That space offers all of the foods Avalon is known for and employs six workers. Avalon now employs 55 people after hiring 14 since February.

Avalon is also looking at expanding its Midtown presence in 2013. Perrault says her firm is looking at moving its storefront from its existing space on Willis to a newer space on West Canfield Street next to Traffic Jam & Snug. That move is set to move forward next spring after the Avalon City Ovens project is complete. The new space will be consistent with Avalon's longstanding pledge to remaining a part of the Cass Corridor/Midtown community.

"This is definitely important to us," Perrault says.

Source: Ann Perrault, co-owner & CEO of Avalon International Breads
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Rehab moves forward at 1444 Michigan Ave. in Corktown

The renovation of 1444 Michigan Ave. is moving forward in earnest, helping activate another storefront in Corktown.

The century-old storefront near the corner of Michigan and Trumbull avenues has been undergoing a slow renovation in recent years as its owner, Anthony O'Donnell, used his own resources to put on a new roof and make other structural improvements. He has now secured a six-figure loan from the Detroit Development Fund along with some other state and national tax credits, allowing him to completely rehab the structure.

O'Donnell lives on the second floor and small set-back third floor of the building. He plans to turn the ground floor into a eatery and is in talks with a local microbrewer, Batch Brewing Co, to open up a nano-brewery in the ground floor.

"We have been talking about that for a few months now," O'Donnell says.

The plan is to complete the facade restoration of the building before the end of the year and white-box the first-floor commercial space by mid-2013. O'Donnell plans to renovate the entire building and the garage behind it, which comes to about 14,000 square feet of space.

Source:Anthony O'Donnell, owner of 1444 Michigan Avenue
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Renovation work set to begin at Dossin Great Lakes Museum

Now that work is finished at the Detroit Historical Museum, construction is about to begin at the Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle.

The Detroit Historic Society, which manages both museums, plans to begin renovations at Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Dec. 9. The project will preserve the popular aspects of the museum, such as the Gothic Room at the museum's entrance, and add a few new exhibits that focus on the Detroit River and how it and the city connect to the Great Lakes.

"There will be much more interactivity," says Bob Bury, executive director of Detroit Historical Society. "There will be an exhibit about what it was like to pilot a freighter on the Great Lakes."

The Detroit Historical Society recently finished a renovation of is principal attraction, the Detroit Historical Museum, opening it to the public last weekend. The newly-redone space attracted 15,000 visitors in three days, shattering its attendance record.

The Detroit Historical Museum, located at the corner of Woodward Avenue and Ferry Street in Midtown, has added a Sander's store and a number of new exhibits, including the Kid Rock Music Lab (which traces Detroit's music history) and Gallery of Innovation, which features the works of local innovators both old (Henry Ford) and new (Josh Linkner). The museum has also refreshed some of its popular existing exhibits, like its Streets of Detroit exhibit.

"They can take a deep dive to see what life was like in the 1850s," Bury says.

Both museums will be open to the public for free. The work on the Dossin Great Lakes Museum is expected to be finished on May 17.

Source: Bob Bury, executive director of Detroit Historical Society
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Highland Park installs first solar streetlight, aims for 200 more

Public lighting has consistently been a problem in Highland Park for years. Struggles to keep the streetlights lit and paying the electric bill for those lights was followed by DTE Energy removing several hundred streetlights from the inner-city suburb last year.

That problem gave birth to a new solution. Souladarity, a grass-roots group of local stakeholders, installed the city's first solar-powered streetlight last week and is making plans to bring another 200 to the city within the next five years.

"In the back of a lot of people's minds is what are we going to do about the streetlights around here," says A.J. O'Neil, one of the organizers of Souladarity.

The Souladarity streetlight was installed at 150 Victor Street, between John R and Oakland, and is shining down on the street now. The Michigan-made product utilizes super-energy-efficient LED lights which last longer than traditional streetlights. It also has a solar panel on top of the pole and its batteries are only a few feet below it, making the streetlight self-sufficient.

"It's completely self-contained," O'Neil says. "It's very theft proof because the batteries are locked away up high."

Souladarity is raising $6,000 to acquire and install the lights through a crowd-funding campaign. A little more than $5,000 of that has been raised as of Monday afternoon. For information on Highland Park's solar-powered-streetlight initiative, click here.

Source: A.J. O'Neil, one of the organizers of Souladarity
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Hamtramck Recycling Center preps for early 2013 opening

The Hamtramck Recycling & Transfer Center is getting close to opening and expects to create a few dozen jobs when it begins operations in 2013.

The green business is refurbishing an old waste-transfer building at the corner of Hamtramck Drive and Denton Street. The 32,000-square-foot building will pick out a number of recyclable materials from industrial waste, such as metal, cardboard, paper and plastics. The idea is to profit off of the wasted commodities that too often end up in the garbage.

"There is not really anybody who specializes in industrial waste," says Seth Kruger, president of Hamtramck Recycling & Transfer Center. "A lot of manufacturers are looking for ways to find less of their material end up in a landfill."

The Hamtramck Recycling & Transfer Center is a family owned business that has been in the works for the last year. It currently employs 11 people and expects to employ as many as 42 when its going full steam. The company hopes to begin operations in early 2013 and is looking to hire primarily local residents. So far about 50 percent of the firm's current workforce calls Hamtramck home.

"We're ramping up our employment to operate our system," Kruger says. "We will be hiring as the intake of material increases."

The project received $470,000 in brownfield tax credits last year from the state of Michigan. When the project began, the building had been vacant for several years and had fallen into significant disrepair.

Source: Seth Kruger, president Hamtramck Recycling & Transfer Center
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Minature golf course becomes latest addition to Imagination Station

The Imagination Station continues to grow in the shadow of the Michigan Central Station, adding a miniature golf course last weekend.

A sculpture class from Lawrence Technological University spear-headed the project, creating what's being billed as an "Urban Put Put : Detroit Mini Golf" course on the corner of 14th and Dalzelle streets overlooking Roosevelt Park. The Imagination Station is a public-art project taking place in two blighted houses turned into art between the miniature golf course and the Roosevelt Hotel.

"We were thinking in terms of functional sculptures," says Steve Coy, assistant professor of art & design at Lawrence Technological University who helped organize the project. "It's fun to have and fun to play on."

The Lawrence Tech class started a Kickstarter campaign to raise $2,000 to build the miniature golf course. It has raised $2,725 as of Monday afternoon and there are still two weeks left to collect donations. Coy expects to need those extra days to finish covering the costs of the project.

"We're definitely going to need more money," Coy says. "We're hoping the Kickstarter will continue to grow."

For information on the project, click here.

Source: Steve Coy, assistant professor of art & design at Lawrence Technological University
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Somerset's CityLoft returns to Hudson block in downtown Detroit

Pop-up retailers have become "the new black" for holiday shopping in downtown Detroit, and more retail is on the way.

CityLoft, an assortment of more than 40 stores from The Somerset Collection in Troy, will open up a string of pop-up stores on Woodward just north of Campus Martius. It will join a number of other temporary retailers on the entire 1200 block of Woodward, which is the line of storefronts across from the site of the old Hudson Department Store.

"We want to engage and create a great retail destination in downtown Detroit," says Dan Mullen, director of real-estate development for Bedrock Real Estate Services, which is spearheading the effort to bring more retailers to the Motor City's Central Business District. "Because of Somerset's CityLoft success (from brief stints earlier this year and last year) we were able to attract Moosejaw to come to downtown Detroit."

Among the other pop-up retailers in the lower Woodward corridor this holiday season are, The Detroit Shoppe (a store with all Detroit merchandise), Santa’s Wonderland (a shop where kids can buy inexpensive gifts for the family), Detroit Art Shoppe (a market featuring original work from Detroit artists), Spinergy (a fitness studio with stationary bikes), and Papa Joe's Snack Rack (a mini-market with a sampling of products from Papa Joe's).

These stores are the latest in an effort by Bedrock Real Estate Services, the real-estate arm of the Quicken Loans family of companies, to create a retail destination in downtown Detroit. The idea is to create a unique retail experience through a combination of national retailers and boutique shops and restaurants.

The people behind these efforts are not only looking at filling vacant storefronts on Woodward but turning alleyways into dynamic spaces for pedestrians.

"Part of our plan is to take these alleys and create a very cool place where you can enter the building with great art and cafe tables," Mullen says. "It's all about street activity."

Source: Dan Mullen, director of real-estate development for Bedrock Real Estate Services
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.
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