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Community, city officials, and local celebs rally around re-opening of Lipke Rec Center


The Lipke Recreation Center in northeast Detroit has been closed for more than a year, and Lipke Park, though not in shambles, could use some work. A true public-private partnership, as Mayor Mike Duggan called it, has assembled $10 million to seriously upgrade the facilities and park, which will re-open as the S.A.Y. Detroit Play Center. City officials, community leaders, and local celebrities gathered Tuesday, Jan. 27, on Detroit's northeast side to announce the re-opening of the recreation center. Renovations will begin soon.

Author and Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom is largely responsible for the re-opening. His S.A.Y. Detroit foundation is the driving force, promising after-school programming for children eight to 18 years old. Kids with GPAs of 2.5 and above and good school attendance records will have access to six basketball courts, a new soccer and lacrosse field, a renovated baseball field with a new scoreboard and stands, a workout facility with machines and equipment, a dance studio, and a recording studio complete with instruments and teachers. The recording studio is provided by Note for Note.

Plans for Lipke call for the covering of its swimming pool and the construction of a digital learning lab staffed by teachers and tutors. Children who don't meet the GPA and attendance requirements will have access to the learning lab, where they will be mentored. Albom says that for every hour they spend in the lab, they'll earn an hour of use in the rest of the facilities.

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was also on hand. He and his Score 7 foundation have pledged $1 million for a new football field and training facilities. An on-field practice bubble will be provided in the winter so children can play football in the cold weather.

Albom says that earning access to the multi-million dollar athletics facility will act as an incentive to neighborhood kids who need to raise their grades, calling it a carrot in front of the horse. "I'm happy to be that carrot," says Stafford.

Both Stafford and Albom stressed a ten-year commitment to the center with hopes of extending the programming long after that. Stafford says he'll make regular trips to the football field over that time and bring some of his Lions teammates, garnering loud applause from the community members gathered to hear the announcement.

Sources: Mayor Mike Duggan, Mitch Albom, and Matthew Stafford
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Kuzzo's Chicken and Waffles opens on the Avenue of Fashion


Kuzzo's Chicken and Waffles represents a lot of things for Ron Bartell. The restaurant opens today at 8 a.m. with an ambitious owner looking to make an immediate impact on the Livernois commercial corridor and its surrounding neighborhoods.

Bartell played the cornerback position in the NFL for nine years, mostly for the St. Louis Rams but also the Lions and the Oakland Raiders. And while he's since retired from the league, Bartell is just 32. As he says, he's just getting started. Bartell owns and operates a group home in San Antonio, Texas, a subcontracting service for FedEx, also in San Antonio, and R & J Development, his Michigan-based property investment company.

In 2012, R & J purchased four commercial properties on the west side of Livernois Avenue, north of Seven Mile Road, the heart of what's known as the Avenue of Fashion. Bartell knows Detroit's northwest side well. He grew up near Greenfield Road and Outer Drive and graduated from Detroit Renaissance High School in 2000.

Bartell first acquired the buildings along Livernois for development purposes. Soon, though, Bartell decided that he wasn't content with sitting back and collecting rent. He wanted, as he says, to put his money where his mouth was and help develop a commercial corridor that could use a push.

There are a lot of things Bartell wants to accomplish with the opening of Kuzzo's. In addition to creating what he hopes will be a successful restaurant, Bartell wants to show that Detroit is still a place where African American entrepreneurs can thrive. He's hoping, too, that his attention to detail, design, and quality of product and experience will inspire other businesses to up their game. The food is fresh and prepared in-house, and the design of the space is clean and contemporary. If you expect people to spend their hard-earned dollars at your business, he says, than you better make it worth their while.

"Hopefully we're successful and it shows people that they can be successful over here, too. Hopefully it's a spark that brings other businesses around here, whether it's other diners, restaurants, lounges. This area needs so many different things yet can support so many different things," says Bartell. "I hope this really shows that in order to be successful you don't have to go downtown or Midtown; you can actually stay in the neighborhood and do good business and hire people and service the community."

Kuzzo's Chicken and Waffles specializes in breakfast foods along with lunch and dinner options that include sandwiches, burgers, and entrees. Southern-inspired craft cocktails are in the works.

The restaurant opens today at 8 a.m. and will be open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. A grand opening will be held in a couple of weeks, when hours of service will extend to 9 and 10 p.m.

Kuzzo's is located at 19345 Livernois Ave.
 
Source: Ron Bartell, owner of Kuzzo's Chicken and Waffles
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

MEDC pledges aid for N'Namdi-led arts district

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation has launched another matching grant program for a successful crowdfunding campaign, this time by influential Detroit art dealer and developer George N'Namdi. If N'Namdi can raise $30,000 in 30 days, the MEDC will award N'Namdi another $30,000.

George N'Namdi is the owner of N'Namdi Center for Contemporary Art in Midtown. His goal is to establish a new arts district around the intersection of Grand River Avenue and Rosa Parks Boulevard. The crowdfunding campaign will help finance Quarter Pop on Grand River, an arts incubator and gallery and retail district that will rotate entrepreneurs in and out of renovated storefronts in three month increments. The 4200 block of Grand River Ave. is the focus of the project.

"The vision for the Quarter Pop is to create and activate a space where Detroit creatives can gain success for their businesses while strengthening the neighborhoods around them," says N'Namdi. "Quarter Pop will be a huge catalyst for creative cultural change in the Grand River Creative Corridor, Detroit, and beyond."

Quarter Pop occupants will receive marketing, accounting, and legal advice along with entrepreneurial mentorship. An emphasis will be put on creative retailers. Money raised will be put toward construction and business service costs.

This is not the first time the MEDC has pledged matching grant money toward crowdfunding campaigns. In November 2014, a campaign was announced to fund the construction of a skate park at the old Wigle Recreation Center. That campaign was soon aborted as it was discovered that the city of Detroit seeks to sell the property. In August 2014, the MEDC pledged matching grant money toward a new green alley in Midtown, which began construction in September of that year.

N'Namdi has until Feb. 13 to raise the $30,000. As of this reporting, the project has already received over $17,000 in pledges from just 6 donors. The campaign is being hosted by crowdfunding site Patronicity.

Source: Michigan Economic Development Corporation
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Detroit Greenways Coalition leads non-motorized charge into 2015 with bevy of bike-related projects

The nonprofit group Detroit Greenways Coalition has released its Top 5 Detroit bike and trail projects for 2015 and it's looking to be a very good year for Detroiters who enjoy the outdoors. According to the DGC, the city's bicyclists, joggers, and walkers will see miles of new pathways added, current routes improved, and safer road conditions in 2015.

Detroit Greenways Coalition is led by Executive Director Todd Scott. The group 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.

Highlights from the DGC report include the following:
 
  • Bicyclists and pedestrians can expect the Link Detroit project to be finished by summer. Link Detroit extends the Dequindre Cut to Eastern Market and connects Eastern Market to Midtown and Hamtramck with surface street bike lanes.
  • The DGC helped secure $4.5 million in grants which it expects the city of Detroit to use to purchase an 8.3 mile stretch of abandoned railroad this year. That property will then be converted into a bike path and greenway, filling in a significant gap of the Inner Circle Greenway, the DGC's 26 mile-long circular pathway that rolls through Detroit, Hamtramck, Highland Park, and Dearborn.
  • The almost-finished Conner Creek Greenway, which travels northward from the riverfront at Maheras Gentry Park, will see the completion of an extension from Conner Street at E. Outer Drive all the way into Warren, where it merges with Van Dyke Avenue and ends at Stephens Road. The greenway is to be part of Governor Snyder's Showcase Trail, a system of paths, trails, and bike lanes that reaches from Belle Isle to Wisconsin.
  • The first protected bike lanes in the state are set to be installed along six blocks of East Jefferson Avenue between Alter Road and Lakewood Street. Efforts by groups including East Jefferson, Inc. are underway to extend those bike lanes to the Belle Isle entrance.
  • Cass Avenue is to receive bike lanes from W. Grand Boulevard to Lafayette, which will then zig zag to the RiverWalk. Public bike repair stations and air pumps will be installed along the way.
More information on the Detroit Greenways Coalition and its top projects for 2015 can be found here.

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

Managing partner on Gold Cash Gold opening: A 'wild' success

Anticipation for Corktown's newest restaurant Gold Cash Gold was so great that a line wrapped around the corner and along Michigan Avenue as people waited for the restaurant's 5 p.m. grand opening Saturday, Dec. 6. Business has been humming ever since.

Eli Boyer is a partner and also the general manager of the restaurant. He says that the first week following a grand opening is important as any, allowing the restaurant to observe, analyze, and react to the customer experience. Just because the restaurant had a successful opening doesn't mean the restaurant is ready to rest on its laurels.

"When building an idea for a restaurant, you can project how guests will react, but that first week is so important to observe and analyze the guest experience," says Boyer. "You gather information in that first week and respond. The tweaks made are small but impactful."

This is the first time Boyer has been a part of opening a restaurant in Detroit. The Farmington Hills native got into the restaurant game in Chicago, starting the DMK restaurant company in 2009. He says the differences between opening a restaurant in Detroit vs. Chicago are many and that the experience here is already a much more fulfilling one.

Boyer says that the team behind Gold Cash Gold can feel the excitement from the neighborhood. That excitement was expressed at the grand opening.

"It was wild," Boyer says of the opening. "I've never experienced that before where people waited outside for the doors to unlock. It made our staff excited to see that. And we were so impressed with how the staff handled it and performed."

Gold Cash Gold opens in time for the holiday season, not by design, says Boyer, but a happy coincidence nonetheless. The restaurant hopes to add 50 seats in a patio setting for the summer, but the current configuration allows for a smaller, more manageable opening.

Source: Eli Boyer, managing partner of Gold Cash Gold
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Disclaimer: The co-CEO of Issue Media Group, Model D's parent company, has a financial interest in Gold Cash Gold.

Art Deco classic restored in downtown Detroit

An Art Deco classic has been restored by DTE Energy, re-invigorating a building that has been vacant since 2004. Once belonging to the Salvation Army, the 32,000-sqare-foot building on the west side of downtown will soon house 140 DTE information technology employees. It has been renamed the Navitas House. Navitas is Latin for energy.

Architecture firm Hamilton Anderson Associates and general contractor L.S. Brinker, two Detroit-based companies, led the rehabilitation. That rehab brought the building up to current codes while preserving historic elements like the lobby's historic features and the bathrooms' terrazzo tiles and marble walls. Navitas is also projected to be DTE's first LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, building for 2015. Green elements include a rain garden behind the building that will filter runoff while creating an urban oasis for birds and butterflies.

"One of the keys to urban revitalization is to bring vacant buildings back to life, which helps a street feel more alive, makes it safe,r and improves the overall stability of the neighborhood," says Ron May, DTE Energy executive vice president of Major Enterprise Projects. "This beautiful building stands now as a symbol of our work to help energize Detroit."

Navitas House is located on Bagley across from the DTE Energy headquarters. The restoration of the old Salvation Army building is not the only project DTE has planned for its neighborhood. The publicly-traded energy company expects to break ground on what's been called a mini-Campus Martius just east of its headquarters in the spring. DTE plans on transforming what is now an empty lot into a green space that will be a gathering place for people who live in, work in, and visit downtown Detroit.

The Navitas House is located at 601 Bagley St.

Source: DTE Energy press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

December development news round-up

It's been another busy month for development news in the city, especially for downtown. Let's catch up on five of the biggest stories from the past few weeks.

Dan Gilbert has added two high-profile buildings to his ever-expanding portfolio of downtown Detroit real estate. In November, Gilbert purchased the Compuware Building for $150 million. The 15-story building helps frame Campus Martius park and is notable for its 2003 construction, having been built at a time when few companies were investing in downtown. Gilbert also purchased the State Savings Building this month. That building was at the heart of a heated preservation fight after it was purchased by out-of-towner Andreas Apostolopolous in 2012, who then tried to demolish the 114-year-old historic building in favor of more downtown parking. Those attempts were successfully blocked.

In other billionaire development news, Little Caesars Pizza magnate Mike Ilitch and company are building a new 205,000-square-foot Global Resource Center next to its world headquarters, which are located in the Fox Theatre offices. The expansion will allow for an additional 600 Little Caesars employees to be brought downtown. The building will also help create the Columbia Street neighborhood, a proposed entertainment destination part of the Arena District.

The David Whitney Building celebrated its nearing re-opening with a facade lighting Monday, Dec. 15. The building first opened in 1915 but has been vacant since 1999 when it closed. A $92 million renovation brings 136 Aloft hotel rooms and 105 apartments to Grand Circus Park. The first hotel tenants are booked for Thursday, Dec. 18. Apartment dwellers may move in as soon as the end of the month.

The Town Apartments are receiving a $5 million renovation and are being rebranded as the Town Residences. Over 200 units will receive improvements. The Town Apartments sign, a long-time staple of Detroit's western skyline, will be removed.

Galapagos, a popular arts, culture, and entertainment destination in Brooklyn, New York, is leaving NYC for Detroit, having purchased a number of buildings in Corktown and Highland Park. The move is seen as an enormous get for Detroit.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

City selects developer for Tiger Stadium site; Plans call for retail, housing, and a park

UPDATE: The Detroit Free Press has published renderings of the proposed development of the old Tiger Stadium site. They include smaller retail along Michigan Avenue, a mix of for-rent and for-sale housing, a new headquarters for the Detroit Police Althletic League along Harrison, and a preserved ball diamond. Click here for details.

Following a vague press release from the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) of the City of Detroit stating that it "will consider redevelopment plans for the former site of Tiger Stadium tomorrowTuesday, December 16" at an 8:30 a.m. meeting in the offices of DEGC on the 22nd floor of the Guardian Building, Historic Detroit, a website promoting the history of Detroit places, posted this on its Facebook page:

"We have more details on tomorrow's Tiger Stadium site announcement in #Detroit: Sources tell us Larson Realty Group's proposal beat out one by Roxbury Group, which is redeveloping the David Whitney Building. Larson's plan calls for smaller retail along Michigan Avenue, as well as a mix of for-rent and for-sale housing -- and yes, the field WILL be saved as a park. And sorry, George, there's no Walmart."

The last baseball game was played at Tiger Stadium in 1999, and the structure stood vacant until it was demolished in 2008. Since then, a group of volunteers calling themselves the Navin Field Grounds Crew has maintained the historic playing field at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull.

Detroit's newest music venue, the Huma Room, opens with HopCat craft beer bar

Ted Smith has been coming to Detroit for concerts since at least the 1980s, when he'd make many a trip to St. Andrew's Hall. Having booked music in Grand Rapids for 20 years, Smith often used Detroit as inspiration, discovering cool new music here to bring back there. Now he's moved to Detroit full-time to book shows at the city's newest music venue, the Huma Room. It's the second floor of HopCat Detroit, a craft beer bar and restaurant that is bringing 130 taps to Midtown. The grand opening is this weekend.

HopCat Detroit is the company's fourth location and the first to have a dedicated music venue. The reason for that, says Smith, is because of Detroit's rich musical heritage, something that HopCat wants to be a part of. HopCat owner Mark Sellers is a big music fan and personally approached Smith to ask him to move to Detroit to help run the Huma Room.

"There were always things in Detroit that really interested me that I wanted to bring back to Grand Rapids," says Smith. "Now I'm here." Smith has booked and worked at popular Grand Rapids venues including the Reptile House, the Intersection, and the Orbit Room.

The new venue is a sizable investment in an even bigger one -- HopCat itself represents a $4.2 million renovation of 4265 Woodward Ave., the old Agave restaurant building. The main area downstairs features 130 taps, brand new kitchen facilities, and an extensive and stylish interior rehabilitation and design. There is a 60-person four-season roof patio. The Huma Room features an additional 60 taps, new PA system, and space for 400 people standing and 250 sitting. It's adorned with historic concert photos and posters from area artists.

Smith's goal is to have music Wednesday through Saturday and is looking to draw local, regional, and national talent of all genres to the venue. An open mic for songwriters, rappers, comedians, and storytellers will be held on Sundays.

HopCat Detroit and the Huma Room open at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 13.

Source: Ted Smith, booking agent at the Huma Room
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Sweet Lorraine's Fabulous Mac n' Cheez! restaurant to occupy old Marwil Bookstore space in Midtown

Marwil Bookstore was a Detroit institution, serving Wayne State University students since 1948. That bookstore closed in 2013, thanks, in part, to competition from the Internet. Gary Sussman used to shop at that bookstore as a Wayne State student. Today, he and his wife and business partner Lorraine Platman are busy renovating that building, preparing it for the late-February target opening for their Sweet Lorraine's Fabulous Mac n' Cheez! restaurant. They're even leasing the space from the Marwils themselves.

The Midtown location will be the company's fifth Mac n' Cheez! restaurant. Their company's first franchise location opened in the Renaissance Center earlier this month. That franchise is owned by Randy Dickow, also owner of downtown's Lunchtime Global restaurant.

Platman and Sussman are also the team behind Sweet Lorraine's, the popular full-service restaurants in Livonia and Southfield. The Mac n' Cheez! concept is more of a fast-casual restaurant, featuring soups, salads, and sandwiches in addition to the macaroni and cheese at the heart of the menu. Platman, who develops the menu, has created 14 made-to-order macaroni and cheese dishes.

"The concept is fun but it's also about quality," says Sussman. "It's an interactive process that's unique to mac and cheese."

Sussman says that the Midtown location will open early in the day with a breakfast menu, free Wi-Fi, and a lounge space. The pair hopes to use locally-sourced ingredients, he says. They're looking at products from Corridor Sausage, Detroit Institute of Bagels, and local bakeries. A Michigan-only beer bar is planned.

Howard Ellman, Principal Architect of Birmingham's Dynamic Designs, and Patrick Thompson, creative director of Detroit's Patrick Thompson Design, have been hired to renovate the 3,000-sqare-foot space. Sussman says that they have already pulled away three layers of vinyl flooring to expose original terrazzo tile floors. The drop ceilings have come down, revealing wood beams above. The windows along Cass Avenue, long-filled in with cinder blocks, will also be opened back up.

The partners are also looking at spaces around Campus Martius for another location. Nothing is finalized, however, and that restaurant could end up franchise- or company-owned. Platman and Sussman hope to open their company-owned Midtown location by the end of February.

Source: Gary Sussman, co-owner of Sweet Lorraine's Fabulous Mac n' Cheez!
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

100-year master plan for Palmer Park revealed

It's been a year since a master plan for Palmer Park was first proposed. Since then, an impressive array of the region's top design and architecture firms have lent their expertise in developing a 100-year master plan for the site. Renderings have been presented, special meetings have been held, and now, after a year of community discussion, advocacy group People for Palmer Park has unveiled that plan.

The master plan project is sponsored by the Michigan chapters of the American Society of Landscape Architects and the Congress for the New Urbanism.

This past April, seven teams presented their plans for the park. Birmingham's Gibbs Planning Group organized the seven groups, which were made up of LivingLAB Detroit, McIntosh-Poris Architects, ASTI Environmental, dPOP!, Archive DS, department 01, Conservation Design Forum, Ken Weikal Landscape Architecture, Mark Johnson Architects, Hamilton-Anderson Associates, Downtown Solutions, Inc., and Campbell Architecture and Planning. While much of the master plan derives from these seven presentations, People for Palmer Park president Rochelle Lento says she was sure to keep the end result as community-driven as possible.

The master plan will allow the group to more effectively pursue fundraising for improvements to the park. And while it offers a 100-year vision for the park, much of the plan will contain short-term projects that will be pursued in the present.

"You can't rebuild a 300-acre park all at once," says Lento. "It has to be done in phases. The master plan gives us something to present to foundations and tackle projects one by one."

While she wouldn't divulge many specifics, Lento says to expect a rustic, back-to-nature plan, one that enhances both the active and passive components of the park. Improving recreation sites is part of the plan but just as important will be maintaining the forest, trails, and open meadows throughout the nearly 300-acre park. The southern entrance to the park could gain more of a gateway-type entrance, she says. There's also a vision for a promenade along the park's eastern edge, to replace the high fence that runs along Woodward. Rather than pedestrians feeling like they're walking along a highway, they'll feel like they're walking through the park.

The Palmer Park master plan was revealed Thursday, Nov. 20 at 6:30 p.m. at the Detroit Unity Temple, 17505 Second Ave.

Model D will post images from the master plan document when they become available.

Source: Rochelle Lento, president of People for Palmer Park
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Photo and audio exhibition chronicles life in Delray before the bridge

Industry has been chipping away at the homes of Delray for decades now. Walk a couple of blocks in any direction and you're going to stumble across some sign of manufacturing or shipping. And it's going to take more than a couple of blocks to escape that smell, a byproduct of the poor air quality in one of Michigan's most polluted ZIP code.

Roughly 2,500 residents remain in a neighborhood that once had nearly ten times as many. The streets of Delray reflect the population loss. As for the houses that do remain, many of those are already slated for demolition, as they stand in the path of the New International Trade Crossing. While some residents have been bought out to make way for the new bridge, that's not true for everyone.

But for all the words outsiders throw around when describing Delray -- desolate, devastated, polluted -- what is it actually like for the people who live there? That's what photographer Kenny Corbin, a.k.a. Karpov, and audio journalist Laura Herberg set out to discover. They spent two months in the yards, family rooms, and kitchens of the residents there, documenting the lives of 40 people by taking photographs and collecting audio. Karpov and Herberg are debuting the results of their work with "Delray: Beyond Isolation," a multimedia exhibition that opens today at Galerie Camille in Midtown.

"People there feel that if the city wants to make all of Delray industrial, then everyone should be bought out," says Karpov. "The residents don't want to lose out in the bridge development. They want to feel compensated. They want to feel acknowledged."

In the two months since beginning this project, Karpov says they've collected more photographs and audio than they'll be able to use. Karpov and Herberg, who met at WDET, didn't want to just show up for an hour, take some pictures, and split. They wanted to immerse themselves in Delray and tell its story -- before the bridge.

Delray: Beyond Isolation opens at Galerie Camille on Friday, Nov. 21 at 5 p.m. Galerie Camille is located at 4130 Cass Ave. in Midtown.

Source: Kenny 'Karpov' Corbin, Delray: Beyond Isolation photographer
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Brightmoor residents to open food co-op and community kitchen

Despite the many urban farmers, gardeners, bakers, and makers living in Brightmoor, the northwest Detroit neighborhood lacks a community kitchen. State law requires that many food products be produced in commercial kitchens, thus prohibiting many would-be food entrepreneurs in Brightmoor from selling home-made products at market.

To address this, a group of Brightmoor residents has organized to open a commercial kitchen in their neighborhood, one that will pump up that area's food economy through a co-operative model. It's called the Brightmoor Artisan's Cooperative and Community Kitchen, and if all goes right, they'll have opened their doors by April 2015.

After a number of conversations, members of the community identified the need for access to a commercial kitchen and decided earlier this year to purchase a building. After a successful a crowdfunding campaign, the group purchased the building at 22739 Fenkell Street, a 7,000 sq. ft. building split into three storefronts, at a price of $18,000 in the recent Wayne County foreclosure auction.

The group says that the building's previous owner -- a man who owns the liquor store next door -- is contesting the auction, though the co-op is confident enough in the sale to move ahead with their plans.

"Brightmoor has seen some tough times, but things have been improving in the past half decade," says Nicky Marcot, chairperson of Brightmoor Artisan's Cooperative and Community Kitchen. "The kitchen might bring businesses back to the Fenkell corridor and help create a vibrant and stable commercial district. This could be a catalyst."

In addition to the commercial kitchen facilities, the group plans on utilizing storefront space for a cafe or restaurant and a store where local food makers can sell their products. Classes for adults and children are also planned.

Source: Nicky Marcot, chairperson of Brightmoor Artisan's Cooperative and Community Kitchen
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Brightmoor's Wellspring youth development center to triple in size after securing $400K in funding

The Kumon math and English academic programming offered by Wellspring is so popular that it serves 100 to 125 students a year with another 100 on a waiting list. Now, with the help of a number of organizations, Wellspring has raised the $400,000 necessary to expand their building and begin construction of an addition to the back of the structure. Once complete, the neighborhood center will have the capacity to serve 300 children a year.

The Wellspring Center is located in an old house at 16742 Lamphere in Detroit's Brightmoor neighborhood. In addition to faith-based youth development programming, the center offers Kumon courses, an after school tutoring program. Kumon is a Japanese-based corporation with many franchises throughout the United States.

While the for-profit Kumon franchises are typically in middle- to upper-class neighborhoods, Wellspring runs its program as a nonprofit -- one of only a few in the United States to do so. Through grants and fundraising efforts, Wellspring is able to subsidize tuition for students coming from low-income backgrounds. Roughly 50 percent of students are from the Brightmoor neighborhood, according to the nonprofit.

Dan Bandrowski founded Wellspring with his wife Cherie in 1986. They moved operations to 16742 Lamphere in 1988, and by 1992 they were incorporated as a nonprofit. As demand for their academic services began to outpace their capacity, the Wellspring board weighed its options. Board members were determined to keep the center in Brightmoor, and they eventually decided to build onto the house rather than search for a new facility. After a recent company directive from Kumon saying that franchises had to operate out of traditional business-like facilities, the Bandrowskis appealed to the president of the corporation, seeking and receiving permission to remain on Lamphere Street.

"We kept the house because we wanted to demonstrate our commitment to place," says Dan Bandrowski. "We're a place-oriented organization and the neighborhood looks at us as a community institution. We also liked the idea that we're in the neighborhood, in a residential area, in a home-like setting for the kids."

Construction of the expansion should be complete in three to four months, says Dan, and will result in a facility that is three times its previous size, increasing from 1,834 sq. ft. to 5,719 sq. ft. Detroit architecture firm Hamilton Anderson Associates designed the addition. A Wellspring-led capital campaign raised $70,000 for the project while IFF made a community investment loan of $60,000. The nonprofit received grants of $150,000, $100,000, and $20,000 from the Carls, Kresge, and Skillman foundations respectively.

Source: Dan Bandrowski, co-founder of Wellspring
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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West Village gains a record store, community hub with Paramita Sound

Andrey Douthard curates the hip hop, jazz, and indie pop/rock records at Paramita Sound. He also owns the shop, which just celebrated its grand opening Saturday, Oct. 25. His collaborators -- he doesn't call them employees, but collaborators -- curate other genres. Anna Atanassova selects the punk, metal, and hardcore records and also acts as social media and events coordinator. Peter Croce curates the dance records, including techno, house, disco, boogie, and reggae, while also acting as resident DJ and promoter. There's Vicente Elizondo, who, besides being store clerk, specializes in soul and funk 45s and tapes. And Zach Poley contributes to the hip hop curation, acting as Paramita's art director, too.

Douthard has assembled this team to help make his dream a reality, to open a record store and pursue a career in the music business. In addition to utilizing his network to help make Paramita hum, Douthard has taken advantage of the many resources designed to nurture a new wave of Detroit entrepreneurs. He took classes at D:Hive Build -- now the Build Institute -- and enrolled at TechTown's Retail Boot Camp. He's benefited from TechTown's SWOT City program, too.

Even his storefront, located at 1417 Van Dyke St., was the result of a collaboration between Practice Space, REVOLVE Detroit, and the Villages CDC. Douthard won their Activate: 1417 Van Dyke contest launched last March, which granted him access to the space.

"All these things came together and worked together," says Douthard. "For someone that hasn't started a business before, the guidance is priceless. It really does take a village."

Unlike a lot of the record stores in Detroit, which mostly feature used records, Douthard and his crew focus on new records. It's a finely curated store. Aiming for an inventory of 500 to 600 records, it's a quality over quantity approach.

For now, Paramita is a pop-up. But Douthard has every intention on seeing his record store stay open through his January 10, 2015 lease. Until then, Paramita Sound will operate as much as a community space as it does a record store. Tuesdays are BYO nights, where Douthard invites the public to bring their friends, records, and beer down to the West Village store. Peter Croce will be teaching turntable mixing every Wednesday. On Thursdays, guest DJs will lead listening parties. And Sundays, from noon to 5 p.m., there will be record swaps.

"The records are how we pay the bills," says Douthard. "But really it's about opening up a dialog."

Source: Andrey Douthard, owner of Paramita Sound
Photos: Matt Chung, D:hive Detroit

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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