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Corktown co-working space Saint Vincent fills up fast

A graphic design firm, an old school arcade, and a CPA are among the businesses that have helped to fill up the available space at Saint Vincent in Corktown. The Catholic school-turned-boutique office building welcomed its first tenant in Oct. 2014, and all of its available units were rented out by the end of that year. Work has already begun on the second floor of the building and it's estimated that the offices could be available by mid- to late summer of 2015.

Ryan Schirmang, managing partner of Saint Vincent, sees no shortage of businesses wanting to be located in the city. Once financing is lined up to complete renovations of the second floor, the interest he's received in renting space indicates that the remaining offices should fill up as quickly as the first floor did.

Schirmang purchased the building in 2012 and renovations began in earnest in July 2014. Saint Vincent was the recipient of an Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy grant, receiving $50,000 from the organization for spending $200,000 of its own money. That grant, says Schirmang, helped ensure that they would have money to cover operational costs once renovations were completed.

"It's cool to see how those grants benefit Corktown," he says. "It's spreading into the businesses in the neighborhood beyond Michigan Avenue."

Schirmang says that the space is best suited for small businesses that are more on the design side of things, not so much the light industrial and production-minded businesses that characterize nearby Ponyride. He does, however, hope to cultivate a close working relationship between the two co-working spaces.

Before the second floor is completed and open for rent, look for a lounge and events space that could open to the public by May.  

Source: Ryan Schirmang, Managing Partner of Saint Vincent
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Corktown Inn reinvents itself as the Corktown Hotel, hopes to clean up its act

The old Corktown Inn is cleaning up its act. Though stingy with the details, an unnamed ownership group that purchased the inn in October 2014 is committed to a complete overhaul of the hotel, according to newly-hired director of sales Suzette Daye. In what's now re-branded as the Corktown Hotel, the 144 rooms could begin to see major renovations within months.

A local design firm is handling the room renovations, though Daye wouldn't say which one. Local artisans, including the Nordin brothers, will provide much of the décor for each room. Daye says that the Corktown will be a boutique hotel, meaning that each floor and even each room could be different from one another. Three concept rooms are currently available to rent.

In addition to re-designing the rooms, Daye says that a number of other improvements are planned for the site. New landscaping will better expose the hotel to the street. An old restaurant space will be revived. Workout facilities will be added. A courtyard will be spruced up and there's also mention of a green roof.

For all of the improvements and additional amenities planned for the hotel, perhaps what's most notable, at least presently, are the subtractions. Gone is the cigarette smoking. So, too, is the infamous vending machine containing lighters, condoms, and women's underwear. Room rentals in three-hour blocks have also been eliminated. Even the old security dummy has been retired.

Daye admits that the changes have led to a loss of some of the customers -- "We've lost a lot of the party people, I guess you could say," -- but that's to be expected as the inn switches to a boutique hotel. Plus, she's heard positive things from the hotel's neighbors since the new rules have been implemented.

It's a transition period for the hotel, after the "party people" have left but before all of the upgrades have been made. In the meantime, Daye's trying to drum up business, distributing promotional fliers to neighborhood bars. Drink too much at a Corktown establishment? Bring the flier to the hotel for a $50 overnight stay. While the rooms aren't "boutique" yet, they're clean and not out of the ordinary.

Source: Suzette Daye, director of sales at the Corktown Hotel
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Who's going to operate M-1 Rail? Organization seeks bids

The search is on for the third-party operator of the M-1 Rail. The group behind the winning proposal will manage day-to-day operations and maintenance of the light rail line, which is currently under construction. All submissions are due by April 16.

The M-1 Rail will be a 3.3-mile long streetcar line stretching from downtown to New Center. The organization behind the project is a nonprofit, put in place by the private businesses and philanthropic organizations that created and funded the line.

Third-party operators of light rail lines is nothing new in the U.S. Streetcar systems in Tucson and New Orleans utilize third-party operators of their lines. Other cities that are currently building their own streetcar systems, including Kansas City, Oklahoma City, and Washington, D.C., are also searching for third-party operators.

The responsibilities of running the M-1 are many, including the hiring, training, and scheduling of employees. They also include the development of a standards of practice for customer service, safety, and fare collections. Track, switch, signal, and platform maintenance is required. The maintenance and cleaning of the vehicles is also included.

"Passengers want a reliable, safe, and clean experience and the operator of the line will be a catalyst for that," says Paul Childs, chief operating officer of M-1 Rail. "The contractor we select will begin working with us at least 12 months in advance of streetcar operations. They will be instrumental in developing processes and procedures for operations and fulfilling all of the obligations required by Federal, State, and City government agencies."

Details of the contract include an initial five year operating agreement with M-1 retaining the rights to extend that contract another two to five years. M-1 Rail officials expect operating costs at $5 million a year.

Source: M-1 Rail press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Developer's second Woodbridge rehab, the "Up House," nears completion

When 4722 Avery St. was auctioned off by the Detroit Land Bank Authority in May 2014, it received 205 bids, with the winner laying down $87,100 for the historic Woodbridge home, which was built in 1881. Alex Pereira and his Secure Realty company placed that 205th bid. Don't tell the city, but Pereira was prepared to spend as much as $130,000 on the house, determined, he says, to add the home to his growing list of Woodbridge properties.

Now the owner of three homes in Woodbridge, Pereira is in negotiations to purchase two more. He says he's committed to a detailed and quality rehabilitation of these homes and a tour of his 4722 Avery property confirms as much. On top of the $87,100 purchase price, Pereira says he's investing $150,000 into the house, making it nearly as grand as it was when it was first built -- and much more energy efficient.

It's the exteriors of his houses, however, that have received all of the attention. This is because Pereira fashions the historic homes after children's stories. His first Detroit property, 4759 Trumbull, features the Lorax, the character of a Dr. Seuss book of the same name. Pereira's latest house, 4722 Avery, has been painted in bright blue, yellow, and green, modeled after the house from "Up," a Pixar and Disney computer-animated film from 2009.

Pereira's aesthetic choices have elicited a range of reactions from neighbors and passersby, both positive and negative. It's a bold color scheme, bound to spark conversation. But for whatever kickback he has received, Pereira remains unfazed, saying that the initial criticisms of the Lorax House have already waned. He suspects the same will be true for the Up House, as it's called. The longer it stands, the more accepted and part of the neighborhood it will become.

Despite the naysayers, Pereira is committed to seeing his vision through. Once construction is completed on the Up House next month, he'll begin work on a third house, this time on Commonwealth. Though he won't say which one, Pereira plans another design based off a children's book or movie. This one, he says, will be even brighter than the Up House.

"I just had a little boy, my first son. We're moving to this neighborhood, my wife and I and my son. I'm trying to create a place I think he'd like to live in," says Pereira.

The Up House is split into three flats, two two-bedroom units and a one-bedroom. The first floor has already been leased.

Source: Alex Pereira, developer at Secure Realty
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Finally: Over 1,000 new windows for Michigan Central Station

As with anything Michigan Central Station-related, the Internet is abuzz with the news that the historic train station will be outfitted with new windows. While it is unclear what the owners of Michigan Central Station ultimately have planned for the building, Chamberlain Glass & Metal, Inc. of St. Clair has announced that they've been hired to produce a new window system for the tower. Over 1,000 window openings will be filled.

According to the company, they've been working with the Maroun family, owners of the famously blighted building, to find a window system that meets the modern needs of a contemporary office while remaining true to the spirit of the historic building.

In June of 2014, Model D reported that the Marouns pulled $676,000 in city permits for construction work that included, "a 9,000-pound capacity freight elevator inside the old smokestack mechanical shaft and safety improvements such as railings on interior staircases." Though details were murky at the time, Chamberlain reveals that the elevator is being built, at least in part, to facilitate the glass operation.

The company expects elevator construction to finish soon, after which they will begin the task of installing over 1,000 windows. Chamberlain says that it will be "a few more months" before Michigan Central Station is once again fully outfitted with windows.

Michigan Central Station opened in 1913 as the city's main rail depot. Eighteen stories of offices sit atop a Beaux-Arts lobby. The station, closed in 1988, has been open to the elements for years and became blighted as scrappers stripped the building of many of its architectural treasures.

Several plans to redevelop the depot have come and gone since its closure. In 2004, then-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick announced plans to redevelop the train station as the city's police headquarters. Those plans were eventually abandoned. In 2009, the Detroit City Council voted to demolish Michigan Central Station. That plan fell apart due to a lack of funding as well as difficulties stemming from the station's National Register of Historic Places designation.  

Source: Chamberlain Glass & Metal, Inc.
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Students pitch development ideas for Fisher Body Plant 21

Representatives of the city of Detroit, Vanguard Community Development Corporation, German Marshall Fund of the U.S., and University of Michigan's Taubman College of Architecture and Planning gathered Wednesday, Feb. 18, to hear University of Michigan students' pitches for the redevelopment of Fisher Body Plant 21. The event was organized by Michigan's Center for Social Impact and held at the Ross School of Business.

Dannan Hodge, Arthur Endsley, Drew Phillips, and Fulton Breen made up Team Impact, which won the Social Impact Challenge. They proposed a mixed-use development that utilized qualified workers and skilled tradespersons from the North End community, where the Fisher 21 is located. Those workers would ultimately transform the building into a space where they themselves could live and work.

A second team also pitched a mixed-use development. The third team proposed a complex devoted to 3D printing, one they theorized would make Detroit the 3D printing capital of the world.

While largely academic in nature, the event offered new ideas for the abandoned factory, ideas that could one day influence city decision-making. David Williams, senior advisor to the City of Detroit Mayor's Office and its Jobs and Economy Team, was one of the judges. He says that for all the challenges a massive development project like the Fisher Body Plant faces, it's exciting to see so many people engage with the issues facing the city. The more brains, he says, the better.

"All these ideas help push the conversation forward," says Williams. "And the further that conversation goes, the more likely we're able to renovate something like the Fisher building."

The teams had two weeks to develop a plan for the site, one that included everything from budgets to funding sources, jobs numbers to community relationships. The winning team received $2,500 for their proposal.

Source: David Williams, senior advisor to the City of Detroit Mayor's Office
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

February development news round-up

It's been another busy month for development news in the city. Let's catch up on some of the biggest stories from the past four weeks.

The on-again-off-again State Fairgrounds redevelopment is back on the upswing. A team of developers that includes NBA basketball legend and Michigan-native Earvin 'Magic' Johnson has submitted plans to the city that include the potential for hundreds of apartments, hundreds of thousands of square feet of retail, and more. Of particular note is the idea for preserving historic structures on the grounds.

Dan Gilbert and his Bedrock Real Estate Services got permission from the Historic District Commission to demolish the old Grind strip club in Capitol Park in favor of a 10-story apartment tower. The Grind was located in a 19th century building recently damaged by fire. The proposed tower could provide up to 175 more apartments downtown.

An enormous mixed use building approved by the Historic District Commission may break ground in Brush Park soon. The 200,000 sq. ft., five-story building would include 200 loft-style apartments, according to Curbed. A unique shape has the building touching Woodward Avenue, Erskine Street, and Watson Street.

Two breweries celebrated openings in Corktown this month. Batch Brewing Company opened in the old Porter Street Station building at the corner of Porter and 8th streets. Batch is the winner of the 2013 Hatch Detroit contest, which awarded the brewery a $50,000 grant to open their business. Just a block away at 1401 Abbott St. is Brew Detroit, a brewing facility that just opened a 7,000 sq. ft. tasting room. The brewing facility itself has been open since April 2014.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

$20 million in upgrades to Chandler Park will include new tennis, soccer, and football facilities

In news that's sure to make other Detroit park booster groups awfully jealous, the Chandler Park Conservancy is announcing millions of dollars in private and public investment for its namesake park. A first round of upgrades in what's promised to be many includes a new turf football and soccer field, improved tennis courts, a refurbished comfort station, and new grass soccer fields. A total of $2.5 million in improvements make up this first round of what's reported to be a total of $20 million in upgrades.

According to the Chandler Park Conservancy, the turf football and soccer field and tennis courts will debut by late spring. LAND, Inc. is overseeing the construction. The City of Detroit General Services Department is renovating the historic Comfort Station, which should also be completed by spring of this year. Chandler Park Conservancy expects the new grass soccer fields to be completed by spring of 2016. Mayor Mike Duggan has committed $250,000 for seeding the grass fields.

The Detroit Police Athletic League is charged with programming the fields in conjunction with some of their own football and soccer teams as well as the U.S. Tennis Association.

Included among the contributing groups are UAW Chrysler, the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation, NFL/LISC Fund, USA Soccer Foundation, LAND, Inc., Wayne County, and the City of Detroit. Phillip Pierce is Board Chair of the Conservancy and says that all the money and work being invested in the park is for the sake of the city's children.

Chandler Park itself is a 200-acre park on the city's east side, located off of I-94 at Conner Street. The nearly 100-year-old park is also home to the Wayne County Family Aquatic Center and the Chandler Park Golf Course.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Another Capitol Park development to receive state money

The state of Michigan has rewarded developers of a multi-million dollar downtown Detroit residential and commercial project with a cool $1 million. The money goes to 1145 Griswold Street, LLC, a company rehabilitating one of Capitol Park's historic buildings.

Transforming the vacant and dilapidated building at 1145 Griswold St. into 63 residential units and around 14,900 sq. ft. of commercial space is expected to cost $22.7 million. The $1 million Michigan Community Revitalization Program award is one part of a larger combination of developer equity, deferred developer fees, federal and state Historic Tax Credits, and state Brownfield Tax Credits that makes up two-thirds of the total project capital, says the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).

The MEDC and its Michigan Strategic Fund approved the money, citing the creation of 60 jobs among the project's benefits.

"These projects will act as catalysts for viable residential neighborhoods by creating downtown living options and redeveloping obsolete buildings into vibrant commercial and residential spaces," MEDC chief executive officer Steve Arwood says in a statement. "We are pleased to support these efforts to strengthen and further revitalize these communities."

This is not the first time the MEDC has contributed to a Capitol Park development. In Sep. 2014, the organization announced a $4,798,000 Michigan Community Revitalization Program performance-based investment for a five-story residential structure to be built on top of an already-existing parking garage next to the Book Cadillac Hotel.

According to that September report, 80 one-, two-, and three bedroom units are planned for the parking garage development. Three jobs are expected to be created.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

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.
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