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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.

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.
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