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Triton Properties unveils a brand-new look for the historic Alden Towers

On June 13, Triton Properties unveiled the new look of the historic Alden Towers apartment buildings located on East Jefferson in Detroit's Gold Coast neighborhood.
 
The Towers, also known as Alden Park Manor, were built in 1923 and designed by architect Edwin Rorke. Despite being on the National Register of Historic Places, the four towers had fallen into a state of disrepair in recent years. Denver-based Triton Properties has been working to restore this property to its former grandeur with help from Detroit's Kraemer Design Group.
 
Triton specializes in the renovation and rehabilitation of historic apartment buildings and has been doing that kind of work in Denver for years. They started investing in Detroit in 2009 and were looking for a big project in a great area that was more historic. They bought the Alden Towers out of foreclosure for $2 million in August 2012.
 
"These buildings are impossible to replicate," says Luke Davis, Director of Real Estate for Triton Properties. "The charm, the character, the quality … they're an easy sell once you get them cleaned up because people love it and love to be in it."
 
They're about one-third of the way completed with their renovation of Alden Towers. The common areas are mostly complete, including a brand-new grand lobby with a large fireplace as the focal point, a new laundry facility with stainless steel high-efficiency washers and dryers, and a new fitness center with all-new equipment and flatscreen TVs. The entire building is outfitted with free Wi-Fi. The grand lobby, designed with assistance from Sharon Carlile of Royal Oak's Italmoda, will mimic the lobby of a modern boutique hotel and will be a place for residents and visitors to congregate.

Everything is getting upgraded, and they are also doing a major renovation to the property's riverfront, which will begin in the next month. Renovation of the 382 residential units is ongoing while residents still live in the buildings; as leases come up for renewal, some choose to leave (based on reassessed qualification) and others move into newly-renovated units. 72 units are currently occupied. Davis estimates that the $5 million project will be complete in one year.

Units range from one-bed/one-bath to two-bed/two-bath, and run $649-1,134 per month (broken down per unit, this is about $1 per square foot). Triton is refurbishing as much of the original hardwood floors, moldings, bathroom tile, and built-ins as possible. All units will have state-of-the-art energy-efficient appliances and new cabinets, countertops, fixtures and faucets, ceiling fans and blinds. Triton also plans to offer a concierge service in partnership with local businesses for such things as dry cleaning, shoe repair, and grocery delivery.
 
Triton has more plans in the works for Detroit, specifically in the Gold Coast and other East Jefferson neighborhoods. Davis says that Triton was drawn to this area because of its situation on the Detroit River and proximity to other beautiful historic neighborhoods like the Villages to the north.
 
Source: Luke Davis, Director of Real Estate for Triton Properties
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

Got a Development News story to share? Email Nicole here.

Coffee and (___) pops up for round two in Jefferson Chalmers

You might remember Coffee and (___) from its fall pop-up in West Village. Pastry Chef Angela Foster is back again with another pop-up, this time at June on Jefferson in the Jefferson-Chalmers commercial district through July 9.
 
Debuting last weekend during Jazzin' on Jefferson, Coffee and (___) was an immediate hit with the curious crowds. The impressive interior, featuring tables made of reclaimed wood and other salvaged and repurposed materials, was designed by volunteer architects from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Urban Priorities Committee in partnership with the Jefferson East Business Association (JEBA). (This place will give some permanent storefronts pop-up envy.)
 
After building a name for herself and her brand during the three-month pop-up and through her involvement with groups like FoodLab, Foster was able to become totally self-employed. "I hate doing the same thing every day," she says, referring to what she feels is the monotony of the typical pastry chef job. Which is why she chose the name Coffee and (___), and bakes something different every single day. "The whole idea is to do something different every day and keep it exciting (for me and for customers)."
 
She had no intention of doing a second pop-up until she was approached by JEBA. Though she is hesitant to commit to full-fledged business ownership herself – "(We) proved (a bakery and café) can work (in West Village), but I don't know if I'm the one who can do it " – she does enjoy serving people her pastries and getting the "immediate gratification as a pastry chef of seeing people eat and enjoy them right there."
 
Perhaps, if we're lucky, she can be convinced to stick around and keep feeding our smiling faces.
 
Foster is working with Kung-Food to host dinners every Friday evening for the duration of the pop-up, as well as St. Clair Cinema Club for movie screenings and brunch on Sundays. Coffee and (___) will be open Monday through Thursday 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Friday 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
 
Source: Angela Foster, chef and owner of Coffee and (___)
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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The DIA's Cultural Living Room in the Kresge Court opens June 14

After being closed the last two months, the Kresge Court inside the Detroit Institute of the Arts is about to reopen this Friday at 10 a.m. as the Cultural Living Room.
 
The Cultural Living Room is a concept that came about through Bradford Frost, a fellow in Wayne State University's Detroit Revitalization Fellows Program and special assistant for community and economic development at the DIA who wrote the ArtPlace grant that secured the $268,500 in funding for this project.
 
"(Basically they) wanted to (figuratively) break these marble walls down and open up to the community a spot where people come to meet, have coffee, meals, work meetings, or sit and read, learn about art, and be inspired," says Patrick Thompson, whose Detroit-based design firm was selected to lead the project. "They wanted to really maximize the potential of the space."
 
The DIA wanted Kresge transformed into a comfortable and collaborative space – a well-designed, welcoming living room free to the public and open to all. Thompson describes his design as "a modern living room with a traditional English garden." There is a lot of greenery in the space and different seating groups throughout, "different vignettes and very symmetrical leading through a traditional English garden with furniture and greenery. We wanted to make it the grandest living room in Midtown."
 
There are dining tables for meetings and social gatherings that will accommodate 4-10 people, one and two person seating spaces, and areas for people to sit in a corner and read a book quietly. "The idea is there is something here for every type of experience people are looking for."
 
There will also be coffee and tea service, an elevated menu of small plates, wine and beer. Initially the Cultural Living Room will have the same hours as the museum, with the hopes of extending the hours beyond the museum's in the future.
 
Thompson's design blends the modern and the traditional, with modern pieces from designer Patricia Urquiola for Coalesse, classic mid-century modern chairs by Euro Saarinen for Knoll, and Danish designer Hans Wegner's iconic Wishbone Chair, along with traditional Chesterfield chairs and wingbacks. The selection of the furniture is also a reflection of the museum itself: these are classic pieces of design, functional art in their own respect. There is also custom woodwork carved from oak throughout the space, as well as a new audio system and new lighting.
 
All of the furniture has power outlet access for meetings and personal use. The large library tables also have built-in iPads, which have an interface that links to the museum's collection so guests can learn more about the art around them. "It's basically a humongous, beautiful hotel lobby right in the middle of DIA," Thompson says.
 
The space will still be heavily programmed with events. There is also an outdoor extension of the Cultural Living Room, a seating area on the DIA's South Lawn with large concrete community tables, that will be completed mid-August.
 
Thompson says, "This is the project of a lifetime. It is a true honor to work with the DIA."
 
Source: Patrick Thompson, owner of Patrick Thompson Design
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Always Brewing Detroit to open permanently in Grandmont Rosedale

When Amanda Brewington was a freshman at Michigan State University, she didn't know anyone else on campus. So she started hanging out at a local coffee shop that had an open mic on Thursdays. This coffeehouse was where she met most of her college friends, many of whom she is still close with.
 
This was the impetus behind her desire to open a coffeehouse in Detroit.
 
Brewington has spent the last two years planning Always Brewing Detroit. She attended workshops, seminars, networked extensively with other business owners, and eventually enrolled in TechTown's entrepreneurial coaching program THRIVE, which provided her with a mentor to assist her in business planning and developing funding strategies.
 
Last winter, Always Brewing Detroit popped up for a month from Nov. 26 to Dec. 23 in the former neighborhood city hall in Grandmont Rosedale on Detroit's Northwest side. Brewington chose this space after spending three months looking in neighborhoods that were underserved in terms of coffeehouses and community spaces. That left out Midtown, Corktown and downtown, but opened up areas like Jefferson-Chalmers, the Avenue of Fashion, and Grandmont Rosedale – a neighborhood she was previously unfamiliar with but was immediately attracted to after being connected to Tom Godeeris, Executive Director of the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation.
 
Brewington needed a building that needed a minimal amount of structural repairs – a place with "a roof, parking, walls." But she also wanted to be in a community that didn't have a coffeehouse that also offered a diversity of clientele – all ages, ethnicities, with both new and long-time residents. Grandmont Rosedale boasts an 80-percent owner-occupied community of some 14,000 residents.
 
Currently a downtown resident, Brewington also was looking for a community she could settle down in over the next few years and start a family of her own. "I wanted to be somewhere I would move … where I can have a yard and a garden and be able to walk to work."
 
She found the building at 19180 Grand River Avenue and worked out a deal with the owner to allow her to host the pop-up to gauge the community's interest. The pop-up was a success, and on Feb. 1 she signed a three-year lease. Always Brewing Detroit is currently undergoing its final round of inspections and finishing renovation touches. Brewington hopes for a soft opening by the end of the month, with a grand opening in June. Always Brewing will offer a full coffee bar, espresso, teas, pastries and prepared sandwiches.  
 
For other aspiring Detroit business owners, Brewington offers this advice: "It's definitely possible. You don't have to be rich or well-connected. You just have to be persistent and patient."
 
Source: Amanda Brewington, owner of Always Brewing Detroit
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Security Trust Lofts, downtown Detroit's newest housing development, ready to start leasing

Downtown Detroit has some new high-rise housing coming online that has absolutely nothing to do with Dan Gilbert: the Security Trust Lofts at 735 Griswold is a totally-renovated seven-story building located on Griswold at Lafayette, just two blocks south of Capitol Park.
 
The building is owned by Joseph Kalladat, a lawyer by trade who purchased the 1925 Albert Kahn-designed building with the intention of renovating it into loft-style rental units. Because the building had no singular historic relevance beyond its age and attributes, Kalladat had to go through the process of not just designating the building itself as a historical landmark, but the whole surrounding district.
 
With the help of local historic architect Rebecca Savage, Kalladat discovered that this building was part of Detroit's Financial District in the first half of the 1900s. With Savage's help and support, they were able to get the entire district designated as historic – of the 36 buildings in the district, 33 were conforming and now fall under the historic designation.
 
What this means for future development in the area is that developers will receive a 20-percent historic tax credit on renovation work, provided they adhere to historic preservation guidelines. Often old buildings like this sit empty because the cost of renovation is prohibitively high; these historic tax credits help offset the costs.
 
The historic designation process of the Security Trust Lofts started in 2008. Once the designation was received, construction began on the building. It was a complete gut job. "Everything was demolished down to the exterior walls and concrete floors," Kalladat says. Renovation work took about 14 months; now they are putting on the finishing touches and awaiting their final certificate of occupancy. They hope to start moving residents in mid-June.
 
Security Trust Lofts have 19 residential units as well as a clubhouse for residents and a floor dedicated to a fitness center and storage. All lofts come with their own washer/dryer units, stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, dark wood cabinetry, and operable windows. The ground floor and first floor mezzanine will be retail, though they haven't started leasing yet.  
 
Rent ranges $1,275-2,500 and includes gas and water. Units range from loft-style open floor plans to two bedrooms, starting at 850 square feet. Each unit has its own security monitoring system.
 
For information about leasing, call 248-254-4008.
 
Source: Joseph Kalladat, Security Trust Lofts owner
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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The Dossin Great Lakes Museum now open to public after $2 million renovation

The Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle just completed a $2 million renovation that officially opened to the public this past weekend.
 
"The project was an ambitious project in that it touched everything we do there," says Bob Bury, Executive Director and CEO of the Detroit Historical Society. "Certain things were refreshed and re-enchanced; some things (are) brand new."
 
One of the new exhibits is called Built by the River, which documents the significance that the Detroit River has had in building this city. Integral to the growth of Detroit's major industries, the Detroit River was used to transport lumber during the early logging days, automotive parts in the modern era, and, yes, alcohol during Prohibition. The river still defines life for Detroiters in how we live, work and play.  
 
The museum encourages interaction – they want kids and adults alike to touch the displays and have a fully immersive experience, like in the S.S. William Clay Ford pilot house, the actual pilot house from the freighter, and the fully-restored Gothic Room, salvaged from the luxury passenger ship the City of Detroit III when it was decommissioned. On the grounds outside the museum rests the bow anchor from the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald.
 
The Dossin Great Lakes Museum attracted 1,000 people per day in its grand reopening weekend. Admission was free and will remain free for the forseeable future to encourage people to visit, whether they have a specific interest in Detroit's maritime history or not. The museum is open to the public Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
 
Source: Bob Bury, Executive Director and CEO of the Detroit Historical Society
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Inner State, formerly 323 East, opening May 17

You already know that the popular Royal Oak art gallery 323 East, which is behind the game-changing 1xRUN limited edition time-released online art "store" with an international audience, is moving to Detroit in a space adjacent to Eastern Market at 1410 Gratiot. What you might not know yet is that with the new space comes a new name.
 
"We're in a new space and have a new identity," says Jesse Cory, founder of 323 East. "We needed a fresh new approach to it."
 
That new approach is called Inner State, a name which can be seen as both a semantic play on the extensive interstate systems that criss-cross the Motor City as well as an acknowledgement of the work of the exhibiting artists reflecting their "inner states."
 
After outgrowing their small space in Royal Oak, the 323 team began looking for spaces in the city. "The art world in Detroit is exploding right now," Cory says. "There's a consolidation (that's happening)," mentioning the Butcher's Daughter in Midtown and the Red Bull House of Art, Inner State's new neighbors located in the market district.
 
The three-story, 10,000-square-foot space has a more refined look designed by architect Tadd Heidgerken for et al. Collaborative, who also designed Astro Coffee and the House of Art. "(We knew he) designs spaces that are very comfortable and dynamic. I don’t know where else in town you'd look to get someone with that kind of aesthetic." Cory describes it as being less of a boutique and more of a traditional gallery – cleaner, much larger, and a fitting utilization of the building without "going overboard."
 
Inner State will be open Thursdays through Saturdays and will be more exhibit-oriented with private receptions as well as the grand opening fetes for each new exhibit that they became known for at 323.

"We definitely want to celebrate the efforts people put into these works and have a party," he says. "It's really a coming-of-age of the art world in Detroit. The stigma of galleries in the past has been removed. (Places like) 323 and the House of Art have really made the experience inclusive."
 
The new gallery opens May 17.
 
Source: Jesse Cory, founder of 323 East/Inner State
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Stella Cafe remodeled and rebranded as Stella Good Coffee in the Fisher Building

Stella International Café inside the Fisher Building in New Center has gone through a major renovation and rebranding.
 
Now called "Stella Good Coffee," the café – owned by Shawn Santo and Kevin Borsay, owners of Pure Detroit, Rowland Café, a second Stella location inside the Guardian Building, and Vera Jane (a women's clothing store) – will focus on all things Detroit, starting with the design.
 
After closing last fall, the space was stripped down to bare walls and floor, grinding away layers of concrete to reveal the original Albert Kahn-produced floor from 1928 (which has a slightly different design than the floor of the main lobby, also original). Santo and Borsay oversaw all of the renovation work themselves, working closely with James Willer of Reclaim Detroit on material sourcing and design. They also worked with local companies and artists on the fixtures, including lamp shades from the Detroit Wallpaper Company (which will feature the designs of local artists and will be rotated regularly) and a white neon sign that reads "Drink Good Coffee" from Spectrum Neon Sign Company.
 
The redesign also allows for more seating inside the café, which will have free WiFi, and additional seating will be available in the Fisher lobby.
 
In addition to a new look, a new name, and a new logo (a complicated geometric figure with a long technical name that includes the word "stella," also known as the "Moravian star"), Stella Good Coffee will have a whole new approach to their products. Instead of the quick grab-and-go coffee shop they were previously known as, they will offer only pour-over coffees, which take longer but, as Borsay says, "is worth it." They will also have loose-leaf teas, soups from Russell Street Deli, and baked goods from Avalon Breads and Traffic Jam & Snug.
 
Stella Good Coffee is celebrating a "soft" opening this week, with a grand opening coming later this spring.
 
Source: Kevin Borsay and Shawn Santo, owners of Stella Good Coffee
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Oakaloosa, a philanthropic music festival, to benefit Historic Fort Wayne

The City of Detroit is gaining another new music festival this summer. Oakaloosa will be held at the Historic Fort Wayne on July 27, and, much like Orion Music + More, will reinvest into the maintenance and preservation of the concert site itself -- Historic Fort Wayne.
 
The 96-acre Historic Fort Wayne site in Delray includes some original buildings from the mid-1800s as well as faithful replicas, though many are in disrepair. The Fort is operated by the Detroit Recreation Department with other nonprofit assistance. They rely heavily on volunteer efforts and individual generosity.
 
Oakaloosa is a brand-new outdoor concert, billing itself as the region's first fully philanthropic music festival, with a percentage of every dollar raised going back towards the restoration of Historic Fort Wayne. "We were looking to participate in restoring its renown by adding an event there where people can appreciate it and relate this event to its name," says Adrian Pittman, founder of Module, which is handling Oakaloosa's marketing. "What happened to (the Fort) is sort of what happened to Detroit in the rest of the country … it was forgotten. It requires a local to give it a little attention and polish it off a bit. It needs to be maintained for generations of people to come."
 
With connections in the parks & rec department, Detroit Sports Zone, Inc. – the nonprofit group organizing this event – was able to secure the site, which needs little in the way of infrastructure work in order to host the event. "They were looking at the fort from day one. It's such a unique opportunity." A first event of its kind for the site, they hope this event will also encourage other organizations to host festivals here.
 
DJ Mikey Eckstein of Embarco is responsible for programming, which includes both local and national acts. Main headliners include Girl Talk and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony (as part of their big reunion tour).
 
They expect about 15,000 people to attend. Tickets are $45.

The odd name actually came from a typo on a website about the fort's history. The organizers liked it despite it being a misspelling, and decided to use the name for the festival.
 
Source: Adrian Pittman, Director of Development at Module
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Mosaic Youth Theatre to move into old Miller High School, launching partnership with charter school

In 2001, Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit was commissioned to write a play on Detroit history as part of the Detroit 300 celebration. The result was Hastings Street, a play about teenagers at Miller High School in the 1940s, which they identified as one of the most exciting times and places to be a teenager in the city's history. Two years ago Mosaic decided to produce this play during their 2012/2013 performance season. What they didn't know at the time was that they would also be moving into the old Miller High School in the fall of 2013.
 
Mosaic will relocate its offices to 2251 Antietam, formerly Miller High, while joining a new charter public K-5 elementary school called the University Prep Science & Math Elementary School: Sidney D. Miller Campus (UPSM). This will be a "STEAM" school – science, technology, engineering, and math ("STEM") plus arts. This new charter school purchased the building and is providing Mosaic with 12,600 square feet of dedicated space as well as an additional 31,000 square feet of shared space in the school. In turn, Mosaic is providing their students with arts instruction in a unique in-kind partnership that expands the reach and resources of both entities. Mosaic will pay $1/year for rent plus utilities, though they do have to raise over $1 million in funding for their portion of the construction costs.
 
"It's really better for an arts organization of our size to be part of this larger entity rather than owning our own building," says Mosaic Founder & CEO Rick Sperling. Small and medium-sized arts organizations face a real challenge when they own their own buildings, which inevitably takes the focus away from the organization itself.
 
This partnership between Mosaic and UPSM is also aligned with the Detroit Future City framework. Considered part of the Eastern Market area of the plan, this partnership addresses two of the strategic focuses: both finding a use for obsolete historic buildings (the school is national historic landmark that has sat empty since 2007) and also to promote the arts in residential and industrial areas. While Mosaic's main performances will still be at the DIA, they will hold training and smaller performances in their new home. Between the school and Mosaic, Sperling says there will be traffic at this site seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
 
Most of Mosaic's artistic staff works with young people from all over the city and suburbs on nights and weekends, so the added arts support to the elementary school will not disrupt other programs.
 
The old Channel 56 Building, Mosaic's current home, will be put up for sale and will continue to be used as Mosaic's tech shop and storage facility in the meantime so the building remains occupied. Hastings Street opens on May 10 at the DIA.
 
Source: Rick Sperling, Founder & CEO of Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Top of the Pontch, Jefferson House, Urban Cellars opening in the Crowne Plaza Hotel Pontchartrain

As the Crowne Plaza Hotel Pontchartrain undergoes a serious exterior overhaul to prepare to welcome its first guests this June, the overhaul happening inside is just as ambitious, both in design and concept.
 
The Jefferson House will be the Pontch's primary restaurant, located across from the lobby. The look is modern meets old world: copper leaf ceilings, plush cream-colored chairs, dark-stained wainscoting covering the walls. It's warm and rich and comfortable, refined without being too stuffy. They'll serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, and will also have a 40-seat outdoor patio on Jefferson. Attached to the Jefferson House is Urban Cellars, the hotel's sizable bar, which will specialize in craft cocktails.
 
Overseeing the operation of both concepts is executive chef and director of food & beverage Justin Vaiciunas. The menu Vaiciunas has created for Jefferson House and Urban Cellars is an exploration of cutting-edge American fusion cuisine. Expect to see the highest-quality ingredients in exquisitely artful presentations, though not impossibly high-end (or high ticket). The Jefferson House and Urban Cellars will open in June with the hotel.
 
The lobby will have a quick grab-and-go café called Tabatchi, which will serve Starbucks coffee and pre-prepared sandwiches and sushi for busy travelers. The hotel will also feature up to 15,000 square feet of completely renovated banquet space.
 
In addition to these new concepts, long-term plans include re-opening the second-floor terrace, as well as re-opening the iconic Top of the Pontch.
 
The 25th floor restaurant, bar and lounge will be totally reimagined – in contrast to the Jefferson House's neutral palette and old-world appeal, the new Top of the Pontch will be flashy, all glass and waterfalls, bringing Vegas style to Detroit. The menu will be ambitious fine dining.
 
Looking ahead, developer Gabriel Ruiz plans on building the hotel's second tower, which was part of the original Pontchartrain's design though never built, and connecting both towers via skywalk to Cobo Center. These plans are at least three years out.
 
Source: Justin Vaiciunas, Executive Chef and Director of Food & Beverage of the Crowne Plaza Hotel Pontchartrain
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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NSO to receive Governor's Award for NSO Bell Building renovation, will move headquarters inside

Neighborhood Service Organization (NSO) is a non-profit organization that does a lot of work in the city and suburbs around mental health, homelessness, and developmental disabilities. They offer community programs, a suicide hotline and also the Tumaini Center at Second Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., which is a walk-in center serving the chronically homeless in Detroit that has been open since 1975. They see about 3,000 people annually at the center, in a city with a homeless population of around 20,000.
 
Joe Heaphy, NSO's Vice President of Real Estate Development, says, "About seven years ago NSO decided it wanted to move away from simply managing and helping homeless folks, but get them housed." They were looking to provide permanent housing for the chronically homeless, not just temporary housing or a traditional shelter. This led to the purchase of the former Michigan Bell building in Highland Park, which had been sitting vacant for 20 years. A $52 million renovation converted the building into 155 housing units, which began leasing last August. Units were filled by November. Residents pay 30 percent of their income, whatever that may be, in rent, while the rest of the $650/month rent is covered by Section 8. NSO also provides on-site resources and support services.
 
But at 255,000 square feet, the 1929 building itself is so massive it is not fully occupied by apartment units. Starting this August, the NSO Bell Building will also be home to NSO's new headquarters, moving 200 administrative staff into the commercial portion of the building. 
 
This renovation and adaptive reuse project is being honored with a Governor's Award this Wednesday, May 1, for outstanding achievement in historic preservation. The building also serves as a model for public-private funding collaboration and investment, utilizing funds as far-ranging as brownfield redevelopment tax credits, foundation funding from the McGregor Fund and Kresge Foundation, and tax credit investment from Morgan Stanley.
 
Source: Joe Heaphy, NSO's Vice President of Real Estate Development
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Anew Life Prosthetics & Orthotics brings new life to amputee patients in Albert Kahn building

Anew Life Prosthetics & Orthotics is putting the finishing touches on the renovation of the Albert Kahn-designed Detroit Savings Bank Branch #3 at Woodward and Milwaukee. The company launched in 2011 as a mobile operation with partners Chris Casteel and Paul Cauley working out of their cars with their equipment and supplies stored in far-flung locations throughout metro Detroit. They knew they wanted to locate their offices (with lab and equipment) in the city, and after a previous deal fell through they found the building at 6438 Woodward in December 2011. Within two weeks they owned it.
 
Anew Life provides artificial limbs and braces to those who need them. While this does include a small percentage of trauma cases, the majority of their clients suffer from vascular disease and diabetes. They see their clients through the whole process, starting with visiting them in the hospital post-surgery, casting them, making molds and testing the prosthesis, then making the final prosthesis that will last for three to five years. "I love seeing people return to life and thrive," says Casteel, who also runs a support group for amputees.
 
The renovated Detroit Savings Bank building will be home to Anew's offices, a lab where the devices will be built, and a physical therapy gym for recovering patients. They are also completing renovations that will make the building ADA accessible and are awaiting certifications that will enable them to bill Medicare and Medicaid for their patients. 
 
Built as a bank branch, the building has previously been used as a church and a nightclub, among other things. Renovation work included gutting much of the interior, though Casteel says they are "trying to save as much Albert Kahn as we can." Casteel and Cauley were working out of the building during the renovation, and are now at a point where they are able to start accepting patients.
 
Anew's offices, storage, and lab don't quite fill up the whole space, so they have made their basement available to Burners Without Borders, where Danielle "Doxie" Kaltz is able to store all her supplies to assemble backpacks of hygiene and emergency items for the homeless. "We want to help support everything local," Casteel says.
 
Source: Chris Casteel, co-owner of Anew Life Prosthetics & Orthotics
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Hellenic Museum celebrates grand opening in Detroit's cultural center

Though they've been hosting special events for over a year now, the Hellenic Museum in Midtown officially celebrated its grand opening this past weekend.
 
The building, located at 67 E. Kirby in Detroit's Cultural Center, was purchased from Wayne State University in 2009 for $355,000.
 
The Hellenic Heritage Society, the nonprofit organization that is dedicated to the promotion and celebration of Detroit's Greek heritage and growth of Greek culture, has spent the last four years restoring the building, formerly the Detroit Children's Museum, which included a new roof, a whole new geothermal heating system, air conditioning and more repairs, all while building up the inventory that is now the museum's collection.
 
Detroit's Hellenic Museum is one of only two such museums in the country (the other one opened about 15 years ago in Chicago). Joan De Ronne, vice president of operations for the Hellenic Museum, says, "The reason for the establishment of the Hellenic Museum in Michigan is because there is really nothing that was a reflection of Greek history and culture other than a small exhibit at the DIA and (in the libraries)," despite the tremendous impact Greek culture has had on the whole of Western civilization. Additionally, the roots of Greek culture in metro Detroit run deep, beginning with the immigration of the Greeks to the area in the early 1900s into Greektown. "So many (cultural) contributions have been made and those things are being lost. We want to preserve the story of their contributions, not just to Hellenic culture but also to greater metro Detroit as a whole."
 
The museum's collection consists of heritage items collected from families and churches – books, artwork and pottery, an eighteenth century bridal gown. The museum is also collecting the oral histories of local Greek families, which will eventually be available on the Hellenic Museum website.
 
The museum will continue hosting and partnering on events that celebrate and promote Greek culture – music, art, food, and history – such as the annual Greek Independence Day Parade that was held in tandem with their grand opening last Saturday.
 
Source: Joan De Ronne, Vice President of Operations for the Hellenic Museum
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Construction to start on Globe Building state park recreation center and events facility

The former Detroit Dry Docks Engine Works complex and Globe Trading Company building, parts of which date back to 1892, will begin its transformation into an adventure and discovery center as part of an expansion of the William G. Milliken State Park & Harbor, Michigan's only urban state park.
 
The project was announced in May 2011 but has seen some delays. "The languishing has ended," says David Di Rita, owner of the Roxbury Group, the Detroit-based development firm overseeing the renovation. They closed on construction financing for the project in mid-March. Activity on the building will start within in the next two weeks.
 
The $12.8 million project is essentially a build-to-suit project for the Department of Natural Resources. Plans include the adventure and discovery center with rock-climbing, zip-lining, and other activities, but much more beyond that. "Really it amounts to a multi-use facility for the benefit of park visitors as well as people who may just wish to visit the Globe and participate in its activities, which includes a combination of exhibit and meeting space all designed around the idea of introducing the public to the state park system and provide year-round opportunities for people to enjoy the state park."
 
There will be activity space as well as permanent and rotating educational exhibits. The DNR will move its operations offices from Southfield into this building. The design includes a lot of attractive open space that can be used for business meetings and private events; the DNR envisions this space being utilized in much the same way as Eastern Market's Shed 5.
 
People will also be able to access the services of any state park office, such as getting their hunting and fishing licenses.

"The idea is really to take people here in the largest point of population in the state and give them a point of entry into the state park system," says Di Rita.
 
The project requires a partial demolition of some of the older portions of the complex, though Di Rita says, "We're doing our best to preserve as much of the facility as possible and are really focusing on the portion of the building that is most recognizable to the public."
 
Di Rita expects construction on the Globe to be complete around this time next year.
 
Source: David Di Rita, owner of the Roxbury Group
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg 

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