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December development news round-up

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

100-year master plan for Palmer Park revealed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo and audio exhibition chronicles life in Delray before the bridge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brightmoor residents to open food co-op and community kitchen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Atomic Cafe gallery for outsider art to begin Phase 3 in Hamtramck


It started off as a conversation among artists. The members of the Hamtramck Contemporary Arts Alliance (HCAA) have shared a studio above a Joseph Campau Avenue storefront for a few years now. It was from there that the idea for a new Hamtramck art gallery emerged. Luke MacGilvray, a member of HCAA, pushed the idea through, opening the Atomic Cafe over the summer. What was supposed to be a one-off pop-up this July has blossomed into a permanent art gallery -- and a massive one at that. Atomic Cafe, located at 10326 Joseph Campau, offers 4,100 square feet of space to artists.

The Atomic Cafe is open every other month, or phase, as MacGilvray calls it. Phase 3 begins this November when the gallery will open with a new line-up of local artists. And the emphasis is definitely on the local. As curator, MacGilvray looks to find artists from the tri-county area and especially from Hamtramck. It comes, he says, from seeing other local galleries importing art from places like New York and Los Angeles.

"I want to give a shot to people who are outsiders, artists who are extremely talented but maybe their work isn't suited for a juried show," says MacGilvray. He's searching for eclectic art and, as he puts it, "Art that doesn't match your couch."

One of those local artists MacGilvray champions is Joseph Lapham. MacGilvray says that in a previous phase, Lapham sold all of his work on display and then some. To replace the ones that were sold, Lapham had to bring in new pieces, and those sold, too. That's the point for MacGilvray, to give artists he deems underrated the opportunity to share their work and maybe sell a few pieces -- and maybe a few more than that.

Beginning Nov. 7, Atomic Cafe will be open every weekend from 7 p.m. to midnight through the month of November.

Source: Luke MacGilvray, owner and curator of Atomic Cafe
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Historic Catholic school building re-opens as charter school

Cornerstone Charter Schools has moved its Health + Technology High School to the old St. Scholastica Grammar School building along the Southfield Service Drive.


St. Scholastica Grammar School, located just north of the Grandmont Rosedale neighborhood at Southfield Road and Outer Drive, closed in 2012 due to declining enrollment and financial woes. According to the Michigan Catholic, the official publication of the Archdiocese of Detroit, the final count for 2012 was 85 students, down from 133 students during the '07-'08 academic year. The school opened in 1939.

Unlike many of the schools -- public or private -- that have been shuttered throughout Detroit, St. Scholastica didn't sit vacant long. Cornerstone Charter Schools, a not-for-profit corporation, purchased the building earlier this year and has reportedly spent over $10 million in renovating the school building. Cornerstone has four schools, three in Detroit and one in Redford.

"The improvements we've made will be truly impactful for our students' educational experience," says Cornerstone Charters School CEO Tom Willis. "Our curriculum and teaching methods have shown to be quite successful for our current students, and we look forward to seeing it implemented with our new students."

Cornerstone moved its Health + Technology High School from the old location at 19900 McIntyre Street and into the St. Scholastica building this fall where it began the school year. A ceremonial ribbon-cutting event is being held on Oct. 28 to celebrate the changes at the school, located at 17351 Southfield Rd.

Source: Cornerstone Charter Schools press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

October development news round-up


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

Picking up on last month's thread of sports-cum-development news, renderings were leaked this month that showed what the development of the former Tiger Stadium site could look like. The renderings belong to the Roxbury Group, one of two development teams vying for the rights to develop the historic site at Michigan and Trumbull. The renderings are somewhat generic, but they do show a plan to keep the playing field at the center of the development while constructing mixed-use buildings along the sidewalks of Michigan and Trumbull.

Another iconic Detroit site, the sprawling and famously decimated Packard Plant, saw the first of what developer Fernando Palazuelo promises to be many construction crews. Palazuelo acquired the 3.5-million-square foot complex in December of 2013 and has promised that he will develop the site, despite the naysaying of skeptics. MLive Detroit reports that the first Packard crews were there to remove loose pieces of concrete.

The development team behind the David Whitney Building rehab recently invited members of the press for a tour of the building. Photos from the Detroit Free Press reveal an impressive lobby renovation and glimpses of what the apartments will look like. The Whitney, featuring shops, dining, apartments, and the Aloft Hotel brand, is announced to open Dec. 15.

Earlier this summer, we broke the news of Lynne Savino's attempts to create a new identity for the neighborhood along Michigan Avenue immediately to the west of I-75/I-96 junction -- an area she's dubbed "West Corktown." Since then, she and her husband Mike have made an impressive rehab of their bank-turned-home. These photos from Curbed Detroit are definitely worth a look.

Rose Hackman argued in the Atlantic recently that plans to foreclose on Detroit homeowners is an unfair practice strongly tied to racist real estate practices of the 20th century. It's a timely piece as we're deep in Wayne County foreclosure auction season.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Offworld Arcade now open once a month in Corktown


It's been about a year since Don Behm bought his first used arcade game machine, the 1982 classic BurgerTime. His CraigsList find initially cost him $200. In fixing that game, Behm got hooked. He's since collected 18 arcade games.

There are the classics like Ms. Pac-Man, Q*bert, and Donkey Kong as well as perhaps not-so-well known games like Elevator Action, Bad Dudes vs. DragonNinja, and Moon Patrol. Behm is more than a hobbyist, though, and is looking to open Offworld Arcade, a bar that will feature his games. He's been searching for his ideal building in neighborhoods like Corktown and Hamtramck where he can serve beer and wine and feature the games he's restored. He's in no rush to find a space and doesn't mind taking the time to find just the right spot.

Until then, Behm and his Offworld Arcade are calling St. Vincent home. It's an old Catholic school in Corktown, one that will eventually become a co-working space. He'll be working out of St. Vincent for the next year, restoring his gaming machines and hosting an "arcade gallery" once a month.

On Saturday, Oct. 25, Behm threw the second of his arcade galleries, where visitors enjoyed an all-you-can-play pass, entry into a BurgerTime high score contest, music from DJs, and a live performance from Cotton Museum -- all for a mere five dollar donation. Offworld's galleries run from 6 p.m. to midnight and are open to the public. From 6 to 9 p.m., Offworld Arcade is kid-friendly. 9 p.m. to midnight is saved for the adults.

To learn about future arcade galleries, follow Offworld Arcade on Facebook.

"It's really cool to see parents and their sons and daughters come in and the kids just stare at these big games," says Behm. "You'll see kids come in and be amazed and say to their parents, 'I've never seen anything like this'."

Offworld Arcade is located in the St. Vincent building at 2020 14th St.

Source: Don Behm, owner of Offworld Arcade
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Co-working space to open in Grandmont Rosedale


The rise of Detroit's co-working scene is well-documented. More and more small business incubators and co-working spaces are popping up, though largely limited to the greater downtown area. In Grandmont Rosedale, far outside the 7.2 square miles of greater downtown Detroit, a new co-working space will celebrate its opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday, Oct. 24th.

Called the Grand River WorkPlace, the 2,800 square foot co-working facility at 19120 Grand River Ave. will officially open for business Nov. 1st. WorkPlace will offer many of the amenities expected of a co-working facility these days, including conference rooms, printing capabilities, WiFi Internet access, personal mailboxes and lockers, parking spaces, a community kitchen, and small business development programming.

There are two membership levels at WorkPlace. At $75 a month, individuals gain 24-hour access to the facility and all of its offerings. For $300 a month, entrepreneurs can rent one of five private offices. Four of the five offices have already been leased. WorkPlace also features a 300-square foot storefront that will rotate pop-up businesses on a regular basis. Love Travels Imports, an artisanal crafts boutique owned by WorkPlace manager Yvette Jenkins, is the first pop-up to occupy the Grand River storefront.

"Something about Grandmont Rosedale that a lot of people don't talk about is how easy it is to get here," says Jenkins. "You can get here or go just about anywhere in twenty minutes. The Southfield Freeway, I-96, and M-10 are all nearby. It's easy for clients and customers to get here."

WorkPlace was started by the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation. Originally developed as a traditional office space, the GRDC changed course after conducting focus groups, finding more demand for a co-working facility. The former office building with an old hair salon storefront has been completely re-designed and modernized, including furniture from Reclaim Detroit.

Source: Yvette Jenkins, manager of Grand River WorkPlace
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Developers dig 27 geothermal wells to heat, cool Midtown's historic Forest Arms building


Forest Arms, a prominent apartment building near Wayne State University, was nearly lost in 2008 after a fire ravaged the building, displacing its residents and leaving the interior a charred mess. Local developers and husband and wife Scott Lowell and Carolyn Howard purchased the building a year later. They are now deep in a major rehab of the building, one that includes heavily investing in sustainable energy.

The pair have hired Strategic Energy Solutions of Berkley to dig 27 geothermal wells. Dug at a rate of two a day, the 375 foot-deep wells will heat and cool the Forest Arms' 70 one- and two-bedroom units. Built in 1905, the building was previously heated by a single pipe-radiator system.

"With the courtyard, it's a great opportunity to put these wells in," says Lowell. "Wells wouldn't make sense for a single-family residence, but with the overall heating costs for a place this big, we might save twenty percent off heating costs."

A 20,000 gallon cistern that will collect rain water from the roof is also planned. The water will then be utilized for non-potable purposes like flushing toilets and watering the lawn.

Workers are making progress within the building's interior, as well. While digging up the basement to work on the plumbing, Lowell and company have decided to keep digging, lowering the basement floor by a couple of feet to give more space to the eventual renters of the five garden units planned. Two commercial spaces will also go in that level.

Five penthouse units will be built on the roof. Tax credits Lowell is using to help fund the redevelopment demand that the penthouses be mostly hidden from streetview so as not to tarnish the building's historic charm. Lowell says that details like windows, doors, and trim will also have to meet historic accuracy standards. Other details, like cabinetry and fixtures, will be more modern.

Lowell is aiming for a Dec. 2015 opening.

Source: Scott Lowell, owner/operator of Forest Arms
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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