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Detroit Development News

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Detroit City FC to kick off largest community-financed project in U.S. sports history

Detroit City FC is preparing to kick off what it's estimating to be the largest community-financed project in U.S. sports history, the renovation of its future home, Keyworth Stadium in Hamtramck. The popular semi-professional soccer team is releasing details of its community investment campaign at a Keyworth Kickoff event at the Fowling Warehouse in Hamtramck on Thursday, Oct. 29.

Since coming to terms on a ten-year lease agreement with the Hamtramck Public Schools this past September, the next hurdle between Detroit City FC and its new home is money. Detroit City FC is hoping to raise an estimated $750,000 to $1 million in renovations for its future home, a 1936 stadium that was the first Works Progress Administration project built in Michigan. In addition to believing it to be the largest community-financed project in U.S. sports history, the soccer organization also estimates it to be the largest community investment campaign of any kind in the state of Michigan.

To launch the campaign, the Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers are presenting Keyworth Kickoff at Fowling Warehouse. Free fowling lanes will be offered from 7 to 8 p.m. to registered participants. Registration is open to Michigan residents only.

The campaign launch and an interview session with Detroit City FC owners will occur following open fowling.

"The success of the 2015 season saw us turning away people at the gates. It was a clear sign DCFC is ready to take the next step, and grow as an organization," Detroit City FC co-owner Alex Wright says in a statement. "Come spring of 2016, Keyworth Stadium will be the home field both our supporters and the residents of Hamtramck deserve."

In moving from its current home at Cass Tech to Keyworth Stadium, the team will double its capacity from 3,000 to 6,000 spectators after the first wave of renovation. Hamtramck Public Schools retains ownership of the property over the course of the ten-year lease and its own sports teams will have access to the renovated stadium throughout the year.

Detroit City FC is set to open its season at Keyworth Stadium in April 2016.

Keyworth Kickoff occurs from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Fowling Warehouse, 3901 Christopher St., Hamtramck.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Midtown salon shutters, pop-up hub to open in its place

A familiar business in Midtown's Cass Corridor is closing up shop and will be replaced by a pop-up boutique.

Jen Willemsen opened Curl Up & Dye seven years ago. She is closing the non-toxic barber and beauty shop but will retain the storefront, instead launching a new concept.

Willemsen will open JoyRide: Pop Up Rendezvous by the end of the month, she says. JoyRide will utilize the former salon space to host rotating retailers for months at a time. The business at Curl Up was fine, according to Willemsen, and the change is being made to afford her more time as she enters the seventh month of her first pregnancy.

The pop-up has been a popular trend in Detroit, launching a number of what have become permanent businesses throughout the city. Used as an opportunity by what are typically first-time entrepreneurs, the pop-up allows for a brick and mortar experience without all of the up front costs of a traditional start-up. Cinema Detroit, Love Travels Imports, and Coffee and (___) are all recent examples of Detroit pop-ups that have made the transition from pop-up to permanently located businesses.

"I'm proud and thankful to be part of Cass Corridor," says Willemsen. "It's been my home for so long, and in so many ways. The changes I've witnessed in this community are immense, yet it's still a familiar friend. Change can be difficult, but that doesn't make it bad. I miss the old 'Corridor,' but I'm still looking forward to its future and being part of it."

The first JoyRide tenant will be Z Ballerini. The manufacturer of men's travel and everyday bags uses natural materials and makes them in Detroit. Z Ballerini is readying for the holiday season.

JoyRide: Pop Up Rendezvous is located at 4215 Cass Ave.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Artists seek to transform Livernois with installation along Avenue of Fashion

Detroit artists Mandisa Smith and Najma Wilson are hoping to liven up the Avenue of Fashion with their unique brand of fiber art. The duo owns Detroit Fiber Works, a fiber arts studio and gallery in that district, and is looking to create an installation that will fill the empty space of a Livernois Avenue boulevard median. They also hope to offer fiber arts workshops to members of the community.

In order to reach their goal, Smith and Wilson have started a crowdfunding campaign to raise $10,000 for their "Fiber Art on the Avenue" project. Should the artists raise $10,000 by November 30, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation will award the project a $10,000 matching grant as a part of its Public Spaces Community Places initiative.

The project will receive great input from the community, organizers say, and the money raised will be used for materials, student transportation, teaching fees, and construction costs. The artists will invite community members to lectures, field trips, and lessons in creating fiber art, resulting in an installation created by those taking part in the workshops. That installation will then be located on the Avenue of Fashion median.

For the president of the Avenue of Fashion Business Association, Dolphin Michael, "Fiber Art on the Avenue" would bring some much deserved attention to his district. He says, "Recently, there has been significant national attention on many of Detroit's public art installations in other areas of the city. With the revitalization that the Avenue of Fashion is currently undergoing, including new shops and restaurants, improved street lighting and median landscaping on Livernois, this is the perfect time for our own public art project."

In crowdfunding $10,000, the artists will actually receive $40,000. By reaching their goal and successfully raising $20,000 through the combined crowdfunding and MEDC matching grant, Smith and Wilson will then match an earlier 2014 grant from the Knight Arts Challenge, necessary for that $20,000 Knight grant to be released. Raise $10,000, receive $40,000.

The "Fiber Art on the Avenue" crowdfunding campaign is occurring on Michigan-based site Patronicity and available here.

Fiber Art Works is located at 19359 Livernois Ave.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Woodbridge developer continues line of fable-themed rehabs with "Wonderland House"

Alex Pereira and Secure Realty, the team responsible for the "Lorax"- and "Up"-themed redevelopments in Woodbridge, are back at it, this time with an "Alice in Wonderland"-themed duplex on Commonwealth Street.

Consistent with his other rentals, the Wonderland house is a modern rehabilitation of a century-old building. Were he to stop there, Pereira's rentals would be simple attractive updates of classic homes; 21st century utility upgrades complement the refurbishment of early 20th century designs and hardware. Pereira, however, has opted for something with a little more panache. The front yard of his first Woodbridge rental is marked by a sculpture of and quotes from the title character of "The Lorax" by Dr. Seuss. His second redevelopment is painted in the same pastel color scheme as the house from Disney animated film "Up."

The Wonderland house is a duplex. Each unit is roughly 2,000 sq. ft. with four bedrooms and two bathrooms. Much work was done to restore the home, including a back wall that was bowing outward due to water damage. Pereira's crew disassembled the brick wall, shored up the infrastructure, and put it back together.

Sculptures of Alice and the Queen of Hearts stand out front. A quote from the tale will line the large planter box where the sculptures rest. On the third floor, Pereira has commissioned four custom-made stained glass windows, each depicting a scene from "Alice in Wonderland." Bold reds, yellows, and blues highlight the building's eaves and frames.

"People have this misconception that historic colors are bland and drab and brown and all tones of beige. It's not true," Pereira says. "Historic colors used to be very, very bold. They were just limited in the pigmentation that they used to be able to get."

Pereira says he received some flak for the pastels of the Up house, so this time he consulted the National Historic Trust to find colors more suitable for the period in which the Wonderland house was built.

Of course, that's not the only blowback he's received. From past stories Model D has run on Pereira and his Woodbridge projects, the comments section has become a place to air grievances, with arguments breaking out over Pereira's properties and practices. And while he's certainly not the only person redeveloping properties in Woodbridge, Pereira is likely the most polarizing--something he doesn't seem to mind. But whether his are designs considered whimsical or tacky, acts of rehabilitation or gentrification, Pereira believes in what he's doing.

"There's a group of people that love what I do and encourage me to do it, and there's a group of people that wants me not to do it," Pereira says. "At the end of the day, I think you have to be a little bit light-hearted with these types of projects. They're here today and they may be gone tomorrow. Who knows? Things change. But I think what most individuals fear the most is change, in general. We are in a time in Detroit's history where everything is in flux--for the better, in my opinion, but there's a subset of people that don't like change."

He's already working on a fourth property, 4305 Trumbull Ave., a stately manor in a condition of serious disrepair and neglect. No word yet on that building's future theme.

The Wonderland House is located at 3947 Commonwealth St. 

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Detroit Future City releases guide to help residents steward vacant lots

As the city of Detroit makes it easier for residents to purchase vacant lots in their neighborhoods, the Detroit Future City Implementation Office has developed a field guide for residents that informs them how to transform the empty land into neighborhood resources.

The DFC's "Working with Lots: A Field Guide" contains 34 different lot designs that residents can use as suggestions for improving vacant parcels. Examples include rain gardens, native butterfly meadows, and natural ground pollution remediation techniques. Among other features found in the 74-page field guide are tips on collaborating with neighbors; analyzing the lot for quality of soil, sun, and shade; and information on how to attain lots.

The Field Guide is available online and in print editions found at the DFC Implementation Office in New Center and every Detroit Public Library branch.

While the DFC Strategic Framework report emphasized the importance of blue and green infrastructure in future city planning efforts, the field guide is a way for residents in the city to shape those efforts based on their own needs. DFC held stakeholder reviews with members of the community in the year-long development of the guide. Andrea Perkins, a community planner and engagement specialist for Black Family Development, was a member of the review team. She says the process yielded a guide that "provides comprehensive details that address and complement unique neighborhood characteristics across the city."

Dan Kinkead, acting executive director of the DFC Implementation Office, says, "While our office has made great strides to advance the shared imperatives laid out in the DFC Strategic Framework from a systemic level, the Field Guide puts the tools to fulfill those imperatives in the hands of Detroiters."

According to officials, more than 30 projects utilizing the guide and its lot designs are already planned for before the end of the fall planting season. A number of community engagement groups are being planned for further education.

The DFC Implementation Office is located at 2990 W. Grand Boulevard, Ste. 2.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Font fight: Preserving Detroit's visual cultures

For all of the different preservation interests in Detroit, little is said about the city's sign culture. All over the city are fonts unique to their signs, to their businesses, and to their neighborhoods. And once a sign is taken down or a wall is painted over, that style--be it dreamed up by a neighborhood artist or professional sign painter--could be lost forever.

Jessica Krcmarik is hoping to save some of those fonts, and she's won a Knight Arts Challenge grant of $5,000 to do so. The grant is contingent upon her raising matching funds, which she hopes to do through a Kickstarter campaign launching today at 6 p.m.

With the money, Krcmarik will take signs from ten different neighborhoods as inspiration and create fonts out of existing letters. Where characters are missing, she'll do her best to fill in the gaps. She'll then offer her custom font sets on a pay-what-you-can basis. In doing so, Krcmarik hopes to preserve the distinct visual cultures that vary from neighborhood to neighborhood.

Krcmarik is the owner of Gratiot & Riopelle, a locally-focused type foundry. With a background in lettering and typography, she's been taking photos of Detroit signs as a hobby for a couple of years now. Having amassed an impressive archive of unique signs, Krcmarik hopes to both preserve and promote Detroit's heritage.

"A lot of these signs are disappearing," says Krcmarik. "I've always liked the visual landscape here. Some of the anti-blight measures kind of destroy things. I have to keep it alive in some way even if I can't stop them from tearing down a building."

She invites anyone to send along photos of their favorite Detroit signs for consideration. The city's car washes are some of her favorites, she says, with particularly interesting and unique designs.

A good chunk of the money will be used to purchase expensive font-making computer programs. Krcmarik hopes to complete ten font sets as part of the project.  

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

High-priced houses, new apartments, movie theaters, and more: September 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.

Raggedy and fire-damaged, an eight bedroom Victorian home built in 1880 is on the market for $3.5 million. The reason for this otherwise unusually high price tag is its location. The house sits directly in the soon-to-be shadow of the new Red Wings hockey arena just north of downtown. The plucky group that purchased the building for $25,000 in 2002 seem determined to cash in on their long-term investment. The Ilitches and anyone else looking to redevelop an area of the Cass Corridor now being re-branded as Woodward Square have yet to bite.

Construction is to begin on The Griswold, a reported eight-floor addition of apartments to be built atop the 150 Michigan Ave. parking garage adjacent to the Westin Book Cadillac downtown. Detroit Economic Growth Corporation sold the rights to the Roxbury Group. When first announced last year, the development consisted of 80 apartment units among five floors. No word yet on how many units the new eight-floor configuration will contain.

Cinema Detroit, which has called the former Burton International Academy its home for nearly two years, has announced a move. The small first-run movie theater operation will move to 4126 Third Ave. and re-open Oct. 1. This is the second movie-showing organization to leave the old school building. The Burton Theatre group left the building in 2011.

A recent column in Crain's Detroit opines that plans for the high profile former Hudson's site and Monroe block should be released soon. Dan Gilbert owns development rights to both locations, which are currently owned by Downtown Development Authority. The parcels are also two of the largest undeveloped sites downtown. Big splashes can be expected for each.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Detroit, Hamtramck swap soccer team, restaurant

It happened in what seemed like minutes. To put it in the sports parlance of our times, the cities of Hamtramck and Detroit have completed a swap of two of their star performers, with Rock City Eatery going to Detroit and the Detroit City FC moving to Hamtramck. Each move was made with growth in mind.

The fate of Detroit City FC was decided by the Hamtramck School Board the night of Sept. 23. It was then when the board approved a lease that permits the semi-professional soccer team to use Keyworth Stadium as its home field. As part of the agreement, DCFC will fund renovations of the stadium, which are estimated to cost between $750,000 and $1 million.

Important for the city of Hamtramck was not just gaining a popular soccer team but ensuring improved facilities for Hamtramck Public Schools student athletes, who will have access to the stadium. For DCFC, it was a necessary move, going from a capacity of 3,000 to 6,000 visitors. DCFC has been consistently selling out its current home at Cass Technical High School in Detroit.

Sean Mann, co-owner of DCFC, hinted at the possibility of a move to Hamtramck during an interview with Model D in October of last year. The rehabilitation of Keyworth Stadium is expected to be completed in April 2016.

Rock City Eatery, a Hamtramck dining destination for two years, has also cited an upgrade in seating capacity as its main reason for changing locations. The restaurant is moving to 4216 Woodward Ave. in Detroit, the former location of Bangkok Cuisine Express. Ballooning from 1,600 to 3,600 square feet, restaurant owners Nikita Sanches and Jessica Imbronone say that a full service bar will be among the many upgrades planned for the new site.

"We're going to try and replicate what we do now but take it to the next level," says Sanches.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

New arts venue to celebrate Eastern Market grand opening

Detroit's latest arts venue is set to open Friday, Sept. 25, in Eastern Market. Wasserman Projects, specializing in art, design, and music programming, will open its doors in concert with the Detroit Design Festival. The grand opening and reception will feature two installations by three artists, one inside and one outside, along with music from Jeedo X and Saxappeal.

Inside the 5,000-square-foot Eastern Market space that Wasserman now occupies, German-born and current-Brooklyn resident Markus Linnenbrink has collaborated with Miami Beach architect Nick Gelpi to create "THEFIRSTONEISCRAZY-THESECONDONEISNUTS." It's art-meets-architecture, according to organizers, and allows for visitors to walk within the installation and interact with its ins and outs. During the opening reception, Jeedo X and Saxappeal will perform within the creation along a central split.

Outside will debut "Elf Waves," "Earth Loops," and "*Spatial Forces," a new work from Detroit-based Jon Brumit. "Elf Waves" is an aural, visual, and physical creation built in a modified grain silo on the grounds of Wasserman. "Earth Loops" allows users to play music along with "*Spatial Forces," which is temporarily using FM radio station 100.1 FM to broadcast the artist's music throughout Eastern Market, using 13 short-range FM radio transmitters installed on Russell Street from Mack to Gratiot avenues to create a drive-through radio collage. The artist was the recipient of a Knights Art Challenge grant.

Art from all three artists will also be on display.

"This inaugural exhibition brings together artists and designers coming from a wide range of backgrounds," says Gary Wasserman, founder of Wasserman Projects. "It is a great example of the conceptual and experiential nature we have envisioned for our programming and is just the beginning of the innovative programs we plan to realize in our new location."

Wasserman Projects celebrates its grand opening Friday, Sept. 25, from 6 to 10 p.m. It is located at 3434 Russell St. in Eastern Market.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Paintings in Eastern Market, Woodbridge to celebrate Detroit's literary heritage


Ten writers, poets, and publishers, each with their own unique connection to the city of Detroit, will be the focus of an art unveiling Sunday, Sept. 20. The writers are featured in the latest installation of the Detroit Portrait Series, and each is the subject of one of 10 large portraits to be unveiled at 1 p.m. on Sunday in Shed 3 of Eastern Market. A poetry reading and book signing by five of the poets will follow the big reveal.

The Detroit Portrait Series is the work of artist Nicole Macdonald. The latest round includes Detroit literary figures Naomi Long Madgett, Bill Harris, Lolita Hernandez, Terry Blackhawk, Melba Joyce Boyd, Philip Levine, Mick Vranich, Dudley Randall, Robert Hayden, and Sixto Rodriguez. Each is the subject of a 5 ft. by 7 ft. portrait.

According to the artist, the Detroit Portrait Series was initially inspired by Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States" and its style of history-telling from the bottom up. Macdonald's previous portraits have included such Detroit luminaries as Hazen Pingree, Yusef Shakur, and Grace Lee Boggs.

The current round of portraits went on display Saturday, Sept. 12. The official public unveiling on Sunday, Sept. 20 will feature a meet-and-greet with Macdonald and readings from Long Madgett, Harris, Hernandez, Blackhawk, and Boyd. The readings will take place from 1-3 p.m., followed by a 3-4 p.m. book-signing.

After a month-long stay at Eastern Market, the portraits will be permanently installed over the boarded-up windows of the Liquor Store at Trumbull Avenue and the I-94 service drive in the Woodbridge neighborhood. The reason is two-fold; the series is sponsored by Woodbridge- and public art-boosters Dr. Lilian Lai and Larry John, and the party store location is across from Wayne State University, with which many of the subjects have some connection.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Developing Midtown: Negative and Print helps keep film photography alive

Not unlike the audiophile who touts the fidelity and authenticity of vinyl records over digital music files, Suraj Bhamra feels the same way about traditional film photography as compared to the digital cameras that now dominate our day-to-day lives. He even speaks like a vinyl enthusiast, talking about "the weight" film photography carries as compared to its digital counterpart. When he's in the dark room, it's not just about the photos but the tactile experience, the sounds, and smells.

It's why he's opened Negative and Print on Third Street. In the back is a full-service photography lab, complete with all of the equipment necessary for developing actual film. He rejects forced air dryers, opting to air dry the photos instead. Up front is an art gallery, where he'll begin hosting photo exhibitions. He may begin accepting submissions as early as October.

Negative and Print isn't anti-technology, however, and offers scanning and cloud storage services in addition to traditional film processing. But developing film is a service not as readily as available as it once was, and Bhamra is happy to help fill in that gap.

"I'm excited," says Bhamra. "I feel like it's what we needed down here. The people that stop by reinforce that. We've filled a niche."

Bhamra is currently wrapping up a PhD in engineering all the while holding a full-time job as an electrical engineer in Warren. But Negative and Print is not just a hobby. He says business has been busy since they began taking orders four months ago. Professionals and amateurs alike have dropped off their film for development. He's met 60-year-olds who have been using film their whole lives and teenagers just getting excited about the craft of film photography.

"I love to shoot film as much as I can. I do it every day. I love to talk about it. I wanted a place where people can come in and do that," says Bhamra. "I just feel like every day we're staring at our phones, our PCs--there's advertising coming in from everywhere. Film is different."

Negative and Print is located at 4219 Third St. in Detroit. It is currently open by appointment only, though a drop box is accessible at all hours of the day.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

August 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 few weeks.

For all of the local attention downtown towers like the Broderick and Whitney receive for their historic rehabs, it's the city's houses (and mansions) that have been garnering national attention. The DIY Network recently featured the renovation of a Woodward Village home over the course of a season of their "American Rehab" program. Last month, HGTV star Nicole Curtis received an abandoned boatload worth of attention when her television and construction crew convened on the Brush Park mansion Ransom Gillis house. And this month it was Limp Bizkit guitarist Wes Borland who announced that he and fiance and fellow rocker Carre Callaway would feature the restoration of their own recently- Detroit mansion in the Boston Edison neighborhood, also on the DIY Network's "American Rehab."

Speaking of renovating downtown Detroit's historic towers, the Downtown Development Authority approved the long-abandoned Metropolitan Building's redevelopment into an extended-stay hotel with ground floor retail. According to the plan, up to 130 more downtown hotel rooms could debut after a $32 million dollar redevelopment.

The Moroun family put on quite the show for local media as it touted the nearly 600 windows it has installed in the long-neglected Michigan Central Station, about 60 percent of the building's windows. John Gallagher of the Detroit Free Press wrote a series of articles examining the latest on the train station, including whether or not the windows are historically accurate and just what on Earth are the Morouns going to do with the derelict building they've owned since the mid-1990s. As Gallagher says about the window news, "At the very least, the train station, although still empty and far from any habitable condition, will at least look more like someone cares." The Moroun organization, for its part, insists that changes are, indeed, coming in earnest.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Placemaking efforts a big hit in Greektown: Streetscape improvements to remain into November

Detroit-based Virtuoso Design+Build, the firm behind the design, fabrication, and installation of the recently-debuted updates to the Greektown streetscape, are seeing their work rewarded with a 2-month extension of the placemaking effort. Originally scheduled to come down in September, the various streetscape elements will now be taken away come November. As they were designed to be easily cycled out for the cold-weather months, the pieces should return to Monroe Street the following spring.

Before the build-out, Monroe Street, host to the many restaurants and cafes that characterize Greektown, had few outdoor dining options. Now several of the restaurants between Beaubien and St. Antoine streets offer patio seating. The efforts coincide with Greektown at Sundown, which closes a stretch of Monroe Street to vehicle traffic and opens up the street to pedestrians.

Many of the restaurants in Greektown were the benefit of the streetscape improvement efforts, receiving rails, platforms, and new Ikea-donated furniture for the patios that now dot the sidewalk. Umbrellas and greenery are also elements of the improvements. Virtuoso Design+Build worked in collaboration with the Greektown Historic Preservation Society, Rock Ventures, and local businesses.

"I've noticed a change on Monroe Street already," says Mark Klimkowski, owner of Virtuoso Design+Build. "I live right around the corner and walk along that street every day. It's more pedestrian friendly--there are more strollers and families. It's a more pleasant atmosphere."

Virtuoso Design+Build, finalists in this year's New Economy Initiative grant competition and the company behind the design of, the UFO Factory in Corktown, a Big Sean-donated recording studio at Cass Technical High School, and the forthcoming Gabriel Hall location in West Village, is currently undergoing an expansion and plans to hire more employees soon. Klimkowski says they're working internally to develop products like furniture, architectural wall coverings, and even pre-fabricated homes. The company recently moved operations to the Letts Industries building on the city's east side. They're leasing 4,000 of the Albert Kahn-designed building on Bellevue Street's 70,000 square feet.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Banglatown to be subject of food-themed art installation

Detroit's Banglatown neighborhood is the focus of a theatrical installation set to run this coming Labor Day weekend. On Friday, September 4, from 6 to 9 p.m. and Sunday, September 5, from 5 to 9 p.m., Washington, D.C.-based artist Carmen C. Wong will offer "Tactile Taste of Banglatown." The event will take place at Play House, 12657 Moran St. in Detroit.

The guided, interactive experience will use food and audio to tell the stories of Banglatown, a neighborhood named for its large population of Bangladeshi immigrants and businesses. According to Model D contributing writer and former managing editor Walter Wasacz, Banglatown is the intersection of that immigrant population and a buzzing community of artists.

Writes Wasacz:
 
"A sweeping, largely organic revitalization of Conant began with Bangladeshi businesses (some of them, like Amar Pizza, have received national media attention). In 2008, a roughly one-mile stretch Conant from Davison south to Caniff in Hamtramck was given an honorary designation as Bangladesh Avenue. The strip is lively day and night, filled with green grocers, halal butchers, restaurants, and clothing shops. The air on its side streets fill daily with the aromas of curries and other spices.

The origins of Banglatown are here, but so to are the origins of a growing creative community that blends intentional art and design strategies with organic immigrant residential and commercial redevelopment."

Wong stayed at nearby Power House Productions over three separate periods to learn the stories and recipes of Banglatown residents. For Wong's Banglatown "gastro-performance," she'll be serving the foods she picked up on in the area, from fusion stews to "the perfect cup of tea."

According to organizers, Wong is a self-proclaimed avant-pop provocateur. Her "Tactile Taste of Banglatown" is part of a larger series of gastro-performances that have already occurred in Washington, D.C. and Finland. Detroit's Power House Productions commissioned "Tactile Taste of Banglatown" and is presenting it along arts ensemble the Hinterlands.

Over the 2-day event, up to 15 visitors at a time will be guided through the installation, where they'll experience Banglatown by sight, sound, taste, and more. It's an informative picnic-meets-playground, one that runs every half hour. Tickets are limited and can be reserved via phone, 313-454-1756, or email, info@thehinterlandsensemble.org, with a $5 to $10 suggested donation as a price.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Coming this September to the Dequindre Cut: Lazermaze, Pulsar Party, and more

Now in its fifth year, the Detroit Design Festival is turning its attention to the Dequindre Cut.

The festival, which celebrates the great design legacy of Detroit, is organized by the Detroit Creative Corridor Center and will run from Sept. 22-26 at locations throughout the city.

Set for the Dequindre Cut is the "Under the Cut" event, the result of an international contest that solicited designers from near and far to submit proposals for interactive art installations that focus on the theme of 'play.' Organizers chose five winners from a total of 50 submissions. Each winner will receive a $2,500 grant to aid in the construction and installation of their piece.

Three of the installations planned for "Under the Cut" come from Detroiters. Anya Sirota's "Pulsar Party" utilizes lightweight metallic geometric flares to create a cosmic-like environment, both experiential and whimsical. Bridget Quinn, also of Detroit, will construct the "Office of Natural Feelings," a collection of poetry written by Detroiters that will lead pedestrians on trips throughout the city. Detroit-based architectural design studio LAAVU has been selected to create an installation entitled "Swing Dequindre." LAAVU will install a series of swings and a large sail to be used by people exploring the Cut.

The fourth installation comes from Ann Arbor, where U. Sean Vance developed "Drop Kick Push Pull," an interactive game of object manipulation that encourages physical movement. The lone international entry selected was from London, England-based George King Architects. Theirs is called "Lazermaze," a maze that mixes the past with future using UV ink-dyed wool that glows, which at night gives the effect of lazers, while drawing inspiration from ancient Greek labyrinths and medieval European hedge mazes.

"Cities of design are cities that are responsive to human needs, and we want Detroit Design Festival 2015 to challenge designers to explore how design can encourage residents to engage with their environment and improve the quality of life for all Detroiters," says Matthew Clayson, DC3 Executive Director.

In addition to the five winners, Detroit's Skidmore Studio will donate an installation called "Pinwheels," which will involve planting hundreds of pinwheels along the Cut. Also occurring at the nearby riverfront will be Missouri-born artist Nick Cave's "Heard•Detroit," where he'll parade nearly 30 life-size horse sculptures along the riverfront.

"Under the Cut" opens the last day of DDF, Sept. 26. It runs through Oct. 10.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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