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Detroit Development News

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Two stores, one in Grandmont Rosedale and one on East Jefferson, to open on 313 Day

March 13, the thirteenth day of the third month of the year, is known locally as 313 Day. It's an unofficial holiday that uses Detroit's area code, 313, in celebrating the city. This 313 Day, two businesses will be celebrating their grand openings, each of them participants in TechTown's SWOT City entrepreneurial training program.

Opening in Grandmont Rosedale is Everything Detroit. It's a branding studio and retail storefront specializing in, well, everything Detroit. The store will carry locally made products including home goods, apparel, and personal items. Everything Detroit is owned by Katrina Brown, the founder of City Talk Magazine.

The grand opening of Everything Detroit will take place from noon to 6 p.m. at 16801 Grand River Ave.

Over on East Jefferson, Clement "Fame" Brown will open his Three Thirteen store. Brown designs his own clothing, which the store will sell along with other popular Detroit brands like Detroit Hustles Harder, the Smile Brand, and more.

The grand opening of Three Thirteen will take place from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at 2642 E. Jefferson Ave. Author Shaka Senghor, Espy Thomas of Naturally Fly Detroit, and radio personality DJBJ will make appearances at the opening.

Each business utilized TechTown and its SWOT City programming. The small business assistance program nurtures both brick-and-mortar businesses and the commercial corridors they call home. SWOT City stays involved through many stages of a business, from the launch to stability and growth phases.

"SWOT City helps businesses plan, work through challenges, connect to resources and develop long-term strategies for success," Regina Ann Campbell, TechTown’s managing director for place-based entrepreneurship, says in a statement. "I don’t think there could be a better tribute to our work and our commitment to Detroit than to see two of our businesses that celebrate our great city holding their grand openings on 313 Day."

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

Sit On It Detroit to open furniture store and studio in Midtown

Sit On It Detroit is opening a store in the 71 Garfield building in Midtown. The custom furniture shop is renowned for the benches it's built, donated, and installed at roughly 50 bus stops around the city. The new location will serve as a space to both showcase some of its work and provide co-founders Kyle Bartell and Charles Molnar a place to sit down with clients and customers and hash out the planning and design part of the business.

While Sit On It Detroit is best known for fashioning reclaimed wood into free and creative benches at city bus stops, the company is also an accomplished designer and manufacturer of custom indoor furnishings. It's produced headboards for the home, the mason jar chandelier at Kuzzo's Chicken & Waffles, and tables at Thomas Magee's Sporting House Whiskey Bar, among many other products.

The Midtown showroom gives Sit On It Detroit a more central location to display its wares and meet with clients, away from the flying sawdust and noisy tools of its workshop. It's a store-studio hybrid.

The workshop is located near McNichols and John R roads.

"There's a lot going on with this space and we're still figuring it all out," says Bartell. "It's not going to be your typical showroom or furniture store."

The duo values community engagement and placemaking, he says, and their location at 71 Garfield lends itself to those objectives. The building is an art cooperative, located along the same block as the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. Among its tenants are artists, architecture firms, and pottery studios.

The spring is a busy time for Sit On It Detroit. The company hopes to install another ten benches at city bus stops as the warm weather comes. They've teamed with artists and sponsors to create new takes on the already unique benches.

Bartell says to expect a soft opening some time in mid-March. As for the official opening, they've set a target date of April 8, opening day for the Detroit Tigers baseball season.

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

Motor City Match seeks business and commercial property owners for third round of grants

Detroit entrepreneurs and commercial property owners are once again being encouraged to apply for the city's Motor City Match program. Applications are open for submission March 1-April 1. It's the third round of the program intended to stimulate Detroit's commercial corridors.

There are four major award categories for which business and property owners can apply for a share of $500,000 in grant funding. Each category is designed for business and property owners at different levels of building a business.

The first category is for business plans, which Motor City Match will help entrepreneurs develop. 

The second category seeks to match commercial property owners with business tenants. Buildings must be in good shape and entrepreneurs must have quality business plans or successful track records.

The third category will award architectural design assistance, construction documents, and priority permitting to business and building owners with recently signed leases.

The fourth and final category is for those with signed leases, quality business plans, and bids for building out the space, but who still have to bridge a financial gap. This category awards cash to such applicants.

Motor City Match was launched by Mayor Mike Duggan and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation in 2015. Roderick Miller, CEO of the DEGC, says in a statement, "After two rounds of Motor City Match awardees, it's clear this program is making an impact in Detroit. From restaurants and retail establishments to service companies and even manufacturing, Motor City Match is growing neighborhood small businesses across the city."

According to officials, the Motor City Mach program has invested $1 million in 20 businesses to date, leveraging an additional $6 million in public and private investment. Motor City Match also points out that 70 percent of the 196 businesses and property owners that have received support are minority owned. Furthermore, two-thirds are from Detroit and half are minority woman-owned businesses.

Visit motorcitymatch.com for details on how to apply.

Disclosure: Model D receives support from Motor City Match to tell stories of small business development in the city's neighborhoods.

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

Nonprofit landscape architecture group to debut market garden in Penrose neighborhood this spring

Detroit's Penrose neighborhood is set to see another development in the years-long Penrose Market Garden project. With the help of a 2015 Kresge Innovation Projects: Detroit grant, non-profit landscape architect group GrowTown and the Arab American and Chaldean Council will finish the construction and subsequent planting of a market garden and the establishment of nutrition programming this spring.

The Penrose Market Garden project is multi-layered, one that will operate as a functioning urban farm while also serving to provide project leaders key information about viable urban farming practices in the city of Detroit. Beth Hagenbuch, co-founder of GrowTown, says that for any sort of urban farm or garden project to be successful, it must be designed to be site-specific. Cookie cutter agriculture just wouldn't work.

"The idea of the site-specific concept comes from our landscape architecture backgrounds," says Hagenbuch. "Landscapes might seem almost invisible to some. Every time we step outside we can forget how much the environment affects us. But landscapes affect our bodies, our hearts, our blood pressure, our mental health, and much more."

Hagenbuch, who designed the award-winning Lafayette Greens garden in downtown Detroit, and partner Ken Weikal explain how the Penrose neighborhood is characterized by a sea of 30-foot-by-100-foot lots, providing a different set of opportunities and challenges than the garden downtown. There was a challenge, for instance, in obtaining adjacent lots from different owners. Spread different parts of the farm too far apart and it just might not work.

Once the market is up and running, Weikal says that the team will be analyzing data to determine the metrics for what it takes for an urban farmer to be self-sufficient. They are looking to determine how much space and how many crops are necessary for an urban farm to be economically viable once the grant money goes away.

In addition to the market garden and nutritional programming this spring, the team plan on using apartments above the art house and the farm house to house on-site growers. A community space will host art classes, barbecues, community meetings, and other events.

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

Neighborhood beautification and placemaking mini-grants available on city's northeast side

Residents, business owners, and others with vested interests in northeast Detroit are encouraged to apply for mini-grants of up to $2,500 for neighborhood beautification and placemaking projects. Part of the Create NED initiative, these grants are available to anyone in the city's City Council District 3. The deadline to apply is Feb. 29.

According to organizers, Create NED grants will be made available to the residents, block clubs, business owners, churches, nonprofits, and community groups. Beautification is loosely defined, covering a wide range of projects from public art to landscape architecture, urban gardens to rain catchment systems. Community clean-ups, signage, tree plantings, and more also qualify for grants.

"As an artist and designer, I know how visions can change the world we live in, especially when we have the resources to implement those visions," Ronald D. Jacobs Jr., a District 3 resident and member of the Create NED advisory board, says in a statement. "The Create NED mini grant program is an opportunity to uplift the neighborhoods we live in and revive faith in the purpose of collective work and responsibility in our community."

A mini-grant information session is being held today, Feb. 23, at 6 p.m. at the Church of Our Father at 5333 E. Seven Mile Rd. There, organizers will walk participants through the application process.

There will be 28 grant winners in 2016 with money made possible by an ArtPlace America grant awarded in July 2015. Ten grants will be between $50 and $100, and 18 grants will be between $500 and $2,500.

Create NED is an initiative of the Restore Northeast Detroit (NED) coalition in partnership with Allied Media Projects and The Work Department.

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

February development news round-up: Breweries, apartments, vacant lots, and more

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.

Granite City opened its latest restaurant and brewery location in the Renaissance Center earlier this month. It's the largest location for the chain eatery and on-site brewery, which first opened in St. Cloud, Minnesota in 1999.

Financing for the Scott, a 199-unit apartment building in the Brush Park neighborhood, was finalized earlier this month. Two weeks after, the Scott announced that pre-leasing had begun. The building is set to open in the beginning of 2017.

In October 2015, Detroit Future City released a guidebook to help residents steward vacant lots in their neighborhood. This month, the DFC Implementation Office announced that it is splitting $65,000 among 15 grassroots organizations and individuals to help facilitate lot transformations as outlined in their guidebook.

A devastating fire wiped out the home of Reclaim Detroit in Highland Park. The fire, which could be seen miles away, decimated the company's operations, destroying much of its irreplaceable stock. Reclaim Detroit, which recovers re-usable materials from vacant buildings in Detroit, is currently holding an online fundraiser to help cushion the blow.

Five hundred and twenty-seven people invested a total of $741,250 in the renovation of Keyworth Stadium in Hamtramck. The new home for the Detroit City Football Club, Keyworth Stadium is 80 years old and in need of many repairs if it's to host DCFC as their home stadium in the years ahead. DCFC officials hoped to raise between $400,000 and $750,000 in their crowdfunding campaign.

The city revealed its Detroit Home Mortgage program this month. The mortgage program is a partnership between the city, the Obama Administration’s Detroit Federal Working Group, Clinton Global Initiative, local banks, foundations, and nonprofits. The program addresses the appraisal gap, a common hindrance to purchasing a home in the city. Now, banks will be able to make loans for the agreed upon selling price of a home and not just the appraisal number, which is often much lower than what a buyer agrees to pay.

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

Cobo Square to open this spring, cap convention center renovations

Cobo Center is preparing to unveil its revamped outdoor space this spring. Dubbed Cobo Square, the 45,000-square-foot outdoor space is being touted as the capstone of a 5-year, $279-million renovation of Cobo Center. The 723,000-square-foot facility is the 17th largest convention center in the United States. It opened in 1960.

Cobo Square will have more uses than just those reserved for conventions. According to officials, it will serve to better connect Cobo Center to the community while also activating the space in between major conventions and events. Art exhibits, exercise and yoga sessions, and biergartens are just some of the programming planned for the space that is set to open this spring.

Other recent major changes to Cobo include the addition of a state-of-the-art broadcast studio, a 160-foot by 30-foot digital sign on the building's exterior, and the conversion of the building's arena into additional convention space. The arena conversion replaced previously closed off walls with glass panes, taking advantage of the building's location on the riverfront.

"I think the most important part of the reinvention of Cobo Center was the adaptive reuse of the old arena," Thom Connors, regional vice president of Cobo Center management group SMG and general manager of Cobo, says in a statement. "By cutting part of it away and creating a new atrium, it really tied the whole renovation together and gave the view from the main concourse out to the river and across to Canada. It brings people down to the newer, improved south side of the building and the majesty of the river."

Business has improved greatly since renovations began five years ago. Eighty-five major events were hosted at Cobo in 2015, a significant increase from the 35 held there in 2010. Event days have doubled from pre-renovation years, jumping from 200 event days a year to 400.

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

All-natural cocktail mix makers put down roots on Service Street, plan for growth

Up on the fourth floor of 1440 Gratiot Ave., a tasting party was being held at a local all-natural cocktail mix company's new base of operations. There were two causes for celebration: the "Wolf Moon," or the first full moon of the year, and the expanded distribution of a Detroit startup of the same name's fresh juice and vegetable mixers.

Wolf Moon, which formed three years ago, is setting up for expansion, including increased distribution and e-commerce capacities, a stronger bar and restaurant presence, and even a potential tasting room.

The Wolf Moon team has spent a significant part of the last few years optimizing their production process, from juicing to bottling to sales. Their products include Citrus, Hibiscus, and Pineapple Jalapeno cocktail mixers.

"I think with the way we approached it from the beginning, we were making very small batches, so we weren't ready for the tier of approaching bars and restaurants. That's a huge demand to keep up with -- plus, the distribution. So we just sort of held off from that," says co-founder Dorota Coy. "But now we're definitely ready."

Wolf Moon uses only all-natural ingredients in their unique cocktail mixes: fresh fruits, vegetables, and a little bit of sugar. The company keeps its products simple and classic. In doing so, Wolf Moon gives bartenders, both professional and amateur, the space to be creative. Bartenders at the Woodbridge Pub use Wolf Moon for a unique martini, while the people at Johnny Noodle King mix Wolf Moon with beer to craft a local shandy. The company has also worked with Detroit-based spirit-makers Our/Detroit Vodka and Cabresto Tequila in various capacities.

Since offering their mixers online, orders have been coming in from places like Seattle, Los Angeles, and Florida. The group plans to start a small distribution network throughout the Great Lakes region and scale up from there. And a tasting room, complete with regular hours of operation, could open on Gratiot in a few months, depending on when a liquor license is obtained. The four partners, Dorota and Steve Coy (also known for their public art work under the Hygenic Dress League moniker), Joseph McClure, and Phil Lucas, will be spending the next few weeks approaching bars and restaurants about carrying their products.

Wolf Moon Mixers are available online, as well as at several Detroit retailers including Hugh and Germack Coffee Roasting Company.

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

Crowdfunding and matching grant campaign begins for public space at 6 Mile and Wyoming

A public gathering-space in northwest Detroit called the McGee Community Commons stands to gain nearly $80,000 in grant money should it reach $38,250 through crowdfunding. By reaching the $38,250 goal, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation's Public Spaces Community Places program and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority will provide a matching grant, bringing the grand total to $76,500 in funds raised for the project. The McGee Community Commons has until April 2, 2016 to raise the money through the Patronicity platform.

The community commons is part of a larger project between Marygrove College and the surrounding community called "Connecting, Recognizing and Celebrating Neighborhood Creatives." Marygrove and McGee Community Commons are both located at the intersection of McNichols and Wyoming roads.

A vacant lot at the corner of McNichols -- colloquially referred to as Six Mile -- and Wyoming will be transformed into the Charles McGee Community Commons, a green space and public art venue. A relief sculpture by local artist Charles McGee will be installed there. The site will also feature permeable paving, a healing garden, technology access, low voltage LED lighting, and signage.

"This is a project we've worked to bring to fruition for more than five years," Rose DeSloover, Marygrove professor emerita, says in a statement. "Being able to join with Patronicity and MEDC/MSHDA is a wonderful opportunity, and all the people working on the project with us are newly energized about reaching our goal."

Other Detroit Public Spaces Community Places recipients include the Brightmoor Artisans Community Kitchen, the Commons: 7900 Mack Avenue, Fiber Art on the Avenue, the Alger Theater, It Takes a Village Garden, Brightmoor Maker Space, House Opera | Opera House, and Mosaics in the Park.

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

Downtown loses clothing boutique to North End

Zarkpa's Purses and Accessories boutique has moved to the North End neighborhood. The lifestyle and clothing boutique celebrated two years of business with its grand re-opening at the new location. In addition to setting clothing and accessory trends, Zarkpa's hopes more businesses open in the North End.

Formerly located in the Harmonie Park/Paradise Valley neighborhood, Zarkpa's left downtown because of rising rents. Unfazed by this development, the boutique is optimistic about its future.

"The North End is an up-and-coming neighborhood just a mile or two away from Detroit’s new transit station," owner Tracy Garley says in a statement. "Downtown rents were rising, and as a new business you have to cut costs when you are paying way too much for rent. We also wanted to expand our business and better serve Detroit residents and other cities around us."

Another advantage to the new location is it being across the street from the Detroit International Academy for Young Women. Garley and partner Courtney Sims plan to offer those students internships in a retail and small business program. Being a good neighbor in the North End community is important to Garley and Sims.

Zarkpa's sells a number of items, many of which are locally-sourced and locally-designed. In addition to high-end purses, Zarkpa's offers clothing including dresses, shirts, and sweaters, as well as accessories including jewelry, glasses, and more.

Garley, a native of Monrovia, Liberia, moved to Detroit at age 11. Zarkpa is her birth name, as well as the name of her grandmother's tribe. Zarkpa translates to “debt-free,” and the boutique says that their customers feel free and independent as a result of their shopping there.

Zarkpa's Purses & Accessories is located at 9033 Woodward Ave.

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

So you want to save a house? Brick + Beam can help

Brick + Beam Detroit has been hosting monthly building rehab workshops and classes since July 2015. This month, the group is adding a second workshop specific to vacant homes. It's called "So you want to save a house?" and will take place Wednesday, Jan. 27, from 6-8 p.m. on the University of Detroit Mercy campus. The event is being produced in partnership with Live6 Detroit.

Brick + Beam provides classes, resources, and networking access to fellow building rehabbers. Co-founder Emilie Evans says that the organization strives to offer classes that are relevant to Detroiters. With that in mind, "So you want to save a house?" aims to teach residents how to identify the owners of abandoned houses, then figure out what they can do about it, a question Brick + Beam routinely fields. At the time of publication, nearly 200 people have RSVP'd for the class.

"We've found it helps that these concepts don't only exist in the abstract," says Evans. "That's why we have classes with hands-on components and first-hand experiences."

Loveland Technologies will be on hand to demonstrate how city residents can track down and identify property owners. They will also explain what can be done about publicly-owned properties. Dan Cousino of business law firm Honigman will offer legal tips for property acquisition from private owners. Detroit resident Claire Nowak-Boyd will provide her first-hand account of successfully working with the Detroit Land Bank Authority to acquire and then auction properties on her block, properties now filled with neighbors.

Evans says that a main component of the organization is providing people an opportunity to meet each other and network. In order to facilitate even more networking and the sharing of resources, Brick + Beam has launched a new website where building rehabbers can connect, build contacts, share recommendations, and more.

"So you want to save a house?" is being held at the University of Detroit Mercy Architecture Exhibition Space at 4001 W. McNichols Rd., though the entrance is on Livernois Avenue. The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place Wednesday, Jan. 27, from 6-8 p.m. RSVP online here.

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

Building Hugger to host open house at new HQ in Eastern Market

It took a few attempts, but historic restoration business Building Hugger believes it has finally found a space into which it can grow. Building Hugger founder Amy Swift affectionately calls the 6,000-square-foot Eastern Market building the Hug Factory. It's the third re-location for the business this past year, which has grown from one to nine employees since February 2015. Swift says Building Hugger has also grown to become the largest historic window restoration company in the region, fielding calls from Port Huron to Detroit to Ohio.

An open house is being held Saturday, Jan. 30, at the building and is free and open to the public. Tours, demonstrations, and a community mingle will be held at the space from 1-4 p.m.

Building Hugger deals in many aspects of historic restoration and redevelopment work, though the bulk of its business is currently in window restoration and weatherization. It's a process that takes up a lot of space, says Swift, and with the increase in business came a need for more square footage. The work space was designed to maximize project volume. Work stations for each phase of the window restoration process have been set up to make the job more efficient.

That's not to say that the space is complete. In fact, Swift is still searching for the right use of 1,400 square feet of the building -- a storefront in need of a store. She has ideas, of course, like opening a specialized hardware store or a DIY training facility. She'd like to offer weekend courses in restoration work. Swift is planning on utilizing the open house to gather input from the public and see what's in demand among the restoration and DIY crowd -- what kinds of classes people would be interested in taking and what sort of hardware and tools she should carry.

"I always saw myself as a steward of these historic buildings," says Swift, who started Building Hugger in 2012. "But I've found I'm at my best when helping others be stewards."

Swift hopes to get the storefront up and running somewhere over the next 6-12 months.

The Building Hugger Community Mingle is a partnership between Building Hugger and Brick & Beam Detroit. To RSVP, do so online here.

The Hug Factory is located at 3036 Chene St.

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

January 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.

As we welcome in the new year, we welcome in the latest round of new bars and restaurants that open around the city. One of those restaurants is La Rondinella, an Italian restaurant from Supino Pizzeria owner Dave Mancini. La Rondinella opened in Eastern Market in early January -- right next to Supino, in fact. It was a second opening, of sorts, as the restaurant originally opened at the tail end of 2015 but had to temporarily shutter due to some official city paperwork problems.

Bedrock Real Estate Services, billionaire Dan Gilbert's real estate arm, was busy yet again, purchasing two high profile properties. In the heart of downtown, Bedrock purchased the Lofts at Woodward Center, three historic buildings that include a total of 61 residential units. Each building has its own first-floor retail storefront. A surface parking lot was also included in the deal. On the edge of Corktown, Bedrock purchased the Corktown Lofts, a three-building and two-surface parking lot bundle. The Corktown Lofts include two warehouses and a four-story building of loft-style office space.

The public is invited to join in on the development of the East Riverfront District, an area bounded by St. Antoine and Larned streets, East Grand Boulevard, and the Detroit River. Seven development teams will make their pitch for the direction of the district, which will be open to public comment Jan. 26 and 27 at the DNR Outdoor Adventure Center.

Detroiters excited by the idea of a more pedestrian-friendly downtown were dealt a blow when M-DOT indefinitely shelved a decision to remove I-375. The state transportation agency announced the possibility of replacing I-375 with a more walkable urban landscape back in 2013. While plans for removal of the highway could be resurrected, no timetable was announced.

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

Placemaking projects seek to re-energize struggling section of Michigan Avenue

A certain block of Michigan Avenue has received some special attention lately with a series of placemaking initiatives that have incorporated public benches, art, and returned citizens to make the area more welcoming to neighborhood residents and more attractive to potential businesses. The project will be completed in the spring with the installation of a pocket park.

The joint "Mi Town" Pilot and P(ART)icipate! programs are seeking to re-energize a commercial strip on the south side of Michigan Avenue between Junction and Lockwood streets. While blighted, the surrounding area does contain a number of notable businesses, including Hazel's Place lounge, El Barzon Restaurante, and Detroit Moped Works. The moped shop is the only one of the three located in the footprint of the "Mi Town" Pilot and P(ART)icipate! projects.

As part of the "Mi Town" Pilot project, public benches that incorporate planters and bike racks were built and placed in front of Detroit Moped Works. As part of the P(ART)icipate! project, returned citizens painted a mural and window installations, with aims to mitigate both blight and perceptions of returned citizens. A pocket park will be completed as the weather warms back up.

The project consists of three partners: the American Institute of Architects Detroit Urban Priorities Committee (UPC), the Michigan Avenue Business Association, and the design firm Acute E. A number of other organizations helped with various components of the project, including Detroit's Department of Planning and Development, the University of Michigan's Prison Creative Arts Project, and Southwest Solutions.

For UPC, the project was an opportunity to expand on earlier work in the area. In 2014, the group had created a visioning document for Michigan Avenue between Martin Road and I-75. It was also an opportunity to build something. Having previously assisted in a Hart Plaza design competition and pop-ups along the East Jefferson corridor, "Mi Town" Pilot and P(ART)icipate! were something that had more direct and physical results. They were, as UPC chair and Acute E owner Réna Bradley puts it, something for UPC to dig their teeth into.

"Overall, it's great to see people come and work together," says Bradley. "And it's great to do something that has life beyond what we already did."

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

20 Detroit-based projects named finalists for Knight Cities Challenge

Finalists have been announced for the second Knight Cities Challenge, and Detroit is well represented. Twenty of the 158 finalists are Detroit-based projects. The winners will be announced later this spring.

The Knight Cities Challenge is a John S. and James L. Knight Foundation contest, one that will split $5 million in grants among winning projects that address how cities can attract and retain residents, how they can boost economic activity for everyone, and how to better connect and involve citizens in their collective future. Applications closed Oct. 27, 2015.

"The finalists reflect what the Knight Cities Challenge is about: uncovering new civic innovators and motivating people to realize ideas—big and small—that can contribute to the success of their cities," Knight Foundation vice president for community and national initiatives Carol Coletta says in a statement.

While submissions were accepted from anywhere, the projects must be of benefit to one of the 26 Knight communities, which include Detroit, Miami, and Philadelphia. Detroit finalists range from individually-submitted proposals to those submitted by city and regional institutions.

An example includes a proposal entitled "Detroit's Exciting Adventure into the Pink Zone," which was submitted on behalf of the Detroit Department of Planning and Development by its director, Maurice Cox. He proposes the development of a tool that would make city development regulations more efficient. The project also aims to reshape commercial districts with the help of talented designers.

Live6 and its director, Lauren Hood, offer "Storefront Speakeasy," a pop-up cafe that would offer live music and spoken word and re-energize empty storefronts in the Livernois and McNichols corridors.

Five Detroit projects won grand prize money in last year's contest, including Brick + Beam Detroit and RE: Brand Detroit.

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