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Detroit Development News

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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.

It's official: The Whisky Parlor transitions from soft opening into permanent downtown whisky bar

Things are coming together for the Whisky Parlor, a new food and drinks venue from the people responsible for Grand Trunk Pub and Checker Bar.

Located on Woodward Avenue in the old Motor City Wine location above Grand Trunk, the Whisky Parlor had a soft opening in July and is now ready to say that it's officially open for business. Though not a grand opening party, the occasion will be marked Friday, August 7, as the "Day 5" event makes its Whisky Parlor debut. The cocktail hour will occur every Friday, a sort of happy hour that includes complimentary hors d'oeuvres and live jazz. There is no cover for the weekly event. "Day 6," a Saturday DJ night, will make its debut later this month.

For all the new bars and restaurants opening downtown, manager Steven Reaume characterizes Whisky Parlor as the oldest new bar downtown, located in a building with a lot of history, yet hoping to provide a new presence in Detroit.

Patrons of the old Motor City Wine location (it has since moved to Corktown) will be hard-pressed to recognize the space, says Reaume. "The room looks amazing. We're very proud of it."

The drop ceiling has been removed to reveal a large cathedral ceiling, reaching up and into the above story. Though not as architecturally refined as the Grand Trunk cathedral ceiling, the exposed space provides context for an older Detroit -- the space itself saw its first business open in 1879. Since then, it has hosted a hardware store, saloon, men's furnishings shop, speakeasy, and more.

In addition to more than 100 whisky selections, the bar also offers wine, champagne, craft cocktails, and a food menu. Entertainment will play a big role. The "Day 5" events are the first of much more programming to come, says Reaume. They're especially hoping to expand live jazz offerings downtown. The Whisky Parlor Trio, the bar's house band, features three Detroiters with connections to Wayne State University. Reaume and company encouraged guitarist Kevin Miller to form the trio after hearing him performing on the street one day.

Whisky Parlor is currently open seven nights a week, beginning at 5 p.m. and stretching at least until midnight. Expanded hours are planned. It is located at 608 Woodward Ave.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Corktown to get a new exhibition space this month, downtown a wine bar and restaurant

The arts group Playground Detroit has settled down in Corktown, calling a 500 square-foot space at 1535 Sixth St. its new home. Dubbed "The Playground," the private exhibition space serves as headquarters for the company. Also new for Playground is a website featuring an e-commerce platform.

The company is marking the opening of its space with an exhibition of work by Detroit artist Cristin Richard featuring mixed media collages and sculptures. Richard manipulates animal casings to become dresses, skirts, and shoes, among other things. The art is for sale and may be purchased online or by appointment at The Playground itself.

The Playground will feature rotating artist showcases, solo exhibitions, and a semi-permanent collection of work by emerging artists.

Meanwhile, a wine-centric restaurant has been announced as future tenant of The Ashley, a recently renovated downtown apartment building. Located at 1538 Centre St., Vertical Detroit should open in September 2015.

Father and daughter team Jim and Remy Lutfy are behind the restaurant, and the co-owners plan a high-end business with over 250 vintages by the bottle and 43 by the glass. The team has hired Detroit native Alex Knezevic as head chef. He'll provide locally-sourced appetizers and small plate options. Roughly 325 to 350 wines will be available for purchase in a retail section.

The Lutfy family has been in the wine industry for more than three decades, owning Fine Wine Source in Detroit suburb Livonia. This is the first restaurant for the father-daughter team.

"From marble bar tops and elegant chandeliers to salvaged pine tables and raw steel accents, we really wanted to accentuate the elements that make Detroit and The Ashley such a great location," says Remy Lutfy.

The Lutfys have hired Detroit firm Rossetti Associates to design the space. A full bar complements a 75-seat dining area while patio seating will make its debut next spring.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Shipping containers, bike paths, Rehab Addict, and more: July development news round-up

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

After months of delays and a change of location, the first shipping container residential development in both the city and the state hosted an open house earlier this month. Developer Three Squared showed off its nearly completed building, a two-unit structure made out of shipping containers located at the corner of Trumbull Avenue and Pine Street. Two bigger shipping container developments are planned for North Corktown and Woodbridge.

After valiant efforts to stop the demolition of the Park Avenue Hotel were rebuffed by city officials, the Louis Kamper-designed building was imploded the morning of July 11. Drones outfitted with cameras documented the dramatic event. The hotel, built in 1924, was demolished to make way for a loading dock for the new Detroit Red Wings hockey arena.

The complicated task of piecing together a 26-mile bike path that circles around the city has been marked by a number of successes recently, though there are some remaining hurdles. The biggest obstacle in the bike path's completion is an 8.3-mile stretch of abandoned railroad property owned by Conrail. That company has yet to reach an agreement to sell the property necessary for completing what's being called the Inner Circle Greenway. The Midtown Greenway Loop, however, has broken ground on the third of four phases of construction.

Both film crews and work crews have convened upon the Ransom Gillis house, an 1870s-era mansion built in the Venetian Gothic style of the day. HGTV star Nicole Curtis is filming her television show around the renovation of the once-grand building in the Brush Park neighborhood. Viewers will be able to watch the complete transformation of the building from an empty shell into something promised to achieve its "former glory."

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Placemaking projects continue popping up outside greater downtown

Seven placemaking projects, one for each city council district, are being given a boost by Community Development Advocates of Detroit. With the financial support of the Kresge Foundation, CDAD is spreading $42,000 across the city, granting the money to projects addressing the needs and challenges of their neighborhoods.
 
District 1: In Brightmoor, a house is being converted to provide meeting space for the community. Outside, a learning area will feature native plants, walking tours, and an outdoor seating area with a fire pit.

District 2: A portable artists tent is being installed in Palmer Park, where it's hoped that the addition will stimulate arts programming beyond the Palmer Park Arts Fair.

District 3: Renovations and improvements are planned for a pocket park on Keating Street near East State Fair in the Lindale Gardens neighborhood.

District 4: A mini-fitness park is to be built in an East English Village vacant lot, featuring stationary fitness equipment and a small track.

District 5: At the Peace Zone in District 5, improved seating and murals will be added to the existing area. It is part of the Peace Zones for Life project, which aims to counter neighborhood violence.

District 6: At Garage Cultural, a community arts hub at Livernois and Otis, enhancements to the pre-existing space include a mini-skate park, community stage, market, and outdoor movie area.

District 7: Littlefield Playfield in D7 will receive markers and sculptures acknowledging the neighborhood groups that work to maintain and improve the park.

Both CDAD and Kresge stress the importance of investing in the neighborhoods outside of the city core. CDAD executive director Sarida Scott says that it's projects like these that keep Detroit strong and vibrant. Bryan Hogle, Kresge Foundation program officer, agrees.

"For the city to succeed, neighborhoods have to succeed."

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Midtown viaducts to become art installations, destinations

Viaducts, some of the darkest and dankest spaces found in any city, are about to become some of the most artful and engaging spots in Detroit. Three viaducts in the city's TechTown district are each to receive tens of thousands of dollars in beautification enhancements.

Three teams of artists will each turn a viaduct into their canvas, with each team receiving a $75,000 budget. New Economy Initiative and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation are funding the Midtown Viaducts Public Art + Light Project, or MIDVIA. Midtown Detroit, Inc. is the administrator of the project.

At the Cass Avenue Viaduct, Becky Nix and Olek Zemplinski of bioLINIA are installing more than 7,500 reflectors and other sources of lighting throughout the passageway, illuminating an otherwise dark place. Dubbed "Reflector," the installation is said to be an interactive experience.

Cezanne Charles and John Marshall of rootoftwo, LLC, and Karl Daubmann of daub, LLC have teamed to form r+d LAB, the winning entry for transforming the Second Avenue viaduct. Titled "Resonance," the artists are also playing with light, this time through the installation of 22 LED light boxes between the archways of the viaduct, each forcing an intense series of shadow and light.

New D Media Arts, consisting of principals Gabriel Hall and Daniel Land, are employing smart phones as part of the Third Avenue viaduct experience. The "Light Bender" installation allows pedestrians to use their phones to manipulate waves of colored light throughout the pedestrian pathways while animated lights react to entering vehicles.

The project is an opportunity to demonstrate how public art and other efforts in placemaking can positively affect a neighborhood, organizers say. Katy Locker, Knight Foundation program director for Detroit, says, "These artists will help to improve neighborhood life, encouraging people to interact with their neighborhood and creating new opportunities for residents to connect."

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

West Village pop-up store to promote time spent outdoors in the city

After making an online debut, a Detroit-based outdoor equipment and lifestyle store is set to debut as a pop-up on Saturday, July 25, at the Red Hook coffee shop in the city's West Village neighborhood.

MOR & Co. is the outdoor store for city folk, says founder Sarah White, a West Village resident. The products she carries aren't meant for ambitious excursions far outside the city center, but rather for stimulating outdoor experiences on a day-to-day basis. Be it gardening or biking, recreation in the backyard or a city park, White proposes that small outdoor experiences are as important as the big ones. It's important, she says, to break away from the screens of devices we use at work and at home by being pro-active about spending time outside. She hopes that MOR & Co. will help Detroiters do just that.

White's goal is to open a brick-and-mortar location some time next year. For now, she plans to build a customer base through a series of pop-ups and an ever-present online store. At Red Hook, she'll be selling summer wares like hammocks, picnic blankets, and marshmallow roasting sticks. She's also been collaborating with other Detroit businesses and will be carrying custom-made citronella candles from Detroit Rose Candle Co. and s'more packages from the Detroit Marshmallow Company. Future collaborations include custom picnic-inspired drink mixers from Wolf Moon and tree swings from Reclaim Detroit.

A Grosse Ile-native, Sarah returned to Michigan with an MBA in Design Strategy after graduating from the California College of the Arts in 2014. In school, she studied a triple bottom line approach to business, an idea that promotes creating positive impact through people and planet in addition to profits. She's currently searching for community partners to promote outdoor activities throughout the city. It's also a program very much focused on the study of design, something that affects nearly every aspect of the way White is approaching her business.

"When I look at the design of something, it's not just what does it look like, but how does it work, where did it come from, who made it, what's their story, how am I going to sell it, what does someone do with it after it's done being used? All of those are important components," says White.

White hopes to open a permanent location by next year--she's thinking either West Village or Eastern Market as potential destinations. It's pop-ups in the mean time, which she considers a valuable opportunity to gather feedback from the community. In addition to the pop-up at Red Hook, she'll be taking part in the West Village better block initiative Aug. 1.

Red Hook Detroit is located at 8025 Agnes St. MOR & Co. will operate out of the shop from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 25.

Source: Sarah White, founder of MOR & Co.
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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