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Detroit Development News

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The Coors Light Sky Deck offers 360-degree birds-eye views of Comerica Park and city skyline

The new Coors Light Sky Deck on the roof of the Detroit Opera House offers the very antithesis of the kind of experience you might expect to have at the Opera House. Ditch the satin dresses and coattails and instead don your favorite Tigers jersey and sneakers; the Sky Deck is a casual destination offerings some of the best seats in Detroit.
The 6,000-square-foot rooftop patio with a 250-person capacity has multiple seating areas including tables, cushioned couches and chairs, and a small three-tier bleacher directly overlooking Comerica Park. The Sky Deck also offers a 360-degree view of the Detroit skyline. It is open every single Friday and Saturday through September, with or without a Tigers game. (They hope to extend their season for as long as the weather holds out.) On Fridays they will have DJs, and on Saturdays live music from Detroit bands.
The Sky Deck caters to baseball fans with the radio broadcast piped in through their PA system and typical ballpark foods like hot dogs, hamburgers, and chicken wings. But they also cater to any and all major events happening downtown. "This is an event-driven city," says Michigan Opera Theatre Operations Manager Jason Warzecha. "As events come up we will adjust our schedule accordingly."
This Saturday is the Jimmy Buffett concert at Comerica Park. Parrotheads will enjoy plenty of margaritas in this makeshift Margaritaville. For this event, the Sky Deck is opening at noon.
The Sky Deck's regular hours start at 6 p.m. and cover is free before 9 p.m., after which time they charge a nominal $5 cover. You do not need to purchase tickets in advance or have tickets to a show at the Opera House to visit the Sky Deck. The deck is totally open-air but is also connected to the Chrysler Black Box Theatre, so you can take a break from the sun/heat/rain and go inside where there's air conditioning when the need arises.
While Coors Light is the sponsor of the Sky Deck, Warzecha says they want this to be "an entire experience." They carry the full line of MillerCoors products – which includes Blue Moon and Leinenkugel – and also plan on hosting beer tastings with food pairings in the future.
The Sky Deck is also available for private rentals.
Source: Jason Warzecha, Director of Operations at the Michigan Opera Theatre
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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

Yoga in the Park weekly lunchtime yoga in Milliken State Park to benefit Urban Farming

Yoga in the Park is a new series of yoga events that will take place every Tuesday from 12 to 12:45 p.m. at Milliken State Park starting Tuesday, July 23, and running through August 13.
Katherine Austin, owner of the Karma Yoga studio in Bloomfield Hills, is leading these weekly yoga classes to benefit Urban Farming, the nonprofit organization that plants urban gardens on vacant land in the city. She has been working with this organization since 2005, and decided to make this month of classes payable entirely by donation.
"When Fresh Air Fit contacted me about doing yoga in a state park this summer, I wanted to choose Detroit because what better place to elevate and raise vibrations through yoga and meditation," Austin says. "And Urban Farming takes unused plots of land in the city for gardens and teaches people how to grow their own food, so it's win-win for uplifting Detroit."
Yoga in the Park will be simple, easy yoga with soothing music and meditation designed for all fitness levels. Austin wants it to be something that is easy to do during lunchtime, and will also have a healthy food truck on-site and hopes to bring on DROUGHT juice so that people can take their entire lunch hour here and get everything they need. "I want people to go back to work inspired and have energy in the afternoon, and see how little yoga it takes to shift your energy," she says.
After visiting the park, she decided to make the classes free with donations. "If we really want to elevate and uplift Detroit, this is the way to do it; not just for some people but for everyone." She suggests a $10 donation, but encourages everyone to come who is interested, even if they can't afford a donation.
She already sees this as a bigger mission and something that can be grown into a year-round event, and plans on looking for an indoor space to continue offering her lunchtime yoga in the winter.
Yoga in the Park will be held on the grassy area of Milliken Park by the picnic shelters.
Source: Katherine Austin, owner of Karma Yoga
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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

Downtown development news round-up

Here's what's happening as we hit July:

• Dan Gilbert's Rock Ventures has expanded its retail portfolio to include 620 and 630 Woodward, two four-story buildings located next to each other on the east side of Woodward between Jefferson and Campus Martius. The company, which now owns or controls 30 buildings downtown, plans to upgrade these buildings for office and retail use. 

• Though the acquisition of the properties happened last December, representatives of DTE Energy are now finally giving us a teaser of what plans might be in store for the 69,000-square-foot lot and the three-story former Salvation Army building near its headquarters at Third Street and Bagley. Though plans are still vague, the idea of renovating the building at 601 Bagley into mixed office and retail space or a restaurant and bar has been suggested, and they have also mentioned plans to create an urban park on the lot similar to Campus Martius. Definitive plans include tearing down two empty buildings currently located on the lot. They expect this development project to take about five years to complete. 

• The Lofts at Merchant's Row on Woodward are expanding into an adjacent building, adding 42 more rental units. The total cost of the renovation project is estimated at $10 million.

• Campus Martius Park has seen a lot of action recently. It now has a new bar called the Beach Bar & Grille, located on a wooden deck in a section of the park that has been covered in sand. The Grille is owned by J. Lambrecht, who is also co-owner of Fountain Bistro and Bookie's. There is a new summer food market held in the park every Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. featuring several local mobile food vendors.

The Market at Campus Martius has also officially launched, and will be held the fourth Friday and Saturday of the month from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. through August featuring 20 vendors and 10 retailers each month. 

Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Ford Field to get two more Slows stands, also adding Russell Street Deli and Corridor Sausage

Detroit Lions fans are in for a real treat this fall at Ford Field; the stadium will be increasing its partnership with local food businesses to include two more Slows' outposts, a Corridor Sausage cart, and a satellite location of Russell Street Deli.
"We want to provide a better local experience for our fans," says Joe Nader, Executive Chef of Ford Field. "There are a lot of places around downtown that people go to before and after games. I could do a barbecue stand inside the stadium but I could never replicate Slows or their branding and wouldn't try to."
Ford Field's partnership with Slows Bar BQ – arguably Detroit's most famous restaurant – started last year. "It made sense that we started there with the most iconic of the new Detroit brands," Nader says. Fans were happy because they could have that Slows experience right there in the stadium. But Slows was only available on the Club level (accessible only to Club level ticketholders), which made for some disgruntled fans.
But, as Nader explains, all good things in good time. Slows is responsible for running its stand in addition to two permanent locations (the Corktown institution and Slows To Go in Midtown). With 65,000 people in the stadium for every game, both Slows management and Levy Restaurants, which handles the food and beverage operations for Ford Field, had to make sure they could handle the crushing volume.
This year Slows will be available to everyone with outposts on the Club level, the North Club level, and in general concessions in Section 133. Joining them in the Club level is Russell Street Deli, and in North Club level is Corridor Sausage.
Nader has always made it a point to use products from local purveyors in Ford Field, including Better Made potato chips and Germack brand nuts. Nader has used Corridor Sausage products at special events, but now it will have its own cart and will also be available on the suite menu.
As far as Nader is concerned, this is a natural progression for Ford Field and a reflection of Detroit's fast-growing food scene. "My biggest thing is creating a Detroit experience," he says. "We get a lot of fans from out of town, and they might have heard about Slows or any of these places but they can't always have that experience while they're here. Now they can get it all inside the stadium."
Nader is also the co-founder of The Detroit Three, a new chef's collaborative that hosts culinary events with a charity component. 

Source: Joe Nader, Executive Chef of Ford Field
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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

New murals in Eastern Market celebrate changemaking and all things Weird

Eastern Market has a new welcome mat: behold one of the new murals on Gratiot entering the market, courtesy of German and Austrian artist collective "The Weird," recently in town for their group exhibition at Inner State Gallery. After spending some time absorbing the history and the "characters" of the Market, the Weird created this mural, which offers their interpretation of the people and places they saw. (And, yes, it's kind of weird.) 
The Weird's murals (they did a few) are the latest in an ongoing public art effort spearheaded by the guys behind Inner State (formerly 323 East in Royal Oak) and 1xRUN. "We've been engaged in public arts projects for many years," says Jesse Cory, who founded 323 and 1xRUN along with partners Dan Armand and Ryan Brogan. "It has always been in our blood and something we thought was important."
It started with the mural on their 323 building. They then moved on to Woodward Windows, a public art project that took over vacant storefronts along Woodward Avenue and included works from local artists like Malt, Sintex, Hygienic Dress League, and the Detroit Fashion Collective. Then, last summer, 1xRUN produced the Detroit Beautification Project in collaboration with Matt Eaton. This project yielded dozens of murals throughout Hamtramck and garnered national coverage (and controversy). It was during this project that Cory and his team were approached by Plymouth Educational Center instructor Allie Gross to collaborate with her 5th grade ChangeMakers class.
The ChangeMakers are a civically-minded group of students that had already put together a winning proposal at Detroit Soup. A crowd-funding campaign was launched to cover the cost of supplies, and 1xRUN brought San Diego-based artist Persue in to work with the students on creating a mural using his signature Bunny Kitty character. Persue worked with the kids for three days last month to create the mural on Russell between Mack and Warren in Eastern Market on the side of an abandoned juvenile detention center.
1xRUN's/Inner State's focus this year is all on Eastern Market, their new home since May. They have produced nine murals in the market so far this year. The murals serve several purposes: first, they are public works of art for all people to enjoy, taken outside of the confines of a traditional gallery and put out in front of the public. Second, the murals are from internationally-renowned street artists; petty taggers are deterred from destroying them (there is a strict street art code at play) so walls previously full of junky tags are remade into actual works of art. Third, since 1xRUN/Inner State self-funds all of these projects (with occasional help from sponsors like Montana Cans) and works with artists they're already collaborating with on limited edition print runs or an exhibition, the murals give them a chance to further showcase their artists and their brand. Cory says, "It gives traveling artists the same opportunity to leave behind something better."
Source: Jesse Cory, co-founder of 1xRUN and Inner State Gallery
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

Photo credit: Sal Rodriguez

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Gateway Marketplace signals transformational change to the new "Uptown"

The much-anticipated Meijer located at the new Gateway Marketplace on the southeast corner of Eight Mile and Woodward Avenue is scheduled to open July 25. While this might not actually be the most buzzed-about grocery store opening in recent memory, it is no less significant.
"(Gateway Marketplace) allows us to command a higher and better use (for vacant land along the Eight Mile corridor)," says Tami Salisbury, Executive Director of the Eight Mile Boulevard Association. "It makes our large parcels of land more and more attractive. (We) have very large parcels of land that are available for investment."
Large parcels of land that include the currently unoccupied State Fairgrounds, which is now under development consideration by a group of investors. Governor Granholm twice issued a RFP (request for proposals) for this parcel without success; now there is a proposal in place and moving forward from partners Marvin Beatty, Joel Ferguson, and Earvin "Magic" Johnson under the name Magic Plus, LLC. Beatty is also a partner in Gateway Marketplace, and so has a vested interest in the success of both the Fairgrounds and the Marketplace, which means the two massive developments "won't cannibalize each other."
While construction has taken just over a year, for Salisbury, this has been a project nearly a decade in the making. "We started having meetings about this nine or ten years ago," she says. "The DNR sold this property to the Marketplace folks in 2003 or 2004." Three years ago the investment group behind the Marketplace hired Redico to be the property developers and management company. The development officially broke ground last May.
At 325,000 square feet and sitting on 36 acres, Gateway Marketplace is most likely the largest commercial retail development in Detroit's history. In addition to Meijer, the Marketplace will also be home to a Marshall's, K & G Superstore, PNC Bank, Five Below, Payless Shoes, Petco, McDonald's, Subway, SVS Optical, Dots, and Wingstop. The Eight Mile Boulevard Association will also be moving its offices into one of the spaces. Meijer will be the first to open, followed by staggered openings through September.
The entire development is creating 800 new jobs, 500 of which come from the 190,000-square-foot Meijer alone. Salisbury says that this is the first kind of all-in-one store that has been built in the city, offering not only groceries but also a pharmacy, clothing, home and garden supplies, and a gas station.
They expect to see 2,500-3,500 people per day in the Marketplace: 100,000 cars pass this intersection every single day, and it is also located along the route of two major bus lines.
Salisbury sees this development as a huge boon in the stimulation of economic investment to the area, in addition to the significant amount of tax revenue it will create for the city. But perhaps equally as important is the shift in perception it could create for the oft-maligned "8 Mile," too long seen as a divider instead of a connector. In fact, Salisbury and her organization are trying to rebrand the area as "Uptown" to create a new identity for Eight Mile.
Source: Tami Salisbury, Executive Director of Eight Mile Boulevard Association
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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

Kitchen Connect will help launch new triple-bottom-line food start-ups

FoodLab Detroit is a network of triple-bottom-line food businesses in Detroit, founded by Jess Daniel, a Local Economy Fellow at Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. FoodLab launched in 2011 and has become a significant resource for food start-ups in the city, a place where entrepreneurs can share information, resources, provide mutual support, and learn how to balance their triple-focus businesses.  
One of the unique functions of FoodLab has been inadvertently performing is that of an informal connector between entrepreneurs and commercial kitchens in the city that will allow small start-up food businesses to use their space to make their products, a necessity for many of the food start-ups that aren't classified as cottage industry (the Cottage Food Law specifically excludes all items made with dairy and other products like salsa, pickles, and barbecue sauce) and for those that need more space than a home kitchen provides. From this emerging need for rentable commercial kitchen space, Kitchen Connect was born.
Daniel says that they were fielding inquiries both from entrepreneurs as well as churches and community organizations with kitchens that they wanted to open up for entrepreneurs to use. "We found out that it's pretty difficult," says Daniel. "A lot of these community organizations can't be there to open and close the doors, haven't necessarily thought through insurance or making sure their kitchen is up to code, or what to do if someone leaves it a mess. Over time the kitchen realizes, 'Oh, you've been using our hood and now utilities have gone up and you're only paying this much; we can't afford it,' and kick them out."
Kitchen Connect eliminates all of that by working with two partner community kitchens: St. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church in Southwest Detroit and Matrix Human Services in Osborn. These community kitchens in Detroit neighborhoods act as a preamble to the community kitchen that will open next year in Shed 5 in Eastern Market, which just received a $1 million grant from the MEDC. "These are community-driven spaces," says Devita Davison, Community Kitchen Coordinator at Eastern Market Corporation. "To be partnering with two kitchens that understand the power of community and bring folks together – I couldn't ask for better partners."
Kitchen Connect is a collaboration between Eastern Market, the fiduciary partner, and FoodLab, which is handling all technical assistance. They are also working with the city to show off the growing good food economy (and, ideally, make it easier for more businesses to launch). Davison references the 119 products from Michigan vendors on the shelves of the new Whole Foods Market, and emphasizes the need for our entrepreneurs to be able to utilize commercial kitchens and have that kind of opportunity.
Kitchen Connect is an incubator of sorts, but once the spaces are activated they will have additional programming, offering community cooking classes and other workshops, even host pop-ups. The partner kitchens also provide people in their respective communities access to a commercial kitchen, which might not have otherwise been easily accessible if they had been limited to the sort of usual suspect hubs (Midtown et.al.). "(Kitchen Connect) speaks to entrepreneurship opportunities that may open up to folks local in their own neighborhood," Davison says. Daniel adds, "A lot of the entrepreneurs we work with have issues with access. (Kitchen Connect) also means there are these hubs of incubation activity in a lot of different spaces."
They will start accepting applications at the end of June and will celebrate with a launch party on July 22.
Source: Jess Daniel, Founder of Foodlab and Local Economy Fellow at Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, and Devita Davison, Community Kitchen Coordinator at Eastern Market Corporation
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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

Detroit's first Downtown Farmers Market is open every Thursday

The Compuware urban garden Lafayette Greens is now home to the first-ever farmers market in downtown Detroit. Located on the site of the former Lafayette Building, which was demolished in 2010, the garden is a result of Peter Karmanos, Jr. – Compuware's co-founder and Executive Chairman and also a Master Gardener – working with the city of Detroit to transform the area into a greenspace.
Lafayette Greens is a goodwill project of Compuware tended by volunteers. They grow organic fruits, vegetables and flowers in raised beds and have an heirloom orchard with apples, peaches and pears. There is also an aromatic lavender garden. The productive site yielded over 1,800 pounds of produce last year, which was donated to local food banks. The space is also designed as a park with plenty of seating where workers in the area can come for lunch and anyone can simply enjoy. Utilizing reclaimed materials such as concrete blocks, wooden pallets, and galvanized steel (roofing material) with a highly geometric design by Birmingham's Kenneth Weikal Landscape Architecture, the park pays homage to its urban setting. There are also sculptures from local artists on display. "It satisfies design (aesthetics) that other gardens don't," says Gwen Meyer, Garden Coordinator.
The land is city-operated and the garden merely temporary. If and when a developer decides to buy the land, the garden will no longer exist. "(Lafayette Greens allows us to think about) how we engage open spaces in our city," Meyer says.
They were already hosting events like cooking demonstrations and pop-up yoga when Greg Willerer of Brother Nature Produce approached them about hosting a weekday farmers market. This presented another opportunity to actively engage the community and activate the space. Vendors include Brother Nature (pick up some salad greens to take home or enjoy a fresh salad for lunch or dinner), Brooklyn Street Local, Food Field, Detroit Zen Center Café, and Detroit Bulk Company.
"It's really important to recognize the agricultural history in Detroit," says Meyer. "We would really like to encourage and inspire other corporations downtown to think about what they can do to be a good corporate citizen. We at Compuware are always eager to share the process we went through to encourage this to happen."
The Downtown Farmer's Market Detroit is open Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Source: Gwen Meyer, Garden Coordinator
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Detroit Central City to open integrated health center for under- and uninsured

Detroit Central City Community Health, Inc. is working on a new health center in on the ground floor of its offices at Woodward and Peterboro in Midtown.
DCC has applied to become a federally-qualified health center through Health Resources and Services Administration (HERSA). It has been a couple of years since HERSA has opened up applications for that status and will only award about 25 organizations (out of over 400 applicants) nationwide the status. "We're going forward as if we're going to be designated as federally-operated," says Jane Damren, Director of Integrated Health Initiatives at DCC.
The 900-square-foot health center on Woodward will give priority to DCC clients, which includes the homeless, residents of DCC-operated public housing, and the mentally ill, though a federally-qualified health center is open to anyone uninsured or underinsured. "There is a huge need for primary health care (in this special population) that is not being addressed to date," Damren says. "We know in medically underserved populations it's very difficult for those individuals to overcome the stigma of mental illness or homelessness to try to obtain the services that we take for granted as primary care."
Initially they hope to serve 500 in the first year with a goal of 2,500 by the end of the third year. If they receive federally-qualified status, they project a reach of 4,500 patients by the end of their third year. As they are able to penetrate the community and establish a patient base, they would also like to move into a larger storefront on the Peterboro side of their building.
Federally-qualified health centers receive an annual grant of $650,000, which covers the cost of the uninsured patient population, and also receive enhanced Medicaid reimbursement. Right now about 40 percent of the DCC's clientele start without any insurance. Case managers work to get them enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid. Damren realistically hopes for the center to get "lookalike" status, which they will be eligible to apply for after 12 months of operation and which will enable them to receive enhanced Medicaid.
Damren hopes to have the health center open in 2014.
Source: Jane Damren, Director of Integrated Health Initiatives at DCC
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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The Detroit Wood Type Co. set up shop inside Signal-Return

Signal-Return is a letterpress workshop, retail space, and…business incubator? In a manner of speaking, yes. The old-fashioned (and nouveau trendy) letterpress studio in Eastern Market is also home to Detroit Wood Type Co., producers of historic wood types and letterpress goods.
Detroit Wood Type Co. formed about eight months ago after partners Don Kilpatrick, Joe Benghauser, and Christian Mulligan had been collaborating on other types projects. Kilpatrick is the illustrator, Benghauser is the type designer, and Mulligan is the project manager.
"It's really just us doing this," says Kilpatrick. "We're bringing back historic typefaces that were designed over 100 years ago and creating them in wood." They also design new typefaces inspired by historic type. "The primary focus is making unique typefaces that are affordable."
Unique letterpress typefaces are typically very expensive, so if a person who is professionally and financially established can't afford them, it's highly unlikely a recent graduate or young person with an eye for design can. So Kilpatrick and Benghauser got all the equipment, restored it, learned how to print on it, and found processes to make it more affordable. The standard pricepoint is $299 for both historic and original designs, and they can also do custom designs.
"If you want to explore the (letterpress) medium and push yourself as a designer, it's great to buy wood type because it gives you all sorts of possibilities," says Kilpatrick. "Letterpress printing is one of those things that allows you to slow down and think, to take the time to learn the history of your craft as a designer. Wood type is part of that."
Right now Signal-Return is their studio, retailer, and distributor. All their types and letterpress goods are available there. Their long-term goal is to have their own studio and storefront, and they are also eager to collaborate with other artists.
Source: Don Kilpatrick, Co-Founder of Detroit Wood Type Co.
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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The first new major development on the Avenue of Fashion will include a restaurant, yoga studio

With $1.7 million in beautification and streetscape upgrade investments on the way and a concentrated effort by the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation to grow this district's retail presence, the Avenue of Fashion is poised to regain its former glory as Detroit's premiere shopping district.
There is one large-scale development project that has already captured the attention of residents in neighboring Green Acres, Sherwood Forest, University Commons, and Palmer Woods – all safe, vibrant communities full of people who have lived there for decades and want to see retail growth in their neighborhoods. This project is located at 19344 Livernois, just north of Seven Mile. and is overseen by Detroit-based designer and builder Chad Dickinson.
As a designer and builder, Dickinson is specifically interested in sustainability, process, and community. He has built world-class recording studios in Nashville, has done a variety of home design work and custom furniture from reclaimed materials (including all the furniture in Green Garage), and is currently doing major renovation work at Envirosolids waste treatment and recycling facility in Dearborn. His recently-established real estate development company I'm Here is the developer of the 10,000 square foot building at 19344 Livernois (formerly the Hunter's Supper Club). He has a specific vision for the space and is willing to take the time and the money to do it the right way.
"Detroit has a unique opportunity to create a new model of urban revitalization that works with the existing community," he says, noting how other examples of urban revitalization he has seen across the country have meant pushing out existing residents and businesses (in other words, the dreaded "gentrification," something Detroiters – whether they agree if it is or is not currently happening – seem to be in agreement that they don't want to happen). Dickinson, a Green Acres resident himself, wants to involve the community in his project, to find out what they want to see there, what their needs are, and how to best serve them. He nods to businesses that have been on the Avenue for 30 years and residents that have lived there their whole lives and wants to work with them, not despite them.
His vision for the massive property, which is split into several distinct spaces, is to be a gathering place for the community offering a number of different social and lifestyle experiences. The U-shaped building wraps around a large courtyard, which will be the centerpiece of the property and the main entry point. Upstairs there will be a reading area and a yoga studio (Dickinson is a long-time yoga practitioner and wants this to be a space that also invites community interaction). Downstairs will be a café/restaurant and a high-end retail store that will specialize in footwear (he is also a self-professed shoe addict).
The building that will be home to the restaurant dates back 100-150 years. Dickinson and his team believe it was the barn of German immigrant Anton Grix. The Bavarian-inspired building retains its original wooden beams and massive stone fireplace, all of which will be salvaged and restored during the renovation. The second building that is connected to it, home to the yoga studio and retail store, was built in the 1950s.
The project will be an expensive one but Dickinson says he will spare no expense to do it well. He repeats several times, "It's not about the money." Instead, it's about serving the community well.
The work will be completed in phases. The courtyard will open this summer as a grand unveiling of the project as a whole. There will be events programmed to activate the space and build community excitement. Dickinson says the next space to open will be the yoga studio later this year. The café and restaurant will likely be last, and Dickinson estimates the completion of that portion is at least two years out. But he's in no hurry, and is set on seeing the project through, even if it's all through personal investment.
As the developer, Dickinson is not trying to open and operate these businesses himself. He is looking to partner with aspiring business owners who are equally as passionate about serving the community in a thoughtful, respectful, sustainable way and who will in turn have the full support of the DEGC, the University Commons Business District, and other business development organizations.
Source: Chad Dickinson, designer and builder
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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

Downtown Detroit Bike Shop now open in Eastern Market

Detroit has a new bike shop! Sort of.
The Downtown Detroit Bike Shop is open now through September at 1420 Fisher Freeway in Eastern Market. It is a pop-up concept that has the potential to become permanent if business is good over the next few months.
Owner Jon Hughes also owns the Downtown Ferndale Bike Shop, now in its fourth year, and was busy earlier this year trying to coordinate the first-ever Gran Fondo mass cycling event down the Woodward Corridor. While the ride was ultimately not approved by all of the Corridor communities, Hughes is still organizing an informal ride for Sunday, June 30 at 8 a.m. starting at Rivard Plaza and going up Woodward to the Pontiac Loop and back again.
"I figured I haven't been stretched out enough, so why not open a shop in Eastern Market?" Hughes says. He has wanted to open a store in Detroit ever since he first opened his store in Ferndale.
When a friend looking to open a restaurant found this space in Eastern Market, the cost of a restaurant build-out would have been too expensive … but it was perfect for what Hughes needed. "For him it wasn't going to work, but I just have to put hooks on the wall." The space was previously an art gallery but had been empty for four years. Though Hughes was planning on opening a Detroit location full-time next year, when this space fell into his lap he decided to test it out. He signed the lease two weeks ago and started moving in inventory.
Downtown Detroit Bike Shop has about 200 bikes in stock along with tons of accessories. It is an extension of the Ferndale store, selling both new and used bikes and offering full repair services. At about 2,800 square feet, the Detroit store is nearly three times as large as the Ferndale store. Hughes will have limited hours on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday to start, in the hopes that business will grow and he can hire employees to be there seven days a week. He also wants to organize some rides through the store, which is conveniently located right near the Dequindre Cut Greenway north entrance.
A previous pop-up last year inside Compuware was unsuccessful due to lack of visibility, but Hughes hopes for a better response this time – ideally, he'd like to keep the space when September rolls around.
Source: Jon Hughes, owner of Downtown Detroit Bike Shop
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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