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Places to check out green infrastructure in Detroit

At Model D, we’ve been writing a lot about green infrastructure in the last few months, a topic which includes home-scale rain gardens as well as large public initiatives like catchment basins in parks. 
 
But no matter how well we write about it, a-hem, there’s no excuse for getting outside and seeing some of this stuff in action with your own eyes. Luckily, there are several places to check out green infrastructure in the city and perhaps get ideas for your home projects.

One of the best places to see a beautiful and environmentally friendly landscape is at William G. Milliken State Park on the Detroit waterfront. In the area near Atwater and Rivard streets, a compelling landscape of ponds, channels, wetlands and prairie creates the sort of environment needed to slow down the movement of water into the river that cleans the water prevents flooding. 

Highlights of the area at Milliken Park include the boardwalks and walkways that go along and over the wetlands, allowing visitors an up-close look at the various species that inhabit the space. These include a number of native flowering plants, insects, birds and even muskrats. 

You may be unlikely to install a muskrat-sized wetland on your own property, but this park is still a great place to visit to get ideas for rain gardens and prairie landscapes. It’s also a great place for kids. This writer has heard stories of children so distracted by the birds and butterflies in the wetland that they couldn’t be bothered with the nearby carousel. Surely this is a sign of progress.

Rouge Park and the surrounding area are another great areas to check out green infrastructure projects. Bio-swales installed by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department on Tireman to the west of the park line the road and catch water with the help of deep-rooted native plants.

In the park itself–which is the largest park in the city–there is a wildflower trail to the west of Outer Drive near the junction of Tireman. This is an excellent example of the kind of low-cost, low-maintenance landscape that can be used to catch and sequester water in a prairie landscape.

Nearby, off of Tireman itself is the Stone Bridge Trail, one of the nicer trails in the city. It wanders through the woods and wetland near the Rouge River. On a recent walk, I spotted a great blue heron here among other birds. There are also many examples of trees and understory species that thrive in wet environments, giving the gardener some ideas for the home garden. 

Also be sure to check out the bioswales at Cody Rouge's Stein Park, planted by high school students.

Seeing these spaces first-hand also helps homeowners and gardeners see how their efforts connect and support the larger ecosystem. If we are going to protect our local waterways from flooding and pollution, we all need to do our part. The reward for this work will be a more beautiful and abundant local landscape–and above all, cleaner water

This story is part of a series on measuring on the role of green infrastructure projects in Detroit's redevelopment. Support for this series is provided by the Erb Family Foundation to Greening of Detroit, Model D, and The Nature Conservancy. Read more articles from the series here.
 

Detroit to receive grant money and Innovation Team from Bloomberg Philanthropies

Detroit has been named a member of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Innovation Team program, making the city eligible for up to three years of $500,000 grants. The money is to be used to fund an in-house Innovation Team, which will focus on improving city life through the development of new and novel solutions to issues faced by city residents.

The organization says that the Innovation Team will take a measurable approach, one with clear plans and goals. By funding an in-house group that could stay for as long as three years, the team will be better able to understand the complexities local to Detroit. Bloomberg Philanthropies will also provide implementation support and facilitate an exchange of ideas between the different Innovation Team sites.

Detroit was selected from a pool of cities from all over the world and joins a group that includes Be'er Sheva, Israel; Toronto, Canada; Anchorage, Alaska; Austin, Texas; Baltimore, Maryland; and Durham, North Carolina. Eligible cities must have at least 100,000 residents and a mayor with at least two years left in office.

"I am happy to welcome the Bloomberg Innovation Team into our city to help create new ideas to better the lives of Detroiters across our city," said Mayor Mike Duggan.

Bloomberg Philanthropies is billionaire businessman and former mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg's umbrella organization for his charitable activities, which includes personal gifts and his foundation. The organization has five focus areas: Public health, environment, education, government innovation, and the arts.

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

Northwest Detroit businesses win Motor City Match funding

On Tuesday, January 10th, fifteen Detroit businesses and organizations were awarded funding through the Motor City Match grant program. A special guest was on hand for the ceremonyVice President Joe Biden joined Mayor Mike Duggan for the big announcement of winners.

"Vice President Biden and the Obama administration have been tremendous friends and supporters of the city of Detroit, so it's great to have the Vice President in our city one more time to participate in this great event," said Duggan in a press release about the event. Every quarter, Motor City Match gives away $500,000 in grants and resources to business owners and organizations in Detroit.

Of the fifteen businesses awarded grants, at least two will be on the Livernois commercial corridor, also known as the "Avenue of Fashion." Narrow Way Cafe, a coffee shop, won $45,000 and will be located at 19331 Livernois Avenue. Loose Massage Therapy won $35,000, and will provide massage therapy services at 19485 Livernois. The Trust Book store, located at 16180 Meyers Rd, is stationed just outside of the Fitzgerald neighborhood, which is the locus of ongoing city-focused development.

All three businesses will bring much needed "third spaces" to the Livernois/McNichols corridors, which have a large number of strong, densely populated neighborhoods, but are bounded by commercial spaces that continue to struggle. Diverse businesses, such as those represented by the winners of the sixth round of Motor City Match's grants, will provide residents more opportunities to shop and spend locally.

Read more about the Motor City Match program's sixth round of funding here.

How to evaluate your property for green infrastructure

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department is changing the way it assesses drainage fees so that businesses and residential properties will be charged for impervious surfaces that contribute to stress on the city’s combined sewer system, rather than paying a flat fee. Anything that doesn’t allow water to flow into the ground like a roof, parking lot, garage or driveway is considered impervious. Fortunately, there are several things businesses and homeowners can do to receive credits to offset these charges.

The simple calculation for the stormwater charge is as follows: the city’s monthly rate x the number of impervious acres. The monthly rate is currently $750 per acre.That number is expected to decrease to $614 per acre next year.

You can make a simple measurement of the area you will be billed for by measuring the length and width of any impervious surfaces, including houses and garages on your property,  Then multiply each of these to get the square footage and add them all up for the total square footage. Divide this by 43,560–or the square feet in one acre–and multiply by the city’s rate to find out what your charge will be. You can also view the city's assessment using this parcel viewer tool. If your estimate differs from the city's, you can request an adjustment.

DWSD has been hosting workshops to help property owners find the best ways to receive credits to offset their stormwater fees, the slideshow for these presentations can be found here. Attending one of these is no doubt one of the best ways to figure out exactly what you will be charged for and how to get credits. 

However, some of the strategies worth considering include installing a rain garden–addressed in the previous post–installing pervious pavers on driveways and parking areas, disconnecting downspouts to connect to rainwater catchment devices, rain gardens or bio-retention areas.

Pervious pavers have become increasingly popular. They include various types of concrete-based paving materials that allow water to infiltrate beneath the parking surface rather than running off to surrounding areas and drains. Generally, this is something that has to be done by a professional, although serious do-it-yourselfers may give it a try. A growing number of landscaping companies in Michigan are doing this work. 

Catchment areas installed beneath permeable surfaces and elsewhere have also become popular. These are essentially hollow matrices made from reinforced plastic or other materials that hold onto large quantities of water and slowly release it back into the ground. 

As for disconnecting your downspouts, it’s not enough to cut off your gutter and let it run into your basement our out onto the street. These water sources can either be channeled to rain barrels or other storage tanks, rain gardens, landscaped bio-retention areas or some combination of all three. 

If you’re planning on using rain barrels or other tanks, remember that the average roof sheds a lot of water, so coming up with a plan for the overflow–like a rain garden–is important. Landscaped bio-retention areas are essentially depressions in the soil with well-draining soil that allows water to infiltrate. For the purposes of the credit, all water should be able to move into the soil within twenty-four hours. 

Other more advanced practice would include installing green roofs or bio-retention ponds as a landscape element or for irrigation. 

DWSD has plans to implement a “credit calculator” to help you determine what your offsets could amount to, as well as office hours where you can talk to someone about the best ways forward. 

This story is part of a series on measuring on the role of green infrastructure projects in Detroit's redevelopment. Support for this series is provided by the Erb Family Foundation to Greening of Detroit, Model D, and The Nature Conservancy. Read more articles from the series here.

Museum honoring nation's first African American-owned TV station to open on MLK Day

In 1975, the nation's first African American-owned and -operated television station opened on East Jefferson Avenue in Detroit. This Martin Luther King, Jr. day on Monday, January 16, the doors of the old WGPR-TV 62 studios will re-open as the William V. Banks Broadcast Museum & Media Center, honoring the station's historic legacy as well as its founder, Dr. William V. Banks.

WGPR-TV 62 was a station of many firsts. In addition to being the first African American-owned and -operated television station in the United States, the station was the first Detroit station to stay on air 24 hours a day, broadcast programming in Arabic, and use Electronic News Gathering equipment.

The station stayed on air from 1975 to 1995, until it was purchased by CBS.

Museum attractions will include interactive video exhibits, memorabilia displays, and archival program footage. Displays of former TV and radio personalities and employees of both WGPR and the city at large will also be present. Additionally, the topic of Black media ownership in general will be explored.

A second phase of development will build a media training center for middle school and high school students.

"We are extremely excited to see this long-awaited project come to fruition," says Joe Spencer, former WGPR program director and current president of the WGPR-TV Historical Society. "WGPR-TV was a trailblazer in many ways, and visitors to the museum will see the amazing ways the station paved the way for minority programming and updated technology, as well as launched the careers of many successful African Americans in the media."

Spencer left the television business following the CBS buyout, turning his focus to his Louisiana Creole Gumbo line of restaurants, as detailed in a recent Model D profile here.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Detroit Historical Society executive director and CEO Robert Bury will be on hand for the grand opening on Monday, January 16, at 9:30 a.m. The museum will remain open to the public following the ceremony.

The William V. Banks Broadcast Museum & Media Center is located at 3146 E. Jefferson Ave. Regular museum hours of operation are every Friday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

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

Q&A: Dean Hay of The Greening of Detroit talks green infrastructure in the city

Dean Hay is director of Green Infrastructure at The Greening of Detroit, a group dedicated to increasing the amount of trees and green spaces as well as jobs and education opportunities throughout the city of Detroit. As such, we figured him to be an ideal person to talk to for our series on green infrastructure.

Model D: How big of a priority is green infrastructure to the Greening of Detroit?

Hay: Green infrastructure is very important to The Greening of Detroit. We envision GI as a community development tool that improves the quality of life for Detroit residents because of its cost-effective, resilient approach to managing wet weather impacts. Plants and trees not only reduce flooding, but improve air quality and recreational access to nature. Green infrastructure provides the community with a variety of economic, social, and environmental benefits.

Model D: When did it become a priority?

Hay: The Greening of Detroit began implementing community tree plantings 28 years ago in response to the tremendous loss of trees to Dutch Elm Disease in the 1970s and 80s. Trees, as an urban forest network, are a highly effective GI treatment, especially when used with other GI treatments. The Greening of Detroit has always used a multi-faceted approach to green infrastructure.

Model D: What is Greening of Detroit's role in the strengthening of green infrastructure in Detroit?

Hay: The Greening of Detroit continues to be a strong advocate for community-based green infrastructure, as well as treatments that perform well without excessive implementation and maintenance costs. We believe the most effective GI treatments incorporate robust community engagement, education, and design. This helps to ensure that each treatment is understood and accepted by each neighborhood.

Model D: What green infrastructure projects does Greening of Detroit have planned in the future?

Hay: We are developing new prototypes with neighborhood leaders that focus on the establishment of natural ecosystems on vacant land. These prototypes will emphasize education, stormwater infiltration, natural resource career development opportunities, and place-making experiences.

Model D: What would you like to see happen with green infrastructure in Detroit?

Hay: GI treatments don't have to be complex and/or expensive. I would like communities to prioritize according to their needs, partner with organizations like The Greening, and develop GI methods that effectively work in their neighborhoods. This will mandate that more funding and access to vacant land be made available to those leaders and groups that want to bring natural ecosystem solutions and improved quality of life to their residents.

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

Use the winter to plan for your rain garden

With the Detroit Department of Water and Sewerage bringing on new stormwater drainage fees, a lot of people are looking into ways to get credits for rainwater mitigation on their properties. One easy and beautiful thing that you can do is to create a rain garden.

Rain gardens have come into vogue in the last few years as a way to keep water from inundating local waterways and sewer systems, which can cause problems with flooding and pollution when combined sewer systems overflow. These gardens also usually feature native flowering plants that provide a beautiful color palette and provide food and habitat for birds and insects.

Rain gardens are built by digging a shallow depression that collects water from a downspout or off of a paved surface. They are often planted with a well-drained soil mix containing sand, topsoil and compost. The native plants employed have deep roots that create further channels into the ground to help keep it out of sewers, basements and other places where it’s not wanted. 

Winter is an excellent time to plan next year’s rain garden. Think about where you might want to have a new garden, making sure that it’s at least ten feet away from the house. The garden doesn’t have to be that big to absorb most of the water from your roof. However, people usually build their gardens to be at least 150 to 200 square feet, so they are big enough to make a visual statement in the landscape.
 
Use a garden hose to test possible shapes for the garden. From there, take a measurement of the area taken up by the hose and transpose it to a rough scale drawing. Using graph paper can help with this process.
 
Here is a list of plants for use in rain gardens. Plants that are most tolerant of standing water should be placed at the center of the garden. When planning the garden follow basic design rules. Clump perennials and smaller plants in groups of three or more, aim for a variety of leaf texture and flower color and, if possible, select plants that bloom at different times to create continuous interest.
 
Once you have dug or mechanically excavated the depression for your rain garden, you will need to add soil, plants and then mulch. Use the winter to get quotes on prices for materials from local retailers. Also keep an eye out for help from local organizations like the Friends of the Rouge and Keep Growing Detroit’s  “Rain Gardens to the Rescue” program and contact friends and neighbors who may be able to help out. 
 
The result will be a win-win-win garden that is good for your yard, your pocketbook and the health of your local waterways and the Great Lakes. 

This story is part of a series on measuring on the role of green infrastructure projects in Detroit's redevelopment. Support for this series is provided by the Erb Family Foundation to Greening of Detroit, Model D, and The Nature Conservancy. Read more articles from the series here.

Q&A: Kimberly Hill Knott on using green infrastructure for environmental justice in Detroit

Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice is a nonprofit organization that has launched the Detroit Climate Action Collaborative (DCAC), which is leading the development of the city of Detroit’s Climate Action Plan.  DCAC is focused on how climate change affects Detroiters, especially those living in low-income, marginalized communities. They've identified areas of the city that are most vulnerable to the ravages of climate change--which in Detroit come in the form of heat and flooding--and are focused on helping the communities in these areas build resilience.

Model D spoke with Kimberly Hill Knott, DWEJ's policy director and DCAC’s project director, to find out more about why the organization is turning to green infrastructure as a solution.

Model D: How does green infrastructure play into the work that you're doing with Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice?

Knott: Because we're leading the development of the city of Detroit's Climate Action Plan, which focuses on weather extremities, including heavy precipitation and extreme heat, we've had no other choice but to examine the role of green infrastructure. Our climatological research is showing that not only is it raining more frequently, so precipitation is increasing, but it's also more intense, and when you have aging infrastructure combined with older homes and a combined sewer system, it's a recipe for disaster.

Model D: How are you engaging the communities most affected?

Knott: We recently held a green infrastructure training with the community, in district four which is Detroit's Lower Eastside, and is most susceptible to flooding. That's the Jefferson-Chalmers community.

At the meeting, we gave an overview of Detroit Climate Action Collaborative. One of our Detroit climate ambassadors is from that community and had been talking to us about doing a green infrastructure training in that neighborhood, which has been experiencing severe flooding.

One of the reasons that we decided to do this training is because the Detroit Water and Sewage Department (DWSD) will be rolling out stormwater drainage fees this year to residential customers. Late last year, DWSD provided informational workshops to non-residential customers, so we wanted to get ahead of the game to prepare residents for the new impervious acreage rate and to show them how to install green infrastructure so that they can receive the appropriate amount of drainage credit.   We partnered with two of our climate ambassadors to do the training for a train-the-trainer style workshop, and then planted a rain garden at a church and also installed a rain barrel.

Model D: So is the idea that you're trying to encourage people to do this on their own properties?

Knott: Yes.  Green infrastructure is not only important because it reduces the risk of flooding and ultimately the cost of repairs, but it's also important because of climate change. As the intensity and frequency of these storms increases, it just makes sense to mitigate the risk.

Model D: Do people in that community understand the connection between flooding and climate change or is this sort of something that is new to them?

Knott: I think that what they're most familiar with is the combined sewer system because all of the sewage that keeps backing up into their basements. I don't know if they believe it's as much an issue of climate change as it is where they're located, and it being an issue of an aging infrastructure. Our job is to connect those dots, because whenever there is heavy rain, the sewer system will be overwhelmed, causing flooding.  

Model D: What are some of the green infrastructure tactics or types of applications that are most relevant to residents that are facing flooding?

Knott: The tactic that we have focused on during our training and the ones that are being used the most in that community are rain gardens. Rain gardens are one of the most commonly installed green infrastructure measures, because of the amount of water that they can capture.

Model D: How else does green infrastructure fit into the larger climate action work that you're doing, and what other groups have you or do you plan to reach out to?

Knott: When we release the Detroit Climate Action Plan, some of the adaptation and mitigation goals and action steps will focus on some aspect of green infrastructure. In the future, we may have a workshop for industrial and commercial business customers, but for right now, that's not as much of our focus. Right now we're just focusing on the residential.

Model D: For residents who want to implement green infrastructure on their properties, whether it's to save money on their water bills or what have you, what advice do you give to them to get started on doing something?

Knott: The first thing that they can do is to purchase a rain barrel, which is relatively inexpensive or can be free, depending on where you get it. Some rain barrels will need to be retrofitted to capture the rainwater.  We also believe it is important for people to make sure that their basements are waterproofed.

A bit more technical to install, rain gardens are also very helpful. You can't just use any plant in a rain garden.  You can’t just say, 'You know what? I like these flowers. I'm going to make a rain garden.' There are certain types of plants that must be used.  Education is key.  
 
It will be very important that DWSD has some hands-on training in the communities. They cannot just invite people to a meeting to talk to them about the new impervious acreage fees and the importance of installing a rain garden. Residents are not familiar with this tactic. 

The city is going to have to roll up their sleeves and heavily invest in community engagement. Partnering with local organizations to assist with community outreach and green infrastructure training will be very important.   

Q&A: Todd Scott on the link between Detroit's greenways and green infrastructure

Todd Scott is the executive director of the Detroit Greenways Coalition. One of his big projects is to complete the Inner Circle Greenway, a 26-mile series of bike lanes and greenways that will connect the cities of Detroit, Hamtramck, Highland Park, and Dearborn. We asked him a few questions about green infrastructure and the Inner Circle Greenway.

Model D: How does non-motorized transportation, and perhaps transportation itself, benefit from green infrastructure?

Todd Scott: Both complement each other. Trees, plantings, bioswales and the like provide the shade and aesthetics that makes biking or walking more pleasant and more enticing. Off-road paths, wider sidewalks, and even on-road protected bike lanes provide more opportunity to introduce green infrastructure into the urban environment. It makes sense that both are considered together as a package.

Model D: What's the state of green infrastructure within the Inner Circle Greenway today?

Scott: The built portions of the Inner Circle Greenway include the Detroit RiverWalk and Dequindre Cut. Both are fairly green, and of course, there's the natural stormwater filtration system at Milliken State Park. The on-road bike lane portions along W. Vernor (SW Detroit) and St. Aubin (Eastern Market to Hamtramck) could certainly benefit from additional green infrastructure, but especially street trees. There have been some informal discussions on how those bike lanes could be improved. That would be a good opportunity to address green infrastructure as well.

Model D: What sort of green infrastructure projects can benefit the Inner Circle Greenway? Any planned?

Scott: The largest unbuilt portion of the Inner Circle Greenway is the abandoned Conrail railroad corridor that runs from Warren near Lonyo to Jos Campau near McNichols. Nature hasn't taken back much of the corridor. Still, there are significant opportunities to further green this corridor and process stormwater from adjacent roads and other impervious surfaces. Portions of the rail line were built on former drains which remain wet to this day. Not only can the greenway process this stormwater; it can tell the history of how we've dealt with it.

There's increased discussion about the proposed May Creek Greenway between the West RiverWalk and Corktown. Being that it is a former creek bed, there is a significant opportunity for green infrastructure here as well. Obviously, its connection to the Detroit River is much more direct at this location. We can tell the story of Detroit's former creeks and how they were transformed into stormwater drains.

Model D: What are the plans for next year for the Inner Circle Greenway? Anything as it relates to green infrastructure?

Scott: The City of Detroit is still negotiating the purchase of the Conrail property, so nothing can move forward until that is complete. We're also looking to confirm city ownership of the abandoned rail corridor for May Creek.

Once the land is secured, additional environmental testing will be necessary. We're hopeful that large scale soil remediation (i.e. removing contaminated soil) will not be necessary. That would add delay and cost to the eventual development of these trail corridors.

The City was not awarded a federal TIGER grant to construct the greenway this year. Our fingers are crossed that this program will continue with the next administration.

Model D:  What would you like to see happen with green infrastructure in Detroit?

Scott: We're interested in using greenways not only for trails but to manage stormwater from adjacent properties. We've participated in the Detroit Water and Sewage Department (DWSD) conversations about offsite stormwater management and drainage credits. We may be able to monetize those credits to help offset greenway operational costs.

We'd also like to see both non-motorized and green infrastructure projects implemented together as a standard practice within the city. Detroit has significant open space whether it's vacant parcels, abandoned rail corridors, or extra wide roads. We can use these to create safe and convenient non-motorized transportation options and green infrastructure in a way that most other cities can't. It's an exciting opportunity to build a better city.

This story is part of a series on measuring on the role of green infrastructure projects in Detroit's redevelopment. Support for this series is provided by the Erb Family Foundation to Greening of Detroit, Model  D, and The Nature Conservancy. Read more articles from the series here.

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

Q&A: WSU's Carol Miller on the interplay between green and gray infrastructure

Carol Miller is Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Wayne State University. She's also Director of Healthy Urban Waters, a program that advocates and researches clean water resources in the Huron-Erie Corridor. We asked her a few questions about how green infrastructure in Detroit can help sustain our larger, "gray" infrastructure water systems.

Model D: What is the current state of Detroit's water infrastructure?

Miller: The current situation is in flux; in transition. As we all are well aware, much of the water transmission and distribution infrastructureincluding pipes, pumps, and valveshas served the city for a very long time. In some instances, for 100 years and more. 
 
In addition, the stormwater and sanitary infrastructure have been a significant environmental problem in the past. Many of these issues are much more at the forefront of political, social, and environmental justice discussions these days. This heightened awareness of the critical nature of our water infrastructure has led to some relatively recent and well-deserved attention on this issue.

Model D: How can green infrastructure ease the pressure on water infrastructure in Detroit?

Green infrastructure can ease the pressure on some of the urban flooding issues associated with high flows within the combined storm/sanitary lines. Green infrastructure can hold back some of the storm runoff, allowing it to pass into the piping system after the peak discharge has receded. 
 
Also, green infrastructure can reduce the total runoff that exits a property by allowing more to drain into the soil and be used by plants. Green infrastructure can also, in some cases, improve the quality of the stormwater runoff by allowing particulates to settle out.

Model D: What will it take to create a green infrastructure that improves city water infrastructure?

It will take leadership within the city and within the communities (residential, business, and industrial) of the city. We are seeing some of that leadership come together presently, with DWSD and the Great Lakes Water Authority, as well as citizen leaders in the communities. Wayne State University, through its Healthy Urban Waters program, is also playing a key role; as are SEMCOG, MDEQ, and others.

This is critical because this is an all-encompassing and all-effecting problem, and adequate attention will require leadership from the citizens, government, academic partners, and regulatory community. For green infrastructure, often the most important component is the citizen component.

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

This story is part of a series on measuring on the role of green infrastructure projects in Detroit's redevelopment. Support for this series is provided by the Erb Family Foundation to Greening of Detroit, Model  D, and The Nature Conservancy. Read more articles from the series here.

Q&A: Victoria Byrd Olivier on Detroit Future City and green infrastructure

Victoria Byrd Olivier is director of land use and sustainability for the Detroit Future City Implementation Office, where she works on strategies to implement the Detroit Future City Strategic Plan. The office has been active in working on green infrastructure, particularly through its Field Guide to Working with Lots and its mini-grant program.
 
With an undergraduate degree in Urban Planning from the University of Virginia and a Master's Degree, also in Urban Planning from the University of New Orleans, Olivier began her career in New Orleans, focused on post-Hurricane Katrina recovery work with an emphasis on neighborhood planning, adaptive reuse, and historic preservation. She began working at Detroit Future City in August of 2013. She's also a co-founder of Brick + Beam Detroit, a project to help residents restore historic homes in the city.
 
Much of Olivier's work involves strategizing on how to deploy green infrastructure across the city best. Model D chatted with Byrd to find out more about her work.
 
Model D: Why did you want to leave New Orleans to come to Detroit?
 
Victoria Byrd Olivier: There are many connections with New Orleans' circumstances and the types of challenges that both cities were going through. But it was really about the energy that was going on in Detroit; the type of people who had been working here and who were starting to move here, that were collaborating. I was interested in being able to apply the skills that I had picked up in the New Orleans' environment to Detroit, and having an opportunity to explore a whole new part of the country.
 
In Detroit, you can't ignore what an amazing opportunity we have. We've started with the assumption that there were 20 square miles of vacant land and that continues to grow every day with demolitions throughout the city. We're looking now at 30 square miles of vacant land. Vacant land can be a blight, and we can't assume that just having a building down makes it a more positive environment for that neighborhood.
 
Model D: Talk about the role green infrastructure plays in the Detroit Future City Strategic Framework and the Implementation Offices' operations?
 
Byrd: The strategic framework was the first planning document where Detroit had focused on acknowledging the realities on the ground. One of those realities was the amount of vacant land. It was not looking to the traditional solution for that, which is, "Let's build more houses, let's fill that land," but recognizing that due to market conditions and other factors, it was about, "How do we intentionally turn that vacant land into open space? How do we use that land to distinguish Detroit as a national or international leader in turning a liability into an asset to improve food security, to explore renewable energy production, and to improve health outcomes? The framework took the first step in both acknowledging the issues and looking at positive solutions for vacant land.
 
But it was just a start. The DFC Implementation Office is about carrying that work forward. We also recognize that looking positively on vacant land and open space as an opportunity is still something that's relatively new in the city. DFC and groups across the city are continually trying to work on the culture shift, where vacant land can be seen as an opportunity and not just an absence.
 
Model D: What are some examples of work DFC is doing to promote green infrastructure in the city?
 
Olivier: We see green infrastructure as part of a greater open space network in the city. The strategic framework started with a map that showed the different green options across the city. There are a lot of really tough questions that go along with that, including who owns that land, how you pay for it, how you maintain it, and how you deal with liability.
 
In the past year and a half, DFC has put together two reports that look at some of those questions. The first was called Achieving an Integrated Open Space Network in Detroit. It tried to broaden the idea of what green space could look like. 
 
While green infrastructure is really important, it has to be integrated into many land uses, for example, natural areas that are a little more passive, like meadows, and wetlands, and forests, and then also productive landscapes. If you're looking at food or energy production or tree farms, green infrastructure can be a part of that, as well.
 
We have a variety of parks and greenways across the city, and those are very compatible with green infrastructure, and we have the new parks improvement plan that started to outline that idea. And we're also thinking about buffers between our industrial areas and health outcomes that can improve through addressing them.
 
We also put together a second report on open space with the Center for Community Progress that looks at ownership and funding considerations that could help inform our work. There have been several models across the country and the world that Detroit can start to look to once we figure out how we want to use that land. We interviewed many stakeholders across the city to get their input on that report.
 
We've also been convening an open space working group for the past seven months; we meet monthly with 25 to 40 different participants that are coming at this open space puzzle from various perspectives, but all with the same goal of how to best use our land. And we've been working alongside the city as they're looking at the urban planning process, to see how we can support work in tandem.
 
Model D: What role is DFC playing in DWSD's efforts to encourage ratepayers to implement green infrastructure as part of reducing their drainage fees?
 
Olivier : All of those groups that are working with open space are going to be finding ways to align with the big changes that are about to occur with DWSD's drainage fee and green infrastructure credits.

At DFC, we're working align everything we're doing and planning so that we can take tools like our Field Guide to Working with Lots or our mini-grant program and think about how the DWSD credit program is going to work, and how we can create designs as options or the credit programs. We're also thinking about how we can provide more technical assistance in the office and build up our capacities so we can help people get those designs into the ground.
 
Model D: What are the greatest obstacles and the challenges to implementing green infrastructure in the city, and how do you address them?
 
Olivier: Maintenance is a big obstacle. Just on a small scale, we've tried to address that through the second round of our mini-grant program, which provides specific funding for maintenance. It's also part of our technical assistance. We wanted to make sure we looked into resources to help sustain these projects; that's something that we prioritized.
 
Another challenge is workforce development. I think a great opportunity for green infrastructure in the city is how it can be part of improving employment opportunities for Detroiters. We've found that there is a bit of a gap in the contractors and landscapers that have the expertise and are comfortable with implementing these designs. So making sure that we can align with other groups that are doing workforce development is important.
 
And another big challenge is that there are likely different incentives and funding models for each user group--whether businesses or non-profits or residents. So we need to understand what the resources are, both financial and human resources, to see how green infrastructure can not only provide an environmental benefit but fit into other goals.
 
This story is part of a series on measuring on the role of green infrastructure projects in Detroit's redevelopment. Support for this series is provided by the Erb Family Foundation to Greening of Detroit, Model D, and The Nature Conservancy. Read more articles from the series here.

Students hope to raise funds to build 18-hole miniature golf course in North End

Public Spaces Community Places, the statewide placemaking initiative funded by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), has set its sights on seven vacant lots in the North End neighborhood of Detroit.

It's there, just north of the New Center area, that a neighborhood youth patrol group called 4Ward Phoenix is hoping build what would be the city's only 18-hole miniature golf course. The group is trying to raise $5,000 through a crowdfunding campaign. Should that group successfully reach its target sum by Jan. 16, MEDC and MSHDA will provide a $5,000 matching grant.

The crowdfunding campaign is being hosted on the Michigan-based Patronicity platform.

"This Mini-Golf is important to our 4Ward Phoenix youth," says group organizer Phillis Judkins. "Students are creating this putt-putt to implement their professional skills from their classes. Crowdfunding is a great display of the faith and support individuals have for their specific goals. The most powerful tool is to know that someone is interested in your success by donating towards your cause. Engagement for local families, businesses, and organizations is just one of the many thing this miniature golf will support. And for the students, having an entire community behind them, donating to their success is empowering and irreplaceable."

The money raised will complement the more than $275,000 that has already been secured for the project. Plans include the 18-hole miniature golf course, green space, fencing, solar-powered lighting, benches, landscaping, and off-street parking.

[For more on the North End, check out this Model D story on the neighborhood's bright future]

4Ward Phoenix is the youth group of the North End Neighborhood Patrol. The students have taken part in a number of lessons to ready themselves to run a small business, including marketing, banking, and neighborhood outreach. They hope to open the 4ward Phoenix Miniature Golf center by March 2017.

Click here to view the status of the crowdfunding campaign.

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

Restoration of the Treymore Apartments building results in 28 affordable housing units in Midtown

Detroiters feeling the pinch of rising rental rates in the city's greater downtown have reason to turn their attention to Brainard Street. There, in the bustling development hotspot between Wayne State University and Little Caesars Arena is the Treymore, will be an affordable housing redevelopment that offers 28 one- and two-bedroom units to Detroiters earning 50 to 60 percent of the area's average median income.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan cut the ribbon on the redveloped apartment building this past Friday, Dec. 9.

"These are the kinds of projects the City of Detroit is happy to support because they are example of how Detroit comes back, there is room and opportunity for everyone," says Mayor Duggan. The city contributed $3.5 million in HOME program funds.

A number of other organizations contributed to the redevelopment, creating a patchwork of financing. The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) contributed $3 million in affordable housing tax credits. Cinnaire financed and syndicated the MSHDA credits. And the building's developer, Paradise Valley Investment Group (PVI), contributed hundreds of thousands in private equity and brownfield tax credits.

In all, it cost $7 million to renovate the building, which has sat vacant for over two decades. The condition of the building forced developers to completely strip it of infrastructure and start fresh, requiring the installation of new windows, energy efficient HVAC, and lighting. Also new is the roof, landscaping, and greenspace.

The Treymore is a four story, 30,000 sq. ft. building erected in the early 1900s. Two-thirds of the 28 units are already leased.

"Restoring this building has been life changing," says PVI president and CEO, Robin Scovill. "Its condition when we started, juxtaposed with the finished product, is shocking."

The Treymore is located at 457 Brainard St.

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

6 places to shop in Live6 this holiday season

The holidays are right around the corner, and now is the time to find that perfect gift for everyone on your list. A visit along Livernois and McNichols is exactly what you need. Here are a few places in the Live6 neighborhoods that you can go to get fun, unique gifts for your loved ones this season.
 
Eric's I've Been Framed

Tucked in an unassuming building across from the University of Detroit Mercy's campus, Eric's I've Been Framed is the perfect place get beautiful framing for artwork or prints, as well as smaller stocking stuffers like stationery and craft items. The warm atmosphere inside the shop is matched by the friendliness and expertise of Eric Vaughn, the owner and framer-in-chief. 
16527 Livernois Ave, Detroit, MI 48221

Detroit Fiberworks

Need a thoughtful gift for someone in your life who is hard to shop for? Check out Detroit Fiberworks, an art gallery and home goods shop that has a range of items including artwork, jewelry, clothing, and more. Gifts here range in price so there's something for every budget. Also check out one of the many exhibits held at the space and support local artists.
19359 Livernois Avenue, Detroit MI 48221

The University of Detroit Mercy & Marygrove College Bookstores

If you have a Titan or Mustang in the family, you'll want to stop by the University of Detroit Mercy or Marygrove's campus bookstores to get school-branded swag. Pick up your UDM dad hat or Marygrove sweats, and while you're in the area take some time to visit the Charles McGee Commons at the corner of McNichols & Wyoming, on Marygrove's campus.
UDM: 4001 W McNichols Rd, Detroit, MI 48221
Marygrove: 8425 W McNichols Rd, Detroit, MI 48221
 
Art in Motion Ceramic Studio

Pewabic isn't the only place in town to get beautiful ceramic art. Check out Art in Motion, Live6's neighborhood ceramic studio and showroom. Local artists regularly show their work here, and you can learn the craft too: consider a pottery-throwing class as a gift for the artist in your life.    
19452 Livernois Ave, Detroit, Michigan 48221
 
Lucki's Cheesecakes

The holidays are a great time to indulge your sweet toothand Lucki's is just the spot to do that. They have a wide variety of speciality cheesecakes, but sell pies as well. Impress your relatives with their strawberry shortcake, sweet potato, and superman cheesecake flavors.
7111 W McNichols Rd, Detroit, MI 48221
 
DCreated Boutique

For many, their children are their most precious giftsso why not deck the babies out for the holidays? Visit DCreated Boutique this holiday season for clothes and accessories for the littlest person in the family. You can get tiny couture that will melt the hearts of any grandparent.
19480 Livernois, Detroit, MI 48221
 
Kuzzo's Chicken & Waffles

An instant classic, Kuzzo's Chicken & Waffles is known by locals as a place to get delicious comfort food. After your long day of shopping settle into favorites like the chicken and waffles, or get adventurous and try the Hazel's Southern Platter. Wash it down with their legendary Kool-Aid drinks.
19345 Livernois Ave, Detroit, MI 48221

Art and coffee collide in Hamtramck with the opening of Oloman Cafe

A new cafe and gallery has opened in Hamtramck. And for owner Zlatan Sadikovic, it's an opportunity to combine many of his loves.

Oloman Cafe opened to steady crowds on the morning of Monday, December 5th. The cafe, which is part coffee shop, part art gallery, and part photography studio, is located in the former space of the Belmont Bar.

The Belmont spent most of its life as a music venue, though in its latter couple of years new ownership had turned it into a sports bar. Vacant for several years, Sadikovic obtained the venue and began working on it in 2014. Originally planning on using the space for a photography studio, the infrastructure of the building sparked Sadikovic's coffee shop idea. So he combined the two visions, spending the last few years working on an exhaustive overhaul of the building.

Sadikovic and his son Igor, who manages the business, did much of the work themselves, tearing up a floor left rotted by a badly leaking roof and coming up with their own interior designs. The old bar remains, though sharply redesigned, and a small portrait studio occupies the space of the old stage. Out on the back patio, which Sadikovic is outfitting with plants and flowers, is the old Belmont sign, something Sadikovic plans on displaying.

"I kept the sign," says Sadikovic. "People have an emotional attachment to old places."

Sadikovic is one of those people. A native Bosnian, Sadikovic and his wife left for the United States after the war of the 1990s ravaged their country. They've named the Oloman Cafe after one of their favorite cafes in downtown Sarajevo, a place where the city's artists would gather and drink espresso on the sidewalk patio. Zlatan and his wife Indira met at that cafe, which would come to be damaged and demolished over the course of the war.

"That place disappeared. We decided to create something on the other side of the world with the same feel," says Sadikovic. "It's maybe a sentimental type of thing but it is what it is. We come back to things from our past."

The Oloman Cafe has a good chance at becoming a spot where artists congregate. In addition to the coffee and food, which is purchased from local makers Golden Wheat and Guerilla Food, Oloman will have once-a-month art openings in the gallery.

Sadikovic also purchased the building next door, which he has turned into Lint Silver and Sawdust, a rentable co-working space for artists.

Oloman Cafe is located at 10215 Joseph Campau Ave. in Hamtramck.

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

City of Detroit approves $1.6 million for neighborhood planning

The city of Detroit is making good on its promise to expand development into neighborhoods with the recent commitment of $1.6 million in planning-related funding for four sections of the city.

Contracts have been approved for planning work in the neighborhoods of
Southwest Detroit/West Vernor Corridor, Northwest Detroit/Grand River Corridor, Islandview/Greater Villages, and Rosa Parks/Clairmount. This falls in line with Mayor Mike Duggan's push for "20 minute neighborhoods," where residents have amenities and resources within 20 minutes of walking or biking.
 
Sarida Scott-Montgomery, executive director of the Community Development Advocates of Detroit (CDAD), looks forward to what this can mean for the highlighted neighborhoods. "CDAD welcomes the city's plan to invest in neighborhoods. All Detroiters deserve healthy and vibrant neighborhoods that support a good quality of life," Scott-Montgomery says. "We also look forward to working with the City and the selected vendors to ensure that robust community engagement processes occur with the projects. CDAD should be viewed as a resource on this effort."
 
One of the areas targeted for planning is the Northwest Detroit/Grand River Corridor. Located in the northwest side of Detroit, the Grand River Corridor is also geographically close to Livernois and 6 Mile, another area of focus for the city. The Fitzgerald Revitalization Project is a separate city-backed initiative nearby. While developers for the Fitzgerald Revitalization Project still have not been announced, additional attention to neighborhoods in the northwest section of the city bring a connectivity to the area that could be similar to that seen downtown and Midtown.
 
"I appreciate the city's expressed commitment to community engagement through the development processes in these neighborhoods. I'm hoping the engagement strategies result in long standing relationships between the residents of the impacted communities, the partners doing the development work and city government," says Lauren Hood, director of the Live6 Alliance. She says that although trust and relationship building will be a slow at the beginning of the planning process, it will be worth it.

"Creating authentic connections now will ensure productive and robust resident participation as those neighborhoods move into the master planning stage. The city has a tremendous opportunity to redefine what inclusive neighborhood redevelopment can look like."
 
More information about the city's plans can be found here.

Nonresidential property owners learn how green infrastructure can reduce new stormwater fees

In November, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department released guides to help customers understand its stormwater drainage fees, including ways to implement green infrastructure to gain credits toward reducing those fees. 
 
The drainage fee had never before been charged to owners of approximately 22,000 parcels in the city, who began receiving letters from the agency in August, according to the Detroit News. DWSD is transitioning to a uniform system in which each customer is charged a fee based on the area of the impervious surface, such as concrete, pavement, and rooftop, located on the parcel.
 
At a workshop for Nonresidential Property Owners on Nov. 9 at SEMCOG, customers were given the basics of how the fee will work and how they can use stormwater management practices, including green infrastructure, to reduce their fee. A second session will be held Dec. 14. The presentation can be viewed here.
 
"It's highly critical that our customers understand the drainage charge, what it pays for and the credit system we are developing," DWSD deputy director Palencia Mobley told an audience of nearly 100 people. "Detroit has not done a good job over the years at communicating to customers what they pay for. This administration is serious about changing that."
 
The presentation began with an explanation of the city's combined sewer overflow (CSO system) which combines sewage and stormwater runoff. EPA regulations have forced investments in CSO infrastructure, such as the Conner Creek facility on Detroit's lower east side, to prevent overflows from the system into area waterways such as the Detroit River and the Rouge River. The new drainage fee will go toward funding operations and maintenance of this infrastructure.
 
Each parcel owner is receiving an initial assessment based on the area of imperviousness according to the following formula: 
 
Drainage charge = Total impervious surface area X Impervious acre per month (dollars per acre per month)
 
The fee is currently set at $750 per impervious acre. For example, a four-acre parcel with two acres of a parking lot would be charged $1500 per month. The new fees will be phased in over the next two years, starting with industrial and commercial properties in early 2017, followed by tax-exempt and residential properties later next year and finally faith-based properties starting in 2018.
 
Impervious area is evaluated using remote sensing technology integrated with the city's Geographic Information System (GIS). Customers can view their assessment using the city's Parcel Viewer tool. Because remote sensing data may contain errors, customers have the opportunity to contest and adjust their assessments.
 
Customers also have the opportunity to reduce their fee by taking actions on their property to reduce the peak flow and volume of stormwater runoff. 
 
Volume credits help reduce the overall burden to the system by Infiltrating, evaporating, and reusing water. Green infrastructure treatments that achieve volume reduction include redirecting downspouts to pervious areas onsite, green roofs and water harvesting. Peak flow credits help slow the transport of water into the system, reducing the chances of overwhelming the system and reducing the risk of flooding. Green infrastructure treatments that achieve volume reduction include detention basins and subsurface storage. Several types of green infrastructure, including bioretention, permeable pavers and water harvesting, can achieve both volume and peak flow credits.
 
Depending on the mix of treatments applied and existing site conditions, customers may be able to gain enough credits to reduce their assessments by as much as 80 percent.
 
More information can be found at DWSD's drainage website.

This story is part of a series on measuring on the role of green infrastructure projects in Detroit's redevelopment. Support for this series is provided by the Erb Family Foundation to Greening of Detroit, Model  D, and The Nature Conservancy. Read more articles from the series here.

New bike shop celebrates opening in downtown Hamtramck

It may have taken longer than initially expected, but the Wheelhouse Detroit bicycle shop has officially opened for business in downtown Hamtramck. The Hamtramck location complements owner Kelli Kavanaugh's original Wheelhouse Detroit, which opened on the Detroit RiverWalk in 2008.

Since we first reported on the Hamtramck location this past March, Kavanaugh has been working on getting the storefront ready for business. Permits have been approved, inspections have been passed, and numerous construction projects have been completed, including a new roof, lighting, and HVAC and electrical systems.

While it may not be prime bike-buying season, Kavanaugh wanted to open the store on Black Friday and in time for the holiday shopping rush.

"I feel relieved," Kavanaugh says of the store's opening. "It's a mixture of excitement and anxiety. It's a fruition of a dream several years in the making but there's that anxiety of spending the money on the new shop. But the exciting things in life are always a combination of those two feelings."

In stocking the store with bicycles, accessories, and active wear, Kavanaugh has placed an emphasis on selecting products that were made in the United States. Those products include bicycles from the Detroit-based Detroit Bikes, locks from Kabletek, and bags from Green Guru, Alchemy, Chrome Industries, Ironweed and Timbuk2.

Kavanaugh has also teamed up with Hamtramck-based apparel maker William + Bonnie, creating a new line of cycling clothing for professionals cycling to work. The line of apparel is available exclusively at the Wheelhouse shop.

[Check out this Model D article on the unique aesthetic of the garment shop William + Bonnie]

Other Wheelhouse features include a service department, rentals, and guided tours.

The shop's winter hours are Sunday, noon to 5 p.m., Monday, noon to 6 p.m., Thursday, noon to 6 p.m., Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The new Wheelhouse Detroit is located at 9401 Joseph Campau St. in Hamtramck.

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

November development news round-up: New homes in North Corktown, a new home for basketball, and more

Let's catch up on some of the biggest stories from the past five weeks.

While it's Corktown that receives the lion's share of development attention, its neighbor across the freeway, North Corktown, has been in the news lately, too. Construction of traditionally-financed single-family homes will begin in Spring 2017 on Ash and Sycamore streets, featuring contemporary designs by Christian Hurttienne Architects. Meanwhile, an affordable housing development that stretches across 54 acres was reported by the Detroit News and includes "elite" New York architect Alexander Gorlin and possibly Grammy-winning musician Pharrell Williams. There is, however, no official word on any timeline.

The Detroit Pistons are moving back to their namesake city, 38 years after leaving the cozy confines of Cobo Arena for the Pontiac Silverdome in 1978. The basketball organization announced this month that they will be joining the Detroit Red Wings hockey team in occupying Little Caesars Arena, which is currently under construction just north of downtown. Both teams will open their 2017-18 seasons in the new arena. Rumored sites for a Pistons practice facility include a West Grand Boulevard location in New Center. The Pistons are leaving The Palace of Auburn Hills, built by former owner William Davidson in 1988.

In historic preservation news, the CPA Building across from Michigan Central Station has been saved from demolitionat least for now. It was reported earlier this month that the building's owners, the New York City-based BFD Corktown LLC, were granted a demolition permit for the building. But as news broke, preservation and neighborhood advocates quickly mobilized, gathering over 1,000 signatures to petition its destruction. Detroit City Council took note and granted the building, which opened in 1923, an interim historic building designation, delaying demolition for up to one year and opening it up to further studies.

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

Local audio equipment maker to ship products around the world

Detroit Audio Lab is going global. Well, locally manufactured and globally available, to be exact.

The decision, made official November 14, when they company felt it could pass the import/export demands of various countries, including the rigorous sustainability requirements of the European Union, says Detroit Audio Lab founder Mike Bauer.

While each country has its own rules for importing foreign products, Bauer says the fact that Detroit Audio Lab passes the strict WEEE and RoHS regulations of the European Union means that they can ship products just about anywhere. WEEE sets end-of-life waste disposal demands while RoHS bans certain hazardous substances from being used in electrical and electronic products.

"Shipping globally is more than going to the post office," says Bauer. "Products have to be packaged properly, they have to meet certain electrical requirements. Each country is a little different."

Detroit Audio Lab has taken orders from customers in the United Kingdom, Australia, and China, says Bauer.

It's a good start for the premium audio equipment company, which launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign in late October. Detroit Audio Lab products include speakers, amps, and speaker stands, sourced from wood and pipe reclaimed from deconstructed houses throughout Detroit. Its electronics are exclusively sourced from Michigan-based companies, including control boards designed in-house.

Bauer cites two reasons for Detroit Audio Lab's global appeal. It manufactures and sells premium audio equipment, handmade yet technologically advanced. And then there's what Bauer calls the "D Factor." Assembly takes place at a facility on Bellevue Street in Detroit. Reclaimed wood and pipe is purchased from the Architectural Salvage Warehouse of Detroit. The address of the house from where the material was reclaimed is laser engraved on each finished product.

"I thought the buzz would be local, in the state and in the Midwest," says Bauer. "But people all around the world are interested in the story of Detroit's renaissance."

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

Detroit dog daycare business to launch major expansion along the Cass Corridor

For all the residential and hockey arena-related developments happening along Cass Avenue, there's at least one being built for our four-legged friends. Canine to Five Detroit, the dog daycare business founded by owner Liz Blondy in 2005, has announced a major expansion, building a 10,000 sq. ft. addition adjacent to its current 6,000 sq. ft. facility.

Construction is set to begin in spring 2017 with a target completion date of fall 2017. 3,000 sq. ft. will be made available for rent to a retail business. Following the construction of the new building, the original facilities will see their own upgrades.

The $1.6 million development will result in the creation of 10 jobs and increase daycare capacity of dogs from 100 to 175. Additional features include private play areas, small breed-specific features, and a senior lounge for older dogs.

Canine to Five Detroit is the original location for the business, which expanded with a second location in Ferndale in 2013. Success was so immediate in Ferndale that Blondy was quickly forced to move to a 22,000 sq. ft. facility on Nine Mile Road. Blondy has learned from the Ferndale transition and is applying those lessons to the upcoming expansion in Detroit.

"I'm more prepared for it now. Any time you do something for the second time, it's a little bit easier," Blondy said in an October interview.

She's repeatedly gone over the plans and blueprints with not only Detroit-based architects DMET, but also with the Canine to Five staff. Mistakes are expensive, she said, and Blondy is making sure that the Detroit expansion goes as smoothly as possible, for her and the dogs.

Canine to Five Detroit is located at 3443 Cass Ave.

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

Detroit Future City, Michigan Community Resources mini grants spur green infrastructure projects

Two organizations are supporting implementation of green infrastructure in Detroit neighborhoods through competitive mini-grant programs.
 
Michigan Community Resources (MCR) in partnership with ULI Michigan recently announced the following five awards to community groups to implement green infrastructure:
 
  • The Jefferson Chalmers Community Food System to build a water catchment system to irrigate their cut flower farm.
  • Urban Neighborhood Initiatives to create a water catchment system on a commercial building
  • Earthworks Urban Farm for research and development of an affordable, modular solar pump that will allow for the captured water to be used for irrigation in urban agricultural systems.
  • North Corktown Neighborhood Association to build a four-season rain garden on a vacant lot.
  • Marygrove Community Association to create a community rain garden with park-like amenities on a residential lot.
Each recipient will receive $5,000 in cash from MCR for materials and construction and an additional $2,000 in cash from ULI for signage, education, and maintenance. ULI will also provide pro bono technical assistance from their network of civil engineers and landscape architects.
 
According to CEO Jill Ferrari, this program represents a shift in its service strategy and focus.
 
"MCR envisions a more comprehensive approach to neighborhood revitalization in the City of Detroit," says Ferrari. "To meet this challenge, we are focusing on more targeted technical assistance that includes support for sustainable community initiatives. We want to empower groups to design and implement projects that have environmental, social and financial sustainability so that their work in the community is more impactful."
 
Funding for the MCR mini-grants is provided through a grant from the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation.
 
Detroit Future City is also working to stimulate green infrastructure implementation in neighborhoods through a second-year round of competitive mini-grants to support neighborhood transformation of vacant lots into green infrastructure assets.
 
The program is offering $65,000 in funds to up to ten neighborhood groups to utilize its DFC Field Guide to Working with Lots (available online at dfc-lots.com). Each group will receive a maximum of $5,000 to be used toward lot design and implementation. An additional maximum of $1,500 must be dedicated toward the maintenance of the lot, programming and education. The program is funded by the Kresge Foundation.
 
Applicants must be community groups which own the land or have written permission to use the land, and must demonstrate use of the field guide. To find out more on how to apply, contact the Detroit Future City Implementation Office.
 
Victoria Olivier is deputy director for neighborhoods for the DFC Implementation Office. She says the program is designed to work at small scales to address specific neighborhood goals. For example, the HOPE Village neighborhood installed a design on a lot that was adjacent to Davison Street to avoid it being seen as a cut-through for cars.
 
"If it was to serve as a shortcut to those businesses,  we wanted it to be for the community's pedestrians and be an inspiring space," says Olivier.
 
DFC has also partnered with ioby to implement a crowdfunding program so that neighborhoods can leverage grant funds to build additional community amenities beyond landscaping, as well as to support education and maintenance. She says the ultimate goal is to build capacity in neighborhoods.
 
"This is about building a cohort of land leaders through technical assistance and the connections they make with each other, so that these groups can then be a resource to their respective neighborhoods," says Olivier.

The Craft Cafe Detroit thrives on city's lower east side

The Craft Cafe Detroit is off to a fast start. The "sip and paint" party venue opened last June on Mack Avenue, just blocks from city's eastern border with Grosse Pointe Park, and it's already turning away customers as some parties reach capacity. But that's a good problem to have.

While owner Candice Meeks is considering a move to a bigger location, she says she wants to keep the Craft Cafe in the neighborhood. Its location is part of the reason for its success.

"The location at Mack and Phillip, there's nothing like this in our community," says Meeks. "You have to drive downtown and pay for parking or drive out to the suburbs for this kind of fun. We need to keep something like this in the neighborhood."

Craft Cafe Detroit hosts a wide variety of celebrations, from birthdays to bachelorette parties. Guests can bring their own food and drinks while Meeks leads the party through a painting session. Subjects are pre-sketched onto each person's canvas, allowing them to paint along while Meeks teaches different techniques like blending colors. She also offers vision mirrors, where guests create collages on mirrors and then seal them with a clear coat finish.

Other parties include Eat | Paint | Drink, where refreshments are provided, and monthly date nights, where couples paint together.

Meeks credits a number of small business programs that helped her get off the ground. She graduated from ProsperUs Detroit, where she met her current landlord. Meeks was also the recipient of a $4,000 technical assistance grant from Motor City Match. She says she plans on using the grant money to help with marketing and website construction costs.

"Going through those programs really gave me a platform to open my own business."

The Craft Cafe Detroit is located at 14600 Mack Ave. It's open Tuesday through Friday, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.

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

Downtown co-working space to double in size, eyes big future

The Bamboo Detroit co-working space downtown is focused on the growth of its tenants, providing facilities, resources, and programming to freelancers and startups alike.

That commitment has resulted in the company's own expansion. Bamboo recently announced a new location twice the size of their current one at 1442 Brush St., growing from 3,000 to 6,000 sq. ft. of co-working facilities and more.

Come January 2017, Bamboo will open its doors on the third floor of the historic Julian C. Madison building at 1420 Washington Blvd. Construction is currently underway.

The new Bamboo location will count 20 dedicated desks, seven private offices, and three conference rooms among its new features. The private offices are in direct response to customers' needs, says co-owner Amanda Lewan. The current location doesn't offer private offices, a fact that Lewan says led to a loss of potential tenants.

The top floor of the new location boasts a loft-style events space, something Bamboo will use for job fairs and other pro-business programs. Also planned is a large cafe area, complete with coffee and snacks. In April 2016, Bamboo won a $30,000 Motor City Match grant to help build the cafe.

"Be really clear about what you need, have a really clear budget," Lewan says to future Motor City Match applicants. "It might not be perfect, you might still be playing around with it as you get close to the end, but if you have a really clear plan, people can get on board with it."

The company believes that the expansion will result in significantly more tenants, with Bamboo expecting the amount to grow from the current count of 120 to 300 tenants. 

Bamboo currently has a pop-up co-working space at MASH Detroit on the city's east side. Lewan says Bamboo may one day have multiple co-working sites throughout the city and its neighborhoods.

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

Clothing, gifts, and more: New retail storefront coming to Eastern Market

For the first time in 40 years, a retail storefront will occupy 1440 Gratiot Ave.

The new tenants will be Well Done Goods, a men's and women's accessories shop that will be opening in the Eastern Market space. 

Well Done Goods is the result of local tie and scarf maker Bethany Shorb's move to break out of the neckwear market and expand her reach to other products. Shorb's line of ties and scarves has sold under the Cyberoptix name for ten years and will continue to do so. Well Done Goods will carry those products, plus more of Shorb's creations, along with a curated selection from makers throughout the country.

"Our customers have asked and asked for us to put our designs on other things. What better place to launch that venture than right here in our hometown?" says Shorb.

New Cyberoptix products include aprons, pillows, and poster-sized art prints, all of which are screen-printed by hand in their 4,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility, located directly above the storefront. Other Michigan products include JKM Soy Candles and sustainable tables from Union Town Woodshop. Also carried are vegan felt bags from the Los Angeles-based Mad Rabbit Kicking Tiger and 3-D printed jewelry from Boston's Nervous System.

Following its Friday opening, Well Done Goods will be open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

Well Done Goods is celebrating with a grand opening on Friday, November 4, from 6 to 10 p.m., which will include food and music, and is free and open to the public.

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

Using the literary arts to fight blight on Tuxedo Street

A sentimental drive by a childhood home is a common occurrence in the city, country, and everywhere betweeneven for Pulitzer Prize winners. Stephen Henderson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Detroit Free Press columnist and host of both radio and television talk shows, has been checking in on his own childhood home since moving back to Detroit in 2007.

He says his family's former home on Tuxedo Street on the city's west side was well-kept back in 2007 but, as the years wore on, Henderson watched the house deteriorate. In 2012, a window was boarded up. Soon, all the windows would be boarded up. Eventually, the house was stripped.

Henderson is now leading a charge to transform the vacant house on Tuxedo Street from an eyesore into an asset. A purchase agreement to buy the house from the Detroit Land Bank is nearly complete.

Dubbed the Tuxedo Project, the house at 7124 Tuxedo St. will become a literary and community center, complete with an English professor-in-residence. The house will be rehabilitated and turned into a space for students and community members to share their stories and create new ones, using the literary arts to effect positive change. Plans for other abandoned homes on the 7100 block of Tuxedo Street will follow.

"It's the idea of the power of one," says Henderson. "What happens if one person returns to where they're from and tries to make changes, what will that inspire, and will there be a ripple effect of change."

Henderson has a big team behind him. The Knight Foundation and Marygrove College are working together to bring an English professor to Tuxedo Street. Members of Henderson's 1988 graduating class of University of Detroit Jesuit High School have rallied together to form a non-profit. And the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Michigan State Housing Development Authority have included the Tuxedo Project in its Public Spaces Community Places initiative.

Should the Tuxedo Project successfully raise $50,000 by November 28, MEDC and MSHDA will contribute a $50,000 matching grant. The crowdfunding campaign is being held on the Michigan-based Patronicity platform.

"None of this is any more than an idea in my head without these partnerships," says Henderson.

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

It's a match! MCM winners use grant money to help cushion construction costs

Construction is starting this week on the Meta Physica Wellness Center in Corktown. The business will be located in the Bagley and Trumbull building, which counts the Bearded Lady salon and barber shop, Mama Coo's Boutique, and the Farmer's Hand market as its tenants. The latter two businesses are Motor City Match winners. All four businesses in the Bagley and Trumbull building will be women-owned.

Meta Physica Wellness Center owner Jenevieve Biernat started her massage business in Midtown, which she has since outgrown. The Corktown studio will feature expanded services, including two massage rooms, three saunas, a raw juice bar, and an apothecary. Biernat won both a $50,000 Hatch award and a $20,000 Motor City Match grant for her business earlier this year.

"Every bit of money helps," says Biernat. "You don't always know how much you need going in but it turns out you need a lot of money to do this."

Biernat says that once she's established, she'd like to put herself in a position to help others through the Motor City Match application process.

A resident of Corktown, Biernat has been visiting the other shops at Bagley and Trumbull nearly every day, learning from her future neighbors, and soaking up as much advice and information that she can.

Another $20,000 Motor City Match grant winner, Noelle Lothamer, is currently in the midst of construction of an Eastern Market storefront for her Beau Bien Fine Foods. The Michigan-sourced fruit jam-, chutney-, and mustard-makers recently celebrated the one year anniversary of their Eastern Market location, which has served primarily as a kitchen.

Lothamer says the money won from Motor City Match has quickly gone toward construction costs, including the storefront, roof, and some other much needed repairs. "As soon as we knew we could spend it, we did."

The hope is for the storefront to open by Thanksgiving, though Lothamer cautions that there is no set date. In addition to acting as a retail area for their jams, chutneys, and mustards, the Beau Bien Fine Foods storefront will also offer grab-and-go sandwiches, salads, and drinks.

Meta Physica Wellness Center is located at 1707 Trumbull Ave.

Beau Bien Fine Foods is located at 2478 Riopelle St.

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

New veterinary house call company opens in downtown Detroit

Pet owners across the city of Detroit and some of its suburbs can access a new service that improves access to veterinary care. It's called PetCalls, a company that sends veterinarians and veterinary technicians on house calls.

PetCalls offers a number of on-site services like vaccinations and digital x-rays. For surgeries and other services, the vets will "pet taxi" the animal to a clinic. House calls start at $59.

CEO and owner Kimberly Jackson says the company is perfect for senior citizens who have mobility issues and millenials that don't have their own vehicles. It's also good for the pets; Jackson cites recent cases that include a cat that would vomit every time it was put in a car and a rescue pit bull that refused to get in a vehicle.

"We started seeing patients the day after Labor Day and we've already been able to see animals that haven't been able to get to a veterinarian in years," says Jackson. "It's very exciting."

The house calls also allow the veterinarians to see pets in a more relaxed and natural setting. They can watch a dog run in its own backyard and assess potential injuries or watch a cat and observe its regular eating habits.

Though PetCalls began seeing patients in September, the company will be celebrating its grand opening Thursday, Oct. 20 from 5 to 9 p.m. at its downtown Detroit office on Washington Boulevard. The celebration is open to the public and their pets.

Rather than a ribbon-cutting ceremony, PetCalls is having an edible ribbon for the dogs to chew apart. A Halloween parade down Washington Boulevard is also planned and the dog with the best costume will receive a year's worth of heartworm protection. Other giveaways include pet bandanas, toys, and identification tags.

There will also be refreshments for the humans.

PetCalls is located at 1514 Washington Blvd., Suite 203, and can be reached by phone at (313) 788-7387.

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

Third round of grant program seeks to give $2M to Detroit non-profits

Major foundations has been very generous to Detroit nonprofits in recent years. Once again, these groups are being encouraged to apply for up to $150,000 in grant money.

The Kresge Foundation is giving away a total of $2 million in the third round of its Kresge Innovative Projects: Detroit program. $3 million has already been granted through the first two rounds of the program, which launched in 2014.

The Kresge Foundation expects to award the grants to 15 to 20 groups across the city, including at least one in each of Detroit's seven city council districts. The money is reserved for implementation grants and each project has 18 months to reach completion. Nonprofit organizations have until Nov. 21 to submit their applications, which can be done online.

The grants will be awarded to those projects that focus on vacant land use issues, public and open space, and neighborhood stabilization programs. Previous grant-winners include exercise pocket parks in central Detroit, a neighborhood clean-up and stabilization program in the Osborn neighborhood, and a green parking lot and community space in Grandmont Rosedale.

"This initiative has been successful because of the knowledge, know-how and dedication of residents and leaders across Detroit's neighborhoods," George C. Jacobsen, senior program officer of The Kresge Foundation's Detroit Program, says in a statement. "We continue to learn from the grantees we've funded over the first two rounds about what it takes to make a tangible difference in city neighborhoods as well as how we might continue to support their ability to catalyze further efforts in building stronger neighborhoods."

Two informative sessions will be held for those interested in applying for the grant. The first will be held at Jam Handy on Oct. 25 from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. and the second will be held at TechTown on Nov. 15 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.

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

Traveling retail event with focus on socially-conscious businesses comes to Eastern Market

The Mercantile is coming to Detroit.

The touring retail event, which began September 25 in Nashville and ends December 4 in Los Angeles, makes the second of three stops at The Eastern events space in Detroit's Eastern Market.

More than just a traditional flea market or arts and crafts fair, The Mercantile celebrates only those businesses that are cause-based makers and retailers, hosting socially-conscious businesses located in Detroit, Nashville, and Los Angeles. Dine Drink Detroit will provide food and drinks and the Nashville-based pop-soul band the Shadowboxers will perform.

More than 25 vendors will be on hand, including 16 brands from Detroit. They include jewelry maker Rebel Nell, which uses repurposed materials to make its products while hiring and educating disadvantaged women; Love Travels Imports, which finds and sells Fair Trade handcrafted art from around the world, emphasizing self-empowerment and sustainability; and LeadHead Glass, which recycles and reuses glass and wood from deconstructed homes in Detroit to construct terrariums and other glassworks.

The Mercantile was thought up by Matthew Ford, a former metro Detroiter who now owns Oaken Anchor, an event production company based in Los Angeles and Nashville. He approached his friend Steve Fortunato, who owns the L.A.-based Hospitality Collaborative catering company, and suggested they do something with more than the bottom line in mind. Fortunato tapped his friend Emily Henderson, a former HGTV lifestyle personality, to help design the event and soon The Mercantile was to debut.

For a lot of socially-conscious businesses, selling themselves may not be their number one priority. Ford thinks an event like The Mercantile can help businesses more concerned with helping others than themselves do both at the same time.

"So often, the term 'commerce' can be the giant elephant in the room with these businesses," says Ford. "But we're unabashed about it. We want people to spend their money on these businesses."

The Mercantile takes place Sunday, October 16 from 2:00 p.m. to 8L00 p.m. at The Eastern, which is located at 3434 Russell St. Tickets are $15 in advance and $22 at the door.

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

'Impromptu performance space' to open along Dequindre Cut

The Dequindre Cut, that two mile-long stretch of paved greenway connecting Eastern Market with the Detroit riverfront, was designed with bicyclists and pedestrians in mind. And while movement motivates much of its usage, it's a stationary feature that will soon be celebrated.

The Campbell Memorial Terrace, an outdoor performance space, will officially be unveiled this Thursday, October 13. A children's concert, its first scheduled programming, will occur during the Harvestfest Detroit celebration on Saturday, October 22.

Located at the base of the Lafayette Street ramp between Orleans and St. Aubin streets, the Terrace includes a covered stage for performances and tiered seating walls for spectators.

The Terrace was designed with the community in mind. While there will be the occasional scheduled performance, its real function will be determined by those who use it. The space has a come-what-may policyno permits or reservations required. Whether it's working musicians wanting to put on an impromptu performance, local poets wanting to give readings, or neighborhood children coming up with their own fun and games, if the stage is open, the community is encouraged to use it.

Spontaneity is the name of the game here.

"We wanted to leave it flexible and see what the community comes up with," says Mark Wallace, president and CEO of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. "We set the table and let the community bring the programming instead of us bringing the programming from the top down."

The Campbell Memorial Terrace is named after C. David Campbell, former president of the McGregor Fund and a founding member of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. A long-standing member of the Detroit non-profit community, Campbell passed away in 2014. The McGregor Fund presented the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy with a $1 million gift to honor Campbell. According to those responsible, the terrace, which incorporates all the things Campbell lovedthe outdoors, music, art, and, most of all, the communitydoes just that.

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

Detroit green infrastructure mapping project kicks off

A coalition of City of Detroit leaders is working to build a database and mapping system to track the growing number of green infrastructure projects in the city.

Members of the Blue-Green Infrastructure Workgroup are starting by developing consistent definitions for green infrastructure (GI) types in the city. That will allow the group to develop a tool for users to enter data about their projects into a standard mapping system. 
 
The project is led by The Nature Conservancy, Greening of Detroit and Issue Media Group, publisher of Model D, and is funded by the Erb Family Foundation.

The Chicago-based Center for Neighborhood Technology defines GI as "a network of decentralized stormwater management practices, such as green roofs, trees, rain gardens, and permeable pavement, that can capture and infiltrate rain where it falls, thus reducing stormwater runoff and improving the health of surrounding waterways."

The project aims to create a baseline understanding of the universe of GI projects in the city. It will also serve to coordinate actions among partners and property owners, according to project coordinator Valerie Strassberg. Strassberg directs The Nature Conservancy's Detroit City Program.

The idea for the project emerged from meetings of the Blue-Green Infrastructure Workgroup. The Erb Family Foundation facilitates the group for funding recipients implementing green infrastructure projects across the city.

"Those meetings were a catalyst for keeping everyone abreast of what was going on," says Strassberg. "We realized that if Erb weren't convening the group, how would we ever know who's doing what? There was a clear need for mapping."

The group is taking a phased approach to the project. In the first phase, the definitions and structure of the database will be developed with the input of multiple stakeholders. Ultimately, the group aims to develop a common web portal to allow users to view projects in their neighborhood and input their project data.

The data may become important as the City of Detroit moves towards implementing stormwater drainage fees. The Detroit Free Press reports that the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department will allow ratepayers to use green infrastructure to earn credit towards their stormwater drainage bills.

Strassberg says it's not yet clear who will be the ultimate steward of the database and website once the project is completed.

"Ideally it would be the city which maintains the database in the long run," she says. "But to get it off the ground, we are developing this project in partnership with the city."

Strassberg is hopeful that additional funding beyond this first phase will help garner commitment from the city for long-term ownership of the project.

The Blue-Green Infrastructure Workgroup includes representatives from the following organizations:

City of Detroit
Tetra Tech
Detroit Future City
Detroit Greenways Coalition
Detroit Water and Sewerage Department
Erb Family Foundation
Greening of Detroit
Issue Media Group
Michigan Community Resources
Michigan State University
SEMCOG
Sierra Club
The Nature Conservancy
The University of Michigan
Wayne State University

Stretch of Brightmoor sidewalk to become interactive running track

A group from the University of Michigan has won a $40,000 grant to build an interactive play space along a broken stretch of sidewalk in the Brightmoor neighborhood. Titled FitLIGHT, the project was a winner of the Play Everywhere Challenge, a national competition from KaBOOM!, a non-profit dedicated to encouraging physical activity in young people.

FitLIGHT will transform a busted up sidewalk along Burt Road into an illuminated rubber-surface running track. A solar-powered speed display will tell people how fast they are running. The track will start at a length of 50 yards and has the potential to grow, depending on the construction.

The project was designed to combat childhood obesity with the help of a little healthy competition, says University of Michigan associate professor Nick Tobier, who along with colleague and assistant professor Roland Graf headed the project. It was designed by staff from the University of Michigan Stamps School of Art and Design, with collaboration from Michael Flynn. Tobier has been working in Brightmoor for nearly ten years through a class he teaches in collaboration with Detroit Community Schools.

The FitLIGHT track is adjacent to the to-be-completed Brightmoor Maker Space, itself located on a vacant plot on the Detroit Community Schools campus. 

"There's a big opportunity to get more creative with physical education," says Tobier. "There's a lot of potential there."

Tobier's Change by Design classes at University of Michigan combine design and technology to stimulate physical activity in young people. His students work with Brightmoor students to come up with the projects, like an LED shoelace network, lighting up as students moved their bodies.

Tobier is aiming for a March 2017 construction date. In the meantime, he's soliciting bids for the construction process, organizing small workshops to get people interested, and performing informative on-the-street introductions to FitLIGHT.

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

New digs for city dogs: Detroit Animal Care and Control moves to new and improved building

Detroit Animal Care and Control (DACC) has begun moving in to its new facility, the old Michigan Humane Society building at 7401 Chrysler Dr. The building was a gift from MHS, which itself moved to a new facility at 7887 Chrysler Dr., just two blocks north of the building it called home since 1931.

The new headquarters is being heralded as a dramatic improvement for DACC in a year that has already seen its fare share. Since 2016, DACC began working with MHS, Detroit Dog Rescue, other local municipal shelters, and a number of additional partners to improve the city service, which is a division of the Detroit Health Department.

In 2015, the DACC live release rate was 26 percent. Since its new partnerships at the start of the year, the DACC live release rate has increased to 61 percent.

DAAC was previously located at 3511 W. Jefferson Ave.

"This move will enable us to better serve the City's residents and their pets," Melissa Miller, Director of DACC, said in a statement. "We're really thankful to our partners who have made this possible, including MHS for donating the facility, and we look forward to the day when we are fully operational in our new space."

DACC will offer reduced services during the transition but will keep field units on city streets. Its dispatch line, reached by phone at (313) 224-6356, is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Michigan Humane Society left its longtime Detroit headquarters for its new campus in Spring of 2016. The new building is a 35,000 sq. ft. animal care center and is located on a five-acre campus off of the I-75 service drive. Its features include an expanded veterinary center, animal cruelty investigation and rescue center, and dog play yards.

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

Grooming company to return to Detroit, open barbershop in Corktown

Detroit Grooming Company is returning to its namesake city. The company, which outgrew a small production space on Fort Street in Detroit, had since established itself in Ferndale, with both a larger production facility and, most recently, a Woodward Avenue barbershop.

At a private event for friends and family, the team behind Detroit Grooming Company announced that they would be opening a second barbershop, this one on Michigan Avenue in Detroit's Corktown neighborhood. The owners hope for a late 2016 or early 2017 opening in 2000 Michigan Ave., a building currently undergoing extensive renovations.

Detroit Grooming Company co-owner and CEO Michael Haddad says that a return to Detroit is important for the company. While it's a great business opportunity to open a new barbershop in development-crazed Corktown, Haddad says that it's also important to re-establish a presence in the city for which it takes its name.

Haddad started the company in 2013, developing his own blend of beard oil. When Detroit Grooming Company launched, it had four products; today, Detroit Grooming Company has over 200 personal care and beauty products. Though the company started in the beard oil business, it has since expanded to products for both men and women, from mustache wax to hand soap, hair pomade to combs and brushes.

At a recent party at the Detroit Grooming Company Barber Shop, the owners threw quite the event to celebrate the big announcement. A red carpet and photographer greeted the guests. Chef Brennan Calnin, formerly of Detroit's Townhouse restaurant, offered a menu that included smoked turkey neck tamales and laughing bird shrimp ceviche. Corktown's Batch Brewery was on hand, supplying an exclusive firkin of Goodrich, a wet-hopped version of their Marzen. And perhaps most befitting for a company that got its start in the beard oil business, old-timey band Shine on Kentucky Moon provided the music.

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

Creative writing center 826michigan to open Eastern Market storefront

While the educational non-profit 826michigan has been working in Detroit for three years now, the writing and tutoring lab is planting its flag in the ground with a storefront location in the city's Eastern Market. Dubbed the Detroit Robot Factory, 826michigan will open their second permanent Michigan location with a ribbon-cutting ceremony October 5.

From then until November 10, the non-profit, which offers writing and tutoring programming for school-age children, will celebrate its Detroit location with 826 hours of events. In addition to the grand opening party, featuring an appearance from best-selling author and 826 National co-founder Dave Eggers, 826michigan celebrations include open houses for students, parents, and neighbors, a youth workshop at ComiqueCon, a release party for the organization's best of anthology, the Eat Your Words gala, and the opening of Dave Eggers' sculpture show at Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.

(Check out Model D's interview with Eggers from 2014)

Detroit Robot Factory officially opens November 1.

"We cannot wait to unveil the Detroit Robot Factory this October," says 826michigan Executive Director Amanda Uhle. "826michigan programs make space for young people to explore new ideas, to be their authentic selves, to receive one-on-one attention from incredible adult volunteers, and to have their voices and their ideas amplified in the community. With the Detroit Robot Factory fully up and running, we can offer the same field trip and tutoring programming to Detroit students that has been available to Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti students for years. We are thrilled to be open the doors on this space, which will provide even more opportunities for Detroiters to volunteer with local youth and for school-aged students to take part in our free programs."

The 826michigan ribbon-cutting ceremony for Detroit Robot Factory occurs Wednesday, Oct. 5 at 5 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

Detroit Robot Factory is located at 1351 Winder St.

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

Media technology school to open in former police precinct building in Southwest Detroit

Located near the foot of the Ambassador Bridge, the old Detroit Police Department Third Precinct building has seen some creative adaptive reuses since the DPD left in the 2000s. Detroit Farm and Garden, a landscaping, farming, and gardening supply store, currently occupies the back of the building and surrounding lot.

555 Gallery rented the front of the building for a few years, converting the station and its jail cells into an art gallery. That gallery has since left and, after a period of vacancy, a new tenant has signed a ten-year lease for the front section of the old precinct at the corner or 21st Street and Vernor Highway, a building owned by Southwest Solutions.

The next tenant will be the Detroit School of Digital Technology (DSDT), a post-secondary school focused on 21st century media technologies, including video, graphic design, 3D printing, and coding. Already state-licensed and awaiting a pending national accreditation approval, DSDT students will soon be able to apply for Pell Grants and other financial aid programs.

DSDT, which is hoping for an early-October opening, will offer associate degree and other certificate programs. The school is a subsidiary of Astute Artistry, a fashion, film, and makeup trade school located in suburban Berkley.

Jamie Kothe, DSDT school director and CEO, says that the school is geared toward professionals currently unhappy with their work situations, as well as young adults not wanting to spend the money on traditional four-year university programs. Kothe also hopes to offer the space to local community groups as a sort of computer library. Freelance professionals will be able to rent equipment from DSDT.

Kothe found the space as a result of the Motor City Match contest, which connected her with landlord Southwest Solutions. In a subsequent round of Motor City Match, Kothe won a $50,000 grant. "I've met so many people that have helped me get this far," says Kothe.

She started transforming the space in December of 2015, often locking herself in at night to clean and paint the more than 7,000 sq. ft. first floor. Now it's outfitted with state-of-the-art media technologies, including dozens of Apple desktop computers, several 3D printers, and a DaVinci Resolve control board for video and image editing.

The building retains much of its original character. The old cell block is still there, each of the 21 cells now individual computer stations. But Kothe is still debating what to do with the rest of the space. A second floor is empty and unfinished, including an old locker room and basketball court, the latter of which may be converted into a conference room, events space, or art gallery. The basement contains numerous mysterious cubby holes, a utility room well-suited for students' horror film sets, and the old shooting range, which Kothe hopes to one day turn into an old fashioned movie theater.

Detroit School of Digital Technology is hosting a grand opening and open house this Thursday, Sept. 15 from 5 to 10 p.m. Tours, entertainment, refreshments, and giveaways are planned. It is open to the public.

Detroit School of Digital Technology is located at 1759 W. 21st St.

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

Two alley festivals to take place this Saturday in Midtown

Often an afterthought in most neighborhoods, the alley is kind of a special thing in Midtown. There's Dally in the Alley, one of Detroit's longest-running street fairs, which celebrates the Cass Corridor with local music, art, and food vendors lining a neighborhood alley. There are the green alleys, which convert typically dank and uninviting alleys into charming walkways, complete with green methods of storm water management and the reintroduction of native plants. There's even the Garden Bowl, which, at over 100 years old, is the oldest continuously operating bowling alley in the country.

A new micro-festival will debut on Saturday, September 10, the same day as Dally in the Alley. The new event is called The Green Alley Gathering and it takes place in the Green Alley adjacent to Jolly Pumpkin and Third Man Records. Organized by Porterhouse Presents, the Gathering will celebrate the community and promote Midtown Detroit, Inc.'s Green Alley construction projects throughout the neighborhood.

Two music stages will bookend the alley, plus Man & Pan Paella will be serving their traditional meat, seafood, and vegan Spanish paella. A cash bar featuring Jolly Pumpkin, North Peak, and Civilized Spirits adult beverages will be located in Third Man Records.

Booked to play the first Green Alley Gathering is MarchFourth, a genre-mixing party marching band that also features acrobats and stilters, the Craig Brown Band, a local country-rock group recently signed to Third Man Records, and the Silent Disco, a multimedia experience that has listeners wear headphones at the concert. Silent Disco will include sets from DJ Psycho, DJ Prim, and more.

The Green Alley Gathering is Saturday, September 10 and runs from 6:00 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. It is located in the Green Alley between 2nd and Cass Avenues and West Canfield and West Willis Streets.

Dally in the Alley is Saturday, September 10 and runs from 11:00 a.m to 11:00 p.m. between Forest Avenue and Hancock Street and 2nd and 3rd Avenues. The event is free.

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

Motor City Match winner Mama Coo's opens in Corktown as Round 6 application window opens

A full year into its small business programming and Motor City Match is starting to see some brick-and-mortar results. Vintage clothing boutique Mama Coo's has opened up shop in Corktown and coffee shop Detroit Sip and Comb-N-Weave manufacturer Black Pride Beauty are reportedly nearing the opening of their own stores in the University District and Jefferson East areas, respectively.

Those three businesses were winners of Motor City Match grants ranging from $18,000 to $60,000 each. Entrepreneurs and small business owners looking for their own shot at small business assistance from Motor City Match, which can include anything from grant money to free architectural services, business planning to tenant-landlord introductions, are in luck.

Round six of applications opens Thursday, September 1 and closes Saturday, October 1. Applications are available online.

"Now that we're a full year into the program, Motor City Match is really starting to show some positive results. Businesses are moving through the steps of the program and beginning to open their doors to serve our neighborhoods," says Rodrick Miller, CEO of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation.

Lana Rodriguez, winner of an $18,000 Motor City Match grant, recently opened Mama Coo's in Corktown. In an earlier interview with Model D, Rodriguez spoke about the importance of the grant and how it allowed her to open Mama Coo's with less debt and more resources.

"I know that now I have a better chance of longevity and success and to keep this puppy going," she said. 

For those seeking guidance through the application process, Motor City Match has partnered with Wayne County Community College to host the Small Business Summit and Resource Fair, to be held Friday, September 16 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the WCCCD downtown Detroit campus.

The Resource Fair is not Motor City Match-exclusive and will feature a number of Detroit small business support services including the Build Institute, CEED Lending, the Detroit Development Fund, the Detroit Public Library, Detroit SCORE, Grand Circus, Ioby, and Lifeline Business Consulting.

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

August development news round-up: Residential, residential, and more residential

Let's catch up on some of the biggest stories from the past five weeks.

The Detroit Tigers matchup with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim last Saturday, August 27 was as notable for an umpire's ejection of two Tigers players and two Tigers coaches as it was for another event at the game: Olympia Development of Michigan in partnership with the Detroit Tigersboth organizations being owned by the Ilitch familyto promote its District Detroit development. 10,000 fans received District Detroit-branded Tigers caps as they entered the game. They were were also treated to numerous video displays and a red carpet promotion as Olympia touted its more than $1.2 billion hockey arena, residential, and commercial development being built north of Comerica Park.

Capitol Park, a public park in the city's downtown, is experiencing its own impressive wave of development as nearly every building surrounding that park is being renovated and redeveloped into apartments and retail space. One of those buildings, the Farwell, has announced a projected fall 2017 opening. DBusiness is also reporting the construction of two brand new buildings. The eleven- and eight-story buildings will contain residential, office, and retail space, replacing a vacant low-rise building and a surface parking lot, respectively.

Another new build, the Russell Flats, will bring 82 new residential units to Eastern Market. The five-story building will also have ground floor retail space. This is part of a major 10-year plan being put into place for the market. 

A crowdfunding campaign is being held to raise funds for the historic log cabin in Palmer Park. If successful, the building and its neglected stained glass windows would be restored and the cabin would be utilized as a community space. Organizers hope to raise $25,000 by October 28 and, in doing so, would receive a $25,000 matching grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Michigan State Housing Development Authority and their Public Spaces Community Places initiative.

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

Planet Ant turns to crowdfunding to complete redevelopment of old Hamtramck banquet hall

Planet Ant Theatre is growing. Not just in the size of its audience, but physically. 

The theater that showcases Metro Detroit's longest running improv show has acquired a banquet hall kitty corner from its black box theater on Caniff Street, and is in the process of transforming it into Planet Ant Hall. While Planet Ant will continue to utilize its theatre for shows, the hall will allow Planet Ant to increase seating capacity for shows and also offer more improv comedy classes.

(Check out this Model D article on the local improv comedy scene)

Construction is already underway. The drop ceiling has been torn out but the air conditioning will remainan upgrade those familiar with Planet Ant might appreciate today. But a maxed out budget now has Planet Ant turning to the community to help finish the job. Planet Ant has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise $55,000. An August 31 deadline has been extended by ten days to help Planet Ant reach its goal.

Michael Hovitch, managing director of Planet Ant, says the money raised will go toward things like sound and lighting equipment, seating, and a renovated floor. The goal is to complete construction by the end of October, the theater's 20th anniversary, and launch the new space with a popular show from Planet Ant's past.

"Planet Ant has been around for a long time and it's become a big part of the community," says Hovitch. "It's a small black box theater but we've been wanting to expand for a while. We've been having more and more success with our classes and want to grow, offer more opportunities for our performers."

It's an impressive list of actors, comedians, and musicians that have come through Planet Ant's doors. Two of the most famous include Jack White, who performed at the Planet Ant Coffee House open mic night, and Keegan-Michael Key, who was a founding member of Planet Ant Theatre and its comedy group.

Planet Ant Coffee House opened in 1993. It transitioned to being a theater three years later.

The Planet Ant Hall crowdfunding campaign is being hosted on Indiegogo.

Planet Ant Hall is located at 2320 Caniff St. in Hamtramck.

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

Final Four local businesses compete for $50,000 grand prize

Votes have been cast and the totals have been tallied as the top ten contestants in the 2016 Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest have been whittled down to the final four. A clothing boutique, ceramic studio, urban farm-sourced cafe, and wellness center are now the last competitors standing in pursuit of the $50,000 grand prize.

The winner of the contest, which is presented by Opportunity Detroit this year, will be determined by a public vote and a presentation in front of a panel of judges Friday, August 26. The public voting also ends at noon on August 26.

While the panel of judges will help determine the $50,000 winner, Vittoria Katanski, executive director of Hatch Detroit, stresses the importance of the public's role in the process.

"A significant component of this contest is the support of the public," she says. "From the moment the Top 10 are announced to the continued support of our Hatch alumni, the public is our partner. We've had more than 21,000 public votes so far in this year's contest, and we hope the community's support for these businesses continues to grow."

The final four contestants consist of Bird Bee, a clothing, shoes, jewelry, and accessories boutique; Corbe, a ceramic design and manufacturing studio wanting to open a storefront in the North End; Coriander Kitchen & Farm, an urban farm and catering business seeking a brick and mortar location; and Meta Physica Massage & Sauna, which hopes to open a Wellness Center that includes therapeutic bodywork, infrared saunas, a raw juice bar, herbal apothecary, meditation classes, community workshops, and health-inspired retail.

The winner of the $50,000 grand prize will also receive over $200,000 in pro bono business services from local firms that include GTB, MCCI, Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn, Hamilton Anderson Associates, and the Hatch organization itself. Hatch has also provided a number of services to previous contestants who failed to reach the top prize.

Vote online here.

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

Christian organization seeks funds to complete renovations of community center

The Central Detroit Christian Community Development Corporation is $50,000 away from receiving $100,000. That's because the 21-year-old neighborhood organization is involved in the latest round of Public Spaces Community Places, the state's grant-matching program for placemaking projects across Michigan. The CDC's goal is to redevelop an old, vacant church into an active community center.

If Central Detroit Christian is able to raise $50,000 through a fundraising campaign via Michigan-based crowdfunding platform Patronicity, Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Michigan State Housing Development Authority will contribute an additional $50,000 grant toward their mission. Central Detroit Christian has until September 23 to raise the funds.

The old Tried Stone Baptist Church, located at 1550 Taylor St., is between the Lodge Freeway and Rosa Parks Boulevard, south of Clairmount Avenue. Central Detroit Christian purchased the building, which had been vacant for five years, and has performed a number of renovations, including new windows, doors, and a roof. Organizers say that the potential $100,000 raised as a result of the Public Space Community Places program would close a funding gap and allow them to complete renovations of the building.

Once construction is complete, the building will provide space for youth and family programming, a community meeting space, gymnasium, medical clinic, day care services, and office space for the CDC. According to Central Detroit Christian, 70 percent of the families the organization services live below the poverty line.

"The surrounding neighborhood would benefit greatly from the proposed redevelopment of 1550 Taylor," says MSHDA executive director Kevin Elsenheimer. "This space has the potential to inspire meaningful community-led collaboration by bringing together the diversity of the area to boost local access to important programs and services."

To view the status of Central Detroit's Christian's crowdfunding campaign, visit Patronicity.

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

2,000 affordable housing and community development professionals to convene in Detroit

Approximately 2,000 affordable housing and community development professionals are convening in Detroit this week for the NeighborWorks Training Institute. According to the national non-profit NeighborWorks America, an affordable housing advocacy and training group, the symposium is expected to generate an estimated $3.3 million in local investment.

The symposium is the third of four this year, running from August 8 through 12. A number of local and national officials will be present, including Mayor Mike Duggan, chief administration officer for the Detroit Medical Center Conrad L. Mallett Jr., national correspondent for The Atlantic James Fallows, and president and CEO of the Skillman Foundation Tonya Allen, among others.

"This is our second Training Institute in the Detroit area and it couldn't come at a more pivotal time," says Paul Weech, chief executive officer of NeighborWorks America. "Government, business and the nonprofit sector all are working on solutions to improve neighborhoods and jump-start economic activity in the city and in similar places across the United States. NeighborWorks America is excited to be in Detroit to help share what works."

Among the highlights is "Creating Places of Opportunity: Investing in Neighborhoods," a symposium on the benefits of strategic investment in communities throughout the country that result in inclusive development and growth. Examples will focus on job growth, placemaking, and affordable housing.

Mobile tours will also usher attendees around the city, displaying local examples of strategic investment and growth.

While Detroit is a NeighborWorks target, the nonpartisan, congressionally chartered nonprofit operates throughout the state. According to the organization, NeighborWorks generated nearly $45 million in investment in the state of Michigan in 2015. In that same year, 3,117 families were assisted with affordable housing, 1,616 residents received counseling and education services, and 330 jobs were created and maintained.

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

NSO bike tour to raise money, awareness in fight against homelessness

Several Detroit neighborhoods will be on display this weekend as cyclists take part in Handlebars for the Homeless, a guided and informative tour on Sunday, August 7. Neighborhood Service Organization is leading the bike ride, showing off the city while also informing participants on how the organization is working to end homelessness in Detroit.

The ride meets and ends at the Bell Building, a 225,500 sq. ft. art deco building once recognizable for its Yellow Pages neon sign visible from the Lodge freeway and now notable for the NSO's multi-million dollar renovation. NSO converted the former office building at 882 Oakman Blvd. in Detroit into apartments, providing housing for 155 formerly homeless adults.

Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. Sunday, August 7, where there will be light breakfast refreshments. Online registration is available, as well. Participants will receive a high-performance t-shirt, spoke card, and entry into a Detroit Bikes raffle. Detroit Bikes has donated an A-Type bike for the drawing, a $699.99 value. Registration costs $40 and proceeds will benefit NSO programs and services.

From 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., cyclists will be guided on a tour that takes them through the Live6 Alliance area, the Sherwood Forest, Palmer Park, and Boston Edison neighborhoods, and the University of Detroit-Mercy and Marygrove College campuses.

"The tour showcases both the thriving and bustling streets of Detroit while educating the community about the challenges that face the more than 15,000 homeless individuals living on the streets every day," says David Rudolph, founder of Handlebars for the Homeless and NSO board member. "NSO works to move and keep people off the city streets and out of poverty by providing opportunities that give individuals a chance to thrive."

Neighborhood Service Organization has been working toward eliminating homelessness in metro Detroit since 1955.

The NSO Bell Building is located at 882 Oakman Blvd. in Detroit.

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

Crowdfunding campaign seeks to transform vacant Brightmoor land

Local placemaking group Resurge Detroit has launched a crowdfunding campaign to transform vacant land in the Brightmoor neighborhood into a community center and grow house. Titled "Liberty Harvest," the campaign is part of the Public Spaces, Community Places program, a partnership between Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Michigan State Housing Development Authority.

If "Liberty Harvest" successfully raises $31,750 through a Patronicity crowdfunding campaign, MEDC and MSHDA will match that amount, providing a grant that will bring the total funds raised to $63,500. "Liberty House" has up until Sep. 18, 2016, to raise the funds.

The funds will go towards converting an old industrial shipping container into a hydroponic grow house. The 400 sq. ft. container will have solar power, a hydroponic water system, and an enclosed environment that allows for 365-days-a-year production.

Resurge Detroit has partnered with nearby Veterans Village for the project. Funds raised will also go toward an urban agriculture training program for veterans.

"The Liberty Harvest project puts vacant land to work in a way that helps address important issues in the community," MSHDA Executive Director Kevin Elsenheimer says in a statement. "Helping veterans transition back into life at home while providing local families and businesses with fresh, affordable, and locally grown produce is an innovative approach to engaging the local community."

Visit the Michigan-based crowdfunding platform Patronicity to view the campaign's status.

Placemaking update: Another Detroit placemaking project, the reactivation of Dean Savage Memorial Park in Corktown, is nearing the conclusion of its own Public Spaces, Community Places campaign. Launched on June 23, 2016, the crowdfunding campaign has until Aug. 14, 2016 to raise $27,500 in order to receive a matching grant from MEDC and MSHDA. As of time of publication, Activating Dean Savage Memorial Park had raised $14,562 of its $27,500 goal.

View that campaign here.

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

July development news round-up: Big residential projects on Selden

Let's catch up on some of the biggest stories from the past four weeks.

Two more residential developments were announced in Midtown this month. The first is the rehab of 678 Selden St., a 22,796 sq. ft. vacant apartment building. Dubbed the H.R. Finn Apartments, the $3.7 million investment will result in 28 apartments and two commercial units. Built in 1922, the building has been vacant for the past seven years. Construction, which includes brand new plumbing, heating, electrical work, and more, is expected to wrap up in late 2017.

Travel east down Selden Street and one will find another residential development, this one being built from the ground up. Slated for a summer 2017 opening, The Selden is a four story building consisting of 12 for-sale condos. Retail and office space is reserved for the ground floor while renderings reveal a roof-top deck. The Selden replaces the Marie Apartments building, which was razed in May 2016.

The city of Detroit released an RFP for the Fitzgerald Revitalization Project, a three-part strategy for stabilizing and improving life in the Fitzgerald neighborhood. The plan calls for a new park and greenway, converting empty parcels into economically sustainable and productive spaces like orchards and gardens, and saving and utilizing empty buildings throughout the neighborhood. Fitzgerald is bound by McNichols to the north, Livernois to the east, Puritan to the south, and Greenlawn to the west.

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

Motor City Match completes first year of programming, 11 more businesses awarded grants

Detroit continues to grow its base of entrepreneurs through its Motor City Match program, awarding 11 more grants ranging from $15,000 to $75,000 to area businesses. The awards, announced July 20, complete the fourth round of Motor City Match, marking one full year for the quarterly program.

That pipeline of entrepreneurs, as Detroit Economic Growth Corporation CEO Rodrick Miller calls it, consists largely of Detroiters. According to figures released by Motor City Match, 64 percent of MCM winning businesses are owned by Detroiters, 72 percent are minority-owned, and 68 percent are woman-owned.

In the program's first year, Motor City Match has awarded $2 million in grants to 40 small businesses, leveraging over $13 million in total investment in the city.

This round of grant winners include:
  • Twisted Roots, a beauty supply retailer in Eastern Market
  • Block Party, a building on Livernois that will house two restaurants and the Live6 Alliance
  • Detroit Vegan Soul, a West Village restaurant opening a second location on Grand River
  • Norma G's, a Caribbean cuisine food truck opening a brick-and-mortar location on East Jefferson
  • Live Cycle Delight, a cycling studio opening in West Village
  • Amaze-Enjoyment, an early childhood center at 20067 John R Street
  • Guadalajara #2, a butcher shop expanding into a full-service facility in Southwest
  • Lil Brilliant Mindz, an east side daycare and Head Start facility
  • Beau Bien Fine Foods, an artisanal jam, fruit preserve, chutney, and mustard maker expanding in Eastern Market
  • Meta Physical Wellness Center, an affordable holistic spa opening in Corktown
  • Third Wave Music, a music instrument retailer opening in the Forest Arms building in Midtown
"These are the kinds of businesses that help to create complete neighborhoods where people want to live," says Mayor Mike Duggan. "Motor City Match is helping dozens of Detroit entrepreneurs live their dream owning their own business while being a real part of our city’s neighborhood comeback."

In addition to the 11 businesses awarded grants, seven others will receive free design and architectural services, 26 have been connected with landlords, and 50 more will receive free business planning support.

The next round of the Motor City Match application process begins Sep. 1 and closes Oct. 1.

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

Barbers and landscapers join forces to transform vacant city lots

To work as a barber or a landscaper can mean a variety of things. To some, it can mean nothing more than a job, punch in and trim some hair, cut some lawns, and go home. To others, it's more than a job but a craft, dutifully studied and skillfully executed. They're the ones who can elevate these seemingly menial tasks into art.

A flourish to a hair cut or a landscaping job is not that different from one another. It's this idea that has launched The Buzz, an innovative approach to address the city of Detroit's vacant land management issues. The Buzz organizers have partnered local barbers and landscapers to creatively maintain overgrown vacant lots throughout the city.

The Detroit Future City (DFC) Implementation Office is responsible for the program, winning a Knight Cities Challenge grant for its efforts. The DFC Implementation Office has partnered with Urban Neighborhood Initiatives, the East Side Community Network, and the City of Detroit's General Services Department on the project.

"This creative idea of bringing barbers and landscapers together to discuss how popular hair style trends can be used with mowing patterns is another way to beautify some of the city's lots," says Hector Santiago, The Greening of Detroit's workforce development program manager. "The implementation of the designs will provide an interesting and appealing landscape in the neighborhoods."

Over 25 barbers and landscapers met this June to brainstorm and trade ideas for the program, meeting on the east side in Jefferson-Chalmers and the southwest side in Springwells Village. A "mow and show" took place on Monday, July 18 in Springwells Village to showcase what is possible with the program.

This is not the first vacant lot-related program for Detroit Future City. In October 2015, the office released a field guide for Detroiters looking to make use of the vacant lots in their neighborhoods, including transforming unused lots into rain gardens, native butterfly meadows, and more.

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

Belle Isle beautification efforts focus on fundraising events for fountain, community programming

The popular fundraising event Detroit SOUP is coming to Belle Isle. The micro grant-awarding program, typically reserved for the city's neighborhoods, is making a one-time appearance on the island park. While the dinner doesn't take place until August 31, organizers are currently seeking grant proposals, which are due August 14.

A typical SOUP event will include a five dollar fee for a dinner that's open to the public. The five dollars pays for soup, salad, bread, and a vote in the micro-grant contest. Four proposals are heard and the dinner crowd votes on which proposal they feel best benefits the community where the dinner is being held. The winner of that vote receives the money collected at the beginning of the night. Many types of proposals are heard, from business plans to community events.

Organizers say that the Belle Isle SOUP will operate in the same fashionthe one caveat being that the proposal must take place on Belle Isle. In addition to the money raised, the Belle Isle Conservancy will offer staff support to help make the winning proposal happen.

Applicants can submit SOUP proposals online or at a physical drop-off location that includes the offices of the Belle Isle Conservancy, Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation, Live6 Detroit, Osborn Neighborhood Alliance, Eastside Community Network, SER Metro Detroit, and the Joy-Southfield Community Development Corporation.

In other Belle Isle news, the Conservancy is hosting a fundraising event to help restore the historic Pewabic tile mosaic at the basin of the James Scott Memorial Fountain. The Conservancy has currently raised nearly $75,000 of a $300,000 goal to restore the mosaic.

On Wednesday, August 17, the Sunset at the Scott fundraiser will include food from El Guapo Fresh Mexican Grill and Cool Jacks Handcrafted Ice Cream + Cookies, an open beer and wine bar, and music from local band ONEFREQ.

Advance tickets range from $50 to $250 and are available until August 1. After the first of the month, tickets will cost $65 at the door.

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

Stadt Garten, a pop-up beer garden, to debut in Midtown

A beer garden is popping up in Midtown this Saturday, July 16, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The inaugural Stadt GartenGerman for "City Garden," a nod to co-founder Mark R. Beard's German heritageis the first of several planned this summer. Proceeds from the event will benefit Hostel Detroit.

The setting for Stadt Garten is the yard a Gothic-Victorian mansion built in the 1880s. Beard was part of the team that redeveloped the property, which has three residential units, a clothing shop, and, now, a beer garden.

Why does Beard, who lives in one of the aforementioned residential units, wants to invite a couple hundred strangers to party in his yard?

"It's more important now than it has been in the recent past to come together as a community," he said via text message. "I don't really know of any better way to start knocking down some of the implicit biases that exist in peoples' minds than spending time with one another (in a positive way). Also, horseshoes!"

He added, "And, there's too much mulch in the yard and not enough people."

Vendors for Stadt Garten are mostly local. Corktown brewery Batch Brewing Company will be supplying four different types of beer, ranging from $5 to $7 each. Sfumato Fragrances will offer scented cocktails. Wine and food will also be on hand.

Will Leather Goods, the retailer located across the street, will be selling their own cold brew coffee blend, roasted by Tailored Coffee Roasters. Vice Cream, the vegan ice cream business that operates out of an Air Stream trailer, will bring their dairy-free treats to Stadt Garten, as well.

From 7 to 10 p.m., Ryan Spencer from local eletropop group Jamaican Queens will spin records. Detroit Clothing Circle, the retailer located in the house, will be open during the duration of the beer garden. Beer pong and staring contests, too, are planned.

Stadt Garten is located at 3980 Second Ave.

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

Detroit Police Department to repurpose historic Old Redford Library building

The Old Redford Library building, a City of Detroit Historic Landmark, will once again play an important role in the west-side neighborhood. It's been announced that the former library will be repurposed as a police-community outreach center. In addition, the neighboring building will become home to the new Detroit Police 8th Precinct.

The Detroit Building Authority selected SDG Associates, Architects and Planners as the architect-of-record.

"The DPD 8th Precinct will serve as part of the continued resurgence of the City of Detroit's municipal fabric, and as part of the community," Melvin Cross, principal at SDG Associates, Architects and Planners, said in a statement. "What makes designing the project special and unique to the 8th precinct will be a semi-public lobby and auditorium to accommodate police and cadet graduations and a space for community meetings to be located in the historic landmark library building."

Much of the aesthetics of the library will remain the same, save for a barrier-free access ramp being added to the front of the building. Necessary repairs will be made and barrier-free access will be added to the interior, including an elevator.

As for the future precinct, it will be completely renovated. Exterior repair work will be carried out and the "Egyptian"-style columns and obelisks will be removed with the architects opting for more simple rectangular forms clad in stained stone to better matching the old library next door. An interior auditorium will be retained for police and community use.

SDG Associates, Architects and Planners are based in downtown Detroit in the Ford Building. Founded by the recently-deceased Howard Sims, SDG is the oldest African American-owned architecture firm in the state of Michigan.

The former Old Redford Library is located at 21551 W. McNichols Rd.

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

Group seeks to reactivate Corktown park

Public Spaces Community Places, a state-sponsored placemaking initiative operated by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), has set out to yet again raise funds for a Detroit-based project. The campaign's focus is Dean Savage Memorial Park, a small park on the south east end of Corktown.

Activating Dean Savage Memorial Park is an attempt "to improve the equitable usability of open spaces throughout Corktown," organizers say. The park, characterized as overlooked and underutilized by MSHDA executive director Kevin Elsenheimer, has the potential to receive $55,000 in improvements, if the fundraising proves to be successful. MEDC and MSHDA will provide a $27,500 matching grant if the Dean Savage group is able to raise that amount through a crowdfunding campaign.

"Corktown residents and visitors deserve a great public space to relax, play, and meet neighbors," executive director of the Corktown Economic Development Corporation Chad Rochkind said in a statement. "Enhancing Dean Savage Memorial Park as a green gathering space for all people is an essential step to improving the quality of life in Detroit's oldest neighborhood, and it signals our commitment to inclusive growth as Corktown develops."

According to the Patronicity crowdfunding campaign website, the $55,000 being raised to redevelop Dean Savage Memorial Park breaks down as follows: $10,000 for pedestrian improvements; $10,000 for a dog park; $10,000 for fencing; $10,000 for a basketball court; $7,000 for tables and benches; $5,000 for lighting; and $3,000 for refurbishing the shuffleboard courts. A biergarten is also planned.

Activating Dean Savage Memorial Park has until July 22, 2016 to raise $27,500. The project only receives the funds if it meets the $27,500 mark, which triggers the $27,500 matching grant. That campaign is being held via Patronicity, a Michigan-based crowdfunding platform.

Dean Savage Memorial Park is located on Trumbull Avenue and bounded by Porter and Abbott streets.

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

Cycling, sushi, and more: June 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.

Live Cycle Delight, the winner of the 2015 Hatch grand prize valued at $50,000, has announced that it will open up a permanent storefront location in the West Village neighborhood. Expect a fall opening for the cycling studio, which will offer three different cycling classes, cold-pressed juice, snacks, and more.

The window for submitting to the 2016 iteration of the Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest is winding down, with applications accepted through July 15. Submissions opened to the public in late April. Live Cycle Delight is 15th Hatch contestant -- grand prize winner or not -- to open a storefront in Detroit since the small business competition began in 2011. Winners receive a $50,000 grand prize and a pro bono service package worth more than $200,000. Entrepreneurs are encouraged to apply via the Hatch website.

The Michigan-based sushi chain of Maru Sushi & Grill is set to open its first location in Detroit in the ground floor of the Federal Reserve Building downtown. It's the fifth location for the chain, which also has restaurants in Okemos, Grand Rapids, East Lansing, and Midland. The restaurant is being designed by ROSSETTI, an architectural firm which is itself headquartered in the Federal Reserve Building.

The local rehabilitation and preservation community was abuzz with excitement this month as it was announced that the long-running PBS home renovation program "This Old House" would be filming its first ever Detroit location. 10 episodes will be shot for next season as the team documents the renovation of a 1939-built house in the Russell Woods neighborhood. Expect the episodes to air in March 2017.

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

Detroit entrepreneurs have until July 1 to apply for Motor City Match

The clock is ticking for entrepreneurs thinking about applying to Detroit's Motor City Match program. July 1 is the deadline for the small business competition, which awards grant funding, design and technical support, and landlord-tenant match-making assistance. The quarterly competition offers up to $500,000 in grants each round.

Entrepreneurs ranging from established to nascent are encouraged to apply. The competition offers different levels of prizes to local small businesses, depending on a number of factors. For the new entrepreneurs, Motor City Match offers free business planning programming. More advanced entrepreneurs may be matched with a Detroit landlord seeking to fill a storefront or building. Design services from local architecture firms are also available.

The most advanced applicants are eligible to receive up to $100,000.

Since launching in 2015, Motor City Match has awarded $1.5 million in grant funding, which has been leveraged for nearly $10.5 million in investment.

Lana Rodriguez is the recipient of one of those grants, having received $18,000 from Motor City Match in the most recent round of competition. She's using that money to help start Mama Coo's Boutique in Corktown, an upscale resale and vintage clothing shop.

"I'm a hustler and I knew the store would open, but it would have only been partially realized," says Rodriguez. "This grant money lets me get started and go all in. I know I have a better chance of longevity and success."

According to Motor City Match, the organization has already served over 300 businesses and 180 commercial properties since 2015. Detroit-based businesses make up about two-thirds of the winners and minority-owned businesses make up 70 percent of the successful applicants.

Visit www.motorcitymatch.com to apply.

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

Retail Boot Camp accepting applications for next session

Budding entrepreneurs hoping to learn more about how to open their own brick-and-mortar locations are in luck. TechTown Detroit, a business accelerator and incubator in the city's New Center district, is opening up applications for its Retail Boot Camp beginning June 27. Classes run from September 20 though November 8.

The eight-week program consists of weekly three-hour classroom sessions. Classes focus on business development and a resulting business plan. Retail experts provide insight while students are expected to fulfill substantial out-of-class obligations, as well.

At the end of the eight-week term, Retail Boot Camp hosts Showcase, where students compete for prize packages valued up to $7,500. Prize packages can include a subsidized permanent or pop-up location, a point-of-sale system, an inventory subsidy and/or a professional services package. Up to five students can win the retail prize.

"Retail Boot Camp furthers TechTown's mission to support local businesses and drive economic growth in Detroit's neighborhoods," says Regina Ann Campbell, TechTown's managing director of place-based entrepreneurship, in a statement. "We're looking for serious entrepreneurs with great ideas that address neighborhood needs. Participants will work hard and graduate prepared to launch their business and be a meaningful part of Detroit's revitalization."

Curious entrepreneurs are encouraged to attend one of three informative workshops in the city. They are:
  • Tuesday, June 21 at TechTown Detroit, 440 Burroughs, 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, June 29 at Mash Detroit, 14711 Mack Avenue, 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, June 30 at Always Brewing Detroit, 19180 Grand River Avenue, 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Previous winners include House of Pure Vin, Paramita Sound, Tribalfare, Mama Coo's Boutique, Third Wave Music and 2015 Hatch Detroit winner Live Cycle Delight.

The cost for Retail Boot Camp is $499. Applications are being accepted June 27 to Aug. 19. Visit the Retail Boot Camp website to apply.

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

New beverage director to accompany Rock City Eatery's move to Midtown

There's a lot of work involved in Rock City Eatery's eventual move from Hamtramck to Detroit's Midtown district. An expanded menu, both thoughtful and bold, has been developed. The space itself, the old Bangkok Cuisine Express restaurant on Woodward, has been stripped to its bare form and will be re-built from the inside-out. The bar is being built and the bathrooms are nearly selfie-ready. The custom-made furniture is being assembled by hand. 

There's also hires to be made, like beverage director Elizabeth Cosby. She's been tasked with creating a drink menu that pairs with both the familiar Rock City Eatery dishes, as well as the new and adventurous menu items like Ants on a Logpickled celery, peanut butter, and, yes, actual antsand Pancakes and Sausage, which includes a duck sausage patty sandwiched between two scallion pancakes with bone marrow butter topping it off.

During a recent media preview, Rock City Eatery owners Nikita Sanches and Jessica Imbronone Sanches debuted nine plates from the new menu. These new items and more will complement popular ones from the old Hamtramck location. From Ants on a Log to a bone marrow pate, lobster rolls to blood sausage pierogi, the new menu had local food and restaurant writers abuzz.

Cosby also contributed with her carefully chosen drink pairings that included a range of beer, wine and cocktails. "We don't want to focus only on what you know, we want to provide an adventure," says Cosby. Locally-made craft beer, wine, and spirits are a focus, while so, too, are drinks that originate from the same geographic regions as particular menu items.

There is no official opening date for Rock City Eatery in Midtown, though it's not far off. It will be located at 4216 Woodward Ave. in Detroit.

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

70 units in 30 days: Forest Arms redevelopment fills up fast in Midtown

Having met Scott Lowell on the grounds of the Forest Arms redevelopment, he has the look of a person nearing the end of a long journey. He's tired, relieved, and grateful. After the better part of a decade, Lowell and his wife Carolyn Howard's rehabilitation of the Forest Arms apartment building in Midtown is going to accept its first tenants since 2008. They opened the building up to the market and, in just 30 days, it reached full capacity. 70 units. No vacancy. Residents begin to move in May 28.

The apartment building, built in 1905, experienced a devastating fire in 2008. One person died and the rest were displaced, many with their belongings destroyed. The roof caved in, leaving the building open to the elements. It was a disaster, one that some in the neighborhood believed would surely result in the razing of the historic building. Lowell and Howard, experienced developers with both residences and restaurants to their credit, decided to take on the project, their biggest to date. After six years of the stop-start nature of nailing down the financing and two years of construction, the Forest Arms is open for business.

Lowell uses words like "intense" and "tiring" to characterize the experience of redeveloping the Forest Arms. He's tired, sure, but definitely happy.

"Is it worth it? Yeah, for me," says Lowell. "The building's still standing. It was destined to be torn down. I grew up in the city and watched the neighborhood I grew up in, the east end of the Davison, just implode and watched house after house get demolished and people move away. To be part of this, to save a building, to create something where people want to move to and see the demand, there's a certain kind of reward in that."

Walking through the courtyard and up to the building, Lowell points out the front doors being installed. The wooden doors are new and fashioned after the originals, those having been ruined by fire axes. Walking up the re-built stairs to the roof, workers buzzed through the hallways, putting the finishing touches on the interior, installing light fixtures and other last-minute details.

There are two ways to take in the views from the roof. A community deck, complete with a public kitchen, is open to all of the residents. There are also five penthouses, built atop the newly-built roof, each with their own private deck. Down below the workers are preparing the sprinkler system in time for new sod, originally torn out to install an expensive geothermal heating system. Rainwater is recycled for many uses throughout the grounds. On the north side of the building are two retail units, one reserved for music instrument store Third Wave Music and a second envisioned as a bar and restaurant, still searching for a tenant.

At one point, Lowell and Howard had a deal with Wayne State University to lease the building. The deal would have ensured a steady flow of tenants for the developers while easing that school's student housing shortage. The deal fell through, however, and they opened the building to the market. Unsure how much interest the building would draw, the dissolution of the deal with Wayne State proved to be a boon for the partners. The building filled up in the span of a month. Lowell says he still receives three to five inquiries a day.

"70 units in 30 days. It's been phenomenal," says Lowell. "I'm just amazed that demand's still here. It's pretty encouraging."

With demand outpacing supply in Midtown, Lowell should be comfortable in the two more buildings they're redeveloping in the area, one with 23 units and the other around 27 units. Those are in the early stages of redevelopment, awaiting the partners' full attention once the Forest Arms project is complete.

Lowell and Howard are also moving a family barn from western Michigan to Detroit, reassembling it as a restaurant and venue in the city that will host live music, weddings, and parties. It's clear Lowell is pretty excited about the project. Though he's not divulging too much information just yet, he did say they've acquired an acre and a half site in Corktown.

Lowell began purchasing properties in Hamtramck in the 1980s and Midtown in the 1990s. Times are different, he says. Back then, people made agreements on beverage napkins at neighborhood bars, handshake deals among neighbors and friends. Today, he regularly fields calls from investors outside of Detroit, promptly turning down offers on his buildings throughout the neighborhood.

With the restoration of the Forest Arms, those phone calls and emails aren't going to slow down any time soon.

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

Corktown Farmers' Market returns this week

Vegetables from North Corktown. Microgreens from the East Side. Handmade vegan soaps from Southwest. Detroit's farmers, growers, and makers are set to see a boost in business this summer as the Corktown Farmers' Market kicks off its second year on May 26. The market, which debuted in 2015, is located in the lot adjacent to the Detroit Institute of Bagels on Michigan Avenue.

Organizers see the return of the market as an assertion of Corktown being the premier local food neighborhood the city. Indeed, the Corktown and North Corktown neighborhoods are represented more than most among the market's 20 vendors.

"One of the great things about the Corktown Farmers' Market is how many vendors come from within our own neighborhood," says Chad Rochkind, executive director of the Corktown Economic Development Corporation. "Local farms are essential to the strength and character of Corktown."

The group of vendors -- which includes urban farms and gardens, neighborhood restaurants, and handmade specialty items -- consists of ACRE, Amour de Quiches, Azz on Fire Salsas & Spices, Brother Nature Produce, Coriander Kitchen and Farm, and many more.

A rotating group of additional vendors will keep things fresh at the market. Plus, restaurants like Brooklyn Street Local, Gold Cash Gold, and the Detroit Institute of Bagels will sell their ready-to-eat dishes.

Corktown Farmers' Market is located at 1236 Michigan Ave., not far from the old Western Market, bulldozed 50 years ago to make way for the Fisher Freeway, and takes place every Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. throughout the summer.

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

Fast casual Thai food restaurant chain to open second Detroit location in Capitol Park

The Michigan-based Go! Sy Thai restaurant chain is expanding its presence in Detroit this fall.

The new restaurant will be located at 1214 Griswold St. in the recently redeveloped and rebranded The Albert at Capitol Park. The first Go! Sy Thai in Detroit is located in the Auburn building in Midtown.

It's the third business tenant for the Albert, which also hosts the Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters and a Detroit Bikes retail store. The building itself re-opened in July 2015, having been redeveloped from largely low-income housing for senior citizens to a 127-unit, 12-story luxury apartment complex. Broder & Sachse is the property management and development company for the Albert.

Go! Sy Thai is a fast casual restaurant chain owned by Cedric Lee. His brother Alexandre will be in charge of the Albert location. It's a sit-down restaurant that focuses on fresh ingredients prepared daily and made-to-order Thai food. The menu includes classic Thai dishes as well as vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. The original location opened in Birmingham in 1993.

"We are always looking to ensure our residents have diverse dining and entertainment options in their local community," says Broder & Sachse CEO Richard Broder.

According to the business, their opening a location in the Albert is an opportunity to be in the middle of downtown Detroit's burgeoning office and residential markets. Construction is flourishing throughout the Capitol Park district, including the redevelopment of the Farwell building, closed since 1984, among several others. New construction is occurring, too, with Dan Gilbert's micro-apartment development being built from the ground up on the north end of the park.

The Go! Sy Thai at the Albert will be designed by Detroit firm Patrick Thompson Design, responsible for the redeveloped Trumbull & Porter boutique hotel, formerly known as the Corktown Inn, among numerous other Detroit projects. Delivery service is planned throughout the downtown and Midtown areas.

Go! Sy Thai will be located at 1214 Griswold St.

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

Work continues on the restoration of the Detroit Yacht Club

The Detroit Yacht Club Foundation (DYCF) is kicking off another year of major repairs to its clubhouse with its spring fundraiser, "Restoring the Grandeur: City Lights Gala." The nonprofit dedicated to the restoration of the country's largest yacht club clubhouse expects another full-capacity crowd for the event, which is open to the public and takes place May 20 at the Detroit Yacht Club on Belle Isle.

The gala is an opportunity for both club members and the general public to celebrate the preservation progress already made as well as what's in store for the historic clubhouse, says DYCF president Mark Lifter. Formed in 2011, the foundation has guided a lot of crucial restoration to the building, yet much remains. Lifter estimates that 40 to 50 percent of the exterior work has been completed. At 93,000 sq. ft., it's the biggest yacht club clubhouse in the country.

He calls the current phase of repairs "sealing the envelope" -- big tasks that must be completed before focus can shift to the building's interior. This summer, as in summers past, the foundation will be repairing the roof, stucco, masonry, and windows, protecting the treasures inside from the weather outside. Lifter says that the remaining roof leaks will be finished this summer. "If you don't fix things, they're going to get worse," he says.

It's a big building with a lot of history, making it a sizable undertaking for a relatively small non-profit. Opening in 1923, it was the fourth clubhouse for the Detroit Yacht Club, which was established in 1868. It was designed in a classic Mediterranean style by George Mason, the architect famous for a stable of postcard-worthy buildings that include Detroit's Masonic Temple and the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.

Tickets for the fundraiser gala are available online and via phone. Live and silent auctions, a cash bar, and a strolling dinner are included in the ticket price, which ranges from $125 to $400 -- a significant portion of which is tax deductible. The DYCF also offers monthly tours of the facilities to members and non-members alike.

The Detroit Yacht Club is located at One Riverbank Rd. on Belle Isle. Call them at (313) 757-5240.

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

Outdoor Education Center transforms vacant land in Osborn neighborhood

This past week, the Greening of Detroit and Osborn Neighborhood Alliance have partnered together to repurpose four vacant lots into an Outdoor Education Center. The project was made possible through funding by Bank of America and American Forests.

The Outdoor Education Center is now located at the corner of Mapleridge and Schoenherr streets in the Osborn neighborhood on the city's eastside. From May 4 through May 7, volunteers from the aforementioned organizations as well as from the neighborhood and its schools have worked to install the natural ecosystems that make up the Outdoor Education Center and its grounds.

The education center presents a number of opportunities for Osborn and its residents. "The project allows residents to use the land in a productive way, giving them a place to congregate, play, and use," says Tiffany Douglas, market manager for Bank of America.

It also provides learning opportunities to neighborhood youth. The Greening of Detroit is offering up to 20 environmental education courses at the center in coordination with Detroit Public Schools.

It will also hopefully spark the imagination of area youth as they decide on possible career paths.

"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service both recognize that there's an under-representation of minorities among their ranks," says Dean Hay, The Greening of Detroit's director of green infrastructure. "That under-representation has a lot to do with minority children's lack of access to outdoor and wildlife activities. The outdoor center will get them involved with hands-on experience."

In addition to education programming, the grounds will provide rest and recreation opportunities for the neighborhood, including the installation of playscapes, benches, shade trees, and plants with edible fruits.

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

Small business contest seeks applicants for $50,000 award

It's that time of year again. The budding entrepreneurs of Detroit are being encouraged to enter for their chance to win the Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest. This year's winner will receive a $50,000 cash prize from Comerica Bank, $25,000 worth of branding and logo design from Team Detroit, plus accounting, legal, IT, and public relations consulting. Comerica has pledged an additional $75,000 to help fund other aspects of the contest, as well.

Now in its sixth year, the contest rewards entrepreneurs on the path to opening brick-and-mortar storefronts in either Detroit, Highland Park, or Hamtramck. Previous winners include men's lifestyle store Hugh, the tapas restaurant La Feria, beer-makers Batch Brewing Company, the bakery Sister Pie, and the cycle studio Live Cycle Delight.

Hatch Detroit has made it a point to help out and provide services for the businesses that haven't taken home top prize in the contest. Many of the runners-up have gone on or are going to open their own permanent or pop-up locations throughout the city. Such successful contest alums include Detroit Institute of Bagels, Detroit Vegan Soul, and Busted in Detroit.

"The Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest is a catalyst of business competitions," says Vittoria Katanski, executive director of Hatch Detroit. "Not only does it help the winning businesses establish storefronts, but it introduces us to the area's top entrepreneurs. All contest alumni are continuously encouraged and guided toward opening their doors. The 14 Hatch Alumni who have operating storefronts, and 16 more operating as pop-ups or opening soon, proves this contest is really revitalizing Detroit."

This year, Hatch has targeted four neighborhoods in their revitalization efforts and will host workshops for applicants in each. These include June 2 in Hamtramck, June 16 in Jefferson East, June 29 on the Avenue of Fashion, and July 7 in Grandmont Rosedale. Applications are accepted May 2 through July 15, 2016.

Visit HatchDetroit.com to enter.

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

April development news round-up: Retail, restaurants, and office space

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.

Detroit City Football Club (DCFC), which announced a move from Detroit to Hamtramck last year, opened a retail store, office, and community space at 2750 Yemans Street this month. To celebrate, DCFC is hosting an open house there from 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 27. DCFC opens their first season at Keyworth Stadium on May 20, 2016.

Bedrock Detroit, Dan Gilbert's real estate arm, pulled in two more high-profile office tenants. Ally Financial will lease 13 floors in One Detroit Center at 500 Woodward Ave. and is consolidating more than 1,300 employees into the building. As a result of the move, Bedrock is renaming the building Ally Detroit Center. The Detroit-based consulting firm LoVasco, which specializes in insurance, employee benefits, and retirement services, is moving into the Bedrock-owned and -managed One Woodward Avenue building. 20 employees will make the move, too.

Six Detroit-based projects were announced as 2016 Knight Cities Challenge winners, receiving awards that total $638,084 of the $5 million awarded nationally. According to organizers, each of the ideas help "cities attract and keep talented people, expand economic opportunities and create a culture of civic engagement." Winners include Pedal to Porch, a monthly bike tour that gives neighborhood residents the opportunity to tell their stories; Dequindre Cut Market, a pop-up retail district along the bike and pedestrian trail; Detroit’s Exciting Adventure into the Pink Zone, which will seek to transform how the city's commercial districts are developed and designed; Give a Park, Get a Park, a micro-park system throughout the city; Sensors in a Shoebox, an educational program that enables youth to better understand their neighborhoods through sensors and data; and the People First Project, which creates a network of tactical urbanists to affect change.

The Wayne State University School of Social Work celebrated the renovation of and their moving to a new building at 5447 Woodward Ave.

Earlier this month, the city's first Panera Bread opened in the GMRENCEN, the building formerly known as the Renaissance Center.

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

Detroiter opening vintage clothing shop in Corktown discovers deep roots

As determined as Lana Rodriguez has been to open her Mama Coo's Boutique in a brick-and-mortar storefront, she's been just as determined to keep the business where she grew up, in southwest Detroit. Fortunately for her, Rodriguez recently signed a letter of intent to lease the storefront at 1707 Trumbull St. for her resale and vintage clothing business in the city's Corktown neighborhood.

Then she learned something incredible about the building when she took a picture of it soon after signing the lease. "I showed my mom the picture and she just started laughing," says Rodriguez.

Call it fate, chance, or whatever you want, but the building Rodriguez is renting in 2016 is the exact same building that housed her grandparents' first apartment when they moved from Texas to Detroit in the 1950s. Rodriguez had no idea.

The Rodriguez's roots in Corktown go even deeper. Across the street from Mama Coo's future home is a statue of Father Clement Kern, an influential priest in the community who lead the congregation at Most Holy Trinity Church for three decades. Father Kern is also the reason the Rodriguez family, previously Pentecostal, converted to Catholicism. Lana's grandmother promised Father Kern that if he said a prayer for a daughter sick with tuberculosis and she survived, Lana's grandmother would convert the family. Lana's aunt recovered and Father Kern would go on to baptize a number of her family members.

Mama Coo's Boutique is an upscale resale and vintage clothing shop. Rodriguez makes her own accessories and other wearables, which she'll sell. She'll also bring in outside artists and let them use her space for pop-ups and other events.

Earlier this month, Rodriguez was awarded $18,000 by the city's Motor City Match program. She says the money will help her get off on the right foot and not be hindered by up-front financial constraints. It will also benefit others in the community.

"Motor City Match allowed me to purchase items from local artists and makers through wholesale and not just on consignment," says Rodriguez. "This way I can support local artists directly and they don't have to wait to be paid."

Rodriguez found the storefront with the help of TechTown, where she graduated from the retail bootcamp program. While she wanted a location closer to the Bagley strip of Mexicantown, Rodriguez found the building on Trumbull to be perfect in size, aesthetics, and history.

She'll have a number of new neighbors, too. As Rodriguez hustles to open, also opening in the building will be a barber shop, a small market later in the summer, and hopefully two more businesses in the fall.

Mama Coo's Boutique is expected to open in June. It is located at 1707 Trumbull St.

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

Two new placemaking projects launched on city's east and west sides

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is once again supporting Detroit placemaking projects through its matching grant program, this time pledging a total of $65,000 if two projects can meet their crowdfunding goals.

On the city's far east side, a group is planning on renovating Skinner Playfield. Located adjacent to Denby High School, the new Skinner Park will receive significant upgrades if organizers are able to raise $50,000 through a Patonicity crowdfunding campaign. If $50,000 is raised by May 10, MEDC will contribute an additional $50,000 to the project.

According to organizers, Skinner Playfield isn't much more than a playscape, walking track, and some scattered apple trees. Among the planned improvements include two basketball courts, a volleyball court, a pickleball court, a football-and-soccer field, urban gardens, and a performance pavilion complete with a water catchment system to irrigate said gardens.

The revitalized park is the vision of Detroit non-profit Life Remodeled and Denby High School students themselves. Says Life Remodeled CEO Chris Lambert, "I only wish I had a park this awesome in my neighborhood, but what excites me even more is the fact that Denby High School students designed it."

On the west side of the city, in Grandmont Rosedale, organizers are hoping to raise funds for a wayfinding path called NeighborWay. By successfully crowdfunding $15,000 by May 20, also through a Patronicity crowdfunding campaign, the MEDC will contribute an additional $15,000 to the project.

NeighborWay will connect points of interest, like parks, gardens, and public art installations, throughout the Grandmont Rosedale neighborhoods. Money will also be used to enhance three existing sites into community hubs.

"Connecting a community in an interactive way gives residents and visitors a renewed appreciation for the area," says MSHDA Executive Director Kevin Elsenheimer.

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

Detroit outpaces rest of southeastern Michigan for new residential unit permits

In prior decades, Detroit had very little new building construction. Not anymore, especially for residential units.

According to a report recently released by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG), Detroit issued more permits for new residential units than any other city in southeastern Michigan last year.

There were 913 residential units permitted in Detroit in 2015, more than double the second-highest city on the list, Ann Arbor, at 405 units. Canton, the only other city in Wayne County to make the top ten, came in third with 397 residential units permitted.

Of the 913 residential units permitted in Detroit, 97 percent were apartment and loft units. Broke down further, there were 882 apartment units, 17 condominium units, and 14 single family homes permitted in 2015.

According to the report, "Gains continued in apartment construction due to pent-up demand for rental housing from young professionals and downsizing households, low vacancy rates, and a growing job market."

Still, it's not all rosy in Wayne County. According to this Detroit Free Press article from March 28, 2016, new census numbers revealed that the county lost 6,673 residents between July 1, 2014 and July 1, 2015, the second highest population decline in the country. Only Cook County, Illinois lost more during that period. Though second place is better than first, which is what Wane County occupied for the previous eight years.

Detroit also far exceeded any other city in demolitions, razing 4,667 residential units in 2015.

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

Luxury apartments development hopes to draw residents to riverfront

Competition and cost for apartments in downtown Detroit have risen so sharply in recent years, even the luxury apartment market has become cost prohibitive for some. 

Triton Properties, the Denver-based developer which entered the Detroit market in 2009, is betting that their Waters Edge at Harbortown luxury apartment development will absorb some of that overflow.

It's a new kind of project for Triton, which has focused on redeveloping older buildings rather than developing new ones. They also say that their five-story, 134-unit Waters Edge is the first development of its kind on the Detroit riverfront in over 25 years.

"We had this great piece of land in the well-established community of Harbortown and we decided to take the risk and see how it's received," says April Sedillos, executive vice president at Triton. "There's a strong need for housing in the surrounding areas of downtown."

Waters Edge is part of Harbortown, a gated community on the Detroit riverfront. Residents have full access to the exclusive marina, tennis courts, and man-made lakes on its 35-acre grounds. There's also a private entrance to the RiverWalk. The luxury apartments start at $1,328 per month and include one-, two-, and three-bedroom floor plans.

Pre-leasing for the units began in the fourth quarter of 2015 and the first residents moved in January 2016. 40 percent of the units are currently occupied, says Sedillos, and the company is ramping up leasing and expects to reach full occupancy by the end of the summer. A community building with a fitness center, lounge area, and outdoor pool is currently under construction.

Sedillos says that 90 percent of the units have a view of the Detroit River, and every unit in the building has its own private balcony in addition to modern appliances and amenities.

Besides its Denver properties, Triton is responsible for seven residential buildings in Detroit, including Alden Towers, Spinnaker Tower, and the Kean Residences, totaling nearly 1,000 residential units locally.

Waters Edge at Harbortown is located at 3500 E. Jefferson Ave. in Detroit.

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

Move over food trucks, a flower truck is coming to Detroit

For all of the stories about new businesses that have either opened in or moved to Detroit over the past few years, some of the more familiar refrains include pop-ups and food trucks. These relatively inexpensive venues provide entrepreneurs an opportunity to do business without the up-front costs of outfitting a permanent location. One local entrepreneur is taking those concepts to create a uniquely Detroit service in the process.

Lisa Waud owns Pot & Box, a fresh floral and horticultural service with studios in Detroit and Ann Arbor. She has purchased an old ice cream truck and, with the help of a $10,000 NEIdeas grant, is customizing the truck to become a mobile floral retailer. The flower truck -- nicknamed Scoops, a result of its previous life -- has already scheduled three stops throughout the week and Waud plans on adding more. Waud will be selling flowers and plants in front of Shinola in Midtown every Wednesday, Astro Coffee in Corktown every Thursday, and Red Hook in West Village every Friday.

Waud says the truck provides her the opportunity to sell flowers without the cost and risk of opening up a permanent shop. With the flower truck, Waud can more accurately target her customers.

"I'm so excited to have this truck," says Waud. "As small business owners, we're in front of our computers a lot. I can't wait to talk to and meet customers and be out in the world."

Pot & Box has largely been an event-based service, outfitting weddings, dinners, and other occasions. But Waud also offers daily delivery and weekly subscription services. Her flowers are sourced almost exclusively from American farms, and once warm weather finally comes to Michigan, she'll focus more and more on Detroit-grown plants and flowers. 

Waud is also known for creating the Flower House art installation in Hamtramck.

The flower truck makes its debut on Friday, April 22, in front of the West Village location of the Red Hook coffee shop.

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

Church in Midtown restores historic building to former glory

A new church, in a very old building, is beginning to take root in the heart of Midtown. It's called Mosaic Midtown Church, and church leaders have taken on the rather large undertaking of restoring a historic building that dates back as far as the 1880s.

Located on Alexandrine Street, between Woodward and Cass Avenues, the church rests in the shadow of another historic restoration project, the Strathmore Apartments. Once completed, the restoration process will leave the church exterior largely as is, save for some badly needed cosmetic touch-ups, with the interior receiving the bulk of the work.

Though another church held services at the building up until Mosaic church leaders purchased it for $1 million in September 2015, the building was badly in need of repairs. Mosaic is investing an additional $1.5 million in renovating the 17,800 sq. ft. church, maintaining much of its traditional charm while simultaneously bringing it into the 21st century. The floors, windows, pews, and pipe organ will be restored, alongside installation of new HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems. Structural improvements to the walls and roof will also be completed. 

While a few monitors will be placed throughout the sanctuary, they're largely for practical reasons and not to emulate the theater-like settings of modern mega-churches. Pastor Mick Veach, who left Stony Creek Community Church of Washington, Mich. last year to start Mosaic, says that structurally-significant beams may block the views of some in the congregation, just like the obstructed view seats at old Tiger Stadium. The monitors will help alleviate that situation.

Many of the churches in Midtown don't own their own buildings, says Pastor Veach, but instead rent spaces for Sunday services. And rent can get expensive in Midtown these days, not just for apartment-dwellers and businesses, but churches, too. The pastor believes that to truly make an impact in the community, Mosaic had to put their roots down. It's a big investment, but Mosaic believes it to be an important one.

"There's a lack of trust, says Pastor Veach. "A lot of folks have had bad experiences with a church because the church, in some regards, has taken advantage of their authority, or the church is only open Sunday mornings, or the church only wants money. We believe that in the need to have a physical presence, to say that we're here long term, that we're here to collaborate, to be a blessing to the neighborhood, to join everybody else here. And the way to do that is to have an actual physical building."

According to Veach, Mosaic is a multi-denominational church, made up of different ethnicities of various financial means. They've been meeting at St. Patrick Senior Center nearby while waiting for renovations to be completed. Mosaic will continue a relationship with St. Patrick, as well as foster a partnership with the Children's Center across Alexandrine. Pastor Veach is in dialog with Mariners Inn and he says he plans on reaching out to the nearby Detroit School of Arts, too. The goal is to have a presence in the neighborhood not just on Sundays, but every day of the week.

The building itself is an interesting one. The original church, built in 1884, is far off the street, located in the back of today's building. But several additions have brought it closer to the sidewalk. Many groups have used the church over the last 130 years, including its longest tenant, the Masons. Church officials say there's a number of Mason-centric peculiarities about the building, including a secret room complete with a mural featuring Mason iconography painted on the ceiling. A stained-glass window of the Eastern Star, also a feature of the Masons, is going to be removed and gifted to an former octogenarian congregant of the old Eastern Star Temple that was once located there.

Mosaic Midtown Church is scheduled to open in June 2016. It is located at 80 W. Alexandrine St. in Detroit.

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

Wheelhouse Detroit to open new bike shop in downtown Hamtramck

Wheelhouse Detroit, the popular bike shop on Detroit's RiverWalk, is opening a second location in May on Joseph Campau in downtown Hamtramck. At 2,600 sq. ft., the second Wheelhouse will be larger than the riverfront location, allowing owner Kelli Kavanaugh to offer more bicycles, accessories, and active wear. The Hamtramck location will also feature a robust service department.

"We see the two Wheelhouse locations complementing one another," Kavanaugh says. "The Riverfront spot will continue to be the anchor for Greater Downtown residents and workers and will serve as the primary spot for tours and rentals. Our Hamtramck location offers more retail space to increase our inventory of bicycles, accessories, gear, clothing and a large service department, while serving Hamtramck and surrounding Detroit neighborhoods."

Kavanaugh says she'll highlight American-made products at the store, including the Detroit Bikes line. Other bikes carried include Sun Bicycles, Kona Bikes, and Brooklyn Bicycle Co., among others. Accessories include products from Green Guru, Chrome Industries, and Timbuk2.

Wheelhouse is a store of many distinctions. The National Bicycle Dealers Association named Wheelhouse Detroit one of the best bike shops in the United States in 2015. It's the only woman-owned bike shop in metro Detroit. Wheelhouse will also be the only bike shop in the city of Hamtramck. Kavanaugh sits on the board of the National Bicycle Dealers Association, is the ride director for Tour de Troit, and is a former Model D development news editor.

Kavanaugh has tapped Christian-Hurttienne Architects to help with the design and buildout of a storefront in a building owned by John Grossi of Amicci's Pizza. Invest Detroit’s Urban Retail Loan Fund and Technical Assistance Grant contributed to the expansion.

The second Wheelhouse Detroit is located at 9401 Joseph Campau St. in Hamtramck.

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

New hotel in Midtown offers sustainable stays and intimate access to the city

A unique hotel opened in Midtown recently, changing overnight options for visitors from both near and far.

The El Moore Lodge is a triple bottom line business, meaning that its been designed to meet social and ecological demands in addition to traditional financial ones. The building itself, built in 1898, was extensively renovated to meet the high sustainability standards of its owners, including a geothermal heating and cooling system and a super-insulated building envelope. The group behind the building, the Brennan family, is also responsible for the nearby Green Garage.

There are eleven hotel rooms and twelve apartment units at the El Moore. The apartments, located on floors two, three, and four, opened in June 2015, and the Lodge opened in January 2016. This staggered opening was by design, says Jason Peet, manager of both the El Moore Lodge and residences. The group wanted to give residents time to establish themselves as a community before taking in travelers.

But intermingling of residents and guests is also by design -- a parlor on the main floor acts as a common room for the whole building, facilitating interactions between long and short-term tenants. Visitors staying at the Lodge will have access to people familiar with the city.

"So many people that are traveling to Detroit right now are coming for the right reasons. They're very interested in what's happening here," says Peet. "So we wanted to provide our guests the opportunity to connect to that right away as opposed to arriving at a hotel, getting checked into the hotel, and saying, okay, now we gotta go find stuff, let's get in our car and find the Heidelberg Project. Here, even when you first set your bag down, you may meet a resident. The second you're here, you're doing what you came for."

Among the eleven hotel rooms are four different types of units. Two hostel-style rooms, one for men and one for women, occupy the garden level of the building. On the main floor are the parkview rooms, a more traditional hotel-style room with individual the, including the Casey Kasem room, named for the famous radio DJ who grew up next door. Also on the main floor is a residential suite, designed for extended stays, its full kitchen complete with baking tins for cupcakes and muffins.

The roof of the El Moore Lodge is a story in itself. Four "urban cabins" have been built on the roof, outfitted with unobstructed views of the city from the private patios. Their designs are unique, using materials reclaimed only from the El Moore renovations. Local designers and builders have provided much of the labor.

The El Moore Lodge is located at 624 W. Alexandrine St. in Detroit.

All photos by Marvin Shaouni.

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

New neighborhood bar opens on Carpenter Street in Hamtramck

The Perrotta brothers are familiar faces around Hamtramck. Andrew is a member of the local music community, performing with the band Sick Smile. Ian is a copy editor at the Hamtramck Review and a member of city council. Together, they started Habitat for Hamtramck. Beginning Wednesday, March 9, the Perrottas will be members of the Hamtramck bar owner community, when their new venture, Trixie's Bar, officially opens for business.

Though the bar had a soft opening and served as a venue for the recent Hamtramck Music Festival, Wednesday marks the official opening with the establishment of regular hours, Wednesday-Saturday from 6 p.m.-2 a.m. Hours may expand in the future.

Trixie's Bar is located in the old Turtle & Inky's space on Carpenter Street between Joseph Campau and Mackay. The Perrotta brothers purchased the bar last November, spending the past several months sprucing up a building the previous owner described to them as “an old horse.” The brothers re-named the bar Trixie's in remembrance to their mother, who passed away earlier that year.

While some changes have been made, including the addition of a stage for live music, Ian says the business will remain a neighborhood bar. The brothers plan on hosting live bands on Saturdays among other events throughout the week. New lighting, a drink rail, a beer cooler, and wireless Internet have been installed. A new paint job and extensive caulking have been performed. Ian, who has been attempting to open the music store Sticks, Strings, and Other Things since 2011, will use part of the space to sell musical goods, at least until a permanent location for that store opens.

"We want it to be a fun and welcoming place where you know you'll have a good time," says Ian. "A night here is kind of like being at a house party with a liquor license."

Trixie's Bar is located at 2656 Carpenter St. in Hamtramck.

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

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.

North Corktown rental to feature homage to legendary teachers union leader

Chalk it up to fate, serendipity, or otherwise, but as Detroit Public Schools teachers conduct a series of sick-outs to draw attention to school conditions in the city, a mural of legendary labor leader Mary Ellen Riordan is being pieced together in the city's North Corktown neighborhood.

Developer Jon Zemke--who is also an editor at Model D--has commissioned a mural to adorn the side of a two-unit building he is renovating at the corner of Cochrane Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The subject is Mary Ellen Riordan, the first full-time president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers who also happens to be Zemke's great aunt.

The roughly 20-by-36-foot mural features a portrait of Riordan with some students, uttering the quote, "Teachers want what children need." It's the work of Nicole Macdonald, a local artist whose work can be seen throughout town, including the recent series of Detroit literary figures installed on the outside of a Woodbridge party store.

Riordan served as president of DFT from 1960 through 1981. A significant force in teachers' labor rights, Riordan is recognized for her role as a woman leader in organized labor, a typically male-dominated field. In 1965, she led the fight to amend Michigan's Public Employee Relations Act to guarantee teachers and all public employees the legal right to collective bargaining.

Riordan led one of the largest local unions in the United States and was the first woman to lead a union of such size. At the time of her retirement, DFT counted more than 12,000 members. In 2001, Riordan was inducted to the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame. In 2004, she won the Distinguished Alumni award from Marygrove College, having graduated from that school in 1941. Mary Ellen Riordan passed away in 2010.

While Riordan may be his great aunt, Zemke says he commissioned the mural to honor all of the leaders and teachers who have helped shape the city yet might not be as familiar to its residents as mayors and other high-profile public officials.

"Like most other people in the city that have really made an impact, you kind of lose track of them over the years, the stories fade. And that's happened with her," says Zemke. "I didn't want that to keep happening."

Zemke, a Midtown resident, owns and leases several properties in the city, most of them in Woodbridge. The North Corktown building, which had seen its share of damage from squatters and scrappers over the years, has been his biggest renovation project to date, he says. The building is split into two flats and features all new heating, cooling, electrical, and plumbing work among its upgrades. Demand is high for the units, says Zemke, and on-site workers field leasing questions from passers-by nearly every single day. Units should be move-in ready within the next month.

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

2016 will be a year of big improvements to Detroit's cycling infrastructure

A new report released by the Detroit Greenways Coalition highlights five bike and trail projects that the bicycle and pedestrian advocacy group is most looking forward to in 2016. According to the DGC, Detroit will see a number of improvements to its cycling infrastructure in 2016, including the official completion of the Dequindre Cut, upgraded biking conditions along Cass Avenue, and the introduction of the much-anticipated public bike share program. The report also hints at an indoor velodrome that could be in Detroit's future.

Detroit Greenways Coalition works with both public and private entities, including city and state governments, and an array of foundations, to improve the quality of non-motorized transportation and recreation in Detroit. Todd Scott is the group's executive director.

Highlights from the DGC report include the following:
 
  • The Link Detroit project will officially be completed in 2016. Link Detroit connects a number of communities, from Hamtramck to Midtown to Eastern Market to the Riverfront, through a series of bike lanes and the Dequindre Cut.
  • Biking from Midtown to downtown should prove easier in 2016 as improved biking conditions along Cass Avenue are completed this year. Upgrades are designed, in part, to discourage bikers from using Woodward Avenue and the accompanying safety concerns of the M-1 Rail.
  • Automated counters will be installed along the Dequindre Cut and Cass to provide the DGC with real-time data as they look to better understand and utilize bicycle and pedestrian trends throughout those corridors. 
  • 2016 could also be the year that a public bike share program is introduced in Detroit. Though nothing is definite, the DGC says the Detroit Downtown Partnership is hopeful that the first phase of the program will open this year.
  • Bike lanes along a four-mile stretch of Livernois Avenue are being installed by the city of Detroit and will run from Grand River Avenue to W. Vernor Highway. Pop-up bike lanes, intended for viability tests, will also be installed along Livernois from McNichols to 8 Mile Road.
More information on the Detroit Greenways Coalition and its top projects for 2016 can be found here.

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Detroit first and only American city to be named City of Design

Detroit has been named to the UNESCO Creative Cities Network as a City of Design. Of the 47 cities invited to join the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in 2015, just six, including Budapest and Singapore, were admitted under the City of Design designation. Detroit is the first and only American city to be designated as a City of Design.

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network was formed in 2004 in order to promote and connect cities that identify a creative field as an opportunity for sustainable urban development. In addition to the field of design, the other fields are crafts and folk art, film, gastronomy, literature, media arts, and music. Member cities collaborate with each other, promote each other, and share best practices with each other.

Not only a major validation of what Detroit's design industry has accomplished, the creative cities designation provides the city a unique platform for networking with other world-class design cities. Ellie Schneider, interim executive director at Detroit Creative Corridor Center (DC3) in the Argonaut building, says the city recently hosted a group of designers from Graz, Austria, and that the fellow City of Design will soon return the favor. That exchange of knowledge and experience can drive development.

Homegrown initiatives, like DC3's Drinks x Design and the Detroit Design Festival, further helped to improve the city's design profile both at home and abroad.

"Our work is so experimental and innovative that we have to look toward cities other than ones in the United States," says Schneider. "We have to look all over the world for benchmarks and inspiration."

Though the designation honors Detroit's design legacy and potential for growth throughout the city and region, it is the DC3 that is largely responsible for securing the City of Design title. The creative industries advocacy organization had the goal of obtaining the designation from UNESCO as part of a five-year strategy. DC3 was launched in collaboration between Business Leaders for Michigan and College for Creative Studies in 2010.

DC3 is planning a year-long celebration of the designation and will announce its plans once Olga Stella joins Detroit Creative Corridor Center as its next full-time executive director in January 2016.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Handcrafted goods from India, Bollywood dance lessons come to Sugar Hill Arts District

A new handcrafted goods store has popped up in Midtown just in time for the holidays. Tribalfare has opened in the 71 Garfield building in the Sugar Hill Arts District and will remain there through Feb. 1.

The retail store features a variety of one-of-a-kind goods selected by proprietor Ojas Akolkar and brought from her native India. She travels to India once a year to find her products, which range from clothing to housewares, jewelry to handbags. Akolkar will also use the space to provide Bollywood dance lessons.

"It became clear to me that there is a tremendous appreciation of hand-made items from India," Akolkar says in a statement. "Coming from a place where such items were commonplace, the value of my heritage was long erased from my memory. Meeting people who appreciated this so much revived my enthusiasm and my passion. I am excited to share my enthusiasm and these gorgeous, one-of-a-kind goods with Detroiters."

The pop-up is opening with the help of a $7,500 award from TechTown. Akolkar is a recent graduate of the TechTown Retail Boot Camp, where she was one of five to win that program's Kickstart Award. In addition to the prize money, the award package includes assistance from TechTown in selecting retail space and their connecting her with pro bono business support, like social media marketing.

Other recipients of the Kickstart Award include a vintage and resale clothing boutique in Southwest Detroit, an outdoor goods store in an as-yet-to-be-determined location, a musical instrument shop in the currently-under-renovation Forest Arms apartment building in Midtown, and a craft creamery, also without an announced location.

Tribalfare is located at 71 Garfield St., #40. It is open every Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sundays, noon to 5 p.m. The pop-up run is expected to close Feb. 1.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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West Village bank rehab to feature sushi restaurant, wine bar, and florist (plus lofts!)

A charcuterie and wine bar, Brix; a full-service sushi restaurant, Sushi Ono; and a florist, Goodness Gracious Alive, have been confirmed as the retail tenants of the newly-rehabbed Bank Building in West Village. The development also consists of two market-rate loft apartments, which Curbed reported in November will rent for $1,500 per month.

Much of the interior work of the old bank building at the corner of Kercheval and Van Dyke avenues was completed over the last six months, and according to organizers, exterior work will be finished by spring 2016. A Dec. 3 dedication ceremony was held at the building to celebrate the redevelopment and included a visit from Mayor Mike Duggan, among other officials and stakeholders. The mayor touts the project as an example of development happening outside of downtown and Midtown, one occurring in the city's neighborhoods.

Banyan Investments is the developer of the project. Banyan CEO Aamir Farooqi says the development is an example of "turning disused buildings into proud and productive assets for the larger community."

The Detroit-based Banyan restores, rents, manages, and sells residential and commercial property throughout the city. Another of its restoration projects, West Village Manor, is located just a few blocks away from the bank building. West Village Manor houses such businesses as Detroit Vegan Soul, Red Hook Coffee, and Tarot & Tea. Banyan is currently repairing the building and says that once improvements are completed, the project will increase residential and commercial capacity in the neighborhood.

In addition to the redeveloped retail and residential units, Banyan is building an adjacent structure on the south side of the bank. The newly-constructed building will house a restored Detroit streetcar, which will also host retail. Improved parking and a landscaped piazza are also planned for the site.

The newly-converted bank building is located at 7960 Kercheval Ave.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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House of Pure Vin opens downtown with focus on Michigan wines

House of Pure Vin has officially opened in downtown Detroit. The retail wine shop boasts 4,000 bottles of wine with plans to double its inventory in 2016.

The focus is primarily on Michigan wines, says co-owner Regina Gaines, with a secondary focus on French wines. Dedicated champagne and tasting rooms fill out the rest of the 3,100-square-foot space.

Michigan plays a large role in the shop. Gaines says she and her partners are excited to be part of what's happening downtown and the Michigan wine business as a whole. In setting up the business, they've used all Michigan-based firms and contractors, from design to construction, and a number of them are minority-owned. Even the name, House of Pure Vin, is a nod to the state's Pure Michigan tourism campaign.

"We want to participate in bringing value to downtown and setting the tone," says Gaines. "We're glad to hear of all the global brands coming soon, but we're Michigan and we're unique."

Bedrock Real Estate Services is providing the space, having selected Gaines and partners Terry Mullins and Andrea Dunbar after meeting them through TechTown's Retail Boot Camp. Gaines says the space being made available was originally going to be only 500 square feet, but Bedrock liked their concept so much that they gave them a much larger storefront.

A number of other organizations throughout the city have contributed, be it financially or otherwise, to House of Pure Vin. Gaines credits Bryan Waldron of Bedrock and Derek Edwards of Invest Detroit as two especially important players in their getting started downtown.

"If it wasn't for the business community here, that public-private partnership push, we wouldn't exist," says Gaines. "We're not rich. We're just middle-class people with a great idea."

House of Pure Vin is open Monday through Thursday from noon to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from noon to 11 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. It is located at 1433 Woodward Ave.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Group launches crowdfunding campaign to transform Mack Ave. storefront into community space

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation has selected another target for its Public Space Community Places initiative, and this time it's a community commons on the city's east side. Should a crowdfunding campaign reach its stated goal of $50,000, MEDC and its partner on the project, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, will then offer a matching grant to the group responsible for The Commons: 7900 Mack Avenue.

Mack Avenue Community Church Community Development Corporation (MACC) is the organization behind the Commons, a 12,000-square-foot commercial building on Mack Avenue. MACC has been working to rehab the long-abandoned building, repairing the facade this past summer. Improvements include new cedar siding and cleaned brick.

The group is hoping to transform the building into the Commons, a mixed-use community space that will include a coffee shop, laundromat, literacy center, legal clinic, window-lit common space, and an open-to-the-public shared work and office space.

"We are very proud to call home a community many so-called experts declared too far gone," executive director of MACC Development Jonathon Demers says in a statement. "The Commons is a wager, a confirmation that genuine, equitable stabilization in Detroit should begin and end in the city's neighborhoods. We're excited to play a small part in that stabilization through returning business, resources, and community space back to Mack Avenue."

MACC has until December 31 to reach its $50,000 goal. Once met, MEDC and MSHDA will award the community development corporation an additional $50,000.

Donations are being taken online. Rewards are given in exchange for donations and include tickets to the MACC Development 2016 Gala at the Detroit Yacht Club on Belle Isle, the Commons concept book, Mad Cap Coffee, and more.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Campaign launched to keep city's homeless population healthy through the winter

During the cold winter months, Detroit's homeless population is at great risk for frostbite, infection, and a number of other maladies of the feet. The Neighborhood Service Organization has launched a pair of wellness and outreach programs to prevent and care for foot-related issues among the city's homeless population.

A Henry Ford Health System physician and a group of volunteers are gathering today at the Tumaini Center to participate in the ninth annual Our Hearts to Your Soles event. There Dr. David Katcherian and volunteers will provide Detroit's homeless population with shoes, socks, foot examinations, and foot care.

The event takes place today, Tuesday, Nov. 24, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The Tumaini Center is the Neighborhood Service Organization's crisis support center for the chronically homeless. It is located at 3430 Third Ave.

The Neighborhood Service Organization and its Homeless Recovery Services, along with partners Level One Bank and Behavioral Health Professionals, Inc., have also launched an inaugural sock drive they're calling "Sock It to Me." The sock drive, which began Nov. 16, runs through Nov. 30.

New socks can be dropped at marked bins at Behavioral Health Professionals at 1333 Brewery Park, Ste. 300, in Detroit. Bins can also be found in suburban Farmington Hills at the Level One Bank Headquarters at 32991 Hamilton Ct.

"Members of Detroit's homeless population spend countless hours walking from place to place, often with inadequate, dirty socks and poorly fitting shoes," NSO President and CEO Sheilah P. Clay says in a statement. "Having clean, dry socks and the proper shoes can mean the difference between life and death for those on the streets."

Neighborhood Service Organization is a 60-year-old nonprofit dedicated to ending homelessness in Detroit. In addition to the Tumaini Center, NSO operates several different housing programs, as well as a mobile outreach program.

NSO is headquartered in the Bell Building at 882 Oakman Blvd.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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November 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.

Two of Detroit's most high profile real estate developments, Orleans Landing along the riverfront and DuCharme Place across from Lafayette Park, are beginning to take shape. Construction at Orleans Landing is revealing the bones of the mixed-use development, while DuCharme Place recently celebrated its ceremonial groundbreaking, though construction there had already begun weeks beforehand. Orleans Landing promises 278 residential units and DuCharme Place is kicking in another 185.

Add 230 more residential units to the combined 463 residential units of the aforementioned developments, so long as Peter Cummings gets his way in the city's New Center district. The Whole Foods developer says he has an agreement with Henry Ford Health System to purchase the parking lot at Third and W. Grand Boulevard and plans on building a brand new apartment building there. A redevelopment of the nearby Hotel St. Regis annex recently celebrated its own ceremonial ribbon cutting, announcing the December arrival of the Regis Houze and its 58 apartments.

In redevelopment news even more surprising than the decision to name an apartment building the Regis Houze is the news that someone is planning to redevelop the old Lee Plaza Hotel. Developer Craig Sasser announced plans for a $200 million redevelopment of the 17-story building. Sasser says he'll be bringing 200 luxury, market-rate apartments to the abandoned and derelict building, stripped to its bones after years of being open to the elements. One infamous incident, at least locally, was the discovery that 50 of the building's original terra cotta lions heads had been stolen, six of them found adorning a new condo development in Chicago. Even the FBI got involved. A rundown of the events can be found on Historic Detroit.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Bike share program for greater downtown on track for 2016

Detroit has more than 170 miles of bike lanes and greenways, a number that continues to grow. If all goes according to plan, soon a bike share program will complement that infrastructure.

Wayne State University's Office of Economic Development started the feasibility study and helped raise awareness and funds for the proposed bike share before transitioning the program to the Downtown Detroit Partnership (DDP) in July 2015. .

The DDP since has announced a partnership with Henry Ford Health System/Health Alliance Plan and the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT). Henry Ford/HAP has pledged a full three-year financial commitment to launch and operate the bike share, while DDOT is assisting DDP in acquiring federal grant funding as well as finding an equipment provider and operator for the bike share. The city and DDOT will issue an RFP later this month. The bike share is also receiving support from the Michigan Department of Transportation, Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, Hudson Webber Foundation, and Kresge Foundation.

Officials say roughly 350 bikes and 35 bike stations will be scattered throughout greater downtown following the first phase of implementation.

"We are super excited that a public bike share program is coming to Detroit," writes Todd Scott, executive director of Detroit Greenways Coalition, a greenways and bike lane advocacy group in the city, in an email to Model D. "This will be a great opportunity to get more people interested in biking throughout the greater downtown. We appreciate that the Downtown Detroit Partnership (DDP), Henry Ford Health System/HAP, and the city of Detroit have the vision and commitment to make this happen."

According to the League of American Bicyclists, Detroit is the fastest growing city in the country for commuter bicyclists. The group utilized census data to determine that instances of bike commuting in Detroit grew over 400 percent between the years 2000 and 2014.

More than 70 U.S. cities offer bike share programs. Should all go according to plan, Detroit's own will debut in 2016.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Efforts to speed up development along the Detroit River take off with new RFQ

In an effort to stimulate development along the city's east riverfront, the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy and the city of Detroit Planning Department have issued a request for qualifications for a development plan. Firms have until 5 p.m. on Dec. 4 to submit a bid for the site bounded by St. Antoine Street to the west, E. Grand Boulevard to the east, Larned Street to the north, and the Detroit River to the south.

Mark Wallace, president and CEO of the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy, says that a pretty aggressive schedule has been set and that a firm will be picked by the end of February. Once a firm has been selected, a series of community engagement meetings will be held to identify the needs and concerns of those with ties to the river -- be they financial, residential, emotional, or otherwise.

"A lot of people have strong attachments to the riverfront and we don't want to enter the planning phase with any preconceived notions," says Wallace. "It's important that this framework isn't prescriptive but instead be a vision."

The conservancy is looking for a comprehensive vision which takes into account possibilities for retail, residences, greenways, parking, and transit.

In requesting a plan, the conservancy and the city look to maximize the development potential of the area. They're hoping to speed along an economic resurgence already evidenced by the recent groundbreaking of the Orleans Landing townhomes and the almost-completed Water's Edge residential development, both happening along the RiverWalk. Private property owners, too, may be inspired to re-activate vacant buildings that have been dormant for years.

The Detroit RiverFront Conservancy is the group responsible for transforming 3.5 miles of the Detroit riverfront from a largely industrial and often inaccessible stretch into the celebrated and popular RiverWalk that exists today.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Retail Bootcamp complete, Detroit startups work to establish permanent locations

Five Detroit start-ups are receiving a financial push from their alma mater, TechTown's 2015 Retail Boot Camp program. Nearly $40,000 will be split among the five graduates of the entrepreneur training program in an effort to help them make the transition to brick-and-mortar locations.

The businesses include a music store, ice cream shop, handmade Indian crafts store, creamery, and resale/vintage clothing boutique. According to TechTown, each business is "on-the-verge." Each received a kickstart package that includes up to $7,500 in subsidies that can be used toward a permanent location, pop-up location, inventory, and/or a point-of-sale system.

Alana Rodriguez hopes to use the money to open Mama Coo's Boutique in her Southwest Detroit neighborhood. She has previously sold vintage/resale clothing as well as personally handmade jewelry and crafts at the Detroit Institute of Arts and Eastern Market.

Either West Village, East Jefferson, or West Rivertown will land an outdoor goods store as Sarah White looks to open her MOR & Co. on the city's east side. In a previous interview with Model D, White said that a lot of thought goes into selecting her inventory. "When I look at the design of something, it's not just what does it looks like, but how does it work? Where did it come from? Who made it and what's their story? How am I going to sell it, and what does someone do with it after it's done being used? All of those are important components," she says.

Third Wave Music, a 2014 Hatch finalist, is the recipient of one of the 2015 Kickstart Awards, which will be used toward opening the musical instrument store in the soon-to-be renovated Forest Arms apartment building in Midtown. Look for Third Wave to make its debut in April 2016.

Chris Reilly's Reilly Craft Creamery will use the money toward a pop-up in a yet-to-be disclosed location somewhere in the city in the summer of 2016. The creamery gets its products from Michigan organic farms.

Another Eastern Market vendor, Ojas Alkolkar, hopes to open Tribalfare in either downtown, Midtown, or Corktown. In addition to selling one-of-a-kind, handcrafted goods from her native India, Alkolkar will also offer Bollywood dance lessons, yoga, and other community events at her eventual location.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Detroiters in film, music, and the live arts to vie for $25,000 fellowships

It's that time of year again, the time when artists in and around Detroit begin imagining what they would do with $25,000. The application cycle for the 2016 Kresge Artist Fellowships has begun.

An application guide for the fellowship program was released on Monday, Nov. 2. While the application process doesn't open until Dec. 1 and the deadline isn't until Jan. 21, the guide is being made available to prepare local artists for a better chance at winning the prizes. Now in its eighth year, Kresge Arts in Detroit will award $25,000 fellowships to 18 local artists in film, music, and the live arts. The awards are available to artists living in metro Detroit, defined here as Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties.

Nine awards will go to those in the live arts and nine awards will go to those in film and music. According to Kresge, the live arts include choreography, dance, theater directing, performance art, playwriting, and interdisciplinary work. The film and music division includes animation, film directing, music composition, music performance, screenwriting, and interdisciplinary work.

A 2014 Kresge Artist Fellow, playwright Sherina Rodriguez Sharpe characterizes winning the award as a life-changing experience. "The fellowship enabled me to take greater risks in my work and to live my entire life as art," she says in a statement.

This year's programming is a little different than others as applicants for the Kresge Artist Fellowship will also be considered for the 2016 Gilda Awards, two $5,000 no-strings-attached prizes named in honor of Gilda Snowden, a Detroit artist and professor at the College for Creative Studies who died in September of 2014. The Creative Many Michigan organization will also be offering professional practice opportunities for the fellows.

Two applicant orientations and one workshop will be held prior to the Jan. 21 deadline so as to better prepare artists in their applications.

The Kresge Foundation funds the fellowships, having given $3.5 million directly to local artists since 2008. Kresge Arts in Detroit at the College for Creative Studies administers the fellowships. 126 Kresge Artist Fellowships, seven Kresge Eminent Artist Awards, and two Gilda Snowden Awards have been doled out since 2008.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Fighting tax foreclosure, Recovery Park, and more: October 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.

In just 14 days, a group called Keep Our Homes Detroit successfully raised $108,463 through crowdfunding, well over its goal of $100K. The group worked in partnership with the United Community Housing Coalition with the stated intent of buying foreclosed homes for the people still living in them, homes that were being sold through Wayne County's 2015 tax foreclosure auction. That auction, which ended Oct. 22, has been the subject of much analysis, with people like Jerry Paffendorf of Loveland Technologies offering a number of ideas on how to make the foreclosure auction process better for everyone involved. A potential 60,000 properties could be eligible for auction in 2016, a large majority of them in the city of Detroit.

The Detroit Land Bank has decided to attempt a more citizen-friendly approach in managing its own list of properties, a number of which are owned by the city yet have people living inside of them without the city's permission. Detroit will attempt a pilot program that offers the homes to those living in them at $1,000 each. If purchasing a home, that person will have to pay $100 a month for one year, stay current on their water bill, attend a home buyer counseling course, and maintain their property. If they satisfy those requirements, the deed is theirs. The land bank says the city gains nothing by driving people out of their homes.

The city has also agreed, pending city council approval, to a five-year, $15 million urban agriculture redevelopment plan with the nonprofit RecoveryPark Farms. The urban farms group will lease 35 acres of city land at $105 per acre per year. Officials expect 128 people to be hired as a result of the deal. The farm plots occupy areas between I-94, Forest Avenue, and Chene and St. Aubin streets.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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International design community collaborates with Detroiters on Culture Lab product line

Members of the international design community are coming to Detroit this Thursday, Oct. 29, to celebrate the launch of Culture Lab Design, an exclusive line of "green space"-themed products for the home. The products are collaborations between internationally-renowned and Detroit-based designers, a result of Culture Lab Detroit programming. The products will be available to the public at the Midtown store Nora from Oct. 30 through Nov. 15 and range from $65 to $2,000.

Jane Schulak, founder of Culture Lab Detroit, curated teams of outside and local talent to design unique products for the home. The pop-up shop is being hosted at Nora, itself a store selling "thoughtfully designed housewares, jewelry, gifts, and accessories." One of the Culture Lab Design product designers, Brooklyn-based David Stark, is also designing the pop-up space at Nora.

"Literally a grass roots project, our store-in-store structure will house products from designers that I have great respect for, all relating to the land," Stark says in a statement. "Truly exciting."
 
  • Stark has also teamed with Detroit ceramicist Victoria Ashley Shaheen to create a variety of glazed flower rests that sit atop glass vases.
  • New York-based interior designer Kelly Behun has partnered with Cass Community Social Services to re-purpose discarded tires as hanging planters.
  • Fernando and Humberto Campana, interior designers in Sao Paolo, and Todd Erikson of College for Creative Studies have designed a cast aluminum 4" x 11" vase.
  • New York's Sebastian Errazuriz and Detroit's Samuel Arambula have produced Rock Lamp, photo luminescent lamps powered not by electricity but by high grade phosphorescent material.
  • Paola Navone, an architect and designer from Milan, teams with Andrew Ward of Line Studio for April Planter, a cement planter for garden centerpieces. Navone also teamed with Detroit Denim Company to create Mario Overalls, functional overalls for garden use.
In anticipation of the pop-up, Nora has commissioned a number of additional Detroit-based designers, producing more than a dozen home products to be sold alongside the featured collaborative works.

Nora is located at 4240 Cass Ave., Ste. 109, in the Auburn building.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Artists seek to transform Livernois with installation along Avenue of Fashion

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fiber Art Works is located at 19359 Livernois Ave.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Wonderland House is located at 3947 Commonwealth St. 

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Detroit Future City releases guide to help residents steward vacant lots

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Font fight: Preserving Detroit's visual cultures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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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

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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

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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

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District One businesses to receive investments totalling $100K

Businesses in Detroit's City Council District 1 have cause to celebrate with the announcement that $100,000 is being dedicated to their promotion and improvement. The money is a gift from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with the stated intent of being used to help businesses within the city's most northwest district scale and grow.

Tom Goddeeris, executive director of the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation; District 1 Council Member James Tate; and Jill Ford, special advisor to Mayor Mike Duggan, are leading the program.

Organizers say that the money will be used to encourage residents to shop locally and within their communities. It will also be used to survey residents on what types of businesses their neighborhoods need and desire. Additionally, the $100,000 will be put toward educating business owners on what attracts customers' support and keeps them coming back to their store. A 'buy local' program is also being researched for implementation.

While some of the program specifics have yet to be decided, the announcement dovetails nicely with D1 Discount Days. Taking place over the weekend of July 24-26, D1 Discount Days is the second annual celebration of local businesses within the district, encouraging residents to patronize their local establishments. Council Member Tate says that both the $100,000 and D1 Discount Days will drum up business, thereby improving the local economy and creating more jobs within the district.

Katy Locker, Knight Foundation program director for Detroit, agrees.

"The expansion of the District 1 buy-local program will help bring more local jobs and economic growth to our city; residents will be part of the process, helping to create the type of neighborhood where people want to live. We’re very interested in how neighborhood retail invites more people and more life into the street," says Locker. "We also hope to learn from this effort so it can be duplicated in other neighborhoods."

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Coffee shop to open in Capitol Park in September

Dessert Oasis, a Rochester, Michigan-based coffee shop, is expanding into Detroit. The company's second storefront is slated to open in the Albert in Capitol Park this September.

This marks the second retail tenant for the newly-renovated luxury apartment building, the Albert. Detroit Bikes celebrated the grand opening of its flagship store there in May 2015.

Siblings Nathan and Stephanie Hamood opened their first location in Rochester in 2008. The pair stresses quality and fairness in their offerings. Fresh desserts are baked every morning, and coffee beans are obtained from farmers on an individual basis and then roasted on-site. The company was recently recognized for its quality of coffee during the America's Best Espresso Competition at Coffee Fest in Chicago.

"We’re dedicated to providing a community experience and a focus on our craft that you don’t get at large coffee chains," says Dessert Oasis co-founder Nathan Hamood. "We hope to be the first stop in the morning work commute and the evening entertainment destination for many of the people living in or visiting Capitol Park."

Characterizing Capitol Park as an "up and coming community of artists and young professionals," Richard Broder, CEO of Broder & Sachse, the firm responsible for developing the Albert, sees the addition of a coffee shop to the building to be a good fit. The company expects five more tenants will be required to fill the remaining retail space.

Another key component of the Dessert Oasis experience will be live music every night. Stephanie Hamood curates the entertainment, both in Rochester and, eventually, Detroit. She's a musician herself, touring with national acts Nikki Lane and Social Distortion.

In addition to freshly baked desserts, the brother and sister team will offer light lunch items and chocolate and cheese fondues.

Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters will be located in the Albert, 1214 Griswold St.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Over $500K in improvements planned for three Hamtramck parks


The city of Hamtramck is preparing a series of groundbreaking ceremonies for the renovation of three city-owned parks: Karol Wojtyla Pope Park, Zussman Park, and Veteran's Park. More than $500,000 is planned for renovating the public spaces.

The city is welcoming residents to join officials from the city of Hamtramck, Wayne County, and the state of Michigan in celebrating the summer construction projects.

A ceremony will kickoff the renovations at Pope Park (10037 Joseph Campau) on Wednesday, July 8, at 10 a.m. Following that event, the train of officials and onlookers will travel to Zussman Park (3401 Evaline St.) for a second groundbreaking party. A third ceremony will be held at Veteran's Park at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, July 14, at the Veteran's Memorial located on Joseph Campau between Goodson and Berres streets.

The renovation of Pope Park has been especially touted, as the park was the recent target of a crowdfunding campaign which successfully raised $31,307 in contributions as well as a $25,000 grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. In total, more than $100,000 in renovations are planned for Pope Park. Plans call for the removal of a large fence that separates the park from the sidewalk, making the public space more welcoming and accessible to passersby. A restoration of the park's large mural, new seating, and enhanced lighting are also in the works.

A number of changes are planned for the other parks, too, including a multi-age playground, a sustainable wildflower garden, and exercise equipment. Benches and bike racks are also in plans released by city officials.

In addition to the crowdfunding and MEDC money that is earmarked for Pope Park, additional money raised for the parks comes from a number of sources, including Community Development Block Grant funds, Wayne County Parks millage funds, and the Karol Wojtyla Parks Committee.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Ambitious art installation debuts in downtown's Paradise Valley Harmonie Park

"Nice Outfit," the summer art installation in downtown's Paradise Valley Harmonie Park, made its debut late last week. An 18-foot sculpture in nine sections, "Nice Outfit" complements the Summer in the Park concert series, providing a dynamic setting for the music and dance events that take place throughout the summer. The art was commissioned by the Carr Center, a neighboring arts and cultural center which handles programming in the park.

Nice Outfit is a collaboration between Detroit-based artist Olayami Dabls and the Anya Sirota + Akoaki design studio. Dabls is perhaps most notable for his work at the African Bead Museum, of which he is the founder. The museum, which is located on Detroit's west side, is covered in colorful art and shards of mirrors, among other things. The museum is an unmistakable landmark when traveling along Interstate 96 or Grand River Avenue. Anya Sirota + Akoaki recently completed the Mothership, a portable, P-Funk-inspired DJ booth in the city's North End neighborhood as part of the O.N.E. Mile project.

The artists' collaboration resulted in the "Nice Outift" sculptures, nine distinct figures that are viewed as one collective group. The artists utilized wood, painted layered surfaces, and reflective mirrors as they incorporated themes of the African diaspora. The Carr Center considers Nice Outfit to be its most ambitious installation yet.

"The sculptures form a collective and are dressed for the occasion. We invite visitors to join the park’s festivities and to see themselves as part of an emergent group," says Oliver Ragsdale, Jr., president of the Carr Center.

The project received support from the University of Michigan's Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning and a Quicken Loans grant.

Events at the park are free, open to everyone, and include a concert series occurring every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday at 6 p.m. and a "Dancing Under the Stars" dance party every third Saturday of the month.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Gabriel Hall to bring New Orleans vibe to West Village

A music venue, bar, restaurant, museum, and music education advocacy group are all coming to West Village -- and they'll all be under the same roof. If all goes to plan, Dameon Gabriel and his business partner will have opened Gabriel Hall by the end of the summer of 2016 in an old three-story house with a ground floor storefront located at the intersection of Kercheval and Van Dyke. Like Gabriel himself, Gabriel Hall is a unique blend of New Orleans and Detroit, or, as he puts it, New Orleans blood with a Detroit heart.

Dameon comes from New Orleans and Detroit music royalty. A family that was at the very beginnings of New Orleans jazz, the Gabriels moved to Detroit in the 1940s and have been carrying on that legacy ever since. Today, Dameon leads the Gabriel Brass Band. His business partner, a Louisiana-born chef, is crafting a menu that draws inspiration from both New Orleans and Detroit.

Finalists in last year's Hatch Detroit contest, Gabriel and his team have a big vision for the place, which they purchased at the end of April. The first floor will house the bar, restaurant, and music venue.

"I love to create an experience. If you have a good time with friends, food, and music, you always remember that," says Gabriel. "I always had that growing up where I would be with my uncles and my dad and everything would turn into a concert and everybody's partying and dancing and everybody's playing an instrument in the house."

Upstairs will serve as a museum, chronicling the deep history of the Gabriel family and New Orleans and Detroit jazz. It will also serve as the headquarters of an already-existing nonprofit dedicated to improving music education conditions in city schools. The group was recently involved in donating 21 instruments to Detroit Public Schools students.

It's a change of intended destinations for the Gabriel Hall team, having originally planned on renting a storefront in Woodbridge. And while Gabriel stresses a deep affection for Woodbridge, the opportunity to own a building proved too valuable to pass up. Gabriel says that the West Village neighborhood and association is thrilled to have the business moving in, already offering to organize volunteer clean-up days for the site. It's a building that has been vacant for quite a while and will require significant effort and investment to become white box-ready.

Gabriel and his business partner have hired the Detroit firm Virtuoso Design+Build to come up with Gabriel Hall's look. The firm is responsible for designing UFO Factory in Corktown and a Big Sean-donated recording studio at Cass Tech. He says they're working on something that evokes that vintage New Orleans flair without looking old and stuck in time.

Dameon hopes to open Gabriel Hall by the end of the summer of 2016. It's to be located at 8002 Kercheval Ave.

Source: Dameon Gabriel, founder and CEO of Gabriel Hall
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Laika Dog coming to UFO Factory in Corktown

Roughly eight months after the official opening of UFO Factory in Detroit's Corktown neighborhood, the popular bar and music and events venue is now ready to open its kitchen. On July 4th, UFO will celebrate Independence Day by revealing Laika Dog, a 'fancy, fun' take on hot dogs and more. The debut of Laika Dog will signal another change for UFO as the bar expands its hours to open for daily lunch service.

According to its website, Laika Dog hot dogs will be inspired by a long list of other dishes and ingredients, including, "bahn mi, nacho, pbj, kim chi, fried ramen, pickles, build your own, fried egg, grilled cheese, fries, tater tots, simple salads, vegan, grass fed, more..." A mysterious hot dish is also referenced.

Dion Fischer, one of UFO's co-owners, says the group has been running around frantically as they work to ready the kitchen for its July 4th debut. That opening will be celebrated with a party featuring live entertainment from the Mahonies, the Impaler, DJ John Krautner, and more acts to be announced. The party is free to attend.

In keeping with the UFO Factory name, the name Laika is associated with Laika the dog. In 1957, the Soviets launched Laika into space, one of the first animals to reach space and the very first to orbit Earth.

UFO Factory opened in September 2014 in the old Hoot's Robinson's bar on Trumbull Avenue, directly across from the old Tiger Stadium site. Laika Dog operates out of a small but newly-renovated kitchen. There is no table service; rather, customers will order directly from one of the bartenders and the dogs will be delivered "food runner-style."

Source: Dion Fischer, co-owner of UFO Factory and Laika Dog
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

New hotels, a new downtown park, and more: June 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.

June started off with Louis Aguilar of the Detroit News wondering if the Illitches can deliver their 'District Detroit', a 45-block mixed use development surrounding the new Red Wings hockey arena, by the time the sports and entertainment venue opens in the summer of 2017--or if they even plan to. An agreement with the city affords Olympia Development a 5-year window to spend $200 million in development money after the arena is complete. Either way, the historic Hotel Park Avenue is definitely coming down.

The folded glass of the recently renovated Crowne Plaza Pontchartrain Detroit could reflect the construction of a second tower for the 367-room hotel, some 50 years after the original hotel first opened. Crain's is reporting that the hotel's owners are considering a second tower, one that would bring the hotel's total room count up to 800 or 850 rooms. The $30 to $35 million investment could help all of downtown's hotels by attracting more conventions to the city. Richard Branson, billionaire founder of Virgin Group, says that a Virgin hotel in Detroit is a real possibility and he had a representative searching for potential sites in the city.

DTE Energy released some attractive renderings of their planned "mini-Campus Martius" in June. The park, currently a gravel lot, should be complete by spring of 2016.

The abandoned, sprawling Herman Kiefer Health Complex could be saved through an enormous redevelopment project by New York-based developer Ron Castellano. The historic complex sits on an 18-acre site just south of the Boston-Edison neighborhood.

John Gallagher of the Detroit Free Press takes readers on a tour of the environmentally-minded rehab of the old El Moore apartment building in Midtown. In addition to the renovations, developers built two 'urban cabins' on the roof, an elevator shaft along the building's exterior, reserved garden space for each resident, and a newly-built and free-standing green house and community meeting space built from recycled materials.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Michigan Good Food Fund launches to promote access to healthy food throughout the state

Last week, dozens gathered at Shed 5 of Detroit's Eastern Market for the official launch of the Michigan Good Food Fund, a new public-private partnership loan and grant fund created to address lack of food access in rural and urban communities by supporting good food entrepreneurs across the state.
 
According to the Michigan Good Food Charter, good food is healthy, green (sustainable), fair (no one was exploiting during its creation), and affordable.
 
The fund meets two distinct needs for urban areas like Detroit: the need for healthy food access and the need to drive economic development within the local food supply chain, from cucumber farmers to jam makers, farm stands to grocery stores, processors to distributors, and any entity in between.
 
The fund is not only available for financing, but will provide technical assistance and counseling for businesses serving disadvantaged communities.
 
Clearly, the time is right for the Michigan Good Food Fund here in the Motor City. Detroit’s food scene has kept pace with the city’s burgeoning farm and garden movement. Detroit Food Lab has 140 members that participate in training and activities to help cultivate their individual food business start-ups. Between the city’s pop-up-shops-turned-restaurants, internationally envied urban gardens, and many small producers making big waves, the momentum is growing.
 
Yet, despite the growth and promise in farming and food production in Detroit, many of these high-quality fresh and processed goods don’t make it into low-income households.
 
What’s happening in Detroit is happening statewide. While Michigan is the second most agriculturally diverse state in the nation with food and agriculture contributing $101.2 billion annually to the state's economy, more than 1.8 million Michigan residents—including 300,000 children—live in lower-income communities with limited healthy food access. Wayne County has the highest food insecurity rate among U.S. counties, at 20.9 percent.
 
The lack of access to affordable and nutritious food has serious implications for the health of our children and families—more than 30 percent of Michiganders are obese, the second highest rate of obesity in the Midwest region. Communities of color are disproportionately impacted.
 
“The Michigan Good Food Fund will be an essential component of our work to provide accessible healthy food to everyone in Michigan, especially vulnerable communities,” said Oran Hesterman, Fair Food Network president and CEO. “The fund will also be an incredible opportunity for food entrepreneurs, harnessing capital, and growing strong, local economies.”
 
Fair Food Network and Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems will co-lead business assistance and pipeline development. Other core partners include the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and fund manager Capital Impact Partners.
 
Source: Meredith Freeman, program director at the Fair Food Network
Writer: Melinda Clynes, Michigan Kids project editor
 
This story is part of a series of solutions-focused stories and profiles about the programs and people that are positively impacting the lives of Michigan kids. The series is produced by Michigan Nightlight and is made possible with funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Read other stories in this series here.

Pop-ups and peplums: Trish's Garage makes its Detroit retail return

Ebony Rutherford's clothing store has popped back up in Detroit. Trish's Garage is celebrating its opening in the Grand River Workplace, a co-working space in Grandmont Rosedale. The clothing and accessory shop first popped up downtown in April and May 2014.

Trish's Garage sells clothing, jewelry, and accessories, much of which is Detroit-themed. Rutherford's specialty are her self-designed and -made peplums, tops with flares at the bottom meant to flatter women of all shapes and sizes.

The Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation opened Grand River Workplace in Oct. 2014. The co-working space also hosts pop-ups, the first having been Love. Travels. Imports., an artisanal crafts boutique. Trish's Garage will be open until the end of the year.

"Trish’s Garage is exactly the kind of home-grown, locally-owned business we would like to see more of in our community. It embodies the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit that are needed to bring new life to neighborhood business districts like Grand River," Tom Goddeeris, executive director of GRDC, says in a statement.

The store's first run as a pop-up occurred in the spring of 2014, after it was accepted into the D:Hive pop-up program. Rutherford went through that organization's Build Institute--which has since spun off as its own entity--learning business planning, pricing, and money management. She's also a graduate of the TechTown Retail Boot Camp, where she learned to identify customers' needs rather than stocking only what she wanted to sell. Now it's a pop-up in Grandmont Rosedale. She won a contest for the spot, one run by GRDC and REVOLVE Detroit.

Trish's Garage opened Saturday, June 20, and will operate out of the Grandmont Rosedale storefront every Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m until the end of the year.

The clothing and accessories shop is located at 19120 Grand River Ave.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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New $30M medical distribution center opens in New Center

After a couple of years of wrangling and another year of construction, Cardinal Health has opened a long-awaited distribution center in Detroit. It is the first part of a larger campus dreamed up by Henry Ford Health System, which hopes to drive over $500 million in development over roughly 300 acres south of Grand Boulevard, west of the Lodge Expressway, and north of Interstate 94. The new campus would be a mix of light industrial, residential, commercial, and green space.

The roughly 140 employees that worked at Cardinal Health's previous facility near Detroit Metro Airport are expected to relocate to the new facility. The company was lured to Detroit by Henry Ford Health System and the Detroit Medical Center as the two agreed to long-term distribution deals with the company in return for its moving to the city. Such a deal represents a long-term strategy for those anchor institutions as they take a broader role in development, looking to improve both their businesses and the neighborhoods in which they operate.

Cardinal Health is a $91 billion health care services company that offers pharmaceuticals and health care products. The distribution center's proximity to HFHS and DMC makes delivering such items to the hospitals that much more efficient, officials say.

"We're excited to have this beautiful building and these jobs in the city of Detroit," says Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

The building is a 275,000-square-foot distribution center built by KIRCO, the company that bought the site from HFHS and is the acting project developer. A steel manufacturing facility previously occupied the site, which presented environmental remediation challenges like contaminated soil and petroleum storage tanks buried in the earth.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Full disclosure: Henry Ford Health System and the Detroit Medical Center belong to a group of organizations that provide underwriting support to Model D's parent company Issue Media Group for its coverage of anchor institutions in Detroit.

Long-awaited Brightmoor Maker Space turns to crowdfunding

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation continues to roll on with its successful placemaking initiative, announcing yet another project targeted for funding through the Public Spaces Community Places program. This one, a long-hoped-for maker space in the Brightmoor neighborhood, has until July 10 to raise $25,000 through crowdfunding. If the campaign succeeds, MEDC will provide the space a matching grant of $25,000.

The Brightmoor Maker Space would transform a 3,200 square-foot building on the Detroit Community Schools campus into a space outfitted with equipment and tools for woodworking, metalworking, printmaking, rapid prototyping, and multimedia production. The campaign was organized by the Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan and its partners in Brightmoor, and the money raised for the project will be used to purchase tools, equipment, community resources, as well as for programming and the setting up of an organizational infrastructure.

"The Brightmoor Maker Space will provide a much-needed physical space to expand the impact of our ongoing arts programming in the Brightmoor community," says Gunalan Nadarajan, dean of the Stamps School.

In 2014, the Brightmoor Maker Space was the recipient of a two-year $100,000 matching grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation through its Knights Arts Challenge.

The Brightmoor Maker Space is the latest entry into the MEDC Public Spaces Community Places program. It is also one of five currently vying for crowdfunding, though two of those projects have already met their goals and ensured matching grants. Announced just a week ago, the It Takes a Village Garden at Votrobeck Playground in northwest Detroit has already met its $27,500 goal. Also successful is Mosaics in the Park, a Little League baseball diamond beautification project in nearby Stoepel Park.

House Opera | Opera House, a plan to convert an abandoned home near Clark Park into a performance and arts venue, is still attempting to reach its $10,000 goal by July 1. Also open is the Greenway Friendly Bus Stop, which has until June 26 to raise $10,000 in hopes of improving an oft-used bus stop on the city's east side.

Brightmoor Maker Space has until July 10 to raise the $25,000.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Massive I-94 modernization efforts to limit residential and commercial displacement, officials say

It's not a widening of Interstate 94 so much as it is a right-sizing, Michigan Department of Transportation officials said of their plans to update the aging freeway at a media round table on Monday, June 8, at the agency's Detroit Operations Service Center on Fort Street.

While the 6.7-mile-long modernization project stretching through the heart of Detroit will cause the displacement and demolition of some structures, MDOT officials say that the majority of the construction will occur within the existing footprint of the Interstate. Because I-94 is bounded by sloping mounds of earth, any lane additions will be accommodated by eliminating the landscaped hills in favor of vertical retaining walls similar to ones found along I-696.

Neighborhood residents and various organizations have been vocal in their concerns that efforts to widen I-94 will result in the displacement of residents and businesses. Officials insist that their goal is to minimize any displacement and keep as much of the construction within the Interstate's existing footprint as possible.

"We don't want to turn this into L.A., and we don't want to turn this into Atlanta," says MDOT communications specialist Rob Morosi, referencing the wide, sprawling freeways that characterize those cities.

Still, displacement will occur. According to officials, 16 residential structures and 18 commercial structures will be in the way of construction along the 6.7-mile stretch. One of those buildings is United Sound Systems Recording Studios, historic for its role in Detroit's musical legacy. Talks are currently underway to perhaps move or work around that building, officials say. Also at risk of removal are the Brooklyn Street pedestrian bridge over I-94 and the Canfield pedestrian bridge over the John C. Lodge Expressway.

The I-94 modernization project will span the 6.7 miles between I-96 and Norcross Street, which is just east of Conner Avenue. Planned improvements include the extension and improvement of on-ramps, the elimination of left-lane exits and entrances, and the re-building of a crumbling infrastructure, including overpasses that haven't received significant upgrades since being built as early as 1954. Estimated costs come in at nearly $1.9 billion in today's dollars. Construction of the modernization project's three phases will not be completed until 2036.

MDOT is hosting two open houses to present to and listen to feedback from the community. The first is from 9 to 11 a.m. and 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 14, at Cathedral Church of St. Paul at 4800 Woodward Ave. The second occurs from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 16, at Wayne County Community College Eastern Campus at 5901 Conner Ave.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Detroit groups raise funds for placemaking projects, from opera to sunflower living rooms

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation has added two more Detroit placemaking projects to its Public Spaces Community Places initiative. An events venue in southwest Detroit and a community garden in a northwest playground will receive sizable grants from the MEDC should each of them meet crowdfunding goals.

Several blocks west of Clark Park is 1620 Morrell St., an abandoned house stripped of much of its infrastructure. It's the focus of House Opera, an arts and performance group hoping to transform the derelict structure into a community space and venue called House Opera | Opera House.

House Opera is attempting to raise $10,000 through the Michigan-based crowdfunding site Patronicity. If successful, the arts and performance group will receive an additional $10,000 from the MEDC.

A huge transformation is planned for the building, including structural and roof repairs, a custom Tyvek wrap, and a 25-foot-high open stage. One of the events planned for the space is the inaugural Sigi Fest by Afrotopia.

House Opera has until July 1 to raise the $10,000.

On the city's northwest side, near the intersection of Seven Mile and Evergreen, is Votrobeck Playground. A number of organizations have banded together to form It Takes a Village Garden, which aims to raise $27,500 through crowdfunding in an attempt to receive a matching grant from the MEDC.

Among the many improvements planned for the park include a bioswale and rain garden, butterfly garden, gourd trellis, meadow maze, island hopping playground, and sunflower living room. The MEDC says that the project "supports families and seniors in their move towards improved health and economic independence." It's the final phase of a comprehensive neighborhood rehabilitation project in that neighborhood.

It Takes a Village Garden has until July 16 to raise the $27,500.

These two projects join two other Detroit-based Public Spaces Community Places initiatives currently ongoing in their crowdfunding efforts. The Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation is hoping to beautify its Little League baseball diamonds while the Detroit Eastside Community Collaborative attempts to raise funds necessary for making upgrades to a busy bus stop at Gratiot and Conner.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Small vineyard takes shape in old school on east side

Local land baron Dennis Kefallinos is getting back to his roots in his adopted home by planting a small vineyard deep in the Motor City’s east side.

The Bellevue Vineyard is rising in one of the playfields of an old Detroit Public Schools elementary school at 3100 Bellevue. The school had been closed and stripped several years ago before Kefallinos purchased it.

"This school has been pretty beaten up over the years," says Eric Novack, senior project manager of Boydell Development, which is owned by Kefallinos. "He said, 'We need to do something over there soon to activate it.'"

Kefallinos is one of the larger property owners in Detroit. He owns several downtown properties, such as the Michigan Theatre, and many others scattered throughout the city's neighborhoods like the Russell Industrial Center. He is known for owning several vacant commercial buildings across the city and redeveloping several others most people had given up on, turning them into lofts and affordable spaces for small businesses.

Kefallinos immigrated to America from Greece in the 1960s. He started off a dishwasher and worked his way into becoming one of the entrepreneurs behind the development in Greektown in the 1980s. The Bellevue Vineyard is a way for him to return to his ancestral roots.

"This is not foreign to him at all," Novack says. "He did this for a few years at farms before he came to the U.S."

Kefallinos and his team at Boydell Development planted 300 vines imported from Washington for Canadice, Reliance and Interlacken grapes. The vines are expected to take root over the next two years and be ready for harvesting by year three.

The Boydell Development team has tested the soil for toxins and found none. They tilled the soil and balanced its PH levels by adding compost.

"This is our test," Novack says. "We plan to do 300 vines. Dennis originally wanted to do more."

Source & Photos: Eric Novack, senior project manager of Boydell Development
Writer: Jon Zemke

 

Northwest Detroit Farmers Market returns to Grandmont Rosedale

It's farmers market season in the city of Detroit. The northwest side is celebrating the return of its own seasonal market Thursday, June 4.

Occurring from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Thursday through October 1, the Northwest Detroit Farmers Market takes place at the North Rosedale Park Community House in North Rosedale Park.

For the past 10 years, the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation has hosted the market.

"The Northwest Detroit Farmers Market is not just a place to buy fresh produce. It's also a place to meet your neighbors, learn a new recipe or do a craft with your kids," says GRDC executive director Tom Goddeeris. "It's a place where people come to feel connected to their community."

More than 15 produce and food vendors will be selling their goods at the market. The vendors come from all around southeast Michigan. Fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, dairy products, and baked goods will be among items sold. James Tate, District 1 city councilman, says the market addresses some of the challenges local residents face in accessing nutritious, fresh, and affordable food.

On opening day, June 4, the market will also play host to a number of events as it celebrates the start of market season. DMC Sinai-Grace will be on hand to offer free health screenings. A yoga class by Detroit Community Yoga will be offered from 6 to 7 p.m. Home Depot will be hosting a youth wood working workshop, free to attend. A perennial swap and a local artists market are also planned. The market is a part of Eastern Market's Detroit Community Markets program.

Organizers say that Northwest Detroit Farmers Market is the second most frequented farmers market in Detroit.

The North Rosedale Park Community House is located at 18445 Scarsdale St.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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6 Detroit groups win money and mentorship in contest to improve city's vibrancy, livability

Six Detroiters have been named 'City Champions' for their ideas on improving the city's vibrancy and livability. The six are among 25 young community leaders chosen for the prize by the nonprofit 8 80 Cities and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Each Detroiter will receive $5,000 for their project as well as training and support from professional mentors.

Chad Rochkind is one of the winners. Rochkind plans on using the $5,000 to build parklets and artful crosswalks throughout Corktown. The project is designed to beautify and increase walkability along Michigan Avenue. Kyle Bartell and his Sit On It Detroit project is also a winner of the contest. Bartell has been using reclaimed lumber to build and install public benches at various bus stops throughout the city.

Other winning bids include Cornetta Lane's Detroit Dialogues series, a monthly discussion group that aims to strengthen community and provide civic engagement activities. Ciarra Ross and her Heal Detroit program spread holistic wellness practices throughout the city. Orlando Bailey's C.O.D.E. on Mack is a community space on Mack Avenue that promotes "unity, creativity, and education for all." Block x Block, a website designed by Margarita Barry, has also won the prize. Barry's site, BlockxBlock.com, raises funds for neighborhood improvement projects by offering users a place to shop for products by local builders.

Emily Munroe is executive director of 8 80 Cities. She says that each of the winners have a "high level of creativity, passion, and a proven track record of community leadership."

Community leaders in the eight cities where Knight Foundation invests were solicited to submit applications back in April, which attracted over 150 presentations. After Detroit, the Knight cities include Akron, Ohio; Charlotte, NC; Macon, Ga.; Miami; Philadelphia; San Jose, Calif.; and St. Paul, Minn.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

May development news round-up: Brush Park, power washing the DIA, 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.

It took more than a year since an RFP was first issued at the beginning of 2014 but the city of Detroit has finally announced the winning development team tasked with revitalizing 8.4 acres in the historic Brush Park neighborhood. Brush Park Development Partners, LLC (including one Dan Gilbert) revealed their plans earlier this month, including 337 housing units. At least 20 percent of housing will be reserved as affordable housing. The development, mostly to be built from the ground up, includes the preservation and rehab of four historic mansions.

Speaking of historic rehabs, another Dan Gilbert property, downtown's Vinton Building, will soon see full press construction efforts as the Historic District Commission recently approved requests for a number of changes. The Albert Kahn-designed building is set to receive apartment conversions, repairs, a rooftop deck, and a pedestrian-friendly alley running behind it.

In city sports news, ideas for a new arena for professional soccer continue to be bandied about, including a possible Detroit riverfront location. Both Detroit City FC and the Michigan Bucks are looking to further establish their city presence. Further down the river, Canadian and American officials shook hands and agreed to name the new international border crossing planned for 2020 the Gordie Howe International Bridge.

Tom Gores, owner of the Auburn Hills-based Detroit Pistons basketball club, and his company Platinum Equity made a $50,000 donation to outfit the Belle Isle Bridge with LED light bulbs. In other beautification news, the exterior of the Detroit Institute of Arts is receiving a $100,000 power-wash, removing decades of dirt and grime accumulated since its 1927 opening. The white marble walls should be completed by fall.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Inside La Palma Mediterranean Cuisine's expensive Midtown expansion

La Palma Mediterranean Cuisine opened on the corner of John R and Canfield in Midtown near the end of 2012. Just a couple of years later and the restaurant has made significant upgrades to its physical space and services offered, resulting in nearly $500,000 in investment. Acquiring two recently-vacant adjacent storefronts, the restaurant has knocked down the walls in between the spaces, growing from 1,600 to 3,000 square feet.

The expanded kitchen and dining room debuted this past January. With it came a new menu, one that saw the addition of hamburgers, wraps, and quesadillas to the more traditional Mediterranean fare already offered. A breakfast menu debuts this week, one accompanied by longer hours of operation. Before, La Palma opened for lunch at 10:30 a.m. The restaurant will now be open for breakfast at 7:30 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

La Palma co-owner Adam Mahdawiyan has overseen the upgrades, each a response to his customer base. Mahdawiyan estimates that 70 to 80 percent of his customers are repeat customers, and the majority of those are coming from one of the several hospitals nearby. Around half of his business comes from catering, he says, and the expanded kitchen helps greatly with that. The larger dining area is a boon, too, offering a more comfortable dining experience throughout the day. Much care has been put into the molded wood ceilings and herringbone-arranged floor boards.

"A lot of people, when they come, they have that 'wow' effect," says Mahdawiyan. "We've spent a lot of money on the interior and décor. A lot of them are shocked."

Including more American menu items, like hamburgers, was a direct response to a demand Mahdawiyan saw. The recent addition of breakfast fills a large gap in nearby dining options. Other additions include Caribou Coffee, Mighty Leaf organic tea, freshly squeezed juice, and fruit smoothies.

One thing that hasn't changed is the quality of food. La Palma still uses fresh ingredients bought from nearby Eastern Market vendors. The food is prepared by hand every day. The kitchen operates under halal guidelines and is one of the cleanest commercial kitchens this writer has ever seen.

La Palma Mediterranean Cuisine is located at 113 E. Canfield St.

Source: Adam Mahdawiyan, co-owner of La Palma Mediterranean Cuisine
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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New management company seeks to improve historic Virginia Park shopping center

With its grocery store, dollar store, and Chinese food restaurant, the Virginia Park Shopping Plaza seems pretty typical for a strip mall. Set far back from Rosa Parks Boulevard behind a sea of parking, the shopping center looks like it could be found just about anywhere. Most of the storefronts are occupied and just three remain vacant.

Virginia Park Shopping Plaza isn't your typical strip mall, however. Built in the 1960s, the 72,000-square-foot shopping center was dreamed up by a group of Virginia Park residents who wanted to create positive change in their neighborhood after the civil unrest of 1967. Residents formed a nonprofit, Virginia Park Community Investment Associates, Inc. (VPCIA), which built the shopping center and owns Virginia Park Shopping Plaza to this day.

A new push to re-energize the shopping center is being made as VPCIA has hired Beal Properties to manage the site. Beal manages commercial and residential properties in Detroit, Ypsilanti, and Ann Arbor.

"This is our first shopping center, first grocery store-based situation," says Stewart Beal, president of Beal Properties. "But the key to property management is to be responsive to needs, no matter the property."

Beal took over management duties May 1 and will complete the first round of capital improvements within the first 90 days. Re-striping the parking lot, making signage improvements, and getting the vacant spaces presentable are among the first priorities. Putting pressure on DTE Energy to fix a large hole behind the building is also among Beal's chief concerns.

For the three vacant suites, Beal hopes to find a small Subway-like restaurant franchise, a larger restaurant to fill what used to be a Ponderosa Steakhouse location, and a local or regional pet food shop.

Virginia Park Shopping Plaza is located at 8665 - 8671 Rosa Parks Blvd.

Source: Stewart Beal, president of Beal Properties
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Corktown Farmers Market to celebrate grand opening May 21

Following a successful soft opening, the Corktown Farmers Market is celebrating its official grand opening from 4 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 21. The market is adjacent to the Detroit Institute of Bagels, on the corner of the Lodge service drive and Michigan Avenue.

The bagel shop, a finalist during the 2011 Hatch Detroit Contest, was recently the recipient of a grant from the Hatch Detroit Alumni Program, funded in partnership with the Detroit Lions. That grant was used to fund the construction of the newly completed patio that the Corktown Farmers Market will utilize.

"It’s a neighborhood market for people who want local produce and a great place to bump into friends while eating outside at Detroit Institute of Bagels, PJ’s Lager House, or Brooklyn Street Local. It’s also really convenient for folks commuting home from downtown," says Greg Willerer of Brother Nature Produce, one of the market partners.

So far there are 16 vendors signed up for the market, ranging from local food-producing gardens to well-established restaurants. Vendors include ACRE, Brother Nature Produce, Detroit Institute of Bagels, the Blu Kitchen, Brooklyn Street Local, Detroit Food Academy, Detroit Marshmallow Co., Food Field, Fresh Cut Flower Farm, Gold Cash Gold, Jane's Soups and Chili, Labrosse Farm, Motor City Soap, Rising Pheasant Farms, St. Gall, and What Up Dough.

Many of the vendors are based in either Corktown or North Corktown. Organizers are hailing the market as a return of farm fresh produce to Corktown. It's near the old Western Market location, bulldozed 50 years ago to make way for the Fisher Freeway.

Detroit Institute of Bagels is located at 1236 Michigan Ave. The Corktown Farmers Market occurs every Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. and runs through October.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Nortown community fights to save historic farmhouse, receives demolition deferment

Efforts to stop the demolition of one of the Nortown neighborhood's most architecturally and historically significant buildings have been successful, at least for now. The Norris House, built by one of Detroit's most notable 19th century residents, has been spared the wrecking ball as the city's Public Health and Safety Committee deferred its demolition at its meeting Monday, May 11. While there is more work to be done, including better securing the property, meeting with the Historic District Commission, and launching a fundraising campaign, organizers are so far emboldened by the results of their efforts.

Reportedly abandoned since the early 1990s and once the target of arson, the Norris House has remained largely intact. The Victorian farmhouse was built in the early 1870s by Col. Philetus Norris, a Civil War veteran who cleared the land around what is now 17815 Mt. Elliot St. In addition to being credited for bringing business and infrastructure to the area, including streets and the railroad, Norris built the Two Way Inn, the oldest bar still operating in the city of Detroit.

After Norris established then-Prairie Town, neighbors began calling the area Norris Town, which evolved into Nortown before being annexed by the city of Detroit. Norris himself would move on to become the second superintendent of Yellowstone National Park, where he played a role in exploring, documenting, mapping, and establishing the park.

While the Nortown Community Development Corporation has owned the Norris House for a couple of years now, preservation efforts have kicked into high gear since recently finding out that the house was on the demolition list. Michelle Lyons, a member of the restoration committee, credits Nortown CDC executive director Pat Bosch for working tirelessly to save the building.

Still, many issues stand in between preservationists and the preservation of the Norris House. While the house is no longer in immediate danger of demolition, that doesn't mean it couldn't reappear on the demolition list in the future. Fundraising will be necessary to shore up structural issues before it can be turned into the neighborhood asset the CDC hopes it can become. Given the legacy of Norris, organizers desire to one day re-open the house as a National Parks interpretive center. Now it's up to them to convince the city that such a transformation is possible.

"It could take years to get this building back and going," says Lyons. "We just want to make sure it's still around to do so."

Source: Michelle Lyons, member of the Norris House restoration committee
Photo: Jen Lyons via ProhibitionDetroit.com
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Interactive art labyrinth opens in New Center

A collaboration of local artists, businesses, and volunteers has culminated in the opening of MONOMYTH in the Lincoln Street Art Park and Sculpture Garden in Detroit's New Center area.

Though the celebration reception won't occur until Wednesday, May 20, MONOMYTH opened to the public May 3. The elaborate art installation runs through June 13.

Drawing inspiration from Joseph Campbell's monomyth theory, which maps the typical path of the hero's journey found in mythology both classic and modern, MONOMYTH is an interactive labyrinth, inviting visitors to answer a call to adventure which will result in a prize at the end of the journey. Along the way, visitors will interact with a series of sculptures and structures.

Among the contributing artists include Joe Lapham, DVS, Stephanie May, Sicilily Amaris Raven, Monique Pettway, Linden (formerly exhibiting as Lindsey Harnish), Mike Ross, John Finazzo, Terri Light, JoJo Smedo, and Alana Carlson.

"We experience so many things in our daily lives that feel epic, but we so rarely feel like heroes," says artist and project director Linden. "MONOMYTH is an effort to give anyone the opportunity to experience a heroic journey and encounter challenges in an abstract way that might give new light and meaning to their personal challenges."

According to the artists, visitors will follow a path that leads them through instances of love, temptation, and death.

Detroit businesses Recycle Here Detroit, Anew Life Prosthetics, and New Aeon Painting provided materials for MONOMYTH. Money was raised through a fundraiser at New Center establishment Zenith Restaurant, as well as through a GoFundMe campaign.

Lincoln Street Art Park and Sculpture Garden itself is located adjacent to Recycle Here Detroit. The park has hosted numerous art installations since its 2011 inception.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Eastern Market: Newly renovated Shed 5 sets standard for regional food hubs

On Saturday, May 2, local dignitaries and Eastern Market Corporation officials gathered to celebrate the unveiling of Eastern Market Shed 5 in all its renovated glory. After Detroit mayor Mike Duggan and Sen. Debbie Stabenow took part in the pageantry of the ribbon-cutting ceremony, market-goers explored the renovated shed while Shed 5 vendors saw their patience rewarded.

Shed 5 stayed open and was host to its usual vendors during its three-year renovation. For all the dust and inconveniences vendors weathered during the various rounds of construction, the improvements made to Shed 5 should prove worth it.

The shed was built in 1981 and had seen few improvements since. Because of the recent renovations, Eastern Market Corporation believes that Shed 5 sets a new standard for regional food hubs.

"Shed 5 was functional before the renovations, but now we can really brag about the shed," says Caroline Glidewell-Hoos, marketing and communications manager for Eastern Market Corporation. "For one thing, it will increase attendance in the winter. A lot of people don't realize we're open year-round and now we have a heated indoor shed."

Shed 5 floors are now heated and its doors are reinforced and better suited for keeping the heat in during cold-weather months.

Adding to the Shed 5 experience is the DTE Energy Foundation Plaza. The newly-landscaped public outdoor space on the Russell Street side of the shed will feature special events and entertainment and likely food trucks and other vendors. Also new to Shed 5 is the Kid Rock Kitchen Commons, a large room dedicated for meeting space that can be rented for parties, exercise classes, and other uses. Green Collar Foods has installed a vertical indoor growing system.

One of the biggest additions to Shed 5 is the community kitchen. It's a fully licensed commercial-grade kitchen available to small food businesses and entrepreneurs. The facilities will allow Detroit Kitchen Connect, a group that connects local entrepreneurs with its network of kitchens, to increase capacity and accept more small businesses into its program. A number of Eastern Market vendors, including Chez Chloe and Five Star Cake Company, have come through the Detroit Kitchen Connect program.

Eastern Market Corporation funded the $8.5 million renovations by way of a number of contributors that include the city of Detroit, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the New Economy Initiative, DTE Energy Foundation, WK Kellogg Foundation, Kresge Foundation, JPMorgan Chase Foundation, and Whole Foods Market.

Source: Caroline Glidewell-Hoos, marketing and communications manager for Eastern Market Corporation
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Baseball, buses, and the latest Detroit neighborhood improvement efforts

Two Detroit community groups have turned to crowdfunding to improve the neighborhoods that they represent. A Grandmont Rosedale park and an eastside bus stop are the targeted projects. In both cases, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation has pledged to provide each successful crowdfunding campaign with a matching grant.

Launched May 5, the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation hopes to raise $13,000 as it seeks to beautify Stoepel Park No. 1. It plans on doing so through the creation of seven murals of mosaic tilework in Stoepel Park No. 1. The park is home to a vibrant baseball Little League and each mosaic will cover one of the dugouts there.

Detroit artist Hubert Massey made one such mosaic in 2014, and now the GRDC plans on working with Massey to create seven more over the course of one weekend in July. More than 180 youth volunteers have committed to assisting Massey in installing the 1,400 sq. ft. worth of mosaic art.

The GRDC has until June 19 to raise the $13,000.

Also launched is a campaign to raise $10,000 to makeover an oft-used bus stop on the city's eastside. MEDC has agreed to provide a $10,000 matching grant to the Detroit Eastside Community Collaborative (DECC) if they're able to reach their goal.

Organizers say the bus stop at Gratiot and Connor is used by thousands each year, despite it being nothing more than a plot of unkempt grass. DECC hopes to use the money to install a new walkway, bench, and trash receptacle. They also plan to plant low-maintenance landscaping elements including trees, flowering shrubs, buffalo juniper, and switchgrass.

The DECC has until June 5 to raise the $10,000.

Each project must raise all of their funding goals to receive the MEDC grants. The grants are part of the Public Spaces Community Places initiative, which has awarded similar grants to successful crowdfunding campaigns in the past that include a green alley and an arts district. A campaign to improve Hamtramck's Pope Park is also currently under way.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Grandmont Rosedale bookstore to celebrate grand opening on Independent Bookstore Day

Finding a permanent location for her bookstore hasn't been the easiest thing Susan Murphy has ever done. Now that Pages Bookshop has found a home on Grand River Avenue, however, Murphy can focus on establishing her business as a community hub for both the neighborhood and the region's literary set.

Pages Bookshop, located at 19560 Grand River Ave. in the Detroit's Grandmont Rosedale neighborhood, is celebrating its new location with a grand opening party on Saturday, May 2. The event is free and open to the public.

After nearly two years of bouncing between different pop-up locations and touring a number of less-than-suitable storefronts, Murphy connected with the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation, which set her up with 19560 Grand River. Murphy has been busy painting and focusing on creating a welcoming environment, one with reading nooks and tables and chairs. She says that sometimes bookstores can seem intimidating and it's her goal to make Pages a place where people can walk in and immediately be comfortable.

"Reading made a big difference in my life. Even though reading can be a solitary experience, ideas and books can bring communities together," says Murphy. "I hope this becomes more than a bookshop."

In addition to the new fiction, non-fiction, and local books she carries, Murphy hopes to draw people to Pages through author readings and other events. She's been working with local literary groups 826 Michigan and Wayne State University Press. Murphy has also been reaching out to a number of publishers, hoping to establish Detroit as a destination for touring authors.

On Thursday, April 30, she hosted one such author, Angela Flournoy.

The grand opening celebration occurs Saturday, when, beginning at 10 a.m., Pages will officially open its doors to the public with raffles, food, wine, appearances and readings by three authors, and a performance from local bluesman Luther "Badman" Keith. Saturday is also Independent Bookstore Day, in which Pages will be taking part. That nationwide event celebrates independent bookstores by offering books published exclusively for the occasion.

Pages Bookshop officially opens at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 2.

Source: Susan Murphy, owner of Pages Bookshop
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Detroit native brings high-end leather goods to Midtown

Ever since Tom Boy Market closed last October, it's been no secret that the Midtown business would be replaced with retail more on the level with high-end shops like Shinola and Willy's than its modest grocer past. What was a secret, however, was just what type of retail that would be. That has all changed as it's been announced that Will Leather Goods will open a retail location in the 9,000 sq. ft. space at 4120 Second Ave.

Will Leather Goods offers hand-crafted leather belts, bags, footwear, wallets, and many more accessories and housewares. The company says the opportunity to re-imagine the old Tom Boy Market aligns with their "what-was-old-is-now-new" philosophy.

Scheduled to open September 1, 2015, the Detroit location will be the eighth Will Leather Goods retail store. Other locations include shops in Venice Beach, Calif.; Portland, Oregon; Eugene, Oregon; San Francisco; and New York City. The company, now based out of Eugene, started as a belt vendor on the Venice Beach boardwalk in 1981. William Adler, the founder and creative director for Will Leather, is a Detroit native.

"Detroit is the perfect backdrop to bring together my past, the present, and future of Will Leather Goods," says Adler. "The city is a metropolis of creativity firmly rooted in America's history and we're delighted to be part of the growth of Midtown."

Midtown Detroit, Inc. (MDI) was instrumental in bringing the brand to Detroit, says the company. Sue Mosey, executive director of MDI, characterizes the brand as friendly and approachable, making it sure to "resonate with members of the Detroit community."

Will Leather has tapped Detroit-based McIntosh Poris Associates to be lead architects in the redesign of 4120 Second Ave.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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April 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.

The first of the month saw the news that DuCharme Place, a $42 million, 185-apartment unit development across from Lafayette Park, will begin construction June 11. News about the development had been quiet ever since we first reported it in July 2014, but it appears things are back on track after missing an original groundbreaking target date last fall.

McIntosh Poris Associates and long-time developer Walter Cohen have been working on the DuCharme Place development since 2004. That development team is also responsible for the Foundation Hotel, a boutique hotel planned for the old Detroit Fire Department Headquarters downtown. In an article detailing the recent boom in Detroit hotel development, the Free Press reports that the Foundation Hotel could begin construction within 90 days. The possible Wurlitzer Building redevelopment is also mentioned.

In other long-delayed project news, the shipping container housing development has finally begun construction. Leslie Horn of Three Squared, Inc. spoke with the Detroit News earlier this month as she celebrated the three-story building. The apartments at Trumbull and Pine streets in North Corktown will demonstrate the shipping container-style apartment living set for larger developments in Midtown and North Corktown. Financing and land-purchasing woes slowed down the project.

The historic Brewster Wheeler Recreation Center is, unlike its sister residential towers, being spared the wrecking ball. The city recently announced a $50 million development which would convert the famous rec center into a community center with offices and a restaurant. Joe Louis once trained at the Brewster Wheeler gym. A 100- to 150-unit apartment complex will be built across from Brewster Wheeler.

Jefferson Avenue is set to receive a bit of a "road diet" as it will shrink from seven lanes to four, between Lakewood Street and Alter Road, with the addition of landscaped islands and buffered parking lanes.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Photo by Matthew Lewis.

Pop-ups, bike racks, and daffodils: Placemaking on Springwells Street

In "placemaking," a trendy word for creating environments friendly to community activities and human pursuits, sometimes the final product is less important than the acts themselves. Yes, the 6,500 tulips and daffodils planted along Springwells Street and poised for their spring arrival should make the street sing. Murals, painted last year by groups of young people from the neighborhood and with permission and input from property owners, have helped the community express its character. And a new pocket park-- nicknamed  People's Park by area residents -- gives neighbors a place to gather and enjoy the ice cream from Family Treats that they've been buying for decades.

Flowers, public art, reclaimed and reactivated abandoned lots -- all great things and all recent placemaking initiatives organized and executed by Urban Neighborhood Initiatives, a community nonprofit that focuses on the neighborhood of Springwells Village. They, along with community partners like the Southwest Detroit Business Association and the Springdale-Woodmere Block Club, have worked to accomplish some pretty effective placemaking goals.

But as Community Development Manager Tiffany Tononi talks about the different programs, what's clear is that when neighbors see each other on the street, planting tulip bulbs or clearing a trash-strewn lot, the ensuing conversations on the sidewalk are just as important as the end result. That's what makes a place, when neighbors are engaged with each other as much as they are the physical neighborhood.

Tononi says UNI has focused so much of its efforts on Springwells Street because it hasn't received the same sort of attention as the other main drag in the neighborhood, Vernor Highway. While business owners on Vernor recently celebrated new streetlights, Springwells Street businesses weren't so fortunate. The placemaking programming of the last few years has been a way for UNI to brighten up the street without the millions of dollars in fundraising it takes for something like the Vernor streetlight program.

"We want to shore up the edges while Vernor gets all the attention," says Tononi. "This business community is extremely important and the more we can support their everyday investment, the better."

It's not just beautification projects that UNI has organized. They've been gathering people into "cash mobs," where people meet at a different neighborhood bar every month, supporting local businesses and introducing each other to new people and places.

UNI is working with one of those corner bars, Revolution Lounge, to host a weekly pop-up dinner series. This May and June, Revolution will host a rotation of three chefs for a different dining experience every Sunday. Two of the three chefs, Esteban Castro of Esto's Garage at Cafe D'Mongo's and Luiz Garza of El Asador, grew up in the Springwells neighborhood.

Work on the pocket park continues, including the recent installation of four benches. Two bike racks will soon be installed on the street. UNI is also the group behind Southwest Rides, a bike shop and community space that offers education and employment programming to young people in the neighborhood.

Source: Tiffany Tononi, Community Development Manager at Urban Neighborhood Initiatives
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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New Baltimore Street lofts coming to Milwaukee Junction

If all goes as planned, an old warehouse in the city's Milwaukee Junction area will be converted into 12 lofts and available to rent come fall. Developers Edward Siegel and James Feagin have tapped Detroit-based Kraemer Design Group to help design the transformation of 207 E. Baltimore St.

Built in 1914, the building was most recently a warehouse, though vacant of any businesses by the time Siegel and Feagin's 207 East Baltimore, LLC purchased the building in the 2012 tax foreclosure auction. Significant construction work is to take place over the summer as portions of the badly damaged roof have to be replaced, interior demolition occurs, and a second floor is built over part of the building, all resulting in over 10,000 square feet of residential space.

The 12 lofts are being deemed live/work units, meaning that design of the units will incorporate workspaces into each loft. Siegel says its a nod to the building's manufacturing past.

"This seems to be an over-looked area," says Siegel. "It's in a good location in relation to the M-1 Rail construction and the state of the building allows us to have total control of the space."

Siegel and Feagin also own an empty lot across the street where they plan to build an as-yet-to-be-determined development. Siegel says they're thinking mixed-use, which would require a zoning change from the city. The developers are also involved in an art park nearby.

The 207 E. Baltimore development has received a number of financial incentives from the city and state. According to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the nearly $1.8 million development is receiving a $225,000 Michigan Community Revitalization Program performance-based grant. The city of Detroit has granted 207 East Baltimore, LLC a 12-year Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act tax abatement valued at $277,200.

Source: Edward Siegel and James Feagin, partners of 207 East Baltimore, LLC
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Hamtramck's 'Pope Park' subject of crowdfunding campaign

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation has gotten involved in another of its crowdfunding-matching grants, this time in the city of Hamtramck. Karol Wojtyla Pope Park is the target, a pocket park on one of the city's main commercial drags, Joseph Campau Street. The park was built in 1982 to honor the then-pope. Karol Wojtyla served as pope under the name John Paul II from 1978 until his death in 2005.

Over $100,000 in improvements are planned for the park. Nearly half of that would come from this crowdfunding-matching grant hybrid. If the park can raise its goal of $25,000 via crowdfunding by June 1, the MEDC will contribute a $25,000 matching grant.

Organizers say that the park is underutilized and in need of repairs and upgrades to make it more accessible and valuable to the community. Among the upgrades, they hope to enhance lighting, improve the grounds, add seating and landscaping, and repair the mural. In addition to being a more utilized everyday park, organizers say that the upgrades will also encourage formal activities like Polish Mass and adorations.

One way organizers hope to make the park more accessible is by removing the tall fence which separates the park from the sidewalk.

Kathy Angerer, director of Community and Economic Development for the City of Hamtramck, says, "Pope Park is a destination for people not only in the region, but from all over the world and is of historical importance to Hamtramck. The whole city is excited about the project to restore, enhance, maintain, and beautify Pope Park."

This is another in a series of crowdfunding-matching grants for the MEDC, which has previously helped fund a green alley in Midtown and an arts district in the Grand River Creative Corridor. The crowdfunding campaign is an all-or-nothing campaign, meaning that if the Pope Park project does not reach $25,000 by June 1, it won't receive any of the money and whatever money was pledged to the park will be refunded.

Karol Wojtyla Pope Park is located at 10037 Joseph Campau.

View the crowdfunding campaign here.

Source: Michigan Economic Development Corporation
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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2015 will be 'banner year' for M-1 Rail construction, work on Campus Martius section to begin soon

Construction will begin on the Campus Martius portion of the 3.3 mile-long M-1 Rail project Monday, April 20, and is expected to end in October. These were among a number of details revealed during an hour-long meeting with M-1 Rail Chief Operating Officer Paul Childs Thursday morning.

Though he characterized it as a world-class park, Campus Martius is going to present a number of challenges to M-1 Rail work crews, says Childs. Tight spaces, nearby underground parking garages, and a "park at a funny angle" all contribute to a methodical four-phase construction process. Still, M-1 has no plans to shut down public access to the park at any point.

The traffic loop around Campus Martius will also remain open. The only complete road shutdowns throughout the process will be due to the track terminus south of the park. Because of the installation of a custom-made track required at the end of the line, M-1 Rail crews will shut down Congress Street for a ten- to twelve-day period.

Moving north past Campus Martius, Childs announced M-DOT's plans for two to three mid-block crossings to be installed in the Midtown area. Pedestrians attempting to cross the nine lanes of Woodward between traffic signals will have a couple of "pedestrian refuges" to stop and wait while oncoming traffic clears. Just how these mid-block crossings will look remains vague.

Utility work and track installation will continue up Woodward throughout the year. The reconstruction of the I-75 and I-94 overpasses should be completed by the end of 2015. Childs described the 2015 construction schedule as aggressive, though exact dates are hard to come by. There's always a tension, he says, between a desire for exact dates and more realistic but general completion times. "There are so many dependables that you can't give dates until the next phase is completed."

The M-1 Rail is still on track to open in late 2016. The Penske Tech Center, where train cars will be serviced and M-1 will be headquartered, could be complete as soon as the end of 2015.

Source: Paul Childs, M-1 Rail Chief Operating Officer
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Restaurant and bike shop to join tattoo parlor and beer store in old Chinatown building

Ever since moving to Detroit in 2003, Matt Hessler has wanted to open a tattoo parlor in the city. Come mid-June, he will be doing just that. Once construction wraps up on 3401 Cass Ave., Hessler will open Iconic Tattoo, a sister shop to another parlor he owns in Rochester.

The custom tattoo and body piercing shop will occupy the corner space in a building Hessler purchased last year on the corner of Cass and Peterboro in what was known, at least for a few decades, as Detroit's Chinatown. Three more businesses have already claimed the remaining space in the 9,000-square-foot building.

Dave Kwiatkowski and Mark Djozlija of Sugar House- and Wright & Company-fame will be opening a restaurant with Asian-inspired fare called the Peterboro, says Hessler. Downtown Detroit Bike Shop will also occupy a storefront on the Peterboro side of the building. 8° Plato Beer Company Detroit, a craft beer store, will face Cass Avenue, as previously reported.

Expect the tattoo shop to open first and the bike and beer stores to follow. The restaurant, which will have to build its kitchen after work on the building is completed in June, will take longer to open. Crews are currently replacing the long-compromised roof, which was the source of a considerable amount of water damage to various parts of the building. Despite the damage, Hessler says the bones of the building remained strong and even two-thirds of the terrazzo floors were salvageable.

One of the biggest changes neighbors and passers-by can expect will be Hessler removing the wood paneling and other materials obstructing storefront windows. He plans on restoring the large windows to something closer to their 1920s origins.

"The building will be all bricks and glass again," says Hessler. "Open light and big windows are essential for public buildings. It needs to feel more inviting."

After the Lodge Freeway displaced the original Chinatown in the 1960s, many of the businesses were moved to the area around Peterboro and Cass. 3401 Cass featured a number of these businesses, including the Wah Lee grocery store. In re-storing the building, Hessler has found a number of interesting things leftover from previous tenants, including a Chinese puppet theater, which he plans to re-purpose.

Hessler has enlisted the help of a Shanghai-native now living in metro Detroit to translate much of what he has found. She's also helping him to restore the multi-sided Chinatown sign still on the corner of Peterboro and Cass. They've found an artist skilled in Chinese characters to make pieces similar to what was found on the original signs, including greetings, Chinese blessings, and things about the city.

Source: Matt Hessler, owner of 3401 Cass Ave., Iconic Tattoo
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Jolly Pumpkin Pizzeria & Brewery celebrates Midtown opening

This past weekend, the stretch of Canfield Street between Second and Cass celebrated the opening of its third brewery, making the Midtown block an easy destination for fans of craft beer. Newcomer Jolly Pumpkin Pizzeria & Brewery joins the well-established Traffic Jam & Snug and Motor City Brewing Works on Canfield. A strong beer and food neighborhood just got stronger.

Located at 441 W. Canfield, the pizzeria and brewery is the fourth location for the Jolly Pumpkin brand, which is based out of Dexter, Mich. and has locations in Ann Arbor and Traverse City. While most of the company's beer is brewed at the main Dexter facility, representatives say that a small brewing operation will produce beer at the Detroit location.

The Detroit Jolly Pumpkin is styled differently from the other locations, says partner and co-founder Jon Carlson. "The biggest waste in brewing are the wooden pallets. We're using reclaimed pallet boards everywhere." A long bar lines the west end of the 5,000-square-foot restaurant while communal dining-style picnic tables take up most of the floor space. Large windows face the sidewalk to the north. Reclaimed pallet boards cover the walls.

The kitchen offers signature pizzas with fresh, local ingredients, including dough hand-crafted by the nearby Avalon International Breads bakery. Other Michigan businesses tapped by the company include the Brinery, Guernsey Dairy, and McClure's Pickles. Soups and salads round out the menu.

Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales was launched in 2004, becoming the first craft beer brand to concentrate solely on sour ales. Of the 32 taps at the Detroit location, roughly half offer the wide range of sour ales developed by the company. The other half feature another Michigan-based brewery, North Peak Brewing Company, which offers a more traditionally-varied selection of different kinds of beers. Jolly Pumpkin co-founder and master brewer Ron Jeffries is also a collaborator of the North Peak line.

Source: Jolly Pumpkin Pizzeria & Brewery and Jon Carlson, partner and co-founder
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Royal Oak's Black the Salon to open second location in Corktown

Six years after opening Black the Salon in Royal Oak, founder Jeph Wright is opening a second location, this time in Corktown. Work is underway on the storefront at 2117 Michigan Ave., where Wright plans to offer the same range of services as his Royal Oak salon. While nothing is set, he estimates a June 12 opening in Corktown, the same date the first Black the Salon opened in 2009.

After looking at a Midtown location roughly two years ago, Wright backed out. While he liked the idea of expanding to Detroit--a natural progression, he says--Wright was in no hurry with an already busy and successful salon in Royal Oak. But with the Corktown building's owner being a client and the nearby Sugar House proprietor Dave Kwiatkowski being an associate through shared motorcycle interests, it was only a matter of time before Wright was convinced that Corktown was the spot.

"My salon better fits Corktown than Midtown. We're more rock and roll," says Wright. "My brand is about being on the forefront and that's what Corktown is."

Now that he's signed the lease to 2117 Michigan Ave., Wright is itching to open. The building itself is receiving quite the makeover, including better exposing the storefront with big factory windows that open up to the street. It's an old after hours party spot that was pretty beat up, says Wright. Once renovated, it will host Black the Salon on one end and Metropolis Cycles on the other.

By offering the same experience as his Royal Oak location, Wright says that Black the Salon will satisfy a huge demand for style in Detroit. "We're bringing it down to the city. You won't have to hop in a car and ride to the 'burbs anymore."

Source: Jeph Wright, owner of Black the Salon
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Venture capital competition will offer $120k in prizes to local minority-owned businesses

An event designed to connect minority-owned businesses with venture capital will make its Detroit debut next week. Occurring April 13-15, PowerMoves@Detroit will offer $120,000 in direct prizes in addition to exposure and networking opportunities. Local business owners will compete with entrepreneurs from across the country in a series of venture capital-style pitch events. Attendance to events at the Detroit Athletic Club, Garden Theater, and One Detroit are open to the public through an online registration system.

PowerMoves began in New Orleans, where it was founded by current Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC) CEO Rodrick Miller. The event is sponsored by Morgan Stanley and is hosted by the DEGC and Invest Detroit.

Events include training sessions, a panel discussion focused on startups and exit strategies, two back-to-back pitch events with cash prizes, and a final pitch event featuring 15 early-stage entrepreneurs, also with cash prizes.

"With all the enthusiasm for entrepreneurs in Detroit and our city’s great legacy for providing opportunities for African Americans, this seemed like the perfect time and place for PowerMoves@Detroit," Miller says in a statement. "This event fills an important niche in the broad spectrum of activities that DEGC undertakes to support small business in Detroit."

The event will feature a number of minority-owned businesses from the Detroit region as well as New York, Boston, and San Francisco. Mayor Mike Duggan believes that not only will it provide Detroiters a pathway to venture capital, it will also expose minority-owned businesses from other parts of the country to opportunities available in the city of Detroit.

Local representatives include Jerry Rucker and Edward Carrington of Warranty Ninja, Terreance Reeves of Networkingout, and Dana White of Paralee Boyd Salon.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Corktown Inn to become 'Trumbull & Porter' as details and renderings emerge for boutique hotel rehab


Detroit firm Patrick Thompson Design (PTD) has been tapped for a full-concept overhaul of the old Corktown Inn. Construction will begin early- to mid-summer on what's being re-branded as Trumbull & Porter, a 144-room boutique hotel that originally opened in 1966 as a Holiday Inn. The new rooms and lobby could debut as soon as this fall and a restaurant will eventually follow. Corktown Hotel, LLC purchased the hotel in the fall of 2014 and Access Hospitality is acting as both developer and management company for the property.

Thompson says that the designs his team developed will offer a boutique hotel experience at a relatively modest price. With five distinct room types and a different experience for each, they will range from $129 to $189 once the re-design is complete. Suites will start at $199.

The name Trumbull & Porter, says Thompson, is a nod to the area's industrial influence, where truckers and dispatchers are always giving each other directions by listing intersections.

"The goal is to create a beautiful, functioning space where locals and travelers want to be," says Thompson. "There are so many improvements coming, it's going to become a destination."

Everything will be torn out and stripped to the original concrete floors and ceilings where PTD will start from scratch. Thompson says the rooms will be "eclectic but collected," clean and modern with custom-designed beds, furniture, and lighting. Things won't be in-your-face Detroit, but still inspired and rooted in local history. PTD is working with local artisans like Detroit Wood Type Co. to help outfit the rooms. End-of-hall lounges are planned as well as a brand new fitness center. A completely re-designed lobby will feature a morning coffee shop that transitions to a lobby bar at night.

A restaurant and retail space are also planned. The restaurant opens up to an outdoor courtyard, one that PTD hopes will be as much for the neighborhood as it is for hotel guests. It will be equal parts picnic area and outdoor lounge, says Thompson, including fire pits and tables among other planned amenities. The exterior, too, will receive significant upgrades, including a charcoal paint job, a large exterior mural, and a landscaping overhaul.

"Our plan is to create spaces to engage the community and add to value to the businesses in the area like St. Cece's and Batch Brewing," says Thompson. "We are planning on collaborating when possible with local retailers, artisans, and craftsmen to be sure the hotel and its spaces reflect an honest version of Detroit and what it has to offer to the world."

Patrick Thompson Design, currently a five-person firm, is in the middle of the schematic design phase, and drawings are being completed to go to bid. The renderings have already been approved by the ownership group.

After the Holiday Inn closed, the hotel operated for more than two decades as the Corktown Inn. That run developed a certain reputation over the years with its three-hour room rentals and underwear vending machine. Access Hospitality began making changes last year and has since cleaned up the hotel, getting rid of the old Inn's rather infamous amenities while also enacting a no-smoking policy. The hotel is currently open for business.

Source: Patrick Thompson, creative director at Patrick Thompson Design
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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NOTE: An earlier version of this story listed Access Hospitality as the owner of the hotel. Corktown Hotel, LLC, purchased the hotel and Access Hospitality is developer and management company of the property.

New commercial real estate tours to connect small businesses with storefronts throughout Detroit

Deciding where to locate a new business is a monumental decision, one that will often determine a business's fate.

That's why the Build Institute has partnered with the Detroit Experience Factory to offer a series of monthly tours that will take prospective shop owners through a number of neighborhoods, introducing them to landlords of available properties, neighborhood officials and representatives, and current business owners nearby. Providing historical and cultural context will also be a focus.

It's called Open Shop, and the series of commercial real estate tours is a way for Build and DXF to play matchmakers between new businesses and area landlords and property owners. The first Open Shop is April 18th from 1 to 4 p.m. and takes place in Hamtramck. Additional tours are scheduled for the following months, including commercial districts in Southwest Detroit, Jefferson East, Northwest Detroit, and along the Woodward Corridor.

Jessica Meyer is director of programs with Build Institute and helped develop the tour. It initially grew out of the requests of a number of Build grads who wanted to open their business in a storefront but didn't know where to start. Even knowing the neighborhood or commercial corridor in which they want to open isn't enough.

"It's difficult to get a rundown of what's available where and who owns what," says Meyer. "This is a great opportunity to introduce people to each other."

The Hamtramck Downtown Development Authority jumped at the chance to be the first Open Shop destination. The DDA will introduce tour-takers to people like the Economic Development Director and others who can offer help in opening a business in Hamtramck. The DDA is also offering to cover the Hamtramck business registration fee for the first two businesses from the tour to move to the city, a value of $100 each. 

In addition to meeting landlords and pre-existing business owners, the tour will also stop at Hamtramck Historical Museum and Tekla Vintage, both graduates of Build programming. Tickets are available online.

Source: Jessica Meyer, director of programs at Build Institute
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Metropolis bicycle shop to open in Corktown

When doors close, windows open. It's the type of thing someone says to a friend when something bad happens. Sometimes windows get smashed open, like when a car gets stolen. Shayne O'Keefe's car was stolen once. Though he couldn't have known it at the time, O'Keefe's immediate misfortune nearly ten years ago set in motion a chain of events that now has him opening up his own bicycle shop on one of the busiest blocks in Corktown.

O'Keefe and business partner Ted Sliwinski are readying Metropolis Cycles for an April 8 opening. Located at 2117 Michigan Ave., Metropolis will be open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week.

Not being able to afford a new car, O'Keefe quickly joined the Back Alley Bikes program in the Cass Corridor. He worked as a volunteer, earning a bike through the program while simultaneously becoming obsessed with cycle work. He started finding bikes on Craigslist and in the trash and fixed them up for friends. He worked at the Hub of Detroit as a mechanic. Eventually, he was promoted to general manager. The shop was so busy, he says, that he saw them lose customers as a result of wait times. Detroit was becoming more and more of a bike city. The demand was there. O'Keefe decided to split off on his own.

"If it wasn't me, it would be ten other people trying to open a bike shop there," says O'Keefe. "I just wanted to get there first."

The bike stock at Metropolis will be roughly 95 percent new with an emphasis on commuter cycles from manufacturers like Bianchi and Raleigh. It won't be a high-end bike store, says O'Keefe, and customers can expect bikes that fall anywhere within a $200 to $2,000 price range. He hopes to carry something for every skill set, including bikes for children and comfort bikes for parents.

In addition to retail, the 3,000 sq. ft. space will include a full-service cycle repair shop. Parts and accessories will also be for sale.

Source: Shayne O'Keefe, co-founder of Metropolis Cycles
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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March 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.

March hit the ground running as an unexpected leak of the Hudson's site rendering forced Dan Gilbert and company's hand. Rather than issue a statement declaring the leak was nothing more than an outdated conceptual design and moving on from the chatter, Gilbert's Rock Ventures released an actual high-quality conceptual rendering for the site. Though it's nothing close to final, it does acknowledge their desire for an architectural 'statement,' one that would attract attention world-wide--something the rendering re-enforces.

At the end of the month, John Gallagher of the Free Press reported that not only will Gilbert's Hudson development include 250 residential units, a separate development would bring an additional 71 residential units downtown. The historic Metropolitan Building, assumed by many to remain forever-derelict and destined for demolition, will apparently be saved and receive a $23.3 million renovation as it's converted to apartments.

The Detroit City Council approved yet another 235 apartments for downtown by giving the nod to Village Green as it seeks to build its $35 million Statler City development on the old Statler Hotel site on Grand Circus Park. That development includes a Zen garden among its many amenities.

Downtown isn't the only neighborhood to receive the mega-residential development treatment as the east riverfront witnesses the construction of Water's Edge. Triton Properties is building a 143-unit luxury apartment building in the Harbortown neighborhood.

And now for something completely different . . . the city of Detroit is playing hardball with Sequoia Property Partners, the New York-based owners of the CPA Building in Corktown. Open to the elements and long-easily accessible to anyone on the street, the city announced plans to demolish the building as Sequoia showed no progress in developing the historic but neglected building. Sequoia is now trying to delay the city as it promises to follow through on securing and developing the building across from Michigan Central Station--for real this time.

New documentary film follows struggle for community benefits agreement in Delray

Photo and audio exhibitionsmurals, and now a documentary film are ways in which people are keeping record of one Detroit neighborhood's fight to secure a community benefits agreement in the construction of an international bridge. "Living with Industry: Detroit, Michigan" tells the story of the people of Delray, a neighborhood on the city's southwest shore that is known as much for pollution and abandonment as it is anything else. It's also the place where the United States and Canada look to place their New International Trade Crossing.

According to Community Development Advocates of Detroit, Delray is a neighborhood that experiences over 10,000 trucks in daily traffic and is host to the largest single-site waste water treatment plant in the United States, an oil refinery, and a steel-making facility. In spite of this, there are still 2,500 or so people that live in the neighborhood. Even with the construction of a bridge that is estimated to displace 700 people, the majority of Delray's residents will remain.

The people in the film who are fighting for a community benefits agreement are fighting for the Detroiters who won't receive buyouts from the government to uproot and leave their homes and community. As Simone Sagovac, project director for the Southwest Detroit Community Benefits Coalition, says in the film, "One of the most important things about this bridge project and what is happening to Delray is that residents are recognized -- that their needs are there just like any other community."

The film itself comes from the Community Development Advocates of Detroit and their community storytelling project. It's a project that is focusing on the neighborhoods outside of downtown Detroit. "Living with Industry: Detroit, Michigan" was produced by filmmaker Logan Stark and CDAD public policy and communications intern Troy Anderson and is available online.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Better living through transit: Detroit firm seeks to improve public transportation throughout region

How do you convince a region to embrace public transit when it's been neglecting it for decades? That's what Freshwater Transit is hoping to do. The Detroit-based transit firm is looking to produce a series of seven videos that demonstrate just how easy, beneficial, and indispensable public transit is in other metropolitan regions across the country.

The educational series is called "15 Minutes or Better." The theory goes that since metro Detroit has no idea what a high-functioning public transit system actually looks like, how are we ever going to make the decisions necessary to putting one in place? Freshwater will be traveling to seven cities to show how key concepts of public transit actually work. They'll then examine how those concepts are being expressed in metro Detroit.

"There is an urgent need for improved transit in Southeast Michigan," says Tom Choske, Freshwater Transit president. "But there is also tremendous confusion. Because metro Detroit does not have a cultural tradition of transit usage, discussions about transit have overlooked many core issues. So far, the local transit conversation has focused mostly on policy. Our goal is to address transit at the ground level, the neighborhood level. Regardless of policy, what must a transit system provide so that all people can use it for everyday travel needs?"

The firm expresses a belief that through the Internet, the videos' shareability should make their message easy to spread, leading to the development of a better-informed populace throughout metro Detroit, one that would eventually vote in favor of installing an effective public transit system.

Freshwater Transit recently developed a multi-modal transit plan for the Detroit Riverfront, utilizing a system of trolley buses and water taxis. A crowdfunding campaign for the "15 Mintues or Better" video series is currently under way.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

This week in Detroit pop-up restaurants

Detroit pop-ups, and especially restaurant pop-ups, have become so popular that there are spaces now solely dedicated to the transient businesses. It's an excellent way for talented chefs who are rich with ideas but not with start-up capital to establish themselves without having to shell out money upfront for their own commercial kitchen. In other instances, it's well-established chefs who are simply offering special menus as guests of a particular host kitchen. Here are some of the more high profile pop-ups happening across Detroit this week.

St. Cece's, a Corktown bar and restaurant with its own well-respected menu and chef, opens its kitchen up to guests every Tuesday. Today's pop-up menu is courtesy of Steve Kempner, a.k.a. the Fargin Chef. Kempner, who is associated with Birmingham Community House and Bella Piati, is preparing a Puerto Rican menu that includes asopao de camarones, or shrimp gumbo with rice, and empanadillas, or beef-stuffed meet pies with sofrito sauce and plantain and bacon mofungo. Kempner is also offering a special Parisian fusion menu at Colors on Thursday, March 26, though the window for buying tickets for that event has already passed.

POP, the pop-up restaurant space that recently opened above Checker Bar and Grill downtown, is hosting Chef Rodney Lubinski of Grand Trunk Pub. He'll be offering what's being called an inventive array of pies. At $5 a slice, choose from a non-traditional shepherd's pie, meat (beef, rabbit, lamb), bacon (ranch cut, Canadian, jowl), roasted root (beet, turnip, purple sweet potato), cherry (sweet, sour, white), and mudd pies. Doors open at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 26.

Steven Reaume, who manages POP along with running his own pop-up restaurant business NOODL, is throwing his fourth pasta pop-up dinner March 28. Fra Diavolo will host two dinners, 6:30 and 8:30 p.m., at the Bankle Building in Midtown. Six courses include four pasta dishes, salad, and desert. A menu and tickets are available online.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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A leery public joins public officials to question $200M State Fairgrounds redevelopment plans


Despite the release of architectural renderings, issues of transit and accessibility had people buzzing at the latest public forum for the proposed $200 million redevelopment of the old State Fairgrounds in Detroit. Members of neighboring communities, leaders of various transit agencies, and other interested parties gathered Wednesday, March 18 to debate the latest information offered by Redico and Magic Plus, two developers of the site.

The Michigan State Fair, which occupied the site of the Fairgrounds since 1905, ceased operating there in 2009 when it was defunded by the state of Michigan. In 2012, Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill that authorized the transfer of the Fairgrounds to the Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority and opened the door for private redevelopment.

Though nothing has been formally adopted, the latest plan released by the developers is the most detailed to date, offering the public a glimpse into a 157-acre site that includes 650 residential units made up of a mix of one- and two-bedroom townhomes, apartments, studios, and lofts. The plan also calls for senior housing, retail, office space, green space, pocket parks, and transit-oriented development.

Dan Dirks, director of the Detroit Department of Transportation, stood with leaders of the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) and the Regional Transit Authority to urge the developers to not relocate a transit station even further south down Woodward Avenue.

Developers propose moving the transit station to the northeast corner of State Fair Avenue and Woodward. Transit leaders stressed the importance of locating the transfer station as close as possible to the busy intersection of 8 Mile Boulevard and Woodward. "It's not often we all get together and agree on something," says Dirks. The transfer station should eventually service the Bus Rapid Transit line.

Also proposed is an Amtrak train station that would offer connections to Chicago and Flint. Funds from Amtrak have yet to be secured.

A number of community members expressed concern over what they believed to be a poor connection between the proposed housing and the neighboring Gateway Marketplace. Todd Scott, executive director of the Detroit Greenways Coalition, echoed those sentiments, believing that not only was the development poorly connected to the Meijer store next door, but also to surrounding communities like Ferndale.

Others were more critical of the meeting, with some either suggesting or outright accusing that the proceedings were a sham. Frank Hammer, a member of the Fairgrounds Advisory Committee and Greenacres Woodward Civic Association, signed a pamphlet being circulated that called the series of public forums "broken from the beginning." Developers insisted that they were listening to everyone's concerns and that the newly announced plans addressed issues brought forward during previous public meetings.

Craig Willian, vice president of retail development for Redico, characterized the development as the place where city and suburbs meet. "The nice thing about the site is the opportunity to provide a lot of green space," Willian says. "We can afford an urban feel with that suburban green field experience."

It's an enormous space, one that could fit four Partridge Creek Malls, he says. The developers are working with Wayne County Community College to lease an office building facing the town commons. They're working to save at least four of the historic buildings on the site: the fieldhouse, coliseum, dairy cattle building, and poultry building. A local theater operator wants to take the shell of the coliseum and use it to house a modern movie theater, says Willian. Bike and walking trails are also planned.

While developers did receive positive feedback along with the criticisms, many in the crowd expressed doubts that what was being presented is what will be built. Rochelle Lento of nearby Palmer Woods says that though she shops at the Meijer at Gateway Marketplace, that development is a far cry from what was originally presented to the community, a much more suburban-style strip mall development than what was initially announced. It's a common concern for a site with so much potential, value, and reverence.

"The biggest takeaway for me was seeing transit well represented. That's the biggest plus," says Todd Scott. "Still, I feel these are interesting renderings but what will really happen?"

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Land use and quality of life plan takes root in Brightmoor


It's a familiar Detroit narrative: a plucky neighborhood group wants to turn its vacant land into an asset. With over 600 acres of vacant land, the west side neighborhood of Brightmoor has its hands full. But as daunting a task as it may seem, Brightmoor residents, organizers, and community partners are better preparing for the future with a land use and quality of life plan called Restore the 'Moor. Now that they've built the framework, the neighborhood seeks to implement actions outlined in the plan.

Joe Rashid, outreach director at the Brightmoor Alliance, helped shepherd the plan through its different stages. He characterizes Restore the 'Moor as a living document, one that could change every few months depending on the needs of the community. Its first stage came in 2013 as the Alliance worked in conjunction with Community Development Advocates of Detroit to host a year-long discussion with neighborhood residents. The plan was developed over the course of 2014, and now it is ready to be put into action.

While much of what the plan calls for has been happening in Brightmoor for a while now — agriculture and festivals, for example — Restore the 'Moor gives context to the hard work neighborhood organizers have been putting in all these years. The plan attempts to identify ways for the neighborhood to turn its assets into jobs and a stronger local economy. Knucklehead Farm, a Brightmoor bed and breakfast that showcases the community's farming and sustainability culture, is the type of business Rashid hopes to see more of, at least in spirit.

"With about 500 people coming through Brightmoor each month on tours, we want to make sure we have places for people to spend their money," says Rashid. "Places like Artesian Farms and the community kitchen only help bolster great neighborhood staples like Scotty Simpson's, Motor City Java and Tea House, and Sweet Potato Sensations."

In addition to better utilizing its vacant land, the plan calls for re-populating parts of the neighborhood streets by attracting more immigrants. The Brightmoor Alliance is currently working with the city of Detroit and Global Detroit to target African and Caribbean immigrants. Expanding its festivals and public art programs are a priority and the neighborhood is especially looking forward to a community co-op and kitchen. Look for that to open this summer, says Rashid.

Source: Joe Rashid, outreach director at the Brightmoor Alliance
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Corktown co-working space Saint Vincent fills up fast


A graphic design firm, an old school arcade, and a CPA are among the businesses that have helped to fill up the available space at Saint Vincent in Corktown. The Catholic school-turned-boutique office building welcomed its first tenant in Oct. 2014, and all of its available units were rented out by the end of that year. Work has already begun on the second floor of the building and it's estimated that the offices could be available by mid- to late summer of 2015.

Ryan Schirmang, managing partner of Saint Vincent, sees no shortage of businesses wanting to be located in the city. Once financing is lined up to complete renovations of the second floor, the interest he's received in renting space indicates that the remaining offices should fill up as quickly as the first floor did.

Schirmang purchased the building in 2012 and renovations began in earnest in July 2014. Saint Vincent was the recipient of an Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy grant, receiving $50,000 from the organization for spending $200,000 of its own money. That grant, says Schirmang, helped ensure that they would have money to cover operational costs once renovations were completed.

"It's cool to see how those grants benefit Corktown," he says. "It's spreading into the businesses in the neighborhood beyond Michigan Avenue."

Schirmang says that the space is best suited for small businesses that are more on the design side of things, not so much the light industrial and production-minded businesses that characterize nearby Ponyride. He does, however, hope to cultivate a close working relationship between the two co-working spaces.

Before the second floor is completed and open for rent, look for a lounge and events space that could open to the public by May.  

Source: Ryan Schirmang, Managing Partner of Saint Vincent
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Family brings the craft of shoe repair to Grandmont Rosedale

When Moe Draper of Detroit Shoe Repair compliments the quality of shoe you've brought him, you can't help but feel a rush of pride. This is a man who's seen a lot of shoes. That pride quickly turns into a sheepish embarrassment, however, realizing just how poor of shape those shoes were in. They were going to need a lot of work. Over the next hour, Moe paced from one end of the shop to the other, re-heeling, re-soling, re-sealing, and shining my shoes and bringing them back to life. It wasn't just a lesson in shoe repair, it was a lesson in craftsmanship.

Moe and his wife Aziza opened Detroit Shoe Repair in December 2014. The Grandmont Rosedale storefront on Grand River is the second shoe repair and shine location for the Drapers, who have been running an operation out of Shed 4 at Eastern Market since 2012. This year should be a busy one for the family as they look to open a third location. Moe is also preparing his own line of boots to debut December 2015.

Moe got into the shoe business by shining at Detroit bars. He parlayed that into shoe shining gigs with the Detroit Police Department and the Claymore Shop in Birmingham. Spending so much time at shoe repair shops while buying supplies, Moe networked and built relationships with influential cobblers, eventually traveling with a shoe repair champion to Florida to learn more about the trade.

Moe takes great pride in the craft of shoe repair and enjoys educating people about shoes as much as he does fixing them. Aziza, who also works at the shop, says that most people don't even know that they can get their shoes repaired, they just throw them away and get another pair. The Drapers say that as long as they perform high quality work, word will spread and business will continue to grow.

"You have to stay consistent. When you stay consistent, more and more people will write about you. And the main thing is, when they come see you, be worthwhile to be written about," says Moe. "I just try and do the best I can every day and never get tired of selling the pitch."

Moe opened his first shop downtown in Detroit's financial district. While that shop eventually closed, it was there where he met his wife Aziza, who was running her own natural hair salon nearby. In 2012, the couple combined forces and moved on to open their shoe repair and shining station at Shed 4 in Eastern Market.

They've done well at Eastern Market, where customers can watch Moe repair shoes right in front of them. They've become part of the community there. The Drapers launched a shoe drive for the area homeless; outfitting people with proper footwear, especially in the winter months, can save lives.

In December 2014, the Drapers opened their second shoe repair location, the aforementioned storefront in the Grandmont Rosedale neighborhood. Moe grew up there and the family recently moved back to the area. They're working to establish themselves in that neighborhood as they ready location number three.

Detroit Shoe Repair is located at 18716 Grand River Ave.

Source: Moe and Aziza Draper, owners of Detroit Shoe Repair
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

It's only a matter of time before water taxis and trolley buses come to the riverfront

A multi-modal transit system along the Detroit River is one step closer to reality. Plans call for a water taxi and trolley bus system that would initially run from Belle Isle to the Ambassador Bridge. Depending on international developments, the transit system could expand to include ferry service between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.

The Detroit RiverFront Conservancy commissioned Freshwater Transit Solutions to develop the system. The conservancy is now preparing presentations for community partners as they seek to secure funding for the project. Will Smith, CFO of the conservancy, characterizes the water taxi/trolley bus service as a must-have for connecting residents in city neighborhoods to the riverfront.

"It's something that we'll be implementing, we're just not sure when," says Smith. "We're not going to build something we can't take care of. We'll get our ducks in a row and it will happen at some point soon, even if it's in phases."

In its plans, Freshwater Transit evaluated the feasibility of the project, how to implement it, and how it will impact local residents and businesses. The basics of the plan have a 40- to 50-foot water taxi with a 75- to 100-person capacity travelling along the Detroit River. Trolley buses would both travel along the riverfront and make connections to nearby neighborhoods in places like Southwest Detroit and the East Jefferson Corridor.

"This isn't going to be just a little system like a Disney ride," says Tom Choske, President of Freshwater Transit. "We want something that has wider value and makes the riverfront more accessible to everyone."

Both Smith and Choske expect the system to roll out in phases, expanding its range as time goes by. One hope is that the system will put pressure on Canada to build a docking facility similar to the Detroit Wayne County Port Authority's, a building designed with international customs operations in mind. Once a Canadian equivalent is built in Windsor, the transit system could then expand to include international ferry service between the two cities, says Choske.

While there is no official beginning date for the transit system, Smith says the conservancy could run some demonstrations this summer to see how it works. But for now, it's about finding the funding.

It will be another busy summer for the conservancy as it prepares to celebrate the opening of the DNR Outdoor Adventure Center, an extension of the Dequindre Cut, and adding more events to the RiverWalk, including the recently announced move of the Downtown Hoedown to the West RiverWalk expansion. Now that they've passed their plans to the conservancy, Freshwater Transit is focusing efforts on a crowdfunding campaign to promote the Regional Transit Authority.

Source: Will Smith, CFO of Detroit RiverFront Conservancy, Tom Choske, President of Freshwater Transit Solutions
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Corktown Inn reinvents itself as the Corktown Hotel, hopes to clean up its act

The old Corktown Inn is cleaning up its act. Though stingy with the details, an unnamed ownership group that purchased the inn in October 2014 is committed to a complete overhaul of the hotel, according to newly-hired director of sales Suzette Daye. In what's now re-branded as the Corktown Hotel, the 144 rooms could begin to see major renovations within months.

A local design firm is handling the room renovations, though Daye wouldn't say which one. Local artisans, including the Nordin brothers, will provide much of the décor for each room. Daye says that the Corktown will be a boutique hotel, meaning that each floor and even each room could be different from one another. Three concept rooms are currently available to rent.

In addition to re-designing the rooms, Daye says that a number of other improvements are planned for the site. New landscaping will better expose the hotel to the street. An old restaurant space will be revived. Workout facilities will be added. A courtyard will be spruced up and there's also mention of a green roof.

For all of the improvements and additional amenities planned for the hotel, perhaps what's most notable, at least presently, are the subtractions. Gone is the cigarette smoking. So, too, is the infamous vending machine containing lighters, condoms, and women's underwear. Room rentals in three-hour blocks have also been eliminated. Even the old security dummy has been retired.

Daye admits that the changes have led to a loss of some of the customers -- "We've lost a lot of the party people, I guess you could say," -- but that's to be expected as the inn switches to a boutique hotel. Plus, she's heard positive things from the hotel's neighbors since the new rules have been implemented.

It's a transition period for the hotel, after the "party people" have left but before all of the upgrades have been made. In the meantime, Daye's trying to drum up business, distributing promotional fliers to neighborhood bars. Drink too much at a Corktown establishment? Bring the flier to the hotel for a $50 overnight stay. While the rooms aren't "boutique" yet, they're clean and not out of the ordinary.

Source: Suzette Daye, director of sales at the Corktown Hotel
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Who's going to operate M-1 Rail? Organization seeks bids

The search is on for the third-party operator of the M-1 Rail. The group behind the winning proposal will manage day-to-day operations and maintenance of the light rail line, which is currently under construction. All submissions are due by April 16.

The M-1 Rail will be a 3.3-mile long streetcar line stretching from downtown to New Center. The organization behind the project is a nonprofit, put in place by the private businesses and philanthropic organizations that created and funded the line.

Third-party operators of light rail lines is nothing new in the U.S. Streetcar systems in Tucson and New Orleans utilize third-party operators of their lines. Other cities that are currently building their own streetcar systems, including Kansas City, Oklahoma City, and Washington, D.C., are also searching for third-party operators.

The responsibilities of running the M-1 are many, including the hiring, training, and scheduling of employees. They also include the development of a standards of practice for customer service, safety, and fare collections. Track, switch, signal, and platform maintenance is required. The maintenance and cleaning of the vehicles is also included.

"Passengers want a reliable, safe, and clean experience and the operator of the line will be a catalyst for that," says Paul Childs, chief operating officer of M-1 Rail. "The contractor we select will begin working with us at least 12 months in advance of streetcar operations. They will be instrumental in developing processes and procedures for operations and fulfilling all of the obligations required by Federal, State, and City government agencies."

Details of the contract include an initial five year operating agreement with M-1 retaining the rights to extend that contract another two to five years. M-1 Rail officials expect operating costs at $5 million a year.

Source: M-1 Rail press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Developer's second Woodbridge rehab, the "Up House," nears completion


When 4722 Avery St. was auctioned off by the Detroit Land Bank Authority in May 2014, it received 205 bids, with the winner laying down $87,100 for the historic Woodbridge home, which was built in 1881. Alex Pereira and his Secure Realty company placed that 205th bid. Don't tell the city, but Pereira was prepared to spend as much as $130,000 on the house, determined, he says, to add the home to his growing list of Woodbridge properties.

Now the owner of three homes in Woodbridge, Pereira is in negotiations to purchase two more. He says he's committed to a detailed and quality rehabilitation of these homes and a tour of his 4722 Avery property confirms as much. On top of the $87,100 purchase price, Pereira says he's investing $150,000 into the house, making it nearly as grand as it was when it was first built -- and much more energy efficient.

It's the exteriors of his houses, however, that have received all of the attention. This is because Pereira fashions the historic homes after children's stories. His first Detroit property, 4759 Trumbull, features the Lorax, the character of a Dr. Seuss book of the same name. Pereira's latest house, 4722 Avery, has been painted in bright blue, yellow, and green, modeled after the house from "Up," a Pixar and Disney computer-animated film from 2009.

Pereira's aesthetic choices have elicited a range of reactions from neighbors and passersby, both positive and negative. It's a bold color scheme, bound to spark conversation. But for whatever kickback he has received, Pereira remains unfazed, saying that the initial criticisms of the Lorax House have already waned. He suspects the same will be true for the Up House, as it's called. The longer it stands, the more accepted and part of the neighborhood it will become.

Despite the naysayers, Pereira is committed to seeing his vision through. Once construction is completed on the Up House next month, he'll begin work on a third house, this time on Commonwealth. Though he won't say which one, Pereira plans another design based off a children's book or movie. This one, he says, will be even brighter than the Up House.

"I just had a little boy, my first son. We're moving to this neighborhood, my wife and I and my son. I'm trying to create a place I think he'd like to live in," says Pereira.

The Up House is split into three flats, two two-bedroom units and a one-bedroom. The first floor has already been leased.

Source: Alex Pereira, developer at Secure Realty
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Finally: Over 1,000 new windows for Michigan Central Station


As with anything Michigan Central Station-related, the Internet is abuzz with the news that the historic train station will be outfitted with new windows. While it is unclear what the owners of Michigan Central Station ultimately have planned for the building, Chamberlain Glass & Metal, Inc. of St. Clair has announced that they've been hired to produce a new window system for the tower. Over 1,000 window openings will be filled.

According to the company, they've been working with the Maroun family, owners of the famously blighted building, to find a window system that meets the modern needs of a contemporary office while remaining true to the spirit of the historic building.

In June of 2014, Model D reported that the Marouns pulled $676,000 in city permits for construction work that included, "a 9,000-pound capacity freight elevator inside the old smokestack mechanical shaft and safety improvements such as railings on interior staircases." Though details were murky at the time, Chamberlain reveals that the elevator is being built, at least in part, to facilitate the glass operation.

The company expects elevator construction to finish soon, after which they will begin the task of installing over 1,000 windows. Chamberlain says that it will be "a few more months" before Michigan Central Station is once again fully outfitted with windows.

Michigan Central Station opened in 1913 as the city's main rail depot. Eighteen stories of offices sit atop a Beaux-Arts lobby. The station, closed in 1988, has been open to the elements for years and became blighted as scrappers stripped the building of many of its architectural treasures.

Several plans to redevelop the depot have come and gone since its closure. In 2004, then-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick announced plans to redevelop the train station as the city's police headquarters. Those plans were eventually abandoned. In 2009, the Detroit City Council voted to demolish Michigan Central Station. That plan fell apart due to a lack of funding as well as difficulties stemming from the station's National Register of Historic Places designation.  

Source: Chamberlain Glass & Metal, Inc.
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Students pitch development ideas for Fisher Body Plant 21

Representatives of the city of Detroit, Vanguard Community Development Corporation, German Marshall Fund of the U.S., and University of Michigan's Taubman College of Architecture and Planning gathered Wednesday, Feb. 18, to hear University of Michigan students' pitches for the redevelopment of Fisher Body Plant 21. The event was organized by Michigan's Center for Social Impact and held at the Ross School of Business.

Dannan Hodge, Arthur Endsley, Drew Phillips, and Fulton Breen made up Team Impact, which won the Social Impact Challenge. They proposed a mixed-use development that utilized qualified workers and skilled tradespersons from the North End community, where the Fisher 21 is located. Those workers would ultimately transform the building into a space where they themselves could live and work.

A second team also pitched a mixed-use development. The third team proposed a complex devoted to 3D printing, one they theorized would make Detroit the 3D printing capital of the world.

While largely academic in nature, the event offered new ideas for the abandoned factory, ideas that could one day influence city decision-making. David Williams, senior advisor to the City of Detroit Mayor's Office and its Jobs and Economy Team, was one of the judges. He says that for all the challenges a massive development project like the Fisher Body Plant faces, it's exciting to see so many people engage with the issues facing the city. The more brains, he says, the better.

"All these ideas help push the conversation forward," says Williams. "And the further that conversation goes, the more likely we're able to renovate something like the Fisher building."

The teams had two weeks to develop a plan for the site, one that included everything from budgets to funding sources, jobs numbers to community relationships. The winning team received $2,500 for their proposal.

Source: David Williams, senior advisor to the City of Detroit Mayor's Office
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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February 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.

The on-again-off-again State Fairgrounds redevelopment is back on the upswing. A team of developers that includes NBA basketball legend and Michigan-native Earvin 'Magic' Johnson has submitted plans to the city that include the potential for hundreds of apartments, hundreds of thousands of square feet of retail, and more. Of particular note is the idea for preserving historic structures on the grounds.

Dan Gilbert and his Bedrock Real Estate Services got permission from the Historic District Commission to demolish the old Grind strip club in Capitol Park in favor of a 10-story apartment tower. The Grind was located in a 19th century building recently damaged by fire. The proposed tower could provide up to 175 more apartments downtown.

An enormous mixed use building approved by the Historic District Commission may break ground in Brush Park soon. The 200,000 sq. ft., five-story building would include 200 loft-style apartments, according to Curbed. A unique shape has the building touching Woodward Avenue, Erskine Street, and Watson Street.

Two breweries celebrated openings in Corktown this month. Batch Brewing Company opened in the old Porter Street Station building at the corner of Porter and 8th streets. Batch is the winner of the 2013 Hatch Detroit contest, which awarded the brewery a $50,000 grant to open their business. Just a block away at 1401 Abbott St. is Brew Detroit, a brewing facility that just opened a 7,000 sq. ft. tasting room. The brewing facility itself has been open since April 2014.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Gilbert draws six more businesses into downtown office space


It's not all just tech start-ups and hip restaurants and retailers that Dan Gilbert and his Bedrock Real Estate Services are trying to lure downtown. Six more companies have opened offices in Gilbert-owned buildings and they're a varied group with not a yoga mat or graffiti project among them. That we know of.

Dixon Masonry is a union construction contractor dealing in commercial masonry and restoration services. They'll be opening an office in 660 Woodward, the First National Building. Insurance and risk management provider Colburn & Colburn will become their neighbors, also opening an office in the First National Building.

JFM Consulting Group and Great Lakes Architectural Products Group are each opening offices in 1301 Broadway. JFM offers consulting services in strategy, planning, research, and evaluation for nonprofits, philanthropic groups, and the public sector. Great Lakes is a representative and consulting firm of regional manufacturers, dealing in everything from LED lighting to custom millwork.

Siegfried Group, which says it's on a mission to make accounting more fun and productive, is opening an office in One Woodward. And Ultimate Parking Management, a company which controls over 13,000 parking spaces in Detroit's Central Business District, is opening an office in 1001 Woodward. Ultimate Parking manages the Compuware Garage and The Z, both Gilbert-owned properties.

Pete Brewis is president of Ultimate Parking and has worked downtown's parking scene for more than 20 years. "I have never seen the city so vibrant and positive about its future," says Brewis.

Dan Mullen, Vice President of Leasing and Development with Bedrock Real Estate Services, says, "Companies of all sizes representing many different sectors clearly see the advantages and great benefits of locating in Detroit’s dynamic urban core."

Each of the six companies have already moved into and are operating out of their new spaces downtown.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

$20 million in upgrades to Chandler Park will include new tennis, soccer, and football facilities

In news that's sure to make other Detroit park booster groups awfully jealous, the Chandler Park Conservancy is announcing millions of dollars in private and public investment for its namesake park. A first round of upgrades in what's promised to be many includes a new turf football and soccer field, improved tennis courts, a refurbished comfort station, and new grass soccer fields. A total of $2.5 million in improvements make up this first round of what's reported to be a total of $20 million in upgrades.

According to the Chandler Park Conservancy, the turf football and soccer field and tennis courts will debut by late spring. LAND, Inc. is overseeing the construction. The City of Detroit General Services Department is renovating the historic Comfort Station, which should also be completed by spring of this year. Chandler Park Conservancy expects the new grass soccer fields to be completed by spring of 2016. Mayor Mike Duggan has committed $250,000 for seeding the grass fields.

The Detroit Police Athletic League is charged with programming the fields in conjunction with some of their own football and soccer teams as well as the U.S. Tennis Association.

Included among the contributing groups are UAW Chrysler, the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation, NFL/LISC Fund, USA Soccer Foundation, LAND, Inc., Wayne County, and the City of Detroit. Phillip Pierce is Board Chair of the Conservancy and says that all the money and work being invested in the park is for the sake of the city's children.

Chandler Park itself is a 200-acre park on the city's east side, located off of I-94 at Conner Street. The nearly 100-year-old park is also home to the Wayne County Family Aquatic Center and the Chandler Park Golf Course.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Another Capitol Park development to receive state money


The state of Michigan has rewarded developers of a multi-million dollar downtown Detroit residential and commercial project with a cool $1 million. The money goes to 1145 Griswold Street, LLC, a company rehabilitating one of Capitol Park's historic buildings.

Transforming the vacant and dilapidated building at 1145 Griswold St. into 63 residential units and around 14,900 sq. ft. of commercial space is expected to cost $22.7 million. The $1 million Michigan Community Revitalization Program award is one part of a larger combination of developer equity, deferred developer fees, federal and state Historic Tax Credits, and state Brownfield Tax Credits that makes up two-thirds of the total project capital, says the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).

The MEDC and its Michigan Strategic Fund approved the money, citing the creation of 60 jobs among the project's benefits.

"These projects will act as catalysts for viable residential neighborhoods by creating downtown living options and redeveloping obsolete buildings into vibrant commercial and residential spaces," MEDC chief executive officer Steve Arwood says in a statement. "We are pleased to support these efforts to strengthen and further revitalize these communities."

This is not the first time the MEDC has contributed to a Capitol Park development. In Sep. 2014, the organization announced a $4,798,000 Michigan Community Revitalization Program performance-based investment for a five-story residential structure to be built on top of an already-existing parking garage next to the Book Cadillac Hotel.

According to that September report, 80 one-, two-, and three bedroom units are planned for the parking garage development. Three jobs are expected to be created.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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POP, downtown's new pop-up restaurant venue above Checker Bar, to feature Detroit Delhi


For all the restaurants he's helped launch, Steven Reaume says that the opening of POP in downtown Detroit has been the most exciting and inspiring yet. Reaume's been in the metro Detroit hospitality scene for around 30 years now and he's been a part of some impressive establishments, La Dolce Vita in Detroit and Pete's Place in Ferndale among them. POP, though, is different. A weekly dinner series, POP rotates professional and amateur chefs alike through a unique downtown space every Thursday night. This Thursday, Feb. 12, features Detroit Delhi, an Indian- and Kashmiri-inspired menu from Jesse Knott.

POP is located in an old private events space upstairs of the Checker Bar, a classic downtown Detroit beer-and-a-burger bar that Grand Trunk Pub owner Tim Tharp and Grand Trunk Pub general manager Dave Gregory purchased in the spring of 2014. Complete with kitchen facilities and a bar area that's big enough to seat 65, POP is accessed through the the Checker Bar.

Reaume says that POP is a labor of love for everyone involved. Checker doesn't charge chefs to bring their pop-ups to the space, only hoping to draw customers into the bar. And they're as much looking forward to giving opportunities to less-established chefs as they are professional ones.

"There's been a lot of hard work put into POP for a return that isn't that big," says Reaume. "It's just great to open a space where a kitchen and exposure are already there for chefs to come in and take advantage of. It's one of the most rewarding things I've done."

Reaume kicked off POP's debut with his own pop-up restaurant, Noodl, on Jan. 15. He'll be announcing a new menu and location for Noodl on Feb. 15. The pop-up will be on Feb. 28 and will feature four different gnocchi plates, each with their own Croatian-, French-, Italian-, and German-inspired sauces.

The food at POP is a la carte and this week's menu includes nacho chaat, navarathan kuruma, braised goat biryani, and chai-spiced coffee ice cream. A special cocktail menu with an emphasis on gin is also being prepared.

POP is located in the Checker Bar at 124 Cadillac Square and open from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. every Thursday. Overflow seating is available in the bar and food is served until it runs out.

Source: Steven Reaume, POP manager, Grand Trunk Pub kitchen manager, and Noodl proprietor
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Cafe 78, a new bar and eatery inside MOCAD, opens Friday


The team that brought Wright & Company to downtown Detroit is now opening a new café and bar just a ways up Woodward Avenue in Midtown. Dave Kwiatkowski (of Sugar House and Wright & Company fame) and Marc Djozlija (co-owner of Wright & Company and formerly of Wolfgang Puck), are opening Café 78 this Friday, Feb. 6. The café and bar is located inside the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) at 4454 Woodward Ave.

Café 78 will operate outside of the hours of museum operations, opening as early as 8 a.m. throughout the week and staying open as late as 10 p.m. on weekends. A breakfast menu features Anthology coffee and Zingerman's pastries. Lunch and dinner include salads, soups, and sandwiches. A full bar will be tended by Sugar House- and Wright & Company-trained staff, serving up beer, wine, and craft cocktails.

"We are extremely excited to partner with MOCAD and feel Café 78 will both enhance the museum experience and also draw a new crowd that possibly wouldn’t have visited the museum otherwise," says Kwiatkowski.

Daniel Moskop of Raleigh, North Carolina-based Dan Huffman Architecture designed the space. Moskop utilizes plywood paneling and phenolic-coated plywood to create a clean, minimalistic look, one highlighted by the natural light drawn in from the pre-exisisting 14-foot glass garage door. The 4,800-square-foot space seats 179, both in tables and along the 14-foot bar.

"We are delighted to partner with Café 78," says Elysia Borowy-Reeder, MOCAD’s executive director. "Their excellent, creative and internationally-inspired food and beverages and premiere service standards are a great match for the museum, where we want to provide memorable experiences for our visitors and members, whether they enjoy a lunch or light snack during a visit to the museum, or an elegant catered dinner at a private evening affair."

Source: MOCAD press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Two artists each win $50K to bring projects to Detroit


A Detroit skate and sculpture park will be the beneficiary of a $50,000 grant awarded by the Joyce Foundation to Jamaicana-born artist Nari Ward and Detroit arts and community group Power House Productions. The two will partner on the construction of a new sculpture for the park on Detroit's east side.

Ride It Sculpture Park is located at the intersection of the E. Davison Freeway and Klinger Street, just north of Hamtramck. Power House Productions built the park, converting an unused vacant lot into a skate park, art installation, and community space. They've received national attention for the park, even drawing in legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk, who visited Ride It in 2013 and, through his foundation, awarded Power House Productions a $30,000 grant.

Ward plans on using the Joyce Award to spend the year in Detroit, where he'll take in the city and find inspiration for his sculpture. He'll also use that time to find locally-sourced materials for his piece.

"I have always wanted to come back and do another project in Detroit," says Ward. "The opportunity to work with Power House Productions on a large scale public sculpture offers me this opportunity. I look forward to encounter, experiment with, and accompany a community with humility and respect."

Also winning a $50,000 Joyce Award is Sanford Biggers. The New York City-based artist will partner with the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit in the creation of "Subjective Cosmology," a multidisciplinary piece that will explore American history. Biggers also plans on spending a year in the city as he gathers inspiration for the project and meets local artists and musicians.

The Joyce Awards presents itself as the only program to specifically support artists of color in the major cities throughout the Great Lakes region. A project in Chicago and a project in the Twin Cities join the two projects in Detroit as $50,000 winners.

Source: Joyce Foundation press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Community, city officials, and local celebs rally around re-opening of Lipke Rec Center


The Lipke Recreation Center in northeast Detroit has been closed for more than a year, and Lipke Park, though not in shambles, could use some work. A true public-private partnership, as Mayor Mike Duggan called it, has assembled $10 million to seriously upgrade the facilities and park, which will re-open as the S.A.Y. Detroit Play Center. City officials, community leaders, and local celebrities gathered Tuesday, Jan. 27, on Detroit's northeast side to announce the re-opening of the recreation center. Renovations will begin soon.

Author and Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom is largely responsible for the re-opening. His S.A.Y. Detroit foundation is the driving force, promising after-school programming for children eight to 18 years old. Kids with GPAs of 2.5 and above and good school attendance records will have access to six basketball courts, a new soccer and lacrosse field, a renovated baseball field with a new scoreboard and stands, a workout facility with machines and equipment, a dance studio, and a recording studio complete with instruments and teachers. The recording studio is provided by Note for Note.

Plans for Lipke call for the covering of its swimming pool and the construction of a digital learning lab staffed by teachers and tutors. Children who don't meet the GPA and attendance requirements will have access to the learning lab, where they will be mentored. Albom says that for every hour they spend in the lab, they'll earn an hour of use in the rest of the facilities.

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was also on hand. He and his Score 7 foundation have pledged $1 million for a new football field and training facilities. An on-field practice bubble will be provided in the winter so children can play football in the cold weather.

Albom says that earning access to the multi-million dollar athletics facility will act as an incentive to neighborhood kids who need to raise their grades, calling it a carrot in front of the horse. "I'm happy to be that carrot," says Stafford.

Both Stafford and Albom stressed a ten-year commitment to the center with hopes of extending the programming long after that. Stafford says he'll make regular trips to the football field over that time and bring some of his Lions teammates, garnering loud applause from the community members gathered to hear the announcement.

Sources: Mayor Mike Duggan, Mitch Albom, and Matthew Stafford
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Kuzzo's Chicken and Waffles opens on the Avenue of Fashion


Kuzzo's Chicken and Waffles represents a lot of things for Ron Bartell. The restaurant opens today at 8 a.m. with an ambitious owner looking to make an immediate impact on the Livernois commercial corridor and its surrounding neighborhoods.

Bartell played the cornerback position in the NFL for nine years, mostly for the St. Louis Rams but also the Lions and the Oakland Raiders. And while he's since retired from the league, Bartell is just 32. As he says, he's just getting started. Bartell owns and operates a group home in San Antonio, Texas, a subcontracting service for FedEx, also in San Antonio, and R & J Development, his Michigan-based property investment company.

In 2012, R & J purchased four commercial properties on the west side of Livernois Avenue, north of Seven Mile Road, the heart of what's known as the Avenue of Fashion. Bartell knows Detroit's northwest side well. He grew up near Greenfield Road and Outer Drive and graduated from Detroit Renaissance High School in 2000.

Bartell first acquired the buildings along Livernois for development purposes. Soon, though, Bartell decided that he wasn't content with sitting back and collecting rent. He wanted, as he says, to put his money where his mouth was and help develop a commercial corridor that could use a push.

There are a lot of things Bartell wants to accomplish with the opening of Kuzzo's. In addition to creating what he hopes will be a successful restaurant, Bartell wants to show that Detroit is still a place where African American entrepreneurs can thrive. He's hoping, too, that his attention to detail, design, and quality of product and experience will inspire other businesses to up their game. The food is fresh and prepared in-house, and the design of the space is clean and contemporary. If you expect people to spend their hard-earned dollars at your business, he says, than you better make it worth their while.

"Hopefully we're successful and it shows people that they can be successful over here, too. Hopefully it's a spark that brings other businesses around here, whether it's other diners, restaurants, lounges. This area needs so many different things yet can support so many different things," says Bartell. "I hope this really shows that in order to be successful you don't have to go downtown or Midtown; you can actually stay in the neighborhood and do good business and hire people and service the community."

Kuzzo's Chicken and Waffles specializes in breakfast foods along with lunch and dinner options that include sandwiches, burgers, and entrees. Southern-inspired craft cocktails are in the works.

The restaurant opens today at 8 a.m. and will be open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. A grand opening will be held in a couple of weeks, when hours of service will extend to 9 and 10 p.m.

Kuzzo's is located at 19345 Livernois Ave.
 
Source: Ron Bartell, owner of Kuzzo's Chicken and Waffles
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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It's official: The Iron Belle Trail to take bikers and hikers from Detroit to Ironwood


Detroit's Belle Isle plays a major role in Gov. Rick Snyder's plan for a 'showcase trail' for the state. The island park will act as a starting -- or ending -- point for a 774-mile bicycle route from Detroit to Wisconsin. As state officials found out from a three-week-long contest, hundreds of entrants believe that the park should also play a major role in the naming of the ambitious system of trails and pathways. Michigan announced that the non-motorized route from Detroit to Wisconsin by way of Ironwood, Michigan will henceforth be known as the Iron Belle Trail.

According to the Department of Natural Resources, hundreds of the nearly 9,000 entries in the naming contest proposed a variation of the Iron Belle name. Three entries were randomly drawn as winners. They'll receive vacation packages at either the Henry Ford and Westin Book Cadillac Hotel in Detroit, the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, or the Kau Wudjoo Lodge at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in Ontonagon (also to be decided randomly).

Once complete, the Iron Belle Trail will consist of a series of on-road and off-road trails and pathways that will form one continuous trail from Detroit to Ironwood. Detroit's Conner Creek Greenway, over nine miles of pathways and bike lanes that connect the city's Maheras Gentry Park with the suburb of Warren, will be one part of that trail. According to the DNR, much of the Iron Belle Trail is already complete, it's just a matter of connecting the pieces.

Officials are pleased with the name. DNR Director Keith Creagh says in a statement, “This name effectively captures the beauty and strength of our state's exceptional natural and cultural resources.”

The Iron Belle Trail traces much of the Michigan portion of the North Country National Scenic Trail. That trail spans 4,600 miles, connecting Vermont to central North Dakota. The Michigan DNR says that many of the uncompleted portions of the Iron Belle Trail provide temporary pathways and that public and private funding is being secured to make them permanent.

Source: Michigan DNR press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Downtown yoga studio grand opening celebration to benefit Detroit school

Kacee Must never planned on starting her own business, but here she is, having just opened her second Citizen Yoga location in less than two years. Must and her team will be hosting a grand opening celebration this Friday, Jan. 23. Michigan businesses like B. Nektar Meadery and 7 Greens will be providing refreshments from 5 to 8 p.m. as Citizen Yoga leads a fundraiser for Detroit Achievement Academy. The yoga studio is located in the Z building at 1224 Library St.

After spending nearly three years in India, an illness coerced Must back to Michigan. While it wasn't what she had planned, Must believes that her move back has led to her doing exactly what she's supposed to be doing. She opened her first yoga studio in Royal Oak in August 2013 and by February 2014, she started planning a Detroit location. Must believes that running a yoga studio complements her personhood.

"I found a love for teaching in India," says Must. "I think I'm destined to do it. It serves me so much personally to share this with others. Purpose is important in American life and anxiety lessens when you do something that's in your nature."

For now, the Detroit location is open Monday through Saturday, though demand is already leading toward classes seven days a week. The studio is designed with the downtown business community in mind with 45-minute long sessions and three showers available. The location also offers two hours of free parking in the Z garage. In the summer, the storefront windows will open up to the sidewalk.

Classes offered include alignment-based Vinyasa, blend, slow burn, and slow burn basics. It's a beginner-friendly studio, says Must, and the eclectic range of people that have come so far have been an asset.

Source: Kacee Must, owner of Citizen Yoga
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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MEDC pledges aid for N'Namdi-led arts district

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation has launched another matching grant program for a successful crowdfunding campaign, this time by influential Detroit art dealer and developer George N'Namdi. If N'Namdi can raise $30,000 in 30 days, the MEDC will award N'Namdi another $30,000.

George N'Namdi is the owner of N'Namdi Center for Contemporary Art in Midtown. His goal is to establish a new arts district around the intersection of Grand River Avenue and Rosa Parks Boulevard. The crowdfunding campaign will help finance Quarter Pop on Grand River, an arts incubator and gallery and retail district that will rotate entrepreneurs in and out of renovated storefronts in three month increments. The 4200 block of Grand River Ave. is the focus of the project.

"The vision for the Quarter Pop is to create and activate a space where Detroit creatives can gain success for their businesses while strengthening the neighborhoods around them," says N'Namdi. "Quarter Pop will be a huge catalyst for creative cultural change in the Grand River Creative Corridor, Detroit, and beyond."

Quarter Pop occupants will receive marketing, accounting, and legal advice along with entrepreneurial mentorship. An emphasis will be put on creative retailers. Money raised will be put toward construction and business service costs.

This is not the first time the MEDC has pledged matching grant money toward crowdfunding campaigns. In November 2014, a campaign was announced to fund the construction of a skate park at the old Wigle Recreation Center. That campaign was soon aborted as it was discovered that the city of Detroit seeks to sell the property. In August 2014, the MEDC pledged matching grant money toward a new green alley in Midtown, which began construction in September of that year.

N'Namdi has until Feb. 13 to raise the $30,000. As of this reporting, the project has already received over $17,000 in pledges from just 6 donors. The campaign is being hosted by crowdfunding site Patronicity.

Source: Michigan Economic Development Corporation
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Downtown Synagogue to begin renovations with grant money

William Davidson was as successful a businessman as he was a professional sports team owner. Davidson's Detroit Pistons won three NBA championships (earning him a spot in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame), his Detroit Shock won three WNBA championships, and his Tampa Bay Lightning won one NHL championship. But in addition to being a team owner and businessmam, Davidson was also a philanthropist.

Though Davidson passed away in 2009, the William Davidson Foundation carries on in its mission to improve southeastern Michigan and support Jewish life in that region. That foundation has just awarded a $350,000 grant to the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue in downtown Detroit. Another $100,000 is on the table as a challenge grant. For every dollar the Synagogue can raise in 2015, the foundation will pledge two more dollars, up to $100,000.

The Synagogue was founded in Detroit in 1921 and has been at its current location at 1457 Griswold St. since the early 1960s. It is notable for being the only Synagogue in the city of Detroit.

According to the Downtown Synagogue, the funds will be used for building renovations, to support and improve programming, and to help in fundraising. Deeper relations among the board, staff, volunteers, and community will also be a focus.

"We are thrilled to receive the generous award from the Davidson Foundation," says Leor Barak, board president. "There's never been a more exciting time to get involved in crafting the future of Jewish Detroit."

That future is one filled with growth, assures the Synagogue. According to a release, over 1,000 first-time visitors have come to the Synagogue in the last three years. The Synagogue credits an energetic board of directors and talented director as key factors in their recent successes. The board is also planning to hire a new executive director soon.

Source: Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Detroit leads pack with 25 finalists for Knight Cities Challenge awards

Finalists have been announced for the first ever Knight Cities Challenge. Of the 26 cities eligible to enter the contest, Detroit is by far the best represented. Knight selected 126 finalists and Detroit claims nearly a fifth of the total finalist pool with 25 proposed projects. 25 other cities, including Duluth, Miami, and Philadelphia, account for the remaining 101 finalists.

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 Nov. 14, 2014.

"The challenge has introduced us to a host of new ideas and people who want to take hold of the future of their cities," says Carol Coletta, Knight Foundation vice president for community and national initiatives. "Through these new connections we hope to grow a network of civic innovators to take on community challenges and build solutions together."

The 25 ideas from Detroit were submitted by individuals and organizations alike. Graig Donnelly's Border Talks proposes to create an actual physical space that encourages Detroiters and Grosse Pointe Parkers to engage with one another.

In a proposal submitted by Jan Shimshock on behalf of the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy, Information Supergreenway would install continuous wifi Internet access along the RiverWalk, Dequindre Cut, and Eastern Market.

Bus Riders Need to Be Engaged Too, submitted by Jacob Rayford Jr., would place information agents on public transit to answer questions about the city and city transportation.

The winners of the contest will receive a portion of $5 million and will be announced in March 2015. Over 7,000 proposals were initially submitted to the Knight Cities Challenge.

A full list of finalists with project descriptions can be found here.

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Detroit Greenways Coalition leads non-motorized charge into 2015 with bevy of bike-related projects

The nonprofit group Detroit Greenways Coalition has released its Top 5 Detroit bike and trail projects for 2015 and it's looking to be a very good year for Detroiters who enjoy the outdoors. According to the DGC, the city's bicyclists, joggers, and walkers will see miles of new pathways added, current routes improved, and safer road conditions in 2015.

Detroit Greenways Coalition is led by Executive Director Todd Scott. The group works with both public and private entities, including city and state governments and an array of foundations, to improve the quality of non-motorized transportation and recreation in Detroit.

Highlights from the DGC report include the following:
 
  • Bicyclists and pedestrians can expect the Link Detroit project to be finished by summer. Link Detroit extends the Dequindre Cut to Eastern Market and connects Eastern Market to Midtown and Hamtramck with surface street bike lanes.
  • The DGC helped secure $4.5 million in grants which it expects the city of Detroit to use to purchase an 8.3 mile stretch of abandoned railroad this year. That property will then be converted into a bike path and greenway, filling in a significant gap of the Inner Circle Greenway, the DGC's 26 mile-long circular pathway that rolls through Detroit, Hamtramck, Highland Park, and Dearborn.
  • The almost-finished Conner Creek Greenway, which travels northward from the riverfront at Maheras Gentry Park, will see the completion of an extension from Conner Street at E. Outer Drive all the way into Warren, where it merges with Van Dyke Avenue and ends at Stephens Road. The greenway is to be part of Governor Snyder's Showcase Trail, a system of paths, trails, and bike lanes that reaches from Belle Isle to Wisconsin.
  • The first protected bike lanes in the state are set to be installed along six blocks of East Jefferson Avenue between Alter Road and Lakewood Street. Efforts by groups including East Jefferson, Inc. are underway to extend those bike lanes to the Belle Isle entrance.
  • Cass Avenue is to receive bike lanes from W. Grand Boulevard to Lafayette, which will then zig zag to the RiverWalk. Public bike repair stations and air pumps will be installed along the way.
More information on the Detroit Greenways Coalition and its top projects for 2015 can be found here.

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JPMorgan Chase, Invest Detroit, LISC among latest group to give millions of dollars to M-1 Rail

M-1 Rail has fit a big piece into its funding puzzle. The 3.3-mile-long streetcar line has agreed to a second round of funding though the federal New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) program. In addition to NMTCs received earlier in 2014, the recent agreement on a second phase of tax credit funding brings M-1 a grand total of $40 million. This is the first time a transit project has received NMTC funding since that program's creation in 2000.

NMTCs were designed to spur development, economic growth, and investment in low-income urban neighborhoods by offering tax credits to organizations contributing to qualifying projects. NMTC investors receive a tax credit equal to 39 percent of their total qualified investment. That tax credit is spread out over seven years; the first three years of the credit returns at five percent and the last four returns at six percent.

JPMorgan Chase, Invest Detroit, The Great Lakes Capital Fund, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), and United Fund Advisors contributed to the NMTC fund. Major contributions include $18.4 million from Invest Detroit and $14 million from JPMorgan Chase.

Tahirih Ziegler, executive director of Detroit LISC, says her organization is investing in M-1 Rail for various reasons. "All of the catalytic affordable housing and other development that will result as part of the project is really important to our 'Building Sustainable Communities' activities in the Grand Woodward neighborhood," she says. "We think this project ties into other opportunities for small businesses to come in and create new jobs available to local residents."

The approximately $40 million in funding through NMTCs covers just a portion of the M-1 Rail construction costs. M-1 Rail projects that it will cost $140 million to acquire the streetcars and build the streetcar line and vehicle maintenance facility. The rest of the money has been obtained from a combination of private and public entities, including a recent $12.2 million TIGER grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation in September 2014.

Source: M-1 Rail press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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PJ's Lager House to raise money for future Detroit music store

Corktown bar, restaurant, and music venue PJ's Lager House is hosting a two-night fundraiser for Third Wave Music, a musical instrument and supply store scheduled to open in August 2015 in Midtown's Forest Arms apartment building, which is currently being rehabbed. The event takes place Friday, Jan. 2, and Saturday, Jan. 3 at PJ's in Corktown.

Though they didn't win the ultimate $50,000 prize as a finalist in the 2014 Hatch Detroit contest, Third Wave Music has experienced a significant boost from the community. A recent crowdfunding campaign, fundraising concerts, and art auction raised a reported $10,000 for the music store. That money is being used to purchase inventory.

The weekend-long benefit was actually the idea of Lager House owner Paul "PJ" Ryder, who approached Third Wave about hosting another fundraiser. All of the money collected at the door and 50 percent of bar sales will be given to Third Wave.

Detroit is a city internationally renowned for its contributions to popular music. Yet for all of the musicians living and working in Detroit, be they students, amateurs, hobbyists, or professionals, there are few -- if any -- places to buy even the simplest of supplies, from reeds to guitar picks, strings to drum sticks.

"The outpouring of love and support reminds me of how much musicians and the people who love music really have each others back," says co-owner Jen David. "How we really want to help each other succeed, but also how bad we need a music store that is focused on the community."

In addition to supplies, the store will sell used gear, Detroit-made products and instruments, and will offer instrument repair services. As it stands today, Detroit musicians have to rely on suburban stores for the majority of such products. Music lessons are also planned.

A Benefit for Third Wave Music occurs Friday, Jan. 2, and Saturday, Jan. 3, at PJ's Lager House at 1254 Michigan Ave. Music begins at 9 p.m. on both nights. Friday includes sets from Six and the Sevens, Coyote Cleanup, Alison Lewis, 3FT, and DJ Nothing Elegant. Saturday features performances from Robbie Dwight, Kaylan Waterman, Rollin'N'Tumblin, Duende!, and Stone Clover. There is a $10 suggested donation.

Source: Jen David, co-owner of Third Wave Music
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Detroit Experience Factory to move to Monroe Avenue, Build Institute to Bagley Street

Over 12,000 people took one of D:hive's Detroit tours this year. That's up from 10,000 in 2013 and 8,000 in 2012. Since D:hive launched its Build Institute in 2012, over 400 people representing every Detroit ZIP code have graduated from the popular small business incubator, and many of those have gone on to start their own small businesses in the city.

Given these successes, it might come as a surprise to some that D:hive is disbanding this year, celebrating with a farewell party Dec. 18. at the D:hive storefront on Woodward Avenue. And actually, the end of D:hive is a good thing, a result of its success. The organization has so excelled at being a booster for Detroit tourism and small business that it is splitting into two separate entities.

The Build Institute is moving to the Repair the World office at 2701 Bagley St. in Mexicantown, where it will continue to offer its small business programming and classes. D:hive tours have been re-branded as the Detroit Experience Factory, or DXF, which will soon operate out of 123 Monroe Ave. That opening is Jan. 12.

Jeanette Pierce has been championing Detroit, at least in an official capacity, since 2006, when she started her first tour group, Inside Detroit. In 2008, that group moved into the now-familiar home of 1253 Woodward Ave., where it became the city's first ever brick-and-mortar welcome center. In 2012, it became a part of D:Hive. What was supposed to be a pop-up has lasted nearly seven years.

For Pierce, this whole experience has been about experimenting to find what works and what doesn't. No one knew what to expect when they started the Build Institute program and now it's become so successful that D:hive is splitting apart so each faction can concentrate on their own goals.

"We'll still work together," says Pierce. "We're like siblings moving out and on our own."

Source: Jeanette Pierce, Director of Community Relations at Detroit Experience Factory
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Managing partner on Gold Cash Gold opening: A 'wild' success

Anticipation for Corktown's newest restaurant Gold Cash Gold was so great that a line wrapped around the corner and along Michigan Avenue as people waited for the restaurant's 5 p.m. grand opening Saturday, Dec. 6. Business has been humming ever since.

Eli Boyer is a partner and also the general manager of the restaurant. He says that the first week following a grand opening is important as any, allowing the restaurant to observe, analyze, and react to the customer experience. Just because the restaurant had a successful opening doesn't mean the restaurant is ready to rest on its laurels.

"When building an idea for a restaurant, you can project how guests will react, but that first week is so important to observe and analyze the guest experience," says Boyer. "You gather information in that first week and respond. The tweaks made are small but impactful."

This is the first time Boyer has been a part of opening a restaurant in Detroit. The Farmington Hills native got into the restaurant game in Chicago, starting the DMK restaurant company in 2009. He says the differences between opening a restaurant in Detroit vs. Chicago are many and that the experience here is already a much more fulfilling one.

Boyer says that the team behind Gold Cash Gold can feel the excitement from the neighborhood. That excitement was expressed at the grand opening.

"It was wild," Boyer says of the opening. "I've never experienced that before where people waited outside for the doors to unlock. It made our staff excited to see that. And we were so impressed with how the staff handled it and performed."

Gold Cash Gold opens in time for the holiday season, not by design, says Boyer, but a happy coincidence nonetheless. The restaurant hopes to add 50 seats in a patio setting for the summer, but the current configuration allows for a smaller, more manageable opening.

Source: Eli Boyer, managing partner of Gold Cash Gold
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Disclaimer: The co-CEO of Issue Media Group, Model D's parent company, has a financial interest in Gold Cash Gold.

Art Deco classic restored in downtown Detroit

An Art Deco classic has been restored by DTE Energy, re-invigorating a building that has been vacant since 2004. Once belonging to the Salvation Army, the 32,000-sqare-foot building on the west side of downtown will soon house 140 DTE information technology employees. It has been renamed the Navitas House. Navitas is Latin for energy.

Architecture firm Hamilton Anderson Associates and general contractor L.S. Brinker, two Detroit-based companies, led the rehabilitation. That rehab brought the building up to current codes while preserving historic elements like the lobby's historic features and the bathrooms' terrazzo tiles and marble walls. Navitas is also projected to be DTE's first LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, building for 2015. Green elements include a rain garden behind the building that will filter runoff while creating an urban oasis for birds and butterflies.

"One of the keys to urban revitalization is to bring vacant buildings back to life, which helps a street feel more alive, makes it safe,r and improves the overall stability of the neighborhood," says Ron May, DTE Energy executive vice president of Major Enterprise Projects. "This beautiful building stands now as a symbol of our work to help energize Detroit."

Navitas House is located on Bagley across from the DTE Energy headquarters. The restoration of the old Salvation Army building is not the only project DTE has planned for its neighborhood. The publicly-traded energy company expects to break ground on what's been called a mini-Campus Martius just east of its headquarters in the spring. DTE plans on transforming what is now an empty lot into a green space that will be a gathering place for people who live in, work in, and visit downtown Detroit.

The Navitas House is located at 601 Bagley St.

Source: DTE Energy press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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December development news round-up

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mystery chef lined up for new Midtown restaurant Chartreuse

A mystery chef will have a rotating selection of fresh and local ingredients to choose from at Chartreuse, a new restaurant planned for the old Rodin location in Midtown's Park Shelton building. Chartreuse is the work of Sandy Levine, owner of the Oakland Art Novelty Company cocktail bar in Ferndale. He hopes Chartreuse will be open by March.

Levine has agreed to keep the chef's identity a secret while that person finishes their run at a different restaurant "about an hour and a half away." Levine and his wife learned of the chef through a recommendation and made the trek to check out that person's work. Expecting to be slightly underwhelmed, the opposite occured and the couple left convinced that the mystery chef would have to come to Detroit to run the Chartreuse kitchen.

Levine says the restaurant is laid out more like a New York restaurant with most of the space dedicated to the dining room. Because of that lack of storage space, Levine plans on daily shipments of fresh food and a menu that changes at least a couple of times a week, if not daily. He says to expect simple and rustic American food.

As well known as Levine is for his specialty cocktail bar, Chartreuse won't be the Oakland: Detroit. Levine plans a smaller drink menu for Chartreuse, emphasising quality and not the obscure.

"We won't need a crazy selection of spirits," says Levine. "We'll just make crazy good drinks. This will be a neighborhood restaurant where we'll do things simply and well."

The restaurant has been painted, the tile has been set, and the furniture has been ordered. Levine hopes to have everything in place by January and will be waiting for the permits to come through for that March opening.

Source: Sandy Levine, owner of Chartreuse
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Businesses work together to draw holiday shoppers to the Villages

Nine businesses throughout Detroit's Villages neighborhoods are making a play for holiday shoppers with the introduction of a shopping passport. Completion of the passport enters shoppers into a January lottery where winners will be chosen at random and receive gift certificates to participating businesses.

Most of the nine businesses taking part in the Villages Passport are relatively new and located in West Village, reflecting the boom in small business development in that neighborhood. The businesses are offering a number of specials throughout the shopping season, including food and drink specials at Craft Work and free gift-wrapping at Sparkle in the Village. Shoppers get their passports stamped as they visit each store throughout the month of December.

Businesses participating in the Villages Passport:The Villages Passport came as a result of September's Detroit Design Festival. According to Brian Hurttienne, executive director of the Villages CDC, a number of the shops participating in DDF experienced such great business during the event that they expressed a desire for organizing something for the holidays.

"There are more and more businesses wanting to do things together. There's a comradery happening," says Hurttienne. "It really shows that this is a true neighborhood."

On Saturday, December 13, the Villages will host Shop Detroit, a holiday shopping booster program started by the Detroit branch of the NAACP in 1988. Hurttienne is currently recruiting several pop-up businesses to complement the event.

The Villages Passports can be picked up and, once completed, returned at any of the nine participating businesses throughout the month of December.

Source: Brian Hurttienne, executive director of the Villages CDC
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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DNR seeks businesses for Belle Isle Park in 2015

Local businesses are being encouraged to bid for contracts to operate concession and vendor services on Belle Isle Park. Michigan's Department of Natural Resources is hosting a series of informative meetings to assist potential vendors in applying to do business on the largest city-owned island park in the U.S.

According to the DNR, available business opportunities include food services, outdoor sports equipment rentals, and beach equipment rentals. Interested businesses must attend one of the following meetings in order to be considered for a contract:
 
  • Golf driving range (Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 9 a.m.)
  • Watercraft/bike/snow sport rentals (Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 1 p.m.)
  • Porta-Potty and hand-wash rentals (Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 3 p.m.)
  • Mobile food and mobile ice cream (Thursday, Dec. 18 at 9 a.m.)
  • Mobile toy and beach rental (Thursday, Dec. 18 at 10:30 a.m.)
  • Carriage ride (Thursday, Dec. 18 at 11:30 a.m.)
  • Kids’ Row concession store (Thursday, Dec. 18 at 1 p.m.)
  • Athletic complex (Friday, Dec. 19 at 9 a.m.)
The hour-long meetings will be held at Flynn Pavilion, located on the island's Lake Tacoma, which is near the intersection of Picnic Way and Loiter Way. Representatives from the DNR will be on hand to answer any questions prospective bidders may have about operating on the island in 2015.

2015 marks the first full year that Belle Isle will be under state control since the city of Detroit leased the island park to Michigan under a 30-year deal in 2014. The deal was pursued and signed by former Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr. An $11 Recreation Passport is now required to enter the park, a year-long pass that grants access to all 102 State Parks throughout Michigan.

Winners of the bids will join Detroit Disc Golf. That group successfully negotiated with the DNR to operate a disc golf course on Belle Isle in 2014.

Source: Michigan Department of Natural Resources press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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100-year master plan for Palmer Park revealed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo and audio exhibition chronicles life in Delray before the bridge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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After a three-year fight, West Village community garden buys land from city

The group behind West Village community garden Shipherd Greens has successfully purchased its land from the city of Detroit. Though the $1,050 price for the land may seem modest, it's a big victory for Shipherd Greens, LLC, which was formed with the purpose of purchasing the lots. Efforts to purchase the land began three years ago and the group's offers have been rejected by the city a number of times since.

Shipherd Greens is located at the corner of Shipherd and Agnes streets in West Village. The all-organic community garden produces a range of produce, including kale, tomatoes, collards, apples, and grapes.

Though the city had no issue with Shipherd Greens operating the two city lots as a community garden through the Adopt-A-Lot program, it took three years of pushing by the group before the city sold them the land. One of the lead organizers of the garden, Rosie Sharp, says they were originally turned down because of zoning issues. After enlisting the help of some local political leaders to pressure the Planning and Development Department and personally calling every other week, Sharp and her community now own the land they've been caring for since Lisa Richter first started the garden in 2006.

The prospect of losing the land was a major driver for Sharp. Having moved to West Village from New York City in 2009, Sharp says the experience of watching her former New York City neighborhood quickly gentrify kept her motivated. While she thinks all of the businesses opening in West Village are great for the neighborhood, Sharp doesn't want to see the community garden get swallowed up by the recent surge in development there.

"Sometimes you worry," says Sharp. "With urban agriculture, it can be tempting for people to reduce it to a monetary value, but the real value is kind of hidden. It's about spending time outside with your community and being connected to the earth."

It's important, she says, that the city recognizes the people who have been caring for their neighborhoods since before the current wave of development. For example, at $1,050 for two lots, the city charged Shipherd Greens nearly twice per lot compared to what Hantz Woodlands paid for a lot, which was around $300 each.

As a result of her experience, Sharp is organizing a series of Land Forum workshops where city residents can learn how to purchase vacant land in Detroit. The third Land Forum Workshop is from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 18 at Repair the World Detroit, 2701 Bagley St. 

Source: Rosie Sharp, a lead organizer of Shipherd Greens
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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New Midtown co-working space to offer painting classes on weekends

In the two years since Mack and Linda Hendricks first had their idea to open a co-working space, the city's co-working scene has blown wide open. After a few setbacks with their intended facilities, the husband-and-wife team has followed through on its vision, opening Common Division in Midtown earlier this month.

Even though the number of Detroit co-working spaces has grown considerably since they first thought of opening their own, Mack and Linda believe their location, building, and programming will make it all worth the wait. Common Division is located in Suite B of 4160 Cass Ave.

It's a storefront location, something that sets them apart from other co-working spaces, says Mack. Another advantage is the parking, which he says is considerably cheaper than downtown. The couple also believes that their neighbors will play a role in their success. Common Division shares a building with the coffee and gelato shop, Melt. The popular tapas restaurant La Feria is also on that block.

"We're where people live," says Mack Hendricks. "And there's not a lot of space in some of these apartments in the neighborhood. People want to get out and be somewhere creative."

Being creative is a big component of the Common Division business plan. On Dec. 6 during Midtown's Noel Night celebration, Common Division will debut their Paint the Town event. Following Noel Night, Paint the Town events will occur every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The co-working space will be transformed into a painting class, with easels and stools replacing tables and office chairs. An instructor will walk groups through the process of painting. Mack says it's a simple and fun way to discover something you didn't know you had in you. The painting classes are two hours long and BYOB -- bring your own bottle of wine.

Access to the co-working space is from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. for holders of day- and week-long passes and and 24-hours-a-day for those holding monthly passes. Day passes are $15, week passes are $50, and month passes are $160. Wi-fi, refreshments, printing and fax facilities, and lockers are some of the amenities offered with each membership.

Source: Mack Hendricks, co-owner of Common Division
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Skate park campaign suspended as city puts target property up for sale

UPDATE: Curbed Detroit is reporting that Community Push has suspended its crowdfunding campaign because the city of Detroit is selling the property where the organization planned to build a skatepark. Here is Community Push's statement from its Patronicity page:

"Due to unforeseen circumstances, Wigle Recreation Center is being sold by the city. Community Push and the MEDC is looking for alternative spaces within the city for our future skate park."

---


A group of Detroit skate boarders is receiving a major push from the state of Michigan.

Community organizers and skate boarders Community Push began building a skate park at the old Wigle Recreation Center earlier this year. Not only has the city of Detroit's recreation department given the group its blessing, the state of Michigan, through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, has gotten in on the fun. The state's marketing arm has agreed to contribute $20,000 toward major improvements to the skate park if Community Push can reach their own $20,000 through crowdfunding. Community Push has raised $4,055 at the time of publication.

Community Push officially adopted the park from the Detroit Parks and Recreation Department earlier this summer. The park is part of the larger Wigle Recreation Center, a five-acre site in Midtown located at the southeastern corner of the John C. Lodge Freeway service drive and Selden Street. It has been vacant since 2005. Another community organization, the Wigle Recreational Baseball Field, has been caring for the baseball field since 2012.

This summer, after the demolition of a previous DIY skate park at the Brewster-Douglas Housing Projects, Community Push began working on the park at Wigle. The first phase of construction was completed in September and opened for public use. With the crowdfunding and matching grant, the group will finish phase two which includes new obstacles, beautification projects, public seating, and youth programming.

"This project has been a dream to work on," says Community Push’s Derrick Dykas. "I feel very fortunate to be able to take the tools I’ve acquired as a skateboarder, tradesman, and organizer and use them to give back. What's been accomplished so far has sparked a fire in the community that'll burn for years to come, and it's exciting to see what comes next."

Community Push has until Dec. 13 to raise $20,000 and receive the matching MEDC grant.

Source: Michigan Economic Development Corporation press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Brightmoor residents to open food co-op and community kitchen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twenty new 'Little Free Libraries' sprout up across Detroit

Since Nov. 6, twenty new libraries have opened in Detroit -- though perhaps not the kind that immediately comes to mind. They're called Little Free Libraries and come from a nonprofit organization out of Madison, Wis. that has erected nearly 20,000 "libraries" in places around the U.S. and Canada (and as remote as Antarctica!) since 2009. Detroit received twenty of these Little Free Libraries early this month.

Uniquely designed and attractively built, a Little Free Library is basically a box on a post filled with books. It's a leave-a-book, take-a-book system where everyone is encouraged to take a book or two and replace them with a book or two from their own shelves. According to the organization, Little Free Libraries foster a sense of community, literacy, and a love for reading.

The libraries are scattered throughout the city and can be found in, around, or in front of the following locations:
  • North Rosedale Park Civic Association
  • DetroitLoves You Airbnb
  • Corktown's Murphy Play Lot
  • Westminster Church in Northwest Detroit
  • Highland Park's Ruth Ellis Drop-in Center
  • Write-A-House
  • Residential homes in Palmer Woods, Palmer Park, and Boston-Edison
  • Clark Park
  • Weiss Park
  • Hawthorne Park
  • Bennett Park
  • LaSalle Ford Park
  • Lafayette Central Park
  • Wilson Park
  • Edmore-Marbud Park
  • Butler Park
Todd Bol, founder of the Little Free Libraries organization, donated the first twenty. Kim Kozlowski founded Detroit Little Free Libraries and says that these libraries are the first of 313 planned throughout Detroit, making the city the "Little Free Library Capital of the World."

"The first 20 locations aim to promote a sense of community and engagement, not only within Detroit's diverse neighborhoods, but also among visitors in Detroit who chose to rent while staying here, to literary artists as well as community groups," says Kozlowski.

Sam Constantine and Chris Behm of the End Grain Woodworking Co. helped with the project, using reclaimed wood from the city in building the libraries. 

Source: Detroit Little Free Libraries press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Mobile food truck delivers fresh produce to senior citizens and students, looks to grow downtown


Freshly graduated from a TechTown business development program, Jocelyn Harris is looking to grow her fresh produce delivery business and expand its range.

Harris owns and operates UpSouth Foods, a Jefferson-Chalmers-based food truck that has been making deliveries along the Detroit River for the past few years now.

UpSouth is as much a social enterprise as much as it is a business.

Harris started with a desire to deliver fresh, organic, and hormone-free fruits and vegetables to the city's senior citizens who lack access to transportation. Now Harris employs three generations of her family and UpSouth delivers to schools and events in addition to the senior citizen apartments the food truck routinely visits.

Harris is now looking to begin delivering to businesses throughout the city. She also hopes to begin delivering non-perishable food items.

The neighborhoods and communities Harris delivers to are underserved when it comes to fresh, organic, and hormone-free produce, she says. Harris makes her scheduled deliveries throughout the week, stopping at a senior housing facility on the riverfront or a neighborhood school at the same time every week. She's popular among her senior citizen customers because they're used to eating healthy, they just lack a way to purchase fresh produce.

Much of the work she does with children is educating them about healthy eating, a role the retired Detroit Public Schools teacher wears well. Healthy eating is in her blood. She's led urban gardening programs as a 4H youth agent, worked as a Department of Corrections food consultant, and believes, as she says, that, "food is our medicine." Harris gets her produce from a number of farms, including ones in Detroit and Belleville, Michigan.

"I think that my interest in food comes from my family background," says Harris. "My family comes from Texas. Farming meant a lot to my family and I grew up with a lot of stories of farming in the South."

Harris now looks to grow her business and deliver fresh produce to businesses downtown and beyond.

Source: Jocelyn Harris, owner of UpSouth Foods
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

M-1 Rail reveals streetcar design team

The company responsible for designing and building streetcars in Portland, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. has been selected to design and build the M-1 Rail streetcars in Detroit. The Czech Republic-based company Inekon Group has been awarded the approximately $30 million contract.

According to M-1 Rail officials, even though the design team behind the Detroit streetcars is from the Czech Republic, the project continues to comply with a federal Buy America initiative. The program stipulates that the M-1 Rail must be built with American-made products.

"We want to assure that materials, parts, labor, manufacturing processes, and final assembly will meet the Buy America requirements," says M-1 Rail chief operating officer Paul Childs. "It’s too early to talk about any sourcing or potential manufacturing locations, but we are committed to the principles of Buy America’s support of U.S.-based suppliers and the families who work for them."

While visuals of the vehicles' design are not yet available, M-1 Rail has released some streetcar specs. Future riders can expect streetcars that are 73 feet long, 8.5 feet wide, 13 feet high, and weigh 76,000 pounds. The cars utilize lithium-ion batteries, allowing to them to run "off-wire" 60 percent of the time. This will limit the amount of overhead wires along Woodward Avenue used to power the streetcars.

The double-ended and double-sided streetcars will be driven by operators at the same speed as automobile and bus traffic. They will be Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant, built low to the ground for ease of access for mobility assist devices like wheelchairs. The streetcars will feature WiFi Internet, bike racks, and an HVAC system capable of handling Michigan seasons.

While no dates were given as to when the public will be able to see the final streetcar design, M-1 Rail officials say they are on track to be up and running in 2016.

Source: M-1 Rail press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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Historic Catholic school building re-opens as charter school

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


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

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

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

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

Source: Cornerstone Charter Schools press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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October development news round-up


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

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

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

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

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

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

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Offworld Arcade now open once a month in Corktown


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Co-working space to open in Grandmont Rosedale


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Lowell is aiming for a Dec. 2015 opening.

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

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Anahata Yoga opens pop-up studio in Grandmont Rosedale


With business partner Regina Ward, certified yoga instructor Nicole Martin has opened Anahata Yoga in Detroit's Grandmont Rosedale neighborhood. The yoga studio, located at 19560 Grand River Ave., is part of the REVOLVE Detroit 90-day pop-up program. Martin and Ward have the opportunity to take that time to decide whether they'll remain open and make the transition to a permanent business.

According to Martin, the Grandmont Rosedale community has responded enthusiastically since the studio's grand opening on Sept. 20. It's a tight knit and supportive community, she says, one that has been waiting for a yoga studio for some time now. The people that have been coming to Anahata Yoga are people that live in the neighborhood but were forced to drive to suburban cities like Ferndale, Royal Oak, and Bloomfield Hills to get their yoga fix. Now, with the presence of Anahata, those people can practice yoga without leaving their neighborhood.

"This is a studio for the community," says Martin. "We want it to be accessible for people in the neighborhood. We keep prices low and offer some donation-based classes, too."

Martin is already envisioning opening up additional Anahata yoga studios in other parts of the city. The idea is to open in neighborhoods outside of the typical Midtown and downtown areas and make yoga accessible for under-served sections of Detroit. Martin hopes, too, that she'll be able to educate people, not just on yoga, but on wellness as a whole.

The studio focuses on hatha yoga, which is considered a basic yoga practice that teaches fundamentals. Classes are offered seven days a week and schedules are available on the Anahata website.

Anahata Yoga is one of two Grandmont Rosedale pop-ups in the REVOLVE Detroit program. Love Travels Imports, an artisanal crafts boutique, also opened a pop-up on Grand River Ave.

Source: Nicole Martin, owner of Anahata Yoga
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Blexting expands to Highland Park and Hamtramck

Save for the border they share with each other, the cities of Highland Park and Hamtramck are completely surrounded by Detroit. Despite that, those two small cities did not receive the benefit of the Motor City Mapping project that occurred earlier this year. That all changed Monday, Oct. 20, when that project, which cataloged every parcel of land in the city of Detroit, kicked off a week of documenting properties in Highland Park and Hamtramck.

Blexting -- a portmanteau of the words 'blight' and 'texting' -- is an app that has allowed people to document the physical shape of their communities, in turn allowing municipalities to better tackle issues of blight in those neighborhoods. Developed by Michael Evans of Loveland Technologies, the app is available on both iOS and Android smart phones.

This week, surveyors will canvas the two cities, taking photographs of parcels of land and then detailing each property with information regarding vacancy, damage, blights, and similar variables. For the project that occurred in Detroit, residents can now update that information through the app. Residents of Highland Park and Hamtramck will soon be able to do the same.

20 surveyors have been hired to document the roughly 6,600 parcels in Highland Park and 6,700 parcels in Hamtramck. Funding has been provided by the Skillman Foundation and Kresge Foundation with support from Loveland Technologies, Data Driven Detroit, and Rock Ventures. It's predicted that the surveying will take about one week to complete.

Blexting was developed by Detroit programmer and technology enthusiast Michael Evans in 2013. Having shared a co-working space with Loveland Technologies at the Department of Alternatives in downtown Detroit, Evans eventually joined Loveland to develop the app. Since its initial use in Detroit in late 2013 and early 2014, a number of cities have showed interest in the app, including New Orleans, Atlanta, and Pittsburgh.

Source: Rock Ventures press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Artisanal crafts boutique opens second Detroit location in Grandmont Rosedale


It's been so nice she's tried it twice. Yvette Jenkins owns Love Travels Imports, an artisanal crafts boutique with a focus on fair trade products imported from all over the world. Her store, now firmly established along the Avenue of Fashion, got its start as a pop-up thanks to the REVOLVE Detroit program. Once the pop-up program was complete, Jenkins kept her shop open, becoming a fixture at 19452 Livernois Ave. Thanks to that same REVOLVE Detroit pop-up program, Jenkins has opened a second Love Travels Imports, this time in the Grandmont Rosedale neighborhood.

The newest Love Travels Imports is located at 19120 Grand River Ave. It's the storefront of the Grand River WorkPlace, a new business incubator and co-working facility. That organization's Katie Bramlage collaborated with Jenkins on the design of the shop, crafting, among other things, a counter made of recycled wood bits. Jenkins says that the design of the store is inspired by her dedication to fair trade products.

While the two locations share some inventory, Jenkins says that there are some products available only at the pop-up. In addition to featuring new artisans, Jenkins is selling more clothing items, like embroidered tunics and dresses, at the Grand River storefront.

She's rotating products from a different country every two weeks, with the first from Burkina Faso. Another new product is a line of necklaces fashioned from bullet casings. Farmers in Ethiopia are collecting bullet casings which are then transformed into beads. Ethiopian women with HIV and AIDS then fashion the bullet casings into beaded necklaces.

While there is no guarantee that the pop-up will lead to a second permanent location, Jenkins acknowledges that it's a possibility. The pop-up model has worked before. "It's a great opportunity to test the concept in another historic neighborhood," she says.

Source: Yvette Jenkins, owner of Love Travels Imports
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Learn how to submit a successful Knight Cities Challenge application at Wednesday Q&A


Interested in getting money for your idea to make Detroit a more vibrant city? The Knight Cities Challenge will be making grants totaling $5 million for just those kinds of ideas. And on Wednesday, Oct. 15, local and national representatives of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation will lead a dialog that will provide information to those interested in applying for Cities Challenge funds.

The Q&A session will take place this Wednesday from 4 to 6 p.m. at the NextEnergy building in New Center, which is located at 461 Burroughs St. Carol Coletta, the Knight Foundation's vice president of community and national initiatives, and Katy Locker, the Knight Foundation's Detroit program director, will lead the forum, offering tips on how to best prepare an application to meet the Knight Foundation's goals, as well as how applicants can improve their odds of winning funds for their projects.

Knight Cities Challenge is open to everyone, from city government to local activists, and will grant money to innovators in 26 cities throughout the United States, including Detroit. Applications opened Oct. 1 and will be accepted until Nov. 14.

"No project is too small -- so long as your idea is big," says Coletta. "Our hope is to inspire people -- even those who have not previously thought of themselves as civic innovators -- to get involved in shaping the future of their cities."

The challenge is specifically crafted to be accessible to the general public and not just professional grant writers. Everyone is encouraged to apply as long as their project occurs in the city of Detroit and addresses one or all of the issues of talent, opportunity, and engagement. The Knight Foundation is looking for ideas that address how Detroit can attract and keep the best and brightest population, how the city can boost economic activity for everyone, and how to better connect and involve citizens in their collective future.

Source: Knight Cities Challenge press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Detroit City Football Club explores options for a new stadium


Three seasons in and Detroit City Football Club is already outgrowing its home. The team, a member of the National Premier Soccer League, has enjoyed home field advantage at Cass Tech Football Stadium since 2012, but a surge in the team's popularity has driven up attendance and compelled team owners to consider moving to a bigger stadium.

Sean Mann, co-owner of the team, says that the second half of the 2014 season saw an average attendance of nearly 2,900. The high school stadium has a capacity of 3,000.

"We started out in a really grassroots, word-of-mouth kind of way," says Mann. "Now we're getting to a place where we can make some investments."

The team is considering a number of options for its new home, including a potential move to Hamtramck's Keyworth Stadium, a sports venue constructed in 1936 as a part of the Federal Works Progress Administration. Much of that stadium, however, is condemned and would require significant investment from the team. Hamtramck Public Schools, which owns Keyworth, would retain ownership of the stadium were the team to relocate there.

Mann and his team are also considering building a brand new stadium of their own. They are currently surveying a number of empty parcels of land throughout the city of Detroit. Whatever ownership decides, it will most likely be a few years before they relocate. He says that the team will play at Cass Tech for the 2015 season and probably a season or two after that.

While Detroit City FC came up short of making the playoffs this season, interest in the team has only grown. Mann says that it was an A+ season off the field, with the team experiencing tremendous growth, having to turn people away at a number of games.

"Our goal was always to create an organization that was sustainable and last season was a big step in that direction," says Mann.

Source: Sean Mann, co-owner of Detroit City Football Club
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Midtown Interior Finishes to open showroom in the Auburn


In the short time since Mike Barry succumbed to his entrepreneurial bug and started his own commercial and residential interiors business, he's landed some pretty high profile Detroit clients, expanded into new markets, and signed the lease on a space for his first showroom, which is set to open later this month in Midtown's Auburn building.

Barry, with over a decade of experience in the commercial interiors industry, left his job as a sales representative for Mohawk Industries to work as an independent sales agent. It didn't take long before he started his own business, Midtown Interior Finishes, in Feb. 2014.

Commercial interiors, as Barry tells it, are in his blood. He's already landed notable Detroit jobs like the Inn on Ferry Street, the G.A.R. building, and the new retail store Frida in the Park Shelton. But it's his expansion into the residential market that has pushed Barry to open his own showroom.

"I've really worked hard to curate the selection," says Barry. "People can come in and see the best of the best. We're not offering everything, just the coolest and most stylish products."

Barry's products include everything from ceramic and porcelain tiles to bamboo flooring, from a small area rug for a home to a big carpet installation at a law firm.

Since February, he's been renting a desk at the TechTown co-working space, Junction 440, but will move operations to the Auburn once his space is ready. The showroom will open by the end of the month -- if not sooner, he says.

Midtown Interior Finishes will be operating out of Suite 111, the old Butcher's Daughter art gallery space. That gallery, which left Ferndale for Midtown in 2013, has left Michigan altogether and is preparing a space in New York City.

Source: Mike Barry, owner of Midtown Interior Finishes
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Tom's of Maine and city of Detroit raise $75k for improvements to Knudsen Park (Video)


Knudsen Park, a small, humble playlot on the city's northern edge, is set to receive $75,000 in improvements over the next few months.

The park is receiving $25,000 in improvements thanks to a gift to the Eight Mile Boulevard Association from Tom's of Maine. The natural personal care product manufacturer has promised a new activity court and signage for the park at the Chrysler Service Drive and 8 Mile Road.

In addition to the activity court and signage, Tom's has created an interactive contest through social media, allowing people to vote on what other improvements the park will receive. By sharing choices via social media, voters will determine whether Knudsen Park receives new artwork, benches, a picnic table, swing set, basketball court, or play car. Voting ends on Friday, Oct. 31.

Also involved is Detroit-native Mike Posner, a national recording artist, singer, songwriter, and producer. Posner is acting as judge for Tom's nationwide contest, 50 States for Good. Through that program, Tom's donates $10,000 to one non-profit in each state plus Washington, D.C. Detroit's Knudsen Park is the apparent lone recipient of a $25,000 donation.



"There's really an opportunity to not only get this park up to snuff, but to have it say something, to have it speak for the community," says Jordan Twardy, executive director of the Eight Mile Boulevard Association. "Without Tom's, we'd still be kind of incrementally going along. So I think this is a really great opportunity. Sometimes seeing is believing and I think this project is going to demonstrate that."

According to the 8MBA, the city of Detroit is investing an additional $50,000 into Knudsen Park following the Tom's contest. These improvements are said to include a new fence and ADA-compliant pathway.

Source: Tom's of Maine press release, Eight Mile Boulevard Association
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Community block party announced for West RiverWalk grand opening

Morning joggers, lunchtime power walkers, and anyone out for an evening stroll have the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy to thank for an additional 20 acres of the popular RiverWalk park system. The group is celebrating its latest success with a grand opening party Saturday, Oct. 4.

Happening between 1 and 8 p.m. at 1801 W. Jefferson Ave., the community block party is free and open to the public. Live music, food trucks, and a beer tent will fuel the revelry with family-friendly activities planned for those with children.

This is the first portion of the RiverWalk to extend west of Joe Louis Arena. The path is interrupted by the Riverfront Towers Apartments and its marina and picks up after, running between the Detroit River and W. Jefferson Avenue to Rosa Parks Boulevard. It's marked by the familiar features found along the existing RiverWalk, including new lighting, rails, and promenade.

The promenade of the western stretch has been widened to 30 feet, allowing fishers to cast their lines while worrying less about the speeding bikers weaving in and out of their path. Marc Pasco, director of communications for the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, said in an interview conducted earlier this summer, "Fishermen have always loved that location. This will give them some extra room."

Much of the western stretch of the RiverWalk is defined by a large lawn ideal for lounging, sports, or concerts. This year's edition of the annual KEM Live at Mack and Third benefit concert was held at the western RiverWalk on Aug. 24. The concert series, formed by Detroit performer KEM, has raised food, goods, services, and awareness for the city's homeless population since 2009.

The opening of this latest extension brings the conservancy one parcel of land closer to completing its goal of the RiverWalk running from Gabriel Richard Park to the Ambassador Bridge.

Source: Detroit Riverfront Conservancy
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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$5 million available to urban innovators across 26 cities, including Detroit

Big thinkers, dreamers, and just about anyone else with an idea on how to make cities better are invited to apply for part of $5 million offered by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Dubbed the Knight Cities Challenge, the foundation is granting money to innovators in 26 cities throughout the United States, including Detroit. Applications open Oct. 1 and will be accepted until Nov. 14.

The money is available to an array of urban innovators and doers -- from entrepreneurs to artists, students to educators -- as long as the idea deals with one or all of the key drivers of city success as defined by the foundation.

Ideas must address the issues of talent, opportunity, and/or engagement. According to the foundation, successful ideas will address how Detroit can attract and keep the best and brightest population, how the city can boost economic activity for everyone, and how to better connect and involve citizens in their collective future.

"We are looking for ideas from innovators who will take hold of the future of our cities," says Carol Coletta, Knight Foundation vice president for community and national initiatives, in a statement. "To succeed cities need talented people who can contribute to their growth, new opportunities that are open to all, and ways to engage people to spur connections and civic action."

A community Q&A will be held in each of the foundation's 26 Knight cities, including Detroit, that will help applicants prepare a successful submission. That date is yet to be announced. A virtual information session will be held online from 3 to 4 p.m. EST on Oct. 1.  

Source: Knight Cities Challenge press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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September development news round-up


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

A groundbreaking was held for the Arena District last week, beginning the very expensive task of building an 18,000-seat hockey and entertainment arena and 45 blocks of mixed-use development mostly from scratch. A mix of public and private money is funding the development just north of downtown. The arena is scheduled to open in 2017.

In other sports-cum-development news, the city of Detroit is weighing proposals for the redevelopment of the historic former site of Tiger Stadium in the city's Corktown neighborhood. The city issued its latest RFP for the site earlier this year and has reportedly narrowed it down to two proposals. Each proposal calls for mixed-use development for the site, which would run along Michigan Avenue and Trumbull Street. The rest of the site will be reserved for the Police Athletic League and its own development plans, which would include maintaining the historic playing field.

The M-1 Rail construction keeps chugging along, with the first tracks being installed along Woodward this week. Crews began working on the 3.3 mile-long light rail development in July 2014.

Last week, a judge ordered Ralph Sachs to secure and maintain a downtown building of his which has become so dilapidated that the city of Detroit is suing for it to be torn down. Preservationists started a petition in response, asking that Sachs be held responsible for maintaining his building, rather than forcing the historic Albert Kahn-designed high rise be torn down.

In beer news, Dexter-based Jolly Pumpkin announced that it will open its third Michigan location in Detroit's Midtown. The brewery and restaurant will open at 441 W. Canfield St. in 2015. Meanwhile, the Michigan-based HopCat, a craft beer bar and restaurant, has delayed its opening, also in Midtown, to mid-December of this year.  

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Frida Kahlo-inspired clothing boutique to open in Midtown's Park Shelton building


Though relatively brief, artist Frida Kahlo's time in Detroit from 1932 to 1933 continues to be a source of inspiration for many Detroiters. During that period, she and husband and artist Diego Rivera stayed in what's now called the Park Shelton, and it's there where Rachel Lutz, proprietress of that same building's Peacock Room, will open Frida, a clothing store that draws inspiration from Kahlo, her style, and the time she spent in Detroit.

Frida is the everyday extension of Lutz's vision, expanding her women's clothing collection to include jeans, leggings, shirts, and sweaters. Lutz uses words like 'eclectic' and 'modern,' 'boho' and 'ethnic' to characterize her new store, saying that just as it's hard to put Kahlo in a box, her new store can be hard to describe. She has big plans for the space itself, too, and promises it to be unlike any shop in the area.

It was a single sweater that inspired Lutz to open Frida, spotted at a trade show while picking out clothes for a new season at the Peacock Room. It was bold, fun, and lively, she says, multi-colored and very textured. It wasn't, however, something you'd find at the Peacock Room, so she passed. She regrets that decision now, having never been able to find that sweater again. But it did get Lutz thinking, and it's what inspired her to open Frida.

“It's a lesson to myself and to customers. What's here today is gone tomorrow,” says Lutz. “But that's what makes shopping fun. You have to get it while it's here.”

Frida will replace Lutz's other store, Emerald, a gift boutique that sometimes sold men's accessories. The Woodward-facing storefront was supposed to be a 6-month pop-up, says Lutz. It ended up staying open for two years. Popular products from that store will continue to be carried at the Peacock Room.

Lutz had a soft opening for Frida during this most recent Dlectricity festival. A grand opening is planned for Oct. 23 at 5 p.m. Brief openings and appointments may occur in the interim.

Source: Rachel Lutz, proprietress of the Peacock Room, Frida
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Charcuterie boards, sandwiches, and more: Rubbed opens in Corktown


It's been a quiet opening for Corktown's newest restaurant, Rubbed, and that's exactly how business partners Abbey Markell and Jason Frenkel want it. They passed their final inspections Tuesday, September 16, and decided to open their doors that next day. "Just to see what happens," as Markell says.

Having never opened a restaurant before, they're hoping a slow and steady approach helps them address every challenge as it comes along. Despite the lack of promotion, business is already humming. The Rubbed brand has been around for over a year now as the duo have catered parties and events all over town. They've established a reputation for quality, letting the food promote itself. The catering service will remain a key source of income for the restaurant.

"We want this to grow organically," says Markell. "We had our soft opening. We'll grow slowly and hire slowly and have it build. We would stay open until 4 a.m. if the demand was there. We want to be responsive to our customers."

The Rubbed charcuterie boards, a spread of cured meats and cheeses, lend themselves to gatherings. Those boards are available at the restaurant, along with sandwiches, small plate dishes, and a small retail selection. Markell and Frenkel plan to add a full-service dinner menu next spring, when they'll look to obtain a liquor license. A monthly dinner series where customers pre-order tickets for a four- or five-course meal begins in October. Rubbed will also package and sell meats, salads, and sides out of their display coolers.

Markell says she worked on the restaurant's décor while waiting to pass city and health inspections, outfitting the space with work by local artists and other flourishes. She calls it quirky and fun, but minimalist. They're working on a patio, too.

Rubbed is located at 2015 Michigan Ave.

Source: Abbey Markell, co-owner of Rubbed
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Pop-up biergarten to occur in West Village Saturday, September 27


The West Village Biergarten is popping up Saturday, September 27. Hatch Detroit, the Villages of Detroit, West Village Association, Detroit City Distillery, and the Detroit Lions are teaming together to offer a day's worth of food, music, and craft beer, activating an empty lot on Van Dyke Avenue, adjacent to West Village Manor. The party runs from noon to 8 p.m.

The biergarten is a combination of events. Along with being one of West Village's contributions to the Detroit Design Festival, it's also an opportunity for Hatch Detroit to celebrate the recent work they've completed in West Village. Through their neighborhood initiatives program with the Detroit Lions, Hatch helped install new signage for West Village businesses and replace old gas lights with LEDs.

Many Hatch alums will be contributing to the pop-up. Algeria Pops, who made it to the top ten list in this year's Hatch contest, will be selling their Mexican ice pops. Gabriel Hall, a top four finalist in this year's Hatch contest, will be making their New Orleans food and playing their New Orleans music -- Gabriel Hall owner Dameon Gabriel leads the Gabriel Brass Band. Sister Pie, winner of this year's Hatch grand prize, will be hosting a pop-up at their own soon-to-be location at Parker and Kercheval.

"We try and keep track of our alums and see what they're doing on their own," says Hatch's executive director Vittoria Katanski. "We use them for events as much as we can."

Michigan beers including selections from Short's, Founders, Bell's, and New Holland will be on tap and spirits from the recently-opened Detroit City Distillery, located in Eastern Market, will be on hand. Cornhole, a popular tailgating game involving the tossing of bean bags into wooden boxes, will be set up as well.

Around the corner, new West Village coffee shop The Red Hook is planning a soft opening that same weekend.

Source: Vittoria Katanski, executive director of Hatch Detroit
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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It's happening: The Red Hook coffee shop is set to open in West Village


It's happening this time. It really is. After being forced to push back opening date after opening date, the Red Hook is finally set to open in West Village.

The much-anticipated Detroit location of the popular Ferndale coffee shop will be serving customers Friday and Saturday, September 26-27, during a soft opening that coincides with a number of events happening throughout the city's Villages neighborhoods. The Red Hook will officially be open for business the following week.

The Red Hook's West Village location, 8025 Agnes St. (next door to Craft Work), has been two years in the making. Owner and operator Sandi Heaselgrave, who invested close to $100,000 to build out the space and bring everything up to code, says the longest process was the six months it took for the city's Board of Zoning Appeals to approve the space being re-zoned from retail.

"It's been kind of a roller coaster, though it's been a great experience to learn how to open a business in the city of Detroit," says Heaselgrave. "It's a very lengthy process."

Heaselgrave has put in a lot of work building out the storefront to suit her cafe. She has added a small kitchen, coffee bar, seating, and new hardwood floors. Plumbing, electrical, and HVAC work was required, as well. And then there were the doors, windows, and lighting that had to be replaced and the plaster ceiling and walls that had to be resurfaced.

Even though she thought she'd be open by now, Heaselgrave seems as excited as ever to meet her new neighbors and become a regular part of the West Village community. Expect regular business hours to begin a week after the soft opening.

Source: Sandi Heaselgrave, owner and operator of the Red Hook
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Michigan Audio Heritage Society Museum to celebrate grand opening


Record store owners are as much archivists as they are business owners, so it's fitting that one of Detroit's very own, Brad Hales of People's Records, is about to open a museum. The Michigan Audio Heritage Society Museum, or MAHS Museum, will debut this weekend. Located in a formerly unused room of the coffee shop/music venue/art gallery/community space Trinosophes, MAHS occupies its own storefront at 1464 Gratiot Ave.

Hales has been working on collecting material for the museum for the past 11 years. As he accumulated records for his store, Hales began to amass a sizable collection of local music ephemera, like historic posters and promotional materials. With the help of John S. and James L. Knight Foundation's Knight Arts Challenge and Eastern Market Corporation, Hales is ready to open his museum.

Hales hopes MAHS will bring some much deserved attention to Michigan's musical legacy. While plenty of well-known music has come out of Michigan, Hales says that there's still so much that we don't even know about as Michiganders. He often finds himself learning about Michigan music from people who aren't even from here -- sometimes people on the other side of the world.

"There's a great deal of stuff that the rest of the world looks to us for that we might not even appreciate or know about ourselves," says Hales.

Hales is also cultivating a Detroit- and Michigan-centric Internet radio program, available to stream and download. The program will often co-incide with the rotating exhibits at the museum. 

The MAHS museum is free and will be accessible during Trinosophes brunch and performances. A grand opening is being celebrated by weekend performances from legendary Detroit jazz group Vibes From The Tribe, tickets for which are available at Trinosophes. The museum itself will be open 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., Friday, September 26, and Saturday, September 27.
 
Source: Brad Hales, owner of People's Records, Michigan Audio Heritage Society Museum
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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More state money for Detroit developments announced

Three Detroit developments are part of the latest round of projects to receive aid from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and its Michigan Strategic Fund. The approved projects are part of a larger group throughout the state. MEDC expects 11 developments to generate over $419 million in new investment and 1,471 new jobs across Michigan.
 
  • The issuance of private activity bonds has been authorized for the construction of an arena district between downtown and Midtown Detroit. With a new Red Wings arena as an anchor, the construction of the entertainment, residential, and commercial district is set to break ground this Thursday, September 25. The $450 million in private activity bonds were originally announced by the MEDC in July 2013. The group estimates that construction and construction-related jobs will total anywhere from 5,300 to 8,300 just for the arena itself. Half of those jobs will be filled by Detroit residents, as required by the initial agreement. Once open, the MEDC estimates 1,100 permanent jobs will be created by the arena.
  • The recently announced residential addition atop the 10-level parking structure adjacent to the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel is receiving $1,841,533 in Michigan Business Tax brownfield credits and $4,798,000 in Michigan Community Revitalization Program performance-based equity investment. 80 one-, two-, and three bedroom units are planned for the development. Three jobs are expected to be created.
  • Automotive supplier American Axle & Manufacturing is receiving a $1 million Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant to rehab a vacant building next to its headquarters to function as a technical center and showroom. A 12-year property tax abatement from the City of Detroit has also been offered to the company. 75 jobs will be created, says the MEDC.
Source: Michigan Economic Development Corporation press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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More coffee for Midtown: D-cup Detroit opens in Marcus Market


It started as a casual conversation at her neighborhood corner store. Eliza McKay was at Marcus Market, chit-chatting with someone there over the counter. She mentioned that they should think about selling coffee at the market. They suggested that she could do it. So she did.

Eliza McKay now operates D-cup Detroit out of Marcus Market, selling coffee and tea with an emphasis on local, organic, and fair trade products. The coffee comes from Righteous Bean, a coffee roasting company based out of suburban Center Line. The tea is courtesy of Eli Tea, another Michigan company that has made use of the Detroit Kitchen Connect network of commercial kitchens.

McKay got into coffee culture while working at a coffee shop. She grew critical of some of the practices of that particular business, and D-cup is a way for McKay to do things her way. In the short time since opening, McKay has already been able to pay back a small loan she was given to start the business.

"It's been awesome. I really wanted to stop working for other people," says McKay. "It's rewarding to give people what they want, to provide something healthy and at a reasonable price."

She's been experimenting with different coffee and tea-based drinks, mixing the two together. Their most popular drink, says McKay, is cold-pressed coffee mixed with a chai tea.

D-cup Detroit is the second outside business to call Marcus Market home. Alley Taco opened earlier this year. With the market providing opportunities for young entrepreneurs as well as recently undergoing a major improvement of its facade, the corner store has come a long way since neighbors took it upon themselves to paint the building in 2007.

Source: Eliza McKay, owner of D-Cup Detroit
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Oprah presents Detroit Kitchen Connect leader with $25K grant


In the short year since Devita Davison started Detroit Kitchen Connect, she has helped many of Detroit's burgeoning food entrepreneurs expand operations, bringing them out of their homes and into a licensed commercial kitchen. It's an opportunity that, without the help of a group like Detroit Kitchen Connect, not every hopeful business can afford. So it's no surprise that Devita and her group would be given a large grant to help grow.

What was a surprise, certainly to Devita, is the fact that Olympian Amy Purdy and American icon Oprah Winfrey would be the people presenting her that grant. And in front of 10,000 or so people, no less.

But there Devita was, Saturday, September 13, standing onstage on the second night of Oprah's The Life You Want event at the Palace of Auburn Hills. As Oprah leaned into Devita and said that she'd hold her through this, Purdy presented Devita with a $25,000 Toyota Standing O-Vation award for her commitment to supporting local food entrepreneurs.

Oprah's people approached Devita months ago, crafting the story that while they had no plans for the footage, they'd like to come down and create a video piece on the work she and Detroit Kitchen Connect have been doing. Maybe they'd find some use for it somewhere in Oprah's media empire, they said. Months later, they offered Devita tickets to the show at the Palace but, as she tells it, “I found out at 4:59. I got on stage at 5:00.”

The video was played, a check was presented, and the crowd cheered. And while hearing part of your life story narrated by Oprah is no doubt thrilling, Devita is able to keep the focus on the city and the work being done here.

"The story was told in a way that shows Detroit is coming back, but that it's also a city that is doing it from the ground up," says Devita. "It's an initiative accomplished through community capital. It's grassroots."

In that spirit, Detroit Kitchen Connect will be using some of the money to help community partner Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Cathedral in southwest Detroit. The church is in desparate need of infrastructure repairs after experiencing two to three feet of flooding during one of this summer's heavy rainfalls. They plan on buying a better mixer for their bakers, too, along with a new oven. A local food entrepreneur scholarship program will also receive a boost.



Source: Devita Davison, Community Kitchen Coordinator at Detroit Kitchen Connect
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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First annual blacksmith and welding festival to take place in Midtown


The first of what organizers hope to be an annual event will be held Saturday, September 13th in the parking lot across from Midtown bar and restaurant Traffic Jam & Snug. The event, SCRAP, is a celebration of the city's metal working culture. Blacksmithing demonstrations and a live three-team welding competition are among the activities planned.

A silent auction will be held throughout the day, allowing visitors to bid on the works being created right before them. Involved in the welding competition are teams Detroitus, Motown Masters, and City Sculpture. Artists are challenged to make revolving, kinetic sculptures out of reclaimed scrap metal.

Proceeds from the auction will be donated to Green Living Science, a recycling and upcycling advocacy group that is supporting the event. Other supporters include SPARC and Red-D-Arc Welderentals. Traffic Jam & Snug is hosting the event.

SCRAP organizers were first inspired by James Howard, a longtime blacksmith and the father of Traffic Jam & Snug co-owner Carolyn Howard. The event is an opportunity to showcase an inspired group of people and their work.

"It's the start of something amazing," says Ana Cukovic, one of the event's organizers. "People might not know it, but Detroit still has that strong metal working culture."

In addition to demonstrations by the Michigan Blacksmith Guild and the art competition, there will be DJ sets from RJ Stefanski, Eastside Jon, Ernie “Erno the Inferno” Guerra, and Evan Scott Braddish, or “Evol”. Also planned are fire performances, Wayne State University artist showcases, a photobooth, and other vendors.

SCRAP will run from 2 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, September 13th. The event is free to attend and will be family friendly, says organizers.

Source: Ana Cukovic, SCRAP co-producer
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Getting Detroit kids to care about historic preservation in their neighborhood


In an effort to foster a stronger sense of place in young people, the Michigan Historic Preservation Network is hosting the second phase of its Preservation Demonstration Project this Saturday, September 13 at 11 a.m. (rain date: Saturday, September 27). The event, 'My Neighborhood, My Heritage,' will teach the importance of the historic Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood's built and natural environments.

The interactive event is for 12- to 18-year-olds. Young people will be provided disposable cameras and will be encouraged to take photos of the neighborhood while being led on a walking tour. It's an opportunity for the preservation group to teach people the history of their neighborhood and demonstrate how that history affects the community today. It's an opportunity, too, for the group to learn from young people and hear how that built environment affects their lives on a day-to-day basis.

A third event, to be held in late October, will feature the photos taken and will be followed by an awards ceremony. Pop-ups, lectures, and presentations are also planned.

While preservation groups are often associated with opposing the demolition of historic buildings, events like 'My Neighborhood, My Heritage are ways for these groups to reach people before a building, block, or neighborhood is even at risk. It's a long-term plan that can change how people view preservation, demolition, and development in general.

"We hope that this exploration and discussion of shared heritage through the eyes of young people will help inform and influence contemporary community decision-making," MHPN Executive Director Nancy Finegood says in a statement.

The event is free but preregistration is required. Morning refreshments and lunch will be provided.

Register at Hope Community Outreach and Development or email info@mhpn.org.

Update: The 'My Neighborhood, My Heritage' event will begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday, September 13, an hour later than originally scheduled.

Source: Michigan Historic Preservation Network press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Apartment building in 'Arena District' changes hands, but rent remains the same

Cass Park Apartments, a 37-unit apartment building at 2714 Second Ave., has been sold to 2nd Avenue Property, LLC. Property management company Princeton Management is now running the building. 

Not a lot of changes are planned for the property, says Princeton Management Director of Marketing and Communications Michele Dreer, and current residents can expect a smooth transition of management. The building, made up mostly of studio apartments with a few one-bedroom units, was well taken care of by its previous owners and required few upgrades. Rent will stay the same, says Dreer.

According to the Live Midtown website, studio apartments at 2714 Second Ave. rent for $525, while one bedrooms rent for $625 Both rates include utilities.

Cass Park is located just blocks from the multi-million dollar residential and commercial district planned around a new Detroit Red Wings hockey arena. The building itself is situated across from the actual Cass Park. The Masonic Temple is one block north.

"We liked the property because of the area that it's in," says Dreer. "The arena district is going to be great and there will be a lot of redevelopment opportunities."

Princeton is also the group behind the Ashley, the conversion of a downtown hotel into apartments. The company hopes to begin moving tenants into the 67-unit apartment building by the end of the year. The Milner Hotel closed in 2012.

The uniquely-shaped 'flat iron' building first opened as the Henry Clay Hotel in 1913. While Princeton is maintaining the historic lobby and its mosaic tiles and stained glass, the floors above are being completely gutted. Old hotel room walls have been knocked down, leaving wide open floors that will be rebuilt as one- and two-bedroom apartments.

Two retail spaces in the building have already been reserved, says Dreer, though she wouldn't say who those tenants would be.

Princeton manages a number of apartment buildings in Detroit, including the Palms, Orchestra Place, and the Claridge House.

Source: Michele Dreer, Director of Marketing & Communications at Princeton Management
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Craft beer store featuring taps to open in Cass Corridor

A specialty beer store is opening in Detroit's former Chinatown area. 8° Plato Beer Company Detroit will be the second location for the craft and import beer store. Co-owners Tim Costello and Brigid Beaubien are leasing the storefront at 3409 Cass Ave., the former site of Showcase Collectibles, an antique and curio shop.

Costello began to learn about craft beer during the 25 years he spent touring the country as a full-time stand-up comic, sampling the many small breweries throughout the United States. After spending some time working for Comcast, 8° Plato was set in motion after Costello was 'liberated,' as he puts it, from his job at the cable company. Vowing to never go back to the corporate world, Costello and wife and business partner Beaubien opened their first store in Ferndale in 2011.

Costello says that the focus of the Detroit store will be the same as their Ferndale location. Rather than having the biggest stock in town, the point is to have a well-curated selection that doesn't linger on the shelves. It's a quality over quantity approach that emphasizes freshness. Local cheeses, meats, and chocolates will also be available.

"The coolest part is the building's historical significance," says Costello. "We're not going to make radical changes. We'll take out the drywall to expose the brick but maintain the terrazzo tile floor and tin ceilings."

New for the company will be the addition of beer taps. Growlers, tap takeovers, and beer classes will be available. The taps also allow customers to enjoy a freshly poured beer while shopping for more beer. Costello's not looking to have a bar vibe, though, and he says they'll have similar hours to the Ferndale location, which closes by 8 or 9 p.m., depending on the night.

8° Plato Beer Company Detroit hopes for a late Noevember 2014 opening.

Source: Tim Costello, co-owner of 8° Plato Beer Company Detroit
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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City still seeks Brush Park development team, allows for higher densities

The city of Detroit has re-issued a slightly modified request for proposals for a Brush Park development first announced at the beginning of 2014. With that RFP long-expired and the city having not selected a plan, a new RFP was recently announced with a November 14 deadline.

The biggest differences between last January's RFP and the new one are a changes in residential density and land use parameters. While the previous RFP capped residential development in Brush Park at 15 to 35 dwelling units per acre, the revised RFP is allowing for larger developments of up to 60 dwelling units per acre.

According to the release, the City of Detroit's Planning and Development Department believes that, "[I]in order to better achieve the neighborhood scale, walkable, mixed-use vision of the future of Brush Park as set forth by P&DD and the Brush Park Citizens District Council, the current Development Plan is undergoing a major modification in order to allow a greater density of residential (up to 60 D.U./Acre) and a greater mix of uses within Brush Park."

The two parcels of land available in this RFP are the same as before. At approximately 7.5 acres, “Parcel A” is made up of four historic structures and 36 vacant lots bounded by Edmund Place (north), Brush Street (east), Adelaide Street (south), and John R (west). At approximately 0.90 acres, “Parcel B” consists of seven vacant properties and is bounded by Alfred (north), Beaubien Street (east), Division Street (south), and Brush (west).

The historic building at 312 Watson, known as “Parcel C” in January's RFP, is not included in this most recent request.

According to the RFP, the P&DD's new goals for the historic Brush Park neighborhood include creating residential density, promoting adaptive re-use, introducing neighborhood scale retail uses, and limiting surface parking lots.

Source: City of Detroit Planning & Development Department
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Midtown Detroit, Inc. secures funding for new green alley, construction starts in September

Over $200,000 has been secured for a new green alley in Midtown. The money results from a successful crowdfunding campaign by Midtown Detroit, Inc., which beat its $50,000 goal by $2,290. By reaching its goal, Midtown Detroit, Inc. also secures $50,000 in pledged matching funds from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).

The alley in question runs between Second and Third streets and Selden and Alexandrine streets, running behind what could prove to be a very popular restaurant, Selden Standard, which is currently under construction.

"The Green Alley project is a perfect example of how crowdfunding enables residents, businesses, and others to pool resources and work together to create vibrant public spaces," says MEDC's director of community development Katharine Czarnecki in a statement. The Michigan Department of Transportation and Shinola have each contributed an additional $10,000 and $100,000, respectively.

As it stands today, the alley is not unlike plenty of alleys in plenty of big cities, strewn with litter and debris and largely unkempt. Those curious about what a green alley is can travel just a few blocks north to the city's first green alley, which starts at Second and runs east between Canfield and Forest streets, or they can visit the city's second green alley, which is under construction between Cass and Second and Willis and Canfield streets.

Green alleys promote sustainability, pedestrian safety, and placemaking, completely transforming parts of the city that are often under-utilized and generally avoided. By breaking up solid stretches of pavement and replacing them with permeable pavers, green alleys allow urban runoff and rain to go directly into the ground rather than flow into the city's sewer system.

Construction on the alley is scheduled to begin this September and be completed by the end of October. Midtown Detroit, Inc. is planning a grand opening for the alley which will coincide with the highly anticipated opening of the Selden Standard.

Source: Midtown Detroit, Inc. press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Sister Pie wins $50K grand prize from Hatch Detroit

Sister Pie has won the fourth annual Hatch Detroit contest, taking home the $50,000 grand prize. The bakery and pie shop beat out a music store, a New Orleans-themed bar and restaurant, and a breakfast and lunch spot for the top prize.

While pie is deeply rooted in tradition, Sister Pie often puts inventive twists on its products. Recent pies include a pinto bean, corn, and jalapeno hand pie and a blueberry, plum, and balsamic pie.

Lisa Ludwinski, who owns and operates Sister Pie, has said that the Hatch prize money will go a long way toward completing the renovations of a West Village storefront. $50,000 will help Ludwinski reduce the amount of any loans she may need to take out as she builds out the Sister Pie location at Parker and Kercheval streets. Ludwinski hopes for an April 2015 opening.

A physical location for Sister Pie is important to Ludwinski, having stressed the desire for a community space in the neighborhood. Once the cafe opens, Sister Pie will offer breakfast and lunch items in addition to the pies and cookies for which the business is already well known.

Ludwinski hopes to open a temporary counter at the storefront while construction is completed. In the meantime, Sister Pie products are available throughout the city, including at Parker Street Market, Sister Pie's future neighbor.

After menswear and lifestyle boutique Hugh won the first Hatch contest in 2011, the next three winners have all been food- and drink-based businesses. La Feria, a Spanish tapas restaurant that opened in 2013, won in 2012. Meanwhile, Batch Brewing Company, a small batch brewery that took the top prize in 2013, continues to work on their eventual Corktown location.

Source: Lisa Ludwinski, owner and operator of Sister Pie
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Hatch Final Four: A full service music instrument store in Midtown

Given Detroit's rich musical legacy, a lack of music stores throughout the city comes as a surprise -- and an annoyance -- to many a musician. Despite the fact that there are thousands of musicians who live and perform in the city, amateur and professional alike, there's nary a place where a drummer can pick up drumsticks before a gig or where a mother can buy a saxophone reed for a daughter who just joined band class.

Jen David is working to change that. If she has her way, guitarists won't have to drive to the suburbs for guitar strings anymore, and parents won't have to fight traffic as they bring their children to music lessons outside the city. She's starting Third Wave Music, a full service music instrument store that will be located in the Forest Arms apartment building in Midtown. Forest Arms is currently being renovated after a fire shuttered the building in 2008.

David says that the store will focus on accessories like strings, sticks, and reeds as well as music lessons. Locally made products, like instrument effects pedals and cigar box guitars, will be offered, too. David's partner Jeffrey Thomas will offer made-to-order instrument cables (musicians will be able to request specific lengths and specific jacks). Third Wave will sell used gear and offer instrument repair services as well.

For David, it's fulfilling a need for a community of professional musicians, independent artists, and local students that will be the most rewarding aspect of the business.

"The biggest thing is the absolute need for something like this in Detroit," says David. "We've already received so much support and positivity. With the musical legacy of Detroit, it's a resource that this community deserves."

A musician who also gives lessons, David knows first hand the challenges of commuting back-and-forth to the suburbs, currently a necessity for any musician living in Detroit.  

Third Wave Music is one of four contestants vying to win the $50,000 grand prize from Hatch Detroit. Voting ends August 20 at 12 p.m. EST. Voting is open to the public and available online.

Source: Jen David, owner/operator of Third Wave Music
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Hatch Final Four: Pies, cookies, and more in West Village

While chefs and other head kitchen types often carry a moody intensity about them, that is decidedly not Lisa Ludwinski, owner and head baker for Sister Pie. She's big on fun, not serious -- at least when it comes to baking. These are pies and cookies, after all. They're supposed to be fun.

Browsing through Sister Pie social media accounts like Facebook and Instagram reveals that sense of fun. Ludwinski and her cohorts have been posting increasingly creative dance videos while they work. It's something that developed naturally out of the rigors of an average workday -- dancing away the stress. It's a positive release for Ludwinski and one that her customers have responded to.

Of course, dance videos wouldn't get Ludwinski too far if her pies weren't up to snuff. The pies are locally-sourced and reflect Michigan farmers and their traditions, says Ludwinski. While pies are old-fashioned and traditional, they also allow her to experiment with new flavors and techniques.

They're flying off the shelves at Parker Street Market, she says. And soon they'll be neighbors with the market, having secured a storefront across the street. For Ludwinski, West Village is the perfect location for the Sister Pie cafe. They're working on the space now.

"While I know wholesale production is a great source of income -- and it's something we'll continue to do -- I always wanted a storefront," says Ludwinski. "I want a community space in a neighborhood. A place where kids can come, where everyone can come, and watch the bakers make the pies."

Ludwinski hopes that the cafe will open April 2015. In the meantime, Sister Pie products can still be found at places like Parker Street. While construction is underway, she'll look to open a sort of pop-up, temporary counter at the storefront to get people used to coming to the West Village location.

Sister Pie is one of four contestants vying to win the $50,000 grand prize from Hatch Detroit. Voting ends August 20 at 12 p.m. EST. Voting is open to the public and available online.

Source: Lisa Ludwinski, owner and head baker at Sister Pie
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Hatch Final Four: Breakfast and lunch on the Avenue of Fashion

Fresh off a degree from the culinary school at Schoolcraft College, Lisa Cardwell is already well on her way toward opening her first restaurant. It's called Cockadoodle, a breakfast and lunch spot destined for Detroit's Avenue of Fashion.

The restaurant will be centered around a recipe Cardwell perfected one Thanksgiving with her family. Tasked with stuffing the turkey, Cardwell's unique spice mix impressed her family so much that they began to press her to open a restaurant. The Cockadoodle concept was soon developed. Switching poultry, Cardwell's recipe features that distinctive spice mix stuffed into an applewood-smoked chicken. She uses fresh, steroid- and antibiotic-free Amish chickens bought from Eastern Market.

In addition to her smoked chicken plates, Cardwell plans on offering soups, salads, and breakfast items.

Having grown up in the area, Cardwell is familiar enough with the Avenue of Fashion and its surrounding neighborhoods to know that a breakfast and lunch spot is something the area needs. She says that residents in the community are all too often traveling to the suburbs to spend their money on something not available in their neighborhood. Cardwell hopes to change that.

"Everything seems pretty serendipitous that I'm now realizing my passion," says Cardwell. "It seems pretty spiritual to me."

While a location hasn't been selected, Cardwell says she's narrowed the choices down to two. She's looking to open Cockadoodle in late 2016. In the meantime, she'll begin selling her special chickens at Eastern Market.

Once her first restaurant opens, Cardwell hopes to expand to other locations. It's designed to be replicated, she says, and she'll look to open Cockadoodles in downtown Detroit, Chicago, and Washington D.C.

Cockadoodle is one of four contestants vying to win the $50,000 grand prize from Hatch Detroit. Voting ends August 20 at 12 p.m. EST. Voting is open to the public and available online.

Source: Lisa Cardwell, conceptualist and owner at Cockadoodle
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Hatch Final Four: New Orleans food and music for Woodbridge

Dameon Gabriel comes from New Orleans music royalty. His family can trace its music roots all the way back to 1850s New Orleans and the eventual beginnings of jazz. The Gabriels moved to Detroit in the 1940s and they brought that New Orleans-style jazz music with them. Since the move north, generations of Gabriels have worked to preserve their New Orleans roots here in Detroit, maintaining a line of New Orleans-style jazz players that continue to play throughout the city.

Dameon Gabriel is working to cement that musical heritage and its place in Detroit by establishing Gabriel Hall, a bar, restaurant, museum, and music venue. He's partnered with Ederique Goudia, a Louisiana-born and raised chef who now caters throughout metro Detroit, to ensure an authentically Creole menu.

The bar will offer cocktails famous to New Orleans, like the Hurricane, a rum-based drink popular in that city's French Quarter. Gabriel is curating a wealth of family history into a mini-museum, where visual and audio displays will explore the musical connection between New Orleans and Detroit.

And then there's the music. Gabriel says that while the live entertainment won't always be New Orleans-style music, there will be certain nights of the month that will feature that famous sound. Gabriel himself plays trumpet in the Gabriel Brass Band. And when the band is offstage, expect Gabriel Hall to play New Orleans-style music throughout the venue, both old and new, from Louis Armstrong to the Rebirth Brass Band.

Gabriel is currently working to confirm a certain building in Woodbridge, one whose owner is already excited by the idea. He hopes to open in the summer of 2015.

"I'm surprised by how many people have already attached themselves to this idea and want to see it happen," says Gabriel. "I'm humbled by all the support."

Gabriel Hall is one of four contestants vying to win the $50,000 grand prize from Hatch Detroit. Voting ends August 20 at 12 p.m. EST. Voting is open to the public and available online.

Source: Dameon Gabriel, co-founder of Gabriel Hall
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Bike and skateboard shop celebrates grand opening in Springwells neighborhood

What started in 2008 as an earn-a-bike program at Urban Neighborhood Initiatives has blossomed into Southwest Rides, a full service bike and skateboard retail shop with an experienced bicycle mechanic.

Through fundraising efforts, private donations, and a $25,000 grant from the Skillman Foundation, Southwest Rides was able to open a brick-and-mortar location in Southwest Detroit's Springwells neighborhood. Though the shop opened earlier this summer, Southwest Rides is hosting a grand opening celebration Saturday, August 16. The event is open to the public and will feature food, deals, and prizes.

Through the earn-a-bike program, members of the community complete maintenance courses, eventually taking a bike home after putting in a set amount of hours. Southwest Rides continues to offer the earn-a-bike program.

With the shop opening, the people behind Southwest Rides have expanded their educational programming to include an apprenticeship program. In addition to honing skills as bicycle mechanics, young people also learn business basics, from customer service to shop maintenance.

"There are a lot of components in running a small business," says Isaac Gilman, a board member with Southwest Rides. "This way the youth get practice and then later on they can apply what they've learned. They'll have something under their belts."

Of course, Southwest Rides is a business, too, with normal hours of operation for retail and maintenance. Gilman says that business has been good so far -- the skateboards are particularly popular with the young people in the neighborhood -- and they're hoping the grand opening event will help spread the word to other parts of the city.

The grand opening celebration is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, August 16 at Southwest Rides, located at 1824 Springwells St.

Source: Isaac Gilman, board member of Southwest Rides
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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First round of Hatch voting ends Thursday as 10 startups vie for $50K prize

The popular Hatch Detroit contest has entered its fourth year and the ten start-ups announced as semi-finalists are doing all that they can to garner votes. The eventual winner of the small business competition will receive a $50,000 grant and a suite of business support services.

Voting for the semi-finalist round is open to the public and ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on August 14. Voters may select four businesses during the first round and may vote once a day. Voting for the second round will begin August 15, when the field of competitors is narrowed to four businesses. The eventual winner of the $50,000 prize will be announced August 20.

While there is only one winner, just making it into the top ten is a great source of exposure and motivation for businesses.

"Hatch has given us a faster pace to run to," says Jen David, co-founder of Third Wave Music. "I've been meeting new people and talking to many musicians and students excited for a new spot to get what they need and have support. It's been really encouraging to hear positive feedback. It's really motivating."

The semi-finalists are:Source: Jen David, co-founder of Third Wave Music
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Detroit development news round-up: July and August

It's been another busy month for development news in the city. Let's catch up on five of the biggest stories since our last round-up.

In what Detroit Free Press writer John Gallagher calls, "the city’s boldest and most significant development since the Renaissance Center of the 1970s," the Ilitch family released plans for their enormous sports, entertainment, and housing development. A taxpayer-subsidized arena for billionaire Mike Ilitch's Red Wings hockey team anchors a massive plan of new development and districts, including a potential 2,000 new residential units.

The new arena district will be built with the M1 Rail streetcar line in mind, which officially broke ground Monday, July 28. The lightrail line will run along Woodward Avenue from downtown to New Center and is expected to begin operating in late 2016. The first phase of construction has closed Woodward from Adams Street to Campus Martius park for 120 days.

Officials hope that the M1 Rail will make it easier for people to navigate a city blooming with new bars and restaurants. Eater Detroit has mapped out ten of their most anticipated Detroit restaurant openings. They include eateries from West Fort Street to Hamtramck, from the top of a downtown hotel to everyone's favorite castle building.

Boydell Development Company, the development group behind Corktown's Roosevelt Hotel restoration, announced plans to redevelop an old Wayne State University pharmacy school into a 180 apartment-unit building. The 'micro-apartments' will range from 400 to 500 square feet at the new Shapero Hall.

Winners for the Parallel Projections design contest Reanimate the Ruins were recently announced. Though conceptual in nature, the submitted proposals for redeveloping the iconic blight campus that is the Packard Motor Plant demonstrate the breadth of possibilities for the historic site.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Northern Lights Lounge adds a patio and brunch, continues to transform its street

As Northern Lights Lounge nears closer to its tenth anniversary this October, the New Center bar, restaurant, and venue has recently debuted a large patio. Detroit-based Steven C. Flum is the architect of record on the project.

Matching a facade grant from co-grantors Midtown Detroit, Inc. and Local Initiatives Support Corporation, co-owners Michael Solaka, William Steele, and Greg "Kegger" Visee have opened a patio that they have been working on conceptually for about as long as the lounge has been open. Construction began in October 2013 and the patio is now open to the public.

The patio area, once an old asphalt parking lot, now features brick pavers, outdoor furniture, and three young trees -- an oak, a maple, and a poplar. At night, soft lighting and an outdoor speaker system complement the vibe found inside the lounge itself.

More outdoor furniture is coming, says Solaka, and he hopes to get a fire pit going sometime soon. An outdoor bar is a possibility, too. A few years on and a bordering wall will be covered in the young Boston ivy recently planted at its base.

"We haven't really designed the final product yet," says Solaka. "But we figured we'd get it done, live with it, and kind of see how people used it. And I've already learned a lot working out here while people are using it."

The lounge is debuting a Sunday brunch menu Sunday, August 3 -- another patio-related feature. Solaka reveals, too, that he is planning on constructing ten studio-loft apartments on the floor above the lounge, complete with balconies overhanging the new patio. He's also looking to fill the storefront adjacent to Northern Lights. Another ten years from now and 660 W. Baltimore and its block could look as different as it did ten years ago.

Source: Michael Solaka and Greg Visee, co-owners of Northern Lights Lounge
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Bonbon shop opens in Hamtramck

Years of training and chocolate-making have culminated in the grand opening of Bon Bon Bon, chocolatier Alexandra Clark's bonbon production facility and retail storefront in Hamtramck. A grand opening was thrown Saturday, July 19.

Throughout the week, the shop at 2756 Evaline St. is the center of operations for Clark's wholesale business -- she sells bonbons to a number of boutique hotels. The storefront opens to the general public every Saturday, where they're open from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Clark, who has nearly a decade of training from a number of culinary programs, has always known that she was going to be a chocolatier. She chose bonbons for their inherent creativity. Where truffles are strictly defined by their ingredients, bonbons allow the classically-trained Clark to come up with her own twists on a centuries-old treat. Of the nearly 50 flavors available at Bon Bon Bon, there's the paczki bonbon, a dough ganache and berry-mix bonbon that pays homage to the deep Polish roots of Hamtramck, and her signature bonbon, the Hot Mess, a hard-shelled chocolate filled with molten chocolate.

"It's sort of like doing a shot but you can do it with your grandma," says Clark. "Not like you couldn't do shots with your grandma but you can do it with kids and your grandma."

Clark and her team craft many of the ingredients by hand, whether they're tempering chocolate or chopping mangoes. Other ingredients are bought from local bakeries or the corner grocery store. What she can't find locally she imports from places like France and Switzerland.

Once the weather cools down, Clark will take her bonbons to Eastern Market. If that goes well, she'll start searching for a retail storefront and have longer hours. Until then, Bon Bon Bon is open every Saturday.

Source: Alexandra Clark, owner of Bon Bon Bon
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Historic Corktown hotel to re-open by summer 2015

Since purchasing the Roosevelt Hotel in 2010, Detroit real estate developer Dennis Kefallinos has offered little information on his plans for the historic and long-neglected Corktown hotel. It's now confirmed that the Roosevelt Hotel will once again operate as a hotel, opening somewhere within a year's time.

While details of amenities remain vague, Kefallinos's senior project manager Eric Novack says that construction crews are currently working on the building infrastructure. The hotel will have 76 rooms and feature commercial space on the ground floor.

Kefallinos owns and manages a number of buildings and businesses throughout the city, including the Lafayette Lofts and the Russell Industrial Center. Though the Roosevelt could have been redeveloped as an apartment building, Kefallinos has long-wanted to open a hotel and the Roosevelt's floor plans remain well-suited for that. Larger rooms lend themselves to extended stay customers, a situation the company sees happening often.

"This has been quite a while in the making," says Novack. "We haven't been resting on our laurels. We've been doing the work in the background like with the historic preservation people to get approval for new windows for the building."

Not wanting to suggest an opening date for fear of it being pushed back, Novack says that people will once again book rooms at the Roosevelt sometime in the next six to twelve months. It's infrastructure work in the meantime.

The hotel opened in the early 1920s across from a bustling Michigan Central Station and its fate followed that of the now-vacant and blighted train depot. The Roosevelt sat empty and unsecured on 14th Street for years before Kefallinos purchased it from Wayne County at auction.

This announcement follows recent news of improvements to neighboring Michigan Central Station, though the intentions of that building's owner, billionaire Manuel Moroun, remain mysterious. His camp has yet to offer any details of redevelopment plans for Detroit's most iconic vacant building.

Source: Eric Novack, senior project manager at Boydell Development Company
Image: Corktown History

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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A second baseball diamond being built at old Tiger Stadium site

Since 2010, a group of volunteers calling themselves the Navin Field Grounds Crew has dutifully maintained and restored the old Tiger Stadium site. They've removed rubble, demolition debris, and weeds as they've lovingly tended to the historic baseball field every week. Now they're building a second baseball diamond.

The hard work of several volunteers has provided communities near and far a well-maintained public greenspace for five years now. While baseball remains at the heart of the site, from pick-up games among families and friends to organized little league games, the field has also become a place for picnics and pop-up dog parks. The park is so popular, in fact, that different groups often show up to use the playing field at the same time.

In addition to its regular maintenance work, the Grounds Crew is now building a second baseball diamond, this one situated in the northwest corner of the historic site. Through volunteer work and a donation of 50 tons of dirt, a smaller baseball diamond with youth baseball dimensions will eventually be completed.

At nearly 10 acres, the park is certainly big enough to accommodate two baseball diamonds. And while adding a second diamond should alleviate some of the congestion that occurs at the field, Grounds Crew founder Tom Derry readily admits that it's also to demonstrate that the site can be used for youth baseball while also preserving the historic diamond.

A recent development proposal for the site would utilize the historic playing field for youth baseball. It's not clear whether that means altering the dimensions of the diamond to suit smaller players, like shortening the distance between bases and reducing the size of the infield.

"Whatever happens, we hope that the field is accessible to the public," says Derry. "Everything is up in the air. We don't know what will happen."

No development is currently confirmed for the site.

Source: Tom Derry, founder of Navin Field Grounds Crew
Photos: Navin Field Grounds Crew

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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$100K awarded for arts and culture programming along Hamtramck-Detroit border

Non-profit group Power House Productions has been tasked with shepherding two cities, four community arts organizations, and $100,000 in grant money through an 18-month long series of arts and culture placemaking activities along the Hamtramck-Detroit border.

The focus rests along Carpenter Street, Hamtramck's northern border. The $100,000 grant was awarded to the groups by the National Endowment for the Arts as part of Our Town, their arts-based community building and placemaking program. In total, Our Town awarded $5.073 million in grants to 66 projects in 2014.

The Hamtramck-Detroit winner is titled Carpenter Exchange and will begin an 18-month-long run of events this September. Community arts organization Power House Productions will manage events led by the Hinterlands, a performance arts group; Carrie Morris Arts Production, a story-telling and performance arts group; Popps Packing, an arts studio and venue; and the Work Department, a communication design and development studio.

"Power House Productions and their project partners, including the City of Hamtramck, demonstrate the best in creative community development and whose work will have a valuable impact on its community," NEA chairman Jane Chu says in a statement.

Planned activities include the Porous Borders Festival, a two-day fest along the entirety of Hamtramck's northern border. Led by the Hinterlands, the May 2015 festival will attempt to engage both sides of Carpenter Street through performance and visual arts.

Carrie Morris Arts Production will lead two events, a large-scale shadow puppet show and a documentary on young women and story-telling. An abandoned storefront will receive the pop-up treatment from Popps Packing as they install a trading post, tool library, and community gallery in the unused space. The Work Department will produce a communications toolkit along with graphic art installations and workshops open to the public.

Source: NEA press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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185-unit apartment development to begin construction this fall

What started as a community of town homes nearly ten years ago has morphed into a four-building, 185-unit apartment development on the edge of downtown. Keeping the original name DuCharme Place, architects McIntosh Poris Associates and long-time Detroit developer Walter Cohen have secured financing to start construction this fall. A late 2015 opening is expected.

DuCharme Place is located at 1544 E. Lafayette St., across from the Lafayette Foods grocery store.

The team began planning DuCharme Place in 2004. The original town home design was scratched, however, when the housing market dropped out during the recent recession. The team revisited the development in 2012, this time with a completely new design. By incorporating heavy landscaping into the development, Michael Poris, architect and principal at McIntosh Poris Associates, says the team is giving a nod to the neighboring Lafayette Park community and its emphasis on green space that resulted from the collaboration between famed architect Mies van der Rohe, landscape architect Alfred Caldwell, and urban planner Ludwig Hilberseimer.

The four apartment buildings surround a common courtyard and pool. The buildings are spread across three platforms raised one story above a ground level parking facility of over 200 spaces, which runs underneath the complex. As for the apartments themselves, they'll be 185 market-rate studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom units. Energy efficiency and a living roof are part of the plans, as well.

"They're going to be contemporary. The floor plans are pretty open but the bedrooms will be enclosed," says Poris. "Kind of a 'soft loft.'"

Architects McIntosh Poris and developer Walter Cohen are also working together on the current redevelopment of the old Detroit Fire Department Headquarters. Redevelopment plans for the historic building include the 100-room Foundation Hotel and a restaurant.

The Detroit City Council recently approved a nearly $5 million Detroit Brownfield Redevelopment Authority brownfield tax increment incentive plan for the DuCharme Place development.

Source: Michael Poris, architect and principal at McIntosh Poris Associates
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Grandmont Rosedale coffee shop celebrates one year anniversary

This week marks the official one year anniversary of Always Brewing Detroit. To thank its customers and community, the Grandmont Rosedale coffee shop is celebrating with a week's worth of events including music and poetry performances, massages by a professional masseuse, and a community brunch.

Shop owner Amanda Brewington has been working with Chazzano Coffee of Ferndale to perfect her own blend of house coffee. After several taste tests, Brewington will debut the Always Brewing First Blend this week. She recently achieved her goal of having all of her products locally sourced from within 15 miles of Always Brewing. Even the cups are from nearby.

While downtown Detroit and the Corktown and Midtown neighborhoods have seen their fair share of coffee shops open in recent years, neighborhoods like Grandmont Rosedale, far from the city's core, haven't experienced such the development frenzy. Even when she was opening the shop, Brewington says that people asked her why she wasn't opening somewhere like downtown instead.

"Those places have a ton of coffee shops. They're good. They don't need me," says Brewington. "I wanted to go to a place where there is a need."

She estimates that 80 percent of her customers are people that either live or work in Grandmont Rosedale. With her business humming along, Brewington sees more business opportunities along her stretch of Grand River Avenue. She anticipates a thriving district -- one where the community doesn't have to drive to the suburbs for a good cup of coffee or yoga class.

Amanda's all in on Grandmont Rosedale, having recently purchased a house in the neighborhood. In one short year, she's become a champion of the area, taking joy in hosting her community while also introducing new people to the neighborhood.

"I always try to have people leave with more than a cup of coffee."

Source: Amanda Brewington, owner of Always Brewing Detroit
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Detroit's newest pop-ups: Filipino cuisine, mashed potatoes

New pop-up restaurants are sprouting up throughout the city. Pop-ups allow  new entrepreneurs to introduce their products to the public without ever having to sign a lease or spend the up front costs associated with building out a new facility. A pop-up can generate as much excitement as a restaurant opening, its limited run only adding to its allure.

Sarap, a pop-up featuring a modern twist on Filipino fare, sold out its first event at Supino Pizzeria on June 23. They already have waiting lists going for future dates throughout the region. While a second Detroit date has yet to be announced, co-founder Dorothy Hernandez says she is working on securing a future event in the city.

Hernandez started Sarap with her partner, chef Jake Williams. The pair works together as they play with the recipes Hernandez grew up with in her mom's kitchen. For example, longaniza, a Filipino-style sausage, is dressed as a hot dog, complete with Filipino toppings and bun. She thinks that Filipino cuisine could become the next food trend and hopes that people will start thinking about it as much as they do Thai or Japanese.

"I've been seeing a lot of Filipino food in other cities like Chicago and Portland, but not in Detroit," says Hernandez. "Detroit is becoming a foodie town. This expands people's palates."

Of course, you need one business willing to host another for a pop-up to occur. Even with a popular menu of its own, St. Cece's Pub in Corktown offers up its facilities to guest chefs. MASH, a mashed potato-themed pop-up, takes over Tuesday July 15.  

Source: Dorothy Hernandez, co-owner of Sarap
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Belle Isle Disc Golf Course opens daily operations after three years of work

Belle Isle has seen a lot of changes over the last three years. Attempts at transferring the iconic island park from city to state control were proposed, rebuffed, and, after the appointment of emergency manager Kevyn Orr, eventually approved. And over the last three years, a small group that calls itself Detroit Disc Golf has been working with city and state officials to bring their sport to the city of Detroit.

After many volunteer clean-ups, tournaments, and discussions with the state, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has given Detroit Disc Golf the go-ahead to open Belle Isle Disc Golf Course for daily operations. The first 18 hole disc golf course in Detroit opens at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 12.

The course will be open to the public July 12 through October 31 from noon to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. While a price of admission has yet to be set, Detroit Disc Golf says that it will cost disc golfers less than five dollars for a day's worth of play. A weekends-only shop will also open, selling disc golf equipment, apparel, and snacks and refreshments.

Belle Isle Disc Golf Course is located across from the Detroit Yacht Club on the site of the island's long-derelict standard golf course. Detroit Disc Golf has organized a number of clean-ups at the site, slowly transforming an overgrown and under-utilized section of the park into a new recreation destination.

Having achieved their goal of bringing everyday play to the Belle Isle Disc Golf Course, the group turns its attention to bringing national tournaments and Professional Disc Golf Association world championships to Detroit. The group also organizes its own tournaments.

Source: Detroit Disc Golf press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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A new artist collective, studio, and printmaking shop for Eastern Market's Service Street area

An artist collective formed by a group of six local artists recently opened in Eastern Market. The artists of the Riopelle Collective, as they're known, represent a wide range of styles and media, including furniture-making, hand lettering, and mixed media. The collective's space is located along a stretch of Gratiot that is commonly referred to as Service Street, the name of the red-bricked alley that runs behind the length of the block.

Jessica Krcmarik is one of the six members of Riopelle. As excited as they are to have opened their own space, Krcmarik stresses that there are already a number of established artists who work, present, perform, and live in the buildings of Service Street. The Riopelle Collective is an addition to an already rich community of artists, residents, and businesses located in the Service Street area.

"There was an arts district before we came here," says Krcmarik. "So we're standing on the shoulders of the other artists."

The Riopelle space will operate as a retail space during market days. The collective also plans to host events like Drink and Draw nights, where people will be invited to bring a sketchpad and drinks and use the Riopelle space to work and socialize. Riopelle is also home to the Prankster Press, a printmaking shop run by Riopelle members Lyz Luidens and James Reich. Dylan Box, Ellen Rutt, and Matthew Jenkins round out the group.

It was Box and Rutt, says Krcmarik, that got everything started. They originally wanted to rent the space as a twosome, but the landlord required more artists before leasing the space.

Thus the Riopelle Collective was born.

Riopelle is located at 1492 Gratiot Ave.

Source: Jessica Krcmarik, member of the Riopelle Collective
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Historic West Village apartment building to receive $1M in renovations

West Village, already an attractive option for renters, is set to gain more rental housing with the announced renovations of the historic West Village Manor building. The 16 apartment units and ground floor anchor retail space will receive complete interior renovations. West Village Manor retail tenants currently include Detroit Vegan Soul and Tarot & TeaThe Red Hook Detroit coffee shop is expected to open there some time soon.

Building owners LAND, Inc. have tapped real estate development and construction company Banyan Investments for the renovation work. LAND, Inc. is a nonprofit development group based on the city's east side and is a subsidiary of the Warren/Conner Development Coalition.

According to LAND, the 1920s-built West Village Manor had fallen into disrepair by the time the group purchased the building in 2009. After an initial $750,000 investment in the building, the newly announced renovation costs fall somewhere between $1 million and $1.3 million, says the group. Construction will begin this fall.

"I am happy to say that LAND, Inc. has fulfilled its mission on this project, acquiring a building that was not contributing positively to the neighborhood, bringing lots of subsidy and partnerships together to make significant improvements, supporting local entrepreneurs and creating jobs," LAND, Inc.'s executive director Jacqueline Bejma in a statement.

The historic West Village neighborhood has seen a number of development projects over the past few years. A neighborhood grocery store, Parker Street Market, opened in April. Popular bar and restaurant Craft Work opened this past winter. Even the Detroit Lions are getting involved in West Village as they partner with Hatch Detroit in the Neighborhood Initiative, which assists existing storefront retail in capital improvements.

West Village Manor is located at the northeast corner of Agnes Street and Van Dyke Avenue.

Source: LAND, Inc. press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Summer development news round-up

It's been a busy season for development news in the city. Let's catch up on five stories that have made  headlines this summer.

The longer it takes for construction to begin, the less likely it seems that a development project will ever be built. With that in mind, Detroit light rail advocates are closer to breathing easy as the M-1 Rail project has announced a July 28 start date for construction. Work begins downtown before it makes the slow climb northward on Woodward Avenue to New Center.

Nearly a year to the day after the grand opening of the city's first Meijer store, officials broke ground on a second Detroit location of the popular grocery superstore chain. The second Meijer is being built on the site of the former Redford High School at Grand River Avenue and McNichols Road on the city's northwest side. The new store will hire up to 500 people, reports say.

Midtown Detroit, Inc. is leading a crowdfunding campaign as it seeks money for a new Green Alley. The alley slated for development “is bounded by Second Avenue, Selden, the Third Avenue alley and Alexandrine.” The Michigan Economic Development Corporation will match the campaign's $50,000 goal if it is met by July 25.

Curbed argues that the first thing the new owners of Corktown's CPA Building should do is board up and secure the building. The old building at Michigan Avenue and 14th Street has been devastated by vandals -- among others -- over the years while much of the rest of Corktown continues to experience redevelopment.

Plans to redevelop the old Detroit Fire Department headquarters into a downtown boutique hotel are still under way, assures the development team. Though the developers announced a late 2015 opening, it's still unknown when construction will begin.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Fenkell Street Market to open in Brightmoor

A new community market is set to debut on the city's west side on Saturday, July 26. Fenkell Street Market is the culmination of a partnership between TechTown's SWOT City program, the Brightmoor Alliance, and the University of Windsor. The market allows members of the Brightmoor community the opportunity to bring their home-based businesses out and into market.

After students of the University of Windsor business school conducted a feasibility study on building a food co-operative in Brightmoor, it was recommended that a community market would better serve the neighborhood. Students from that university work in Brightmoor every semester.

While the original recommendation was for a bricks-and-mortar operation akin to the Russell Bazaar, an open air market will be held on the fourth Saturday of every month through October. SWOT City and Brightmoor Alliance are currently working to secure funding for a fixed building.

Ted Jones, associate portfolio manager for SWOT City, is looking to recruit at least 15 vendors for the market's first run. Music and free barbecue food will be on site. Vendors will feature local makers and entrepreneurs who typically operate out of their homes, including makers of craft greeting cards, candles, soap, and salsa. The Brightmoor Woodworkers will also be on hand.

"When we first came to the neighborhood, we got the data on the number of businesses around. It was way higher than what you could spot with the eyeball test just driving around the neighborhood," says Jones. "There are a lot of businesses run out of people's homes."

It's an opportunity for residents to open up shop in a venue that has a low barrier of entry.

Taking place from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 26, Fenkell Street Market is located at 20101 Fenkell St.

Source: Ted Jones, Associate Portfolio Manager at SWOT City
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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West Corktown: Creating Detroit's newest neighborhood

Whether you know it or not, there's a new neighborhood being dreamt up for an area west of downtown just beyond the I-75 and I-96 interchange. Its epicenter is the corner of 23rd Street and Michigan Avenue, where a nearly century-old bank building was recently purchased by Lynne and Mike Savino. It will become their new home as the couple works to adapt the old bank into a loft-style building.

They're calling the area West Corktown, "a neighborhood within a neighborhood," and they're thinking that as Corktown's storefronts continue to fill up and become unavailable, the stretch of Michigan Avenue between I-75 and W. Grand Boulevard is the next logical place for development.

As Lynne tells it, the West Corktown name started as a joke and, rest assured, there's still a good deal of humor involved in the branding. But when she and her husband decided to leave the Green Acres neighborhood, Lynne found herself constantly telling her friends that she was moving just west of Corktown. It just grew from there. It's a way for the Savinos to draw attention to -- and, they hope, find some buyers for -- the vacant buildings along that stretch of Michigan Avenue.

As the couple continues to work on their own corner, the Savinos see a lot of potential in the historic buildings that neighbor their own. They've already seen interest from potential buyers, too.

"There are nice buildings here. This red building next door is a great building. There's a lot of small buildings that individuals could purchase for a reasonable amount of money, fix them up," says Lynne. "Corktown is getting packed and expensive. This really is just the next natural direction, hopefully, for things to go."

Bundled in the estate sale through which they purchased the bank was Leroy's U.S. Star Bar -- its liquor license, too. Unlike the bank, which was almost completely stripped by scrappers, Leroy's was left in remarkably decent condition. The Savinos are currently weighing offers from people interested in bringing the bar back to life. Though dusty, there's a great old wooden back bar, a vintage Bevador beer cooler, and plenty of character left in Leroy's.

Source: Lynne Savino, resident of West Corktown
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Mt. Elliott Park Fun Shop opens in time for summer

The grand re-opening of Mt. Elliott Park has brought more than a new water park and pavilion to Detroit's riverfront. Entrepreneurs Richard Roy and Charlene Dwyer and Chief Fun Officer Abby have opened the Mt. Elliott Park Fun Shop in the River Park Lofts building at Mt. Elliott and Wight streets.

Having opened in the first weeks of June, the Fun Shop is already quite a presence on the block that faces the park. Roy has some of his homemade corn hole boards in front of the shop, ready for passersby. They rest on a sidewalk covered in colorful chalk drawings. He says that he likes to take one of those big-hoop bubble makers and teach the nearby kids how to use it.

Roy and Dwyer come from the art and advertising worlds. Though still involved in those industries, they decided a storefront across from the new Mt. Elliott Park would be an ideal location for a shop that specializes in, well, fun. Much of the shop is geared toward kids of all ages -- which the new Mt. Elliott Park has no problem attracting -- with bubble makers, kites, and frisbees for sale. There are a few refreshments, too.

"It's a lot of fun. It's fun when we sell bubbles or those snap poppers and you hear them used outside. Or we'll sell a couple of kites and you watch them out there flying the kites, laughing and running around," says Roy. "It's great."

Another important component of the shop is local art. It's made by friends of Roy and Dwyer who create everything from iconic concert posters to porcelain wares, Detroit-themed t-shirts to jewelry. The pair saw the shop as an opportunity to provide artists a place to sell their work, something that's not always so easy or affordable.

The store is currently involved in a micro loan campaign.

Source: Richard Roy and Charlene Dwyer, co-owners of Mt. Elliott Park Fun Shop
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Hello Records store owner opens second location in Jefferson-Chalmers

Wade Kergan, owner of Corktown's Hello Records, has opened a second Detroit record store. Located at 14401 E. Jefferson in the historic Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood, the as-yet untitled record store is taking part in the June on Jefferson pop-up series along the East Jefferson corridor. Kergan, however, already has plans to turn the temporary location into a permanent one.

It was Coffee and (____) partner Ray Cronk who first envisioned a record store for the corner storefront at E. Jefferson and Chalmers. An open doorway connects Coffee and (____) to the former liquor store location, making for an easy back-and-forth between the coffee and record shops. Cronk approached his friend Wade Kergan about the possibility of a second Hello location -- something Kergan was already considering -- and the rest fell into line rather quickly. The pair credit Joshua Elling and the rest of the people at Jefferson East, Inc. for the easy move. Cronk will manage the record store.

Kergan plans on keeping the store open well past the month-long June on Jefferson pop-up run. He says he'll be open at least through the summer but the real hope is to keep the record store open year-round. At roughly 2,000 square feet, the new location dwarfs his 600 square feet store in Corktown and will allow Kergan the chance to show off even more of his massive collection. He has 15,000 to 20,000 records in backstock, he says.

"The last shop was really informed by the neighborhood and gained its identity both through what we hoped to accomplish in the community and also in meeting people and making them a part of it, figuring out what they want and bringing them into the shop," says Kergan. "We hope to do the same thing here."

In addition to records, the bigger shop will feature more floor space for Kergan's vintage stereo equipment, posters, books, and musical artifacts.

The second record store is open every Friday and Saturday this June with plans to expand its hours later this summer. Hello Records will continue to operate as always.

Source: Wade Kergan, owner of Hello Records
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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City seeks buyer for five acre Midtown site

The City of Detroit recently issued a Request for Proposals as it seeks a developer for the derelict Wigle Recreation Center and Playfield. The five acre parcel available for development is located at the southeastern corner of the John C. Lodge Freeway service drive and Selden Street. The RFP stipulates that the winning bidder must maintain an adjacent two-acre site as public greenspace.

Detroit's Planning and Development Department touts the site's proximity to Woodward Avenue, the Lodge Freeway, and Motor City Casino as it asks for a minimum bid of $540,000. According to the RFP, the city is open to just about anything, as the Planning and Development Department "envisions a commercial, institutional, residential and/or mixed use development compatible in density, scale, lot size and architectural design to adjacent developments within the area."

The city will demolish the on-site recreation center prior to the transfer of title.

Consistent with recent RFPs is the city's inclusion of Detroit Future City considerations for the site. According to the RFP and DFC, the Wigle site is "located within the Education/Medical and Digital/Creative District. The property should be considered for development that supports economic activities in healthcare, research, technology, creative enterprise and education."

The greenspace stipulation reserves two acres of greenspace for the neighborhood. The winning developer must maintain the park, including regular trash and debris clean-up. It also requires the winning bidder to mow the greenspace once every two weeks.

The deadline for proposals is August 1. The final selection will be announced August 21, 2014.

Since 2012, the abandoned field has been maintained by a team of volunteers who run the Wigle Recreational Baseball Field, a neighborhood baseball group.  

Source: City of Detroit Planning & Development Department RFP
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Deadline approaches for writers looking for a house in Detroit

A different kind of deadline hangs over the heads of writers this week. In its inaugural year, Write A House is going beyond the traditional terms of a writers residency by awarding houses to writers for keeps. Submissions are due by noon on Saturday, June 21.

The Detroit house, purchased for $1,000 in a foreclosure auction, will be awarded to a writer of fiction, non-fiction, or poetry this September. Renovations, led by Zac Cruse Construction and Young Detroit Builders are currently under way. The nonprofit group Young Detroit Builders is a training program for 18 to 24 year olds throug which participants receive on-the-job training while earning a living allowance. Job placement and follow-up assistance is provided upon completion of the program.

Write A House has received submissions from all over the world, though they can only award houses to U.S. citizens aged 18 or over. A set of income requirements also exists, as the group plans to award the houses to low- to middle-income writers. The organization reports that the majority of applications are coming from California, Michigan, and New York.

While receiving a house for free, the winning writer is required to pay taxes and insurance. The group also requires that the winning writer resides in the home 75 percent of the time. Before being awarded the title, writers must pass a two-year probationary period in which Write A House determines if the situation is satisfactory.

The Saturday deadline is for the first Write A House home. Two more houses are being reserved for future contests.

Source: Write A House press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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El Dorado General Store to open in Corktown

Another historic building along Corktown's stretch of Michigan Avenue has been leased. Erin Gavle is opening her El Dorado General Store, a curated vintage shop, at 1700 Michigan Ave.

El Dorado General Store will feature vintage men's and women's clothing, household items, trinkets, talismans, textiles, and jewelry, both vintage and handmade. As the store cycles through inventory, Gavle hopes to begin mixing in products from local artists and artisans.

For Gavle, the idea for the store started with a Cadillac Eldorado. A Michigan native, Gavle spent some time in the corporate advertising world of New York City before relocating to Los Angeles. It was in L.A. when she began to get serious about her line of handmade jewelry, some of which will be available at El Dorado. But it was during an October 2013 visit to Michigan that she became entranced by the Cadillac Eldorado and, eventually, the mythical El Dorado, the legendary lost city of gold.

Inspired, Gavle returned to L.A., bought a 1990 cargo van, and took the long way back to Michigan. She weaved through the American southwest, stopping at small vintage and resale shops along the way and buying what will eventually be stocked in her store.

She's hoping to host events, too, envisioning El Dorado as more than a place to shop.

"The whole idea of a general store is to provide a sense of community," says Gavle. "Back in the 1800s and early 1900s, when there were only a few stores in a town, a general store was the place where you got things, but also where you talked to your neighbors and found out what was happening in town."

Gavle plans to open El Dorado General Store within the month.

Source: Erin Gavle, owner of El Dorado General Store
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Registration opens: Wayne County debuts new June property auction

Registration is now open for the first Wayne County Treasurer's Auction of Tax-Foreclosed Properties of 2014. Interested bidders must register before 4:30 p.m. on June 18 to join the auction. Returning bidders must re-register for the online property auction, which will be held June 20 through June 26. 557 properties are available in the June auction.

Wayne County added the June auction to the usual auctions held in September and October as it seeks to clear the 20,000 to 25,000 properties in its inventory. The June auction features properties that are returning properties, or those that were sold through the auction at least once before but were foreclosed again and returned to the county.

For Dave Szymanski, chief deputy of the Wayne County Treasurer office, the June auction is an opportunity to work on a system he finds flawed. With 20,000 to 25,000 properties available in the fall auctions and only 557 in June, a smaller auction allows the county to better analyze data and move forward with any necessary changes. Data analysis may suggest that some properties would be better off being bundled together, for example. The county could also determine that some buildings are better off demolished than offered at all.

Another tactic the office will try is holding sealed-envelope auctions, says Szymanski. In a sealed-envelope auction, bidders submit their highest offer without being aware of any competing bids. During the June auction, one in four properties will be available through sealed bids.

"I've read doctoral theses determining that sealed-bid auctions are not likely to get any less money than open-bid auctions," says Szymanski. "And they often get more."

Getting more per property should weed out bidders who win properties on minimum bids only to let them sit and eventually be foreclosed on once again, the reasoning goes.

Source: Dave Szymanski, Cheif Deputy of the Office of the Wayne County Treasurer
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Financing secured for 126,000 square foot Capitol Park redevelopment

The redevelopment of Capitol Park has reached another milestone as developers announce that they have secured financing for the old Detroit Savings Bank building. Constructions crews have already started working on the building at 1212 Griswold as it transitions into downtown's latest mixed-use development.

The Archdiocese of Detroit is leasing five of the building's 13 floors as it relocates its offices to Capitol Park. Eight floors will be developed into 56 market-rate, loft-style apartments. The ground level is reserved for retail.

Capitol Park Partnership is the company responsible for the building's redevelopment. Richard Karp of Lansing's Karp and Associates, historic redevelopment specialist Kevin Prater, and former senior banking executive Richard Hosey III make up the partnership. Karp and Prater have successfully redeveloped historic buildings together before, such as their award-winning work on the Arbaugh building in downtown Lansing.

Much is being made of another partnership, that of the several public and private groups responsible for raising the $38.5 million in secured financing. The financing structure features historic tax credits paid up front by private institutions, construction loans, and a permanent loan. Chase Bank is providing upfront funding for a $17 million New Markets and Federal Historic Tax Credit; Urban Partnership Bank and Liberty Bank are providing upfront funding for a $8 million Michigan Historic and Brownfield Tax Credit; Chase Bank and Urban Partnership Bank are providing $10.5 million in construction loans; and Develop Michigan, Inc. and Urban Partnership Bank are providing a $9 million permanent loan.

"This demonstrates what can be accomplished when public and private organizations share a commitment to creating a vibrant city," Karp says in a statement. "When you do these things, you lay the foundation for a stronger Detroit and create an environment conducive to additional investment and long-term success."

Source: Urban Partnership Bank press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Michigan Central Station's owner pulls permits for $676K in construction work

The recent sound of construction work coming from inside Michigan Central Station has piqued the interest of many a passersby lately. Today, information coming from city hall helps clarify at least some of what is happening at what was once the tallest train station in the world.

Manuel "Matty" Moroun, owner of Michigan Central Station, has pulled permits for $676,000 (or 0.045% of his $1.5 billion fortune) in construction work at the historic train station. According to HistoricDetroit.org, a nonprofit devoted to Detroit's historic landmarks, "a 9,000-pound capacity freight elevator inside the old smokestack mechanical shaft and safety improvements such as railings on interior staircases" will be installed.

According to reports, JC Beal Construction, Inc. has been hired as general contractor and Quinn Evan Architects as the architectural firm. It is said that the 9,000-pound capacity elevator will be used to hasten the installation of windows throughout the building.

Michigan Central Station opened in 1913 as the city's main rail depot. 18 stories of offices sit atop a Beaux-Arts lobby. The station, closed in 1988, has been open to the elements for years and became blighted as scrappers stripped the building of many of its architectural treasures.

Several plans to redevelop the depot have come and gone since its closure. In 2004, then-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick announced plans to redevelop the train station as the city's police headquarters. Those plans were eventually abandoned. In 2009, the Detroit City Council voted to demolish Michigan Central Station. That plan fell apart due to a lack of funding as well as difficulties stemming from the station's National Register of Historic Places designation.

Source: Dan Austin of HistoricDetroit.org
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Restaurant round-up: Four new dining options for downtown Detroit

Three new restaurants will be opening their doors in downtown Detroit this summer. A fourth, Mike's Kabob Grille, opened just two weeks ago. The group of four represents successful recruitment efforts by Bedrock Real Estate Services as the company continues to fill the more than 50 downtown properties it has purchased since its founding in 2011. Bedrock threw a tasting event in their First National Building on Wednesday, June 4.

Randy Dickow was on hand, representing the Freshii franchise. He and his brother Andrew Dickow will be opening a location in 1001 Woodward. The Dickows also own downtown's Lunchtime Global. Freshii, set to open in September of this year, is a national chain of fast-casual restaurants that emphasize a fresh and healthy menu. Randy says that the restaurant is a perfect fit for downtown and foresees an opportunity to open a number of locations in the city.

Wright & Company, the partnership between Sugar House proprietor Dave Kwiatkowski and Marc Djozlija, former head chef at MGM Grand's Wolfgang Puck, will have a grand opening this July. Kwiatkowski says the craft cocktail bar and small plates restaurant will most likely have a soft opening in June. They are Located in the old ballroom of 1500 Woodward Ave.

Kwiatkowski says that the restauranteurs were impressed when Bedrock agreed to allow them to open the restaurant in the second floor of the building. “The first floor was too obvious,” says Kwiatkowski.

7 Greens is Kelly Schaefer's first restaurant. She'll be opening in the Z building come August. They'll offer an array of "farm to fork" salads with 80 toppings to choose from, she says. Salads will be available in wraps, as well.

Mike's Kabob Grille, a restaurant featuring Lebanese cuisine, opened in the Chrysler House (formertly the Dime Building) this May. Mike Abdallah, the owner's son who is deeply involved in the business, says, “There have been lines out the door every day.”

Source: Randy Dickow, Dave Kwiatkowski, Kelly Schaefer, and Mike Abdallah
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Vintage retail shop Detroit Sperm opens in Corktown

A new retail store selling vintage housewares has opened in a historic Corktown storefront. Featuring mostly glass housewares along with some clothing, Detroit Sperm is the storefront for Kat Baron's Orange Sperm collection of vintage goods.

Detroit Sperm was never intended to be a storefront retail business. Originally, the storefront display was an advertisement for Kat's online store. As the spring wore on, however, enough people contacted Kat asking her when the shop was going to open that she decided to go ahead and do it.

With limited store hours from noon to 6 p.m. every Saturday, each opening is a bit of an event. Kat brings drinks and cupcakes and hires musicians to play outside. Friends are always coming and going and she'll chat up just about everyone else. It's a fun place to be.

"Look at this, this is so cute," Kat says, pointing to a group of people sitting around the musician out front. "People coming and singing and wanting to be a part of it. I just like creating a really neat energy out here."

With a real disdain for cheap housewares made of plastic, Kat champions well-crafted and American-made items. She sells vintage clothes, too, with an emphasis on 1950s lingerie and slips -- her grandmother was assistant lingerie buyer at Hudson's department store.

As long as business holds up, Kat plans on sticking around until the fall. Located in the front of an unfinished building can get pretty cold once the weather turns, she says. The building itself is going through an extensive restoration effort. She ended up there after meeting its owner at the old Tiger Stadium site, where both were walking their dogs.

As for that name? Kat says its a celebration of life and positivity.

Detroit Sperm is located at 1444 Michigan Ave.

Source: Kat Baron, owner of Detroit Sperm
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Hubbard Farms artist residency program hopes to grow

An artist residency program and art gallery, Third Story, is bolstering its mission through a crowdfunding campaign. Third Story is located on Detroit's southwest side in the Hubbard Farms neighborhood.

Third Story was started by artists and married couple Lauren and Ryan Harroun in the third story of their home. The couple has built an art gallery there and has already hosted a handful of artists.

The aim of Third Story is to introduce new artists to Detroit. The residency program only accepts those who have little to no experience in the city. With so many outside artists having heavy interest in Detroit, the Harrouns are looking to provide a place for artists to stay and work. They're excited, too, to introduce the artists to the neighborhood.

"It's a wonderfully diverse, lively, and passionate neighborhood," says Lauren. "We're excited to bring something like this to Hubbard Farms, to provide a place to stay in a really nice neighborhood."

As they look to further establish their artist residency program, the Harrouns are hosting a fundraiser and party at their home on Thursday, June 5. The party is open to the public and art raffles, music, pizza, and a bonfire are planned.

The couple is currently running a crowdfunding campaign. The money raised will allow them to join a number of national registries, granting them access to new resources, including fundraising opportunities. The Harrouns hope to register their artist residency program with Fractured Atlas, ResArtis, and Alliance of Artists Communities.

The Harrouns encourage artists to stay for a minimum of one month. Artists looking to apply can do so through the Third Story website.

Third Story is located at 1130 Vinewood.

Source: Lauren Harroun, co-founder of Third Story
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Eastern Market lofts get the condo treatment

The FD Lofts at Eastern Market have begun the transition from rental units to condominiums. Both one and two bedroom units are available in the 30-unit building.

Brian Giles is handling sales and marketing for the building. He believes that the timing is perfect for the transition and that Detroit is ready for more condos on the market.

"It's well-documented that people want to live and rent in Detroit," says Giles. "What has not been discussed is the for sale market. There's a lot of people who want to pay for cool space. This is one more development that builds upon the momentum of investing in Detroit."

Current residents are being given the opportunity to buy their units. If they decline, new buyers will be able to move into their units as early as this fall. The FD Lofts have been been at 100 percent occupancy for the past eight years, according to Giles.

There are nine different floor plans available with units ranging from 523 to 1,954 square feet. Prices start at $124,800 and go as high as $329,800. Unit 405, a 1,444 square foot one bedroom condo listed at $249,800, comes with its own private outdoor terrace, the only unit advertised as such. The condos are being outfitted with new sinks and quartz counters.

Open House hours for the FD Lofts are every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and every Tuesday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tours are available by appointment as well.

The FD Lofts building was built in 1917 by the Detroit Fire Department. It was restored and first opened to renters in 2007.

The FD Lofts are located at 3434 Russell Street.

Source: Brian Giles, sales and marketing for FD Lofts
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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New bookstore to open in Corktown

A new bookstore will open in Detroit this July. DittoDitto, featuring new and used books, will be located at 1548 Trumbull St., a small storefront in the Corktown neighborhood.

Maia Asshaq originally co-founded DittoDitto as a small publishing and distribution house. With Andrea Farhat on board as graphic designer, the pair have been making books for a couple of years now. Asshaq also started the Detroit Art Book Fair, a small press book fair now in its second year. Detroit Art Book Fair is scheduled to be held at Trinosophes in September.

Asshaq has plenty of experience as a retailer. She previously ran the store at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, where she was tasked with ordering books. She started DittoDitto in December 2013, selling a small selection of books out of Trinosophes. The permanent location will feature books focusing on Asshaq's specialty, the arts, as well as literature and non-fiction.

The opportunity for her own storefront came out of a conversation with Wade Kergan, proprietor of Corktown's Hello Records. It was Kergan's recommendation that pushed Asshaq to pursue the location that shares the same building as Hello. It's an ideal spot, she thinks.

"I like that it's a low-key location," says Asshaq. "If you're shopping for books and records, you want a comfortable setting, somewhere to browse and hang out."

Hoping to open the first week of July, Asshaq is using June to prepare and stock the store. She'll also be hosting events every Thursday through Sunday, both introducing the shop to the neighborhood while also doing a bit of fundraising. Poetry readings, music performances, and film screenings are planned throughout the month of June. So, too, is a Bloomsday event, a marathon reading of the James Joyce novel Ulysses.

DittoDitto will be open Thursday through Sunday.

Source: Maia Asshaq, founder of DittoDitto
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Major RiverWalk developments to debut this summer

The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy is preparing to unfurl a number of Detroit RiverWalk extensions and attractions this summer. The group is working toward extending the RiverWalk from “bridge to bridge,” or from the McArthur Bridge, which connects Belle Isle to mainland Detroit, to the Ambassador. Much is planned for several new stretches of promenade.

On June 6, the conservancy will be hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the re-opening of Mt. Elliott Park. The longstanding park, located on the riverfront at the foot of Mt. Elliott Street, has received a number of improvements to its landscaping. It has also received new amenities including a pavilion similar to the ones found at Rivard Plaza and Gabriel Richard Park. Though not ready for the ceremony, a cafe is planned for the pavilion.

The site will also feature an interactive water feature with water jets and cannons organized around a Great Lakes schooner shipwreck sculpture.

Another big development for the RiverWalk is taking place on the west side. Though no opening date has been announced, the conservancy is nearly finished with a 20 acre addition to the RiverWalk that stretches from the Riverfront Towers Apartments to Rosa Parks Boulevard. The park will open once the newly-planted grass matures, according to Marc Pasco, director of communications for the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy.

The westward extension will feature a 30 foot wide riverwalk, wider than the rest of the pathways along the riverfront. "Fishermen have always loved that location," says Pasco. "This will give them some extra room."

The development of the two smaller parcels of riverfront real estate immediately east and west of Chene Park, as well as the property for the once-planned and now-defunct Watermark development, is also planned for the summer. All will receive the promenade and railing treatment that characterizes the rest of the RiverWalk.

Source: Marc Pasco, director of communications for the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Restaurant, yoga studio, and clothing retailer opening in downtown's Z structure this summer

Since opening in January 2014, "The Z" has booked over 75 percent of its 34,000 square feet of retail space. The z-shaped retail and parking development in downtown Detroit was built by Bedrock Real Estate Services, the real estate arm of local billionaire Dan Gilbert's family of companies.

Bedrock recently announced the addition of three tenants to The Z, all of which should open this summer. The shops -- a shoe store, a yoga studio, and a salad cafe -- will join Punch Bowl Social, a Denver-based chain of gastro pubs with a focus on games.

NoJo Kicks is a clothing retailer specializing in hats, jeans, and rare and collectible sneakers. Following a temporary June opening for the Ford Fireworks, NoJo Kicks plans to open in July.

Citizen Yoga, a yoga studio which opened its first location in Royal Oak, will also open downtown. The studio will be open seven days-a-week, offering a wide range of yoga classes, from the basics to Vinyasa.

Detroit chef Kelly Schaefer will open 7 Greens in the Z, a restaurant that will serve lunch and dinner salads featuring locally and seasonally sourced ingredients. 7 Greens is set to open in August.

Punch Bowl Social, which takes up the majority of the retail space in the Z, is working toward a November opening. The 24,000 square foot bar, restaurant, and gaming center anchors the Broadway side of the Z while the three recently announced shops will line Library Street.

The Z building, characterized by its unique zig-zag shape, is the first ground-up development for Bedrock. The company commissioned 27 street artists from around the world to paint murals throughout the parking garage. It features a ticketless and cashless pay system with parkers swiping their credit cards as they enter and leave the facility.   

Source: Bedrock Real Estate Services news release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Today: Anytime Fitness celebrates its opening with mayor, membership giveaways, and more

With the polar vortex well behind us, the downtown Anytime Fitness is acknowledging its late February opening and is ready to celebrate with a ribbon cutting ceremony happening today, Thursday, May 15.

Mayor Mike Duggan, Deputy Mayor Ike McKinnon, Anytime's builder Ferlito Construction, and downtown business representatives will be on hand for the event. The ceremony is open to the public.

The full service gym will be giving out free 30-day memberships during the event, which runs from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Local bike manufacturer Detroit Bikes has donated a bike that will be given away during the festivities. Free Muscle Milk products will also be available. Health and wellness nonprofit Healthy Detroit will be on site to promote its mission of creating a healthier and happier city. Lunchtime Global and Faygo will be providing food and refreshments.

Since Anytime Fitness opened in late February, business has been so brisk for that they're rumored to be opening a second Detroit location, this one in Midtown.

"We're doing even better than we expected to," says downtown general manager Dakota Shayne.

Part of that success is a result of businesses like Quicken Loans and Compuware continuing to draw workers downtown. Shayne says that the gym's busiest hours are from 9 p.m. to midnight after employees of downtown companies get off work.

Anytime Fitness is smaller than what Shayne refers to as "big box gyms." It's an advantage, he says, because big box gyms require large sites that are difficult to find downtown. Shayne describes Anytime Fitness as a full service gym that has a "smaller, studio vibe." He says Detroiters can expect more studios, like yoga and personal training studios, to start popping up around downtown.

Anytime Fitness is open 24 hours a day and is located in the Security Trust Lofts building at 735 Griswold.

Source: Dakota Shayne, general manager of downtown Anytime Fitness
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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A new co-working space for downtown Detroit

A new co-working space is being established in downtown Detroit. WorkBuild HQ, located in the Julian C. Madison Building on Washington Boulevard, is about to become the latest in a wave of co-working spaces opening across the city.

WorkBuild HQ CEO Ernest Foutner, Jr. and co-founders Brandon Colvin and Marcus Twyman have already made the space available to tenants though an official grand opening party won't be held until July. An open house will be held this Saturday, May 17, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Free to all, the casual affair will feature food and refreshments from Rubbed, Voigt's Soda House, and the Detroit Pop Shop.

A number of membership options will be available at WorkBuild HQ, including part-time and full-time pricing plans and public and private seating arrangements. A program called the Success Advancement Resource Center, or SARC, will be dedicated to guiding recent college graduates as they transition from school life to business life. A business incubator, Propel Plus, is also planned.

Encouraging collaboration between tenants will be a focus of WorkBuild HQ, says Foutner. He hopes to see a wide variety of professionals, entrepreneurs, and educators working together -- a sort of synergy, he says. The communal aspect of a co-working space allows tenants to sync up with other professionals who aren't in their industry, providing people the opportunity to both learn and benefit from each other.

"The days of the traditional office space are over," says Foutner.

Typical office amenities such as Wii-Fi Internet, mailbox services, and a conference room are complemented by more modern and non-traditional office perks, including a gaming station, happy hours, and yoga classes.

The Julian C. Madison Building is also home to PT in the D.

Source: Ernest Foutner, Jr., CEO and co-founder of WorkBuild HQ
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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