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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

$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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here.

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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25 and still going strong, Greening of Detroit keeps humming along

In their 25th year, the Greening of Detroit is as busy as ever. The non-profit group is in the midst of another season of planting trees, urban gardening, and much, much more. A variety of programming dominates the Greening of Detroit's year, from planting roughly 5,000 trees throughout the city to conducting workforce training for citizens with challenges to employment.

Greening of Detroit is beginning the transition from tree-planting season to gardening season. The group typically plants 5,000 trees a year over the course of two periods, from March to June and from mid-September to just before Thanksgiving. The Greening recently finished a massive tree-planting project in Rouge Park, a 1,184-acre west side park where it has planted 1,703 trees since the fall of 2013.

As the weather warms, much of the group's focus shifts to its three farm gardens: Romanowski Farm Park, Lafayette Greens, and Detroit Market Garden. The Greening uses the gardens for educational programming, urban farming, and produce markets. On May 20, they'll be offering a class on how to grow wild edibles in your garden. On May 29, they'll be offering a class on backyard aquaponics. Each demonstration will be held at the Detroit Market Garden, located behind Shed 5 of Eastern Market.

In collaboration with the Lower Eastside Action Plan (LEAP), the Greening is devising ways to clear and re-green blighted lots. Trish Hubbell, marketing director for Greening of Detroit, says that the group engages the communities they work with as much as possible.

"We like to work with the communities and get their input because ultimately they're the ones who take over and run things," says Hubbell.

Adult workforce training, children's educational programming, and the popular Build-A-Garden program are also planned for the summer.

Since its formation in 1989, the Greening of Detroit has planted nearly 82,000 trees throughout the city.

Source: Trish Hubbell, marketing director for Greening of Detroit
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Hamtramck bakery quietly becomes go-to source for French baked goods

What do Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company, Mudgie's Deli, and the Detroit Institute of Arts have in common? They all carry Matt Knio's breads, pastries, and buns. The Frenchman-turned-Michigander has quietly become one of the city's go-to people for baked goods.

Despite keeping a low profile, Knio's Hamtramck-based Golden Wheat bakery provides baguettes, croissants, and other French baked goods to a number of the city's popular restaurants, cafes, and markets. With very little web presence or branding, Golden Wheat's popularity has spread by word-of-mouth. Knio says that he doesn't advertise and that 90 percent of his customers come from referrals. You could be eating one of his almond croissants right now and not even know it was his. Still, business keeps growing.

Knio started Golden Wheat when, on account of a girl, he left France for Michigan. A year later in 2003, Knio opened a storefront in Birmingham. A 2007 chance encounter at a Rochester farmers market led to his opening a commercial kitchen in Hamtramck. By 2008, he closed his Birmingham storefront and started doing wholesale baking full-time. He's since opened a small Birmingham coffee shop, Cannelle Patisserie.

In Hamtramck, Knio runs his bakery at night, preparing his fine French baked goods for the morning. They work odd hours at the kitchen, operating from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. As a result, Knio catches up on sleep during the day. It's a committed lifestyle, but one that he finds rewarding. Knio believes that Detroit dining options have really turned a corner and he's glad to be a part of that.

"I travel quite a bit and see a lot," says Knio. "The area is getting more and more good food. It's not like it was five or six years ago."

One of the more recent restaurants to carry Golden Wheat products is La Feria, which opened in November 2013.

Source: Matt Knio, owner of Golden Wheat
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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City's first dog park opens in Corktown

On Thursday, May 1, another pop-up turned permanent in the city, though this pop-up, the Detroit Dog Park, has nothing to sell. The roughly 3/4 acre site is located on the former Macomb Playlot, an abandoned playground at 17th and Rose adjacent to Roosevelt Park. Michigan Central Station looms largely nearby.

Pop-up success stories have become commonplace in Detroit. They've proven efficient and effective in introducing businesses to the public without all of the initial costs that can eat up startup funding. They also serve as a means for community building, as was the case with Detroit Dog Park.

The nonprofit group first organized in the summer of 2011. By 2012, it became part of a larger group that was holding a pop-up dog park every third Saturday on Navin Field (the site of old Tiger Stadium). This month's meet-up will take place on the second Saturday instead, coinciding with the new park's official grand opening at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 10.

Detroit Dog Park came to occupy the property by way of the city's Adopt-a-Park program. Volunteers mowed the grass and cleared out brush and debris from the neglected park. PetSmart, the national pet supplies store, helped the group establish the site. The company sent a mobile dog park kit -- a shipping container with the basic components required for setting up a dog park, including the perimeter fence.

Succeeding in establishing the city's only permanent dog park, the group now shifts its focus to maintaining it. Instituting additional dog parks in other parts of the city is also a goal.

"The idea is that we'll build one, learn from it, and turn around and try to make it happen again," says Megha Satyanarayana, a board member of Detroit Dog Park.

Detroit Dog Park is free and open to the public.

Source: Megha Satyanarayana, board member of Detroit Dog Park
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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New Nigerian BBQ restaurant concept to debut in Southwest Detroit

Fresh off the rollout of a second -- and controversial -- restaurant concept, Goldfinch American, Tunde Wey is preparing to launch a third. The restaurant, Lagos, draws inspiration from Wey's native country, Nigeria. Wey is also co-founder of Hamtramck's (revolver).

Lagos will begin as a series of weekly dinners. The first, May 17, will feature suya, a Nigerian barbecued beef dry rubbed in ginger, pepper, and other spices. The dinners are located at the old restaurant inside the Mexicantown Fiesta Center on Vernor Hwy. Wey hopes to sign a long-term lease at the location.

When pressed to characterize Nigerian barbecue, Wey says that so many of the dishes throughout all of Africa tend to possess bolder flavors than American fare. The meat is more tender, something you take your time with.

"It's food that you eat with your hands and then you lick your fingers," says Wey. "It's an engaging meal."

Also on the menu is jollof rice, dodo, egusi (rice pilaf), fried plantains, and steamed vegetables. A pescetarian option is part of the menu.

The city of Lagos, with a population of over 17 million people, can seem chaotic, says Wey, but there's a definite rhythm to it. He hopes for something similar for the restaurant, an informal and friendly communal dining experience defined by a boisterous energy. Music will play a big role in setting that tone, featuring contemporary and traditional Nigerian music as well as hip hop and reggae.

Where Wey's first two restaurants put much of the focus on the creativity and direction of a head chef, Lagos allows for a team of cooks working on the dishes together. 

Source: Tunde Wey, owner of Lagos
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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New public art installations for Hart Plaza, then neighborhoods

Six new public art pieces will be temporarily placed at Hart Plaza over Memorial Day weekend, greeting electronic music fans from all over the world who flock to Detroit for the Movement Electronic Music Festival. The artists responsible for the pieces were chosen because of a number of factors, including their connection to Detroit.

Once the festival is over, the pieces will be relocated to various parts of the city and installed again as public art projects. Paxahau, Community Arts Moving Projects (CAMP), and Opportunity Detroit are responsible for the contest.

Ernst: King of Cats by Sean Hages is a towering marionette that festival-goers can control by pulling and manipulating a system of ropes.

Yeah Yoy, Foch by Louis Casinelli and Andrew Thompson uses trees from an eastside neighborhood, recessed lighting, and lycra to create a playful sculpture and bench.

Reflection Portal by John Rizzo and Will Tyrell is a 'portal' where electronic music fans walk through a ring of accordion-shaped mirrored Plexiglas.

Dystopian Disco: Sonic Crystals by Bethany Shorb and Kip Ewing. The pair designed a series of prismatic disco balls, bright, reflective hanging shapes that enhance the listening experience.

The Good-time Light-hearted Lean Peaks by Patrick Ethen, Ellen Rutt, Alan Sedghi, Eiji Jimbo, Simon Anton, and Rachel Mulder. They designed a number of pyramid-shaped structures that provide weary festival-goers places to lean during the day. At night, the structures respond to the music.

Amity by Eddie Bullock is a graceful flower sculpture fashioned out of steel.

This is the fifth year CAMP has led the public art project. It has not yet been announced which neighborhoods will receive the public art once the festival is complete.

Over 100,000 people attended the 2013 Movement festival.

Source: Paxahau press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Russell Industrial Center to host open studios, adds over 40 tenants in six months

The Russell Industrial Center will be hosting another of its open studio days on Saturday, April 26. The all-day event invites the public to come tour the sprawling 2.2 million square foot complex and its many artist studios and businesses. It's an opportunity for artists and small businesses to showcase their wares while also providing the public an inside view of the Albert Kahn-designed manufacturing complex.

There will be a number of new vendors for the public to check out in addition to the Russell's numerous well-established artists and businesses. Leasing officer Eric Novack says that the Russell has added over 40 tenants in the past six months. The list of new tenants includes artists, recording studios, furniture makers, and marketing and promotions teams. Novack credits a number of factors for the increase in occupancy.

"It's been a back-to-basics approach with our tenants, people who don't need a lot of overhead and regulating," says Novack. "It's a shift back to our original ideology. Come for your dreams and ideals and manufacture that reality."

Several high profile events and appearances have also helped that surge in occupancy. The Russell recently hosted the ever-popular Dirty Show for the first time. GMC unveiled its 2015 Canyon there during this year's North American International Auto Show. The iconic and gigantic chimera graffiti mural facing I-75 was even featured in the Bob Dylan-narrated Chrysler commercial that aired during this year's Super Bowl.

The Russell is also gearing up for Rummage. Billed as Detroit's biggest garage sale, $20 will buy vendors space at the May 17 and 18 event.

Source: Eric Novack, leasing officer of Russell Industrial Center
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Community group purchases historic Ford Highland Park Plant building with intent to redevelop

The Woodward Avenue Action Association (WA3) has purchased the Administration Building and Executive Garage at the historic Ford Highland Park Plant. The economic and community development organization raised over half a million dollars to acquire the property. WA3 purchased the buildings with three acres along Woodward for $550,000.

A second round of fundraising begins as the organization has determined that the buildings require $7.5 million in renovations. Debbie Schutt, executive director of WA3, says that fundraising should be much easier with the property now in their possession.

WA3 plans on building an Automotive Heritage Welcome Center at the site. The center will serve as a gateway to the grounds of the Highland Park complex, similar in spirit to a national park welcome center. The center will provide information about local tours and house interpretive displays and a theater. Rather than focusing solely on the history of the Ford Motor Company, the center will instead focus on the culture of creativity and innovation fostered by the local automotive industry.

"So much more has come out of the industry than cars. We need to tell our own story to ourselves and then tell it to others," says Schutt. "There's a reason Detroit has a patent office."

In addition to the historical and informative plans for the site, WA3 is going to use the site for training purposes. They have partnered with Wayne County's Economic Development Growth Engine (EDGE) to build a high tech learning lab for the modern assembly line. The building used to house one of Henry Ford's original trade schools, says Schutt, making it an appropriate place for a modern training facility.

The lab will be designed to serve both the citizens of Highland Park and the region as a whole.

Source: Debbie Schutt, executive director of Woodward Avenue Action Association
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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15 homes for sale in Grandmont Rosedale to be featured in tour

Prospective home buyers who want another option beyond the city's new auction website can look forward to the Grandmont Rosedale Neighborhood Open House. Up to 15 houses will be for sale and open for viewing during the event taking place on Sunday, May 4, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. 

Visitors to the event will have the option of taking a tour of the neighborhood by foot, bicycle, or bus. Guests are encouraged to register at the North Rosedale Park Community House, 18445 Scarsdale, before touring the neighborhood. From there, visitors can go from home to home on their own or join a short bus tour narrated by their potential future neighbors.

A bike tour is also available. Wheelhouse Detroit will be leading a group of cyclists from downtown to the neighborhood. A group of Grandmont Rosedale residents will then lead guests on a tour of the area.

The 15 houses that will be featured vary in style, size, and price. Each home is eligible for $7,500 in down payment assistance from First Merit Bank. A number of the homes have been rehabilitated by the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. These GRDC houses are eligible for another $10,000 through the Detroit Development Fund, a total of $17,500 in incentives. New buyers may also qualify for a 15-year tax abatement.

The Detroit Future City plan has identified Grandmont Rosedale as a neighborhood ideal for stabilization and investment. Over a million dollars have been invested in the neighborhood these past few years from groups that include foundations, the Detroit Land Bank Authority, and the city of Detroit.

The Public Lighting Authority has chosen Grandmont Rosedale as a site for demonstrating its public lighting improvements.

Source: Grandmont Rosedale Neighborhood Open House press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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April Development News Round-up

April was another busy month for development news in the city. Let's catch up on six stories from the past four weeks.

Come November, downtown will add 150 jobs and 24,000 square feet of dining, drinking, and gaming -- and all under one roof. Dan Gilbert's Bedrock Real Estate Services announced that the Denver-based Punch Bowl Social will be opening a location in the recently-opened Z Garage.

There's a new name in the downtown development scene. Roger Basmajian has recently purchased three office buildings in the central business district, acquiring 104,000 square feet of office space in nine months. Basmajian expects to spend at least $7 million in renovations, says Crain's.

Midtown Detroit, Inc. announced two beautification projects in its district: a second green alley and a dog park. The green alley will run behind Avalon Bakery, from Willis to Canfield. The dog park is planned for the empty lot at Canfield and Cass. Midtown Detroit, Inc. signed a three-year lease on the lot with a two-year extension possible.

There's a new restaurant in New Center. The Zenith, a Mexican-Southern fusion restaurant, opened in the Fisher Building this month. The pictures at Eater Detroit reveal a colorful and eclectic interior, one that draws from 1940s and 1950s kitsch.

Another grocery store has opened on the city's east side. Parkway Foods joins Parker Street Market in debuting this month, providing residents with more food options. While Parker Street Market is a smaller, specialized neighborhood grocer, Parkway Foods is more of a traditional super market, not unlike the Farmer Jack that used to be in the same location.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Cousins to open 'tipless' restaurant with simple, fresh cuisine and picnic basket service

Two cousins are cleaning up an old diner on E. Jefferson with hopes of being ready for a May opening. Lucy Carnaghi and Molly Mitchell will be launching Rose's Fine Food, named in tribute to their grandmother, at 10551 E. Jefferson. The building, built in 1960, was previously home to Elmo's Fine Food and, later, Kolonja Fine Food.

The duo have a combined 30 years of experience in the restaurant business, but starting their own restaurant marks a pretty incredible evolution for the two of them, says Carnaghi. Mitchell recently returned to Detroit from San Fransico, where she worked as baker at the James Beard Award-winning Tartine Bakery.

Carnaghi and Mitchell plan on offering a diverse menu of made-from-scratch, locally sourced food with new American, rustic Mexican, southern French, and American South influences. They'll also be baking their own bread, making their own French pastries, and starting their own garden in back of the restaurant.

Unlike typical diners, Rose's Fine Food will operate as a "tipless" restaurant. Customers will not be expected to tip their servers. The front of the house will be making the same as the back of the house, a living wage of $10.10 an hour, says Carnaghi.

"I want to keep the people that I hire and I want them to be proud of where they work," she says. "It seems to be the responsible thing to do as an employer."

Near enough to Belle Isle, the restaurant will offer a picnic basket service. Customers will be able to rent baskets complete with a meal, blanket, and real dishes and cutlery.

Source: Lucy Carnaghi, co-owner of Rose's Fine Food
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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A women's clothing boutique pops up on Woodward

A new pop-up retail shop has opened downtown. Ebony Rutherford hopes to be another Detroit entrepreneur success story, one that takes the opportunity of a pop-up store and makes the transition to a permanent location. Her women's clothing boutique, Trish's Garage, opened its doors with a soft opening on April 7 and a grand opening April 11.

The store features local clothing makers and emphasizes products made for women of every size and shape. Rutherford herself makes the peplums found in the store. Other local brands carried include shirts from Bruce Bailey, Quinn Hamilton's Firebrand Candle Company, and artwork from Brooke Ellis. Rutherford also provides free styling services.

Rutherford has worked hard to open Trish's Garage, taking advantage of a number of resources designed for Detroit entrepreneurs. She attended the TechTown Retail Boot Camp, where she says she learned to identify customers' needs rather than stocking only what she wants to sell. Rutherford also completed the D:Hive Build program, where she says she learned a foundation of business planning, pricing, and money management.

All of these lessons led to her eventual acceptance into the D:Hive Pilot pop-up program, situating her boutique next to the D:Hive storefront in the heart of downtown. It's another step that should help her make the transition to a permanent location.

"These experiences -- learning how to staff people, learning how to price merchandise -- will prepare me for the future," says Rutherford. "They're experiences I can show landlords when applying for locations."

Trish's Garage is open through May 31 and is located at 1249 Woodward Ave.

Source: Ebony Rutherford, owner of Trish's Garage
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Local design and architecture firms collaborate on a new vision for Palmer Park

An impressive list of Detroit-area architecture and design firms have come together to help shape Palmer Park's future. Led by Gibbs Planning Group and sponsored by the Michigan chapters of the American Society of Landscape Architects and the Congress for the New Urbanism, seven teams made up of 11 firms recently presented various plans for the historic park to the People for Palmer Park, an advocacy group. A consensus master plan will be created from this work and presented to the city by Memorial Day.

Participating firms included 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., Campbell Architeture and Planning, and Gibbs Planning Group.

The plans address a wide range of issues facing the park, from stormwater management to transit and parking questions.

Other plans focus on the park's design elements. Dave Mangum, urban planning associate for Gibbs Planning, says the park has been disconnected from itself and the community it serves. He singled out a high fence running along Woodward Ave. that limits access to the park.

People for Palmer Park is engaging community members to identify what they like and dislike about each of the seven presentations. Gibbs Planning will then work with them and the other firms to form a consensus master plan. Though not binding, the parties involved hope that the city will use the master plan when considering changes to the park. It also provides the People for Palmer Park with an effective fundraising tool for their own advocacy efforts.

"There hasn't been a cohesive vision for Palmer Park in quite a while," says Mangum.

Palmer Park is a 300-acre park designed by the 'father of landscape architecture,' Frederick Law Olmsted, the man who designed such famous parks as Detroit's Belle Isle and New York's Central Park.

Source: Dave Mangum, urban planning associate for Gibbs Planning Group
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Detroit debuts new property auction website

Building Detroit, a website designed to auction off city-owned houses, has launched. It features a number of safeguards that are designed to keep speculators from bidding on the properties. The idea is to ensure that houses go to people and companies who will fix, maintain, and populate the homes.

Houses will be available at a rate of one per day starting Monday, May 5. Bidding starts at 8 a.m. and runs through 5 p.m. There are currently 12 houses listed on the Building Detroit website. Bidding for the first house, 4184 Bishop, starts at $1,000. Registration has opened for potential bidders.

The city is employing what it calls a "rigorous process" to vet winning bidders. Winners must pay 10% of the price within 72 hours of winning the auction. If purchased for $20,000 or less, winners must make the full payment within 60 days of the auction. Winners have 90 days to make a full payment if a property is purchased for more than $20,000.

The Detroit Land Bank Authority requires winners to demonstrate executed construction contracts for home rehabs within 30 days of closing. If the winner is rehabbing the home themselves, they are required to provide corresponding receipts.

Buyers have six months to be granted a certificate of occupancy and have the home occupied. Failure to meet all of these requirements results in losing both property and purchase price. Such rules should prevent speculators from buying properties only to sit on them, leaving them unoccupied and at-risk for scrapping and squatting, something for which the Wayne County Tax Auction has been criticized.

On April 27, the East English Village Association, heavily involved in the auction's first round, will be hosting open houses for the buildings available in its neighborhood.

Source: Building Detroit press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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A spa opens in Midtown's Park Shelton building

Opening Serene Medi-Spa is the realization of a six year dream for Dr. Manisha Mehta, a podiatrist who also owns and operates a medical practice. The two businesses neighbor each other inside the Park Shelton.

Dr. Mehta first opened Gentle Foot Care of Michigan in the early months of 2008. Forced to move her medical practice from 3800 Woodward as a result of that building's impending demolition, Dr. Mehta moved to the Park Shelton in August of 2013. Serene Medi-Spa opened Valentine's Day of 2014.

Dr. Mehta hopes that as her spa business grows, she'll be able to expand into an additional space and offer waxes and facials. For now, the spa offers manicures and pedicures, including paraffin, scrub, and gel polish services.

Being a podiatrist, Dr. Mehta knows quite a bit about foot care. As such, she places quite an emphasis on the sanitary conditions of the spa, saying that too many spas ignore healthy sanitation practices.

"With me being experienced in sterilization and cleanliness, the nail techs can always come next door to my office and ask questions," says Dr. Mehta.

Liners are placed in the foot bowls and are thrown away after one use. Dr. Mehta also discourages nail techs from reusing nail files. She even sells a polish with anti-fungal properties. With these practices, Dr. Mehta wants customers to know that she's doing everything she can to ensure a healthy manicure and pedicure experience. The doctor knows a thing or two about fungi, bacteria, and infections.

Dr. Mehta also spreads the gospel of ovarian cancer awareness and hopes to start a foundation someday. "With all these women coming into the spa, I want to educate and hopefully save some lives," she says.

Serene Medi-Spa is currently looking for experienced nail techs.

Source: Dr. Manisha Mehta, founder and owner of Serene Medi-Spa
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Man fights to bring his one-of-a-kind horseless horse carriage to Detroit streets

Dave Ducharme is committed to bringing his horseless horse carriages to the city of Detroit. He's nearly there, too, with the first two of his three 'old world'-style carriages approved to begin providing tours downtown as Andre's Carriage Tours. He hopes a third carriage will be approved by the Department of Natural Resources to tour Belle Isle State Park.

After dreaming up the idea for a horseless horse carriage, Ducharme partnered with Quality Time Recreation in Kimball, Michigan to make it a reality. The carriages utilize electric golf cart motors as a means of propulsion. Every driver will either wear white tuxedos with high hats and canes or French Renaissance costume attire, complete with puffy shirts and hats with ostrich feathers.

Ducharme came up with the idea for a horseless horse carriage -- the only of its kind, he says -- over three years ago. Since then, he's been pursuing officials in city and state government to allow him to make it happen. Originally hoping to provide tours along the RiverWalk, Ducharme was told the carriages were too wide and would get in the way of pedestrians. He then shifted his focus downtown, where he was eventually given permission to operate.

"I'm back. I'm licensed. I'm approved," says Ducharme. "Let's entertain people and show off those jewels downtown."

Andre's Carriage Tours are currently based out of the Miller Parking structure across from the Renaissance Center. Though not yet operating on a regular basis, Andre's Carriage Tours will begin as soon as the weather warms up. Once you don't need a blanket covering you during the ride, he says, the tours will be running from sun up to sun down.

Ducharme plans on offering sports-, theater-, and architecture-themed tours with an emphasis on the city's history.

Source: Dave Ducharme, proprietor of Andre's Carriage Tours
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Sturgis-native moves to Detroit, starts junk removal business

A new junk and trash removal service has opened on the city's far west side. Scott Stauffer moved his family from Sturgis, Michigan this winter to start Detroit Junkbusters. The company, which utilizes a heavy duty truck and a 6x12 dump trailer, offers services to Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Washtenaw, Livingston, and Monroe counties.

Scott sees his company as an opportunity to help and meet people in his new community. As he gets situated here, Scott hopes to organize some community service events, donating his time and equipment to remove illegal dumping waste.

"There's a satisfaction you get from cleaning stuff up, from being able to help clean the neighborhood up," says Scott. "There's a satisfaction from taking something chaotic and disastrous and making it usable again."

Scott says his company will haul away junk and trash for just about anyone who hires them. No job's too small for Scott -- he's been called to remove a heavy television set for a person unable to move it on their own. He's happy to take the big jobs too, of course. He says that he recently removed four trailers worth of trash from a wrecked apartment unit.

Scott also tries to keep as much stuff out of landfills as possible, recycling and donating whatever he can. Rather than someone renting a dumpster to be dropped off in front of their house, Scott brings the dumpster to the house, removes the trash, and then takes it away.

A former roofer, Scott got the idea for the junk removal business after hanging out with some friends in the Kitchener, Ontario area. They had their own junk removal business there and Scott was taken with all the people he met throughout the day.

Source: Scott Stauffer, owner and CEO of Detroit Junkbusters
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Jane's Walk festival to include Detroit

Detroit has joined a list of over 100 cities that plan on hosting the annual walking festival known as "Jane's Walk". The festival occurs from May 2-4.

Organizers are asking Detroit residents to create and host their own walks where people can learn more about their neighborhoods and engage in their communities. There is currently one Detroit Jane's Walk scheduled on the national website, an approximately 90 minute walk that will tour the Livernois Avenue of Fashion and its surrounding neighborhoods. Led by Vickie Elmer and Madhavi Reddy, the tour takes place on May 3 at 9 a.m.

The festival is encouraging residents to create more walks throughout the city. The expansion into Detroit is a result of a partnership between Jane's Walk and the Municipal Art Society of New York and is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The Knight Foundation gave $50,000 to launch Jane's Walks in Detroit; Philadelphia; Akron, OH; Charlotte, NC; and San Jose, CA.

"By leveraging strong local partnerships the Jane’s Walk model has the potential to create a new class of connected citizens, who are more invested in the place they live and want to contribute to its success," Carol Coletta, Knight Foundation vice president for community and national initiatives, says in a statement.

A form is available online for those interested in creating a Jane's Walk. The walks are free and inclusive, organized by Detroiters rather than a central body. They're a way to get people out and walking around while concentrating on an aspect of urban living. The group says that walks can be funny or serious, historic or contemporary.

Jane's Walk was formed to honor famed urbanist and community activist Jane Jacobs.

Source: Jane's Walk press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Lyft, a new car sharing service, makes its Detroit debut

There's a new transit option for people in want of a ride, available everywhere from downtown Detroit to the suburbs and back. Lyft, the San Francisco-based car sharing app, launched in Detroit this Friday, March 28.

Passengers enter their credit card information into the app when first signing up for the service. The transaction between driver and rider is always cash-free. The app then calculates mileage, time, pickup fee, and the Lyft Trust and Safety fee to determine a suggested payment for the driver. It is up to the passenger how much they will pay for the ride.

Lyft first sent a launch team to Detroit about a month before officially starting services. The team came to determine whether the city was a fit for Lyft and, once decided that it was, began training and hiring drivers.

"Our hope is that we fill a gap in transportation in the city where people won't have to rely on having their own cars," says Lyft spokesperson Paige Thelen.

For drivers, such a service allows them to offer rides while on their way to work or school and make some extra money. Lyft also allows drivers to create their own brands, encouraging drivers to offer unique, friendly rides with an emphasis on human interaction. Lyft cars are identifiable by the giant, fuzzy pink mustaches drivers attach to the front of their vehicles.

The company is quick to point out its commitment to safety. Drivers must pass background checks, driving record checks, phone screenings, in-person meetings, and vehicle inspections. There is a zero tolerance policy for drugs and alcohol. Lyft also features a $1 million liability insurance policy.

Drivers use their own vehicles and make themselves available whenever they want to be, 24 hours a day.

Source: Paige Thelen, spokesperson for Lyft
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Art Deco gem re-branded as the Block at Cass Park

100,000 square feet of office space has opened up in one of Albert Kahn's Art Deco masterpieces, the former S.S. Kresge World Headquarters at 2727 Second Ave. The building was most recently known as the Metropolitan Center for High Technology before being re-branded as the Block at Cass Park.

Under its new configuration, the 250,000 square foot building is putting an emphasis on office space and openness. The building is owned by Wayne State University and a partnership of private owners. Wayne State manages the space.

When Matteo Passalacqua was being interviewed for the leasing officer position he now holds, he suggested changing the name of the building. Ian Studders, WSU associate director of leasing and retail services, took him one further and suggested a complete re-branding. As WSU moved departments from the building at Cass Park to spaces closer to campus, Passalacqua and Studders had an opportunity to change the entire identity of 2727 Second. The Block at Cass Park is the result of that transformation.

Location plays a big part in the building's appeal. Situated across from Cass Park, the area is near the new hockey arena that will soon be built. Becoming more inclusive in that changing neighborhood is a focus, says Studders, as they plan on offering event space and conference rooms to community members.

"The focus is to not be an island," says Passalacqua. "We'll be helping with the park, landscaping, removing tagging, and picking up trash."

Detroit-based Patrick Thompson Design won the competitive bidding process to re-design the public components of the first floor in an attempt to make the space more inviting. The pricing is competitive too. Passalacqua says that rent is currently available below market rates.

The Block at Cass Park is also home to the co-working space An Office in Detroit.

Source: Matteo Passalacqua, leasing officer for the Block at Cass Park
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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The Lorax comes to a historic Woodbridge home

At what is sure to become known as The Lorax House, developer Alex Pereira of Secure Realty, LLC has commissioned two artists to liven up Trumbull Street as it runs through the Woodbridge neighborhood. A mural and a sculpture inspired by the Dr. Seuss book The Lorax are being placed in the front lot of 4759 Trumbull. The sculpture installation is planned for today.

A mural painted by artist Matt Hebert will serve as the backdrop for Scott Kuefler's Lorax sculpture. The sculpture, made from wood, was carved by chainsaw. The mural is being painted on a retaining wall and features the famous line from the book, "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."

Pereira feels that the quote reflects what is happening in Detroit right now. He's currently rehabbing the building at 4759 Trumbull with hopes of having it ready for renters by May. Pre-leasing has already begun for the five-unit building built in 1900.

"I think art is an important component in the revitalization of Detroit," says Pereira. "It's taking something that's not the prettiest and, with minimal work, you add value."

The redevelopment of 4759 Trumbull marks a shift in focus for Pereira and Secure Realty, one from suburbs to city. Pereira plans on purchasing and rehabbing more properties in the city. Detroit's structures, he says, are invaluable character pieces that can't be recreated today.

Pereira purchased 4759 Trumbull in the 2012 Wayne County tax auction. 15 years vacant with a roof ravaged by the elements, the owner of the neighboring building thought 4759 Trumbull was too far gone and planned on purchasing it in order to demolish it and turn it into a parking lot.

In May of 2013, Pereira began construction on a building that was nearly demolished.

Source: Alex Pereira, developer at Secure Realty
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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State loans millions of dollars to build M-1 Rail, demolish Joe Louis Arena

A couple of Detroit development projects have recently been approved for loans and funding assistance from the Michigan Strategic Fund, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation recently announced. Two projects, the construction of the M-1 Rail and the demolition of Joe Louis Arena, will receive $16 million from the fund.

"Michigan is America’s Comeback State, and these projects add to our growing momentum," said Gov. Rick Snyder in a statement. "These new investments in our state will strengthen our communities, spur new commercial investment in our cities and fuel new opportunities for our talented workforce."

The M-1 Rail, a 3.3-mile light rail system that will stretch from downtown to New Center, is set to receive a $10 million loan from the Michigan Strategic Fund. The $10 million Michigan Business Development Program performance-based loan has been awarded as result of the $130 to $140 million in capital investment and up to 41 permanent jobs that the construction of the line is expected to create.

While some specifics for the project remain, the $10 million in loans provided by the Michigan Strategic Fund should bring the M-1 Rail closer to reality. Recently, the first phase of construction began as crews have started utility work downtown. The M-1 Rail is a curbside light rail system that will stop at 11 planned stops along Woodward.

The current home of the Detroit Red Wings, Joe Louis Arena, will be demolished once a new hockey arena has been built in the lower Cass Corridor. Though nothing has been announced for the future former home of the Red Wings, the riverfront location is poised to receive major development interest.

Anticipating major commercial investment dollars, the Michigan Strategic Fund has approved up to $6 million in Michigan Community Revitalization Program performance-based economic assistance to go toward demolishing the arena. Joe Louis opened in 1979.

Source: Michigan Economic Development Corporation press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Hip, new barber shop opens downtown

A new barber shop has opened in downtown Detroit. Beyond the haircuts, Standard Barber Company also offers straight razor shaves, beard trims, and shoe shines. The company focuses on "hip and cool" haircuts for men, something that was missing from downtown, according to co-founder Matt Charette Temkin.

The barber shop has a clubhouse feel to it as Temkin mentions bourbon and catching a game as part of the experience. Temkin's great grandfather, Joseph Charette, opened his own barber shop in the Delray neighborhood in 1915, eventually moving it to Brightmoor where it was in operation until the 1960s.

Temkin, who lives in New York, got the idea to open his own barber shop while visiting eventual co-founder Steve Economy on a trip home. The pair both grew up in Farmington. Economy, who lives downtown, was showing Temkin around when Temkin learned that Economy drove all the way to the suburbs to get his haircut. The idea for Standard Barber Company was soon crafted.

"It's great to have all these businesses moving downtown, all these people moving down here," says Temkin. "But what makes it a desirable place to live are the daytime services that everyone needs."

Discouraged after looking at over 50 spaces downtown and not finding a single match, the pair stopped in the Greenwich Times pub. It was there over beers that the duo got to talking to the bartender, who then called out her brother, the owner of the building. They were soon led upstairs and found their space at 138 Cadillac Square. Since the business takes up the second floor of a building that is wedge- or flat iron-shaped, the shop is surrounded by windows.

The company is looking to hire more barbers to stand behind their three chairs. The current group is lead by Head Barber David Herrera, who the business found after conducting over 100 interviews this last summer.

Source: Matt Charette Temkin, co-founder of Standard Barber Company
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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A new grocer to open in West Village

A neighborhood market will be opening up in West Village soon with a projected opening date of April 3. David Kirby has partnered with his girlfriend, Caitlin James, to open Parker Street Market. James is also co-owner of local juice makers Drought.

The market will focus on supplying local and organic products to the surrounding neighborhood. Kirby has put out a call to all local food producers as he searches for the right mix of products to line the shelves. Local food makers are encouraged to contact Kirby for consideration.

Kirby sees Parker Street Market as a stepping stone for local food entrepreneurs, that place in between selling at farmers' markets and selling at large-scale super markets. With co-owner James being experienced in the local food economy through her work with Drought, the pair have an already established network in Detroit's food scene.

For Kirby, it was being around James and her family that gave him the entrepreneur bug. "If you surround yourself by entrepreneurs, it gets in your blood as well," he says.

After moving to Detroit from New York, Kirby noticed he was often driving to the suburbs for groceries. The couple, who live about a block away from their new storefront, saw the for rent sign at 1814 Parker St. and quickly dived in. Construction began in November.

Kirby believes that the Parker Street Market business model is one that will allow for rapid growth, potentially expanding into multiple stores. They've worked out a structured deal with Door-to-Door Organics, a company that partners with farmers to deliver organic products to people's doors. By agreeing to offer many Door-to-Door Organics products, Kirby will be able to prices low. The emphasis, he says, will be on affordability.

Interested food entrepreneurs can reach Kirby at info@parkerstreetmarket.com.

Source: David Kirby, co-founder of Parker Street Market
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Detroit Greenways Coalition becomes a nonprofit, grows

The Detroit Greenways Coalition is making a push to play an even bigger role in growing the city's greenways as it becomes an official nonprofit organization. The group has filed papers with the state and has requested recognition from the IRS as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The group, which formed in 2006, has been an informal organization since inception.

By achieving nonprofit status, the DGC will be able to expand its scope, providing the group more resources like access to grant funding. The coalition now has a board of directors. Todd Scott, who was basically a one man staff for the organization in its previous incarnation, will remain with the DGC. He is now Executive Director for the Detroit Greenways Coalition.

"We weren't an official organization beforehand. We were a group of stakeholders that met monthly," says Scott. "I'm excited to see how this moves us forward, to see what we can accomplish."

The group had no intentions of becoming a nonprofit when it first formed in 2006. There were even discussions of the transition happening in 2009 but it was then decided against. More changes may come for the DGC as Scott says that a merger is likely with the Detroit Eastside Community Collaborative, a group that works to build greenways in underserved neighborhoods on the city's east side. The Detroit Greenways Coalition and Detroit Eastside Community Collaborative are already partners in building the Conner Creek Greenway.

The DGC was recently in the news for its involvement in bringing four new miles of bike lanes to Van Dyke Ave. The bike lanes connect the cities of Warren, Center Line, and Detroit and also help complete the Conner Creek Greenway, a patchwork of bike lanes and greenways that now stretches from north of 8 Mile Rd. to Maheras Gentry Park at the Detroit River.

Source: Todd Scott, executive director of Detroit Greenways Coalition
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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March development news round-up

March was another busy month for development news in the city. Let's catch up on five stories from the past four weeks.


Writer: MJ Galbraith

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New bike lanes to connect city to suburbs

Bicyclists traveling between suburbs and city have something to look forward to this summer as plans for four miles of new bike lanes have been finalized. Through a mix of private and public funding, the bike lanes will connect Detroit with the communities of Warren and Center Line.

The planned bike lanes will mostly run along Van Dyke Ave, from Stephens Rd in the suburbs to Outer Drive in the city. The lanes will then run along Outer Drive and connect to the Conner Creek Greenway, which runs all the way to Maheras Gentry Park on the Detroit River.

The connection to the Conner Creek Greenway is an important one, linking up with a route that has been in various phases of construction since 2006. The Conner Creek Greenway is a combination of paved lanes and off-road trails that was started to beautify the area around Coleman A. Young International Airport, which was receiving a lot of traffic on account of Detroit hosting the Super Bowl that year. While a large majority of the greenway is complete, small sections remain.

Todd Scott, Detroit Greenways Coordinator for the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance, has been working on securing the new bike lanes along with a number of community groups. The Detroit Eastside Community Collaborative, Eight Mile Boulevard Association, Scott's Detroit Greenways Coalition, and the city of Warren were all instrumental in planning the bike lanes. It was the city of Warren, in fact, that initiated the bike lanes, wishing to better connect the neighboring communities.

"It's exciting," says Scott. "The city of Warren seems genuinely enthused with all that we have going on in Detroit."

Scott also says that he's in discussions with the cities of Ferndale and Dearborn about similar connections.

Source: Todd Scott, Detroit Greenways Coordinator for the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Reclaim Detroit trains over 300 in anticipation of deconstruction campaign for city

Reclaim Detroit has trained a workforce of over 300 people as it prepares to begin deconstructing the city's vacant buildings. The non-profit organization was selected after submitting to a Detroit RFP, becoming the official deconstruction contractor of the Detroit Land Bank Authority.

The city is using the federal government's Hardest Hit Fund to clear Detroit of many of its blighted buildings. Exact numbers of just how many houses will be deconstructed should be available at the end of the month when the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force has gone through its recently collected data.

Reclaim Detroit is a group that opts for deconstruction over demolition. Work crews go into a house and salvage as much of the original materials as possible. Rather than end up in a landfill, the reclaimed wood is for sale at Reclaim Detroit's store and warehouse at Focus: HOPE.

In addition to being environmentally friendly, the reclaimed wood is a popular design trend these days. A number of Detroit businesses, including Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company and Whole Foods Market, feature the reclaimed wood. Craig Varterian, executive director of Reclaim Detroit, says that the group will even be outfitting a McDonald's soon. It's a sign that deconstruction is becoming more and more desirable these days. Varterian is excited, too, that in Reclaim Detroit's winning the city's RFP, Detroit chose deconstruction over demolition.

"We're thrilled to have this," says Varterian. "This is the first time that the city has given the nod to deconstruction practices as mainstream."

Varterian says that in working with the Detroit Land Bank, the group will be using a more cost-efficient hybrid method of deconstruction. Crews should be able to complete a house in three to five days. Mechanical demolition will then be used to finish the job.

Source: Craig Varterian, executive director of Reclaim Detroit
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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City puts out call to re-develop sprawling Herman Kiefer Health Complex

The City of Detroit is looking to redevelop the old Herman Kiefer Health Complex, having recently issued a Request for Proposals. The former home to the city's health department, the complex now sits vacant. Eight buildings are for sale.

The stately brick buildings are spread out across 17.9 acres of land. Visible from the Lodge expressway, the area for sale is bounded by Taylor to the north, US-10 to the east, Blaine to the south, and Byron to the west. 525,937 square feet of floor space is available.

The building most associated with the Herman Kiefer Health Complex is a neo-classic building that dates back to 1909. It was designed by one of Detroit's most famous architects, Albert Kahn, who also designed such notable buildings as Cadillac Place, the Free Press Building, and the Fisher Building. Kahn designed other buildings available on the site. Another distinguished Detroit architect, George D. Mason, also designed a number of the buildings available.

The complex is a designated historic district. As such, it cannot be changed or demolished before submitting to a public hearing and gaining the approval of the Historic District Commission. The RFP suggests that the complex could be transitioned into a mixed use development or even a high density residential district.

According to the RFP, the surrounding neighborhood falls into the Moderate Vacancy 2 category of the Detroit Future City report. The Moderate Vacancy 2 category is for neighborhoods on the edge of losing their residential character.

Proposals are to be submitted by April 18, 2014. A site walk-through is scheduled for Tuesday, March 25 at 9:30 a.m.

The Detroit Department of Health and Wellness Promotion is now located in Suite 200 at 1600 Lafayette.

Source: Herman Kiefer Health Complex RFP
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Detroit Yacht Club offers tours of its historic clubhouse

As Belle Isle transitions from city park to state park, people afraid of changing traditions can rest easy on one front as the Detroit Yacht Club keeps humming along. In fact, the Detroit Yacht Club Foundation has recently announced its 2014 schedule for guided tours of the historic clubhouse.

The first tour of the year is coming up, occurring April 1 at 6:30 p.m. Tours scheduled for the rest of the year will take place on May 6, June 3, July 1, Sept. 3, and Oct. 7. The tours are free and open to the public. History and architecture groups may schedule private tours as well.

The focus of the tour is the clubhouse, one of the largest yacht clubhouses in the country at 93,000 square feet. Built in 1922, the clubhouse was designed by George D. Mason, one of the city's most notable architects. Mason is responsible for many of Detroit's famous buildings, including the Masonic Temple and Gem Theater. He's also responsible for the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.

The building falls into the Mediterranean Revival category and features a one-of-a-kind Pewabic Pottery fountain. Other highlights of the tour include the clubhouse's famous fireplace, ballroom, and grand stairways. The clubhouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The yacht club itself predates the building, having been founded in 1868. A Belle Isle institution, the Detroit Yacht Club is a private club that offers a harbor with 380 slips spread across seven docks. Food and dining is a focus for the club and it hosts weddings and events too.

The Detroit Yacht Club Foundation asks that those interested in taking a tour of the historic facilities contact the group no later than two days before the tour date.

Source: Detroit Yacht Club Foundation press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Photographer-turned-mechanic opens up shop in Rivertown

There's a new automotive repair shop on Detroit's east riverfront. Chris Lee opened the Straits Garage, located at 217 Joseph Campau St. The garage, in a historic warehouse built in 1880, offers a range of services, from simple oil changes to drivetrain and transmission work.

Though Lee didn't originally plan on locating his garage in Rivertown, he's glad he did. The shop has been busy since opening in late January, revealing an obvious need for the surrounding area. The building's proximity to downtown and a provided shuttle allows commuters to drop off their cars before work and pick them up on the way home.

A photography instructor at Oakland University, Lee has been working on cars since he was a teenager. The idea for a garage hit him about a year or two ago, he says. The Detroit native started to notice that the new residents of downtown and Midtown didn't know where to take their cars in for repairs. Realizing that there just weren't that many options in those immediate neighborhoods, Lee became certified as a mechanic and began the search for his own garage. He was stymied, however, by the landlords in downtown and Midtown.

"I spent the last year trying to find a good space in those neighborhoods," says Lee. "A lot of landlords in Midtown don't want an un-hip mechanic shop. They're looking for bars, cafes."

Lee stumbled on a building in Rivertown that had been a repair shop for decades previous, making for an easy move-in. He was excited, too, by the building's history and character--not to mention it being just blocks from the riverfront. The building offers Lee the ability to expand operations, should he need it.

Source: Chris Lee, owner of the Straits Garage
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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(revolver) co-founder to open new restaurant in Southwest

Goldfinch American, the new restaurant concept from Tunde Wey, will have its first pop-up dinner Monday March 24 at a yet-to-be disclosed location. Wey, who has contributed to Model D in the past, is also the co-owner of the Hamtramck restaurant (revolver).

As he searches for Goldfinch American's permanent home in southwest Detroit, Wey will hold a series of Monday night dinners. Wey says that he has been talking to a number of restaurants in Southwest about hosting his weekly dinner. Goldfinch American will transition from pop-up to permanent once an ideal space for the bar and restaurant is found.

Like (revolver), much of the emphasis of Goldfinch American is placed on the chef. Unlike (revolver), Goldfinch American will feature the work of just one person, James Hayes. Wey says that the new restaurant will be completely chef-driven, giving Hayes the leeway to do whatever he wants with the menu. The two met after Hayes requested to create a course for (revolver).

"I had this faith in his ability and it was validated when I tried his food. It was good," says Wey. "It wasn't just good. It was amazing. He made some bacon dust. He makes bacon and puts it in a coffee grinder, grinds it, and sprinkles it on wedges of apples. Beet gnocchi. Tiny little pieces of--I don't even know how he did it. It melted in my mouth. It was amazing."

While a permanent location has yet to be identified, Wey is certain he wants Goldfinch American to be located in Southwest. He's excited by the juxtaposition of placing a fine dining restaurant in a somewhat rugged neighborhood that is culturally vibrant and diverse.

In the meantime, it will be pop-up city for Wey and Hayes, something that has worked for many a small business owner lately.

Source: Tunde Wey, owner of Goldfinch American
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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More affordable housing for Midtown announced

Woodbridge Estates, a neighborhood notable for its Motown-themed street names, will see the construction of 46 apartments spread across 12 buildings this spring. The Slavik Company, a partner in the development team, expects that the apartments will be ready for move-in by July 2014. This marks the sixth phase of construction for Woodbridge Estates, a development that broke ground in 2003 and began accepting its first residents in 2005.

The Woodbridge Estates construction will create more affordable housing in Midtown's southwest corner. The apartments will be reserved for residents who earn up to 60% of the area median income. Developers plan to offer the apartments with a lease-to-own option, says Eric Gold, vice president of the Slavik Company. After 15 years of leasing their apartments, residents will be offered the opportunity to purchase, per U.S. Housing and Urban Development approval.

"I think the income restrictions are perfect for companies hiring in Midtown and downtown Detroit, allowing those employees to live close to work," says Gold.

Woodbridge Estates currently consists of 281 rental units and 51 occupied single-family homes and townhouses. There is a broad mix of incomes within the neighborhood. In addition to the planned apartment construction, 16 single-family house lots remain available at Woodbridge Estates, with prices ranging from $215,000 for a three bedroom, 1,500 square foot home to $285,000 for a four bedroom, 2,200 square foot model. $75,000 in forgivable loans are available as a down payment for qualified buyers.

Woodbridge Estates is bounded by Canfield to the north, M-10 to the east, Martin Luther King, Jr. to the south, and Gibson to the west.

Woodbridge Farm, another Slavik development, runs directly adjacent to the west of Woodbridge Estates. Eight single-family house lots remain in that development. Gold says that these homes are being designed with the surrounding historic architecture in mind.

Source: Eric Gold, vice president of the Slavik Company
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Five homes to be rehabilitated, sold, and rented in West Village

The Villages Community Development Corporation has purchased five homes to rehabilitate and put back on the market. The five buildings are located on Seyburn and Van Dyke streets in the West Village neighborhood. The CDC expects the homes to be available within six months.

This is the first time the Villages organization has purchased homes to rehabilitate, an idea they've seen work for other CDCs like the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation, says Villages executive director Brian Hurttienne. In emulating the success of the GRDC, the group hopes to spur economic development.

Three single-family homes and two duplexes make up the five structures purchased. Once rehabilitated, the single-family homes will be sold. The CDC will retain ownership of the duplexes and rent the units out.

Construction will soon begin and jobs will first be available to qualified area residents. The buildings, vacant for anywhere between one to eight years, remain in good shape. Hurttienne credits the quality of home construction in the Villages as a key component of the area's stability.

"I'm going to reach out to the neighbors of these properties so they know what's going on with each individual property," says Hurttienne. "We want to make sure the Villages is a stable community."

Though slowed down by the city's bankruptcy uncertainties, a process that began in 2012 was completed in December 2013, ensured by cooperation among community stakeholders and federal and city departments. The Villages identified a number of homes for potential rehabilitation, the Detroit Land Bank Authority purchased and cleared the titles of the homes, and then the Villages bought the buildings from the land bank.

Neighboring residents experienced in the construction trades should contact the Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation for potential employment.

Source: Brian Hurttienne, executive director of the Villages CDC
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Small business contest begins in West Village

Budding entrepreneurs in search of a storefront are invited to submit their business proposals for a contest that began Monday, March 3. Called Activate: 1417 Van Dyke, the contest is a collaboration between Practice Space, Revolve Detroit, the Villages Community Development Corporation, and the building's owner, Alex Howbert, a contractor and co-owner of the Detroit Institute of Bagels. Submissions are being accepted through March 21.

The building itself is in the West Village neighborhood, a Victorian-style house built in 1895. With a storefront on the first floor and two apartment units above, the commercial space boasts approximately 900 square feet with an additional 220 square feet of deck space in the back yard. Though currently vacant, the storefront served as a market for the majority of its history.

Howbert, who purchased the property last year, joined the Practice Space Incubator program with hopes of finding a suitable tenant for the storefront. Rather than pursue any traditional means of finding tenants, a contest was devised to raise awareness of the property and broaden the pool of applicants. Except for those requiring a commercial kitchen, all other types of businesses are encouraged to apply.

"I'm open to anything," says Howbert. "We all have ideas of what would be cool but I know someone else does too. I don't want the space to be pigeonholed and then miss out on an idea."

Howbert is searching for a permanent business for the commercial space and is reserving the apartments for the winner of the contest, should they want a live/work situation. Rent is negotiable and will depend on how much work will be required to outfit the space for the winning business. Two open houses are planned to view the space, March 9 and 10.

Finalists for 1417 Van Dyke will be announced April 11.

Source: Alex Howbert, 1417 Van Dyke owner
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Group uses public art to improve life in Lindale Gardens

Bleeding Heart Design, a community and arts organization, has put out a call for entries from Detroit-area artists. The group is soliciting submissions for a mural contest in the Lindale Gardens neighborhood in northeast Detroit. Entries will be accepted through March 16.

Bleeding Heart Design is based in Lindale Gardens, a neighborhood bounded by State Fair Rd. to the north, John R Rd. to the west, 7 Mile Rd. to the south, and I-75 to the east. Founded by Rebecca Bucky Willis, the group was formed while she completed her Master of Architecture degree from University of Detroit Mercy. The mural project, just one of many public art projects for the group, is designed with the neighborhood in mind.

"Any time you bring more art and culture into a neighborhood, it's a great asset to enhance the quality of life," says Willis. "It's a call to action to increase the value of the neighborhood. Even if it's not the best house or the nicest neighborhood, it still deserves value. We're trying to create value and a sense of belonging. We want residents to have ownership of the neighborhood."

Willis identifies a number of themes that the winning entry must incorporate into their mural. The mural must inspire unity, inspire altruism, be a call to action, and convey love and forgiveness. Entrants are encouraged to review the goals and values of the Fetzer Institute, the organization providing the grant money. The winner will be provided a $1,000 dollar supplies budget and an additional $1,000 as an honorarium.

The mural will be painted on the north wall of 325 E. State Fair Rd. The wall overlooks a community space already engaged by Bleeding Heart Design. The lot contains a stage and is regularly maintained by the group.

The winning artist will be announced March 28.

Source: Rebecca Bucky Willis, founder of Bleeding Heart Design
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Architecture firm Hamilton Anderson celebrates 20 years with new developments, hires

Detroit-based architecture firm Hamilton Anderson is ramping up for a busy year with seven new hires and a search for several more. The firm, which is celebrating its 20th year, has an immediate need for two architects, a designer, and one or two project managers. The firm is involved in a number of projects that will alter the landscape of downtown, the riverfront, and Midtown. A recent conversation with principal, president, co-founder, and CEO Rainy Hamilton reveals updates on some of their more high profile projects.

The firm is working on Orleans Landing, the five block development along the east riverfront. Hamilton Anderson is applying more industrial design influences to the previously released illustrations. Townhomes are planned for the blocks facing the Dequindre Cut. The rest of the development will consist of mid-rise lofts featuring mixed-use and residential units.

Hamilton and co-founder Kent Anderson spent the early part of their careers in an office in Rivertown, making their involvement in the Orleans Landing development extra special to them. "For us to be involved in the first new development in the east riverfront, it's really quite an honor and a thrill," says Hamilton.

Hamilton Anderson has been selected by New York-based SHoP Architects as the local architects to collaborate with on the Hudson's site building. Hamilton says a concept has been presented to Bedrock Real Estate Services and was well-received.

The firm is the design architect and architect of record for the adaptive re-use of the old Strathmore Hotel in Midtown. Hamilton says that an original light well is going to be preserved and that developers are hoping that a new parking structure will be built nearby.

It's looking like Radio One, a national broadcasting company, will move into the Queen Lillian Woodward Office Building at Stimson and Woodward Ave. once completed, says Hamilton.

Source: Rainy Hamilton, president, co-founder, and CEO of Hamilton Anderson
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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State money clears the way for Detroit apartment developments

Two Detroit developments have been named recipients of nearly $5 million in state-awarded money. The Ashley and Strathmore apartment buildings have received approval from the Michigan Strategic Fund for Michigan Community Revitalization Program Incentives. According to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the residential developments are expected to create tens of millions of dollars in total capital investment and nearly 30 full-time jobs.

Ashley Owner, LLC is transforming the old Milner Hotel into an apartment building. The flatiron-shaped building is located at 1526 Centre St. in downtown Detroit. Built in 1913 as the Henry Clay Hotel, the currently vacant hotel rooms will be turned into apartments for the first time.

Princeton Domino Investments, LLC and Lamont Street Partners make up Ashley Owner, LLC. The new owners plan 61 apartment units, 5,200 square feet of office space, and two storefronts. The renovation is receiving a Michigan Community Revitalization Program performance-based grant of $1 million and a state school tax capture valued at $482,075 from the City of Detroit Brownfield Redevelopment Authority.

The Ashley renovation is expected to create 25 full-time jobs and $8.2 million in total capital investment.

Another historic hotel, the Strathmore in Midtown, is also experiencing a transformation into apartments. The building at 70 W. Alexandrine is being developed by St. Louis-based McCormack Baron Salazar and designed by Detroit architects Hamilton Anderson. The developers expect construction to begin this spring.

The long-vacant, long-blighted building will be historically renovated to feature 129 apartments and 2,000 square feet of first-floor retail. Strathmore Apartments Limited Dividend Housing Association, LLC is receiving $3.5 million in a performance-based equity contribution from the Michigan Community Revitalization Program.

The Strathmore renovation is expected to created three jobs and $28.4 million in total capital investment.

Source: Michigan Economic Development Corporation press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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East riverfront development reserves 20 percent of units for affordable housing

Development company McCormack Baron Salazar is planning on reserving 20 percent of its east riverfront development for affordable work-force housing. The units will be available for those whose income does not exceed 80 percent of the area median income.

The company plans to close on the east riverfront property this summer. It's expected to take 18 months of construction to complete the project. McCormack Baron Salazar chairman and CEO Richard Baron, a Detroit native, has ties to the east riverfront, where he worked at his grandfather's wool company as a young man.

The St. Louis-based developement firm is also involved in a high-profile project in Detroit's Midtown. The company plans to close on the neighborhood's old Strathmore Hotel in the first quarter of 2014. Baron expects that the 129-unit apartment building will also take 18 months before it's ready for residents.

While the Strathmore development is required to provide affordable housing as a result of tax credits used to fund the deal, Baron says that he wanted the riverfront development to provide work-force housing too, even if it didn't demand the same housing requirements. The majority of units in each development will be market-rate rentals.

"It's always been part of what we wanted to do. To have people working for the city and public agencies, to have teachers (be able to) live in the community," says Baron. "It's important for people who are working at public agencies and nonprofits to have opportunities."

The riverfront development will be bordered by Atwater Street to the south, Woodbridge Street to the north, Riopelle Street to the west, and the Dequindre Cut to the east. 291 apartment units are planned for the development.

The Globe Building, which neighbors the future development, is currently being transformed into the Outdoor Adventure & Discovery Center by Michigan's Department of Natural Resources.

Source: Richard Baron, CEO and chairman of McCormack Baron Salazar
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Organization to offer loans to businesses in underserved neighborhoods

The national nonprofit Local Initiatives Support Corporation has partnered with the federal Small Business Association's Community Advantage program. The local division of LISC will be providing loans up to $250,000 to Detroit businesses looking to open in low-income communities. The loans are also available to pre-existing businesses looking to make improvements.

The loan program focuses on businesses outside of the greater downtown area. It aims to assist the city's underserved neighborhoods. Detroit LISC executive director Tahirih Ziegler says the loan program will provide an incentive for businesses to come further out and into the neighborhoods. LISC is currently targeting place-based programs in the Grandmont Rosedale, Springwells Village, and Grand-Woodward neighborhoods.

Loans are available for a variety of purposes, including business expansion, working capital, real estate development, equipment, tenant improvement, and facade improvement. Ziegler believes that the loans can attract new tenants to the empty storefronts that litter the city.

"This will free up capital for job creation and enable business owners to get footholds in the neighborhoods," says Ziegler. "One way we can help the neighborhoods is by bringing amenities to the neighborhoods."

In noting the importance of freeing up capital for small businesses to hire employees, Ziegler cites statistics that there were seven jobs for every small business in the 1990s and only four jobs per small business today.

LISC has been in Detroit for over 20 years and has awarded over $175 million in that time. The group awarded $6 million in lending in 2013, helping to open two grocery stores, 7 Mile Foods and Parkway Foods, and a hardware store, Village Ace.

The group is also working toward creating and maintaining affordable housing in the city of Detroit.

Source: Tahirih Ziegler, executive director of Detroit LISC
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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February development news round-up

February was another busy month for development news in the city. Let's catch up on five stories from the past four weeks.

  • As development projects continue to multiply throughout greater downtown Detroit, people are starting to use the word gentrification more and more. 1217 Griswold, the Capitol Park residence and events loft space, sparked the latest conversation as its residents have been given notice to move out by the end of February. Dan Gilbert's Bedrock Real Estate Services plans to rehab the building, which is badly in need of repairs.
  • Another decades-long Detroit institution of weird, the Cass Corridor's Showcase Collectible, is also getting the boot as a new owner plans to make capital improvements to the building. A tattoo parlor will be one of the new businesses to eventually occupy the old Chinatown building.
  • Beer isn't nearly as controversial as gentrification--or progress, depending on who you're talking to--and Midtown's about to get a whole lot more of it. The Grand Rapids-based HopCat is opening its third craft beer bar in the old Agave location this August.
  • In other apartment news, downtown's Park Apartments building was sold this month for a reported $3.25 million to Joe Barbat, CEO and chairman of Southfield-based Wireless Toyz. Barbat plans over $6 million in renovations to the building, which will include 116 Class A apartment units and ground floor dining. In a nod to the building's nearly 80 years of history, it will be renamed Briggs House Residence.
  • The Detroit Free Press and Detroit News have announced a coming change of address as the two newspapers are moving operations into the Bedrock Real Estate Services-owned Federal Reserve Building in the city's central business district. The move was made in part to keep up with the demands of modern technology.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Pop-up turns permanent on Avenue of Fashion

In another Detroit retail success story, the artisan boutique Love Travels Imports has made the transition from pop-up to permanent. Owner and founder Yvette Jenkins has taken her business from the once- to twice-a-week appearance at Eastern Market's Artisan Village to an established online presence to participating in the Revolve Detroit pop-up program along the Avenue of Fashion. Love Travels Imports is now a permanent fixture there.

Love Travels Imports draws its name from Yvette's passions, love, traveling, and artisanal crafts. Her products range from homewares to jewelry and come from artisans as far as South Africa and as near as Mount Clemens. She focuses on Fair Trade products and sees her shop as an extension of that philosophy, saying that it's about helping artisan entrepreneurs get their wares out and into the marketplace in a fair and sustainable manner. She sees Love Travels Imports as her opportunity to directly and positively impact other communities, both locally and abroad.

The Revolve Detroit program placed Love Travels Imports in a Livernois storefront last September. Yvette has since paired up with fellow Revolve Detroit participant and former pop-up neighbor Art in Motion, sharing a space at 19452 Livernois Ave. It's a fitting partnership, one that pairs complementary businesses. When the two were neighbors, Yvette would send her customers over to check out the ceramics next door and vice versa. It's this sort of camaraderie that nurtures the Detroit retail scene.

"There's such a deep history at the Avenue of Fashion," says Yvette. "It used to be the premier shopping district in Detroit. There's a buzz about Livernois again and I encourage people to come over and experience it. It's an exciting time for the city."

Source: Yvette Jenkins, owner of Love Travels Imports
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Transit awards nominations now open to public

The greater Detroit transit advocacy group Transportation Riders United is taking nominations for its third annual Regional Transit Awards. Nominations are open through Feb. 28. An awards committee has been formed to pick four nominees for each of the six categories. An awards dinner is planned for May 8. Tickets are $75 and open to the public. The event doubles as a fundraiser for TRU in support of its advocacy efforts throughout the year.

Award categories include:
  • Transit Employee of the Year
  • Corporate Transit Champion Award
  • Exemplary Innovation Award
  • Under 30 Breakthrough Transit Champion
  • Unsung Hero Award
  • Forward Motion Award for Most Effective Public Service
TRU hopes that opening nominations up to the public will involve more of the region and draw attention to the people working to improve public transportation in metropolitan Detroit. The ceremony itself is an opportunity for bus drivers and politicians to spend an evening together and celebrate the work being accomplished in the region.

"There's a lot going on in transit," says TRU executive director Megan Owens. "There aren't many big and dramatic things happening yet but there have been a lot of the essential steps to develop the type of transit system that we want."

Though some projects aren't happening as quickly as some may like, Owens notes that a number of transit-oriented developments are occurring. These include the formation of the Regional Transit Authority citizens committee, the M-1 Rail utility work, and a new Detroit mayor and Detroit Department of Transportation director. A SMART bus millage will be on the ballot later this summer.

Previous winners of Regional Transit Awards include DDOT bus driver Michael Childs (Transit Employee of the Year), Quicken Loans & M-1 Rail (Corporate Transit Champion Award), and Freshwater Transit co-creator Neil Greenberg (Transit Activist of the Year).

Source: Megan Owens, executive director of Transportation Riders United
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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I-375 Alternatives Study hosts first public meeting

Business owners, residents, and commuters affected by a potential transformation of I-375 were joined by the otherwise curious Thursday evening, Feb. 13, as the Downtown Development Authority hosted the first of three public meetings. A crowd gathered at Stroh River Place in an open house setting as the DDA and their partners in the study, the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, guided visitors through a series of informative stations.

Each station provided data regarding project study areas, ranging from cost estimations to current vehicular usage. One station had a map of the area and visitors were asked to place stickers at the points where they felt unsafe as pedestrians. Another map asked visitors to place stickers at places they thought to be aesthetically unpleasing. Visitors were asked, too, of their overall opinion of I-375 and whether think it should remain an expressway or be transformed for a different use.

The I-375 Alternatives Study is a result of the impending reconstruction of I-375. Current estimates place reconstruction costs at $80 million. MDOT has enlisted the help of area stakeholders to determine whether the land in question could be utilized in a more effective way, such as demolishing the below-grade expressway and transforming it into a street-level boulevard.

Taking into account the information gathered from Thursday's public forum, the group behind the study will craft a number of alternative developments for the project areas. Five alternatives will be crafted for the primary study area, the nearly one-mile stretch of I-375. Two alternatives will be crafted for each of the secondary study areas, the I-75/I-375/Gratiot interchange and the I-375/Jefferson interchange. These alternatives will be presented to the public at a later date this spring.

I-375 was built in 1964.

Source: I-375 Alternatives Study public meeting, Feb. 13, 2014
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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New hires and promotions at Kraemer Design Group, Strategic Staffing Solutions

Two Detroit-based companies have made personnel changes that each hopes will carry their 2013 fortunes into 2014.

Kraemer Design Group, the architecture, interior design, and creative firm involved in such high profile Detroit projects as the Broderick Tower and David Whitney Building, have hired four new employees. The company has added two project architects, a senior interior designer, and an architectural designer to their roster.

Laurie Frey Borer and Nicole Eisenmann have been hired as project architects. Frey Borer is a member of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Eisenmann possesses a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) accreditation. Both attended the University of Michigan.

Amanda Knight is the new architectural designer for the group, having received a Master of Architecture from Lawrence Technological University. Kimberly Sansone has been hired as senior interior designer. She has over ten years of experience in the field.

The IT and business services company Strategic Staffing Solutions has announced a number of leadership changes. Each promotion has been made from within company ranks.

Among the promotions are Allen Coleman and April Donaldson both being named executive vice presidents. Carl Bentley will also move into a full-time executive vice president role. Shalini Lawson succeeds Bentley as Detroit branch manager and Bob Zhang is now director of Customer Care and Contact Services.

Strategic Staffing Solutions grew from $208 to $238 million in sales in 2013. President and CEO Cynthia J. Pasky expects that the leadership changes will keep the company competitive and growing in 2014, saying, "We can't assume that what was offered (in 2013) will stay the same. We have to act to keep up our services."

Sources: Kraemer Design Group press release and Cynthia J. Pasky, president and CEO of Strategic Staffing Solutions
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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NEI nears second round of grant giving

The New Economy Initiative is about to reach its fundraising goal, having raised $33 of $40 million in funding from local, regional, and national foundations. NEI is entering a three year-long period of grant-giving and support for the region's entrepreneurs. The group is planning a new-look NEI, one that will build on and improve the already successful first round of grant programs that began in 2008.

One planned change is a new focus on pre-existing businesses throughout southeastern Michigan. With so much attention being focused on the region's startup scene, NEI is crafting a contest to reward existing businesses that have the potential to grow. Still in the planning stages, the group hopes to have the contest ready for March.

Still, startups remain at the center of NEI's economy-stimulating strategy. The group's territory includes all of southeastern Michigan with a focus on Detroit. NEI executive director Dave Egner says that one of the reasons for this focus is that, as far as he can tell, there are more organizations servicing Detroit entrepreneurs than anywhere else in the world. That network of organizations allows NEI to more effectively distribute grants to promising entrepreneurs.

Grants are available to entrepreneurs of every stripe, says Egner. "Our focus is industry-agnostic. When we tried to pick sectors, we didn't get the outputs. We've been industry-agnostic since 2009."

NEI is hoping that the modifications planned for its second round of funding will improve on their already impressive numbers.

The New Economy Initiative launched in 2008 and has since awarded $76 million in grants to local entrepreneurs. The program has helped start over 675 new companies and created over 8,000 new jobs in southeastern Michigan. NEI has also helped support BizGrid, an infographic that breaks down Detroit resources for small businesses.

Source: Dave Egner, executive director of New Economy Initiative
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Practice Space works to develop two new businesses

Detroit small business hub Practice Space has accepted two new projects into its Incubator program. One, a retro arcade bar, is searching for the perfect location while the second, a West Village property owner, is searching for the perfect tenant. Practice Space is helping each find what they're looking for.

Practice Space is assisting Donald Behm in opening Offworld Arcade, a retro-themed video game bar. In the four month-long Incubator program, the people at Practice Space are helping Behm articulate his concept and craft his business plan. They're also helping him find a building to purchase. A successful pop-up "barcade" was recently held in Hamtramck.

"One thing we've noticed is we want to work with people who want to collaborate," says Austin Kronig, cultural development director for Practice Space. "Donald realized he did everything he could on his own and now he needs support. He's an accidental entrepreneur. He doesn't have a business plan or a space but he knows the business and is an expert in classic arcade games."

In the second project, Detroit Institute of Bagels co-owner Alex Howbert approached Practice Space about identifying the right use for 1417 Van Dyke in West Village. The late-Victorian house is from the 1880s and features a storefront on the first floor of the building. It's near West Village hangouts like Craft Work, Detroit Vegan Soul, and the seasonal Tashmoo Biergarten pop-up. Practice Space is working with Howbert on architectural and concept designs, identifying the scope and breadth of the project. Kronig says that Howbert is open-minded about tenants as long as they don't need a full commercial kitchen.

This is the second term of Practice Space Incubator programming. Practice Space previously worked with Eleni Zaharopoulos and Jenile Brooks on their North End Store-House project.

Source: Austin Kronig, cultural development director of Practice Space
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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New Corktown gym opens with charity drive

A new gym is opening in Detroit's Corktown neighborhood. The personal fitness club Detroit Tough is celebrating its opening with a benefit for the homeless and under-clothed. Detroit Tough is opening with the help of an Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy grant.

Roger Dyjak is one of the people behind Detroit Tough. He's also responsible for Train like a Savage, a personal training method that uses the pressure of working out within a group to elevate individual performance. This style of personal fitness champions mental toughness as much as it does physical toughness.

Detroit Tough is not a gym in the traditional sense -- there won't be any treadmills or stationary bikes. Instead, it features physical tests like intense obstacle courses to improve fitness. The private club offers tiered training to better fit need and ability.

The gym is celebrating its opening with a charity drive on Saturday, Feb. 15 from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Organizers are asking for a $20 donation and clothing or canned food. All money raised will be given to New Life Rescue Mission and Empowerment Plan. Clothing will be donated to the Salvation Army.

Music is scheduled throughout the course of the event, including sets from Band B, Velveteen Rabbit, and Volcano and the New Radio Standard. Fellow Corktowners McShane's Pub will be there roasting a pig. University of Detroit Mercy dental students will be providing free dental screenings to the homeless.

Detroit Tough is the recipient of an OTSC grant. The money was secured by U.S. Sen. Carl Levin to redevelop the area of the old Tiger Stadium site. A total of $800,000 was reserved for businesses in the Corktown neighborhood.

Detroit Tough is located at 1244 Beech.

Source: Detroit Tough press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Mayor wants to take blighted buildings through nuisance abatement program

The Detroit Downtown Partnership held its first stakeholder meeting of the year Feb. 5, touching on a range of development topics. It featured the first ever public forum between Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and emergency manager Kevyn Orr.

  • The DDP is pushing for a Business Improvement Zone (BIZ) that would provide long-term funding to the Clean Downtown beautification program. The proposed BIZ would also fund downtown landscaping programs, safety and hospitality programs, and marketing initiatives. Funding is raised through an assessment formula that combines assessed value and built floor area metrics. DDP CEO David Blaszkiewicz expects City Council and Orr to approve the request for BIZ formation, leaving a property owner vote as the last step. Passing the BIZ requires at least 60 percent of voting downtown property owners' approval.
     
  • Duggan credits the professionalism of Orr and the new City Council in the election of a new lighting authority, one that will install LED lights throughout the city. The mayor also mentioned that he, the city council, the emergency manager, and the governor were able to consolidate nine separate land banks and blight task forces into one agency.
     
  • Currently stuck in the Michigan legislature, a bill would require all scrapyards pay by check mailed three days after a transaction.
     
  • Duggan advocated for restoring vacant buildings when possible, rather than demolishing them. He also hinted at a nuisance abatement program akin to the one he instituted during his days as Wayne County Prosecutor, saying, "We're gonna go through and take title to all three (blighted) houses (on a block) at once by suing on a nuisance abatement, saying to the owners, you have to maintain your property so it's not a nuisance to your neighbors. Either sign the court order to fix it up yourself or we'll take it and sell it on the Internet."
Source: Detroit Downtown Partnership stakeholders meeting, Feb. 5, 2014

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Federal money to help a number of Corktown businesses open

Nearly all of $800,000 in federal grant money has been spoken for in Corktown, spurring more development in Detroit's oldest neighborhood. The money is part of the larger Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy grant, $3.8 million in federal funds secured by U.S. Sen. Carl Levin in 2009. Though the stadium was eventually razed, efforts to keep the grant money in the neighborhood were successful.

Alexander Zachary is planner and developer for Zachary & Associates. The Detroit-based financial development and planning consultants were charged with the task of managing the $800,000, evaluating proposals and guiding businesses through the application process.

"We're really into sustainability and we've been working with the grantees and getting them connected with DTE Energy for green efficiency credits," says Zachary.

Two businesses recently opened, Two James Spirits and the Detroit Institute of Bagels, were recipients of $50,000 grants, the maximum available.

There are a number of new, yet-to-open businesses that have received approval in their applications for the grant money. These include:

  • Saint Vincent, a "boutique building for startups, freelancers, and mid-sized businesses" located in an abandoned Catholic school.
  • 1701 and 1707 Trumbull, former location of Bagley Trumbull Market. The previous occupant, a party store, took up what was originally two separate store fronts. Zachary says the buildings will be split back into their original configurations with dining in one storefront and retail in the other. Offices and perhaps apartments are planned for the top floors.
  • Detroit Tough, a fitness club located at 1244 Beech St.
  • Gold Cash Gold, located at Michigan Avenue and Wabash, a new restaurant from the Cooleys, owners of Slows Bar BQ.
  • The Detroit Artifactory, an industrial gallery that takes reclaimed industrial products and turns them into functional art and homewares, will open at 2135 Michigan Ave.
  • Lafayette Kitchen and Diner, a new restaurant from the owners of Russell Street Deli in the old Steak Hut Restaurant building.
  • A beer garden is planned for the vacant third of the building occupied by Two James Spirits, the side closest to Michigan Central Station.

Source: Alexander Zachary, planner and developer at Zachary & Associates
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Business is popping for these unconventional restaurants

Pop-up dining is a popular business model for many a restauranteur whether they want to eventually open their own space or not. For Detroit, the trend may have reached its pop-culture zenith when television host Anthony Bourdain featured local pop-up Guns & Butter on an episode of his CNN program Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. That's not to say that pop-ups are going anywhere any time soon. In fact, it's just the opposite.

Pie-Sci is one of the more successful pop-up restaurants in the city. Co-founders Jeremy Damaske and AJ Nanoulian started the pop-up pizzeria in March of 2011, making pizzas out of Jim Geary's Woodbridge Pub every Sunday. Though they started small, Damaske says that they now sell around 100 pizzas every Sunday. They don't even have pizza ovens, having to use the Woodbridge Pub's two conventional kitchen ovens. The business has gone so well that they're moving operations into the building adjacent to the pub. They hope to be operating daily by the end of the year.

Damaske says that the pop-up restaurant model is perfect for people looking to start a business without a lot of capital. It gives people the chance to get their product out there and build a customer base without having the up-front investment of outfitting a space. It also benefits the host business, drawing customers in that may have not come otherwise.

"There was no real liability for us," says Damske. "We got to use their servers, their liquor license, their alcohol."

The nature of pop-ups can turn going out into more of an event and especially so for less frequent pop-ups like Guns & Butter and Tashmoo Biergarten. Others are further customizing the model like the community building Detroit Soup fosters through its monthly dinners, funding creative projects throughout the city. And then there's Hamtramck's Revolver, whose whole business model is built on hosting rotating chefs and pop-ups.

Source: Jeremy Damaske, co-owner of Pie-Sci
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Belle Isle disc golf course hangs in the balance

Count the team behind Detroit Disc Golf as one of the many curious to see what happens with Belle Isle once the near 1,000-acre island officially transitions from city park to state park Feb. 10. Since 2011, the group has been working to bring an everyday disc golf course to the island. Currently limited to an events-only course, Detroit Disc Golf is hoping to have a daily insurance policy in place by spring, allowing for everyday play on the island. Much remains in the air, however, as the state has yet to decide the group's fate.

Chris Haag, co-founder of Detroit Disc Golf, says that with six disc golf courses already established on Michigan's state parks, it's not a stretch to believe that the state will want to continue disc golf operations on the island. Though nervous at first when hearing of the state's lease agreement, Haag and his partners are now optimistic that day-to-day operations will begin come spring.

Nothing has yet to be agreed upon but a few conversations with the state leads Haag to believe that the course will open. No one is sure, however, if DDG will continue to manage the site or if the state will take over. Just who runs it isn't a concern for Haag, saying that he just wants to see the project through and open to the public. The state takeover is just another challenge they've had to address.

"We've been working on this since 2011 so we've seen many ups and downs, lefts and rights, north, south, east, and west," says Haag.

While Haag waits on word from the Department of Natural Resources and the state, the group recently hosted the first Detroit Ice Bowl on Belle Isle. Held Jan. 26, the group accepted non-perishable food item donations and money was raised from tournament registration fees to benefit the Capuchin Soup Kitchen.

Source: Chris Haag, co-founder of Detroit Disc Golf
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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The Z opens downtown, artwork a highlight

The Z, a retail and parking development in downtown Detroit, opened last week. The building provides downtown an additional 1,300 parking spots and 33,000 square feet of retail space. The ten story structure is the first ground-up development downtown for Bedrock Real Estate Services, local billionaire Dan Gilbert's real estate division. No word yet on possible tenants for the retail space.

The parking structure is unique in its shape, occupying two corners opposite each other. Reaching from Library and Gratiot to Broadway and E. Grand River, the building is a sort of 'Z' shape, hence the name. It also features a stylized facade highlighted with LED lighting.

In a partnership with the Library Street Collective, Bedrock invited 27 artists from around the world to paint murals throughout the building. Adorning buildings with 'street art' is a trend that more and more Detroit businesses are embracing. Artists featured in the Z include Tristan Eaton, Revok, Dabs and Myla, Saner, and Interesni Kazki.

Bedrock and Library Street Collective released an online video featuring the artists and their work. In the video, Australian artist Myla extolls the virtue of the project, saying, "What they're doing is changing people's perceptions on the city. A project that is about beautifying a parking garage will become something that people will buy a flight for to visit the city to spend, like, half a day looking at all the murals."

While form is a big part of the structure's story, its function is what will matter to many of the city's commuters. The Z is a parking garage for the 21st century. It features a ticketless and cashless pay system with parkers swiping their credit cards as they enter and leave the facility. Once retail does happen, shoppers will be able to validate parking through smart phones and QR codes. Charging stations are available for electric cars.

Source: Bedrock Real Estate Services press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here.

January development news round-up

Good stuff has been happening in Detroit development to start the new year. Here are several projects that got our attention this month:

• Detroit issued a request for proposals to redevelop nearly nine acres of city-owned property in the historic Brush Park district. The land is split into three available parcels. Parcels A and C contain five historic structures which must be tabbed for "adaptive reuse" in the redevelopment plans. Parcel A is the largest at approximately 7.5 acres. 

• Brush Park is known as much for its Gilded Age mansions as it is for the blight and vacant land that characterize much of the historic district today. The area seems ripe for redevelopment, however, as it is located immediately north of downtown and east of the proposed Detroit Red Wings hockey arena. One of the planned stops of the M-1 Rail streetcar line is at Sibley and Woodward. According to the city's RFPQ Package, Detroit has invested more than $39 million in infrastructure, demolition, acquisition, and historic rehabilitation in Brush Park since 2001. The neighborhood dates back to the 1860s. 

• A new restaurant, Craft Work, has opened in the Parkstone Apartments building on Agnes Street in the West Village neighborhood. Hubert Yaro, he of Royal Oak's Ronin sushi lounge and Birmingham's Commonwealth coffee shop, is the proprietor. Craft Work is open Monday through Saturday from 4 p.m. to midnight. A Sunday brunch is planned come March 2.

• At a public hearing earlier this month, M-1 Rail officials announced that streetcar service is expected to begin in the late summer months of 2016. The light-rail system is projected to carry almost 5,000 riders per day.

• Demand for rentals in the downtown, Midtown, and Corktown neighborhoods is far exceeding supply, driving up rent by $200 to $400 a month in many buildings, says a recent article in the Detroit Free Press. Will demand spur new residential development projects and stabilize rent prices?

Writer: MJ Galbraith

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here.

Let's get physical: Personal trainer opens downtown fitness studio

Robert Gardner is opening PT in the D, a small personal training studio located in the Julian C. Madison building at 1420 Washington Blvd. The 1,300 square foot facility features equipment ideal for strength training and cardiovascular exercises as well as a private shower. The business officially opens the first week of February.

PT in the D specializes in one-on-one personal training sessions. Training for small groups of two to six people is also available. Gardner isn't looking to expand class size, preferring to keep sessions small and private. The smaller the group, the easier it is for Gardner to tailor each session to clients' needs and goals.

Working in fitness since 2007, Gardner attended Wayne State University, where he received a degree in exercise science. He then worked as a personal trainer at the Boll Family YMCA downtown. It was there where he got the idea to open his own studio. Working downtown, he says, helped him develop a network of clients. And while personal training studios are popular in many American cities, it's a business that hasn't taken off in Detroit -- yet.

"I think it's good to start PT in the D now versus five to six years from now when rent will be higher and maybe there will be more similar businesses," says Gardner. "It's a good opportunity. There's more and more demand for this type of business. People are wanting to get healthier."

With more people moving downtown, Gardner sees the potential for more clients. He estimates that 75 to 80 percent of his client list live either in downtown, Midtown, or Corktown. The rest are commuting to work from the suburbs.

PT in the D offers personal training sessions by appointment only.

Source: Robert Gardner, owner of PT in the D
Writer: MJ Galbraith

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here.

Clothing with a cause benefits Detroit youth

A Michigan clothing company has teamed up with the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy to mentor students enrolled at the Detroit school. The company, Merit, also donates 20 percent of its total revenue -- and not just its profits -- to a college scholarship program it started. Business owner David Merritt calls it, "cause by design." The Jalen Rose Leadership Academy is a public charter high school on the city's west side.

The education enrichment program, FATE, works to expose Detroit's high school students to the world of higher education. Students attend a series of 40 workshops throughout their high school career. Merritt says they've developed an innovative curriculum that is interactive and engaging, one that keeps kids continuously thinking about college and how their actions affect their education and community.

Merritt attended the University of Michigan on an academic scholarship. He joined the Michigan Wolverine basketball team as a walk-on, eventually earning an athletic scholarship. In 2009, his final season with the team, Merritt led the Wolverines as co-captain to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1998. After basketball, the former point guard joined the Michigan broadcast team as a color commentator. It was then when he approached Jalen Rose, also a former Michigan basketball player, about FATE.

"With students who live in urban areas, you have to talk and build more awareness about college," says Merritt. "You have to offer something more positive than what they're exposed to on a daily basis."

Charity doesn't sell fashion alone and Merritt stresses that in order for everything to work, the product has to be great. The fact that the clothing sales benefit others is the cherry on top, says Merritt.

Merit operates out of an online store and Ann Arbor storefront.  

Source: David Merritt, owner of Merit
Writer: MJ Galbraith

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here.

Detroit guitar pedal biz increases sales, products

Detroit company Red Panda continues to expand in its boutique guitar effects pedal business. Owner Curt Malouin is looking to delegate the bulk of assembly tasks to employees so he can focus on R&D. Malouin is working on a new bit crusher and delay effects pedals.

When a guitar is plugged into a bit crusher, the effect produces 8-bit computer sounds, or "Nintendo sounds." A bit crusher effect is typically achieved by plugging a guitar directly into a special computer program, forcing guitarists to bring laptops with them to gigs. The pedal solves this problem. A second effects pedal, a delay pedal, is planned for later this year. It will, as Malouin says, have a few tricks with different processing than typical delay.

Red Panda's current line of effects pedals, Particle and Context, have steadily built a global buzz through word-of-mouth and the Internet. "Our musicians, our customers, are making videos and putting them on YouTube that blow me away, doing things that I never imagined," says Malouin. "They're taking what we built here and using them in ways that I never imagined, coming up with surprising new sounds. So that's why we've been able to grow."

The Particle is a granular delay and pitch shifter pedal -- another effect typically found only in computer programs. Malouin's reverb pedal, Context, captures the sound of early digital reverb pedals.

The company began selling its pedals through the Internet but now experiences 90 percent of its sales through dealers. Red Panda pedals are now carried by dealers in six states and seven countries, including Japan, Australia, and Germany.

Red Panda pedals are manufactured at U.S. factories and then shipped to the Green Garage where the final assembly is done by hand.

Source: Curt Malouin, owner of Red Panda
Writer: MJ Galbraith

Update: Corktown's Rubbed restaurant nears opening

Though it's taken a little longer than originally planned, the sandwich and charcuterie shop Rubbed is moving quickly now as it prepares for a spring opening. Rubbed owners Abbey Markell and Jason Frenkel are turning to crowdfunding to close the funding gap and get the community involved in the shop's opening.

Rubbed is offering market rate rewards in its crowdfunding campaign. "We're a for-profit business," says Markell. "We didn't want to just ask people for money." Taken that way, one could look at the rewards as orders placed in advance.

Markell says she receives several calls a week from people asking if Rubbed is open yet. The pair have been building anticipation while catering a number of events at Detroit businesses, including Two James Spirits, the Sugar House, and Frontera.

"We were hoping to be open by last fall but that may have been aggressive on our end. Especially with the catering jobs," says Markell. "Still, we're less than a year in development."

Markell and Frenkel are planning to temporarily open for Corktown's busiest day, the St. Patrick's Parade. The end of March would then be devoted to a number of pre-opening events, including the Rubbed After Dark dinner series and the Rub Down party. They hope for Rubbed to officially be open in April.

Markell estimates that the restaurant is 80 to 90 percent done. The small things remain, including the city permit process. But Markell says that talking to other business owners around town has assured her that the city's permit process is moving at a faster pace these days. The pair recently made a trip to East China, Michigan, where they picked out a tree to be turned into a single-piece, three foot-wide counter top.

Rubbed will be located at 2015 Michigan Ave.

Source: Abbey Markell, co-owner of Rubbed
Writer: MJ Galbraith

Local group tries to draw development interest to historic Milwaukee Junction

A group is putting out a call to property owners, developers, and artists to help save a concentration of historic buildings that don't receive as much attention as those in Detroit's more popular neighborhoods. The Friends of Milwaukee Junction is a non-profit organization formed to preserve an area of town once known as the center of Detroit manufacturing power.

Friends of Milwaukee Junction is looking to achieve more historic designations within the district, stabilize the neighborhood, and attract new developers. "There's no one watching these buildings," says president Dave Biskner. "If we don't get concerned citizens paying attention, we're going to lose another after another."

Biskner is hoping one way to curb vandalism and blight is to duplicate what's being done in the Grand River Creative Corridor. He recently connected with GRCC founder Derek Weaver. While he's open to any idea and encourages people to reach out, Biskner is looking to make public art a key selling point of the district. He's hoping for both artists and property owners to donate talent and space.

Recent successes include a mural painting in the Beaubien Street viaduct and eliminating vandalism on a local church.

Milwaukee Junction contains one of the largest -- if not the largest -- concentrations of early 20th century industrial architecture in North America. The area first sprang up around an east-west and north-south railroad junction, ideal for manufacturing operations of any sort. Milwaukee Junction remains attached to a major transportation hub, as interstates 75 and 94 meet at its center.

The 710-acre district reaches across the expressways, touching Woodward, Warren, and St. Aubin at different points. Within its boundaries are a variety of industrial buildings, from re-purposed factories such as the successful Russell Industrial Center to the abandoned and blighted Fisher Body Plant 21.

Connect with Friends of Milwaukee Junction here.

Source: Dave Biskner, president of Friends of Milwaukee Junction
Writer: MJ Galbraith

Co-working space round-up: Another space announced plus a new directory

The hottest new industry in Detroit may be the co-working space as the shared work venues continue to multiply. The new trend in work life offers startups and freelancers the ability to network and grow while getting those who work from home out and into a more social environment.

As the list grows and grows, it can become increasingly difficult to keep track of them all. As a result, the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation has compiled a Detroit Co-Working Space Finder that's available on their website. The directory lists 13 different co-working spaces throughout the city. They are:
The DEGC will have to update their directory rather quickly as another co-working space is already in the works. A new Detroit-based LLC called Quality Pheasant has announced plans to transform the former Saint Vincent Middle School into Saint Vincent Corktown, a boutique office space.

The 40,000 square foot building rests in the shadow of Michigan Central Station. Located at 2020 14th Street, Saint Vincent will be split into common work areas and private office suites with micro-lounges throughout. A skylit, stained-glass chapel tops the building, an architectural highlight.

As reported last week, Junction 440 is the latest co-working space to open in Detroit. It is one of seven co-working spaces to participate in the inaugural Co-Lab Detroit. The event was designed to create a community of co-working spaces rather than a competition. Open houses, tours, and free co-working days are available at each venue throughout the week. Co-Lab Detroit is happening now.

Source: DEGC, Saint Vincent press releases
Writer: MJ Galbraith

North End urban farming group to showcase new blight fighting techniques

After reportedly growing 10,000 pounds of produce in 2013, the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative is expanding operations in its North End neighborhood. The group is in the beginning stages of transforming three blighted houses and one apartment complex into a variety of uses. Each building will address a different challenge the city faces in tackling blight.

As previously reported, the apartment complex, 7432 Brush, is a three-story building that the group is turning into a community center. Recently secured and boarded up, the building will host a community kitchen, small food startup business incubator, biergarten, and demonstration space. It will also act as the group's headquarters.

MUFI has recently acquired three houses in the neighborhood that are beyond repair. In one case, the group bought a habitable home through the Wayne County Tax Auction and traded houses with someone in the neighborhood to get them into a more livable building. Each of the three houses will be transformed into working models that address the challenges the city faces when tearing down homes.

Since removing a foundation is often the most expensive part of demolishing a blighted building, MUFI is devising methods for removing blighted homes while leaving foundations and basements intact. The group will install a recycled shipping container home over the first foundation, a hoop house greenhouse over the second, and a retention pond membrane over the third. The plans are within the blue and green framework introduced by the Detroit Future City proposal.

"The idea is to pilot this project, showcase the ideas, and show how cheap we can do it," says Tyson Gersh, co-founder and president of MUFI. "The overall site is supposed to be a large demonstration space that can be showcased and spread elsewhere throughout the city."

The group relies heavily on volunteer work. To help out, show up on Saturdays, MUFI's volunteer work day.

Source: Tyson Gersh, President of Michigan Urban Farming Intitiative
Writer: MJ Galbraith

Detroit's co-working scene keeps growing and growing

Junction 440, Detroit's newest co-working space, has opened. Located in TechTown, Junction 440 will take part in the week-long Co-Lab Detroit event beginning Jan. 20 at downtown's Bamboo Detroit. Junction 440 will host an open house on Jan. 21 with food, drink, and a staff ready to answer questions about services offered and the Tech One facility itself.

Junction 440 is a membership-based co-working space, offering relative rates for day passes, 10-pass punch cards, monthly memberships, and dedicated desks and locking file cabinets. Conference space, day lockers, bike storage, and a printing station highlight some of the amenities offered. A galley kitchen is available for local food entrepreneurs.

The co-working space is on the first floor of the Tech One building, a former General Motors design facility. Leslie Smith, President and CEO of TechTown, wanted to re-design the first floor in a way that returned the space to its urban roots, she says, and restore a sense of creativity to the building where the Corvette was designed. Walls and offices were torn down to favor an open floor plan with exposed columns.

"My problem was that while there was always creativity before, you couldn't see it," says Leslie. "Our goal was to extrovert the work and make the creativity more exposed."

The space has opened in time to participate in Co-Lab Detroit. The event highlights Detroit's growing co-working scene with many of the city's different facilities offering open houses and events Jan. 20 through Jan. 24. Located in various parts of the city, the spaces participating include Bamboo Detroit, An Office in Detroit, Bizdom, Practice Space, Grand Circus, and Junction 440. OmniCorpDetroit will host the after party. On the last day of the event, Jan. 24, each space will offer a free day of co-working to the public.

Source: Leslie Smith, President and CEO of TechTown
Writer: MJ Galbraith

Telecommunications company moves from suburbs to city

Telecommunications company GTS Direct has moved from St. Clair Shores to Detroit's Corktown neighborhood. The company bought the former Archdiocese of Detroit print shop at 1501 Sixth Street. Friday Jan. 10 was their first day of business in the city.

The move is an expansion for the company as it goes from a 1,500 to 10,000 square foot facility. CEO Mark Stackpoole identifies a number of factors that went into the re-location, from distinct competitive advantages to a desire to be a part of the new downtown business community.

The company started its re-location search in the downtown rental market. Stymied after encountering what he calls a rigidly-priced rental scene, Mark turned his attention from renting to buying.

"For what we saw in rental prices at 3,000 square feet, we could purchase this building with minor repairs and come out at an advantage from a budget standpoint," Stackpoole says. GTS Direct bought the building at Sixth and Labrosse from the Archdiocese of Detroit for $210,000.

Stackpoole is looking to quickly become a part of Corktown and invites neighbors to stop by and see what's happening inside. The company is already philanthropically involved with a number of organizations -- including YouthVille Detroit, City Year, and Racquet Up Detroit -- and is hoping to do more within the neighborhood.

One reason for neighbors to stop by 1501 Sixth Street is the still-in-progress interior décor. Stackpoole enlisted the help of Derek Weaver, Managing Director of 4731 Gallery in Woodbridge, to organize a graffiti competition. Eleven artists from around Detroit, including Sintex, FEL3000ft, and TEAD, came in and painted murals in the GTS Direct offices.

Source: Mark Stackpoole, CEO of GTS Direct
Writer: MJ Galbraith

Coming soon: Corktown, Woodbridge condominium development

Three Squared, Inc., a Detroit-based real estate development company specializing in re-purposing used cargo containers into condos, is moving toward breaking ground on the first of its three structures in Detroit. First will be a three-story, 4,400 square foot mixed-used Model Center and, pending appraisal, the company will break ground by the beginning of February. Three Squared CEO Leslie Horn says that once started, the Michigan Avenue building will be completed in six weeks.

The model center, located between 1350 Michigan Ave. and Grinnell Place Lofts, will serve as a condo showcase and office for Three Squared, with the rest of the building available to lease for office use. The company plans on breaking ground on its two condo buildings in May with construction expected to take less than six months. The first, a four-story, 26,000 square foot building with 20 units, will be built on Rosa Parks Boulevard at Warren Avenue. A second building, with an expected 10-12 units, will be built behind the Michigan Avenue Model Center.

The buildings were designed by Detroit-based architect Steven Flum. Three Squared has also enlisted the assistance of architect Eric Lloyd Wright, grandson of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, to help with the details of the second Michigan Avenue condominium development.

Each unit will sell at market rate, according to Horn, and fall in a range of 853 to 1,920 square feet. Horn says that a list of people waiting to see the units is growing and the company is looking at two more sites for potential development. The company expects to do between $8 and $10 million in construction business over the course of the project. "We'll be keeping the industry busy," Horn says.

Both condo developments will qualify for the popular Live Midtown and Live Downtown incentive programs.

Source: Leslie Horn, CEO of Three Squared, Inc.
Writer: MJ Galbraith

Pop-up theater turns permanent in Midtown

After a brief hiatus, the old Burton School in Midtown is a movie theater once again. Paula and Tim Guthat have moved their Cinema Detroit into the former Cass Corridor school building. The married couple feature art house, indie, and local films Thursdays through Sundays. Classic movies such as the occasional film noir are also shown.

Cinema Detroit started as a series of pop-up theaters. The move to a permanent location allows the company the ability to show first-run films. The theater first started showing films at another pop-up that has since gone permanent, Coffee and (____), on the city's East Side -- a "pop-up within a pop-up," as Paula tells it. The Guthats then lugged their projection gear across the city, showing movies at Corktown's Ponyride and New Center's Jam Handy Building.

Though the couple enjoyed their series of pop-up cinemas, the grind of loading and unloading the projection equipment became tedious and the Guthats began to search for a permanent location. At the same time, the owner of the Burton school building was searching for a new group to operate the theater there. It's a fit that has allowed the Guthats the ability to plan ahead. Permanence should do the former pop-up well.

"It's easier to get the word out because we know we're going to be in one place," says Paula. "It's easier to promote because people know it's going to be there. I'm starting to book movies as far ahead as I can."

Cinema Detroit should eventually operate seven days a week, as the business settles in and stabilizes. The Guthats, who are currently the only people operating the cinema, plan to hire part-time workers once business hours expand.

Source: Paula Guthat, owner of Cinema Detroit
Writer: MJ Galbraith


Downtown law firm changes game for entrepreneurs with unique pricing policies

A new legal practice in downtown Detroit is helping entrepreneurs navigate all things required for operating on the level. Sadek Legal offers a range of services, from contract drafting to entity formation, licensing to pulling permits.

After moving to Detroit from Chicago, Houston native Tifani Sadek was inspired by Deroit's energetic startup scene. She left her job at a corporate law firm to start Sadek Legal in October 2013. The one-woman practice operates out of downtown's collaborative workspace Bamboo Detroit.

Unique to Sadek Legal is its pricing policy. Rather than charge her clients by the hour like most law firms--a practice, says Sadek, that often makes little sense for both parties involved--Sadek offers a flat rate agreed upon before the work is begun.

Flat fee billing is more value-based, says Sadek, and it alleviates the pressure to rush through a job. It can ease clients' minds as well, affording them the ability to know just what to expect and not encounter any surprises. "There are very few businesses where you don't know the price going in," she says.

Sadek is planning to offer classes for entrepreneurs, leading workshops on topics such as social media and crowdsourcing. And while a lot of what she does is teach--or fill in the gaps, as she puts it--Sadek says that she has learned a lot from her clients as well. She has learned what it means to be a small business owner herself. Small legal practices are small businesses, after all, and need to act accordingly. Marketing, branding, risk-taking, and the ability to "run lean" have all been lessons learned while running Sadek Legal.

Sadek anticipates her practice to keep growing and may take a partner in the future.

Source: Tifani Sadek, owner of Sadek Legal
Writer: MJ Galbraith

Mike's Kabob Grille to open downtown in February

Downtown dining options continue to increase in Detroit as Mike's Kabob Grille, a restaurant featuring authentic Lebanese fare, will open come mid-February. Mike Abdallah, son and collaborator of the restaurant's owner, says that they are currently prepping a first floor space in Bedrock Real Estate's Chrysler House. As they pull the proper permits for the restaurant, workers are painting walls and installing kitchen equipment and booths. Soon, Detroiters will be able to stop in for grape leaves and shawarma in the heart of downtown.

Food is the Abdallah family business. Mike's father opened his own Lebanese restaurant in Metro Detroit in the 1990s. Mike started working as soon as he could. "I've been working in a restaurant since I was 12 years old," he says. "That's 13 years of my life." That experience has paid off for Mike, a Wayne State graduate.

An Abdallah-run catering company was providing food to workers at Title Source in Troy. When Title Source started moving jobs to downtown Detroit in 2012, the catering company followed. That's when things really started going well. Mike says that the enthusiasm for the dishes was so high that customers started asking them to open a permanent location. After searching a bit, the Abdallahs found the Chrysler House space. Mike calls the whole experience a blessing.

One of Mike's main goals is to provide downtown workers a more healthy place to eat, he says, as he extolls the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. He emphasizes keeping the food fresh and lean. He's excited, too, to prove himself with a hands-on role and continue the legacy of his family's business. 

The Abdallahs plan on hiring at least 12 workers for the downtown location.

Source: Mike Abdallah of Mike's Kabob Grille
Writer: MJ Galbraith

How pedicabs can fill gaps in public transportation

A new pedicab company is getting ready to launch in Detroit. Pedicabs, or rickshaws, are bicycle-powered taxis. Gabby Bryant is currently prepping her pedicab company, Reddicabs, for a summer launch.

The company is in the midst of a crowdfunding campaign that ends Jan. 20. Venture for America helped Reddicabs launch the campaign. In a contest with other Venture for America Fellows, Reddicabs stands to win an additional $10,000 if they raise the most money. Gabby says $10,000 is enough to buy three pedicabs and provide drivers the training necessary for operating the taxi service.

Reddicabs plans to separate itself from the city's other pedicab companies by being more visible in the community and offering more continuous and predictable services. Gabby is working to establish a series of hubs outside hotels, restaurants, and bars to build a more reliable system of pedicabs. In doing so, she says that pedicabs will fill in the gaps that buses and standard taxis can't--or won't.

The idea of Reddicabs originally began as a service that would deliver people from parking lots to events, such as a Tigers game or a concert at the Music Hall. But the more Gabby thought on the state of public transportation in Detroit, the more the service grew.

"Detroit is so interesting because we don't use different types of transportation," she says. "We're just now becoming more of a bike city. Public transportation is kind of foreign to a lot of people and those that do use it aren't the biggest fans of it. We have to gauge the different options for public transportation."

Gabby is partnering with Thrive Detroit to train individuals to be able to rent and run the taxis. She also credits the people at Green Garage in helping craft a strategy for the system of pedicabs.

Source: Gabby Bryant, owner of Reddicabs
Writer: MJ Galbraith

The 2013 year in development news

It was a big year for development news in Detroit, no doubt. While major news - like every time Dan Gilbert announced that he bought another building - hit news outlets like Crain's Detroit Business and Detroit Free Press almost instantaneously, at Model D we tended to focus more on small business stories. And you, dear readers, seemed to enjoy those the most, because numbers don't lie. (Except scales and birth certificates. Those lie.) So, for our final issue of the year and the final issue with Development News Editor Nicole Rupersburg at the helm, we're taking a moment to reflect on the year that was 2013. Here are our top stories from this year.

Starting Jan. 7, Model D will welcome a new Development News Editor, Michael (MJ) Galbraith. We look forward to seeing how he makes this news section his own in the coming year, and wish Nicole all the best in her future endeavors (and hope her voice will still occasionally be heard on Model D, even if not on a weekly basis).

(1) Top of the Pontch, Jefferson House, Urban Cellars opening in the Crowne Plaza Hotel Pontchartrain
You loved restaurant news this year, and there sure was a lot of restaurant news to love. Almost every major opening received major clicks (including Whole Foods Midtown, Two James Spirits, and Detroit Institute of Bagels), it was the stories that Model D was able to cover first that got the most attention - including MotorCity Wine's move to Corktown (#9), a new Indian restaurant in Midtown (#11), Always Brewing Detroit going permanent in Grandmont-Rosedale (#15), and a new sandwich shop called Rubbed coming to Corktown (#19). 

(2) Security Trust Lofts, downtown Detroit's newest housing development, ready to start leasing
Most major construction, renovation, and historic preservation projects in Detroit are met with a PR parade. This one was not.  It happened quietly, with hardly a whisper. Model D was the first to cover it.

(3) SkyBar and Lounge now open on 33rd floor, previous ground floor space being renovated and expanded
Booze news. Always a winner. 

(4) More Palmer Park apts set to come online in Feb, April
Previous Development News Editor Jon Zemke got the scoop on this one and got people talking about Kathy Makino-Leipsitz, co-owner of Shelborne Development, the developer that is heading up the renovation of the apartment buildings in Palmer Park and well as much of the redevelopment in Jefferson Chalmers

(5) Pie-Sci to open own pizzeria next to Woodbridge Pub
Another food story! We got the intel on Pie-Sci's soon-to-be permanent location (it just so happens to be attached to Woodbridge Pub, home of their weekly pop-up). Detroiters have spoken, and they want more pizza.

Restaurateur Maurice Wiggins to open The Addison, Restaurant 55 next spring

Maurice Wiggins, CEO of International Hospitality Group, has plans to open two new restaurants early next year.
 
The first is located inside the former location of Atlas Global Bistro at 3111 Woodward, and is called The Addison. The Addison is an upscale restaurant that will be open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily (though will likely open with just lunch and dinner to start) and happy hour Mondays through Fridays. Breakfast will include items like eggs benedict with crabmeat, while lunch and dinner menus will have steaks and seafood with vegetarian options for each meal. Renovation work is currently underway inside the space. Wiggins plans on opening this in March and hiring 20-25 people.
 
The second is located near the Renaissance Center and is called Restaurant 55. One half of the building will be a full-service fine dining restaurant and the other half will be a lounge with more shareable plates and appetizers, though both menus will be available on both sides. The space is undergoing a complete renovation down to the studs and is expected to open late spring. Wiggins is looking to hire 30-35 people for this concept, and wants to hire as many Detroiters for both concepts as he can and be an active part in Detroit's economic recovery.
 
Both restaurants will have price points ranging $9-15 per item.
 
Wiggins was one of the opening partners of Hudson Café but has since sold out his share in that business. He was also behind the now-shuttered Ah!More International Café in Ford Field.
 
Source: Sherrie Handrinos, representing International Hospitality Group
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg


2013 SAFE Grants awarded

Michigan Community Resources recently completed the fourth installment of their Security Alternative Funding and Empowerment (SAFE) mini grant initiative. Launched in 2011, SAFE provides mini grant funding to community-based organizations for the purpose of conducting neighborhood beautification activities designed to enhance community safety.
 
“MCR’s mini-grant program has become an important tool to increase quality of life in the neighborhoods," says Jill Ferrari, CEO of Michigan Community Resources. "They show a little bit can do so much to help improve a community and that everyone has a role they can play. MCR is very happy to help community organizations make their goals a reality.”
 
SAFE mini grants range in amounts between $1,000 and $5,000 and are available to community-based organizations that have a 501c3 nonprofit status and an operating budget of at least $2,000 during the previous fiscal year.
 
This year, MCR received applications from 32 organizations and awarded $50,000 to 16 organizations in the Central Woodward/Northend and Southwest neighborhoods. Recipients are as follows:
 
- Sages & Sprouts
- New Electric Vision
- Springdale Block Club
- New Horizons CDC
- UNI
- SDEV
- SITC
- Clark Park
- Vanguard CDC
- Women's Empowerment Center
- Stafford House
- Cameron ST Block Club
- Greater Woodward CDC
- Motor City Youth All Stars
- NE Neighborhood Patrol
- NE Neighbors Block Club
 
Award decisions were made by MCR’s external review committee, which is comprised of representatives from a number of community-focused nonprofits throughout Detroit as well as in the respective target areas.
 
Source: Jill Ferrari, CEO of Michigan Community Resources
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

Restaurant round-up: what just opened and what's coming next

We love to write about food, and you love to read about it. So, since 2013 is closing with a flurry of food-related activity, more than we've even had the chance to cover, here's a quick look at places that have recently opened and places that are coming up next.

The Grille Midtown at 3919 Woodward is now open for lunch and dinner, part of the Woodward Garden Block development project that has been completed in phases over the last decade. The menu is solidly "new American," with red meat and seafood getting prime billing. 

Thomas Magee's Sporting House Whiskey Bar is now open in the Eastern Market district and the locals already love it. Michigan craft beer and artisan spirits elevate this above just another sports bar, and the cozy wood-paneled interior helps. Feel free to give this place a short nickname, though. Tommy Magee's, perhaps? That's got a nice ring.

Delite Cafe is now open in Hamtramck, serving coffee from Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company and deli sandwiches made with Boar's Head meats in a handsome space with limited but comfortable dine-in seating. They also serve soups, salads, smoothies, ice cream, a full menu of espresso beverages, and halal meats for the area's significant Muslim population. 

Alley Taco will open inside the extensively renovated Marcus Market in Midtown late January. Until them, you can catch them Tuesdays at Great Lakes Coffee Midtown. 

Frontera in Eastern Market is soooooooooo close. Maybe spring 2014? They're hosting pop-up dinners in the meantime, giving eager diners a chance to see inside the space that some are already hailing as the best-looking restaurant in Detroit. 

Turquoise Boutique opens inside the Max M. Fisher Music Center

Turquoise Boutique originally opened five years ago in Muskegon. Since then owner Monalise Green, who moved out to Muskegon with her husband after retiring from Blue Cross Blue Shield, has moved back to Detroit with her husband to be closer to their children and grandchildren. "Detroit is my home – I grew up here, lived here, and worked here all my life," she says, adding that she missed it too much to stay away.
 
The store came home with her, though it took time to find the perfect space. "I was looking for space in (Midtown) for over two years," Green says. "I've been watching the growth of Midtown and am thrilled with how it's progressing." She met with Midtown Detroit Inc. and was shown different spaces in the neighborhood, but it wasn't the right opportunity until the retail space inside the Max M. Fisher Music Center, which was previously a classical music store and DSO gift shop, became available.
 
Turquoise Boutique is now open at 3711 Woodward, at the corner of Woodward and Parsons attached to The Max. Green describes it as an "upscale ladies' boutique," stocking fine jewelry, designer handbags, and fashionable apparel ranging from casual wear to formal wear. Green hand-selects all of the items that are carried inside the store herself.
 
The store is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and will celebrate a grand opening on Dec. 16. They are also open late on concert evenings and are available by appointment on Sundays.
 
Source: Monalise Green, owner of Turquoise Boutique
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg 

Chez Chloe makes traditional French chocolate lava cakes perfect for the holidays

Chloe Sabatier of Chez Chloe makes exactly one thing: traditional French chocolate lava cakes.
 
Sabatier, a 23-year-old French transplant, moved to Detroit from Paris just six months ago after having spent some time here during the summer of 2012 visiting her boyfriend. During her first visit, she started testing out her Chez Chloe concept of traditional French chocolate lava cakes. She sold them at farmers markets in Birmingham and Royal Oak, and found that her American customers loved her lava cakes, and was also surprised to find that many people, upon hearing her French accent, felt an immediate affinity for her and wanted to share their own memories of trips to Paris with her. She loved the instant camaraderie she felt with her customers. By the middle of August she would have a huge line in front of her stand, but in September she had to return to Paris to finish her marketing and communications degree.
 
She moved back to Detroit in April and worked an internship for her degree program for several months. Sabatier got involved with the community of local food entrepreneurs at FoodLab and began working out of one of their partner commercial community kitchens. Chez Chloe officially launched Oct. 1, and you can find her Saturdays at Eastern Market as well as at various artisan market events. Local businesses Le Petit Zinc in Corktown and Great Lakes Coffee in Midtown also carry her lava cakes, and she delivers daily in Detroit.
 
Sabatier is astounded by the overwhelming response she has received after just two months of being open. She remarks that even on Saturdays that are freezing cold, she will still sell 130 cakes at Eastern Market. "Everything has been very, very fast," she says. "I came back six months ago and said, 'Okay I'm going to apply at Eastern Market,' and they approved me. Everything went so fast. Just being at Eastern Market you reach so many people. People kept calling me (to place orders) and I had no idea who they were."
 
We hear more and more stories about young entrepreneurs coming in from the coasts to start their startups in Detroit, but hearing about a person crossing an ocean to start a cake company is much less common. "Everyone is asking me 'Why Detroit?' Look, I started a business two months ago and everything's so crazy; between baking, packing cakes, delivering cakes, buying ingredients, and sleeping three hours a night, (I think to myself) wow, I'm going to need a baker and delivery person soon. I don't know how I'm going to do it alone. That's what I tell people (when they ask why) Detroit." Sabatier has found the local support she needs to sustain and grow her business, much faster than she even anticipated. She bakes her cakes fresh daily and delivers them in person, which appeals to the strong local artisan food movement that has gained a serious stronghold in Detroit.
 
Sabatier has always loved baking and was taught by her grandmother, who was a "crazy baker – not professional, she would just bake all the time for any reason." Her grandmother taught her how to make the lava cakes, and for many years this was her specialty and what she would bring to dinners and parties. "It got to the point that I couldn't go to a party without chocolate cake!" She took some courses last year and learned how to make all types of French pastries, but she decided to focus on lava cake because it is very popular in France and sold in every restaurant, but there are few restaurants that sell them here – and fewer still that make them properly. As Sabatier herself notes, chocolate and pastries are serious business in French culture, and as far as lava cakes go, there must be a difference in texture with the outside being solid and the inside being almost liquid.
 
Chez Chloe's cakes come in two different sizes, bite-sized mini cakes or full-size individual cakes. She makes several different flavors, including salted caramel, peanut butter, coconut, and seasonal flavors such as fresh fruit in the summer and pumpkin in the fall. She also listens to her customers' suggestions for other flavors. She only uses Belgian dark chocolate. "It makes all the difference," she says. "It's the real deal."
 
Next year, Sabatier hopes to have a Chez Chloe food truck all her own, and is working with the Detroit Bus Company to buy and customize one. For now, you can pre-order cakes for the holidays and visit her at Eastern Market and other holiday market events. Sabatier saw a huge demand for Thanksgiving and expects more of the same for Christmas, but be warned – you only have until Dec. 22 to get your orders, as Sabatier is returning to Paris for the holidays. 
 
Source: Chloe Sabatier, owner of Chez Chloe
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg


The Work Department combines design with positive social impact

The Work Department is a communication, design, and development studio with local, regional, and international clients. A partnership between Nina Bianchi and Benjamin Chodoroff that started about two and a half years ago, the Work Department works with nonprofit and educational organizations – organizations that make a positive social impact while advancing open-source movements. Their client list includes Allied Media Projects, Excellent Schools Detroit, Tour de Troit, the New America Foundation, MIT, Michigan Suburbs Alliance, Detroit Digital Justice Coalition, Detroit Farm & Garden, and more.
 
Formerly located in Midtown, the Work Department recently relocated to a space in Hamtramck at 2750 Yemans. The company has a small team of employees, but they work with collaborators and contractors as far as Washington D.C. and Toronto. They are moving towards becoming a cooperative worker-owned company and grow their network of partners and collaborators. They also want to grow their educational design portfolio and "use design to break down the complexity of the world around us," according to Work Department Principal Nina Bianchi. "We pride ourselves on making our processes accessible and transparent." The company provides print and digital design, web development, communication strategy consulting, branding, content creation, and other services.
 
Source: Nina Bianchi, The Work Department
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg


Holiday retail happenings

Shopping local this holiday season? So are we, so we want to share with you some of the temporary pop-ups and one-night-only events that bring together a fantastic group of local artisans in one place, many of which don't have storefronts of their own. Make your list, check it twice, then check out some of these upcoming happenings.

Events

2013 Holiday Marketplace at Campus Martius
The Holiday Marketplace at Campus Martius will be held every weekend up until Christmas, featuring wares from local and regional artists, food producers, crafters, and vintage and antique items.

Pop-ups

Wheelhouse Detroit + Detroit Bikes at Eastern Market
Wheelhouse Detroit and Detroit Bikes have launched a retail residency running now through March 17 inside a shipping container in Shed 4 of Eastern Market. Hours are Friday and Monday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Bicycle rental and drop-off repair service is also available. 

1701 Bespoke -- 660 Woodward Avenue
Get suited up at 1701 Bespoke, a custom suit shop located inside the lobby of the First National Building that uses fine wools, linens, and silks from Italian fabric mills. 

The Detroit Shoppe – 1201 Woodward Avenue
Showcasing people, places and products that have shaped Detroit. Open Tuesdays – Saturdays 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; now through Saturday, Dec. 21.

Rock Paper Scissors – 1213 Woodward Avenue
Personalized Stationery, paper, home goods and gift store. Open Tuesdays – Saturdays 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; now through Saturday, Dec. 21. 

The Hand Made Company – 1219 Woodward Avenue
Showcases a wide-variety of Michigan-made products from Detroit retailers. Open Tuesdays – Saturdays 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; now through Saturday, Dec. 21. 

Spielhaus Toys – 1249 Woodward Avenue
Hand-made specialty toy shop - read more about them here. Open Tuesdays – Saturdays 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; now through Saturday, Dec. 21. 

Somerset Collection CityLoft – 1261 Woodward Avenue
Your favorite Somerset Collection retailers in the heart of Detroit. Open Thursdays – Saturdays 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Dec. 19-21.

Moosejaw - 1275 Woodward Avenue
Popular national outdoor retailer (retailer in downtown Detroit for more than a year). Open Wednesday – Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; also open Tuesdays. 

Detroit Institute of Bagels now open in Corktown

After a long (yet worthwhile) wait, Detroit Institute of Bagels is finally open in Corktown, putting an end to Detroit's days as a bagel desert and bringing with it some much-needed breakfast bagel sandwiches, bagels and lox, and free Wi-Fi in a beautifully designed historic building on Michigan Avenue.
 
DIB started nearly three years ago in owner Ben Newman's flat in Corktown. Since then the company has gained a loyal following, which helped them raise $10,000 in a Kickstarter campaign and saw them through as semifinalists in the first-ever Hatch Detroit competition in 2011. While DIB didn't win the $50,000 then, the company was just officially awarded a $50,000 grant last week from the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy Fund, a $3.8 million fund allocated to businesses that are contributing to the redevelopment and revitalization of Corktown. Two James Spirits also received a grant with several more are in the works. Senator Carl Levin was on site last week to award the grant.
 
All together it cost about $500,000 to renovate the century-old building at 1236 Michigan Avenue, extend it out for the kitchen, and create a pocket park out front in the "L" shape formed by the new addition. DIB was designed almost entirely from reclaimed materials, including the commercial kitchen equipment. The bagel shop employs a staff of 25 and is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. serving seven standard bagel flavors with house-made cream cheeses and spreads daily, additional "small batch" flavors daily, homemade soups, coffee from Corktown roasters Anthology Coffee, and a variety of bagel sandwiches for breakfast and lunch.
 
Source: Ben Newman, owner of Detroit Institute of Bagels
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg 


Rock Ventures selects SHoP Architects to lead design process for former Hudson's site

The renewal of downtown Detroit is taking a monumental step forward with the official press release coming from Rock Ventures announcing its selection of the architects to lead the design process of the redevelopment of the two-acre former site of the historic Hudson's Department Store on Woodward.

Rock has selected world-renowned SHoP Architects, headquartered in New York, for this project. SHoP will partner with Detroit-based Hamilton Anderson Associates (HAA) for this significant downtown development.
 
"These two firms, known as premier urban catalysts, were chosen for their innovation and creativity, as well as their track record of committing to community engagement," said Jeff Cohen, Founder of Rock Companies LLC, a member of the Rock Ventures Family of Companies, in a press release. "We believe SHoP and Hamilton Anderson will join a long list of distinguished architects including Yamasaki, Burnham, and Kahn who have created landmark buildings in Detroit that stand the test of time."
 
The selection of SHoP came after Rock Ventures hosted a global architectural ideas competition for architects, designers, planners, artists, and the public this past March. The competition attracted more than 200 entries from across the globe and got people thinking about the possibilities of redeveloping this key site, in many ways both symbolically and geographically the heart of Detroit. You can view the entries here.
 
Hudson's started out as an eight-story building in 1891 and eventually swelled into a 25-story building covering 2.2 million square feet. It closed in 1983. The building was imploded in 1998, leaving a quite literal gaping hole in Detroit. Plans to redevelop the site of such an iconic piece of the city's history feels like a real coming full circle, as symbolically relevant as it is concretely so.
 
While we're probably still years off from breaking ground and development beginning in earnest, SHoP, HAA, and Rock Ventures have exhibited a real commitment to getting this massive project off the ground. They will meet with local stakeholders in the next month and will host an informative community lecture series starting in 2014.
 
Source: Rock Ventures press release
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

Pete's Chocolate Company working towards wholesale expansion in 2014

Pete Steffy got into chocolate-making as a hobby while living in the small city of San Cristobal de la Casas in Mexico, where he was teaching English. He enjoyed it so much that he began making chocolate for fun and playing with different recipes that he would give away to friends and family. Eventually a real demand grew, and Pete's Chocolate Company, Detroit's first small-batch artisan chocolate company, started selling at area markets and special events.
 
Since 2011, Pete's Chocolate Company has grown from a hobby into a legitimate business with its own employees. He is currently hiring the position of Production Manager to help him meet his production goals and help with expansion plans. He also recently filled the position of Production Assistant to help him with the chocolate making, especially during this busy holiday season.
 
He has also outgrown his Hamtramck kitchen, which was the original home base of his chocolate operations, and now works out of the commercial kitchen at the Max M. Fisher Music Center (also used by Detroit food startup Beau Bien Fine Foods). Up until he started making chocolate out of the kitchen at The Max, Steffy was still producing under Michigan's cottage food laws. Now he is able to wholesale to stores. Currently he is focused entirely on the holiday season, but afterwards he plans on growing his wholesale operation (with the help of his Production Manager) in order to make Pete's Chocolate Company a steady year-round business. "It's been great that I've been doing this the last two years," he says. "The chocolate business is slow in the summer and insane in the winter. It would be nice to get it a little more steady."
 
While Whole Foods and Holiday Market might be in his future, for now you can find Pete and his chocolates weekends at the Rust Belt Market through December as well as at Noel Night this Saturday, the Detroit Holiday Food Bazaar next Friday, and the Merry Market at Detroit Mercantile Co. next Saturday and Sunday.
 
Source: Pete Steffy, owner of Pete's Chocolate Company
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg


Coffee and (___) goes from pop-up to permanent in Jefferson Chalmers

We sure do love our pop-ups in Detroit. And beyond just the novelty of having an experience in a space that you wouldn't otherwise be able to have (a Guns + Butter dinner at Shinola perhaps, or an independent toy store on Woodward just in time for the holidays), pop-ups serve an important purpose: they vet new businesses for long-term sustainability, allow aspiring entrepreneurs to test out different neighborhoods, and activate spaces that would otherwise remain vacant. And sometimes – more and more often now – they lead to permanent businesses opening.
 
Coffee and (______) is the latest Detroit pop-up that is going permanent. After a successful run in West Village last year (which Detroit Vegan Soul was also a part of) and another in Jefferson Chalmers earlier this year, Angela Foster, owner of Coffee and (_____), has decided to make her pop-up space on East Jefferson her permanent home.
 
Coffee and (______) opened in Jefferson Chalmers this past June after Shelborne Development restored several commercial buildings in the area and the American Institute of Architects Urban Priorities Committee added all the finishing touches.
 
After the scheduled pop-up period ended on Jefferson, Foster took some time to travel around and decide what she wanted to do next. She considered working harvest season in northern Michigan wine country, among other things, but the more she thought about being away, the more she missed being here in Detroit and the more she missed her shop. So she called Ritchie Harrison, economic development director of Jefferson East Inc., and asked if she could come back. "No one had shown any interest in the spaces yet so he was thrilled," she says.
 
As a neighborhood still working to define itself, Jefferson Chalmers has a strong community but not necessarily a lot of visibility outside of it. "It's going to take some time to get people excited about (these spaces)," Foster says. But for her it was worth taking the leap. She said she is finally getting commuter traffic and is now trying to go seamlessly from pop-up to permanent. She is still doing all the work herself – that includes all the baking (the selection changes daily) and customer service – but is now getting some help from a Shifting Gears program participant.
 
Coffee and (_____) will continue to operate while Foster finalizes all of the paperwork and licensing to become a full-fledged permanent café. You can visit her 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The business is closed Tuesdays.
 
Source: Angela Foster, owner of Coffee and (______)
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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


Prepare for the holidays with Eastern Market's Thanksgiving Market next Tuesday

The Tuesday markets season in Eastern Market may be over, but next Tuesday will see one last round for the year, just in time for Thanksgiving.
 
From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. next Tuesday, Nov. 26, shoppers can visit Eastern Market farms and artisan food vendors to pick up everything they need for their Thanksgiving dinners. "The idea of a Thanksgiving market came to us last year when the Tuesday before Thanksgiving people were calling us and asking if we were open," says Fiona Ruddy, Alternative Food Program Coordinator for Eastern Market.
 
At the time they had just wrapped up their second season of Tuesday markets and decided to plan a Thanksgiving market for this year. In planning this special holiday market, longtime vendors remembered when there was previously an annual Thanksgiving market when the city used to run Eastern Market and are very excited to see it come back.
 
The market will be held in Shed 5, which is heated. There will be food trucks serving food as well as Michigan wineries serving samples of their wines – an Eastern Market daytime market debut since a law was passed in Michigan earlier this year allowing wineries that produce fewer than five thousand gallons annually to sample and sell wines at farmers markets. (We may see more of this at the market next year.)
 
Randall Fogelman, Eastern Market's vice president of business development, co-authored the newly-released Detroit's Historic Eastern Market with writer Lisa Rush, and both will be on hand for a meet and greet, selling and signing copies. Part of the Images of America series from Arcadia Publishing, this will make a fantastic holiday gift item. Wheelhouse Detroit and Detroit Bikes are also launching a retail residency inside a shipping container in Shed 4 in conjunction with the Thanksgiving Market. Hours will be Friday and Monday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Bicycle rental and drop-off repair service will also be available.
 
There will also be Christmas tree farmers out in the parking lot behind Shed 5, so people can even shop for their holiday decorations as well as the food for their tables. Area businesses like DeVries, Rocky's Peanut Company, Gratiot Central Market, and more will also round out everything you need for a spectacular all-local dinner.
 
Eastern Market, and Shed 5 in particular, has been in the news quite a bit this year with announcements of grants supporting the construction of an outdoor plaza and a community kitchen. While a concrete timetable for the completion of construction has not been announced, interested groups can rent out Shed 5 for private parties ranging anything from kid-friendly family events to white tablecloth CEO dinners.
 
Source: Fiona Ruddy, Alternative Food Program Coordinator for Eastern Market
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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

November development news round-up

The Roxbury Group has revived a plan to add 80 residential units atop a 10-story parking deck located behind the Westin Book Cadillac Detroit, called the Griswold. The initial plan in 2007 was to build condo units in this location, but the development company was unable to proceed with these construction plans during the housing market collapse and economic recession. In 2008, plans were shelved. Now with a skyrocketing demand for rental units downtown with more than 15,000 workers added to the central business district since 2010, Roxbury has decided the time is right to re-introduce the proposal, but as rental units instead. The proposal has been submitted and Roxbury principal David DiRita says the project will take 12-18 months to complete. It will be designed by Kraemer Design Group, a firm that is heavily involved in many various downtown development projects

The Detroit Bus Company has announced that they will launch a new express and commuter bus service between downtown, Midtown, Ferndale, Royal Oak, and Troy, with rides to the airport just $12 one way and $22 roundtrip called the Hotline. The pilot launches Nov. 27.

According to Crain's Detroit Business, Triton Properties has purchased four more apartment buildings along the Detroit Riverfront. This is the same development group behind the Alden Towers renovation

30-year lease of Belle Isle to the state was approved by the Michigan loan board, rejecting an alternative Detroit City Council proposal for a 10-year lease and beginning a 90-day transition period to state control. 

Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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

Beal Building downtown now fully occupied

More great news for downtown: the Beal Building at 277 Gratiot is now 100 percent occupied.
 
Beal Properties acquired the building in 2008, then had a rough few years during the housing market collapse and recession, during which time they had to evict 17 tenants from the building. In 2011, as the market started to improve and major players like Dan Gilbert started investing in downtown, the building started attracting solid tenants and as of this month it is fully occupied.
 
Tenants include MyDetroitAddress.com, In The Black Suites, MeritHall Staffing, JC Beal Construction, Scooner Consulting, Sowell Law Partners, Emerging Industries Training Institute, Detroit Training Center, and Detroit Development Fund, among others.
 
JC Beal Construction is also an investor in the Broderick Tower, which company president Stewart Beal says is also fully occupied. "We are really excited that the properties we own and invest in are 100 percent occupied," he says.
 
Source: Stewart Beal, President of Beal Properties and Beal Construction Services
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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

The new Jefferson East Inc. focuses on development from downtown to Grosse Pointe Park

While the transition has been ongoing for about a year now, a recent luncheon for Jefferson East, Inc. (JEI) was the official debut of the recently-formed economic development organization that combines the efforts of the Jefferson East Business Association and the East Jefferson Corridor Collaborative. The biggest thing to note here is that JEI will reach from downtown all the way to Grosse Pointe Park, encompassing the whole of the East Jefferson Corridor.
 
The luncheon, held Nov. 7 at the Rattlesnake Club, introduced Richard Baron, chairman and CEO of St. Louis-based developer McCormack Baron Salazar, as the keynote speaker. Baron's company has developed 146 projects in 35 cities with development costs in excess of $2.4 billion.
 
McCormack Baron Salazar is behind a $60 million plan to build five blocks' worth of apartments, townhouses and small-scale retail on mostly vacant land east of the Renaissance Center, to be developed in two phases with potential for expansion beyond the initial proposal. While funding is still being finalized (as with most major developments that happen in the city, the funding is coming piecemeal from a variety of sources), Baron said that he hoped to start land remediation next month and break ground on the project by June 2014. 
 
The East Jefferson Corridor has been getting a lot of buzz lately with the Globe Building renovation, support from TechTown's SWOT City program, the extensive Alden Towers renovation – in fact, Crain's just reported over the weekend that Alden Towers developer Triton Properties just bought four more apartment buildings along and near the East Jefferson Corridor – and local developer Shelborne Development's investments in the Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood, a community eager to engage outsiders and grow with pop-up businesses and community gatherings.
 
JEI's new campaign "Go East," officially launching later this month, will highlight all of the various developments and investments happening along Jefferson and market the neighborhoods, businesses, and recreation options that exist in the East Jefferson Corridor.
 
Read more about Jefferson East, Inc. Economic Development Director Ritchie Harrison on UIX.
 
Source: JEI; Richard Baron of McCormack Baron Salazar
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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

Midtown to get another "Living Room," this one part of TechTown District Plan

Last week the Knight Foundation reported that Midtown Detroit Inc. was awarded the prestigious ULI Global Award for Excellence for superior development efforts that go beyond good design to include strong leadership, community contribution, public-private partnerships, and financial success. While many, many people helped turn Midtown into the success it has become, none have been more directly involved than Susan Mosey, President of Midtown Detroit Inc. Read more about Mosey and her efforts in this week's Urban Innovation Exchange.
 
But that wasn't the only Midtown news to come from Knight. Midtown is about to get itself another "Living Room," in addition to the Cultural Living Room that opened inside the DIA earlier this year. A new grant from the Knight Foundation – in partnership with U3 Ventures, Boston-based planning firm Sasaki, and San Francisco-based designers Rebar – will support the design work of the new TechTown Living Room, a public space that will serve as the heart of Midtown’s TechTown innovation district.

The Living Room, part of the TechTown district plan for a mixed-use neighborhood building on the area's existing anchor universities, hospitals, and major businesses, "will transform a parking lot at Cass and Burroughs streets into an active and dynamic public space," connecting to TechTown's new co-working space which will be home to more than 400 entrepreneurs. It will also have a café and programming to attract the more than 10,000 professionals, students, and residents in the surrounding neighborhoods.
 
According to Alex Feldman of U3 Ventures, the Living Room will be completed in the summer 2014.
 
Source: Alex Feldman, Knight Foundation blog
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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

Newly-renovated Antisdel Apartments first step in two-block development for Cass Community org

After a one-year renovation, the Arthur Antisdel Apartments at 1584 Elmhurst celebrated its grand opening last week.
 
The $10 million renovation of the 34,500-square-foot building was overseen by Cass Community Social Services. Now part of the Cass Community campus, the Antisdel will be used to house homeless and disabled men and women. Cass Community Social Services Executive Director Faith Fowler says that the first residents have started moving in and it will soon be filled with 41 residents.
 
Fowler says the building was stripped down to its studs and everything inside is brand new: the roof, elevators, electric, plumbing, heating, windows, floors, appliances, bathroom fixtures. "It's like a brand-new building with old brick," she says. There is also a new parking lot, bike rack, and green space on the surrounding land. "If fits right in as if it has always been occupied."
 
As part of the organization's campus, which encompassed 4.5 blocks with 7 buildings, residents of the Antisdel will be part of the community and have access to work, worship, and counselors. "It's all walkable," says Fowler. "The proximity is nice because you (we) can share resources."
 
This $10 million project – made possible by a creative mix of tax credits, grants, public and private funding – was the start of the development of two whole additional blocks overseen by the nonprofit. A second building that was previously drug-inhabited is now fully occupied with families, and an additional block has been purchased and cleared and the organization is moving on to the development planning stages.
 
"We're trying to create a community but also put people back into the community," Fowler says.
 
Source: Faith Fowler, Executive Director of Cass Community Social Services
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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

Forest Arms apartment building to celebrate "groundbreaking" this Thursday

The fire that destroyed the roof and caused interior damage to the Forest Arms apartment building on Second and Canfield in Midtown happened in February 2008. After that, local developer Scott Lowell and his wife Carolyn Howard purchased the building with plans to renovate and reopen it. Nearly six years later, the renovation is finally about to get underway.
 
Lowell and Howard own several buildings in the area, including the Beethoven and Blackstone apartment buildings and the restaurant Traffic Jam & Snug. Despite their strong track record of redevelopment, it still took more than five years to get the Forest Arms project off the ground. First they had to convince the city that the building was worth saving instead of demolishing and that they were the people to do it – which, Lowell says, was the easy part. They then had to weather the housing market collapse, banks reluctant to lend money in its aftermath, and the elimination of the state historic tax credits (a boon to recent local developments).
 
"Losing the state tax credits was horrible," Lowell says. Luckily for them, with the help of Midtown Detroit Inc.'s Sue Mosey and the Michigan Historic Preservation Network, theirs was one of the last projects to be awarded under the state historic tax credit program. "It has been an arduous process just to get to this point, but it's finally here."
 
Forest Arms will celebrate a "groundbreaking" this Thursday. Previous work they have done since acquiring the building has included adding a new roof to make it weather-tight and ensuring the structure remains sound. The renovation will include all-new plumbing, drainage, electrical, and HVAC systems. The design will also utilize environmentally sustainable technologies like solar energy for hot water and reclaimed water from the roof to flush the toilets. They will also add a new fire suppression system, Lowell says, in deference to what happened there. "I want to sleep comfortably at night and I want our residents to sleep comfortably at night," he says.
 
Once completed, the new Forest Arms will consist of 70 architecturally diverse units with five top-floor penthouses, two ground floor commercial spaces, and a totally soundproof room in the basement for bands to hold band practice – a nice nod to the building's history as a hub for local musicians, from People's Records formerly located on its ground floor to the allegorical Arms Forest album recorded by local rockers the Hard Lessons after the fire.
 
The construction schedule is planned at 18 months. Lowell hopes to have it completed by fall 2015.
 
Source: Scott Lowell, owner and developer of Forest Arms
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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

La Feria now open for lunch and dinner, celebrating grand opening with Melt this week

It's been over a year since La Feria, a Spanish tapas restaurant located in Midtown in what could be called the Cass Corridor Design District, won the 2012 Hatch Detroit competition, earning an extra $50,000 towards opening their business. Detroiters have anxiously waited as we've watched the progress at 4130 Cass Ave. all the way up through the fancy new façade and signage from D MET Design. And now, they are officially open for business.
 
"We are so excited right now," says co-owner Elias Khalil, who owns La Feria with his business partner and chef Pilar Baron Hidalgo. "it's unbelievable to see it come to fruition."
 
La Feria opened its doors to an eager public last Thursday with lunch service only for their first three days, to "work out the kinks for soft opening," as Khalil says. As of Nov. 4, La Feria is open for both lunch and dinner service. Both La Feria and the newly-opened Melt, Midtown's newest coffee shop and only candy store and gelato shop, will celebrate a joint grand opening later this week. "We really want to activate this spot of Cass," he says. "We're already seeing so much foot traffic (with people interesting in peeking inside) and doing a joint opening will create real excitement."
 
While the menu has stayed true to its initial concept of authentic Spanish tapas, Khalil says that the menu was tweaked several times before opening, adding a lot more seafood than initially planned since it is so common to Spanish tapas and because they are now more confident than they initially were in their ability to source fresh, quality seafood. (And yes, this will include sardines and soon fresh anchovies, as well as traditional dishes like empanadas and charcuterie boards with Machego cheese.)
 
They were able to secure a liquor license and have a full bar that will complement everything that they're doing on the menu.
 
Hours are not set in stone yet but Khalil says they will stay open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays and play it by ear; if that works well they might also extend their hours for the rest of the week later.

"The later we're open the better for the neighborhood," he says. "This is really a crucial piece to this Cass Corridor revitalization. We're pretty interested in maintaining the Cass Corridor neighborhood in Midtown and staying true to what this neighborhood has meant to people over the years. We kept price points low for that reason."
 
Khalil's personal relationship with the Cass Corridor neighborhood is deeply-rooted, so much so that he even wrote the book on it. Read a more in-depth profile of Khlalil and La Feria here.
 
Source: Elias Khalil, co-owner of La Feria
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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UberX now available in Detroit, offering free rides through November

Uber, the personal luxury car service that you order simply with a quick tap of a smartphone app, launched in Detroit this past March and has served tens of thousands of customers in that time. Now they are introducing uberX, a low-cost ridesharing Uber option that's cheaper than a taxi.
 
Where Uber is a luxury personal car service, uberX offers all the same reliability and convenience of Uber but at a lower cost. You still order them through a simply app that shows you the closest car's location and tracks it by GPS with an estimated arrival time accurate down to the minute. It gets you from point A to point B in exactly the same way, just cheaper with other people sharing your ride – this is what makes it cheaper.
 
Ridesharing is both more efficient and cost-effective as well as more environmentally-friendly. It also gives city residents another affordable option to go carless in the city. Sample fares with uberX are as follows:
 
Downtown to Midtown: $6-7
Royal Oak to Birmingham: $14-16
Royal Oak to Downtown Detroit: $28-31
Downtown Detroit to Detroit Metro Airport: $42-46
 
Regular Uber users will note the savings average about 40 percent off per route. Prices are all-inclusive (including tip).
 
UberX is free for all Uber users up to three rides or $30 (whichever comes first) until Dec. 1. The discount is applied automatically when you select "uberX" when you open the Uber app on your smartphone.
 
Source: Mary Ellen Hickey, Detroit Community Manager
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Pure Detroit featured in AmEx national campaign, launches Detroit Small Business Passport

If you haven't already, you might soon see a familiar brand featured in a national American Express Small Business Saturday/Shop Small campaign. Our very own Pure Detroit is one of five small businesses from across the country featured in a series of Shop Small videos from American Express. The campaign launched Nov. 4 and will run through the rest of the month.
 
The two-minute video highlights the three Pure Detroit shops and their employees, loyal customers, and the variety of cultural programming they host.
 
In this video Pure Detroit, which celebrates 15 years in business this year, announces the launch of their Detroit Small Business Passport, which encourages customers to shop at all of the other independent retailers throughout the city by receiving "Shop Small" stamps when they make a purchase at each of the 18-plus participating locations, unlocking various discounts and freebies. Passports are now available for pickup at each of Pure Detroit's locations in the Renaissance Center, Guardian Building, and Fisher Building and will be active and valid through Jan. 31, 2014.
 
Particpating passport retailers include Pure Detroit, Vera Jane, Stella Good Coffee, HUMAN, RUNdetroit, Cass Corridog, Nest, City Bird, Detroit Hardware, Source Booksellers, Emily’s Fashion Place, Todd’s Facets & Jewelry, Detroit Athletic Co., Workshop, Hugh, Nora, Detroit Gallery of Contemporary Crafts, and the Rowland Cafe. Each business is offering at least 10 percent off your purchase (terms vary per store).
 
Source: Ryan Hooper, Creative Director for Pure Detroit
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg 

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Anytime Fitness to open downtown Jan. 1, now selling memberships

Downtown Detroit will soon have its own premiere 24/7 fitness facility at 735 Griswold, and memberships are available now.
 
Mike Ferlito of Ferlito Construction, also a partner in Bamboo Detroit, recognized the need for Detroit to have a 24/7 fitness facility with all of the influx of business professionals and people moving downtown. Though there are private membership-based gyms like the YMCA and DAC, there are currently no traditional membership-based, 24/7, in-and-out type gyms. So Ferlito reached out to Anytime Fitness and has licensed the concept for both downtown and Midtown.
 
The downtown location will feature 5,000 square feet of equipment space. They will also have personal trainers on hand, and are currently looking to hire four to six trainers as well as a full-time manager. Interested parties can email here.
 
They just started selling memberships last Friday and are currently running a special for the first 100 people who sign up, who will receive half-off their down payment and be charged only $32 per month. You must sign up for your membership in person 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Sign-ups are in the same building, 735 Griswold, one door north of the soon-to-be Anytime Fitness entrance. Also, if you successfully refer a friend, you will receive one month of membership for free. Membership to the downtown gym also includes 24/7 access to the 2,200 Anytime Fitness locations worldwide.
 
The space is currently under construction, but they plan on a Jan. 1 opening date – just in time for those New Year's resolutions.
 
Source: Mike Ferlito, The Ferlito Group
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Detroit Achievement Academy is a new kind of charter school in Grandmont Rosedale

Kyle Smitley, founder and executive director of the new Detroit Achievement Academy at 15000 Southfield in Grandmont-Rosedale, describes herself as "aggressively ADHD." At the age of 24 she was a full-time law school student in California while also running a multi-million-dollar organic children's clothing line. She was named among Inc. Magazine's "30 Under 30" in 2009. She has had dinner with President Obama. And now she's running a charter school in Detroit.
 
She recalls that dinner in D.C. surrounded by other rich young entrepreneurs where they all sat around talking about how they were going to make their next million. This triggered something inside her.
 
"(I remember thinking) if this is the best we (successful young entrepreneurs) have to give the country is f-ed," she says. (She speaks rather colorfully. And isn't afraid of being honest.) Her company gave some money to a charter school in Chicago and she had the opportunity to meet "all these wonderful, bright, charming kids." Looking at Detroit Public Schools, she says, "This is insane. You can do better for your kids." And this was the beginning of Detroit Achievement Academy.
 
Detroit Achievement Academy is a free public charter school that uses the rich cultural history of Detroit for project-based learning. Located inside an old church that had lost about half of its congregation in recent years, Smitley plans on staying in this location for about three years until they are able to secure government funding to build new.

"There are no buildings being occupied with room to lease that don’t need to be gutted and brought to code," she says, a sentiment increasingly being echoed by eager entrepreneurs and community leaders looking for space in Detroit. "Any school in a big, beautiful, abandoned building would need three-quarters of a million dollars sunk into gutting the building, putting in sprinklers, and bringing it up to code. That's just not in the budget for 40 kids. I've been watching other charters not open because they couldn't find a building."
 
She was fortunate to find the space in Grandmont-Rosedale. Detroit Achievement Academy has launched with four kindergarten and first grade-level classes and one arts class. Next year the Academy will have second grade for the students already enrolled and the Academy will continue to grow with its student population up to fifth grade.

"We're starting small and growing upwards," Smitley says. Referring to older students going through the DPS system, Smitley says, "These kids don't know how to be in school any other way. We can't snap our fingers into K through 5 and unbrainwash them."
 
Nearby schools in the surrounding neighborhoods are among the poorest performing in the state, with 50 kids in every classroom and violence in the parking lots. For Smitley, it was important to open by putting the kids first, regardless of how many were enrolled. She aimed to open with 100 kids but instead got 40. "…and it's been wonderful. I'm not an evil capitalist. (We're) not part of a management company with a bottom line where we have to have (a certain number of) kids."
 
She admits that it is a challenge to open a charter school in the city and convince parents to send their kids there, especially since some charter schools have reputations as poor as DPS. But for the parents who took a chance on Detroit Achievement Academy, Smitley says they are "thrilled." The Academy receives state funding and the school is free. To find out more about the school and enrollment, visit their website here.
 
Source: Kyle Smitley, founder and Executive Director of Detroit Achievement Academy
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Eastern Market is a prime example of urban placemaking according to MIT

A study conducted by the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) at MIT that was just released last week that explores the evolution of the urban planning and design of public places toward placemaking, evaluating high-profile placemaking projects throughout the country including Detroit's Eastern Market.
 
Researchers looked at the market before and after the public-private partnership of the Eastern Market Corporation was established in 2006 to handle the district's operations. Since then, monumental change has occurred in the historic market district, as noted in the report:
 
"Since EMC took over the market’s management, two major facilities have been revitalized for more than $8 million, and another $8 million worth of renovations are underway on a new plant and flower center, Community Commercial Kitchen (available for rent to food-related entrepreneurs), and a new public plaza. By 2016, more than $80 million will have been invested. Plans include a mixed-use shed, streetscape projects, a greenway, a parking facility, and alternative energy projects. Additionally the EMC has created far-reaching food-access programs, a series of food-business incubator programs, a new Tuesday market and 'after hours' markets, and is planning a Sunday market featuring artisanal merchants. Part of the stakeholders’ vision is to use the success of the market to revitalize the entire area while retaining its authenticity, grit, and productive industrial uses."
 
Researchers further delved into the types of products sold at the market and spoke with EMC President Dan Carmody about the future of the market as it continues to grow and expand, reaching wider and wider audiences and growing to international prominence for the very same efforts outlined in this report. As the market brings in more specialty food producers that appeal to a wealthier and/or trendier clientele, EMC leadership is constantly mindful of keeping the market a place that appeals to a broad audience; a place where, yes, people have access to those local artisan food producers that get featured in national lifestyle publications, but also a place where everyone in the community has access to fresh, healthy, affordable food. They want to ensure the market continues to have this hip appeal while still retaining its authenticity.

As stated in the report:
 
"Perhaps the greatest ongoing challenge is how to get the right balance between gentrification and revitalization. Dan Carmody says, 'EMC is actively avoiding becoming too "cool,"' and decisions have been made to clean up the market but not make it 'too pretty;' limit the number of specialty foods vendors; and make sure residential zoning is kept to the outskirts of the district.' With every weekly market and event, EMC works to rebuild Detroiters' faith in community, revitalize a struggling district, increase food access, bring suburbanites back to the city, and help bridge socioeconomic and racial divides."

Read the full paper here.

Source: MIT Urban Planning: Project Placemaking
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Kraemer Design Group wraps up work on M@dison Block, moves on to Woodward

Detroit-based Kraemer Design Group has completed historic designation consulting, architectural and interior design projects at two properties on the recently re-christened "M@dison Block" at 1520 and 1528 Woodward Avenue. Both buildings are owned by Bedrock Real Estate.
 
The two early-20th-century buildings were not previously part of a historic district. Previously owned by the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, when Bedrock took them over the state historic tax credit was still available so there was a "mad dash" to get these buildings designated as historic properties, which Kraemer assisted with.
 
According to Bob Kraemer, founder and Principal of KDG, both buildings were heavily renovated in the 1950s and 1960s and little of the original buildings' original exterior or interior design elements still remained. In their renovations, KDG restored the mid-century renovations.
 
1520 Woodward Avenue, the former Lane Bryant Building built in 1909, is now comprised mostly of office space with as-yet-unoccupied retail space on the first floor and basement. KDG worked with the fifth and sixth floor tenant Detroit Labs on interior design to create an open workspace that juxtaposes the old structural wood framing and exposed brick with new, finished interior design elements. There are no other tenants currently in the building.
 
1528 Woodward Avenue, a 45,146-square-foot, six-story building, was built in 1916. It now exudes a midcentury appeal from its renovation in 1960 when it became the headquarters for the United Foundation. The second floor contains conference room spaces and a lounge/event space, and KDG restored and updated its décor in a style that complements the remaining 60s-era components.

"It had a real modern look to it so we restored that," Kraemer says. "It has a real (mid-century) ad man feel to it." KDG created clean, bright, modern elements within each of the tenant spaces that allow future tenants flexibility in customizing their space. The office floors of the building are now fully occupied, with Sachse Construction in the top two floors, and Bizdom and a Bedrock co-working space on the third and fourth floors. Retail space is still available on the ground floor.
 
Kraemer says he is seeing increasingly more activity in Capitol Park as development along the Woodward Corridor slows in anticipation of M-1 Rail construction. The next big renovation project for KDG is the 1201-1217 Woodward block, once again for Bedrock.
 
Source: Bob Kraemer, founder and Principal of KDG
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Storey Commons pops up in Jefferson Chalmers as a result of cross community collaboration

The Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood saw some success with activating vacant storefronts earlier this year during their June on Jefferson pop-ups. Local developers Shelborne Development renovated several vacant buildings, then the Jefferson East Business Association (JEBA) in partnership with the American Institute of Architects Urban Priorities Committee activated them with several lifestyle pop-up concepts to attract people from outside the neighborhood to the area and also to serve the people in the neighborhood.
 
Now JEBA is introducing the Storey Commons, a new pop-up storefront in one of the previous pop-up locations that will serve as a community library of books.

"In my time here at JEBA, in speaking with folks from the community, I found people are really looking for the types of amenities that make their community more liveable," says Ritchie Harrison, Economic Development and Policy Director at JEBA. They want places like sit-down cafés and bookstores where they can connect with other members of the community.
 
Storey Commons is a place where people can bring a book or borrow a book. Made to look like a bookstore, the space was designed by architect Mike Styczynski and his team at Midwest Design, who had worked on the original pop-up spaces over the summer. Books were donated by a cohort of community residents in Jefferson-Chalmers and Grosse Pointe Park during the inaugural meeting of AlterGather, a new community organization gathering residents of the East Riverfront neighborhoods to have conversations about how the community divide can be bridged. The first-ever meeting was held at Coffee and (______), a coffeeshop and bakery located next to Storey Commons. Peter Ruffner, owner Detroit-based publishing company OmniGraphics, also provided substantial book donations.

"We got more books than I expected," Harrison says. "So many folks came out to give books that love the idea, the concept and what it could mean for community development."
 
On the other side of Storey Commons is another new pop-up, the Jeff Chalmers Pop-Up Gallery, curated by local artist Halima Cassells featuring artwork from area residents. Harrison says that the whole project is made possible by the generosity of Shelborne Development, which owns the properties and has allow JEBA to use the spaces for the pop-ups.  
 
These pop-up projects are a cross-community collaboration made successful only by the number of separate groups involved with and supporting them, from the developer to area economic development organizations to nearby residents.

"It's all about helping to rebuild the community," Harrison says. "My hope is that this encourages the possibilities in the neighborhood for the vacant commercial storefronts we have and encourages revitalization and the opportunity for someone to see this and want to bring this type of business to the community (permanently)."
 
There is no official end date for the Storey Commons pop-up, but the space is available for a permanent tenant.
 
Source: Ritchie Harrison, Economic Development and Policy Director at Jefferson East Business Association
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

Detroit City Distillery receives approval from the city, aims at spring 2014 opening

After a five-month-long process requiring two public hearings, Detroit City Distillery has been approved as a distillery by the City of Detroit.
 
Detroit City Distillery is a partnership between seven young professionals who are also long-time homebrewers and distillers. At the center of it is distiller J.P. Jerome, a Ph.D. in microbiology, and Michael Forsyth, manager of retail development for the DEGC and director of the REVOLVE Detroit program. The distillery will be in a 2,700 square foot space at 2462 Riopelle St. in Eastern Market, a former slaughterhouse.
 
"It has been a long time in the making," says Forsyth. "As the microbrewing industry took off our thinking evolved to getting into the craft distilling market, (and making) spirits in Detroit again."
 
The spirits industry was once second only to the auto industry in Detroit, but the industry dried up during Prohibition. Like the recently-opened Two James in Corktown, Detroit City Distillery will pay homage to the city's distilling history, as well as being inspired by their own personal history with Detroit.
 
"Everything aligns in the market for a distillery," Forsyth says "It is the center of distribution. Jerome's grandfather used to be a butcher in Eastern Market. The Market is all about local food in one place, and all the market's customers want better, fresher, locally-produced food. Those are our customers."
 
The partners behind Detroit City Distillery value working with local farmers and using all organic, locally-grown grains, and are even growing their own rye on Forsyth's family farm. They have already received federal approval and are still in the process of receiving approval from the state. Buildout of the space will begin in November and they are currently working on their packaging and labels. They plan on opening next spring. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for updates. 

Source: Michael Forsyth, co-owner of Detroit City Distillery
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Busted in Detroit opening in Park Shelton in time for holidays

After gaining a sizable following as a semifinalist in this year's Hatch Detroit competition, Busted in Detroit has officially announced that they will open in a permanent location inside the Park Shelton in time for the holidays.
 
Construction has already started on the 1,300 square foot space, formerly a hair salon, in the back of the building. Co-owner Lee Padgett, who owns the business along with her husband Patrick, says she is knee-deep in making her first orders and making sure they have a good variety of sizes, styles, and colors when they open. As we have previously reported in Model D, Busted will be a full service bra boutique providing bras in sizes from 30A to 56K, with cup sizes up to an N. Their bra selection will include categories of everyday, sports, nursing, fashion, strapless, bustier, bralets, and T-shirt bras. They will also have lingerie, bra accessories (dimmers), cleaners, panties, and smoothing foundations.
 
Even though they didn't win the Hatch competition, the exposure and support they received from it was enough to get them off the ground. Since then an investor has come on board and Padgett has also been talking with other independent undergarment storeowners across the country for advice and guidance.
 
Some of the specialty lingerie lines that Busted will carry include Curvy Couture, Goddess, Elomi, Fantasy, and Freya. Busted will open with more everyday items (and possibly some sexier items) and will expand their selection to include activewear, maternity items, and more down the line. These different designers all specialize in different kinds of lingerie for different body types, from full-figured women to those with tiny frames who need larger cups and other non-traditional sizes. Whatever Busted doesn't immediately stock can also be special-ordered.
 
Padgett says the Park Shelton management has been wonderful to work with. She also says fellow Park Shelton retail tenants the Peacock Room, Emerald, Goods, Fourteen East, and even CARE Chiropractic have been very supportive.
 
The store will have a play area for kids so they can be entertained while moms shop, and it will also display artwork on the walls from local artists – a bit of a throwback to Padgett's days as owner of Café de Troit downtown, which was known for showing works by local artists and making huge efforts to support the local arts scene. Slaw will be the first artist to show at the store.
 
Padgett hopes to have their grand opening in conjunction with Noel Night on Dec. 7.
 
Source: Lee Padgett, co-owner of Busted in Detroit
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Spielhaus Toys popping up as part of D:hive's PILOT program through the holidays

2013 Hatch Detroit semifinalist Spielhaus Toys will pop up as part of D:hive's PILOT program starting Tuesday, Oct. 22 through Dec. 24 in downtown Detroit.
 
As we have previously reported, PILOT tenants receive two months rent-free in the 375-square-foot space inside the D:hive space on Woodward. Kurt Spieles, owner of Spielhaus Toys, is confident that there is a market for retail stores aimed at children in Detroit and looks forward to proving it during this pop-up run.
 
The store will stock a variety of toys, games, and books for kids, and will also have a reading corner for storytimes and an area for coloring, crafts, and a place to play with the store's toys and games. It won't just be a store but a place for parents to bring their kids to play.
 
Spielhaus Toys focuses on unique, high-quality products. Spieles says they're looking for items made in the U.S., companies that are environmentally-friendly, and also local companies and designers. "We can't overlap with the big box stores because we can't compete," he says. They will also stock items from big manufacturers that focus on specialty independent stores.
 
They will stock wooden toys from the classic German toymaker HABA Toys as well as wooden toys from Treehopper in Illinois, a family-owned toy company that makes everything by hand in their woodworking shop. They'll also have board games and riding toys for toddlers, single-player logic games, unique stuffed animals and puppets, a wooden rocking horse, and a small selection of children's books. "We're trying to cover it all," he says.
 
Spielhaus Toys will be open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays until Dec. 24. Spieles hopes to open a permanent location soon after this but for now is focused on making the pop-up a success.
 
Source: Kurt Spieles, owner of Spielhaus Toys
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Late October Development News round-up

Dan Gilbert's Bedrock Real Estate Services has purchased another two downtown buildings, adding 84,000 square feet to the company's already swollen downtown commercial real estate portfolio. The new acquisitions are the eight-story 1505 Woodward, built in 1931 and designed by Albert Kahn, and the six-floor 1265 Griswold, built in 1897. According to a press release from Bedrock, this latest purchase brings Bedrock's portfolio up to nearly 8 million square feet of commercial and parking space over more than 40 properties in downtown Detroit. Rumors abound that Gilbert is also looking at the historic National Theatre on Monroe for a new residential development that will partially demolish the theatre. 

The Shanghai-based DDI group is the new owner of the 38-story David Stott Building at 1150 Griswold (purchased for $9.4 million and besting Dan Gilbert, the other bidder on the property) and the Albert Kahn-designed Free Press building at 321 W. Lafayette (purchased for $4.2 million). The group plans a $40-50 million redevelopment of the Free Press building and may add residential units to the Stott in the future

A press release from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation says that a $1 million Community Revitalization Program performance-based grant has been awarded to Harbortown Riverside, LLC and Harbortown Riverside Financing, Inc. to construct a 164,620-square-foot, five-story riverfront residential apartment building within the existing Harbortown complex on approximately 4.6 acres of land on the Detroit River. The residential apartment building will include 134 rental units, with a mix of one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments. All units will offer views of the river. The project is expected to cost nearly $20 million.

A press release from Midtown Inc. announced that a fund of $30 million designed to spur development along the Woodward Corridor is now accepting applications and will award loans in the amount of $500,000 to $5 million. This fund is backed by NCB Capital Impact and Kresge Foundation, among others. It will allow residential developers to take advantage of long-term, fixed-rate loans for mixed-income projects that feature a commercial component.

The NSO Bell Building celebrates completion of its $52 million renovation with a ribbon-cutting ceremony this Wednesday. 

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Greening of Detroit will plant over 1,525 trees this fall

The Greening of Detroit will plant more than 1,525 trees throughout the city before Thanksgiving. According to Greening, a healthy tree canopy should be about 40 percent. Detroit currently has a tree canopy of 22.5 percent. Greening will work in collaboration with neighborhood groups and corporate partners, including Quicken Loans, to help restore the tree canopy in Detroit neighborhoods during its fall 2013 tree planting schedule.
 
"We plant trees in the spring and fall, but we really like to highlight the fall planting season even though it's not the one people think about all the time because it gives the trees a chance to establish roots before the growing season," says Greening of Detroit President Rebecca Salminen Witt.
 
Trees add economic value to an area. Trees raise the home values of residential areas while in commercial districts people tend to shop more on a forested street. Greening also strategically plans their plantings to prevent stormwater runoff so Detroit's sewer systems aren't overwhelmed with sewage ending up in the Detroit River. Trees planted on the West Side means the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department can avoid replacing a $1.2 billion system.

"Using plant materials to suck up storm water really adds an economic value to the city," Witt says. "It also saves the city money in getting water out and also on water treatment. It will literally save the city billions of dollars."
 
The nonprofit uses about 40 different species of trees selected to be resistant to aggressive insect infestations and diseases like the ash bore and Dutch elm disease, both of which have had devastating effects on the tree canopy. They are using the Detroit Future City framework as a "playbook" to that to decide what projects to pursue in what areas in a given season.  
 
Every Saturday through November 16, The Greening of Detroit, with their own army of volunteers as well as volunteers from corporate and neighborhood partners, will plant hundreds of trees each week in different Detroit neighborhoods. Upcoming locations are as follows:
 
Oct. 19Pierson and Braile streets
Oct. 26Rouge Park
Nov. 2Southfield Plymouth E. streets
Nov. 9 – Southfield Plymouth W. streets
Nov. 9 – Ilene Express
Nov. 16 – Lafayette Boulevard
Nov. 16 – Patton Park                                      
 
They started in late September with 450 trees in Rouge Park, where they plan on planting a total of 1,600 trees over the next 18 months in partnership with U-Haul and The Conservation Fund.

Anyone interested in volunteering with the Greening of Detroit can sign up online here (click on "Get Involved") or call 313-237-8733. 
 
Source: Greening of Detroit President Rebecca Salminen Witt
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Focus: HOPE receives $50,000 grant for HOPE Village Initiative

Focus: HOPE has received a $50,000 grant from Bank of America to support a wide range of community revitalization efforts coordinated through the organization's HOPE Village Initiative.
 
HOPE Village is a community change initiative with the goal of having 100 percent of the residents educated, economically self-sufficient, and living in a safe and supportive environment by the year 2031.
 
Right now there are over 5,000 people living in the neighborhood where Focus: HOPE's campus is on Oakman Boulevard. Almost half are considered poor, two-thirds of the children are impoverished, and about half of the adults are not working.

"There's a lot of need," says Kathy Moran, communication manager for Focus: HOPE. "There are a lot of opportunities for helping people get a good education, get a good job and help rebuild the neighborhood."
 
The grant will support a number of programs Focus: HOPE has for planning in that direction, including the Job Seeker's Boot Camp, an employment and entrepreneurial training program, other on-campus employment training opportunities, training supporting pregnancy and childbirth, initiatives to combat blight and focus on safety, placemaking strategies, housing revitalization strategies, community connectedness and engagement, and more.
 
The neighborhood has recently shown some signs of life. The Neighborhood Service Organization took over the Bell Building (which they will officially celebrate with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Oct. 23), Lutheran Child and Family Services has an apartment for homeless families and youth aging out of foster care, and the Presbyterian Church has housing for very low income senior citizens. Focus: HOPE is working with community organizations, churches, and neighborhood residents to best address the needs of the neighborhood. They have also received support from United Way.
 
Source: Kathy Moran, communication manager for Focus: HOPE
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Urban Land Institute unveils recommendations to SDBA for 6.9-acre Vernor Square

Last week the Urban Land Institute (ULI) unveiled its formal recommendations for a city-owned 6.9-acre site on W. Vernor in the middle of the Vernor Commercial District currently overseen by the Southwest Detroit Business Association (SDBA).
 
Eight renowned ULI experts analyzed the vacant property, formerly the Detroit Public Works property at W. Vernor Highway and Livernois. They conducted over 60 interviews with local community and business leaders as well as Detroit city stakeholders and government officials, transit officials from organizations like SEMCOG, and economic development authorities in Detroit and neighboring Dearborn (which abuts the site) to shape their recommendations on what the greater community feels it needs.
 
Currently the old DPW property is the midway point between the east and west ends of the commercial district, in effect separating them instead of joining them. The plan that the ULI panel unveiled on Oct. 7 will act as a commercial district connector and a hub for business growth in Southwest Detroit. "It really does create quite a blighted influence in the neighborhood and in the commercial district," says Kathy Wendler, SBDA president. "We feel it’s a great opportunity to create an anchor and connect these commercial districts."
 
The panel proposed a project named "Vernor Square," built around a central plaza area that would include public gathering spaces, a variety of major retailers, and also space for artisan businesses that are very prominent in Southwest Detroit including ornamental ironworkers, potters, and ceramic mosaic makers.
 
"We absolutely want to start this process," Wendler says. "The panel tested the market so we know there is a demand on both fronts." Now the SDBA will focus on addressing the issues of site remediation and number-crunching to make it work.
 
"This is a great location smack dab in the middle of the neighborhood on the commercial corridor which gets huge traffic," Wendler says. The site also borders Livernois with easy access to both I-75 and I-94. "The location is critical to its success."
 
Though the city still owns the property, the SDBA has a hold on the site through October 2014 and hope that they will be able to leverage ULI's site proposal to work with the city on the redevelopment of the site, especially as the city determines how to dispose of surplus property such as this.
 
Source: Kathy Wendler, SBDA president
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Bravo Graphix now open on the Avenue of Fashion

Bravo Graphix has a brand-new state-of-the-art studio on the Avenue of Fashion.
 
The full-service multicultural advertising, creative marketing, design and print agency completely renovated the 1,700-square-foot space at 19434 Livernois Ave. with an open floor plan and bright colors to capture the vibe of the agency, and also added a photography studio for fashion and beauty clients.
 
The agency offers everything from postcard design and printing to billboards, offering everything it takes to start, grow, and maintain a business. Founded by Faren Young, Priest Price and Donald Hand, Bravo Graphix had been located on the upper West Side, at Huntington and 7 Mile Rd., since 2007. The decision was made to move to the Avenue of Fashion after hearing so much about the growth and revitalization of the area from customers. This location is also more centrally located for clients from all over the city and east and west suburbs.
 
With the move they were also able to add five new positions, hiring two designers, two photographers, and a secretary.
 
Source: Faren Young, Priest Price and Donald Hand, owners of Bravo Graphix
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Detroit Bus Co's Eight & Sand in Hamtramck will be an entertainment complex and business incubator

The Detroit Bus Company has officially made the move to Detroit after purchasing a 90,000-square-foot building at 3901 Christopher St. in Hamtramck that they are calling Eight & Sand, a term used in the 19th century to wish a steam locomotive conductors safe travels.
 
"The methodology around here, to borrow from Daniel Burnham, is make no small plans," says Andy Didorosi, founder and president of Detroit Bus Company. And 90,000 square feet of space certainly isn't small.
 
Eight & Sand will be used as a sort of business incubator meets entertainment complex. The industrial building was built in 1920 by the Gear Grinding Company and was turned over into a constant-velocity joints production facility in 1940. Cranes and other heavy machinery still remain from its days as a factory, and they're leaving it that way for the certain "ambiance" it gives to the place.
 
While there is still PLENTY of space to lease out, Eight & Sand already has several tenants. First is the Detroit Bus Company, which should go without saying. All DBC operations have been moved inside, including the vehicle fleet. "I always thought DBC needed to be in Detroit," Didorosi says. "Hamtramck is close enough! (It's) perfect; it's right in the middle of everything. We'll be successful here."  
 
He also says that the building, along with its five acres of parking, was affordable and they are able to provide affordable space to tenants because of it. "We can cut through the red tape when renting space to people because it's ours." He wants the Eight & Sand businesses to be able to "get things done and hire the sh*t out of people," instead of wasting time and money dealing with corporate bureaucracy. "Immediately available space is pretty finite. Here we are going to make it easy." He jokes that if you wanted to open an industrial-scale bike manufacturing facility, you could do it tomorrow.
 
Eight & Sand is perfect for small businesses looking for big spaces. Pot & Box, a semifinalist in the 2011 Hatch Detroit competition, will have a 4,000-square-foot event space inside (the Corktown retail storefront is still planned). Fowling Warehouse will be the anchor tenant, occupying 40,000 square feet in the center of the building complete with a full bar and concert stage (with hopes of drawing in some big-name talent). Fowling Warehouse is nearly doubling its space from its previous location at 17501 Van Dyke St. (which the business moved out of earlier this year) and will have 30 lanes of "fowling" – football plus bowling. 
 
Eight & Sand also houses a processing and storage space for Reclaim Detroit and is providing free space to Sit On It Detroit, a completely DIY effort to build and install benches for bus stops. Didorosi says they will provide free space for one tenant at a time that needs some help starting up. There is no limit on the amount of time the business can occupy the space. Didorosi says of Charles Molnar, founder of Sit On It Detroit, "Once he's big fish he'll move out (to somewhere bigger) and we'll give the space to someone else." Both of these tenants came with the building and are staying.
 
Eight & Sand will also have seven bays for food trucks to come and dock that come with power hookups, a wash bay, and an on-site commissary kitchen. Didorosi's long-term plan is to enable these trucks to vend indoors so they can continue running their businesses in the winter, which is a real challenge for mobile food vendors.
 
Space is still available for tenants with needs for large and slightly less large spaces. "We've got pretty specific requirements for the kind of businesses we want. We want to foster growth in terms of businesses that are going to grow the city."
 
Source: Andy Didorosi, founder and president of Detroit Bus Company
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Dine Drink Detroit celebrates Detroit's culinary culture while benefiting the Riverfront

Starting this Thursday, Oct. 10, a brand-new Detroit dining event launches and you don't need to make any reservations, any kind of special time commitment, or even adhere to any kind of special dress code. Detroit, it's time to start dining and drinking.
 
Dine Drink Detroit runs Oct. 10-16 and highlights some of Detroit's most unique casual dining restaurants. All of the 13 participating restaurants will offer some sort of food and drink combination for $15.
 
"The inspiration is that there are so many cool small businesses in Detroit," says Scott Rutterbush, operations developer for Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company and co-organizer of Dine Drink Detroit. "People are doing some really great stuff that we wanted to showcase and celebrate. These are places that maybe not everyone knows about."
 
Rutterbush and Kate Williams, Executive Chef of Rodin in Midtown and fellow co-organizer of Dine Drink Detroit, opted to focus on places that are independently owned and operated and are known as popular locals spots. They also looked specifically at places with a liquor license to showcase that component as well – places with really interesting wine lists, excellent craft cocktails, and extensive craft beer lists. The price point was intentionally kept low at $15 to encourage people to try more than one place. "People can do to multiple locations even in the same night, which people do anyway. it's really part of the everyday experience."
 
These October dates were chosen because there is a brief lull in events before the holidays come around and restaurants kick into high gear for their busy season.
 
They have partnered with Uber and Zipcar to offer discounts to Dine Drink Detroit participants. All net proceeds from Dine Drink Detroit will go to benefit the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. "(The Riverfront) is a common space a lot of people from Detroit go to experience, and we wanted to celebrate that as well," Rutterbush says. "It's really about celebrating and promoting the city."
 
Dine Drink Detroit will be held annually and there will always be some sort of charity component. The organization effort has been entirely grassroots and collaborative, with people volunteering their time for everything from web design to social media marketing. "It's a microcosm of how Detroit businesses have been operating. It's really collaborative and everyone supports each other. When there's a new place that opens everyone rallies around them asking, 'What can we do to help?' Dine Drink Detroit is an extension of that."
 
Restaurants have been encouraged to put forth their best efforts in their menu pairings. "We want people to really know they're going to go to these places and get their best for $15." Restaurants were also given a lot of latitude in what to offer; diners can potentially visit several of these restaurants multiple times during the seven days and get something different each time.  
 
Source: Scott Rutterbush and Kate Williams, co-organizers of Dine Drink Detroit
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Station Walls, a new mural project from Grand River Creative Corridor founder, covers 2000-foot wall

Derek Weaver, founder of the Grand River Creative Corridor public mural project, is behind a new street art project in Corktown.
 
Called "Station Walls," the project is located at the corner of Vernor and Newark behind Michigan Central Station on a 2,000-foot-long wall that local business owners claim hasn't been repainted in the past 30 years.
 
"We're taking the Grand River Creative Corridor concept and doing a project in Corktown behind the train station," says Weaver. Though he says that it will not be as elaborate at the GRCC, he jokes that "it will probably end up evolving into something more because it always does!"
 
27 local street artists donated their time to paint murals along the massive wall. The wall is owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, which granted Weaver and his team permission to paint the murals. Supplies for the murals were purchased with private donations. Local business Arrow Chemical Products, which has been in business since 1933, contributed some money and also commissioned the group to paint a mural on their building as well.
 
Participating muralists include well-known local artists FEL 3000ft, TEAD, and Sintex. The mix of murals ranges from fine art to straight graffiti, from professionals to "vandals." "We tried to incorporate everybody," Weaver says.
 
Source: Derek Weaver, founder of Grand River Creative Corridor
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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TechTown receives $800,000 federal grant to bring SWOT City to three new Detroit neighborhoods

TechTown's SWOT City has received an $800,000 federal grant to expand the economic development program into three new neighborhoods: Grandmont Rosedale, East Jefferson Corridor, and Osborn.
 
"When I read the email (last week) I had tears in my eyes," says Leslie Smith, President and CEO of TechTown. "What a huge boost of confidence and energy this has injected into TechTown!"
 
As we've previously reported, SWOT City places new businesses to fill community voids and promote entrepreneurship, connects neighborhood businesses with key resources and provides personal coaching and information sessions to address a business's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT).
 
The grant itself came from an unlikely source: the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for Community Economics. While there are many grant programs available to technology clusters and business incubators like TechTown, they are extremely competitive. This three-year grant comes from a different federal agency, one not focused on economic development so much as on poverty elimination.
 
Smith says that SWOT City's goals of economic development and community stabilization combined with its education programs is all part of poverty elimination and submitted a "provocative" proposal spinning it thus. TechTown applied for the grant late in the summer and was awarded it last Monday.
 
The grant will allow for a full-scale engagement in the three target neighborhoods. They will first start by creating a plan for the neighborhoods that combines all the elements of TechTown and its partners to stabilize the area's economy, then the next three years will be spent fully engaged in delivering the resources to make it happen.
 
This is the first federal grant that TechTown has ever received.
 
Source: Leslie Smith, President and CEO of TechTown
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Tour nationally-recognized historic renovations in Palmer Park this Saturday

Palmer Park continues to undergo major renovation work and receive national recognition thanks to the efforts of Shelborne Development and Malino Construction.
 
Model D has previously reported on the revitalization work being done in this neighborhood. Kathy Makino-Leipsitz, co-owner of Malino Construction and Shelborne Development along with her husband Mark Leipsitz, owns 13 buildings in the area. She is leading the development of the historic apartment buildings in Palmer Park that comprise one of the most uniquely varied and densely concentrated mixes of 20th century architecture styles in the state, spanning more than four decades of Art Deco.
 
Last month Shelborne Development was honored during the Novogradac Journal of Tax Credits conference with the "2013 Historic Tax Credit Development that Best Demonstrates Financial Innovation" award for Palmer Park Square, a $35 million affordable housing development. Makino-Leipsitz, in conjunction with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), City of Detroit and Great Lakes Capital Fund, assembled a complex financial package from seven different funding sources to rehabilitate six historically significant, blighted/vacant apartment buildings in Palmer Park that were added to the National Register of Historic Places.
 
Shelborne just completed the renovation work on the Seville Apartments at 750 Whitmore. Previously 40 efficiency units, the interior was gutted to reconfigure the space into 16 larger units. The grand two-story lobby was also restored. They are also currently renovating the Palmer Lodge, the first building built in Palmer Park in 1925. Work is ongoing, but the grand lobby is complete. "The whole building is the symbol of revitalization in the area," says Sarah James, board chair of the People for Palmer Park, a nonprofit organization that focuses on the revitalization of the nearly 300-acre park.
 
Every year the People for Palmer Park hosts an architectural tour of the historic buildings in the area, showcasing the nationally-significant apartment district as well as the park. She says the park and the apartment buildings next to it have a symbiotic relationship, and the health of one directly affects the other. The nonprofit started this tour three years ago to showcase the apartment district as well as the park. This year's tours will be held on Saturday, October 5 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
 
This is the third annual architectural tour and they have been hugely popular, attracting 200 people the first year, 400 the second year, and an expected 600 this year. Because of the significant amount of housing stock in the area, this year's tour will focus on different buildings than last year's. This year's tour includes the newly-completed Seville Apartments, the lobby of the Palmer Lodge, and the Sarasota Apartments at 325 Merton, which were completed by Shelborne in the last year. The tour will also take guests through a 3,000-square-foot unit inside the Albert Kahn-designed apartment building Walbri Court at 1001 Covington, renovated and converted to condos in 2006. The park and its 1800s log cabin will be open for visitors to explore before or after their tours.
 
People for Palmer Park will also offer free Segway tours of the park trails to anyone with a tour ticket, and there will be music, classic cars, and FoodLab vendors.
 
Tours are $15 in advance and $20 at the door with tours leaving every 15 minutes from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
 
Source: Sarah James, board chair of the People for Palmer Park
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Zipcar increased Detroit fleet to 40 cars, will open permanent office

After a successful pilot run downtown, Zipcar has expanded its car-sharing services to include New Center, Woodbridge, and more locations downtown in addition to significantly increasing the available fleet.
 
Zipcar launched in Detroit through a partnership with Wayne State in 2011. Then, just this August, they worked with Rock Ventures to make two additional cars available downtown for a pilot run downtown, bringing them up to 10 cars total.
 
With their latest expansion, just made official last week, Zipcar has added 30 more cars to the available fleet, bringing the total up to 40 in the city of Detroit. It also added multiple Zipcar locations in New Center, Midtown, Woodbridge, and several more downtown and in Greektown. See all of the available cars, rental rates, and locations here.
 
With this expansion in the Detroit market, Zipcar will also establish a permanent office in the city. Once a permanent location is secured, three full-time employees – a market manager, fleet manager, and member services manager – will work out of the office, and additional positions will likely become available for brand ambassadors and other roles as the company continues to grow in this market. Detroit is the 25th market globally where Zipcar will have a full-time office presence (this includes all of its offices in the U.S., Canada, Spain, Austria, and the U.K. combined).
 
Zipcar's Detroit presence is sponsored by Ford Motor Company. The majority of the cars in the Detroit fleet are from Ford, thanks to a relationship formed in 2011 when Ford became Zipcar's largest university partner.
 
The new cars and locations are already online and available to rent.
 
Source: Jennifer Matthews, Public Relations Specialist with Zipcar
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Chickpea in the D now serving fresh, healthy lunches downtown

Downtown workers and residents who often find themselves frustrated at the lack of healthy food options in the city have another place to go for lunch.
 
Chickpea in the D officially opened for business Sept. 10 at 2 John R, the tiny 60-square-foot space that was previously a hot dog stand and before that, the very same place where Good Girls Go to Paris Crepes got its successful start.
 
Chickpea in the D offers fresh, healthy food at a reasonable price. Its theme is hummus, and they offer four different kinds of hummus made fresh in-house daily. Flavors include the standard original, extra garlic and green olive, plus the "hummus of the day" and "hummus of the week." Recent special flavors included banana bread, roasted portabella, buffalo, and pickle. It offers a variety of dippers with the hummus, like pita bread, tortilla chips, pretzel rods and veggies.
 
In addition to hummus they also serve healthful smoothies made with ingredients like carrot, kale, agave nectar, whey protein and flaxseed. They also have a small selection of sandwiches including a sandwich of the week and items like chicken salad and Mediterranean "nachos" (made with hummus and feta). Everything is house-made with ingredients purchased from local markets daily. All items are $5 and under, and they offer a lunch combo for $7. "This is a place you can go to get something that's healthy and tasty that's not going to break your wallet," says co-owner David Ayyash.
 
Chickpea in the D is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. It is carryout only. Soon they will also offer catering.
 
Source: Chickpea in the D co-owner David Ayyash
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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ROSSETTI all moved into Federal Reserve building, overseeing all renovations

ROSSETTI – the architecture firm behind the Quicken renovation of "The Qube," the Greektown Casino Hotel, the Wayne State University Welcome Center, and numerous other high-profile projects throughout the state and country – has officially moved its headquarters into a new office downtown.
 
As the first non-Bedrock tenant of the Rock Ventures-owned historic Federal Reserve Building at 160 W. Fort Street, ROSSETTI is handling all of the renovation work currently being done to the 176,000-square-foot building, which has sat empty since 2004. They have completely cleared out of their Southfield office and have moved all 60 employees into their 13,000-square-foot space on the fourth floor of the building, which is nearly completed.
 
"It made a lot of sense for us to be downtown," says Denise Drach, Director of Business Development and Marketing for ROSSETTI. "We are doing masterplanning (for Detroit, including) streetscapes and concepts for retail…we are intimately involved in the design of the urban environment so it made sense for us to be in it. We didn't want to do just an office in the city; we wanted to make the entire commitment."
 
Bedrock currently has offices in the basement of the building. Once renovation work is complete, the first floor will have retail and the remaining floors will be leased as office space. According to Drach, these spaces will be "relatively unfitted," left to the new tenants to personalize. 
 
All renovation work on the 1927 building (with a Minoru Yamasaki glass and marble annex added in 1951) is being done under the guidelines of the Detroit Historic District Commission. Changes to the exterior so far have been relatively unobtrusive: they have replaced the windows, removed the bulletproof airlock in the front, and also removed a large overhang not original to the building.
 
Inside they completely gutted the fourth floor to make it more in keeping with contemporary office space sensibilities. "Offices of the past had a different work approach than what we're working in now," Drach says. "Particularly for architecture, design doesn't happen as individuals. It's really a team effort, so to be in a team environment is critical." Their floorplan is basically a big open loft-style room with lots of lounge areas. "Having a 'third place' is becoming a big trend in offices, so we have a lot of little spaces with living room furniture."
 
The space looks like a studio loft with 14-foot-high ceiling and windows across three walls. The fourth floor also has a 2,700-square-foot patio deck that looks out at the Penobscot Building and all the way to the Detroit River.
 
In addition to finishing their fourth floor offices, which will also be the new home of Lawrence Technological University's  experimental design lab detroitSHOP (which will take 3,000 square feet), ROSSETTI has been focused on finishing the lobby, adding planters to the exterior, and cleaning up the first floor and mezzanine.
 
ROSSETTI is celebrating the move with an open house on Oct. 2 from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m.
 
Source: Denise Drach, Director of Business Development and Marketing for ROSSETTI
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Grand Circus all moved into the Broderick, starting classes this week

Grand Circus, the start-up that offers tech training, events, and co-working space for up to 49 entrepreneurs, has now officially moved into its new home inside the Broderick Tower.
 
Previously housed inside the Madison Building during what Grand Circus CEO and co-founder Damien Rocchi refers to as an "incubation" period, the Broderick is the company's permanent home with three floors of activity located on the lower levels of the building.
 
The 15,000-square-foot space includes one level of classrooms that opens into an event space, a second level of only classrooms, and a third level that is a co-working space. The three floors of the facility feature floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook Comerica Park, Grand Circus Park, and the Fox Theatre.
 
Grand Circus was able to manage the development and design of the space themselves, working with Neumann/Smith Architecture (the firm behind the design of the Madison) and Patrick Thompson Design, which has received a lot of buzz for the design of the DIA's new Cultural Living Room. Green Garage tenant Chad Dickinson – Detroit-based builder, developer and designer – made all the furniture. "We wanted to have a lot of Detroit influence in the space," says Rocchi.
 
Grand Circus's classes are held in three main formats: in-depth classes that mirror the format of a three-credit course over a college semester, workshops held over a few days, and seminars that last a few hours. Most classes will have 20-30 students. The first workshop starts on Sept. 25 and everything else starts in October. The community space is already being used for events.
 
Grand Circus's partners include Detroit Labs, Detroit Venture Partners, Downtown Detroit Partnership, Invest Detroit, Opportunity Detroit, Venture for America, and Automation Alley. Automation Alley will also be opening its fourth office (its first in Wayne County) inside the Madison in the space vacated by Grand Circus. 

Source: Grand Circus CEO and co-founder Damien Rocchi
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Detroit Vegan Soul celebrates grand opening in West Village this Saturday

2012 Hatch Detroit finalists Detroit Vegan Soul will celebrate a grand opening in its new space in West Village at 8029 Agnes St. this Saturday, Sept. 28.
 
After starting out with a vegan meal delivery and catering service, Kirtsen Ussery and Erika Boyd realized that there is a real demand for homemade vegan comfort food in Detroit. Both vegan themselves, they started veganizing their family recipes and found that people really loved it.

"We were inspired by other vegan soul food restaurants, particularly in Chicago," says Ussery. "We saw that there weren't enough vegan options in Detroit. We wanted to do something that appealed to both vegans and vegetarians but also people who aren't."
 
Their niche is vegan soul food – comfort food for a plant-based lifestyle. Vegan Soul is the only 100 percent plant-based restaurant in the city of Detroit. "The meal delivery allowed us to see how people would respond to that," Ussery says. "It's one thing to have a couple of dishes on your menu but another for it to be the whole menu. We got a great response and saw Detroiters are ready for this."
 
After decades of being on every "fattest cities" and "unhealthiest cities" list, Detroiters are making proactive decisions to lead healthier lifestyles. We see this in the fast-growing cycling culture. We see this in the local foods and urban agriculture movement. And now we're seeing it with a growing number of people adopting more organic and plant-based diets. "We think now is the time," says Ussery. "More and more people are embracing this. They want healthier options. We always say there's a burgeoning vegan movement here in Detroit, just like Chicago. At one time (Chicago) was a meat and potatoes industrial city just like Detroit. Now you go there and there are many different kinds of all-vegan restaurants. Now we're kind of at the forefront (of it) here in Detroit."   
 
Co-owner Boyd says, "(D.V.S. is) both unapologetically vegan AND unapologetically soul food. We do soul food but veganize it. We see our food as being a good transition food into a plant-based diet, introduced in a way that is familiar and comfortable."
 
They pride themselves on being a place that appeals to vegans, vegetarians, and those who eat meat alike, where people know they are eating quality food made from quality ingredients – no refined flours or sugars, no GMO products, and as much organic and locally-sourced as possible. This is a place where vegans can come for comfort food and where meat-eaters can come and discover that a vegan diet, even just a couple of days a week, is totally possible.
 
The 25-seat dining room will be open Wednesdays through Saturdays 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. They still offer catering and the café will be available for private events Mondays and Tuesdays.
 
Source: Kirsten Ussery and Erika Boyd, owners of Detroit Vegan Soul
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Bamboo Detroit co-working space on Brush Street open for entrepreneurs and monthly events

With an ever-growing influx of small one- and two-person businesses, freelance and contract workers, and satellite office workers, there is an ever-growing demand for small offices and co-working spaces. Bamboo Detroit, which opened in July, has been building its roster of small businesses and freelancers looking for a space to set up shop in a community environment that isn't a coffeehouse.
 
Bamboo Detroit, at 1442 Brush Street, is a co-working space for entrepreneurs, freelancers, and small teams, providing office space and conference rooms for people to work efficiently. "Entrepreneurial team and tech (startups) are growing in Detroit and people need places to work," says Bamboo Detroit co-founder Dave Anderson, who is also the co-founder of the health app Health-Crunch. "Coffee shops aren't always conducive (to work); also for some people (permanent office space) just isn't working out or is too expensive." At Bamboo Detroit entrepreneurs and freelancers are able to work among like-minded people and share resources to create a community – and get outside of coffee houses.
 
Co-founded by Anderson, Mike Ferlito of Ferlito Construction, and Brian Davis, co-founder of mobile app Friendect, Bamboo is already becoming a creative entrepreneurial hub, hosting the Detroit branch of the monthly 50 Founders event series inspired by Chris Dixon's Founders Stories series in TechCrunch. Previous events have featured Brian Wong, creator of Kiip, and Kevin Krease and Garret Koehler, founders of Action Sports Detroit, the team behind the X Games Detroit Bid and the new annual event Assemble Detroit.
 
The building, owned by Ferlito's family for the last 14 years, had been empty for the last 10. Once the three founders had the idea, it only took them about two months to get up and running. The building has previously housed a German print shop and later and architecture firm.
 
Bamboo Detroit already has 17 companies signed up, which includes a good mix of software and web development companies, bloggers, app developers and social entrepreneurs including Health Detroit, Michipreneur, Hell Yeah Detroit, and Detroit's latest media darling Super Business Girl (featured on NBC). 

Monthly memberships start at $99 and include office desks, conference rooms, space for community events, Wi-Fi, mail services, and 24/7 access to the building. Anderson says it is "set up like a gym membership" and people come and go as they please. "What I'm hearing a lot from members now is that it feels like a strong community and family," Anderson says. "People love being there." Learn more and apply here.
 
Source: Bamboo Detroit co-founder Dave Anderson
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Land, Inc. launches "Green T" project, converting vacant lots to biofuel production on East Side

Over the next two years, Detroit's first green thoroughfare will take shape along the Mack Avenue corridor between Conner Avenue and Chalmers.
 
The "Green T" development project overseen by Land, Inc. will convert this corridor into a green byway in an attempt to repurpose vacant commercial land as part of the Lower Eastside Action Plan in accordance with the Detroit Future City adaptive reuse vision for blighted, vacant properties.

Green T is meant to accommodate all forms of traffic – bus, bike, car, and pedestrian – while also providing the community with more aesthetic green spaces that produce alternative forms of energy while also reducing the burden on city services.
 
Currently there are about 80 publicly-owned lots (of 111 total) along the corridor. The Green T plan includes razing vacant structures and planting fields of pennycress on the unused lots, which will then be converted into biofuel. The pennycress was selected as the ideal crop for the area because it is very low-growing, has the highest yield per acre, the highest turnover into fuel from the oil, is non-invasive, isn't appealing to animals as a food source, and also remediates the soul – a very important factor in order to get this land prepared for future redevelopment. Right now this land can't be used for food crops (or other potential developments like children's playgrounds or even other commercial development) because there is some contamination. The pennycress will take care of that, and revenue from biofuel production will also go towards maintenance and further corridor improvements.
 
Metro Ag, a global agency with an office in Detroit, will partner with Land, Inc. on the biofuel production. Land, Inc. has received $50,000 from Bank of America as well as several in-kind donations to develop the first phase of the project in a one-block area of Mack between Lakeview and Coplin. Construction on this demonstration block is already underway.
 
The total cost for the full project is estimated at $2 million. The 350-acre project will take about two years to complete. The full plan includes the demolition of 15 abandoned and unsafe buildings, way-finding signage to direct visitors to vibrant shopping areas located to the east and west, public art, a complete streets treatment, innovative green infrastructure installations like bioswales and infiltration basins for storm water runoff, and alternative energy created through the cultivation of pennycress.

Land, Inc. Executive Director Jacqueline Bejma hopes one day to be able to power the nine remaining businesses located on this corridor with biofuel produced by the pennycress. "There's so much opportunity here that will benefit the whole area. It's fun. It's exciting," she says.
 
Source: Land, Inc. Executive Director Jacqueline Bejma
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Link Detroit celebrates groundbreaking of five-phase cycling and greenway infrastructure project

The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, in partnership with the US Department of Transportation, State of Michigan, City of Detroit Department of Public Works, DEGC, Eastern Market Corporation, Midtown, Inc., and the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, will celebrate the groundbreaking of the five-phase Link Detroit greenway infrastructure project next Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 6 p.m. in Eastern Market's Lot 1 (adjacent to Shed 2).
 
"This goes back a few years," says Tom Woiwode, director of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan's GreenWays Initiative. He says that when the Dequindre Cut opened in 2009, it was always intended to run further north than where it currently ends at Gratiot. When the first portion of the Midtown Loop opened in 2010, it was intended to go further south and connect to Eastern Market. Link Detroit is the fulfillment of those intentions.
 
The full $25 million scope of this project is fully-funded, thanks in large part to a $10 million TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant in addition to support from the Community Foundation and other partners (see above).
 
There are five phases to this project, and most are able to operate on independent construction schedules simultaneously. Though the "ground-breaking" celebration is next Tuesday, the event is mostly ceremonial. Woiwode says they hope to already have bulldozers at work by then.
 
The five phases include extending the Dequindre Cut north from Gratiot to Mack, rebuilding five bridges over the Dequindre Cut's extension (with funding from the Critical Bridge Fund), extending the trail system and providing some infrastructure improvements and amenities in Eastern Market along Wilkins and Russell St., connecting Wilkins to the Midtown Loop which will be extended south along John R, and the construction of bike lanes and greenways along Dequindre Rd. north of Mack connecting the Dequindre Cut to Hamtramck. Ultimately Link Detroit will connect Midtown and Wayne State to Eastern Market to the Dequindre Cut to both Hamtramck and the Detroit River.
 
They hope to have construction of all five phases completed by this time next year.
 
Source: Tom Woiwode, director of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan's GreenWays Initiative
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Two James Spirits, Detroit's first licensed distillery in nearly 100 years, now distributing

After months of excited buzz, Two James Spirits in Corktown is now open for business.
 
Mostly.
 
The production facility and tasting room, at 2445 Michigan Avenue, has been under renovation since last July. Earlier this month, Two James started distributing its 28 Island Vodka, named for the 28 islands on the Detroit River that were used as hideouts by bootleggers during Prohibition, to bars, restaurants, and liquor stores in metro Detroit and Ann Arbor. Soon their Old Cockney Gin and Grass Widow bourbon will also be available, and they have more bourbons and whiskeys currently aging in barrels for future release.
 
Two James is the first licensed distillery in Detroit since before Prohibition. Partners Peter Bailey, David Landrum, and Andrew Mohr are part of the growing craft distilling movement that is taking off all over the country, in many ways ushered in by the growth of the craft beer industry as well as craft cocktail culture. The brand, named after Bailey's and Landrum's fathers (both named James), pays homage to Detroit's distilling heritage with products like the 28 Island Vodka and the Grass Widow, a brand of whiskey made in Detroit before Prohibition which they are now resurrecting.
 
The stylish tasting room features a massive solid concrete circular bar, reclaimed wood, and custom metalwork. During its "soft opening," the Two James tasting room is open limited evening hours Thursdays through Saturdays with a small list of cocktails that will eventually be expanded. Customers can also buy Two James products directly from the tasting room. Pricing is as follows:
 
28 Island Vodka: $31.99
Grass Widow: $44.99
Old Cockney Gin: $33.99
 
They plan on a production of 2,500-5,000 cases in their first year and will expand from there. Distribution will start in Michigan then expand out into the Midwest and East Coast. Two James products can be found in Detroit at Slows, Roast, and the Sugar House. They will celebrate a grand opening in the next month. 
 
Source: Andrew Mohr, partner in Two James Spirits
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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U-Haul Moving and Storage of New Center now open, celebrating with VIP ribbon-cutting & public tours

After over a year of renovation work, U-Haul Moving and Storage of New Center, in the 250,000 square foot building at 899 West Baltimore Street built by Nabisco Biscuit Company in 1920, is now open for business.
 
The extensive renovation work is far from complete. The building, which includes six floors plus a basement, is only being partially occupied by U-Haul.

"We just built out two floors of storage," says Stuart Shoen, executive vice president of U-Haul International. "We still have a lot to build out. We're not sure what the demand will be for storage at this New Center site. We see all kinds of residential and economic activity (in the area); we have no idea if (this) will explode or trickle."
 
The building is a full-service U-Haul site, offering everything from rental trucks and trailers to hitch installation, U-Box moving pods, self-storage, and a host of moving and organization supplies and services. All operations are up and running. There are 430 climate-controlled self-storage units for rent, ranging in size from 5x5 to 10x20 with 24/7 access.
 
Regarding the future of the building, Shoen says that right now they are in "wait and see" mode.

"The space is so big there might one day be a demand for that whole thing to be storage, but right now we want to use the building however the community wants it. We don't know if that will mean mixed use or community space, we even talked about doing movie screenings. But we haven't had people in the building (until now). Now those conversations can finally start."
 
Other options in discussions include a loft development and incubator space to serve as a TechTown center or temporary office space. U-Haul representatives have been in discussions with Sue Mosey regarding use of the extra space. "We want to utilize the building," Shoen says. "It doesn't do us any good to just have two and half floors open. We don't want to just sit on it." He says that they company wants to be an active part of the community and also wants to be good neighbors.
 
U-Haul is celebrating the grand opening of this New Center building with a special VIP red carpet ribbon-cutting ceremony this Thursday. Community tours will be offered to the public 6-8 p.m. after the ribbon-cutting. 
 
Source: Stuart Shoen, executive vice president of U-Haul International
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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The Dissertation, an artists' collaborative and micro art-based business, heads to ArtPrize

Catherine Watson and Sabra Morman are the team behind "The Dissertation." It's difficult to define what exactly the Dissertation is – even when it was explained to you by one of the founders. But here goes.
 
The Dissertation is a blog. It is an arts portfolio. It is an online store. It is an art project that can be found this year at ArtPrize in Grand Rapids (Sept. 18-Oct. 6). It was even going to be a brick and mortar teashop, but Watson and Morman ultimately decided against it.

"We wanted to have a physical space to connect with like-minded others and we started studying holistic lifestyles and tea," says Watson. "But we're holding off on that because we're not really sure how financially stable it would be."
 
Ultimately the Dissertation is potentially a DIY arts career in the making. "Initially we just wanted a creative expression outlet to figure out what we want to do," says Watson, who previously worked at an ad agency. "It morphed together and we pursued everything. We use it as a teaching tool for ourselves…and to figure out different ways to bring in different streams of revenue. We really want to make a living doing this." 
 
To clarify, "this" is art and the Dissertation is an artists' portfolio. "We started off by creating a portfolio of artwork. We wanted to use that to shed light and highlight the struggles of our generation. The goal was to use the blog as motivation, a tool for positive growth capturing the entrepreneurial spirit of the city."
 
At ArtPrize, the Dissertation has a mixed-media installation piece on display. (You can vote for the Dissertation here starting Sept. 18.) After ArtPrize, their focus is on how to turn their portfolio into a profitable business. They are already working with fashion designers to put their designs on T-shirts to sell in stores, in addition to selling art prints through their Etsy site.
 
Both Watson and Morman still work part time jobs as they continue to define and grow the Dissertation, but their DIY efforts at transforming a hobby and personal passion into a portfolio and profitable business by starting on a micro level, as opposed to rushing into a big brick-and-mortar investment, is an interesting cultural experiment if nothing else. Can it work? It's probably too soon to tell, but if it's going to work anywhere, it will be in Detroit.

Source: Catherine Watson, co-founder of the Dissertation
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Development news round-up

The $300 renovation of COBO Center continues to spur on major investment nearby in hospitality and tourism development. A historic firehouse located across from COBO, built in 1929, has been sold for $1.25 million to local developer Walter Cohen, owner of 21 Century Holdings LLC, who plans to turn the property into a 75-80-room boutique hotel. The total estimated cost of this project is $23 million. 

Meanwhile, established hotels are upping their game to meet increased demand as well as increased competition in the marketplace. The Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center plans a $30 million renovation to begin early 2014 that will impact all of the hotel's 1,329 guest rooms and 100,000 square feet of meeting space. 

Developers behind the Tushiyah United Hebrew School, located at 600 and 609 E. Kirby St. in Midtown, have received a $1 million state loan to renovate the historic building into 25 market-rate lofts with gated parking. The project, operating under the name 609 E. Kirby Lofts LLC., has also received a 12-year Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act abatement from the city valued at about $300,000. The completed project will cost about $6.6 million. 

VernDale Products Inc. also received a grant from the Michigan Business Development Program, this one worth $436,000, to open a second facility for their dried milk powder manufacturing. The company will renovate a long-vacant building at 18940 Weaver St. on Detroit's west side. VernDale is also receiving a 12-year plant rehabilitation tax abatement from the city worth about $3.3 million. This expansion will cost about $16 million and create 13 new jobs. 

The former Crain's Detroit Business buildings at 1400 and 1432 Woodbridge St. and 1370 Franklin St. near Chene Park have been sold to ME Enterprise LLC, a Birmingham-based partnership between T.J. Elia and Clint Mansour, who plan on spending about $3 million to renovate and re-lease the office buildings. 

In un-development news, though certainly significant given the city's overwhelming number of vacant, blighted buildings, the city of Detroit has received $52.2 million out of $100 million in newly allocated federal funds to tear down blighted structures.

Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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(revolver), a new table d'hôte restaurant, will open during the first-ever Hamtramck Food Week

Hamtramck has long been known for its diversity of ethnic culinary offerings, but new concepts opening this fall promise to elevate this neighborhood to a new level of gastronomic savviness. First there is 2012 Hatch Detroit finalist Rock City Eatery, a new American restaurant serving locally-sourced items made from scratch with a Anthony Bourdain-like culinary sensibility (think: offal, and items like bone marrow fritters). It will be open this fall, pending final inspections. 
 
But one concept you haven't heard much about yet, as the partners haven't said much about it yet, is the new (revolver) in Hamtramck.
 
(revolver) is located at 9737 Joseph Campau, in the space that was previously going to be Ootie's, then Acme Food Company. Neither of those concepts ever came to fruition. (revolver) is a partnership between Tunde Wey and Peter Dalinowski, self-taught chefs with a passion for food and community.
 
(revolver) is their take on a table d’hote restaurant, a concept with origins dating back to the 1600s when countryside inns would serve large family-style meals to their guests. The hosts would decide what to prepare and all guests would be invited to the table. "Our concept is similar," says Wey. "We are inviting people to our 'table,' so to speak, and offering them a chance to eat delicious food sourced locally, and fresh, prepared by people who LOVE and are experts at what they do." To further embrace this concept, all seating is communal.
 
They are working with five chef partners, a mix of self-taught and professionally-trained chefs – Jessika Rae Warren, Oliver Honderd, Brad Greenhill, Alla Dihes and the team of Thom Ingram and Nate Bankowski – on an ever-evolving multi-course prix fixe menu. The set menu will always be changing to encompass a variety of culinary styles, and will include offerings for vegetarians. (revolver) will offer two seatings nightly by reservation only. Reservations are prepaid and available through the website.
 
(revolver) will open for the first-ever Hamtramck Food Week, happening Sept. 23-28. (Read more about Hamtramck Food Week here.) After that they will be open for dinner Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays initially, with seatings at 6:15 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. They will start with 35 available spots per seating and gradually work their way up to their 60-person capacity.
 
Source: Tunde Wey, partner in (revolver)
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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TechTown's Retail Boot Camp running a second session with expanded incentives

After a successful first run in May, TechTown has decided to offer a second Retail Boot Camp this year, its intensive 10-week entrepreneurial training program designed with the intent of launching sustainable businesses.
 
"There's been such an outcry for additional classes," says Leslie Smith, TechTown President and CEO. "Our partners all have this pipeline of potential companies. We have also sweetened the pot so applications are a bit more competitive to encourage the best of the best."

TechTown will set incentivized milestones throughout the program and the last session will be a showcase where each participant will pitch their business to a panel of judges. First place will win $5,000 cash and a free pop-up space sponsored by REVOLVE Detroit over the holidays. "(The winner) will have this beautiful opportunity to pop up immediately and test the market." There are also cash prizes for second and third place.
 
Applications close on Sept. 11. They have space for 15 entrepreneurs but might expand this to 18-20, depending on the response and quality of applicants.
 
TechTown has also developed an aftercare program. "A lot of programs after the conclusion of the class leave the entrepreneurs out in the wilderness on their own," Smith says. "We bring them together and help them create a formal network. We have found this has been one of the differentiators of this program; our aftercare is more focused on launch."
 
Previous Retail Boot Camp graduates are "in actual stages of launch towards being an entrepreneur, which is the goal – not just having a theoretical conversation." Smith estimates 70 percent of the spring session participants will launch by the end of this year.
 
This session will occur Monday nights 6-9 p.m. from Sept. 23 to Nov. 11. Program fee upon acceptance is $499.

Source: Leslie Smith, TechTown President and CEO
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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OpenCo city-wide "open house" fosters collaboration and engagement outside of the stuffy ballroom

This Wednesday and Thursday, join OpenCo as it highlights over 60 local businesses – ranging from coffeehouses to art galleries to tech startups – for a city-wide "open house" to foster collaborative professional relationships and community engagement.
 
OpenCo launched in San Francisco and has events in New York, London, and now Detroit.

"The inspiration behind it is that the current model that's in place (is) people go to an auditorium or ballroom and afterwards (feel) like, 'That was fun but what did I get out of it?'" says Liz Boone, co-owner of Midtown design shop Nora and vice president of Federated Media Publishing. "The goal here is the deeper level of learning and engagement that comes out of it. Another level of it is the collaboration piece – the Silicon Valley values of working together, collaborating, changing the environment and being in a space where work happens. The value goes beyond just another conference."
 
Boone says the lineup of participants is curated very carefully. "The first conference in San Francisco was very tech-centric. When it went to New York and London is followed a similar track of representing these companies living these values of collaboration and innovation with a triple-bottom-line focus."
 
The companies highlighted embody these sort of "new economy" values, those that focus as much on profits as they do on giving back. "The goals with the Detroit OpenCo team is to have people take greater pride in what is going on in the city so they see a viable option of living and working here – basically, 'Look at all these young enthusiastic entrepreneurs who decided to make this their home.'"
 
Another value to OpenCo is introducing area entrepreneurs to each other, connecting people who might not have known about each other but who can find creative ways to work together. Ultimately, it's about building relationships.
 
Being only the fourth city to hold an OpenCo event puts Detroit in the same ranks as some of the world's largest cities and economic centers. John Battelle, founder of OpenCo and CEO of Federated Media Publishing, visited Detroit last year. He had lunch with Toby Barlow, took a tour of city, and was very impressed overall. "We started throwing out some facts: 'Detroit has the largest trading border in the United States, with $500 million in business crossing the Ambassador Bridge every day. We have the largest number of engineers per capita than any other city in America.' It was so surprising to him."  Boone says from there, going from San Francisco to New York to London, Detroit was simply a natural progression. 

For a full lineup of participants and coordinating events, check out the website

Source: Liz Boone, co-owner of Nora and Vice President of Federated Media Publishing
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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REVOLVE Detroit's Art + Retail on the Ave winners announced

Arguably the largest single transformation project of any neighborhood in the city of Detroit, REVOLVE Detroit's Art + Retail on the Ave – a program designed to revitalize Detroit's once-prominent Avenue of Fashion shopping district (located along Livernois between McNichols and 8 Mile) – has announced all of the winners of permanent and pop-up retail spaces, as well as art installations and programming, after issuing a call for entries in June.
 
They received nearly 100 proposals and worked with members of the community and other community organizations to make their final selections. The retail stores and art projects will make their debut on Friday, Sept. 20, when the Avenue of Fashion hosts the Detroit Design Festival, and will include four new permanent retailers, eight pop-up retail concepts, nine art projects, and nine additional programming and events concepts.
 
"We're really trying to return the Avenue of Fashion back to its prominence," says Michael Forsyth, REVOLVE Program Manager at the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation. "This is one of the city's great business and cultural districts, and there's a lot of great businesses to build on here." Forsyth explains that the goal is really to fill in the gaps between all of the great businesses that already exist here – like Baker's Keyboard Lounge, Simply Casual, Jo's Gallery, and 1917 American Bistro – and work collaboratively with these existing businesses as well as existing community organizations, institutions for higher education, and residents in the surrounding communities of Palmer Woods, the University District, Green Acres, and Sherwood Forest.
 
"This is huge," Forsyth says, "This is crazy in the best possible way. In terms of REVOLVE, Livernois has always been a high priority of ours. It has the greatest potential purely from an economic standpoint; there are amazing neighborhoods surrounding this district with some of the most beautiful homes in America…whether (we're) talking about community leadership, active residents who want to be engaged, (or) existing businesses, it's a natural progression to want to be here."
 
Art + Retail on the Ave is part of a much larger investment portfolio taking place on Livernois, which includes $1.7 million in beautification and streetscape upgrades in addition to other programs like the Living for the City initiative, a partnership between the Detroit Lions and Hatch Detroit that is currently focused on the Avenue which will improve façades and signage and activate vacant storefronts.
 
To see the full list of what's coming to the Ave, click here.
 
Source: Michael Forsyth, REVOLVE Program Manager at the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Coffee, gelato and sweet shop Melt next up in Midtown

Of the many (and there are indeed many) new restaurants and retailers opening in Midtown this year, it appears that Melt is going to be the next one to open.
 
Melt is a coffee, gelato, and sweet shop located at 4150 Cass (at Willis). Owner Aaron Haithcock has wanted to open a candy shop since he was a kid, but decided to diversify his concept to include coffee and gelato to support a steadier clientele base, a model he saw work while employed at a candy store in Chicago that also sold cakes and ice cream.
 
Haithcock has been developing the concept for Melt since 2010. What felt like a three-year setback – due to the recession, Haithcock struggled to find a space and secure funding – now seems like serendipity. Midtown is thriving, and the Cass Corridor is quickly becoming one of the most densely developed retail corridors in the city. The owners of this long-vacant building, previously a party store, began renovations in 2008 but had to stop for a few years due to financing issues. With the help of Sue Mosey and Midtown, Inc., they are now able to complete the renovations. The building is split into three retail storefronts – the other two are still available for rent. Haithcock finally found an available storefront suited to his needs, and it seems like the delay may actually have been a recipe for long-term success (so to speak).
 
The menu at Melt will include signature coffee and gelato drinks using different fruits, syrups, and candies, and customers can also create their own milkshake-like dessert drinks. There will also be a full espresso bar for traditional coffee beverages like cappuccinos and lattes. Melt will carry all Illy brand Italian coffee and espresso. The gelato will come from Palazzolo's in Fennville, Michigan. Melt will also sell candies from popular local brands like Alinosi Chocolates and classic candies like Swedish Fish and gummy bears.
 
There is limited room for seating inside with a couple of additional seats on the patio. Haithcock hopes to have a full patio next year. He aims to be open by the end of August.
 
Source: Aaron Haithcock, owner of Melt
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Five Dollars a Day crowdfunding campaign launches today for Ford Highland Park Plant buildings

Today, Aug. 20, the Woodward Avenue Action Association (WA3) is officially launching its "Five Dollars a Day" crowdfunding campaign to raise the $125,000 needed to purchase two Albert Kahn-designed buildings in the historic Ford Highland Park Plant complex in Highland Park.
 
WA3 has secured the majority of the $550,000 needed to purchase the two buildings, including a $400,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation, another $15,000 grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corp., and $10,000 from the WA3’s reserves. They need to raise the outstanding $125,000 by Oct. 1 in order to purchase the buildings.
 
The two intended buildings are the Woodward-facing Administration Building and the adjacent 8,000-square-foot executive garage. WA3's plan is to turn these historic structures, located on the site where Henry Ford's moving assembly line was born 100 years ago on Oct. 7, 1913, into an international automotive welcome center and visitor attraction.
 
The "Five Dollars a Day" campaign pays tribute to the wages that workers were paid at this plant - $5 a day, double the standard industrial wage at the time and enough for workers to afford to purchase the products they made. These higher wages launched the middle class.
 
Donations in denominations of $10, $25, $50, $100, and $500 will receive special automotive-themed gifts from WA3. Each dollar donated will be matched with $4 by the State of Michigan (up to $400,000). To donate, click here.
 
Source: Lori Ella Miller, WA3 Marketing Manager
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Corktown will soon have another spot for breakfast, lunch and brunch at La Villa

Corktown will have another new breakfast, brunch, and lunch spot opening, and this one is right next to Mudgie's Deli.
 
La Villa is a new concept by sisters Sarrah Willoughby and Rai Jackson. Opening later this fall, La Villa will offer an alternative twist on breakfast and lunch fare.
 
While Corktown is not without its casual breakfast and lunch spots – like Mudgie's, Brooklyn Street Local, Le Petit Zinc, Astro Coffee, and the soon-to-open Detroit Institute of Bagels and Rubbed – La Villa will target more of the specialty breakfast crowd: think more along the lines of popular suburban spots like Toast in Ferndale or Mae's in Pleasant Ridge.
 
The sisters have been cooking and entertaining together all their lives and have often heard compliments on their cooking end with, "You should open a restaurant." Now they are putting the final touches on their own space at 1411 Brooklyn, which will include dine-in seating for about 35 people, a separate 30-person café-style seating area for those just getting coffee and hanging out, and an additional outdoor patio.
 
While the menu will include both breakfast and lunch items, their specialties include items like Strawberry Cream Rose Pancakes and Paradise French Toast made with coconut milk and pineapple.
 
Renovation work is almost complete and they are finalizing the last necessary details they need in order to open. They hope to be open by late October.
 
Source: Sarrah Willoughby, co-owner of La Villa
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Palmer Park's new splash park is now open

Palmer Park has a brand-new splash park thanks to the Lear Corporation.
 
Lear has made a commitment to make improvements to various city parks. Alicia Minter, Director of the City of Detroit Parks and Recreation Department, recommended Palmer Park as a good site for a splash park because it is an active "adopted" park (managed by the nonprofit group People for Palmer Park). This is the second splash park Lear has built in a Detroit park.
 
The splash park is on the site of the former pool. It is motion-activated and will be on from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the summer (hours will change based on the weather). The structure is made entirely of rubber and because it is all water jets there is no accumulation of water and thus no risk of anyone drowning. Because it is motion-activated, it doesn't require constant staff oversight like a pool would. The city will also build a playscape right next to the splash park, making this a great recreation area for kids. (If all goes to plan, construction on the playscape will start this fall.)
 
The splash park required a new pump station, which is being turned into a community art project with a mural painted by area kids. Lear also wants to work on the pool house to restore it as a community center.
 
People for Palmer Park plan to have a grand opening for the new splash park on Sunday, Aug. 18, 2-5 p.m..
 
Source: Rochelle Lento, attorney, representative for People for Palmer Park
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Live Coal Gallery in Woodbridge getting renovations, reopening in September

The Live Coal Gallery has been open in Woodbridge since April, but the owner has been steadily making improvements to the two-story duplex on Trumbull as she prepares for a new exhibit opening in September.
 
The first floor of the two-family house at 5029 Trumbull is the home of the gallery and museum. There is a gift shop in the front and a small permanent collection along with rotating exhibits. Yvette Rock, owner and curator of Live Coal Gallery, says 99 percent of the work shown is by local artists. The gallery also tries to show emerging artists on the scene. Its last exhibit on Modern Impressionists featured works by well-respected Detroit artist and professor Gilda Snowden.
 
Rock has not received any grants or funding to build her museum or its collection. "I've had to make a lot of sacrifices," she says. "I'm an artist and I love art. As an artist I want to support other artists." As a visual mixed media artist, Rock has always worked with youth, running art workshops at schools and nonprofits, and has a vision of eventually having a huge collection of artwork created by Detroit high school students.
 
Though the museum itself has never received funding, Rock received a grant from the city to do some exterior work to the house this spring. As part of the city's lead abatement program, this grant enabled her to replace the windows and build a new deck. The grant was not for the gallery itself but for the owners of the home, but any improvements done to the home also helps the business. "We would love to have a commercial space but we don't have the capital backup. I'm glad we can start at this level."
 
The gallery is currently closed through August as Rock does more "priming and scraping" to get the space ready for a new three-person photography show opening Sept. 6, featuring the work of Detroit photographers Stanley Larry, Rashaun Rucker, and Mohan Karulkar. The public reception opens at 6 p.m.
 
Source: Yvette Rock, owner of Live Coal Gallery
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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The "Z" development parking garage will be a unique art and retail experience downtown

The so-called "Z" development in downtown Detroit, is starting to take shape, so to speak.
 
The five-story, 535,000-square-foot Z-shaped parking garage that zig-zags across a block of downtown Detroit adjacent to Greektown is on track to be completed by the end of December, and as part of this parking structure's construction plan – which will add 1,300 parking spaces to downtown Detroit – the 33,000 square feet of space on the street level will all be for retail.
 
"We have a general philosophy when building a parking deck," says Dan Mullen, Vice President of Development for Bedrock Real Estate, which is developing the property (all part of Dan Gilbert's master plan for downtown). "It has to have ground floor retail. It's really important to us to activate the area."
 
As the development progresses we will see more and more differentiation between the storefronts. Each retailer that signs on – and a few already have, though Mullen and the Bedrock et.al. team are tight-lipped regarding which – is able to develop their own storefront according to their own vision, whether they want to use reclaimed wood or metal or a different color scheme. "It really looks like we're going to have a great contrast of storefronts," Mullen says." The 33,000 square feet of space is not being partitioned off into pre-set spaces, allowing retailers to commit to only as much square footage as they need. Each storefront will have its own street entrance as well as an entrance from the garage.
 
The garage is also an attraction in itself. Bedrock, working closely with downtown Detroit art gallery Library Street Collective, plans on making the garage "exciting" and "dynamic," providing people with a unique experience from the second they pull their cars into the garage. The walls will be decorated with graffiti art from artists from around the country. They are currently working on their "art plan" for the interior of the parking deck, deciding which artists they'll be working with and so on. "If it's a parking deck we can still make it interesting," Mullen says. "We want this to be a unique experience you can't get anywhere else. We want people literally saying, 'You have to go downtown just to park in this garage.'"
 
They will also make improvements to the alley behind the building with ample lighting and stamped or colored concrete, "activating" this space as well.
 
The "Z" garage will be ready for its first cars before the new year, while retail tenants will start opening starting next spring. This project is led by Neumann/Smith Architecture, which oversees most of Bedrock's developments.
 
Source: Dan Mullen, Vice President of Development for Bedrock Real Estate
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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PNC Bank invests in LEED-certified new construction and community education in Detroit

One of the new tenants that will be opening as part of the Gateway Marketplace development at 8 Mile Rd. and Woodward is a free-standing PNC Bank branch.
 
PNC has made a name for itself as an extremely eco-conscious company, leading the industry in green building practices and spearheading city-wide transformative green initiatives in cities like Pittsburgh. The company has over 200 LEED-certified buildings in 16 different states as well as Washington D.C. and London. It has received 136 certifications for new construction, more than any other company in the world.
 
Each of the new buildings is constructed to LEED certification standards. "This is automatic," says PNC Bank Retail Market Executive Mike Bickers. "All new buildings will get that certification."
 
A new branch at 7 Mile Rd. and Evergreen in Detroit, an interior renovation (as opposed to new construction), was recently awarded a LEED certification, and the new building at Gateway Marketplace, the first full-service stand-alone PNC Bank branch in Detroit, will be as well once it is finished.
 
PNC is looking to increase its presence in Detroit in the coming years, and expect the new Gateway Marketplace to be a big stepping stone for the company in its effort to reach out to the Detroit community. At the 7 Mile location, they invite churches and nonprofit groups to come in and educate customers on their finances and how to stay out of trouble – everything from credit repair to avoiding and addressing identity theft to investment and money management. "Principally we want folks, whether they have a dime or a dollar, to learn how to manage their money better," Bickers says. "We're not interested in pushing people into getting credit. We need to get everyone into financial well-being and we will do that in every office."
 
The new Eight Mile location will offer the same kind of financial education and support. It will have three drive-through lanes, the full host of personal and corporate banking services and customer care offered by PNC, and all the most up-to-date technology, "the latest and greatest of what we do."
 
The Gateway Marketplace PNC won't open until next spring. In the meantime the bank is focused on doing all the pre-opening groundwork: reaching out to community organizations and churches to follow the same educational model it set forth at 7 Mile and Evergreen, and reaching out to other businesses in the Marketplace and surrounding community. "We can't do this without the cooperation of the businesses around us."
 
Source: Mike Bickers, Retail Market Executive for PNC Bank
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Hatch Detroit to announce 10 semifinalists for 2013 this Thursday

This Thursday Hatch Detroit will announce 10 semifinalists for 2013. Now in its third year, Hatch Detroit has grown from a $50,000 small business contest to a full-blown small business incubator.
 
Since it first launched in 2011, Hatch has completed two full rounds of contests in which the winner receives $50,000 cash as well as a host of free business services including legal, accounting, marketing and advertising, and IT support from Hatch and its partners.
 
2011 winner Hugh opened inside the Auburn building in Midtown last fall. 2012 winner La Feria is putting on the finishing touches and will open this fall. But the top prize winners aren’t the only winners of Hatch. Several semifinalists from the last two years are in the process of opening their own storefronts, in many ways assisted by the tremendous publicity they received from being Hatch participants.
 
Past participants include:

 
Alley Wine (2011) – received re-zoning approval needed for alley space in Midtown, now working on other licensing and still fully committed to opening (owners hope for a 2014 opening)
 
Anthology Coffee (2011) – now roasting and serving coffee while working on their permanent space inside Ponyride in Corktown.
 
Detroit Gypsy Kitchen (2011) – functioning as an occasional pop-up.
 
Detroit Institute of Bagels (2011) – working on permanent space in Corktown to open later this year.
 
Detroit River Sports (2012) – working as a monthly kayak rental pop-up on Belle Isle, still working with city to open full-time.
 
Detroit Vegan Soul (2012) – working on permanent space in West Village to open later this year.
 
Pot & Box (2011) – working on permanent space in Corktown to open later this year.
 
Rock City Eatery (2012) – working on permanent space in Hamtramck to open in September.
 
Tashmoo Biergarten (2012) – functioning as an occasional pop-up.
 
Hatch Detroit Executive Director Vittoria Katanski says that they are looking to expand the portion of their program in which they assist and promote previous semifinalists. With help from a grant from Strategic Staffing Solutions, they will be developing the pocket park that will be a key feature of Detroit Institute of Bagels, one of the first semifinalists from previous contests to open.
 
Hatch is also partnered with the Detroit Lions on their Living for the City initiative, which focuses on building up the retail presence in some of Detroit's other (read: non-Midtown, Corktown and downtown) neighborhoods. They are working together with local community development corporations (CDCs) to determine what the needs of these neighborhoods are – improving signage, facades, activating empty storefronts – and how best to address them. Their current neighborhood of focus is the Avenue of Fashion, which was recently awarded $1.7 million in beautification and streetscape upgrade investments and is also a major focus of the DEGC.
 
Kattanski says, "The whole neighborhood initiative is to help existing businesses and perk up their spaces," adding that a lot of emphasis is placed on bringing in new businesses but not as much attention is paid to those that have been working and serving Detroit's neighborhoods all along. "These are great businesses on the Avenue of Fashion and this will help improve the retail experience for their customers."
 
While the top 10 haven't yet been announced, Kattanski says that the number of quality applicants this year was much higher than before, estimating about 90 percent of the applications received were quality proposals with solid, well-thought-out ideas.
 
Source: Vittoria Kattanski, Hatch Detroit Executive Director
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Zipcar car-sharing now available to all downtown residents

The world's largest car-sharing service is now available in downtown Detroit.
 
Zipcar, founded in Massachusetts in 2000, is now available for use for all of the estimated 6,000 downtown Detroit residents thanks to Rock Ventures.
 
Matthew Roling, Director of Business Development for Rock Ventures, was turned on to the concept after seeing Wayne State University's own Zipcar program (available to students, faculty and staff). "Anything we can do to make downtown more desirable for young people to live, work, and play is something we're focused on," Roling says. He adds that there are a lot of different ways to encourage transit development in the city, and allowing people the opportunity to go carless by still giving them access to cars as needed is an important step.
 
Zipcar has issued two cars for this pilot downtown program. The cars are located inside the Bedrock-owned garage at 1001 Woodward across from Compuware. To utilize this car-sharing program, create an account on zipcar.com and wait for your Zipcard to arrive in the mail. The card is loaded with all of your information; this is how you will be able to access your reservation. Make a reservation online (availability is first-come, first-serve; while cars may be available on demand, in order to ensure availability it is recommended you reserve in advance), then at your reservation time you just walk up to the car you reserved and swipe your Zipcard. Et voila.
 
Reservations cost between $8 and $10 per hour, depending on the car. More cars may become available in the future depending on how much demand this pilot program creates.
 
While Rock Ventures/Quicken Loans team members are being offered incentives to use this program and go carless, this Zipcar program is available to ALL downtown residents.
 
Source: Matthew Roling, Director of Business Development for Rock Ventures
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Vanguard CDC works with Life Remodeled and others on large-scale beautification in North End

Vanguard Community Development Corporation has wrapped up a large-scale beautification project in Detroit's North End neighborhood in partnership with nonprofits Life Remodeled, ARISE Detroit!, Central Detroit Christian; corporate partners GM, Quicken Loans, Ford; and others.
 
Life Remodeled is a faith-based organization that brings in members from churches from all over metro Detroit to do large-scale beautification projects in different neighborhoods throughout the city, like an extreme home makeover but all curb appeal.
 
They did a clean-up in the North End last year, but this year's was much more aggressive. Working in conjunction with Vanguard, whose offices are located in the North End, as well as the nearby Central Detroit Christian church, they targeted 48 blocks for beautification over seven days. "They are making a really big impact in a short amount of time in a relatively large area," says Jennifer Ruud, Communications and Outreach Coordinator of Vanguard CDC.
 
Life Remodeled worked with Vanguard to identify which homes and streets in the North End needed to be focused on. "They wanted to make sure what they were doing would support and build on programs we're planning on launching in the next year," says Ruud. Vanguard conducted land surveys to determine which homes were vacant and needed to be boarded up or slated for demolition, and other finer details of the streets in the neighborhood.
 
Volunteers built one house, boarded up 250 houses, beautified about 48 blocks, and did small scale remodels on 24 houses. About 5,000 volunteers came out over seven days offering assistance, even skilled labor. Life Remodeled has received corporate support, support from community fundraising, and in-kind donations of labor and materials to help them achieve their goals.
 
In the next few months, Vanguard CDC will be launching Restore North End, which will make money available to residents on specific streets in the North End to invest in different curb appeal improvements, from new roofs and siding to repaired porches. "This will help (us) stabilize (a neighborhood) that is doing pretty good but needs a little boost," Ruud says. She remarks that this program has been in the works for awhile, and thanks to the massive beautification efforts spearheaded by Life Remodeled, "Now we can go in and focus more on that."
 
Source: Jennifer Ruud, Communications and Outreach Coordinator of Vanguard CDC
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Rubbed European-style sandwich shop to open in Corktown later this year

Corktown will soon have a new sandwich shop, but don't expect it to be anything like Mudgie's Deli.
 
Partners Jason Frenkel and Abbey Markell have worked in the restaurant industry together for the past 10 years and have been planning their own concept for the past four. Frenkel spent a few years traveling for work, then decided to move back from San Francisco this past February to work on Rubbed restaurant and deli with Markell.
 
The name "Rubbed" refers to cured meats, specifically how meats are cured with a dry salt rub. They will focus on more European styles of "deli" meats – less the corned beef Detroiters are accustomed to associating with delis, and more long-cured Italian meats like capicola and mortadella. They have a vintage prosciutto slicer and will put a large emphasis on charcuterie, also serving charcuterie platters to go.
 
Though the focus will be on cured meats, they will also feature vegetarian items and weekly specials based on what is in season and available at local farmers markets. "We want to have something for everyone," Frenkel says, which will also include over a dozen house-made pickled products (based on what's in season) at any given time, as well as items from other Detroit producers. Frenkel and Markell are also in the beginning stages of applying for a license to serve alcohol, though they are not sure yet if it will be a full liquor license or a limited tavern license that would only allow them to serve beer and wine (like Mudgie's).
 
They will be open for both lunch and dinner, serving sandwiches and salads for the more grab-and-go lunch crowd then transitioning more into shareable small plates and fresh entrée features for the evening crowd. They will be able to seat about 25 inside, but they also have a large outdoor patio which they are hoping to expand. Once open, they plan to host events like movie screenings and group bike rides.
 
Build-out of the 1,000-square-foot building at 2015 Michigan Avenue, located next to the new MotorCity Wine, will start this month. In keeping with its theme, the design will have the feel of a European cafe. Frenkel and Markell are launching a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign to help them offset some of the build-out costs (follow them on Facebook to see when the campaign is announced). They hope to be open as early as mid-October.
 
Source: Jason Frenkel and Abbey Markell, owners of Rubbed
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Detroit Disc Golf now open for free year-round play on Belle Isle

Detroit now has its own disc golf course, located on the old golf course on Belle Isle. So, how exactly did Detroit Disc Golf come to be? "It all started on a gloomy night in a gloomy bar…" says co-founder Chris Haag. He and his friends used to live in the suburbs where they had five disc golf courses within minutes of their homes. When they moved to Detroit, there wasn't a single course within 45 minutes.
 
After that one fateful night at the bar in 2011, Haag and his friends decided they were going to build a disc golf course in Detroit. After deciding a citywide course wasn't practical they thought, why not Belle Isle? They started working with Detroit's Parks & Recreation Department and within a couple of months hosted their first disc golf tournament on Belle Isle. About 150 people came to play and another 100 came to watch. "I've had people say to me it was the most spectated and received the most media attention of any disc golf tournament they've seen," says Haag.
 
Haag – along with Andrew Frazier, who owns Up in the Air Disc Golf in Waterford; Nick Oliver, who owns Commotion Designs and handles all of their graphics and print materials; as well as dozens of others who rallied around them and volunteered their time to make it happen – stayed in touch with park management through that winter and spring. Finally Belle Isle management suggested they use the old golf course – 32 acres of land with a ticket booth, covered bridge, a lake, and a small river. So Haag and the core team of Detroit Disc Golf organizers and over a hundred volunteers hosted the second annual Battle at the Belle in 2012 with food and beverage sponsors, live bands, even a puppet show. Around 400 people came out for the two-day tournament, and people even camped on the island.
 
The course they used for the tournament was a temporary one. Detroit Disc Golf received official approval from Belle Isle to build their course in the park just this spring. As soon as that happened, the Michigan Disc Golf Organization donated three baskets, and just a few days later a private donor gave them 16 more – a value of around $8,000 in donated equipment. "In a snap of the fingers we had all the equipment we needed to build the course," Haag says. They spent two months on the layout and design, and just last week completed the installation.
 
Detroit Disc Golf is now open and is currently offering free play year-round (except for leagues and tournaments). As maintaining the course is not without its expenses (like $1,200 every time they need to cut the grass, which is a minimum of twice per month), they are talking about organizing as a nonprofit and are currently running a fundraising campaign through Detroit's own Patronicity at Detroitdiscgolf.org.
 
Haag described this as his "feel-good hobby to be involved with the city;" the guys aren't in it for profit. Their ultimate goal is to bring the Professional Disc Golf Association World Championships to Detroit in a few years. "This is a bottom-up project; if people didn't want it, it wouldn't be there."
 
Source: Chris Haag, co-founder of Detroit Disc Golf
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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D MET adds a new facade and continues renovations at 4130 Cass, home of La Feria

In the emerging Cass Corridor Design District shaping up at the corner of Cass Avenue and Canfield, 2012 Hatch Detroit contest winner La Feria has been hard at work renovating their space and getting ready to open. But just last week some exterior improvements were done that have made the tapas restaurant's progress much more visible.
 
The building at 4130 Cass is a lot more than just the new home of La Feria. Owned by local artist Adnan Charara, the whole building is undergoing a remodeling. Charara's studio is located in the back of the building, where he also plans on opening a community gallery. The front of the building is sectioned off into two retail spaces about 1,000 square feet each – one is La Feria; the other he is still seeking a tenant to inhabit (this is some prime real estate and once people realize it's available, it won't last long).
 
D MET Design is the architecture and design studio that has been commissioned to do the buildout of La Feria as well as the façade for the whole building. Elizabeth Skrisson, LEED AP and co-owner of D MET along with her husband Joel Schmidt, Architect Principal, says that the La Feria renovation is moving along and is currently being framed and drywalled.
 
"La Feria" is actually an outdoor street festival held every spring in Seville, Spain. In its design for the space, D MET wanted to capture some of that exuberance – the lights, the food, the colors, the dancing. The idea behind the design is to make the interior look like an exterior: the walls are exposed brick, the ceiling painted a bright red and shaped to take on the feel of one of the outdoor tents where food is served during the festival. It is a mix of old and new: the original brick, wooden ceiling joists and terrazzo floor will remain while a new bar, kitchen, and tiles hand-made by chef and co-owner Pilar Baron Hildago will be added. Festival lights and naturally-derived colors will also be used, and during the summer the large storefront window will open with a bench seat that will connect the indoors to the outdoor patio.
 
Concurrently with the La Feria buildout, D MET has also been working on the façade for 4130 Cass. The historic building was built in the 1800s and the exterior was in disrepair when Charara purchased the building. D MET wanted to take an approach that protected the historic structure using modern materials, something that could attach to it without destroying it, so they used cement fiber board panels in "playful geometric" patterns that complement Charara's own artistic style while also reinterpreting the bay windows and cornices of neighboring buildings. Skrisson says they "wanted to get a lot of texture and play" from the panels, and the materials used are also relatively inexpensive, allowing them to stay within the budget of the façade improvement grant Charara received from Midtown Detroit Inc.
 
"This is another strong piece of the puzzle along Cass," Skrisson says, "not only occupied and lively but also a design-forward piece too. (We wanted it to) be something to push design-forward thinking in the neighborhood."
 
And so the Cass Corridor Design District has another showpiece.
 
D MET is the architecture and design firm behind Great Lakes Coffee in Midtown, Rodin in the Park Shelton, and the recent Canine to Five exterior renovation. Their next project is a new façade for the Hub of Detroit.
 
Source: Elizabeth Skrisson, co-owner of D MET Design
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Quicken Loans partners with Zagster on downtown bike-sharing program

Rock Ventures/Quicken Loans employees have a new way to cruise around town. Quicken has partnered with Zagster, a Massachusetts-based bike sharing company, to bring bike sharing to downtown Detroit. Zagster has a Detroit connection in Fontinalis Partners, Bill Ford's venture capital company that is one of the startup's investors.
 
The good news: there is now a bike sharing program in downtown Detroit. The bad news: it's only available to employees of the Quicken family of companies – all 9,200 of them.
 
However, if this program performs well with employees, Quicken is using it to vet a larger program that would extend into other parts of the city in collaboration with other entities.
 
About a year ago Wayne State University started investigating a city bike sharing system for the greater downtown area, hiring a consultant and initiating the public dialogue. Quicken was equally interested, but after finding out the significant investment of time and money required to build such a system from the ground up, they decided to partner with Zagster. "We wanted to get it up and running fast," says David Carroll, self-titled "Vice President of Miscellaneous Stuff" with Rock Ventures/Quicken Loans. "It was already April and we had 1,000 paid interns coming down here this year. We wanted to get something running, get some excitement for it, see people on the street, and also for the long term see if a citywide program makes sense" – particularly as we get into the winter months.
 
Zagster already has the bikes and racks, as well as the technology to monitor and report on usage – who is using the bikes, for how long, at what times of day, how far are they going, and so on. "This is consistent with our culture of using technology and adapting quickly," Carroll says.
 
Quicken owns 30 buildings downtown and is able to locate all bikes and racks on its own property. They have signed a two-year agreement with Zagster with a 90-day option out. Since the program was rolled out last week, already 1,000 Quicken family employees have signed up.
 
Source: David Carroll, Rock Ventures/Quicken Loans
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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CityLoft and the Detroit Shoppe come back for a fourth installment of the popular pop-ups

The Somerset Collection's CityLoft and the Detroit Shoppe are back again for round four on Woodward in downtown Detroit.
 
Somerset is bringing nearly 40 retailers from its Troy collection of luxury and lifestyle brands to 1261 Woodward, along with the popular Detroit Shoppe at 1201 Woodward, which sells items from some of Detroit's most iconic brands and donates all of the proceeds to Detroit charities. Between the permanent Troy location and previous iterations of the downtown pop-up, the Detroit Shoppe has supported over 100 Detroit charities.
 
New to this season's CityLoft pop-up are 7 For All Mankind, a California-based premium denim line, and L.K. Bennett, a London-based brand known to be one of Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton's favorites. Both stores just opened inside the Somerset Collection in the last several months.
 
The CityLoft and Detroit Shoppe summer pop-ups have expanded the hours from previous iterations, open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. until August 24. The pop-ups will rejoin Moosejaw, another brand that began as a pop-up that was so successful they decided to make their downtown location permanent.
 
"This is part of the partnership with Bedrock Real Estate and Quicken Loans to help bring retail back to the Woodward corridor," says Peter Van Dyke of Berg Muirhead and Associates, representing CityLoft. "This is a great way for retailers to test the market in Detroit."
 
CityLoft and the Detroit Shoppe reopened last Friday, and some luxury retailers have reported stronger sales over the weekend than in the permanent Somerset Collection stores.

Head over there every Thursday during lunchtime for coney dogs, Better Made potato chips, and Faygo soda for $5. Every dollar goes towards Summer in the City and the Boll Family YMCA
 
Source: Peter Van Dyke, Berg Muirhead and Associates
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Pie-Sci to open own pizzeria next to Woodbridge Pub

You may have already heard that Jim Geary, owner of Woodbridge Pub, is a pretty nice guy. One of the things he has done to help build the Woodbridge community is open the kitchen doors of his pub on Sundays to a couple of guys who are really into pie -- pizza pie, that is.
 
Jeremy Damaske and AJ Manoulian are the team behind Pie-Sci, the Sunday night pizza residency that has been going strong for two and a half years now (to call it a "pop-up" still after all this time would be disingenuous).
 
Damaske has had a passion for pizza since his teens. His first job was at a pizza place, which is where he learned to cook. Pie-Sci is his fourth job in the pizza industry. He has traveled all over the country playing music and eating pizza, which is how he developed a taste for crazy toppings -- grabbing BLT and chicken Caesar slices in New York; chowing down gumbo pizza in New Orleans.
 
Manoulian, an engineer by day and a vegan all the time, came on board to help Damaske realize his dream of opening his own pizzeria. Between the two of them they have created a line of American artisan pizzas in flavors like Thai Squash Peanut, Buf-Pho-Lo, and I Can Haz Bacon Cheeseburger (there are vegan options, but the bacon cheeseburger isn't one of them).
 
When they went looking for a brick and mortar home for their pizzas three years ago, Damaske went to the owner of his friendly neighborhood pub (that would be Woodbridge) for some advice. Instead, Geary gave him space – Sunday nights were slow and the staff and kitchen inventory were usually wiped out after a busy weekend anyway.
 
Now Pie-Sci has an established following, and soon they will have a home to call their own. Geary acquired a couple of other buildings near the pub last year, and soon Pie-Sci will be a permanent tenant – no longer just on Sundays, and located right next door.
 
The building, just south of Woodbridge, requires a complete gut. Damaske and Manoulian are doing as much of the work they can themselves, taking a cue from Geary and his DIY efforts with the pub. Geary will hire contractors for major improvements like electrical, then lease the space to Pie-Sci once it is complete.
 
Pie-Sci's new home is a little smaller than Woodbridge Pub. They will focus primarily on carry-out with a small dine-in space, and will also cater to the pub with later hours than the pub's kitchen. The building has a large backyard with a finished patio where they will add a second wood-burning oven and host private parties. They also hope to get a license to serve beer and wine.
 
The building has to be rezoned before construction can start, and it will be a long process getting the space ready to accommodate a pizzeria and bar. Still, the partners are eager and plan on moving quickly. Damaske is hoping to be open by May 2014. In the meantime, you can still catch Pie-Sci every Sunday at Woodbridge Pub.
 
Source: Jeremy Damaske, co-owner of Pie-Sci
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative promotes sustainability and community on the North End

The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative (MUFI) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 2011. Their goal is to use agriculture as a platform for sustainability, education and community.
 
MUFI founders purchased 7432 Brush Street on Detroit's North End in late 2011. The building is a vacant three-story, six-unit apartment complex in a state of disrepair, surrounded by vacant land that they use for farming. "We figured we would take a structure that is visually unique and needs work and use it as a community center and, eventually, our headquarters," says Tyson Gersh, co-founder of MUFI.
 
Gersh started MUFI along with co-founder Darin McLeskey to address issues of food security, neighborhood blight, nutrition and food preparation education. They spent most of 2012 preparing the site for growing, planting mostly pumpkins and show crops. This year they have started production farming in earnest.
 
They have 500 sweet potato plants, 200 different varieties of tomatoes, egg plants, cucumbers, squash, beans, blueberries, raspberries, a small stone fruit orchard, sweet and hot peppers, collard greens, kale, a variety of lettuces, kohlrabe, and more. 
 
They are building a table where harvested produce will be available for free to anyone in the neighborhood who wants it. They will donate to organizations like COTS, sell at places like the Oakland Avenue Farmers Market, and supply local food companies like Garden Fresh Salsa and Elie Teas. Proceeds from sales will go towards sustaining and growing MUFI. "It's important to stay relevant with revenue, (to be) sustaining (ourselves) but also serving our goal of social justice," says Gersh.
 
MUFI's infrastructure is rapidly assembling, but so far all the work in building the organization has been the efforts of Gersh, McLesky, and their volunteer coordinator Shelby Wilson. For the first eight months they funded everything out of their own pockets. Most of the money they have received has come from social media competitions – like their recent Whole Foods Market Detroit Community Support Challenge win – and pitching donations; they've never received a single grant. "It's all just us being extremely proactive in everything," Gersh says.
 
Their long-term plan is to renovate 7432 Brush Street, opening a hostel in the second and third floors with a community recreation space and commercial kitchen on the ground floor and a mezzanine that would serve as a food startup business incubator. They currently have about two blocks of land surrounding their site and an additional three acres nearby.
 
Volunteer workdays are every Saturday. If you want to help out, just show up.
 
Source: Tyson Gersh, co-founder of Michigan Urban Farming Initiative
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Riverfront Towers Apartments getting a second chance to make a first impression

Renovations on the common areas, walkways and entryways of the Riverfront Towers Apartments are set to begin in the next month.
 
Farmington Hills-based design firm Davis & Davis Interior Design is overseeing the much-touted renovation work at this prime riverfront property comprised of three towers (two are all apartment units; the third is all condominiums).
 
The $5 million project will be a complete aesthetic overhaul of the dated Tower 100 and 200 apartment buildings dating back to 1992 and 1983, respectively.
 
Each one of the 555 spacious and affordable luxury residences feature waterfront views but, as the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression -- which is precisely why the Hayman Company, the management company that took over control of the Riverfront Towers Community last November, has hired Davis & Davis to focus on the public and common areas.
 
"They wanted to create something elegant to appeal to a younger demographic," says Howard Davis, partner of Davis & Davis. "They were looking to make an investment in the property to attract young talent."
 
His design for the tower lobbies will include dark, rich woods contrasted with lighter stone, patterned carpeting reminiscent of flowing water, and fireplaces to add warmth in the evenings and winter months. He says the biggest improvements will be in the walkways and entryways, both the outdoor and indoor spaces that have the most visibility. Davis has also completed drawings for a sales and leasing office and the common area hallways.
 
"Right now they're tired, they're old, they're dated," he says. "These are all original finishes that were nice in their day."
 
Davis will add other finishing touches to modernize the spaces like contemporary club seating, planters along the side of the wall that blur the distinction between the indoors and outdoors, and a variety of pendant and recessed lighting to make the space more interesting. "We want to create a buzz about the lobbies," Davis says, reiterating that these lobbies are one of the first things people see when they visit the property and important in creating an overall impression.
 
Other improvements announced for the property include interior upgrades to all apartment units (new appliances, plumbing fixtures, cabinets, countertops, and flooring), updated elevators, new roofing and a new security system.
 
Source: Howard Davis, partner of Davis & Davis Interior Design
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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LTU Center for Design + Technology to break ground in August

The Kresge Foundation has awarded Lawrence Technological University $300,000 to help its College of Architecture and Design consolidate all Detroit programs inside the new LTU Center for Design + Technology opening in 2014.
 
The university is based in Southfield but has a strong presence in Detroit, with four programs currently offered across the city. There is the Detroit Studio in New Center, the detroitSHOP in Chrysler House, Studio Couture downtown on Woodward Avenue, and a satellite classroom and design studio inside Ponyride in Corktown.
 
It was recently announced that LTU would be the anchor business of a new two-story commercial construction development in Midtown at the corner of Woodward and Willis. Despite the main campus being in Southfield, Associate Dean Amy Deines feels a presence in the city is integral to the students' curriculum, emphasizing the importance of having the College of Architecture and Design students engage with the urban environment.
 
"With the Center itself we'll be able to consolidate the four programs we have in a very practical way," she says.
 
LTU has received huge support from Midtown Detroit Inc.'s Sue Mosey as well as Quicken Loans. The detroitSHOP will be relocating from the Chrysler House to the Federal Reserve Building while the Design Center is under construction.
 
The Center will feature open studio spaces that encourage collaboration between students of different disciplines, from architecture to graphic design. "My interest is that students use each other's skill sets to come up with a new model," Deines says. "The way the space is designed really supports that open conversation." The Center will also host artists from all over the region and country to "expose the community to the relationship between art, design, and architecture."
 
Currently Deines is still raising money for the roughly 14,000-square-foot Center. LTU will control the whole second floor and has currently secured funding for about 7,000 square feet of space, which will include studios, conference rooms, a research lab, and a 1,200-square-foot storefront gallery on the ground floor. This first phase will also include K-12 outreach and summer camp programs.
 
Additional funding will allow LTU to further expand its programming at the Center, including makeLab, which will provide digital fabrication services for a wide range of design projects. Ideally Deines would like LTU to control the whole building and collaborate with other architecture and design schools and businesses to turn it into a shared design community space. 
 
LTU students will commute between both campuses for a well-rounded urban design center and traditional classroom experience. Deines hopes to implement a shuttle program between the two, which would also tie into the school's transit design program.
 
The Center will break ground in August and will be completed next fall.
 
Source: Amy Deines, Lawrence Technological University Associate Dean
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Blue Cross Blue Shield in talks to purchase Detroit Cornice and Slate Building

Blue Cross Blue Shield is finalizing plans to acquire the Detroit Cornice and Slate Building at 733 St. Antoine St. at E. Lafayette St.
 
Helen Stojic, director of Blue Cross Blue Shield Michigan, confirms that they are currently in talks to purchase the building, best known as the offices of local alternative weekly the Metro Times. Metro Times publisher Chris Sexson confirmed that the publication is actively looking for a new headquarters, though it has not yet made any definitive plans.

The building is also home to Paxahau, the company that produces the Movement Festival and other events in the city.
 
The 24,000-square-foot building is conveniently located right next to BCBS's Bricktown customer service facility and would expand the existing BCBS campus in Greektown. Their plan is to convert the second and third floors to office space for existing BCBS employees (about 100 employees total). The first floor would maintain its current lease to Flood's Bar & Grille.
 
Though she could not disclose the purchase price, Stojic says that it is consistent with market value. She expects the deal to close within the next month. BCBS has not yet made a determination regarding building renovations (they will once they officially acquire the property), but they hope to begin occupancy in 2014.
 
Source: Helen Stojic, Director of Blue Cross Blue Shield Michigan
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Woodward Gardens Block Development on track to be completed by end of 2013

Construction on phases III and IV of the Woodward Gardens project on the 3900 block of Woodward is humming along nicely. Eric Means, a representative of the Woodward Gardens Block Development, says that the project is on track to be completed by the end of the fourth quarter of this year.
 
The 32,505-square-foot Garden Theatre will be completed first, targeted to open by the end of the third quarter. The theatre will host live performances that "align with the Midtown energy;" more grassroots and indie performers "geared to attract the audience that makes up (the Midtown) demographic." The theatre will have a total occupancy of 1,300, with mostly standing room on the main floor and a VIP balcony for private functions. The front portion of the theatre will have a café.
 
The five-story Woodward Garden Apartments at the corner of Woodward and Selden will open next, featuring 52 one-bedroom units with an average of 600-700 square feet, seven two-bedroom units with a 1,500-square-foot average, and two studios with a 500-square-foot average. Some of the apartment units' amenities include bamboo floors, granite countertops, and in-unit washer/dryers. Means says they will be "market rate." They have not yet started leasing units but with Midtown already at 95 percent rental capacity, the demand is certainly high and they do not expect to have an issue leasing the units out. The 302-space parking structure at 25 W. Alexandrine, phase I of this four-phase development, will offer secured parking for residents.
 
The apartment building will also have two ground floor commercial spaces (currently being used as temporary construction offices). Developers are currently in talks with Chase Bank and local cupcakerie chain Just Baked to fill those spaces. "We want them to be aligned with the overall vision of Midtown," Means says. "We want them to be a recognized brand that doesn't conflict with other places in Midtown."
 
Phases I and II of the project are already complete, and included the renovation of the Blue Moon Building, now home to the Great Lakes Coffee bar, and Midtown Inc.'s new headquarters.
 
Source: Eric Means, representative of the Woodward Gardens Block Development
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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

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

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

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

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Downtown development news round-up

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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

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

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

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New murals in Eastern Market celebrate changemaking and all things Weird

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

Photo credit: Sal Rodriguez

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Gateway Marketplace signals transformational change to the new "Uptown"

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

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

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

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Detroit's first Downtown Farmers Market is open every Thursday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Downtown Detroit Bike Shop now open in Eastern Market

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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June on Jefferson pops up this weekend at Jazzin' on Jefferson

Jazzin' on Jefferson started out as a very small community and placemaking event for the Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood. Now in its 10th year, the festival has grown significantly and has become a signature annual event for the east riverfront community.
 
Last year Jazzin' on Jefferson hosted a couple of pop-up concepts as a test run to see how the retail stores might perform. The response was positive, so this year the Jefferson East Business Association (JEBA) and American Institute of Architects (AIA) Urban Priorities Committee have partnered up to work with local entrepreneurs and artists to create June on Jefferson, a month-long pop-up business series.
 
Five businesses will occupy newly-renovated storefronts in the heart of the Jefferson-Chalmers commercial district from June 14 to July 9. Indian Village-based Shelborne Development owns the previously-abandoned buildings and has "beautifully" restored them, according to Eve Doster, who handles PR for Jazzin' on Jefferson. Individual spaces were designed with help from volunteer architects from the AIA.
 
The June on Jefferson participating businesses are Myra's Sweet Tooth, which sells specialty cupcakes and ice cream and recently opened a permanent store in the area (this will be a satellite location); Goodwell's Natural Foods Market, which has a store in Midtown; River's Edge Gallery, a temporary second location of the Wyandotte-based art gallery; a Fairview Historical Society museum, located in the footprint of what was once the Fairview waterfront community; and a satellite location for D:hive, the community development center located downtown on Woodward.  
 
The pop-ups will also host event programming every weekend including art openings, film screenings, live music, and more.
 
"The ultimate goal is to have these be permanent locations," Doster says. Even if these businesses themselves don't stay, JEBA's intention is to accelerate the physical and economic revitalization of Jefferson-Chalmers by encouraging foot traffic and vetting the potential for retail growth and sustainability.   
 
Source: Eve Doster, Norwegian Blue PR
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Just a Bit Eclectic sells vintage items, antiques and tea on Detroit's northwest side

Just a Bit Eclectic is a new store located at 19015 W. McNichols between Outer Drive and the Southfield freeway. The store is true to its name, selling a just-a-bit eclectic mix of vintage goods and antiques, and is also a tea room and café.
 
Owner Darlene Taylor jokes that she has been working on this store for "30 years or so." When she found herself about to retire, she decided it was time to open the retail store and café she had in her mind for decades.
 
"I was 18 years old drinking tea on the beach and said, 'One day I'm going to have my own store,'" she says. "I'm doing everything in here that I like. I love tea. I love antiques. I love books and handcrafted items. Everything in here is everything that I love."
 
She found the 800 square foot building on Detroit's northwest side in her price range and it was pure serendipity.
 
Just a Bit Eclectic is a consignment store, which aren't prominent in the city. "Detroit has to get used to consignment," Taylor says, noting that her customers aren't entirely familiar with the idea of second-hand "vintage" goods. "We take clothing, jewelry, art, whatever … (we) use our shop as a stage."
 
She serves teas from Detroit-based INTU Specialty Teas and serves soups from Detroit's Beautiful Soup as well as salads and sandwiches.
 
Taylor will also use her store to work with youth on employment training, teaching them a variety of skills from running a cash register to cooking to accounting in order to build their skill sets for future employment. She will give them a stipend for working and also teach them money management skills. She is currently in the process of obtaining 501c3 designation so she can work closely with youth-oriented nonprofits.
 
Source: Darlene Taylor, owner of Just a Bit Eclectic
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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SmartBuildings Detroit wrapping up three-year energy improvement initiative

SmartBuildings Detroit, a program of the Detroit Economic Development Corporation (DEGC), is wrapping up its three-year long initiative that launched in 2010 with a $10 million grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act by the U.S. Department of Energy.
 
The program consisted of both a loan and grant component. The DEGC was able to allocate $8 million in incentivized energy improvement grants for commercial buildings.
 
SmartBuildings leveraged other incentives and energy optimization programs and required a 3-to-1 dollar match for up to a $100,000 grant. "We were to able to well exceed that," says Scott Veldhuis, Senior Project Manager for the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation. "For example, COBO far overleveraged our grant which allowed us to go out to smaller businesses."

Ultimately the DEGC was able to impact 84 buildings and over 15 million square feet of commercial space in the city, leveraging over $51 million in additional capital.
 
Buildings included office buildings and parking garages, multi-family homes and warehouses, small businesses and industrial projects, as well as high-visibility commercial developments like COBO Center, Shed #5 in the Eastern Market, Newberry Hall, Presbyterian Villages Rivertown Neighborhood, and the Woodward Theatre. Projects included window replacements, lighting retrofits, HVAC replacement, insulation projects, and other renovation work. Project costs ranged from as little as $2,000 to COBO's $2 million. The goal is to show a 15 percent energy savings in these buildings.
 
All funds for this program have been committed and all projects are currently underway. The DEGC must complete all projects by July 31 to receive reimbursement funds from Michigan Saves. The DEGC's next step is to look at the loan portion and how to program those dollars that are part of a loan loss reserve for energy projects.
 
Source: Scott Veldhuis, Senior Project Manager for the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Local leaders honored at second annual Regional Transit Awards dinner

With southeast Michigan's Regional Transit Authority underway and M1-Rail about to break ground, a crowd of over 150 transit advocates had considerable cause for a buoyant mood as they strolled the stately gardens and ballroom of the Grosse Pointe War Memorial at Transit Riders United's second annual Regional Transit Awards dinner on May 21st.
 
"Developing a quality regional transit system is a marathon, not a sprint," said Megan Owens, TRU's Executive Director. "It's important to pause and recognize progress, and the people who are making a difference."
 
The Citizen Activist of the Year Award went to Neil Greenburg, whose Freshwater Railway website depicts a fictional Michigan rail system. Greenberg, a self-taught professional transit cartographer and operations consultant, developed the site to garner support for transit by offering a visual experience of the possibilities. Tools to rally public support are needed now more than ever, according to Greenberg.
 
"It's too early to say 'Mission Accomplished'," he said. "We are at the beginning, not the end."
 
Michele Hodges, who until recently served as Executive Director of the Troy Chamber of Commerce, won the Corporate Transit Champion Award for engaging business, education, and labor leaders in the successful fight against former Troy mayor Janice Daniel's attempt to reject federal funding for the Troy Transit Center.
 
The Unsung Hero Award went to former legislator Marie Donigan, who worked to establish the RTA and make state laws and funding sources friendlier to transit. Donigan continues her transit advocacy work, recently helping to coordinate a 2-day Metro Detroit Transit Workshop.
 
Dennis Schornack, Senior Strategic Advisor to Governor Snyder, won Most Effective Public Servant Award for his work shepherding the RTA legislation through the political process.
 
A Transit Employee of the Year Award went to Detroit Department of Transportation bus driver Michael Childs, who was nominated by a rider for being on-time with a big, welcoming smile every day, despite an increased workload owing to recent cuts in DDOT funding and service.
 
Ann Arbor Transit Authority's new AirRide program, which now provides daily round-trip service between Ann Arbor and Detroit Metropolitan Airport, won the Exemplary Innovation Award.
 
The TRU board sprung two surprises: a Transit Opportunities Award for the entire RTA Board, and an Above and Beyond Award for Owens for her work at TRU.
 
Winners were selected by a panel of 4 judges, including Clark Harder, former legislator and Michigan Public Transit Association Executive Director, Heather Carmona, chief administrative officer of M1 Rail, Sue Zielinsli, managing director of Sustainable Mobility & Accessibility & Research & Transformation at the University of Michigan, and Polly Sedewa, transit activist and past TRU board member.

Ocelot Print Shop is a collaborative workspace and commercial screen printer and design studio

The Ocelot Print Shop at 3535 Cass Ave. in Midtown celebrated its grand opening this past weekend. Similar to a makerspace in that paid memberships fund the purchase of equipment and shared space, but also operating as a for-profit screen printing business and design studio, Ocelot is a new kind of community-minded business in Detroit.
 
Co-founders Kinga Osz-Kemp, Bayard Kurth, and Stacey Malasky envision this as both a business and something of an experiment. It is a collectively-owned business. Interested parties can purchase memberships by the month or even by the hour, which grants them access to all of the shop's equipment, including an automatic screen printing press, a dye cutter, a guillotine cutter, and eventually an "ink bank" that members can contribute money towards and share collectively for more elaborate color print jobs.
 
"The idea is to share the resources and run it so it's not a nonprofit," says Osz-Kemp. "We decided to further explore the meeting place of arts and commerce." Ocelot will offer design services and commercial screen printing. They plan to offer screen printing classes and to eventually embrace other kinds of printing, including letterpress. In the future they would like to establish a local printer's guild and partner with Detroit youth organizations to teach students print-making and offer classes to people who couldn't otherwise afford them, turning their profit to also support the community.
 
They welcome artists of all types, not just screen printers. They want to foster relationships with other Detroit artists and build a network that will facilitate design and print job opportunities – again, resource sharing, just in a different kind of way. 
 
This collective makerspace model is, Osz-Kemp says, "indicative of the times we're in: people banding together. The 'I can do it myself' mentality is no longer interesting or sustainable."
 
The shop is open for the public to browse Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. Hours are extended for members' use.
 
Source: Kinga Osz-Kemp, co-founder of Ocelot Print Shop
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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D:hive accepting applications for rotating retail pop-up program Pilot starting June 6

After inviting Pot & Box to temporarily set up shop inside D:hive as a pilot to its new Pilot program, D:hive will start accepting applications on June 6 for the next pop-up retail tenant.
 
"Lisa (Waud, of Pot & Box) was part of a focus group and a test case," says April Boyle, Director of Recruitment for D:hive. D:hive wanted to see if there was a need for something like this and if people would even want it. The response was positive, and so Pilot was launched.
 
Pilot is a rotating retail pop-up project in the 375 square feet of space available inside D:hive (that was formerly the home of D:pop) on Woodward. "The whole idea came out of our BUILD class when we kept hearing over and over again that there's not a lot of move-in-ready space that's affordable," Boyle says. "I'm in love with the idea of pop-ups as a way to test ideas and see if you like doing the fantasy in your mind before investing your life savings or taking out a huge loan."
 
While BUILD alumni are certainly encouraged to apply, Pilot is open to all entrepreneurs with a service or retail concept and a savvy approach to marketing and programming to get people in the door. The space has no street presence and foot traffic is minimal, so aspiring entrepreneurs need to show how they plan to overcome that. "We're looking for detailed proposals. We want them to show they have a marketing strategy. We want them to think about numbers, like if there's inventory, and have a vision for interior design, how they are going to staff, what kind of programming they are going to have … we don't want them to fail. We want to make sure they're prepared."
 
Participants will receive two months rent-free in the space, as well as marketing and graphic design support and buildout reimbursement of the white box space of up to $500. They'll also receive event planning support and a reimbursement for an opening party.
 
The next concept will be allowed to move in on Aug. 1 with an opening date of Aug. 12. A new concept will debut quarterly.

"Our ultimate goal is to have success with four entrepreneurs that are coming in and get them into permanent spaces," Boyle says.
 
Source: April Boyle, Director of Recruitment for D:hive
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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ACC working in partnership with Penrose Village II development in Chaldean Town

The Arab American and Chaldean Council, a nonprofit human service organization serving southeast Michigan, is partnering with Penrose Village Development Corp. as they build 48 new houses between Seven and Eight Mile near Woodward in an area known as Chaldean Town. They are the lead partner agency in the Penrose Village II development and are working with other partner organizations. The homes fall under the section 8 statute, and are available to those who qualify including the homeless, those with special needs or disabilities, and domestic abuse victims.
 
This is the second stage of the Penrose development efforts, with third and fourth stages already planned. They previously built 36 homes in the same area. Bob Ghannam, Director of Special Projects for the ACC, says that as Penrose procures properties and receives approval from the state as well as funding, they're buying more and more property as they go. 
 
The ACC is the lead service agency on Penrose Village II and provides services for many of the people who qualify. They provide healthcare services and help clients find jobs. They also help transition their clients into being effective home owners. "For many of them it's their first time living in a home and being responsible," Ghannam says. "We take them through the nuances of running a household, like paying the bills on time, keeping the house clean and the landscaping (looking nice), all of the things it takes to run a house."
 
The ACC has been in the area for 15 years and in that time has committed $16 million in funds and built a four-building campus to provide a wide variety of services to their clients. They've made a transformative difference in the neighborhood, making it a safe place to walk down the street.

"To help the community we must be a part of community," Ghannam says. "Our purpose is to develop retail for the neighborhood and get (retailers) to move back and get clients to move back. We need to make it vibrant again."
 
They hope to have all of the Penrose Village II houses completed by September.
 
Source: Bob Ghannam, Director of Special Projects for the ACC
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Cass Corridog pet supply retailer now open inside the Auburn Building

The newest tenant to open inside the Auburn Building is Cass Corridog, a retail store selling pet care and nutrition products.
 
Michelle Potas has operated Woofbridge Feed & Supply out of Canine to Five on Cass Ave. for the last two years. She will no longer be operating out of this location, instead moving everything to one place. She will also be introducing a pet bakery as part of the new store, which is why it also has a new name.
 
Potas says she outgrew her old space over a year ago, and was interested in moving in the Auburn but at the time all of the spaces were full. When space became available again she got back in touch. Cass Corridog celebrated its soft opening this past weekend.
 
Her new space gives her 800 square feet of selling and storage space, versus the 150 square feet she had at Woodbridge. This required her to have off-site storage a mile away and she was only able to carry one of each item in the store at a time. "Now I don't have to wait (until I can run to storage to replace inventory) and not be able to give customers what they need," she says.
 
Of the many changes and additions you'll see at Cass Corridog, there will be a greatly-expanded selection of cat food and supplies, some small animal and fish supplies, and natural foods. They will also be doing some events in the future, partnering with rescue groups for single-day fundraising events and also offering guided dog-walking tours.
 
Though Potas was located inside of a doggy day care facility, most of her clientele were walk-ins. (Dog-parents often being too busy dropping off or picking up their pets to do any shopping.) With the vibrant, walkable community emerging at Cass and Canfield, Potas is confident that this will be an ideal location for her.
 
Source: Michelle Potas, owner of Cass Corridog
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Always Brewing Detroit to open permanently in Grandmont Rosedale

When Amanda Brewington was a freshman at Michigan State University, she didn't know anyone else on campus. So she started hanging out at a local coffee shop that had an open mic on Thursdays. This coffeehouse was where she met most of her college friends, many of whom she is still close with.
 
This was the impetus behind her desire to open a coffeehouse in Detroit.
 
Brewington has spent the last two years planning Always Brewing Detroit. She attended workshops, seminars, networked extensively with other business owners, and eventually enrolled in TechTown's entrepreneurial coaching program THRIVE, which provided her with a mentor to assist her in business planning and developing funding strategies.
 
Last winter, Always Brewing Detroit popped up for a month from Nov. 26 to Dec. 23 in the former neighborhood city hall in Grandmont Rosedale on Detroit's Northwest side. Brewington chose this space after spending three months looking in neighborhoods that were underserved in terms of coffeehouses and community spaces. That left out Midtown, Corktown and downtown, but opened up areas like Jefferson-Chalmers, the Avenue of Fashion, and Grandmont Rosedale – a neighborhood she was previously unfamiliar with but was immediately attracted to after being connected to Tom Godeeris, Executive Director of the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation.
 
Brewington needed a building that needed a minimal amount of structural repairs – a place with "a roof, parking, walls." But she also wanted to be in a community that didn't have a coffeehouse that also offered a diversity of clientele – all ages, ethnicities, with both new and long-time residents. Grandmont Rosedale boasts an 80-percent owner-occupied community of some 14,000 residents.
 
Currently a downtown resident, Brewington also was looking for a community she could settle down in over the next few years and start a family of her own. "I wanted to be somewhere I would move … where I can have a yard and a garden and be able to walk to work."
 
She found the building at 19180 Grand River Avenue and worked out a deal with the owner to allow her to host the pop-up to gauge the community's interest. The pop-up was a success, and on Feb. 1 she signed a three-year lease. Always Brewing Detroit is currently undergoing its final round of inspections and finishing renovation touches. Brewington hopes for a soft opening by the end of the month, with a grand opening in June. Always Brewing will offer a full coffee bar, espresso, teas, pastries and prepared sandwiches.  
 
For other aspiring Detroit business owners, Brewington offers this advice: "It's definitely possible. You don't have to be rich or well-connected. You just have to be persistent and patient."
 
Source: Amanda Brewington, owner of Always Brewing Detroit
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Movement organizers reinvest into Detroit arts with CAMP Detroit

Movement, Detroit's electronic music festival happening this weekend at Hart Plaza, is about more than just the music. Movement is about creating and promoting the full Detroit city experience for tens of thousands of out-of-town guests, and that includes highlighting Detroit's tremendous creative community.
 
Sam Fotias, Director of Operations for festival producers Paxahau, says that they are always thinking of ways to create a more fully comprehensive Detroit experience and promote other Detroit subcultures at the festival every single year.
 
The arts community and the music community seem to have a natural overlap in Detroit. Exhibit openings at the Red Bull House of Art and the newly-opened Inner State Gallery attract a lot of the same audience members as Movement, and the two communities – street/pop/contemporary art and techno/electronic music – have matured in tandem over the last couple of decades.
 
CAMP (Community Arts Moving Projects) Detroit is the final evolution of several years of growing art installations and exhibits displayed at Movement since Paxahau took over in 2006. Now in its third year, CAMP Detroit brings in six teams of Detroit artists to create installations to be displayed on the festival grounds all weekend long.
 
There are certain constraints: materials used must be able to withstand the weather and the inevitable man-handling. Designs must suit the topography of Hart Plaza and not require special machinery to be transported. Teams must also be able to work within a $1,500 budget, awarded to them through Paxahau's nonprofit organization Detroit Techno Foundation in partnership with the Detroit Creative Corridor Center and, as of this year, Opportunity Detroit. But the project doesn't end there: when the festival is over, teams are challenged to find permanent homes in the city for their works, a lasting gift to the community and an arts legacy for the Detroit Techno Foundation.
 
"I know of no other festival that is doing this – commissioning pieces for the festival from local artists to be permanently displayed in the community after the festival is over," Fotias says.
 
Projects range from the crafty to large-scale steel sculptures. This year's projects include light and color sculptures and a vertical garden "bloom box."
 
Source: Sam Fotias, Director of Operations for Paxahau
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Security Trust Lofts, downtown Detroit's newest housing development, ready to start leasing

Downtown Detroit has some new high-rise housing coming online that has absolutely nothing to do with Dan Gilbert: the Security Trust Lofts at 735 Griswold is a totally-renovated seven-story building located on Griswold at Lafayette, just two blocks south of Capitol Park.
 
The building is owned by Joseph Kalladat, a lawyer by trade who purchased the 1925 Albert Kahn-designed building with the intention of renovating it into loft-style rental units. Because the building had no singular historic relevance beyond its age and attributes, Kalladat had to go through the process of not just designating the building itself as a historical landmark, but the whole surrounding district.
 
With the help of local historic architect Rebecca Savage, Kalladat discovered that this building was part of Detroit's Financial District in the first half of the 1900s. With Savage's help and support, they were able to get the entire district designated as historic – of the 36 buildings in the district, 33 were conforming and now fall under the historic designation.
 
What this means for future development in the area is that developers will receive a 20-percent historic tax credit on renovation work, provided they adhere to historic preservation guidelines. Often old buildings like this sit empty because the cost of renovation is prohibitively high; these historic tax credits help offset the costs.
 
The historic designation process of the Security Trust Lofts started in 2008. Once the designation was received, construction began on the building. It was a complete gut job. "Everything was demolished down to the exterior walls and concrete floors," Kalladat says. Renovation work took about 14 months; now they are putting on the finishing touches and awaiting their final certificate of occupancy. They hope to start moving residents in mid-June.
 
Security Trust Lofts have 19 residential units as well as a clubhouse for residents and a floor dedicated to a fitness center and storage. All lofts come with their own washer/dryer units, stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, dark wood cabinetry, and operable windows. The ground floor and first floor mezzanine will be retail, though they haven't started leasing yet.  
 
Rent ranges $1,275-2,500 and includes gas and water. Units range from loft-style open floor plans to two bedrooms, starting at 850 square feet. Each unit has its own security monitoring system.
 
For information about leasing, call 248-254-4008.
 
Source: Joseph Kalladat, Security Trust Lofts owner
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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The Dossin Great Lakes Museum now open to public after $2 million renovation

The Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle just completed a $2 million renovation that officially opened to the public this past weekend.
 
"The project was an ambitious project in that it touched everything we do there," says Bob Bury, Executive Director and CEO of the Detroit Historical Society. "Certain things were refreshed and re-enchanced; some things (are) brand new."
 
One of the new exhibits is called Built by the River, which documents the significance that the Detroit River has had in building this city. Integral to the growth of Detroit's major industries, the Detroit River was used to transport lumber during the early logging days, automotive parts in the modern era, and, yes, alcohol during Prohibition. The river still defines life for Detroiters in how we live, work and play.  
 
The museum encourages interaction – they want kids and adults alike to touch the displays and have a fully immersive experience, like in the S.S. William Clay Ford pilot house, the actual pilot house from the freighter, and the fully-restored Gothic Room, salvaged from the luxury passenger ship the City of Detroit III when it was decommissioned. On the grounds outside the museum rests the bow anchor from the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald.
 
The Dossin Great Lakes Museum attracted 1,000 people per day in its grand reopening weekend. Admission was free and will remain free for the forseeable future to encourage people to visit, whether they have a specific interest in Detroit's maritime history or not. The museum is open to the public Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
 
Source: Bob Bury, Executive Director and CEO of the Detroit Historical Society
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Anthology Coffee finds a permanent home at Ponyride

2011 Hatch Detroit semi-finalist Anthology Coffee is continuing to build its brand and work on a permanent café in Corktown – happy news, as just a couple of months ago it seemed like they were going to cease all operations.
 
In 2012 Anthology signed a lease at 2051 Rosa Parks (an office building in Corktown). After some initial efforts were made towards build-out, progress stalled for months and Anthology owner Josh Longsdorf made the decision to leave. At the same time, Anthology also fell short on an Indiegogo campaign that was meant to purchase new equipment; Longsdorf had to use that money to pay off coffee contracts he had purchased in anticipation of being fully open at 2051 months early.
 
Though he continued to have a presence at the MOCAD Café and a successful pop-up at Ponyride (the collaborative artists' and entrepreneurs' incubator/office/makerspace in Corktown), an email went out to Anthology subscribers in February announcing that they would be shutting down business operations at the end of March.
 
With a family to support and another full-time job in addition to his work at Anthology, Longsdorf thought it would be best to close and try again in a few years. Wholesale accounts wouldn't have it. Neither would Phil Cooley, owner of Ponyride.
 
Anthology's new home is at Ponyride, and they are currently undergoing renovations for their permanent retail café space. The painting, electrical, and façade work is almost complete, and they will build additional seating and move the bar to create more of an interactive experience with the brewing and roasting processes (for those who wish to watch and ask questions). Longsdorf also hopes to put in bay doors that will open out onto Ponyride's planned patio. Custom espresso equipment has been ordered from Modbar.com; once that arrives, the build-out will be completed – estimated mid-summer.
 
In the meantime, you can visit Mondays through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Wednesdays until 5 p.m.), and during the Guns & Butter six-course dinner pop-up through the end of this month (which Anthology is hosting and also collaborating on).
 
Source: Josh Longsdorf, owner of Anthology Coffee
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Whole Foods in Midtown gets ready to open, has distinctly Detroit flair

The new Whole Foods in Midtown – set to open on June 5 – is not just another grocery story. It's not even just another Whole Foods store.
 
Tremendous efforts were made to ensure that this Detroit store reflected the personality of the city itself. While the five other Michigan Whole Foods locations are relatively generic, this location aims to be deeply and distinctly Detroit. "We took the time and effort to really reflect Detroit," says Amanda Musilli, Whole Foods Market Community Liaison.
 
It starts with the design. On the exterior wall are murals by local artists Jerome Ferretti, Tylonn Sawyer, Katherine Larson, and Mathew Sharum. Immediately upon entering you are greeted with 1970s booster Emily Gail's classic words "Say Nice Things About Detroit." To the left is the produce section; all the photography overhead is of D-Town Farms in River Rouge Park. The lettering above the cheese section is styled after street art, which Detroit is certainly known for. Over the prepared foods section are reclaimed Detroit factory windows. An overhead timeline reads, "Detroit: Proud to Be Here," and mashes up Detroit history with the history of Whole Foods, terminating in the store's opening.
 
The booths and tables in the café are made of locally-sourced reclaimed wood and reclaimed car hoods. The café will also have outdoor seating and free WIFi with plenty of electric outlets.
 
Upstairs, where there are spaces for classes, workshops, and private events, is a tile mural of the City of Detroit by local artist Elysia Vandenbussche on the theme of food justice.
 
But it's not just about the aesthetic. In addition to what can be called the usual suspects – Avalon Breads, McClure's Pickles, Simply Suzanne granola – this location will also carry products from smaller local producers like Ellis Island Tea, Good People Popcorn, Nikki's Ginger Tea, Chugga's Bakery, and the Water Station.
 
To prepare for opening, they've hired 94 people, 70 percent of which are city residents.
 
Source: Amanda Musilli, Whole Foods Market Community Liaison
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Wayne State University planning second phase of South University Village

Nothing stops Midtown. A request for proposals is currently open through the end of the month for development plans for a mixed-use project on Canfield between Cass and Woodward.
 
The RFP was issued by Wayne State University, which owns the land and is considering this site as phase two of its South University Village District (phase one was the Studio One apartments development with ground-floor retail, named "Development of the Year" for 2008 by Crain's Detroit Business).
 
"We want to add density and vibrancy to the neighborhood," says Ned Staebler, Vice President for Economic Development at Wayne State University. "Cass and Canfield is the epicenter of the residential community blooming in Midtown." With all of the retail stores, galleries and restaurants recently opened and scheduled to open in the immediate vicinity, Staebler says that this area is the right scale for walkability. "The next logical step is to add more to it."
 
With Midtown occupancy at 95 percent and developers circling around looking for parcels of land in the area, this location is a prime piece of land for new development, and also saves would-be developers the cost of acquisition.
 
While an open RFP seems like a non-traditional approach to such a potentially major development, Staebler believes it encourages more creativity. "We have done the RFP process in the past. For something like this where it's going to be very visible we think we'll get a better result if we open it up and let a lot of visions come forward from the private sector."
 
Though proposals are due at the end of May, it will be months still before we hear what is planned for the site as the selected developer acquires financing and the university goes through the process of getting a zoning change for the land Staebler hopes for a ground-breaking this fall with construction beginning in earnest next spring.
 
The development will include housing for young professionals, graduate students, faculty and staff, with ground floor retail, office and event space. "We're viewing this as a partnership (to) create a more exciting and vibrant neighborhood. We have a long-term plan for that area and this is part of it. This is us making another investment in Midtown. We're believers in its health and success."
 
WSU owns several more parcels of land and surface lots on Canfield and Willis. The masterplan calls for mixed-use developments on all these sites.
 
Source: Ned Staebler, Vice President for Economic Development at Wayne State University
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Detroit Collision Works to debut First Container this weekend at Flower Day

Progress is well underway for Detroit Collision Works, the proposed 36-room boutique hotel made out of shipping crates located on the Dequindre Cut near Eastern Market.
 
After running a crowd-funding campaign in April and raising over $40,000 (surpassing their goal of $37,000), Detroit Collision Works has been able to purchase and renovate the "First Container," which will serve as the hotel lobby, office space for the Collision Works team, and a community space. In one week's time they will have added walls, windows, air conditioning, and electricity.
 
First Container was just delivered last Thursday and is currently transforming into the model display, which will open just in time for Eastern Market's annual Flower Day this Sunday, May 19. It will be located at 2934 Russell, next to the Eastern Market Corporation's office (and just south of the gazebo).
 
First Container will serve as a model lobby as well as a marketing vehicle. Kimen plans to be open for guests to visit every Thursday through Saturday during the day and Tuesdays when the market is open. The model will be on location for the next six months.
 
The model – which she describes as a mini hotel lobby – will have lobby seating, free WiFi, and a recording booth for people to share their stories on various topics (Kimen plans on partnering with other local events, like Movement later this month, to encourage this kind of community engagement).  
 
Progress is also moving forward with the proposed construction site: the phase 1 environmental assessment came back clean, meaning the site is safe to build on. Their next step is a special land use hearing, but, Kimen says, "We're getting very close to actually being able to buy and develop that land."
 
The land is already vacant, located on the Cut between two major east-west greenway connectors that will eventually go north and west to Midtown and southeast to Grosse Pointe Park, allowing future guests easy access to the city's greenways and major attractions by bike. "It's a huge opportunity to be in that location."
 
Kimen also hopes that, with a physical model to show, it will help her as she continues to seek out financial backers for the development.
 
Source: Shel Kimen, Founder and CEO of Detroit Collision Works
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Inner State, formerly 323 East, opening May 17

You already know that the popular Royal Oak art gallery 323 East, which is behind the game-changing 1xRUN limited edition time-released online art "store" with an international audience, is moving to Detroit in a space adjacent to Eastern Market at 1410 Gratiot. What you might not know yet is that with the new space comes a new name.
 
"We're in a new space and have a new identity," says Jesse Cory, founder of 323 East. "We needed a fresh new approach to it."
 
That new approach is called Inner State, a name which can be seen as both a semantic play on the extensive interstate systems that criss-cross the Motor City as well as an acknowledgement of the work of the exhibiting artists reflecting their "inner states."
 
After outgrowing their small space in Royal Oak, the 323 team began looking for spaces in the city. "The art world in Detroit is exploding right now," Cory says. "There's a consolidation (that's happening)," mentioning the Butcher's Daughter in Midtown and the Red Bull House of Art, Inner State's new neighbors located in the market district.
 
The three-story, 10,000-square-foot space has a more refined look designed by architect Tadd Heidgerken for et al. Collaborative, who also designed Astro Coffee and the House of Art. "(We knew he) designs spaces that are very comfortable and dynamic. I don’t know where else in town you'd look to get someone with that kind of aesthetic." Cory describes it as being less of a boutique and more of a traditional gallery – cleaner, much larger, and a fitting utilization of the building without "going overboard."
 
Inner State will be open Thursdays through Saturdays and will be more exhibit-oriented with private receptions as well as the grand opening fetes for each new exhibit that they became known for at 323.

"We definitely want to celebrate the efforts people put into these works and have a party," he says. "It's really a coming-of-age of the art world in Detroit. The stigma of galleries in the past has been removed. (Places like) 323 and the House of Art have really made the experience inclusive."
 
The new gallery opens May 17.
 
Source: Jesse Cory, founder of 323 East/Inner State
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Stella Cafe remodeled and rebranded as Stella Good Coffee in the Fisher Building

Stella International Café inside the Fisher Building in New Center has gone through a major renovation and rebranding.
 
Now called "Stella Good Coffee," the café – owned by Shawn Santo and Kevin Borsay, owners of Pure Detroit, Rowland Café, a second Stella location inside the Guardian Building, and Vera Jane (a women's clothing store) – will focus on all things Detroit, starting with the design.
 
After closing last fall, the space was stripped down to bare walls and floor, grinding away layers of concrete to reveal the original Albert Kahn-produced floor from 1928 (which has a slightly different design than the floor of the main lobby, also original). Santo and Borsay oversaw all of the renovation work themselves, working closely with James Willer of Reclaim Detroit on material sourcing and design. They also worked with local companies and artists on the fixtures, including lamp shades from the Detroit Wallpaper Company (which will feature the designs of local artists and will be rotated regularly) and a white neon sign that reads "Drink Good Coffee" from Spectrum Neon Sign Company.
 
The redesign also allows for more seating inside the café, which will have free WiFi, and additional seating will be available in the Fisher lobby.
 
In addition to a new look, a new name, and a new logo (a complicated geometric figure with a long technical name that includes the word "stella," also known as the "Moravian star"), Stella Good Coffee will have a whole new approach to their products. Instead of the quick grab-and-go coffee shop they were previously known as, they will offer only pour-over coffees, which take longer but, as Borsay says, "is worth it." They will also have loose-leaf teas, soups from Russell Street Deli, and baked goods from Avalon Breads and Traffic Jam & Snug.
 
Stella Good Coffee is celebrating a "soft" opening this week, with a grand opening coming later this spring.
 
Source: Kevin Borsay and Shawn Santo, owners of Stella Good Coffee
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Oakaloosa, a philanthropic music festival, to benefit Historic Fort Wayne

The City of Detroit is gaining another new music festival this summer. Oakaloosa will be held at the Historic Fort Wayne on July 27, and, much like Orion Music + More, will reinvest into the maintenance and preservation of the concert site itself -- Historic Fort Wayne.
 
The 96-acre Historic Fort Wayne site in Delray includes some original buildings from the mid-1800s as well as faithful replicas, though many are in disrepair. The Fort is operated by the Detroit Recreation Department with other nonprofit assistance. They rely heavily on volunteer efforts and individual generosity.
 
Oakaloosa is a brand-new outdoor concert, billing itself as the region's first fully philanthropic music festival, with a percentage of every dollar raised going back towards the restoration of Historic Fort Wayne. "We were looking to participate in restoring its renown by adding an event there where people can appreciate it and relate this event to its name," says Adrian Pittman, founder of Module, which is handling Oakaloosa's marketing. "What happened to (the Fort) is sort of what happened to Detroit in the rest of the country … it was forgotten. It requires a local to give it a little attention and polish it off a bit. It needs to be maintained for generations of people to come."
 
With connections in the parks & rec department, Detroit Sports Zone, Inc. – the nonprofit group organizing this event – was able to secure the site, which needs little in the way of infrastructure work in order to host the event. "They were looking at the fort from day one. It's such a unique opportunity." A first event of its kind for the site, they hope this event will also encourage other organizations to host festivals here.
 
DJ Mikey Eckstein of Embarco is responsible for programming, which includes both local and national acts. Main headliners include Girl Talk and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony (as part of their big reunion tour).
 
They expect about 15,000 people to attend. Tickets are $45.

The odd name actually came from a typo on a website about the fort's history. The organizers liked it despite it being a misspelling, and decided to use the name for the festival.
 
Source: Adrian Pittman, Director of Development at Module
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Mosaic Youth Theatre to move into old Miller High School, launching partnership with charter school

In 2001, Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit was commissioned to write a play on Detroit history as part of the Detroit 300 celebration. The result was Hastings Street, a play about teenagers at Miller High School in the 1940s, which they identified as one of the most exciting times and places to be a teenager in the city's history. Two years ago Mosaic decided to produce this play during their 2012/2013 performance season. What they didn't know at the time was that they would also be moving into the old Miller High School in the fall of 2013.
 
Mosaic will relocate its offices to 2251 Antietam, formerly Miller High, while joining a new charter public K-5 elementary school called the University Prep Science & Math Elementary School: Sidney D. Miller Campus (UPSM). This will be a "STEAM" school – science, technology, engineering, and math ("STEM") plus arts. This new charter school purchased the building and is providing Mosaic with 12,600 square feet of dedicated space as well as an additional 31,000 square feet of shared space in the school. In turn, Mosaic is providing their students with arts instruction in a unique in-kind partnership that expands the reach and resources of both entities. Mosaic will pay $1/year for rent plus utilities, though they do have to raise over $1 million in funding for their portion of the construction costs.
 
"It's really better for an arts organization of our size to be part of this larger entity rather than owning our own building," says Mosaic Founder & CEO Rick Sperling. Small and medium-sized arts organizations face a real challenge when they own their own buildings, which inevitably takes the focus away from the organization itself.
 
This partnership between Mosaic and UPSM is also aligned with the Detroit Future City framework. Considered part of the Eastern Market area of the plan, this partnership addresses two of the strategic focuses: both finding a use for obsolete historic buildings (the school is national historic landmark that has sat empty since 2007) and also to promote the arts in residential and industrial areas. While Mosaic's main performances will still be at the DIA, they will hold training and smaller performances in their new home. Between the school and Mosaic, Sperling says there will be traffic at this site seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
 
Most of Mosaic's artistic staff works with young people from all over the city and suburbs on nights and weekends, so the added arts support to the elementary school will not disrupt other programs.
 
The old Channel 56 Building, Mosaic's current home, will be put up for sale and will continue to be used as Mosaic's tech shop and storage facility in the meantime so the building remains occupied. Hastings Street opens on May 10 at the DIA.
 
Source: Rick Sperling, Founder & CEO of Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Top of the Pontch, Jefferson House, Urban Cellars opening in the Crowne Plaza Hotel Pontchartrain

As the Crowne Plaza Hotel Pontchartrain undergoes a serious exterior overhaul to prepare to welcome its first guests this June, the overhaul happening inside is just as ambitious, both in design and concept.
 
The Jefferson House will be the Pontch's primary restaurant, located across from the lobby. The look is modern meets old world: copper leaf ceilings, plush cream-colored chairs, dark-stained wainscoting covering the walls. It's warm and rich and comfortable, refined without being too stuffy. They'll serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, and will also have a 40-seat outdoor patio on Jefferson. Attached to the Jefferson House is Urban Cellars, the hotel's sizable bar, which will specialize in craft cocktails.
 
Overseeing the operation of both concepts is executive chef and director of food & beverage Justin Vaiciunas. The menu Vaiciunas has created for Jefferson House and Urban Cellars is an exploration of cutting-edge American fusion cuisine. Expect to see the highest-quality ingredients in exquisitely artful presentations, though not impossibly high-end (or high ticket). The Jefferson House and Urban Cellars will open in June with the hotel.
 
The lobby will have a quick grab-and-go café called Tabatchi, which will serve Starbucks coffee and pre-prepared sandwiches and sushi for busy travelers. The hotel will also feature up to 15,000 square feet of completely renovated banquet space.
 
In addition to these new concepts, long-term plans include re-opening the second-floor terrace, as well as re-opening the iconic Top of the Pontch.
 
The 25th floor restaurant, bar and lounge will be totally reimagined – in contrast to the Jefferson House's neutral palette and old-world appeal, the new Top of the Pontch will be flashy, all glass and waterfalls, bringing Vegas style to Detroit. The menu will be ambitious fine dining.
 
Looking ahead, developer Gabriel Ruiz plans on building the hotel's second tower, which was part of the original Pontchartrain's design though never built, and connecting both towers via skywalk to Cobo Center. These plans are at least three years out.
 
Source: Justin Vaiciunas, Executive Chef and Director of Food & Beverage of the Crowne Plaza Hotel Pontchartrain
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Patrick Thompson Design studio to open inside the Auburn in May

Next up in the emerging Detroit Design District at Cass and Canfield in Midtown, Patrick Thompson Design will relocate its design studio from the Detroit Creative Corridor Center to the Auburn Building.
 
The five-person commercial and residential interior design firm had been working out of the DC3, but as the firm continues to grow they need more space of their own. Their new home in the Auburn is 900 square feet, and the build out is almost complete.
 
"We really want to have a presence in the neighborhood in Detroit," says owner Patrick Thompson. "A lot of our work is Detroit-based. It seemed a really good fit with the other businesses in that area." While the storefront isn't actually a store but a working studio, Thompson says, "People are welcome to stop by, meet the team and see our work. There won't be items for sale but people can see our creative process."
 
Patrick Thompson Design started in a spare bedroom in 2009 before moving into the basement, then into the DC3 a year and a half ago. Currently the firm is overseeing the renovation of the Kresge Court inside the DIA, which will be called the Cultural Living Room, and a renovation of TechTown's whole first floor, in addition to several residential projects in the city and suburbs.
 
The Patrick Thompson Design studio is targeted to open May 7.
 
Source: Patrick Thompson, owner of Patrick Thompson Design
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Restaurateur Tony Vulaj to open Midtown Zeff's and Tony V's Tavern in Midtown

Anton Vulaj, who goes by the nickname "Tony V," has two new restaurants opening in the coming months in Midtown.
 
Vulaj is no stranger to the Midtown restaurant market: he's been in the game for 14 years now as the owner of the Olympic Grill on Warren and Campus Diner on Cass, both just steps away from the Wayne State University campus. "I like the neighborhood," he says. "Clientele-wise I know I won't have a better clientele than I do with Wayne State University."

So when the old Alvin's building on Cass came up for sale, he didn't waste any time. Tony V's Tavern will open later this year (once they receive a liquor license) and will offer what Vulaj says is a "simple menu using good product … we're not going for high prices like some of the restaurants in the neighborhood." He promises high-quality food with low prices; items will range in price from $6-10 and, he says, "We're not going to have a $10 burger."
 
Tony V's Tavern will have a full bar and features a wood-fired brick oven. One of the highlights of the menu will be build-your-own pizzas and a pizza and salad lunch buffet. And, since Alvin's was known for live music and entertainment, Tony V's will continue to have live music every weekend. Tony V's will be open 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. The kitchen will be open lunch, dinner, and late-night.
 
Vulaj is also a partner in the new Midtown Zeff's, along with Violet, Victoria, Lisa, and Anita Balurshaj, daughters of the original owner of Zeff's Coney Island in Eastern Market (who sold the restaurant several years ago). Midtown Zeff's will open in May serving breakfast and lunch, and will offer healthier options than a typical diner.
 
Source: Tony Vulaj, owner of Tony V's Tavern
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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NSO to receive Governor's Award for NSO Bell Building renovation, will move headquarters inside

Neighborhood Service Organization (NSO) is a non-profit organization that does a lot of work in the city and suburbs around mental health, homelessness, and developmental disabilities. They offer community programs, a suicide hotline and also the Tumaini Center at Second Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., which is a walk-in center serving the chronically homeless in Detroit that has been open since 1975. They see about 3,000 people annually at the center, in a city with a homeless population of around 20,000.
 
Joe Heaphy, NSO's Vice President of Real Estate Development, says, "About seven years ago NSO decided it wanted to move away from simply managing and helping homeless folks, but get them housed." They were looking to provide permanent housing for the chronically homeless, not just temporary housing or a traditional shelter. This led to the purchase of the former Michigan Bell building in Highland Park, which had been sitting vacant for 20 years. A $52 million renovation converted the building into 155 housing units, which began leasing last August. Units were filled by November. Residents pay 30 percent of their income, whatever that may be, in rent, while the rest of the $650/month rent is covered by Section 8. NSO also provides on-site resources and support services.
 
But at 255,000 square feet, the 1929 building itself is so massive it is not fully occupied by apartment units. Starting this August, the NSO Bell Building will also be home to NSO's new headquarters, moving 200 administrative staff into the commercial portion of the building. 
 
This renovation and adaptive reuse project is being honored with a Governor's Award this Wednesday, May 1, for outstanding achievement in historic preservation. The building also serves as a model for public-private funding collaboration and investment, utilizing funds as far-ranging as brownfield redevelopment tax credits, foundation funding from the McGregor Fund and Kresge Foundation, and tax credit investment from Morgan Stanley.
 
Source: Joe Heaphy, NSO's Vice President of Real Estate Development
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Highland Park's new fire station is a dramatic juxtaposition of new and old Detroit

You can't really begin to appreciate just how much Highland Park is in need of a new fire station until you see the space out of which they're currently operating. When I contacted Highland Park Fire Chief Derek Hillman about doing a short story on the new headquarters, he insisted that I see it in person. We met at the Highland Park City Hall and Chief Hillman took me on a ride in his cruiser to see the current, previous, and future fire stations.
 
The fire department is currently located in a "temporary" location in the back corner of a massive industrial park on the outskirts of Highland Park. "How temporary is 'temporary'?" Hillman answered without missing a beat: "Eight years." The space is basically an open warehouse: cold (literally – it doesn't get above 45 degrees in the winter) and barren. Mobile trailers house its offices and bathrooms, while the firefighters constructed a sort of plywood barracks for themselves. It looks like a shantytown inside a bunker. "And this is better than the building we moved out of," Hillman said. And what's wrong with the old building? That's where we're headed next.
 
For a city of only 12,000 people, Highland Park has 150 fires per year. For a single fire, the department brings only six or seven men – the City of Detroit brings three times that. Some of the men make only $10 an hour. Chief Hillman knew the working conditions were abysmal, so when a FEMA grant became available for fire departments in the U.S., as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, he applied. CHMP Architects in Grand Blanc donated time and expertise to draft an architectural design for the grant application. Out of 1,200 applicants nationwide, Highland Park received $2.6 million in federal grant money for a new station – one of only five departments in Michigan to receive anything.
 
The new building, more than halfway complete, is 14,000 square feet and is located directly across from the old fire station. As we pulled up, Chief Hillman pointed at a two-story structure in which the upper floor has totally collapsed and the back wall fallen off. "That's the old fire station."
 
While the old Highland Park police station, built in 1917, was torn down to make way for this new fire station, the old fire station – a building so structurally damaged from neglect and exposure preservation likely isn't feasible – will continue to stand, a hulking shell, until the city can reach an agreement with the State of Michigan Historic Preservation Office to tear it down.
 
The new facility is like a dream for the men who've been working out of a shoddily slapped-together "temporary" location for nearly the last decade. They'll have proper offices and sleeping facilities, even a full gym for the men to work out. It stands in stark contrast to the sagging building it faces, a dramatic juxtaposition that mirrors the current state of the city itself – the new colliding with the old; better things rising from the ashes.
 
Source: Derek Hillman, Highland Park Fire Chief
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Global Detroit Human to open in the Auburn in May

Global Detroit Human will open inside the Auburn in the coming weeks, joining retailers Hugh, Nora, and Source Booksellers in what is fast becoming Midtown's de facto shopping district at the intersection of Cass and Canfield (on the other side of Cass, Run Detroit and Shinola will both open soon, while Nest and City Bird already anchor West Canfield).
 
Global Detroit Human (GDH) is clothing design collective, a boutique that exclusively carries lines from metro Detroit designers. Some of the local labels that can be found inside include Homeslice Clothing, Emily Thornhill's line of classic fashion pieces for day or evening made from eco-sustainable materials; Lavinia Curves, which produces fashionable dresses for curvy women sizes 12-22; SIX LUXE, a line of reversible resort wear for multiple looks in one for those who like to travel light; and Corrosive Clothing, a line of men's T-shirts designed with custom print injection technology that injects the ink directly into the threads for longer-lasting designs.
 
GDH was envisioned by owner Jill Drnek about a year ago. She wanted to have a collection of metro Detroit designers to show off to the world, and traveled the fashion capitals of Europe to speak with store owners, do some research, and start building excitement for Detroit designers. After hosting a pop-up in Livonia and participating as a vendor at events like Dally in the Alley, Drnek decided it was time to open a store in the city. A space inside the Auburn unexpectedly became available in November, and she jumped at the opportunity to open in a viable retail district near other design-focused stores.
 
"The goal is really to take the Detroit design community into a storefront," says Drnek. "This will help designers better understand their market and continue to build their brand and contribute to the growth of the Detroit design community," ultimately with the goal of shopping these designers to the European market.
 
Buildout of the space is near completion. Drnek hopes to open in early May.
 
Source: Jill Drnek, owner and curator/buyer of Global Detroit Human
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Anew Life Prosthetics & Orthotics brings new life to amputee patients in Albert Kahn building

Anew Life Prosthetics & Orthotics is putting the finishing touches on the renovation of the Albert Kahn-designed Detroit Savings Bank Branch #3 at Woodward and Milwaukee. The company launched in 2011 as a mobile operation with partners Chris Casteel and Paul Cauley working out of their cars with their equipment and supplies stored in far-flung locations throughout metro Detroit. They knew they wanted to locate their offices (with lab and equipment) in the city, and after a previous deal fell through they found the building at 6438 Woodward in December 2011. Within two weeks they owned it.
 
Anew Life provides artificial limbs and braces to those who need them. While this does include a small percentage of trauma cases, the majority of their clients suffer from vascular disease and diabetes. They see their clients through the whole process, starting with visiting them in the hospital post-surgery, casting them, making molds and testing the prosthesis, then making the final prosthesis that will last for three to five years. "I love seeing people return to life and thrive," says Casteel, who also runs a support group for amputees.
 
The renovated Detroit Savings Bank building will be home to Anew's offices, a lab where the devices will be built, and a physical therapy gym for recovering patients. They are also completing renovations that will make the building ADA accessible and are awaiting certifications that will enable them to bill Medicare and Medicaid for their patients. 
 
Built as a bank branch, the building has previously been used as a church and a nightclub, among other things. Renovation work included gutting much of the interior, though Casteel says they are "trying to save as much Albert Kahn as we can." Casteel and Cauley were working out of the building during the renovation, and are now at a point where they are able to start accepting patients.
 
Anew's offices, storage, and lab don't quite fill up the whole space, so they have made their basement available to Burners Without Borders, where Danielle "Doxie" Kaltz is able to store all her supplies to assemble backpacks of hygiene and emergency items for the homeless. "We want to help support everything local," Casteel says.
 
Source: Chris Casteel, co-owner of Anew Life Prosthetics & Orthotics
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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La Palma Mediterranean Cuisine now open in Midtown

Midtown workers and residents have yet another option for weekday lunch and dinner: La Palma Mediterranean Cuisine, located at the corner of Canfield and John R.
 
Opened just two weeks ago, La Palma is an open, airy space with prepared foods and select pre-made hot items displayed in cases by the cash register, and options for carry-out or sit-down service.
 
The space is immaculate, and far exceeds any expectations for a quick grab-and-go kind of restaurant, which is ultimately what this is. Owner Adam Maheawiyan says that he saw a need for this kind of fast, casual, healthy Mediterranean cuisine after being involved with Biomet on Canfield for the last five years. Specifically he noticed that this was a busy corner with plenty of built-in clientele (thanks to the nearby DMC, Karmanos Institute, and Wayne State University School of Medicine), but a previous business in this location (a deli) did not meet his standards of service. When the space became available, he took it.
 
Everything they serve is made from scratch in-house, right down to the dressings and bread. The bread is baked in a custom-built brick oven, one of the showpieces of the restaurant. But once you're inside, don't forget to look up: hand-carved curved wooden panels on the ceiling took two months themselves to complete. There is also detailed stone and brickwork and ceramic tile floors. All construction was overseen by the Livonia-based firm the Nam Group, a company in which Maheawiyan is also a partner.
 
Maheawiyan says the space, which was totally gutted from previous tenants, was designed with specific attention to hygiene and cleanliness: in addition to having an open kitchen (so customers can see what all the cooks are doing), bathrooms are totally touch-less, including the toilet paper.
 
The menu is a selection of appetizers (like falafel, hummus, and grape leaves), salads, pitas, and larger plates (like kabobs and ghallaba). They are open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and closed on Sundays.
 
Source: Adam Maheawiyan, owner of La Palma
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Shinola to open flagship retail store in Midtown this June

The excitement surrounding the Detroit-based manufacturer of watches, bicycles and leather goods Shinola is palpable, and already the brand is getting buzz from national news and entertainment media outlets – not bad for a retailer whose products only just went online last month and hasn't yet opened a storefront.
 
Well, that will soon change. The Detroit store, located in Midtown on the ground level of Willy's Overland Lofts, will open this June. This will be the flagship store, and one of only two in the country (with the other in TriBeCa). The Midtown space is 5,000 square feet, with half dedicated to the company's bicycle assembly. Guests will be able to watch the bikes being assembled without walls or glass barriers. The rest of the space is designed as a retail store and community "hang out" – "A place not just to shop but more of a community hub," says Daniel Caudill, Creative Director of Shinola.
 
They'll work with Avalon Breads to provide pre-packed foods to complement juices from a local juice company in an environment with comfortable seating and an outdoor landscaped area. The retail portion will offer a combination of their products, "thoughtfully selected to serve (the Detroit) market," as well as other American-made products that pair well with the Shinola collection. It will also include "curated products and one-of-a-kind items we are calling 'Issue of One.'"
 
The space will retain its industrial features with blonde wood fixtures and warm leather furniture. One of the highlights of the space is the original skylight. "The space will feel light, modern and warm," says Caudill. "It will be a place you'll want to shop in, hang out and ultimately spend time in." It will also be used for events, from screenings and art exhibitions to talks and roundtable discussions around design and American manufacturing.
 
Shinola's plans also include partnering on and producing events, from last year's inaugural Dlectricity to being the official timepiece and timekeepers of the Detroit Grand Prix this June and the title sponsors of Detroit Restaurant Week, which starts this Friday, April 19.
 
Source: Daniel Caudill, Creative Director of Shinola
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Hellenic Museum celebrates grand opening in Detroit's cultural center

Though they've been hosting special events for over a year now, the Hellenic Museum in Midtown officially celebrated its grand opening this past weekend.
 
The building, located at 67 E. Kirby in Detroit's Cultural Center, was purchased from Wayne State University in 2009 for $355,000.
 
The Hellenic Heritage Society, the nonprofit organization that is dedicated to the promotion and celebration of Detroit's Greek heritage and growth of Greek culture, has spent the last four years restoring the building, formerly the Detroit Children's Museum, which included a new roof, a whole new geothermal heating system, air conditioning and more repairs, all while building up the inventory that is now the museum's collection.
 
Detroit's Hellenic Museum is one of only two such museums in the country (the other one opened about 15 years ago in Chicago). Joan De Ronne, vice president of operations for the Hellenic Museum, says, "The reason for the establishment of the Hellenic Museum in Michigan is because there is really nothing that was a reflection of Greek history and culture other than a small exhibit at the DIA and (in the libraries)," despite the tremendous impact Greek culture has had on the whole of Western civilization. Additionally, the roots of Greek culture in metro Detroit run deep, beginning with the immigration of the Greeks to the area in the early 1900s into Greektown. "So many (cultural) contributions have been made and those things are being lost. We want to preserve the story of their contributions, not just to Hellenic culture but also to greater metro Detroit as a whole."
 
The museum's collection consists of heritage items collected from families and churches – books, artwork and pottery, an eighteenth century bridal gown. The museum is also collecting the oral histories of local Greek families, which will eventually be available on the Hellenic Museum website.
 
The museum will continue hosting and partnering on events that celebrate and promote Greek culture – music, art, food, and history – such as the annual Greek Independence Day Parade that was held in tandem with their grand opening last Saturday.
 
Source: Joan De Ronne, Vice President of Operations for the Hellenic Museum
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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TechTown goes beyond tech with SWOT City and Retail Boot Camp

"(There was a time when) TechTown was trying to be all things to all people," says TechTown President and CEO Leslie Smith. Now, with community partners like Hatch Detroit and D:hive, which are better-suited to validate and launch ideas, TechTown is able to focus on what they do best: validate and launch businesses.
 
Two programs TechTown runs that focus on launching businesses are SWOT City and Retail Boot Camp.
 
"In 2008, when the economy crashed, we found ourselves involved in a new economy initiative that suggested entrepreneurship was a new career path for many people," says Smith. TechTown also found themselves involved in businesses that were decidedly non-tech. "We looked at where was the most ripe opportunity for businesses and the existing market demand; from these places these programs were born."
 
SWOT City places new businesses to fill community voids and promote entrepreneurship, connects neighborhood businesses with key resources and provides personal coaching and information sessions to address a business's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT).
 
"SWOT attempts to address underserved populations in the city of Detroit who don't necessarily have the information or transportation to even get to TechTown," says Smith. "We saw we were not serving the city in as many ways as we could, so we developed a neighborhood strategy that allows us to go to them and meet them where they are." They did their initial testing in Midtown and the North End before launching in Brightmoor last October, a socioeconomically challenged neighborhood that has already seen positive results.
 
In six months, the partnership with Brightmoor has provided 400 hours of technical assistance, retained 53 jobs, completed 15 business assessments, and created one business and four jobs with six more businesses currently in the pipeline. In late March, TechTown announced their next community partnership is with the Jefferson East Business Association to develop the East Jefferson commercial corridor.
 
Retail Boot Camp is a new program offered by TechTown, which acts as an aggressive accelerator program for brick and mortar retail businesses. Applications for the first round are being accepted through this Friday, April 19. The intensive 10-week evening program starts in May with the goal of launching a dozen new retail storefronts in the city within the year.
 
Source: Leslie Smith, TechTown President and CEO
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Transform Woodward encompasses a transit-oriented development masterplan for the Woodward Corridor

As the M-1 Rail has made significant progress towards full realization, there has been much dialogue among the businesses and communities along the Woodward corridor regarding transit development. In 2010, conversations among members of the Woodward Avenue Action Association (WA3), born out of discussions about light rail, led to the establishment of the Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) task force to look at zoning and ordinances all along the corridor and how to best impact economic development. From there, additional initiatives were launched – all symbiotically related to transit development planning but all separate in their focuses – that are now collectively being referred to as Transform Woodward.
 
Transform Woodward is the umbrella concept for TOD in tandem with the Alternatives Analysis and Complete Streets planning. The completed Alternatives Analysis (AA), in partnership with the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG), identified bus rapid transit (BRT) as the preferred rapid transit model for the corridor. In addition to AA, WA3 has received a Federal Highway Administration grant of $752,000 to create a Complete Streets masterplan which considers items like interpretive crosswalks, cycling infrastructure, and wayfinding options in accordance with rapid transit design, as well as integrating the general public's needs and concerns.
 
The Complete Streets study is currently underway, and starting this week WA3 will hold a series of five community events April 17-19 at the St. James Catholic Church at 241 Pearson Street in Ferndale. This event series, collectively known as a "charette," is an interactive community event led by Dan Burden, founder and Executive Director of Walkable and Livable Communities Institute.
 
The Complete Streets study has split the 27-mile Woodward corridor into five zones, with northern Detroit and Ferndale combined as one zone. Four additional charettes, held in each of the remaining "zones" (including downtown Detroit), will be held throughout the year.
 
The Woodward Complete Streets masterplan, potentially the largest Complete Streets program in the country, will include both immediate and long-terms recommendations with all-encompassing small-, mid- and long-range capital projects. WA3 hopes to roll out this plan by the beginning of 2014.
 
The newly-launched Transform Woodward website has full details on each initiative, and a soon-to-launch mobile app will feature an intricately detailed interactive map with the ability to comment and participate in a public survey.
 
Source: Jason Fowler, WA3 and Woodward Complete Streets Program Manager
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Detroit Electric revives iconic car brand with headquarters in the Fisher Building

Detroit has a new player in the automotive manufacturing field: Detroit Electric, a revival of the iconic electric vehicle brand first launched in 1906.
 
Detroit Electric produced about 13,000 electric cars before it closed in 1939. In 2008, the brand was revived by Albert Lam, former group CEO of the Lotus Engineering Group and executive director of Lotus Cars of England.

On April 3, the company unveiled its first production car, the SP:01. The SP:01 is the fastest pure-electric sports car in production and is the only pure-electric sports car being built in Detroit. Production will start in August and the cars will be on the street by the end of the year. Only 999 of the SP:01 will be made and it will cost $135,000. Detroit Electric will follow up the SP:01 with higher-production (and more affordable) sedan and hatchback models in 2014.
 
Lam wants Detroit Electric to be the company that offers drivers the everyday electric driving experience they desire. He hopes to grow from 10,000-40,000 cars in production over the next several years in the worldwide market. "We're trying to be realistic," he says. "We're not trying to be GM. We just want to make a product people love."
 
Detroit Electric will establish its corporate headquarters on the 18th floor of the Fisher Building in New Center. This space is currently undergoing renovation; they are launching with six employees in the temporary space inside the Fisher Building, then will increase to 25-30 people once the permanent space is ready. They are also in the final stages of acquiring an assembly facility in an as-yet-unnamed location in Wayne County (this will be one of only two assembly sites worldwide; the other will be in Europe). The assembly facility will employ about 20 people initially. The company's long-term plans also include a research and development center for electric drive trains. All combined, Detroit Electric will eventually create about 300 new jobs.
 
Source: Albert Lam, Chairman and CEO of Detroit Electric Holdings Ltd. and Don Graundstadt, CEO of Detroit Electric North America Operations

Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Construction to start on Globe Building state park recreation center and events facility

The former Detroit Dry Docks Engine Works complex and Globe Trading Company building, parts of which date back to 1892, will begin its transformation into an adventure and discovery center as part of an expansion of the William G. Milliken State Park & Harbor, Michigan's only urban state park.
 
The project was announced in May 2011 but has seen some delays. "The languishing has ended," says David Di Rita, owner of the Roxbury Group, the Detroit-based development firm overseeing the renovation. They closed on construction financing for the project in mid-March. Activity on the building will start within in the next two weeks.
 
The $12.8 million project is essentially a build-to-suit project for the Department of Natural Resources. Plans include the adventure and discovery center with rock-climbing, zip-lining, and other activities, but much more beyond that. "Really it amounts to a multi-use facility for the benefit of park visitors as well as people who may just wish to visit the Globe and participate in its activities, which includes a combination of exhibit and meeting space all designed around the idea of introducing the public to the state park system and provide year-round opportunities for people to enjoy the state park."
 
There will be activity space as well as permanent and rotating educational exhibits. The DNR will move its operations offices from Southfield into this building. The design includes a lot of attractive open space that can be used for business meetings and private events; the DNR envisions this space being utilized in much the same way as Eastern Market's Shed 5.
 
People will also be able to access the services of any state park office, such as getting their hunting and fishing licenses.

"The idea is really to take people here in the largest point of population in the state and give them a point of entry into the state park system," says Di Rita.
 
The project requires a partial demolition of some of the older portions of the complex, though Di Rita says, "We're doing our best to preserve as much of the facility as possible and are really focusing on the portion of the building that is most recognizable to the public."
 
Di Rita expects construction on the Globe to be complete around this time next year.
 
Source: David Di Rita, owner of the Roxbury Group
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg 

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Neumann/Smith Architecture moving downtown, overseeing several major development projects

Neumann/Smith Architecture, which has been around since 1969, has been working under the radar downtown for years. Now, the firm is making it official this year when it moves into the Wright-Kay Building at 1500 Woodward.
 
The firm has worked on several significant projects in the city out of its Southfield office, including various projects with Wayne State University, One Kennedy Square, the Science Center, the $50 million landscape renovation including meditation gardens and fountains at DTE, Blue Cross Blue Shield's east campus (including the green parking deck and courtyard), and work for several clients inside the Renaissance Center.
 
Most recently Neumann/Smith worked with Quicken Loans and Bedrock on some of their most high-profile developments. The first opportunity was the Madison Building, which has become a technology hub noted as much for its design as for its inhabitants. "(That building) was huge for them and for us," says Joel Smith, partner of Neumann/Smith Architecture. "It got a lot of attention." (Particularly the fifth-floor meeting space and rooftop patio available for private parties, which Smith calls "one of the coolest" spaces in the city.)
 
Next up on Neumann/Smith's Bedrock project roster includes renovations of the Dime Building, One Woodward, First National, and construction on the "Z" lot. "With all of this going on we needed to be closer to our client," says Smith. "We have always had a historic preservation practice but the Detroit office will be the hub for historic preservation and adaptive reuse (and) solidify our commitment to the city."
 
The firm is also heading up the renovation of the Wright-Kay Building, which Smith expects to be complete in June. The six floor, red sandstone building will feature office space on the upper floors (fully committed though not yet all officially leased) with ground floor restaurant and retail space.
 
Source: Joel Smith, AIA, partner of Neumann/Smith Architecture
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Urban Bean Co. set to re-open in Capitol Park next week

Detroiters will have another spot to grab a coffee and snack this week. Urban Bean Co. will open next Monday, April 15 at the corner of Griswold and Grand River.
 
For those of you who remember the old Urban Bean Co. that was located at the corner of Griswold and Grand River up until 2008, yes, this is the same one, and in the same location. With the redevelopment of Capitol Park now underway, its re-opening is also a comeback story. Co-owner Josh Greenwood has had the space since 2000 and operated the first incarnation of Urban Bean Co. for eight years.
 
But a lot has changed since then, and Greenwood, along with partner Ed Siegel, is giving it another shot -- and this time the prospects seem much more promising with all of the major development happening downtown.
 
"Our new logo will have 'Established 2000' crossed out (with '2013' written in)," says Siegel. "We're sort of making fun of ourselves."
 
They intend this to be more of a grab-and-go coffee shop for busy downtown dwellers and workers who just want a quick cup of coffee. They will serve Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Co. coffee and will have a pour-over station though their emphasis is more on drip. They are also focused on carrying products from as many Detroit-area vendors as they can -- including items from Dutch Girl Donuts, Beignets, and Ferndale-based Pinwheel Bakery. "We're hoping to get a bunch of (vendors) and be a portal to these places that have great food (from the further-out parts of Detroit)."
 
Downstairs will have seating for around 15 people with free WiFi, while the 420-square-foot second floor will have a DJ booth. They are also open to hosting group and private events like book clubs.
 
Urban Bean Co.'s hours will be 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday to start. "There is a downtown contingent that wants later hours than what other places are offering," Siegel says.

Source: Ed Siegel, co-owner of Urban Bean Co.
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Three Squared unveils Cargolinc Systems technology, plans to break ground on model site this month

At a recent project launch event held at Next Energy in TechTown, members of the Three Squared management team as well as board members and partners on the project unveiled their new patented Cargolinc Systems technology.
 
Three Squared will be the first multi-family-living shipping container construction project in the country. Cargolinc is a comprehensive three-step system that accelerates green and sustainable construction with high quality standards at a fraction of the cost. Three Squared's proprietary Cargolinc Systems allow the heavy-gauge steel shipping containers used in their residential and commercial real estate construction to be engineered for strength, affordability, energy efficiency, and design aesthetics (samples shown were totally unidentifiable as shipping containers, with exterior finishes that mimic traditional commercial and residential construction).
 
Three Squared, using the patented Cargolinc Systems, aims to be the global leader in multi-family, mixed-use and commercial (including hotels and student housing) cargo container construction development, with $260 million already pledged in investments around the country.
 
Cargo containers are fire-resistant and strong enough to withstand hurricanes and earthquakes, and the adaptive reuse of these containers means both low-cost materials and exceptional sustainability. Around the world, shipping container construction is becoming increasingly popular for its durability, sustainability, and affordability, but in the United States the multi-family and commercial markets are still relatively untapped.
 
Major funding and partnership efforts are still underway, but Three Squared plans to break ground on its two-unit model site on Michigan Avenue in Corktown next to the Grinnell Place Lofts by the end of this month, while the main site at West Warren Avenue and Rosa Parks in Woodbridge, which will become a 20-unit condo complex, is anticipated to break ground this summer. Once ground is broken it will take only seven days to frame and six months to build. They also plan to add another six to eight units behind the model site in the future.
 
Source: Leslie Horn, CEO of Three Squared, Inc.
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Alley Wine wins zoning ordinance change, moving forward and hoping for fall opening

Alley Wine sounded like such a lovely idea: open up a wine bar in an alley in a converted garage with doors that open to the alley and a backyard that can be used for outdoor seating and recreation. The idea sparked a lot of interest, securing it as a semi-finalist in the first-ever Hatch Detroit contest in 2011.
 
There was just one problem: the proposed building was zoned as residential property. Before any kind of planning in earnest could move forward, the building had to be re-zoned for commercial use (and as a liquor establishment at that, which is not without its own complications).
 
For the past 20 months, partners David Knapp and Lynne Savino have been working on getting this Midtown property at 655 W. Alexandrine re-zoned for commercial use by the city. "I knew we had a major roadblock with zoning issues," says Knapp, who works as an architect and is familiar with zoning restrictions.
 
They started with the Board of Zoning Appeals, which took several hearings over six months to ultimately have their request rejected. From there they went to the City Planning Commission, this time with the help and support of Midtown Inc.'s Sue Mosey. The Alley Wine concept happens to be in keeping with her master vision for more mixed-use development in Midtown, which also includes more non-motorized transit development (Alley Wine will be accessible only by foot or bike). "We were kind of a pilot case for the rezoning," says Knapp.
 
"Mosey and (Midtown Economic Development Manager) Karen Gage really spearheaded on our behalf to work with the City Planning Commission staff," says Knapp. They conducted informal hearings to garner public support and drew up the official language to push the request forward. The request was first approved by the commission, then by City Council, then by Mayor Dave Bing.
 
While Alley Wine is still a way off from opening -- they still need to secure tax credits and building permits and apply for financing and a liquor license, none of which could be started before the rezoning was finalized -- Knapp hopes for a fall opening.
 
Source: David Knapp, co-owner of Alley Wine
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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The Butcher's Daughter contemporary art gallery to open in the Auburn in May

Ferndale contemporary art gallery The Butcher's Daughter is moving into the Auburn in Midtown this May after four years in its previous Ferndale location. "We had looked for about a year for the right property," says Butcher's Daughter Director Monica Bowman. "Eventually I met Sue (Mosey) and she got me involved in the Auburn. It was heaven-sent."
 
Another Ferndale business, Treat Dreams, was intended for the space but the decision was made not to move forward, leaving the space available for someone else to snag. Bowman saw it as the opportunity she had been waiting for. "We had always intended to (move) to Detroit. It is literally like a dream."
 
Auburn developers the Roxbury Group are building out the space according to Bowman's specifications down to details like placement of outlets and light switches, an added wall, and special lighting accommodations. "They went all out. It's like your imagination coming to life," she says.
 
The Butcher's Daughter is moving from a very small second-floor space that was not handicap-accessible and didn't easily invite foot traffic, things that Bowman felt were hindrances to her business, into this 1,200-square-foot space with tall ceilings. The new, larger space allows Bowman to show more works, larger pieces, and expand her programming in ways she couldn't in her previous location.
 
The Auburn was a particular draw because of its proximity to all of the major cultural institutions of Midtown as well as other galleries like Dell Pryor and Re:View. It is also home to design-focused home décor and gift stores Hugh and Nora.

"I can't imagine not having my business here," Bowman says. "It's so centralized and integrated. It's a nice community to really add to what's already going on."  
 
Bowman plans on opening in May.
 
Source: Monica Bowman, Director of The Butcher's Daughter
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Downtown Detroit development news run-down

There was an abundance of major downtown development news in the last week. Here is a quick review of some of the biggest projects and purchases announced.
 
• Dan Gilbert once again seems to be on a building-buying spree, most recently adding the 44,000-square-foot Vinton Building at 600 Woodward to his real estate portfolio. This just a week after closing on 1001 Woodward, a 275,000-square-foot building. This brings the total number of residential and commercial downtown Detroit buildings owned by Rock Ventures LLC, Gilbert's umbrella holding company, up to 17, in addition to several more parking structures and surface lots. Gilbert now controls more than 2.9 million square feet of property in downtown Detroit.
 
• In downtown building news not related to Dan Gilbert, Village Green, a privately-owned metro Detroit-based apartment owner and operator, purchased the 338-unit Millender Center Apartments. The complex will undergo renovation work and a rebranding in the next year under its new ownership.
 
• The $279 million renovation of COBO Center is about halfway completed and is both on-schedule and on-budget. The third and final phase is scheduled to be complete by January 2015.
 
• The Whitney Partners, the development team comprised of the Roxbury Group and Trans Inn Management's Lifestyle Boutique Division, have kicked off construction of the $82 million David Whitney Building mixed-use renovation including 105 residential apartment units, a 136-room Aloft Hotel, and ground floor retail.
 
• Perhaps the splashiest development news from last week came, once again, from Dan Gilbert at a gathering of some 400 business and civic leaders and members of the press. At the two-hour briefing, Gilbert shared his overall master plan for downtown retail development, which included official announcements of retail businesses opening (Moosejaw has committed to a multi-year lease; Papa Joe's Gourmet Market will open in a 15,000-square-foot space inside the First National Building), as well as Gilbert's personal vision for placemaking strategies (among them sidewalk cafes, pedestrian walks, and dog parks).

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Bagger Dave's in Greektown moving forward after construction delay

You may have seen the new vinyl banner that reads "Coming Soon!" with the Bagger Dave's logo that was hung over the weekend at 1224 Randolph Street next to the recently-opened Buffalo Wild Wings in Greektown. While the restaurant is still a long way out from opening, Southfield-based Diversified Restaurant Holdings, Inc. is moving forward with plans to open this as a Bagger Dave's despite some unforeseen setbacks.
 
After the lengthy Buffalo Wild Wings renovation that soared into the millions ($3.5 million for the renovation work alone; $5 million when factoring in other opening costs like purchasing equipment), Diversified is now focused on Bagger Dave's. This will be the first Bagger Dave's in Detroit and the fifth in metro Detroit. There are 12 locations total in Michigan and Indiana, and seven are planned to open this year.
 
Because of the old infrastructure on this block, construction has been delayed as they have been working with DTE to bring electrical power over to the building. Michael Ansley, president and CEO of Diversified Restaurant Holdings, Inc., hopes construction will start this summer and be completed in October.
 
The short, narrow building was built as a bank in the late 1800s. Only 18 feet wide, the lower floor will seat roughly 60 while the second-floor bar will seat another 70. One of the building's key features is a skylight that extends the length of the building on the second floor that the bar will sit directly beneath. "It's going to be really cool," says Ansley. "We're really excited to get (this project moving forward)."
 
The building has already been completely gutted. In addition to retaining the skylight, they will also be restoring the building's limestone façade and preserving the historic front window. This renovation is expected to cost about $1 million.
 
Though it has previously been reported that Diversified might move its corporate offices to the third floor of the Buffalo Wild Wings, the company will no longer move forward with those plans.
 
Source: Michael Ansley, president and CEO of Diversified Restaurant Holdings, Inc.
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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SkyBar and Lounge now open on 33rd floor, previous ground floor space being renovated and expanded

Up until a couple of weeks ago, "Sky Bar" was a bit of a misnomer, what with the bar and lounge being located on the ground floor of the David Stott Building in downtown Detroit.
 
"We are in the process of a rebranding," says Marshal Simons of Impakt Digital, community manager of SkyBar & Lounge. "When the owners first opened they were new at the bar industry and wanted to get in on the ground level of Detroit" … so to speak.
 
Owner Lynn Kassotis, president of the Florida-based real estate company CID Investments (which owns the building), fell in love with the art deco architecture of the 37-story David Stott Building and was drawn to the space on the 33rd floor, but because of issues with the sprinkler system they were not able to get a liquor license and open in the upper-floor space initially. They now have a 180-day temporary approval of occupancy as they complete the final necessary repairs, and are currently open on Fridays and Saturdays offering unparalleled 300-degree views of downtown Detroit and the Detroit River.
 
Prior to opening they completely stripped the 33rd floor space down to the studs and totally restored it with a granite and marble bar, tile floors, and three private rooms including a plush library with leather chairs and an oak bookcase. One of the rooms is also designed as a cigar lounge with the proper air filtration system, though they have not yet been approved for the cigar licensing.   
 
The ground floor space, which has been the bar's home for a little over a year, is now undergoing a half-million dollar renovation and expansion which includes a new stage built in partnership with WDET. They hope to have this renovation completed in the next few weeks. There will be live music downstairs on weekends while upstairs will be more relaxed with music played over their internal speaker system. Both floors will continue to offer an upscale environment for drinks and small plates.
 
Source: Marshal Simons of Impakt Digital, community manager of SkyBar & Lounge.
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Johnny Rags celebrates grand opening in new location downtown

Clothing and accessories shop Johnny Rags (formerly known as "Rags") has relocated from its previous downtown Detroit space at Broadway and Grand River to a brand-new location at 440 Congress.
 
The store moved late August but the owners waited until last Friday to celebrate their grand re-opening, wanting to display some fresh product with a fresh new look. "We wanted to wait until we had spring items to showcase," says co-owner Bliss Cureton.
 
After eight years in the previous location it was time for them to move on. Cureton and her business partner John Mangrum knew they wanted to stay downtown, and already they have seen a significant increase in business with their new proximity to Greektown and the central business district. "Women walk over on their breaks from Blue Cross, the GM Building, Greektown… It's just a better spot altogether."
 
Cureton describes the new store as being a little bit of southern California in Detroit. The space is very open with many windows that allow plenty of natural light. At approximately 1,400 square feet, the new store is much larger than the old store (which was further segmented into three separate rooms). The color scheme is an L.A.-cool aqua compared to the previous two-tone beige. The overall look and vibe is drastically different and, Cureton feels, greatly improved.
 
Rags has been open in different locations including Southfield and Dearborn since 1994. Originally opened by Robert Allen Grumet ("RAGs"), longtime employees Cureton and Mangrum took over the store four years ago.
 
Johnny Rags offers casual men's sportswear, designer jeans, T-shirts, and "funky" leather jackets year-round. For women the focus is more on interchangeable pieces that transition from day to evening for women ages 20-60.
 
Starting April 4, Johnny Rags will host "Champagne and Shopping" events every Thursday with deep in-store discounts 3-7 p.m.
 
Source: Bliss Cureton, co-owner of Johnny Rags
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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826michigan expands programming to Detroit, finds home at Model D

826michigan, a nonprofit dedicated to helping students ages 6-18 with their creative and expository writing skills that also owns and operates the Liberty Street Robot Supply and Repair in Ann Arbor (along with their own writing lab), has expanded its reach from Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti into Detroit.
 
"We've always had in our minds as an organization to work in the city of Detroit," says Amanda Uhle, Executive Director of 826michigan. "It wasn't the right time in the early years when we were establishing ourselves, then in 2011 our board members did a strategic plan and found we were not only stable but ready to grow."
 
Over the last year and a half the organization has been working on expanding into Detroit and has started offering programming in the city. Last October, they received funding from the DTE Energy Foundation for the first year in Detroit. "We have a deep commitment to the city," says Uhle. "We wanted to start when we were ready and could sustain our work (here)."
 
Currently located in a temporary office in the Model D house at 4470 Second Avenue in Midtown, 826michigan is building its volunteer base as well as relationships with the city's public schools and libraries. 826 programming is mostly on-site at these institutions, though they do hope to have their own retail space and writing lab similar to what they have in Ann Arbor in the next 12 to 18 months.
 
826 programs are currently offered in three Detroit public schools. In five years they hope to double their reach from 2,500 to 5,000 students, half of those in Detroit. Volunteer training sessions are held every fourth Tuesday of the month from 5:30-6:30 p.m. starting this week at the Model D house, where people can learn more about the program and meet the staff.
 
Source: Amanda Uhle, Executive Director of 826michigan
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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MotorCity Wine moving to Corktown this fall

Detroit's MotorCity Wine, currently at 608 Woodward Avenue on the second floor above Foran's Grand Trunk Pub and Foran's Deluxe Diner in downtown Detroit, is relocating this fall to the space currently inhabited by the Express Bar (pictured) in Corktown. The new address will be 1949 Michigan Avenue.
 
Owners David and Melissa Armin-Parcells have acquired this space and are currently working on the liquor license transfer, a process they expect will take five months under new laws established by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission that expedite the process of a license transfer. They will take that time to do some cosmetic remodeling at the new location.
 
"(The Foran's space) was always intended to be a temporary location for us to build our brand and build our capital," says David Armin-Parcells. "It's worked out well for us; we have no complaints. We love the space. We created a vibe that's totally unique. The new place will be different but equally lovely."
 
The new space is 2,000 square feet, effectively double what they currently have. It also includes a large outdoor patio that doubles their indoor capacity, which they plan on making "the best patio in the city." The bar also has its own parking lot with plenty of spaces, alleviating the biggest issue they have in their current location.
 
The new MotorCity Wine will open first as a wine bar; the retail sales license will come a little later. "Basically the core of our plan will be the same -- good value wines, interesting small family producers, a lot of organic and biodynamic products." They will also continue to host musicians and DJs and will expand their kitchen offerings.
 
They will continue to operate in their current location through the summer and welcome any pop-up concepts (sans alcohol) in the new space for the interim period. Contact David on the MCW site to inquire.
 
Source: David Armin-Parcells, co-owner of MotorCity Wine
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Designer of downtown's new Crowne Plaza to give the "Pontch" a whole new, colorful look

Another iconic Detroit building, the former Pontchartrain Hotel, will breathe new life later this spring after sitting vacant since 2009.
 
The Pontchartrain will soon re-open as a Crowne Plaza, an upscale hotel property owned by the Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG). Ohio-based Stephen Berry Architectural Design is the design firm working on the project. The firm specializes in hotel projects nationwide, many of which are IHG properties. The firm has also worked with the previous two owners of the Pontchartrain.
 
Stephen Berry says that the new design concept for the 25-story, 371-room hotel will be sensitive to the building's 1965 modernist design. The vaulted ceiling of the lobby will be completely re-finished with gold and silver leaf. The restaurant and lounge spaces will be totally re-imagined with copper leaf accents, new fixtures and décor.
 
"The lobby and lounge will be very modern and striking. We're really changing the look," says Berry. "(The new design) really gets away from the darkness of the past."
 
The exterior of the building will also see significant aesthetic changes with a whole new color scheme. The face of the building will be neutral beige with green glass. One of the biggest changes includes a new auto-access entrance on Jefferson in IHG's signature plum color, with a white custom-built backlit canopy arcing over it. "It's very colorful. The building was always a monochromatic black and dark gray. Now it will have a whole new look."
 
Significant work is also being done to the second-floor exterior terrace, which Berry describes as a "key feature of the building."
 
Other plans include added ground-floor retail along Jefferson, including a new gift shop concept that internationally-known hotel developer Gabriel Ruiz (who is behind this development) has branded in his hotel chain through North America.
 
Source: Stephen Berry, owner of Stephen Berry Architectural Design
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Great Expressions Dental Center celebrates grand opening in Midtown

Though it has been open since Feb. 19, the new Great Expressions Dental Center in Midtown is celebrating its grand opening this Wednesday, March 20 with an open house from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
 
Great Expressions is a Michigan-based company that has operated for over 35 years, with 50 offices located in metro Detroit alone. The new Midtown office is located in the plaza at 360 Woodward Ave., next to the Starbucks. The interior was totally renovated from top to bottom over three months.
 
"Our CEO was taking a look in the city to see where is the right fit for us," says Ryan Torresan, director of marketing for Great Expressions Dental Centers. "With all of the momentum and growth (in Midtown) it seemed like a good fit."
 
With a large number of students and working professionals in the immediate vicinity of this Midtown office, their schedule for their first month of operation has already been full.

"We haven't seen a shortage of interest," Torresan says, from people who live nearby and were sick of having to drive to the suburbs to see their childhood dentist, and from people who work in Midtown who find it convenient to schedule a dental appointment on their lunch break or after work. They also have options for people without dental insurance.
 
During their grand opening they will have refreshments, lunch provided by Lunchtime Detroit, and oral health aid giveaways. Visitors can also meet the medical staff and tour the office.
 
This is the second Great Expressions Dental Center in the city of Detroit (another location is at 11532 Morang on the East Side). They later plan to also expand into downtown.
 
Source: Ryan Torresan, Director of Marketing for Great Expressions Dental Centers
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Eight Mile Facade Improvement Program leads to more transformational change along the major corridor

Not all projects of significance currently happening on Eight Mile are so vast in scope as the Gateway Marketplace or the state fairgrounds development. Since 2008, the Eight Mile Boulevard Association (8MBA), in partnership with the city and the Community Foundation, have been working to improve Eight Mile's "curb appeal" with its Façade Improvement Program (FIP).
 
FIP is a reimbursement program that incentivizes business owners on Eight Mile to invest in their properties and improve their appearance. 8MBA will match what the owners invest up to $10,000, and also provide free architectural design services.
 
This program has helped to renovate over two dozen facades over the last five years, most recently at the Fresh Fish House at Wyoming. The program helps develop a pride of ownership and has also led to the renovation of sites adjacent to those that have participated in FIP. Tim Horton's recently opened a storefront on Eight Mile at Telegraph because of the investment they saw happening on the boulevard.
 
"People want to invest in Eight Mile and in their property," says Tami Salisbury, executive director of the Eight Mile Boulevard Association. "This is a huge business retention tool, and also a huge business attraction tool." 8MBA is doing what they can incrementally to change the perception of Eight Mile so it is seen as more of a connector than a divider. "Without physically changing the landscape we'll never change the mental landscape."
 
Exit surveys conducted by the 8MBA have shown that every single business that participated in the FIP saw an increase in business over the next year.
 
8MBA currently has a record seven applications for the FIP. Two will be selected. In order to qualify, a business must be a member of the 8MBA, have an Eight Mile address, and be able to make at least half of the investment themselves. Design plans must be agreed upon by all participating organizations and aesthetically improve Eight Mile.
 
Source: Tami Salisbury, Executive Director of the Eight Mile Boulevard Association
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Orion Music + More festival invests in Belle Isle, Detroit city parks

Belle Isle has certainly been a hot topic of conversation lately, and it seems like the nation's largest city island park is going to get a little outside help after all.
 
Tickets are now on sale for the Orion Music + More festival being held on Belle Isle June 8-9, featuring headliners Metallica, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bassnectar, and many more. This is the second year for the hard-rock-centric music festival, which was first held over a single weekend last year in Atlantic City.
 
Seeking a new location for the festival, which is expected to draw in about 30,000-35,000 people per day based on last year’s attendance, the organizers – Austin-based C3 Productions -- approached the City of Detroit about using Belle Isle. Bradley Dick, the city's director of general services (who at the time was also filling in as interim recreation director), worked out a deal with festival organizers that would put money right back into Detroit's parks.
 
As part of the deal, the Orion Music + More festival is to pay a set fee of $100,000 in 2013, $100,000 in 2014, and $250,000 in 2015 which will be funneled directly back into capital improvements for Detroit's parks. Dick's idea was to split this revenue 50/50 between Belle Isle and Detroit's other 100-plus parks so that the economic benefit of the festival is widespread.
 
The City of Detroit will also receive a set percentage of all ticket sales, concessions and merchandise sales. All of this money will be re-invested into the city's parks, and will also provide significant seed money for the city to apply for matching grants, enabling them to turn, say, $200,000 into $400,000.
 
While Orion is on the books for 2013, years 2014 and 2015 are not yet confirmed. The festival has the first right of refusal for the same weekend both of those years and terms and conditions, should they continue in Detroit, have already been agreed upon.
 
As a burgeoning host city for major events, Detroit potentially has its own Lollapalooza/SXSW on its hands with Orion -- a diverse showcase of major artists held once per year. This is the largest music festival to ever be held on Belle Isle.

Source: Bradley Dick, General Services Department Director of the City of Detroit
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Farm City is the next major transformational project in ever-evolving Old Redford

There is a transformation happening in northwest Detroit's Old Redford neighborhood equitable to the grassroots efforts that have pushed along the development on Michigan, Woodward and Cass avenues.

Motor City Blight Busters have been the driving force of development and transformational change in Old Redford over the past 25 years (with $20 million in investments over that time period). John George, founder and president of Blight Busters, has worked tirelessly to find people with similar visions who support each other. "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts," says George, whose work has not only included demolishing blighted crack dens but also renovating empty buildings into community spaces. "It's one thing to clear land and walk away but another thing to stick and stay."

Through Blight Busters George met Kofi Royal, founder of Fertile Ground Collective, Old Redford's community garden project which repurposes cleared land to serve the community. Last year he also met Harry Reisig, Executive Director of Replanting Roots, a program serving returning citizens and reintegrating them into society. Replanting Roots will offer long-term in-house fellowships to returning citizens in order to create self-sustaining entrepreneurs.

The three organizations have joined forces to create Farm City Detroit, an ambitious undertaking that will eventually cover two to four acres and include a community garden extending 8-10 city lots, a farmhouse, a farmers market, a renovated apartment building where Replanting Roots fellows will stay, and a year-round production farm.

The first phase starts this month with the acquisition and renovation of the Simon House housing facility, together with the farmhouse, which will serve as an education center for the community. Plans for this year also include tearing down eight more blighted houses in the farm’s path and launching a five-month pilot program for Replanting Roots inside the Simon House.

Farm City will take three to five years to become fully operational, but George (who has been at it for almost three decades) is undaunted. “We’re all starry-eyed dreamers with a passion and a goal to leave this neighborhood better than we found it.”

Source: John George, Founder & President of Motor City Blight Busters
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Sherbrooke Manor celebrates grand re-opening, now leasing

After barely seven months of construction, the Sherbrooke Manor apartments in Midtown are hosting a grand re-opening open house this Wednesday (March 13) and are currently in the process of leasing.
 
"We expect (units) to go very quickly," says Lis Knibbe, a principal at Quinn Evans Architects and the developer of the Sherbrooke Manor apartments. "We are so proud of how it came out. It exceeded our hopes."
 
The 100-year-old building was initially opened as six luxury units and was later renovated into 24 low-cost units. Knibbe looked into the building in August 2011 and purchased it in July 2012. She praises the work of the Monahan Company, which handled all of the renovation work. "They worked their butts off, even on weekends."
 
Sherbrooke now has 14 upscale units featuring granite countertops, energy efficient stainless steel appliances and washer/dryer units in each apartment, refinished original hardwood floors, and historic trim. Common areas feature a sunroom, a central wooden staircase, and leaded glass windows. Six of the units have plaza balconies. Each unit has windows on three sides.
 
"We were able the salvage the whole building," says Knibbe. "You always have high hopes for every building you work on but this one just exceeded everything we could have hoped." Because it was originally built as high-end housing, the building retained its bare bones structure to enable the development team to bring it back to its former glory. "It's such an elegant space and we were able to recapture that elegance of the building."
 
For leasing inquiries, contact leasing agent Michael Martorelli of Center City Properties at 313-782-4056.
 
Source: Lis Knibbe, developer of the Sherbrooke Manor apartments
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Beignets brings a taste of the Bayou to the New Orleans of the North

From the Paris of the Midwest to the New Orleans of the North: Detroit is getting a taste of the Bayou with Beignets
 
After many years of travelling to the Big Easy and enjoying late-night beignets with chicory coffee at the famous Café du Monde, Michele Pearson and her partner Mark Hausner launched Beignets to bring the dense French doughnut to Detroit. "We just loved the fact that when people were together eating beignets all hours of the night, listening to zydeco, they were happy," says Pearson. "We figured with the French influence in Detroit, why doesn't Detroit have something like this?"
 
They started introducing Beignets to Detroit with a food truck currently operating Saturdays at Eastern Market and at various food truck meet-ups. "From the warm welcome we've been getting from the beignet truck, the opportunity presented itself (to open a store) in Hamtramck, where both myself and (Hausner) have roots," says Pearson, who is also an interior designer and owns the Yoga Suite in Hamtramck. "We want to do what we can to bring business to Hamtramck."
 
Beignets will be located on Joseph Campau next to the soon-to-open Flavor Restaurant. The two businesses are open to each other through their shared wall, and will also share a kitchen.
 
Beignets will serve the namesake pastry as well as chicory coffee (another New Orleans specialty) and regular coffee. The café will be open both early morning and late evening hours to capture some of the nightlife crowd. It will seat 30-40 people with free WiFi, and also has an outdoor patio out back where there will be more café seating and live music during the spring and summer.
 
Renovations are underway inside and Beignets will open by early summer. The truck will continue to operate at local events and farmers markets.
 
Source: Michele Pearson, co-owner of Beignets
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Trinosophes cafe, gallery and performing arts space celebrates grand opening this Saturday

Trinosophes, a new art gallery and performance space in Eastern Market, has been hosting monthly events for the past few months, but they are now ready for their full-time debut with a grand opening set for this Saturday, March 9.
 
Musician and event producer Joel Peterson and MOCAD Deputy Director Rebecca Mazzei have partnered on this project, which includes an integrated café, gallery and performance space. Peterson had previously been booking shows through the Bohemian National Home, and it had been his intent to find a new space since 2008.
 
"It has been a really long process for us," he says. "We put in the purchase agreement two years ago. We’ve been in there just about a year now getting it all together." The space did not require a full gut and the utilities were all solid, but it was basically an empty warehouse. They’ve spent this past year working on its aesthetic transformation.
 
The 8,500-square-foot space at 1464 Gratiot near Eastern Market was an old spice processing facility before it was the Butcher and Packer Supply Co. It has three storefronts; two will serve as the café and gallery exhibition/performance space, and the third will soon be a second location for Midtown's Peoples Records.
 
The café portion will be completed this spring and will offer free WiFI. Peterson says this will be encouraged as a "hangout space" for people to linger. 
 
There are no immediate plans to apply for a liquor license. "We’re looking forward to being the space that isn’t a bar where exciting stuff happens."
 
Peterson will continue to book the kind of high caliber talent he was known for bringing to the Bohemian National Home, and the gallery will host specific exhibits built around particular artists. It is also accruing a semi-permanent collection as part of the environment, some of which will be for sale "until someone builds enough of a relationship with it to take it home."
 
The first exhibit opens in conjunction with their grand opening this Saturday.
 
Source: Joel Peterson, co-owner of Trinosophes
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Cupcak'n is sweet on Hamtramck, will open this spring

Hamtramck is definitely experiencing a growth spurt. Another new food business is set to open, a cupcakerie and gourmet ice cream shop called Cupcak’n located at 2756 Evaline St.
 
Owners Faness and Anthony Gray will debut their interactive cupcake bar concept this spring. Like a Cold Stone Creamery where you pick your own ingredients, they will offer eight different cupcake flavors with 14 kinds of frosting and over 20 different toppings so you can build your own cupcake. Chocolate cupcake with cream cheese frosting with Oreos and fudge on top? No problem.
 
They’ll also offer their own line of 23 different signature cupcakes with names like "Coconut Crazy for You" and "Peanut Butter Passion." Everything at Cupcak’n (which itself is a term of endearment) is all about love, including the love Anthony, the master baker, puts into his baking.
 
"He wants everything to be perfect, all made from scratch, all natural," says Faness. "We’ve both been in the kitchen every day for the last two years. We have baked more than 5,000 cupcakes in our test runs."
 
Cupcakes will be baked fresh on-site every morning by Anthony and his assistants. They will also carry premium ice creams in funky flavors like spicy chocolate, sour cream cinnamon, and avocado, made for them by Ruth and Phils in Chicago.
 
The 584-square-foot space was previously an ice cream shop. Interior renovations were minimal, but they did add an additional counter for their cupcake bar as well as a wall ledge where people can stand and enjoy their treats.
 
Faness is excited to bring a new kind of bakery to Hamtramck, where there are no bakeries that specialize in cupcakes, as well as a new kind of concept to Michigan. "There is no place that I know of in Michigan that has an interactive (cupcake) bar."
 
Source: Faness Gray, co-owner of Cupcak’n
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Run Detroit will hit the ground running this April in Willys Overland Lofts

Detroit has lots of runners. The annual Free Press marathon drew in about 24,000 last year, the annual Corktown Race (held before the Corktown Parade, coming up this Sunday) attracts over 5,000, and even smaller races attract a big crowd. Yes, Detroit has lots of runners, but the one thing it doesn’t have is a running store.
 
Until now.
 
Run Detroit is set to open this spring inside Willys Overland Lofts in Midtown. Owners Justin Craig and Alia Polsgrove are both runners themselves (which is how the couple met) and recognized the needs for a running store in the city.
 
"There are just a lot of runners in Detroit," says Craig. "There are a lot of people who live here and work here but there’s nowhere to shop. We kept hearing the same thing from people (about the lack of retail options)."
 
Craig, a Seattle native, managed a running store out there. He and Polsgrove, who is originally from Michigan, visited Detroit last summer for a race. They had been kicking around the idea of opening a running store and saw the space at Willys, so they made contact with the DeMattia Group (the developers of the building) and from there things moved quickly. They sold their house and moved to Detroit.
 
The store will act as a community hub for runners offering apparel (fashionable brands that "look good but also perform well"), accessories, and expertise. "We will make sure you get the best shoe for you," Craig says. "We will offer superior customer care to get people comfortable, with a lot of advice and tips to help people along the way to reach their goals but stay healthy while doing it."
 
The 1,300-square-foot space will be an open space with hardwood floors, exposed brick, comfortable seating, and plenty of natural lighting. Buildout is on schedule and they expect to open in April.
 
Source: Justin Craig, co-owner of Run Detroit
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Three bidders seek to bring X Games to town with Detroit-style DIY effort

You’ve heard all the claims of Detroit as the land of opportunity. You could, for example, wake up one day and decide you want to bring the X Games here. Which is pretty much what happened with Kevin Krease and his friends Ian Studders and Garret Koehler.
 
After hearing that ESPN’s X Games (which includes events like skateboarding, snowboarding, BMX, and Motocross) were expanding internationally, the three friends thought, "Wouldn’t it be cool to bring this to Detroit in the next round of expansions?" They had absolutely no event production experience, much less for an event of this scale. They started doing research. They started reaching out to people. They got connected to big local names like Phil Cooley (Ponyride, Slows), Jason Huvaere (President of Paxahau), and Susan Sherer (Executive Director of the Detroit Super Bowl XL Host Committee). Then they began approaching major stakeholders like Dan Gilbert, whose "Opportunity Detroit" campaign is epitomized in this grassroots effort.
 
Detroit has successfully hosted several major sporting events including the Super Bowl, the All-Star Game, and the Final Four. But those are all traveling events, a one-time influx of cash and bodies that are gone as quickly as they came. The X Games would be a three-year commitment.
 
"(Detroit is the) perfect marriage of what ESPN wants for the X Games," says Kevin Krease, Project Director of X Games Detroit. "What Detroit has here is this amazing grit and passion, that whole energy of the action sports scene." Detroit is a destination city for skaters all over the country. There are no competing events, plenty of major host venues already committed to it (including Ford Field, Hart Plaza, and Belle Isle), and a huge opportunity to further re-brand the city. Also, Ford is the largest global sponsor of the X Games. It just makes sense to bring it home.
 
ESPN representatives have already paid Detroit a visit and left with a positive impression, according to Krease. The formal bid is due April 2; the city selection will be announced Aug. 1.
 
Source: Kevin Krease, Project Director of X Games Detroit
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Bikram Yoga Detroit to open this spring in Midtown

Detroit certainly seems to have a yoga jones of late. There’s a new sign up at 55 Canfield: Bikram Yoga Detroit will be opening on the ground floor of the 55 West Canfield Lofts this spring.
 
Sarah Weckerle is a certified Bikram Yoga instructor and is a partner in this new studio with her sister Sue Weckerle and Sue’s husband Paul Howard (the couple are also partners in Midtown’s Bronx Bar and Cliff Bell’s in Foxtown).
 
Bikram Yoga is the original hot yoga developed by Bikram Choudhury in the 1970s. It consists of a series of 26 postures that never change. "Any class you go to will be exactly the same," says Weckerle. The repetition and consistency also makes it easier to learn the postures and learn your own body. "You can see your improvement a little faster."
 
Weckerle has been practicing yoga since 2000 and attended a nine-week teacher training with Choudhury in 2004. She taught in California for four years before moving back to Michigan and attending Eastern Michigan University while teaching yoga in local studios in the western suburbs. "When I finished my graduate degree I realized I really did just want to keep teaching yoga." Because her sister and brother-in-law already had the business background and Midtown footing, the pieces all fit together for her to open her own studio.
 
Despite the recent surge of yoga studios and yoga pop-ups in Detroit, Bikram Yoga Detroit will be the first Bikram Yoga studio in the city. The room will be kept at 105 degrees with 35 percent humidity. They will offer a variety of packages, from drop-in class pricing to packages to blocks of time up to one year unlimited.
 
Construction has already started on the space, and they are hoping for a mid-April opening.
 
Source: Sarah Weckerle, co-owner of Bikram Yoga Detroit
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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GalaxE. Solutions donates technology and expertise to 14 mini police stations

GalaxE. Solutions, with stateside offices in Detroit and New Jersey and several more all over the world, is currently working with Mayor Dave Bing and the City of Detroit to provide technology to mini police stations in community centers throughout the city.
 
"One of the challenges Detroit faces is safety," says Tim Bryan, GalaxE. Solutions CEO. "People need to feel safe. The degree to which the city makes people feel safe is the barometer (by which we judge its resurgence)."
 
The city has been actively deploying "mini police stations" throughout the city at community centers, which the city already owns. "It gives citizens more opportunity to interact with police and have more access to them," says Bryan. But the community centers lacked the technology capacity and connectivity to connect these satellite stations to the police network, so the city contacted GalaxE. Solutions and asked if they could help make these mini police stations functional.
 
"We are a big advocate of public-private partnerships," says Bryan, "and certainly for public safety. When that opportunity presented itself we made the decision to donate hardware, software and our own expertise to deploy these mini police stations. This is part of GalaxE.'s ongoing commitment to help in any way we can to help Detroit turn around."
 
Citing "major players" like Dan Gilbert, who is helping change the city’s landscape for businesses interested in setting up shop here, Bryan says that "there is something going on in Detroit that is extremely unique and powerful. The interaction of public and private entities working together for the benefit of the city -- we think that’s an excellent way to cure some of the ills in Detroit and we’re extremely happy at GalaxE. to provide what we can."
 
There are currently six mini police stations already deployed with eight more remaining. GalaxE. will support all of them.
 
Source: Tim Bryan, GalaxE. Solutions CEO
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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An Office in Detroit will let you have your own office in Detroit

With all of the talk of various one- and two-person tech start-ups, social entrepreneurs, and all the other Detroit DIYers getting ink as far and wide as Forbes and the New York Times for the youth-driven independent entrepreneurial spirit currently thriving in Detroit, there is just a wee small problem that doesn’t get addressed. Many of these folks are just small enough to not need or want an office of their own, whether for financial reasons or issues of plain practicality. What that leaves is a whole lot of remote workers cramming into coffee shops and holing up in their homes for long stretches of the day, day after day after day.
 
And this is the very ailment that An Office in Detroit seeks to alleviate.
 
If you’re a freelancer or a mobile office worker, you may be seeking an alternative to coffee shop culture -- where you never know whether there’s going to be a seat, what the music or atmosphere will be like, or how much you have to keep spending so as not to overstay your welcome. You may also crave some of that human interaction and office camaraderie you gave up when you left the world of nine-to-fivers.
 
An Office in Detroit is designed to be a co-working space offering the office environment, social interaction, and networking opportunities that satellite workers too often miss out on.
 
"Maybe you’re not necessarily looking to incubate a business, but that doesn’t mean you don’t want to be around other like-minded people," says Hayley Roberts, Communications Director of Michigan Suburbs Alliance and spokesperson for An Office in Detroit.
 
Located in a 500-square-foot space in the Metropolitan Center for High Technology (2727 Second Ave., Suite 200, Detroit), An Office in Detroit will include all the essentials (WiFi, quiet and communal seating, and a printer, copier and scanner) with plans for eventual 24-hour access. Rates are low and flexible with a variety of membership levels ($5 for day passes, $30/month for regular weekly use, $100/month for unlimited access).
 
They plan to open March 1.
 
Source: Hayley Roberts, Communications Director of Michigan Suburbs Alliance and spokesperson for An Office in Detroit
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Southwest Housing Solutions extends out to East Side with Mack-Alter Supportive Housing Development

Southwest Housing Solutions is currently extending its reach beyond Southwest Detroit into the northeast corner of the city. A new three-story construction development on the corner of Mack Avenue and Ashland near the border of Grosse Pointe Park is a partnership between Southwest Housing Solutions, the Warren/Conner Development Coalition (and its subsidiary LAND, Inc.), the Northeast Guidance Center, and the U-SNAP-BAC Community Development Corporation.
 
The $7.9 million, 40,000-square-foot Mack-Alter Supportive Housing Development will feature 39 subsidized supportive housing units as well as 6,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor. Funded by the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, Southwest Housing Solutions is spearheading this project as the developer as they have the necessary real estate development experience.
 
"This is different for Southwest," says Tim Thorland, Executive Director of Southwest Housing Solutions. "Three groups from the East Side approached us (because they) don’t have the experience as real estate developers and asked (if we would help them) as co-owners. We’re really the project developer (and property manager)."
 
The Northeast Guidance Center will work with its clients to fill the 39 available housing units and the Warren/Conner Development Coalition will handle the commercial spaces. "This is really an example of the power of collaboration between nonprofits in the city," says Thorland. "We’re colleagues with common goals but also competitors (for resources). Here, we’re helping each other achieve what (we all want to do)."
 
This is not the first time Southwest Housing Solutions has partnered on a project outside of its usual neighborhood. They also served as the real estate developer of the Piquette Square project in New Center, which welcomed its first tenants in 2010.
 
Thorland says they expect this project to be completed early this summer, targeting for a full year after initially breaking ground in June 2012.
 
Source: Tim Thorland, Executive Director of Southwest Housing Solutions
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Five years in the making, the Elizabeth Theatre takes a bow

When Jerry Belanger opened the Park Bar in December 2006, he didn’t even want to open a bar. As a theatre major and a passionate supporter of the performing arts, Belanger really wanted to open a theatre and performing arts space.
 
"It’s really why I bought the building," he says. "This is the fulfillment of a long-term dream."
 
The bar had to come before the theatre out of financial necessity. "I had to do everything that was income-oriented first, and a theatre isn’t income-oriented. It’s all expense-oriented."
 
Over the last six years, the Elizabeth Theatre, located upstairs from the Park Bar and Bucharest Grill, has been a slow work in progress.
 
"We started the renovation up there five years ago and slowly did concerts and shows," Belanger says. Since then they’ve built a stage as well as a full bar in the space, getting it in "good enough shape" to open. "It went from a really raw space (to a fully finished theatre)."
 
In addition to the bar and stage, they’ve now got theatre seat risers that seat 80, professional lighting, a sound booth, a lighting booth, and have just completed all of the major finishing touches to make the Elizabeth Theatre complete, though the labor of love isn’t quite yet complete. "Over the next year we will be doing a lot of detail work."
 
The Park Bar was also closed for a few days last week for some minor renovations of its own, which included refinishing the floor and reupholstering the furniture.
 
The Elizabeth Theatre is open every Friday and Saturday and hosts a variety of events, from concerts to stand-up comedy to film screenings. "We reserve the space for local performing arts. We don’t book anything that tours. These are all Detroit-centric performing events."
 
Last year, the inaugural Detroit Shakespeare Festival debuted at the Elizabeth, and this year they’re bringing it back starting March 14 and running through the end of April with Measure for Measure.
 
Source: Jerry Belanger, owner of the Park Bar and Elizabeth Theatre
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Grand River Station Castle Lofts will be mixed use commercial and residential space

The Grand River Station in Woodbriidge, built in 1901 and formerly used as a police station, boys' home and bomb squad headquarters at different points in time, will now be the home of the Castle Lofts, a new mixed-use commercial and residential property operated by the Detroit Legacy Group.
 
According to Brittany Washington, co-founder of the Detroit Legacy Group, renovations have more or less ongoing for the past 20 years. They are now putting on the finishing touches and readying the property for future residents.
 
The first floor will be dedicated to commercial space for small "virtual" corporations and start-up companies. The companies will share common areas including a conference area, office center (with copy and fax machines), restrooms, a common entrance, and a reception area that services them all.
 
The remaining floors will be the Castle Lofts, which range from one to four bedrooms and can be one, two, or three levels (multi-level units feature spiral staircases).
 
"There are 15 units and all are different models with no set floorplan," says Washington. Units feature a variety of features including Jacuzzi tubs (in some), hardwood floors, exposed brick walls, stainless steel GE appliances, recessed lighting, and a heated parking garage (for an additional cost).
 
Renovations on the rental units are almost complete and tours to prospective renters start this week. They hope to start moving people in by mid-March.
 
The Detroit Legacy Group, a youth-oriented development group, took control of the property in January and hope to use this property to serve their mission to "provide luxury housing, entertainment (options), and business (opportunities) in the heart of the Creative Corridor" in the Midtown and Woodbridge neighborhoods.
 
Source: Brittany Washington, Co-Founder of Detroit Legacy Group
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Avalon's new production bakery set to open, will relocate flagship location this summer

The Avalon International Breads long-awaited expansion -- which has been in the works at various stages since 2008 -- is finally coming to fruition.
 
The nearly 50,000-square-foot Avalon City Ovens production bake house located in an old warehouse at 4731 Bellevue on Detroit’s East Side is celebrating its grand opening this Friday, Feb. 22 with an opening party with food, music, and tours of the facility. This event is free and open to the public.
 
This production facility will enable the popular bakery to expand its wholesale business so it can offer more products to more markets. In particular, Avalon owners will be expanding their offerings at Plum Market, which itself is expanding into Chicago, as well as at the national retailer Whole Foods, which is (as you may have heard) expanding into Midtown.
 
The expansion efforts go beyond the new wholesale production facility. Avalon International Breads will be vacating its longtime location at 422 West Willis and will open a much larger retail store with its own full bakery in-house at 441 West Canfield in Midtown. The new retail location will have 45 seats (compared to the current location's 15) and will feature an expanded list of menu offerings (including homemade soups) with extended hours and, eventually, a drive-through.
 
"Hopefully, we’ll be known as the place for breakfast in Midtown," says Ann Perrault, co-owner of Avalon. She also acknowledges the current location’s reputation as the number one place in Midtown to get a parking ticket and the overall difficulty of finding a parking space nearby, and of finding a place to sit inside once you finally park. "We’re hoping all of that will be easier (at the new location)."
 
This will enable them to also expand menu offerings at the café inside of the Henry Ford Hospital.
 
The bake house will be fully operational in March and they hope to be fully moved into the new Canfield retail location by the end of summer.
 
Source: Ann Perrault, co-owner of Avalon International Breads
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Midtown addresses ongoing lighting issue with community partnerships and creative funding strategies

Safe street lighting has been an ongoing focus for Midtown Detroit, Inc. since 2004. With a lack of funding available from the city to repair and replace the streetlights, Sue Mosey, President of Midtown Detroit, Inc., has been creative in her efforts to address and improve the serious situation.
 
"There’s a variety of things we have been doing given the fact that there’s no dollars for repairing and putting in new lighting," she says. "We do lots around lighting but the need is far greater than our current funding." They’ve already been working on this problem for nearly a decade. "It’s a slow process. Literally every street light needs to be handled."
 
Since 2004, Midtown has put in all new lighting on Woodward as part of the Woodward Streetscape Project. They’ve put up LED pedestrian lights along the Midtown Loop Greenway. With the recent conversion of Third Avenue to a two-way street with bike lanes they also put up all new LED streetlights in conjunction with the city.
 
New lighting was just installed on West Canfield between Woodward and Cass and the I-94/Trumbull bridge as part of the Greenway. They also just got a grant in conjunction with Next Energy to do a pilot of LED street lighting (relamping existing poles) on Warren between Cass and John R.
 
They have a blanket contract with Motor City Electric to repair streets where the lights have been completely broken -- next up is Seward, Virginia Park, and historic West Canfield. "We are at least having them make repairs on critical streets where we think safety is an issue in the interim."
 
Upcoming projects include installing new streetlights and LED pedestrian lights on Cass between Canfield and I-94 in 2014 and a partnership with Eastern Market, the Community Health Development Project, and the city to add new LED pedestrian lighting all through Brush Park and into Eastern Market.

They are focused on LED, which is more expensive initially but much more cost-effective long-term. Because the problem is ultimately in the lighting infrastructure itself, temporary troubleshooting is not a preferable solution. "It goes way beyond the poles." The whole system needs to be overhauled and rebuilt, which is where money from foundations, matching grants from the state, and working with many community partners comes in. "It's a group effort," Mosey says. 
 
"So far we’re just coming up with different strategies to improve the situation. This is still one of our very top, close to number one, challenges -- trying to get the lighting correct."
 
While a new public lighting authority will be appointed within weeks (even days), Mosey is unsure how they plan to attack priority areas and says Midtown will continue to move forward with its particular projects. 

Source: Sue Mosey, Midtown Detroit, Inc. President
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Drive: Table Tennis Social Club is a whole new kind of social hub for Detroit

We certainly aren't lacking for more "traditional" social clubs – i.e., bars – in the city of Detroit, but Drive is a whole new kind of social hub.
 
Drive: Table Tennis Social Club is a ping-pong palace, recently opened on the ground floor level of the Lofts at Merchants Row on Woodward Avenue in the space formerly occupied by City Loft, the pop-up retail space operated by the Somerset Collection.
 
Owner Diallo Smith has lived in cities all over the country but moved back home to Detroit with his wife Jameel in 2008. "Part of that was hearing about some of the exciting things happening in Detroit, the resurgence and renaissance," he says. "We felt like it was a great time for us to move back and be a part of that in some way."
 
Drive was born out of their desire to be entrepreneurs and contribute to the growing number of lively, unique businesses that will ultimately be the backbone of a new Detroit. They chose table tennis because of its world-wide popularity and its familiarity on an everyday level. "Everybody has played (ping-pong) in a basement growing up, or at a friend’s house in the summer."
 
It was also something Detroit didn’t already have.
 
The 4,000-square-foot space is designed to have an upscale look, and they are currently working on obtaining a liquor license and plan on carrying international beers and wines you don’t see in every bar in keeping with the international nature of the sport and their upscale environment. They will also introduce a small food menu of "funky" sandwiches and melts once they start serving beer, wine and cocktails.
 
Drive is currently open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday but will extend their hours once their liquor license is approved, which they hope will happen this spring.
 
Souce: Diallo Smith, owner of Drive: Table Tennis Social Club
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Hatch Detroit 2012 finalist Rock City Pies will open restaurant in Hamtramck this summer

Following in the footsteps of fellow 2012 Hatch Detroit finalists Detroit Vegan Soul and winner La Feria, Rock City Pies will become a brick-and-mortar reality later this year.
 
Rock City Pies owner Nikita Santches has formally signed a three-year lease for the space that was formerly home to Maria's Comida in Hamtramck. Maria’s, which closed late last year, is moving into a new facility around the corner on Caniff to focus on production of their Maria’s House Made Salsa label.
 
Because the space was previously a restaurant, Santches has very little work to do on the interior but plans on making the bathrooms more accessible and aesthetically revamping the dining room area with new floors, booths, and other updated design details. Construction will begin immediately upon floor plan approval from the city, which he and his father will do themselves.
 
Through the course of the Hatch competition Santches didn't think Rock City Pies would end up in Hamtramck. He remembers Hatch Executive Director Vittoria Katanski asking him if he would ever consider the city-within-the-city and he dismissed it quickly, but after being introduced to Jason Friedmann, Hamtramck's Director of Community and Economic Development, and learning more about the city first-hand he felt an immediate connection to it.
 
One of the most appealing aspects of Hamtramck for Santches was the cultural and ethnic diversity of the neighborhood. As a Russian immigrant himself, he felt an immediate connection to the many Eastern European immigrants who live and own businesses in Hamtramck. "That aspect of it is very appealing to me," he says. "I'm surrounded by people who grew up eating the same kind of food I ate and living the lifestyle that I lived. People around me have the same mentality and view on things."
 
He hopes to be open by this summer. He will also start wholesaling Rock City Pies to local markets once situated in the new space.
 
Source: Nikita Santches, owner of Rock City Pies
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Historic steel water tower finds new home at the El Moore thanks to Green Garage

Did you happen to see that massive steel water tower tooling down Cass Avenue with police escorts last Thursday?
 
The water tower came from the top of the Dalgleish Cadillac building (built in 1927), which is part of a $93 million construction project for Wayne State University, the largest single investment in a project in WSU’s history (the building is part of a 200,000-square-foot biomedical research center).
 
Plans for the research center did not include the water tower, though several groups had interest and made serious efforts at trying to save it. "There are groups that want to think outside the box and think more sustainably about moving forward," says Green Garage representative Jason Peet. "Projects like this show that that can be done even with an institution as large as (WSU)."
 
Interested groups included U-Haul International (who are currently renovating the Nabisco building in New Center), Midtown Detroit Inc., and Wayne State University. Initially the desire was to keep this iconic piece of the neighborhood in Tech Town, but as all other attempts fell through, Midtown’s Green Garage was contacted in the last three weeks as a last shot for the old tower.
 
They had to partially disassemble the 25,000-pound solid steel structure to take it down and move it to the site of the El Moore, a four-story apartment building in Midtown constructed in 1898 and owned by Tom and Peggy Brennan of the Green Garage. Though they do plan on renovating the building, which will be a sort of "residential version of the Green Garage" where "sustainability will be highly important," formal plans and an official timeline are not yet known.
 
The old water tower now anchors a corner that was formerly an empty field and will be an architectural part of a planned greenspace that ties in with the Green Garage’s efforts of repurposing materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill and preserving pieces of the neighborhood and the history behind them.
 
Source: Jason Peet, Green Garage Detroit
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Whole Foods in Midtown on-track for summer opening, hosting local vendor fair and job info sessions

If you've driven by the corner of Woodward and Mack recently, you've seen the speedy progress the new Whole Foods Market in Midtown has been making. The walls are up, the concrete floor is poured, and right now they’re totally on-target to open at the end of May or beginning of June.
 
"We’ve been fortunate that we’ve had no major construction setbacks," says Whole Foods Market Community Liaison Amanda Musilli.
 
To prepare for opening, Whole Foods will host a local vendor fair on Feb. 28. There is an application online for local food artisans to complete by Sunday, Feb. 17. If their products meet the market’s quality standards, Whole Foods will then set up a one-on-one with their regional buyers. "It's exciting for someone who is looking to grow their business and get their products in a retail setting." This vendor fair is by invitation only, so applications must be received by the deadline in order to be eligible.
 
"This is kind of a unique thing that we’re starting to do for all of our new stores that we’re opening," says Musilli. "We found this is a great way to get new products in right away instead of opening first and then looking for (local vendors)."
 
This week the Midtown location also kicks off employment information sessions. On Feb. 13 and 15, Whole Foods will host its first series of information sessions regarding employment at Whole Foods in partnership with various community organizations (listed below). Jobs will be posted online starting April 2.
 
Wednesday, Feb. 13
10 a.m. to 12 p.m. – U-SNAP-BAC
5 p.m. to 7 p.m. – Focus: HOPE
 
Friday, Feb. 15
10 a.m. to 12 p.m. – Mexicantown Mercado at 2835 Bagley
3 p.m. to 5 p.m. – SER Metro Detroit
 
Source: Amanda Musilli, Community Liaison for Whole Foods Market
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Partners open La Hookah Town and Grace of India Restaurant in Midtown

It wasn’t that long ago that Thistle Coffeehouse was flourishing on Second Ave. at Prentis. But now the space has been reborn with two brand-new businesses owned by partners Sal Sufyan and Abe Aswadi.
 
The first, La Hookah Town, officially opened in January. La Hookah Town offers an inexpensive "hangout spot" for Wayne State students with a variety of flavored tobaccos, free WiFi, free parking, a student study area, and televisions for watching sports (including pay-per-view boxing). It opens at noon daily and stays open until 2 a.m. or later.
 
While there are a number of hookah lounges in Dearborn and Dearborn Heights and a quietly growing hookah culture in Royal Oak, the city of Detroit previously had no hookah lounges of its own. Hookah lounges are increasingly popular study spots for students and social hubs for young adults under the age of 21 who can’t just go to a bar. They also appeal to the large population of Muslim students and young adults in the area who do not patronize liquor bars.
 
In addition to bringing a hookah lounge to the city, the partners are also bringing an Indian restaurant to an area that currently has none. They are opening Grace of India Restaurant next to La Hookah Town, a small restaurant that will serve authentic, affordable Indian cuisine for carry-out and delivery, specifically targeting students. They will have only three or four tables inside where people can wait for their carry-out orders.
 
Sufyan says that they noticed a need for Indian food in the area and are catering to that demand. They have hired a chef who specializes in Indian cuisine to oversee the kitchen. The interior has been totally remodeled and they hope to be open this month.
 
Source: Sal Sufyan, co-owner, La Hookah Town and Grace of India Restaurant
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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David Whitney Building secures final $8.5 million in funding, will begin construction immediately

A recent $8.5 million investment by the State of Michigan in the David Whitney Building has made headlines recently. This money finally enables the Whitney Partners, LLC to move forward with construction.
 
The Whitney Partners are the Roxbury Group, the Detroit-based real estate development and consulting firm that is heading up this renovation project and most recently completed the Auburn, a new construction project in Midtown, and Troy-based investment firm Trans Inn Management Inc.
 
"The $8.5 million is coming as a loan being lent to us through the Michigan Community Revitalization Program," says David Di Rita, owner of the Roxbury Group. "It is enormously important. It closed the remaining funding gap between all of the other credits and incentives."
 
So far the project has received $9.8 million in a state brownfield redevelopment tax credit and $12.4 million in state historic tax credits. "We still had about $8.5 million to bring to the deal to get financing closed and that’s what this will do. It was the final piece."
 
At press time the Whitney Partners were working to close on overall financing for the project. Construction will start immediately once the funding is in place.
 
"We won’t be announcing when we close the financing deal," Di Rita says. "We will just start construction and that’s how people will know."

So keep an eye out for those construction cranes.
 
The David Whitney Building has sat empty since 2000. The Roxbury Group bought the building in 2011 for $3.3 million. The renovation will create 105 residential apartments, a 136-room Aloft Hotel (a Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide property), a new and improved People Mover station, and ground floor retail.
 
"We’re very proud of the fact of being able to (secure funding) within 24 months of getting the building," says Di Rita.
 
They are targeting early 2014 for full completion of the project, which is expected to cost $82.5 million and create 75 jobs.
 
Source: David Di Rita, Owner, The Roxbury Group
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Village Park Apartments in West Village receive $6 million renovation

West Village continues its development winning streak with the renovation of the Village Park Apartments at Van Dyke and Agnes.
 
MHT Housing, one of the largest nonprofit affordable housing companies in the State of Michigan, recently renovated the vintage 1927 building.
 
The $6 million renovation took approximately one full year to complete. In that time every single unit was renovated, working with pre-existing residents to ensure no one was displaced, and preserving the affordable component while also increasing the market rate.
 
Village Park was previously a state-owned asset in foreclosure. There are 56 one- and two-bedroom family units in two adjoining buildings that haven’t seen a substantial renovation in 35 years. The rental units are mixed income, offering both Section 8 and market rate housing.
 
MHT Housing received state and federal historic tax credits to renovate both buildings and update them from their outdated facilities.
 
"We provided the latest technology in heating and cooling with a lot of green components for utilities and appliances," says MHT Housing President T. Van Fox. Work was also done on the roof, windows, and elevators, and MHT also introduced a new high-security lock-and-key system. They also received brownfield tax credits for some environmental remediation of old fuel tanks.
 
"Today, this is a state-of-the-art facility with a preservation of the historical and a new component of modern living," Fox says.
 
The buildings are now at full occupancy.
 
Source: T. Van Fox, President of MHT Housing
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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The Roasting Plant now open inside the First National Building

The Roasting Plant is now open inside the First National Building. The space has been totally re-designed from previous tenants (bars The Vine and Enoteca) to accommodate the café setting and their much-buzzed-about high-tech Javabot system, designed to ensure the freshest cup of coffee possible.
 
This downtown Detroit location is a third location for the company, but the first outside of Manhattan. Elizabeth Rose, Co-Owner of the Roasting Plant, is a native Detroiter who was living in San Diego but got involved with the Roasting Plant in Manhattan and had been planning on moving there when Detroit came calling.
 
"The biggest reason (for opening in Detroit) is the investment and commitment that Dan Gilbert and his family of companies have shown in the downtown area of Detroit," she says. Gilbert was shown a video of their Javabot system and thought it would be a good pairing with the burgeoning Detroit tech scene.
 
The company was looking for a third location but Detroit had not been on their radar until they were approached by Gilbert's Bedrock Real Estate Services. Rose was shown around the Madison, Compuware, and Chase buildings so she could get a sense of the company’s investment and long-term commitment to the area, then was offered the space inside the First National Building overlooking Campus Martius Park.
 
"It was a no-brainer," she says, citing the prime location and recalling fond childhood memories of running around that very same building as a child when her father worked there.
 
As a native Detroiter, Rose understood the opportunity Detroit presented and the underserved market the company would be tapping into. They ran the numbers, saw the potential, and signed a seven-year lease. "I don’t think you could have a better location down here. It’s not a location we want to give up. We’re here for the long haul."
 
Rose says this location is already busier than either of the Manhattan stores.
 
Source: Elizabeth Rose, Co-Owner of the Roasting Plant Inc.
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Dept of Alternatives headlines latest downtown renovation

When the Department of Alternatives holds its first open house on Thursday it won't just be showing off downtown Detroit's newest co-working space, but the latest renovation at a big building in the Motor City's Central Business District.

The Department of Alternatives is occupying the second floor of 1514 Washington Blvd., at the corner of Clifford in the shadow of the David Whitney Building. The founders behind LOVELAND Technologies, The Detroit Bus Co, Dandelion Detroit and Evidence-Based Literacy Instruction (four up-and-coming companies) came together to form the core of the Department of Alternatives by moving their headquarters to 1514 Washington. The idea was to form a cluster of entrepreneurs tackling social change and civic innovation.

"There is power in bringing people within a close proximity to each other," says Jordan Wolfe, a partner with Evidence-Based Literacy Instruction and one of the founding members of the Department of Alternatives. "We saw the need for people to come together and work on civic and social issues."

Those four founding companies are now occupying about 3,500 square feet of the 10,000 square feet available at the Department of Alternatives. They hope to attract some more similar-minded companies and organizations (they are looking for established firms and nonprofits as opposed to brand-new startups) at the open house on Thursday. The companies occupying the co-working space will collectively help pay for the overhead, however, Wolfe says the formula for paying for those costs is still being refined. Wolfe expects the cluster of innovating, socially aware organizations and the events it holds will emerge as a strong voice in the public conversation about Detroit's future.

"A big piece of what we're going to roll out over time is to create conversations about important issues," Wolfe says.

The 7-story structure, also known as the Claridge House Apartments, was in the news last year as a potential acquisition target for Quicken Loans Chaiman Dan Gilbert's downtown buying spree. Wolfe says he and some partners have acquired the building and that it is not part of Gilbert's property portfolio.

Wolfe and his partners are also working on renovating the entire structure. Work is being done on the 45 apartments in the third floor and above. Wolfe describes the layout of those apartments as some of the best he has seen downtown.

The building also has four ground-floor retail spaces that are in the process of filling up. Two existing business (a book importer and a hair salon) will remain. A new fitness studio, Come Play Detroit, is also opening in one of the spaces. Wolfe and his partners are also eyeing another new business, like a dry cleaner, for the last space. They expect the mixed-use nature of the building and its proximity to things like the newly renovated Broderick Tower and M@dison Building will make it an attractive place for years to come.

"It's kind of perfectly located between the Whitney, Broderick and Capitol Park so it will be easy to create walkability," Wolfe says.

The Department of Alternatives open house will be held 7-10 p.m. Thursday at 1514 Washington, Suite 200. For information, click here.

Source: Jordan Wolfe, founding member of Department of Alternatives
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Greektown Casino opens Brizola and new Market District food court

Greektown Casino hasn't had a proper fine dining establishment since the Alley Grille closed in 2009, and they've never had one located on the main gaming level. Enter the newly-opened Brizola.
 
Located on the main floor of the casino, Brizola was formerly the nightclub Eclipz Lounge (sidenote: we’re not sure what the thing is with the "z" either).
 
Brizola, which specializes in contemporary American cuisine with an extensive wine list, is intended to accommodate guests on the casino floor. "The casino and the food and beverage program have evolved over the years," says Food & Beverage Director Hassan Yazbek. "It called for a signature fine dining restaurant to service our guests."
 
The sleek, ultra-modern space seats 170 and also has a private dining room for up to 15. Floor-to-ceiling windows with city views are the highlight of the contemporary design. They also seek to be at the cutting edge of technology, using all interactive electronic tablet menus.
 
In addition to Brizola, there are other plans in the works to re-vamp Greektown’s dining offerings. The Market District is a new food court currently in the works. Café Mix, the first of five new concepts, is already open and offers specialty coffees and cocktails along with pastries, sandwiches, and desserts for morning, noon and late-night. The remaining concepts include  a New York-style deli, an American concept focused on classic comfort foods, and Italian and Asian-fusion concepts.
 
With Dan Gilbert hoping to acquire a 51 percent controlling interest in Greektown Casino (pending approval from the Michigan Gaming Control Board), these recent changes are probably just a glimmer of what’s to come.
 
Source: Hassan Yazbek, Director of Food & Beverage at Greektown Casino
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Charlotte Apartments to be rehabbed for veteran housing

Midtown’s latest housing development project is not targeted at Wayne State students or young urban pioneers. Detroit Central City Community Mental Health, Inc. (DCC) will be renovating the vacant Charlotte Apartments at 644 Charlotte in Midtown, which will serve as housing for veterans, homeless, and people with disabilities.
 
DCC is a nonprofit agency that has been in Midtown for over 40 years providing outpatient psychiatric services and more to the homeless, special needs, and mentally ill.

"Really we’re in the old Cass Corridor where a lot of people are still homeless," says Henrietta Warren, Vice President of DCC. "Over the years we have been increasing our housing abilities. Because of the large number of consumers we see who are also vets, we really have an interest in providing safe and affordable housing for them." Warren says that of the 4,000 people DCC serves annually, approximately 40 percent are homeless.

The $6.1 million project will create 27 one-bedroom units in the historic Charlotte Apartments. The building itself was built in 1920, but has sat vacant for at least the last 10 years. The project is being funded by City of Detroit HOME Funds, MSHDA low-income housing tax credits, and Brownfield Tax Credits, plus $300,000 from the Home Depot Foundation, which earmarks a portion of the foundation’s annual gift money specifically for vet housing. Joe Early of Early Construction, who originally purchased the building from Wayne County, is a partner in the development.

The complex will have a community room, computer lab, library, meeting rooms, and a common laundry room. The units will serve veterans, homeless, and those with "severe and persistent mental illness," which will enable DCC "to provide easy access to mental health services as well as affordable housing." Veterans will be given the first opportunity to obtain housing.

Construction is slated to begin in May and will take about a year to complete. 

Source: Henrietta Warren, Vice President of Detroit Central City Community Mental Health, Inc.
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Maccabees at Midtown opens quietly in Midtown, gains buzz fast

There aren’t many new restaurants in the Midtown/Corktown/Downtown neighborhoods that open nowadays without a whole lot of fanfare, often months in advance starting from the day the concept is announced. But Maccabees at Midtown, which officially opened on Dec. 30, opened like a phantom; without any major announcements or media coverage it sprang forth into existence and started serving what the locals already seem to agree is some pretty phenomenal food.
 
Maccabees owner Petar Berishaj is not new to the restaurant game, or to Detroit. He owns the local franchise Gateway Deli, which operates dine-in and catering locations at 333 W. Fort St., another at Ford Field, and two more in Southfield and Troy.
 
"Bottom line is, I love Detroit," says Berishaj, "since I was a little kid working at Lafayette Coney Island when I was 15 years old. I want to be part of the renovation."
 
Maccabees was going to be another Gateway outpost, but Berishaj saw a much larger potential with this particular spot and the liquor license that was available.
 
Located inside of what was formerly known as the Maccabees Building, which the restaurant’s name honors, Berishaj particularly liked the location for its close proximity to all of the cultural institutions and hospitals in Midtown (and all of the hungry workers at both), as well as the building itself, which has built-in clientele with Wayne State University’s administrative offices.
 
Berishaj says the design of the space, which sat empty for some time and was only a vacant shell when construction started, echoes the colors and theme of the Maccabees Building, replicating everything down to the chandeliers (which were designed and fabricated by Speedcult).
 
Maccabees now has its liquor license and is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch. They serve "new American cuisine," including some deli favorites.
 
Source: Petar Berishaj, owner of Maccabees at Midtown
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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U-Haul installs new sign, lighting in its New Center home

Perhaps you have seen the new sign atop the building U-Haul is renovating into its latest full-service location? Or a few of the upper floors lit up at night showing off doors painted in bright orange while driving by on the Lodge Freeway? If so you have seen the most recent progress of one of the greater downtown Detroit area's largest redevelopment projects.

The moving company bought the former Nabisco Building in New Center (899 W Baltimore St.) last summer and has been slowly but surely rehabbing the 250,000-square-foot structure into its first full-service center in Detroit. The new location, set to open this spring, will feature everything from truck and trailer rentals to storage space.

"One year from now we will have a gorgeous truck, trailer and storage business going there," says Stuart Shoen, executive vice president of U-Haul. "I am just very optimistic for the area."

For now, Detroiters are going to have to settle for the encouraging new visual cues on the building's crown and updates from the company's blog about the work. Workers (three U-Haul employees and about 20 construction workers) are currently focusing on finishing the renovation of the showroom and getting the basics of the rest of the building to come on.

"It's finally starting to look like a retail space," Shoen says. "The building needed a lot of fundamental improvement. It took us longer to get the water and the electricity on than we thought. The windows weren't level in the showroom. This building needed a lot of work in every facet."

National Biscuit Co (or Nabisco today) built the structure in the 1920s as a bakery. It has been vacant for several years before U-Haul purchased it to service Detroit's growing population.

"In a few years, we will be contemplating building more," Shoen says. "That's our hope and expectation."

Source: Stuart Shoen, executive vice president of U-Haul
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Source Booksellers now open in the Auburn Building

Janet Jones has been selling books in Detroit for 24 years. Her new location inside the Auburn Building is the third incarnation of Source Booksellers. "When I started I was a vendor doing what they call 'pop-ups' now," says Jones. "I would go to where the people were and sell books. I did that for 12 to 14 years."
 
The second incarnation of Source Booksellers was inside the Spiral Collective on the corner of Cass and Willis in Midtown, a collaborative space opened by visionary artist and businesswoman Dell Pryor featuring several women-owned businesses.
 
"It got to the point where we needed a little more room," says Jones. "We could see ourselves expanding and needed more space for community activities and more inventory."
 
When it was announced that the Roxbury Group would be starting a new mixed-use construction project called the Auburn, Jones expressed interest in it to Sue Mosey and Scott Benson of Midtown Detroit Inc. but wasn't sure what might come of it. Then, on Dec. 30, she took apart her space at the Spiral Collective and had a soft opening in the Auburn by Jan. 4.
 
Source focuses on four major nonfiction book categories: health & well-being, history & culture, books by & about women, and spiritual & new age. "My interest from the beginning was always wanting people to know about the books that I liked," she says.
 
At a recent conference Jones attended it was said that the future of bookstores is small, independent, niche market stores with a well-curated selection. "I said, 'That would be me!'" she says. "I got validated. I started by doing what I like, then offering that to other people and building on that."
 
Source also hosts regular community events including book and author talks, poetry groups, seasonal conversations with a metaphysical scholar, and mind/body/spirit fitness classes every Saturday morning. 

Source: Janet Jones, owner of Source Booksellers
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg
 
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CrossFit BMW offers intense training for professional athletes and students alike

Lately it seems that there's a new fitness center or yoga studio opening every week in Detroit. CrossFit BMW (which stands for "Benchmark Workouts"), on Cass between Charlotte and Peterboro in Midtown, is among the more recent openings. It offers something a little different than a traditional gym.
 
CrossFit is a national brand that achieves health and fitness through an interdisciplinary approach, incorporating weight-lifting, gymnastics, sprinting, rope-climbing, and other high-intensity exercises with an emphasis on cardio, strengthening, and conditioning. It's ideal for professional athletes and WSU students (and they get both).
 
Different elements are combined daily to create a unique "Workout of the Day" (WOD), and no two are ever the same. The result of the physically exerting hour-long WOD is similar to that of a one-hour session of personal training, only in a group class format and at a fraction of the cost.
 
"(CrossFit BMW) is membership-based and open to everyone," says owner Jarrod Bell. He started a CrossFit affiliate in metro Detroit six years ago and has wanted to open a gym in the city from the beginning. When the building on Cass (owned by Midtown developer Joel Landy) became available, Bell jumped at the opportunity. "As long as I’ve been (doing this) I’ve been eyeing that building."
 
In addition to the WODs, CrossFit BMW offers power-lifting classes and will be adding additional classes in the future, which will likely include gymnastics, yoga, kickboxing, and kids' CrossFit. Bell also hopes to put together an Olympic lifting team.
 
A monthly membership costs $185 and includes unlimited classes, personal training and fitness coaching. (Students, law enforcement, military personnel, firefighters, and teachers receive a discount.) "When you start talking personal training at the YMCA and L.A. Fitness, that’s just an admission fee," says Bell. "We offer personal training on a daily basis for that amount in a goal-based fitness gym and training studio."
 
Source: Jarrod Bell, owner of CrossFit BMW
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg
 
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M-1 Rail is going to happen this summer, bet on it

The journey of bringing a streetcar line back to Woodward Avenue in Detroit bears more resemblance to a roller coaster than a tram in recent years. But feel free to breathe a sigh of relief, Detroit. The train is about to pull into the station. Bet on it.

Friday's press conference announcing the final piece of funding needed for the M-1 Rail project, connecting Jefferson Avenue to Grand Boulevard, offered a lot of optimism and back slapping.

The U.S. Secretary of Transportation is giving $25 million in federal funds for the M-1 Rail and another $6 million to get the newly created regional transit authority off the ground. However, a few other key people in the audience of Friday's press conference were equally confident about the project.

M-1 Rail calls for creating a 3.4-mile-long streetcar line mostly along the outer lanes of Woodward Avenue. It will have 11 stops: at Congress Street, the northern tip of Campus Martius, the southern tip of Grand Circus Park, the Fox Theatre, Sibley Street, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Canfield Street, Warren Avenue, Ferry Street, the Amtrak train station in New Center and Grand Boulevard. More than $100 million for the project has been raised from private, philanthropic and government sources.

Matt Cullen, CEO of M-1 Rail, says the creation of the regional transit authority was the last major hurdle for giving the green light to the project. He expects the final engineering work and construction bidding to be done in the first half of this year. Construction will begin late this summer and take two years to complete.

Megan Owens, executive director of the transit-advocate non-profit Transportation Riders United, echoes Cullen's words and optimism. She adds that drills for the project will go into the ground before shovels. "They're going to start boring to find out of there is anything in the way in the ground," Owens says.

She adds that the $25 million is the last foreseeable major hurdle for the project. M-1 Rail has funding for both construction and operation for the next several years. It won't be impacted by the regional transit authority's efforts to establish a funding source. That means that even though M-1 Rail and the regional transit authority were joined at the hip to land the federal funding, they will independently establish themselves in the next few years. The plan is to bring the two back together when they become established.

"The hope is in 7-10 years the RTA (regional transit authority) will take over," Owens says.

Source: Matt Cullen, CEO of M-1 Rail and Megan Owens, executive director of Transportation Riders United
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Downtown Hamtramck makes National Register of Historic Places

Downtown Hamtramck is now a part of the National Register of Historic Places, a designation that should help the commercial district leverage more redevelopment dollars and maintain its classic character.

The historic district runs the length of Jos Campau Street between the GM Poletown plant to the south and close to Carpenter Street on the north end. "The historic district is a couple of streets short of that," says Jason Friedmann, director of community and economic development for the city of Hamtramck. "This is the area with the oldest buildings with the most character are located."

The Jos Campau Historic District encompasses about 200 buildings that are about 100 years old. Most of the them were constructed after the old Dodge Main Plant was built in the early 1900s. It joins the historic district around St. Florian Catholic Church near the intersection of Jos Campau and Holbrook streets.

The Jos Campau Historic District is only a national historic district. That designation allows it to leverage national historic tax credits for redevelopment but doesn't come with the strict restrictions and oversights commonplace in local historic districts.

Source: Jason Friedmann, director of community and economic development for the city of Hamtramck
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Broder and Sachse Real Estate Services get into the Detroit real estate game

Detroit has a new player in the real estate services investment game, and its name is Broder & Sachse Real Estate Services, Inc.
 
The full-service commercial, residential and industrial services company announced last week that they completed the purchase of 440 East Congress, an 80,000-square-foot office building and parking structure in the central business district.
 
The 90-year-old five-story building currently has seven tenants, which include the law firm Keller Thoma and Neighborhood Legal Services Michigan. The current tenants will all remain and Friedman Integrated Real Estate Solutions will be leasing space, leaving an additional 15,000-square-feet of space available to lease in any configuration.
 
This is not the Birmingham-based company’s first foray into investment in the City of Detroit. They also own an apartment building in Midtown at the corner of Third and Canfield, known unofficially as "Nine on Third." Richard Broder, CEO of Broder & Sachse, says they are keeping the property fully rented and are "very happy with that investment," with further plans to pursue additional investment opportunities in downtown and Midtown.
 
"We’re in the office building business," says Broder. "It’s not unnatural for us to extend our investment in the category. Many different places including our friends at Bedrock and Quicken are encouraging people to stick their toes in the water."
 
The building on Congress was last renovated in the 1980s. Contractor firm (and Broder affiliate) Sachse Construction, along with Neumann/Smith Architecture, will oversee renovation work on the exterior of the building and in the garage, lobby, bathrooms, and other common areas.
 
Sachse Construction has also been integral part of the Rock Ventures redevelopments, though the two companies are not affiliated.
 
Source: Richard Broder, CEO of Broder & Sachse Real Estate Services, Inc.
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

Have a Development News story to share? Email nicole@modeldmedia.com.

New three-story glass atrium at Cobo Center debuts at the Auto Show

The new Corvette Stingray isn’t the only thing that will be making its public debut at the 2013 North American International Auto Show.
 
The Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority is busy at work on a $300 million renovation project at Cobo Center. The extensive plans include a three-story atrium with a skylight and an 80-foot glass wall on the structure's southern exposure overlooking the Detroit River.
 
"What was formerly a confined dark space is now flooded with bright light," says Patrick Bero, CEO of the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority. Cobo Center first opened in 1960, long before the Riverwalk was built, and was originally designed with no direct link to the River itself. "There was no direct link to the region’s most vital asset. The biggest function of the atrium is that it is our connection to the river."
 
The atrium offers 16,000-square-feet of space that will accommodate 600 people for dinner, 1,000 people in theatre-style seating, or 1,200 standing. The space is intended for high-profile VIP events and other special occasions. The glamor of this new event space is enhanced by 30,000 square feet of porcelain tile from Italy, 315 tons of marble from Portugal, and 19,000 square feet of glass from Michigan-based Guardian Industries. "The biggest thing is the striking view the atrium gives us of the Detroit River," says Bero. "It also gives us another point of entry into the facility." The atrium can be accessed from the Riverwalk by crossing Atwater St.
 
The atrium will temporarily open for the Auto Show, which opens to the public on Jan. 19. It will then close again in order to complete construction.
 
In addition to the atrium, the former Cobo Arena is being renovated into a grand ballroom and several meeting rooms. The grand ballroom will feature 40,000 square feet of space with 40-foot ceilings, dinner seating for up to 2,500, two industrial lift elevators in the floor (for auto "reveals"), and an outdoor plaza extending around the perimeter. Upgraded garages on Congress St. and Washington with additional parking spaces, a new all-natural concessions venue on the main concourse, an expanded kitchen with private tasting room, and a new food court round out the extensive list of renovations.
 
The full renovation is expected to be completed in June. 
 
Source: Patrick Bero, CEO of the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

Have a Development News story to share? Email nicole@modeldmedia.com.

Shelborne begins transformation of New Center apt district

Shelborne Development is in the midst of rehabbing two significant historic apartment buildings in New Center and is set to transform the block of Seward Street between Woodward and Second avenues with renovations.

The renovations promise to turn some of the biggest, blighted structures in New Center into vibrant buildings filled with new residents. When it's all said and done, the rehabs will bring well in excess of 100 new rental units to the northern tip of the greater downtown area.

"I have always loved that block of Seward," says Kathy Makino-Leipsitz, co-owner of Shelborne Development. "It is one of the prettiest blocks of multi-units in the city. Hopefully, we will be able to turn that block into what it used to be."

The Indian Village-based development firm is the driving force behind the renovation spree taking place in Palmer Park. Its rehabs have expertly leveraged tax credits and other incentives to turn the Art Deco beauties into high-quality rentals that include energy-efficient systems and appliances, insulation, stainless-steel appliances and granite countertops, among other amenities. These rehabs go the extra mile to preserve the historical character of the buildings, which are often chosen in large part because of the architectural beauty.

Makino-Leipsitz plans to do the same thing with at least half a dozen of the apartment buildings in New Center, most of which are vacant and have fallen into disrepair. The first two, which are currently under renovation, are 112 Seward and 628 Delaware.

The apartment building at 112 Seward is called the Birchmont Apartments. It stands as a 3.5-story building with a blond-brick facade and is just east of the 120 Seward condo building. It will house 31 units that include 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom apartments. 628 Delaware is a tudor-style structure that stands four stories overlooking New Center Commons Park just west of Second Avenue.

"That Delaware apartment building is a beautiful building," Makino-Leipsitz says. "It will be 18 units when we're done."

Both buildings, each about 100 years old, are set to come online in August and fully occupied by the end of the year. They will bring 49 units of workforce housing to the rental market. The buildings previously housed 54 units. The developers redesigned the units to offer bigger spaces with more rooms.

Shelborne Development also owns 59, 69, 90, 93, and 100 Seward, which are all high-density apartment buildings on the first block of Seward west of Woodward. The firm has already renovated 93 Seward and plans to renovate 90 and 100 Seward as market-rate rentals next. It recently acquired 59 and 69 Seward, which have long been problem buildings with out-of-town ownership, and plans to renovate those, too, within the next few years.

Source: Kathy Makino-Leipsitz, co-owner of Shelborne Development
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

More Palmer Park apts set to come online in Feb, April

Renovation work on a handful of apartment buildings in Palmer Park is set to wrap up in the next few months.

The first in line for completion is the Sarasota Apartments, 325 Merton, in February. The four-story building exemplifies the Art Deco architecture for which Palmer Park's apartments are famous. It had been vacant for years, falling into disrepair before renovations began last spring.

Next in line are the Seville Apartments and Palmer Lodge. Both are set to come online in April. "I really can't wait," says Kathy Makino-Leipsitz, co-owner of Shelborne Development which is heading up the development of the apartment buildings in Palmer Park.

Palmer Lodge
is one of the marquee apartment buildings in the Palmer Park historic district. The jumbo-sized Tudor-Revival structure stands sentinel at the corner of Woodward Avenue and Covington Drive. The four-story apartment building was designed by Weidmaier and Gay and built in 1925. It's being redeveloped into 54 apartments and space for two businesses (think cafe or martini bar) in its basement. The Seville Apartments is at 750 Whitmore St. The four-story structure at the corner of Third Avenue and Whitmore Street will feature 16 apartments. One hundred and two units will come onto the market when construction is finished at all three, which were vacant and in serious disrepair before renovation work began early last year.

Shelborne Development is renovating these buildings and a handful of others in Palmer Park. The Indian Village-based firm leveraged historic tax credits, federal stimulus funding and other government incentives to renovate these buildings to maintain their historic integrity and upgrade them with modern conveniences such as new Energy Star appliances, high-efficiency furnaces, insulation and granite countertops. It previously renovated the La Vogue apartments last summer.

Makino-Leipsitz says she is still pursuing the idea of bringing mounted security patrols to the neighborhood by utilizing the Detroit Police Department's mounted division, which is housed nearby. She also wants to bring Christmas lights to the trees of the neighborhood to help inject some vibrancy to the area.

"I want to light up the trees in Palmer Park like they do at La Dolce Vita (a nearby restaurant)," Makino-Leipsitz says. "It gives the area such a great feel."

Source: Kathy Makino-Leipsitz, co-owner of Shelborne Development
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Detroit Institute of Bagels breaks ground on new production facility

Back in 2010, Ben Newman had a dream of better bagels for Detroit. He and his brother Dan launched Detroit Institute of Bagels out of their flat in Corktown, selling unique bagel flavors like bacon cheddar and rosemary-olive oil-sea salt made to order. The bagel buzz built quickly; a Kickstarter campaign raised about $10,000 towards their own bagel shop and they were top ten semi-finalists in the first-ever Hatch Detroit competition in 2011. When they purchased a building on Michigan Avenue in Corktown roughly one year ago, it seemed that Detroit’s days as a bagel desert were coming to an end.
 
But as anyone who has tried to renovate a historic and long-vacant building can tell you, these things take time.
 
"Anything going from idea to reality takes two years, (that’s) what everyone told me," says Ben Newman, co-founder and bagelsmith of DIB who also has a Masters in Urban Planning from the University of Michigan.
 
Since Model D reported on the purchase of the building at 1236 Michigan Ave., the Newmans have received Rehabilitation Tax Credits, but weren’t allowed to do any sort of renovation work on the building during the approval process. The building itself has, at their best estimate, sat vacant for roughly 40 years before they acquired it, and when they began to look at the basement as the bagel production facility they quickly realized it wasn’t going to be practical and a new production facility would have to be added on.
 
"(We were told) we might never be able to fully waterproof the basement and end up tens of thousands of dollars into trying and still be forced to build a new space," Newman explains. "For the employees, for myself, for the experience and overall efficiency it will be better to have all production happen on the same floor as the retail."
 
DIB broke ground Jan. 3 on its new bagel production facility, which will be located in the space between the current building and PJ's Lager House (sharing walls with both). The 1,800-square-foot new building will be set back about 30 feet from Michigan Avenue. The rest of the street-facing lot will be a green space with outdoor seating. Inside there will be windows between the café and the production facility which will allow customers to watch the process of bagels being made.
 
Renovation on the original building hasn't yet started, though now that ground has broken on the new facility all of the construction will move forward simultaneously.
 
"That was part of the year-long process," Newman says. The structural plans and mechanical drawings for both buildings had to first be completed, submitted and approved before any significant work could be done.
 
While their initial hopes of opening in 2012 were perhaps a bit too ambitious, Newman remains undaunted and continues to move forward. "I am really happy that people are excited about our opening. I realize that it's a very good thing to have a following before we open," he says. “We’re not just opening a bagel shop (in) a white box space; we’re redeveloping a whole property. For me that’s what I’m passionate about."
 
Source: Ben Newman, co-founder of the Detroit Institute of Bagels
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

Slows expanding, adding more seats and offerings

Detroit’s most famous restaurant is currently going through a much-needed expansion.
 
Slows BAR BQ, which has been covered in national media from the New York Times to Food & Wine and was a 2012 finalist in Adam Richman’s Best Sandwich in America on the Travel Channel, is largely credited with kick-starting the rebirth of Corktown, attracting several new independent businesses on its block of Michigan Avenue and leading to what is now a total lack of available rental units according to Ryan Cooley, co-owner of Slows and owner of O’Connor Realty.
 
The original Slows space, which seats about 80 indoors (not including the seasonal outdoor patio), was ill-equipped to handle large parties, and long wait times inside the enormously popular restaurant inevitably led to a lot of bottle-necking at the front door by the bar.
 
"We're adding on the new space but it will serve as more a beer bar, private dining room and waiting area," Cooley says. "With bigger parties this is really going to help with efficiencies."
 
The new 1,200-square-foot space, which is overtaking the former office of O’Connor Realty (which has since relocated down the block), will be connected by a door to the original location but will in effect be its own separate space ideal for private parties and grabbing a drink while waiting for a table.
 
The new bar will feature 36 tap handles, many of which will be duplicate selections from the bar in the main restaurant for efficiency’s sake. The beer cooler will be expanding and moved into the basement, freeing up additional space upstairs.
 
Behind the scenes, the kitchen will also be expanding into the new space and will be fully updated. "We opened on such a shoestring budget the first time through we had to buy used equipment. This will allow things to be more streamlined," Cooley says.
 
This is good news for serious barbecue enthusiasts, as this will enable Slows to slow down their smoke times and make a good product even better. Chef and co-owner Brian Perrone will also be able to host more beer dinners and run additional specials, allowing him more creativity in the kitchen.
 
Cooley says that by the time the kitchen is expanded and bathrooms added, the new space will add about 20 new seats. "We didn’t want to add to ton of space, really. We didn’t want a huge open-feeling space. We kind of wanted to keep it small and intimate."
 
At press time the main restaurant is on track to re-open on their target date of Jan. 9, while the new space may be delayed just a day or two.
 
Source: Ryan Cooley, co-owner of Slows
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

Gilbert's downtown footprint expands with new purchases

The Dan Gilbert game of downtown Detroit Monopoly is not showing any signs of slowing down these days. The chairman of Quicken Loans acquired five more buildings just before the end of last year and now there is a report from Crain's Detroit Business that he has his sights set on more.

What we know is that Gilbert's real-estate company, Rock Ventures, recently acquired five buildings on Woodward Avenue and Broadway Street. These largely vacant buildings include the addresss 1201, 1217 and 1412 Woodward, along with 1301 and 1521 Broadway.

"We didn't want to see these buildings just sit there and have no activity in them," says Jim Ketai,  managing partner of Bedrock Management, Gilbert's real-estate management firm. "We want to bring some more activity to them."

Gilbert now owns 15 buildings with 2.6 million square feet of commercial space and another three parking garages with 3,500 spaces. His firms are also building a new parking garage/retail space on Broadway and are leasing space in the Compuware Building.

The latest additions include a former Kresge department store at Woodward Avenue and State Street and the building that houses Small Plates next to the Detroit Beer Company. All of the buildings will be renovated to accommodate ground floor retail space and either residential or office space above.

"It will take a lot of time," Ketai says. "They have had a lot of neglect."

Source: Jim Ketai,  managing partner of Bedrock Management
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Hamtramck pushes for 25 miles of bike lanes by this fall

Hamtramck's non-motorized transit plan -- think pedestrians and cyclists -- has been seven years in the making but city officials expect to see some tangible rubber hit the road later this year.

Hamtramck is working with collaborative-design-studio livingLAB to finish the plan this year. The end result will be designs for more and better pedestrian paths, the groundwork for connecting Hamtramck to the Dequindre Cut and 25 miles of bike lanes.

"This would be all new bike lanes installed throughout the entire city," says Jason Friedmann, community & economic development director for Hamtramck. "The goal is to be done by next fall."

Hamtramck's new bike lanes would be along its major commercial corridors, such as Conant, Gallagher, Holbrook and St. Aubin streets, along with Hamtramck Drive, which circles the General Motors Assembly Plant. City officials are still debating the feasibility of putting bike lanes on Jos Campau because of already tight space for vehicles and pedestrians.

Friedmann says the non-motorized plan will make the city eligible for funding for the installation through the State of Michigan. He also hopes it will open Hamtramck up to more funding to extend the Dequindre Cut north from Eastern Market to the city, a stretch of about 3.5 miles.

Source: Jason Friedmann, community & economic development director for Hamtramck
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Top development news of 2012 spread across Motor City

There was no no shortage of big announcements in Detroit's built environment in 2012, so Model D has expanded its Top 5 Development News Stories to its Top 5 Development News Subjects. This year's list includes:

The Gilbert Effect
Quicken Loans Chairman Dan Gilbert became the biggest power player in downtown Detroit this year. His team's accomplishments include acquiring buildings left and right, filling them with tech businesses, pushing for a retail rebirth in the Central Business District and spearheading the M-1 Rail plans for light rail up Woodward which now seems quite likely with the passage of a regional transit authority bill in the state legislature.

Palmer Park Rebirth
The Palmer Park area - ahem, Uptown - is enjoying a large amount investment these days as the quality of life improves with more community involvement. Shelborne Development is spearheading the renovation of a number of Palmer Park's Art Deco apartment buildings, including La Vogue and Palmer Lodge, and working to establish mounted security patrols. Local residents are improving the area by planting sunflowers along Woodward Avenue, planting orchards in Palmer Park, building trails through the park and rebranding the area Uptown.

Downtown/Midtown Apt Blitz
Developers can't build new living options in Detroit's downtown or Midtown neighborhoods fast enough these days to keep up with skyrocketing demand. Some big projects came online in 2012, including the Broderick Tower, The Auburn and Newberry Hall. More are coming. Construction is in progress for the Sherbrooke Apts and Woodward Garden Block Apts and work is set to begin on the Whitney Building in a few weeks.

Momentum in The Villages
The people working to improve the The Villages scored some big wins in 2012. Those wins include developing plans for more greenways, sparking the pop-up retial store boom, Tashmoo Beirgarten's return, and landing a number of new businesses to take those spots in West Village. Look for The Villages to keep the momentum going in 2013.

Wayne County Tax Foreclosure Auction
This year set the record for the Wayne County Tax Foreclosure Auction. This fall's auction featured more than 20,000 properties and sold more than 12,000. Local officials are working to turn these empty houses into new homes. What happens next to the thousands of unsold properties is becoming a bigger question that needs to be dealt with. Oh, and next year's auction is set to break all of those records again.

Honorable-mention projects include, Avalon's expansion plans, Buffalo Wild Wings moving downtown, the groundbreaking of WholeFoods, Reclaim Detroit's deconstruction efforts and the GAR Building rehab.

Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Two James Spirits to bring a distillery to Corktown in 2013

David Landrum and Peter Bailey see history repeating itself in micro-brewing and micro-distilling worlds. Where craft brewing beer has exploded as a slow-food-style business in recent decades the co-owners of Detroit's first distillery see the same thing happening with craft distilling of liquor.

"That's what's happening with spirits right now," says Landrum, co-founder & president of Two James Spirits, which is an homage to the names of the co-founders' fathers who were also entrepreneurs. "There is going to be a boom with small spirits makers because the product is superior."

Two James Spirits plans to open at 2445 Michigan Ave. in Corktown, a small commercial building adjacent to Roosevelt Park and within a stones throw of Slows. The micro distillery will have a tasting room and will serve vodka, gin and whiskey. The co-founders plan to serve vodka and gin first because it can be made in a matter of days while they let their whiskey age. Landrum plans to age the whiskey in barrels and expects the process to take between 16-24 months. David Pickerell, one of the foremost experts on whiskey distilling, is also working with Landrum and Bailey on Two James Spirits' brand of whiskey.

Two James Spirits is set to open in the first quarter of next year. In the meantime, the company's co-founders are recruiting for its Corktown 500 club, an exclusive club that will be able to make its own whiskey and have other unique privileges at the distillery.

Source: David Landrum, president & co-founder of Two James Spirits
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

U of D Mercy Law School turns old fire station into law clinic

The University of Detroit Mercy has finished work on the new home for its law school clinics, turning a century-old fire dept building into a top-of-the-line office space.

The university's School of Law purchased the two-story building at the corner of Larned and St. Antoine streets in 2011 and has spent most of this year renovating the 7,000-square-foot structure.

"It's incredible," says Michael Bryce, director of programs for University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. "It's beyond my expectations. It's really a great mix of old and the new. We were able to save the glazed brick and the red spiral staircases. We weren't able to save the polls. Everybody asks about that."

The new space will house the law school's law clinics, which juris doctorate students are required to take at least one of before they graduate. Those clinics will be attended by 30 students on average and administered by seven faculty members and another five staffers.

Among the 10 law clinics in the new building are the university's Mortgage Foreclosure Defense Clinic. It is working to help prevent 70 foreclosures on homeowners in Wayne County, saving their houses from eviction.

Source: Michael Bryce, director of programs for University of Detroit-Mercy School of Law
Writer: Jon Zemke

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DTE acquires, begins prelim work on old Salvation Army building

DTE Energy has acquired 601 Bagley in downtown Detroit, formerly the Salvation Army Bagley Service Center.

Work crews are currently cleaning out the art deco structure next to DTE Energy's downtown campus. The work includes some asbestos abatement and other preservation work to make sure the building can be utilized at a later date. DTE Energy hasn't decided what's next for the architectural gem but it will have a future.

"Once we decide what we're going to do with it it will be ready for whatever that is," says John Austerberry, spokesman for DTE Energy.

The former Salvation Army Bagley Service Center was built in 1938. It stands at three stories tall on the west side of downtown, not far from the Lodge Freeway. It has been vacant for several years.

Source: John Austerberry, spokesman for DTE Energy
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Hamtramck partners with Reclaim Detroit on home deconstruction

Hamtramck is taking a lead role on Metro Detroit's fledgling home deconstruction industry. The inner-city suburb commissioned one of the first deconstructions last year from Reclaim Detroit and now has six more in the offing. The city is also applying to have another 40 homes deconstructed through the Michigan Land Bank.

Home deconstruction is an alternative to demolition for buildings beyond repair and renovation. When a building is razed, it only takes the efforts of a handful of unskilled workers and all of the byproducts goes to a landfill. Deconstructing a building creates more jobs (about 10-12 for a single-family home) and ensures that a vast majority of the building's materials are recycled.

"That's something we have been pursuing for a while," says Jason Friedmann, community & economic development director for the city of Hamtramck. "It helps keep the valuable materials out of a landfill. Some of these materials can't be found anymore, no matter what the price, like the old-growth lumber."

A house on Carpenter Street was one of the first to be deconstructed by Reclaim Detroit. That project created 18 jobs and the materials from it generated $40,000. Some of those materials ended up in places like the Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Co cafe in Midtown.

The 40 homes in line for deconstruction next year are a combination of leftovers from last fall's Wayne County Tax Foreclosure Auction, city-owned houses beyond repair and privately owned homes that are either condemned or fire-damaged and have no insurance. Friedmann hopes to leverage the current six deconstructions set to happen this winter and 40 next year to help create more jobs in the city.

"A lot of skills that can be used to take apart a building can be used to put one back together," Friedmann says.

Source: Jason Friedmann, community & economic development director for the city of Hamtramck
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Upscale-bar Rodin set to open in Park Shelton

Rodin, an upscale bar overlooking the Detroit Institute of Arts, is set to open Wednesday.

Rodin is a reference to famed-artist Augeste Rodin's The Thinker, the statue that sits vigil at the entrance of the DIA a stones throw away. The night spot features high-end drinks, gourmet food and dancing in a casual atmosphere in the Park Shelton's ground-floor commercial space at Woodward Avenue and Kirby Street. The business' tagline: "Eat, Drink, Dance."

"People will be very impressed with the food," says Torya Blanchard, describing the food as the French-version of small plates fare. "Chef Kate (Williams) is amazing. It's fun. It's different. It's whimsical. It's fresh. It's something people in Detroit haven't seen."

Blanchard also owns Good Girls Go To Paris Crepes a few doors down in the Park Shelton's Woodward frontage. She has been working to bring Rodin to life for two years and does so with a staff of 25 people. Blanchard plans to host a New Year's Eve Party as Rodin's first big event.

Blanchard describes Rodin as a fun and sexy place that will take its cues from French culture, art and jazz/Motown/northern soul music. It will have both DJs and live bands.

Source: Torya Blanchard, owner of Rodin
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

City leaps to help in auction-house-demo disaster

Kristine Diven got the shock of her life last week when she went to check on the house of her dreams and found a pile of rubble.

Diven is a 36-year-old photographer who co-owns an art gallery called District VII in Detroit's rivertown district with her partner, Micho Detronik. She moved to Detroit from New York City four years ago and she and her partner planned to put down roots in the Motor City this fall. (Full disclosure, Diven contacted this writer for advice about buying a tax foreclosure house last summer because of this writer's experience buying and rehabbing such buildings.)

The couple bought a vacant duplex and the lot next to it on Beaconsfield Street near Mack Avenue in East English Village at the Wayne County Tax Foreclosure Auction for the auction's minimum bid of $500. Coincidentally, Detronik had done work on the house in recent years for a previous owner.

"We were blown away that we could get a home like that," Diven says. "It had a new roof. The basement had no cracks in the foundation. There was no water damage. All it needed was new electric and two new tubs. We estimated it would be take $8,000 to get it up in working order."

The house was open to the elements. Diven and Detronik were afraid the sale would be canceled if they did any work on the house before they had the deed, so they periodically drove past it and waited, but held off closing it up. When Diven went by on Thursday she found a pile of rubble where her house once stood. She still has yet to receive the deeds to the house or the vacant lot.

Later that day she posted a "Thanks Detroit" missive about what happened on her Facebook page (a similar note on WhyDontWeOwnThis can be found here) and the news spread quickly across social media. Within a few hours, she had dozens of comments on her original post and a helping hand extended by Karla Henderson, group executive for planning & facilities for the city of Detroit and one of Mayor Dave Bing's top lieutenants.

"Of course Kristine and her family are the kind of citizens we want to live in the city," Henderson posted on Facebook on Friday. "After speaking with her this morning and hearing all the wonderful things she is involved in, it would be our loss if she left. Please know that the City will work with her to find a comparable house. Although the City was not responsible for the demo, we feel it is the right thing to do."

Henderson explained that the demolition was executed by the Michigan Land Bank after getting the green light from the Wayne County Treasurer's Office. The demolition is part of Gov. Rick Snyder's initiative to demolish abandoned and dangerous homes within a half mile of specifically targeted schools in Southwest Detroit, the Bagley neighborhood on the city's West Side and in the Morningside/East English Village neighborhoods on the city's East Side. Diven's house was within a half mile of J.E. Clark Preparatory Academy, one of the schools used as a radius for the half-mile-dangerous-building demolition circle.

Kim Homan, executive director of the Michigan Land Bank, explains that her agency received the green light from the Wayne County Treasurer's Office last summer to demolish Diven's house on Beaconsfield, along with several others in the area. The house and several others were also on the auction list for this fall's Wayne County Tax Foreclosure Auction. Homan says Detroit firefighters had identified it as open, dangerous and irredeemable, and that her office executed the demolition as a way to help protect students walking to school.

"Our primary concern was the safety of the kids," Homan says.

Eric Sabree, deputy treasurer for land management at the Wayne County Treasurer's Office, confirmed those details, adding his office gave the Michigan Land Bank the greenlight to raze any dangerous buildings within a half-mile radius that were left over from the 2011 auction.

When those were done and the Michigan Land Bank requested more demolition candidates the treasurer's office gave the go ahead to begin the demolition process for properties that were coming up in this year's auction. Sabree says his records show the deed was recorded for Diven's property on Nov. 28 and the demolition was finished Nov 27.

"The decision to do this with the state land bank was made late in the process," Sabree says. "We knew it was risky."

He adds the sales for properties where buildings were demolished will be canceled; and next year if an auction property is on the demolition list it will be listed on the bidding website. In the meantime, Diven and her partner will not be held responsible for demolition costs and will be reimbursed their purchase price.

"They will get a refund, no doubt about it," Sabree says. "If there is property that no one bought (at the last auction) we will offer that to them."

Henderson's office at the City of Detroit is allowing Diven to go through its backlog of available homes in hopes of finding something at a comparable quality and price. Homan says the Michigan Land Bank is prepared to do the same and says the entire episode is regrettable.

"A thing like this is really unfortunate," Homan says. She adds her office routinely works to cross check her lists with those at the city, county and other local agencies. "We have a lot of trouble reconciling data with other agencies," Homan says.

Both Henderson and Homan say they are working to not only find a house-replacement solution that works for Diven but also to help prevent this sort of thing from happening again.

"We want residents with that spirit here," Henderson says. "Anything we can do to soften that blow we stand ready to do."

Source: Kristin Diven; Kim Homan, executive director of the Michigan Land Bank; Karla Henderson, group executive for planning & facilities for the city of Detroit; Eric Sabree, deputy treasurer for land management at the Wayne County Treasurer's Office
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Detroit Yacht Club Foundation aims to preserve DYC building

The Detroit Yacht Club has created a namesake foundation to help preserve its historic structure on Belle Isle.

The Detroit Yacht Club is a private sailing club founded in 1868 and its current Mediterranean-villa-style clubhouse was designed by George Mason (who also designed Mackinac Island's Grand Hotel and Detroit's Masonic Temple) and opened in 1923. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places last year.

The Detroit Yacht Club Foundation is a nonprofit that will focus on fundraising and coordinating the preservation of the yacht club's nearly 100-year-old clubhouse. Although the building itself is still sound, the foundation will focus on securing and preserving its envelope features, such as its roof, walls, doors and windows.

"All of these areas are 89 years old," says Mark Lifter, president of the Detroit Yacht Club Foundation. "With Michigan's freeze-and-thaw cycles, water always finds a way."

The Detroit Yacht Cub Foundation's first order of business is to conduct an engineering study of the building before moving forward with any improvements. In the meantime the foundation is working on raising money and resources from members and people with a connection to the yacht club.

"Over time, there are probably millions of people with a connection or an affinity for the Detroit Yacht Club," Lifter says.

Source: Mark Lifter, president of the Detroit Yacht Club Foundation
Writer: Jon Zemke

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Locals work to open Detroit Dog Park in shadow of MCS

A group of Detroiters are working to create a dog park next to the iconic Michigan Central Station in Corktown.

The Detroit Dog Park is a off-leash dog park that would be built on the Macomb Playlot at the corner of 16th and Rose streets, adjacent to the Roosevelt Park. The organizers have reached an agreement with the city of Detroit to build the lot and are currently fundraising for the effort. It hopes to open next summer.

"There are a lot of people who live in an urban setting with dogs and don't have backyards," says Carly Mys, chair of the Detroit Dog Park. "There is a need for a place to let them run off leash, a place for them to socialize with other dogs and people."

The Detroit Dog Park is currently in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign to raise $15,000 for the dog park's construction. It has raised nearly $12,000 as of Monday. The money will go toward buying construction materials and services. Mys says the project will have a heavy emphasis on green construction, employing things like rain barrels.

"We want to be sustainable, using things like recycled materials is high on our list," Mys says.

Source: Carly Mys, chair of the Detroit Dog Park
Writer: Jon Zemke

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Gilbert buys 10th building downtown, One Woodward

Rock Ventures purchased it's 10th building in downtown Detroit yesterday, picking up the iconic One Woodward at the corner Woodward and Jefferson avenues.

World famous architect Minoru Yamasaki designed the 26-story office building, which was built in 1962. Yamasaki's work includes the former World Trade Center towers in New York City. One Woodward is considered an early version of the World Trade Center, which was built in the early 1970s.

Rock Ventures is the real-estate arm of the Quicken Loans family of companies, which are controlled by Quicken Loans Founder and Chairman Dan Gilbert. The billionaire-owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers has bought and refurbished nine other buildings in downtown Detroit over the last few years, moving thousands of his employees into these office towers and helping spearhead the Central Business District's rebirth.

"The office space downtown is not abundant anymore," says Jim Ketai, managing partner of Bedrock Real Estate Services, the real-estate management company of the Quicken Loans family of companies that is overseeing the renovation of One Woodward. "We need more space."

One Woodward is 60 percent occupied with existing tenants. Ketai expects that number to hit the 90 percentile within the coming months as Bedrock Real Estate Services renovates the building and recruits new companies to fill it. Work began earlier this week and the first new tenants are expected to begin moving in within four weeks.

One Woodward is also an expansion of the footprint of Gilbert's cluster of downtown office towers. Gilbert has purchased buildings in the Lower Woodward corridor between Grand Circus Park and Campus Martius as part of an effort to turn that area into a hotbed for tech firms being branded as WebWard. That footprint now stretches south of Campus Martius to Jefferson, and more acquisitions are possible in the near future if the right opportunity presents itself.

Ketai says his team is looking for ways to better connect Gilbert's cluster of buildings with the nearby Riverwalk and Renaissance Center. "We would love to figure out how to bring everything together," Ketai says.

Source: Jim Ketai, managing partner of Bedrock Real Estate Services
Writer: Jon Zemke

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Woodward Garden Apts sprints toward opening next fall

Construction is moving forward in earnest to complete the rest of the Woodward Garden Block between West Alexandrine and Selden streets in Midtown.

Workers are working on rehabbing the long-shuttered Woodward Garden Theater in the middle of the block and building the Woodward Garden Apartments at the corner of Woodward and Selden. The theater is set to open in May 2013 and the apartment building the following September.

"It is basically on schedule," says George Stewart, managing member of the development team for Woodward Garden Block. "We hope to have it all enclosed before the bad weather comes."

The Woodward Garden Block project has been a long time coming. A large section of office space in the middle of the block was renovated two years ago, along with the construction of a parking garage behind it. The old Blue Moon building at the corner of Woodward and West Alexandrine was gutted and opened as the new home for the Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Co's signature cafe.

The Woodward Garden Theater will reopen as a 32,000-square-foot entertainment venue that can seat as many as 1,300 people. It was originally designed by C. Howard Crane (architect that designed the Fox Theatre) and has been derelict for many years.

A small one-story commercial building at the corner of Selden and Woodward was recently razed to make room for the 5-story Woodward Garden Apartments. The mixed-use building will feature room for ground floor commercial space and 61 apartments on the upper floors. The apartments will be a combination of market-rate one- and two-bedroom spaces. Workers have poured the concrete for the basement of the new building and are currently working on erecting its steel skeleton.

Source: George Stewart, managing member of the development team for Woodward Garden Block
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Shipping-container apts set to break ground in Woodbridge, Corktown

Detroit's first shipping container building is about to break ground in Corktown.

Three Squared (formerly Exceptional Green Living) plans to begin building a couple model units of the larger multi-family project destined for Woodbridge in early 2013. The two live-work units will be made of old shipping containers. The units will go up on Michigan Avenue next to the Grinnell Place Lofts.

"We will have this entire model center framed in four hours," says Leslie Horn, CEO of Three Squared.

Three Squared, and the six people working to make it happen, plans to build out two areas of multi-family shipping container developments in Corktown and Woodbridge. The Woodbridge development will go up on the southeast corner of Warren Avenue and Rosa Parks Boulevard. It will consist of 20 units ranging in size between 853 and 1,920 square feet.

The second development will consist of 6-12 units at Michigan Avenue in Corktown. The units will first be marketed as for-sale condos that Horn describes as "extremely competitive with market-rate sales." If condo sales don't work, Horn is ready to go forward with construction of the projects and marketing the developments as rentals.

Shipping container construction is considered one of the greenest forms of construction because it reuses so much material. Such construction has been proven not only viable across the U.S. and around the world but popular.

"We know they will be LEED certifiable, gold or maybe platinum," Horn says. "But we won't go for certification until we have our first units up. We want to prove our concept as soon as possible."

Source: Leslie Horn, CEO of Three Squared
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Woodward rapid transit pushes forward with RTA, community meetings

The options for traveling up and down Woodward Avenue are about to grow significantly.

The Michigan State Senate recently passed a series of bills that would establish a regional transit authority that would oversee the construction and operation of a light rail line on Woodward between Jefferson Avenue and Grand Boulevard. It would also oversee the construction and operation of a bus rapid transit systems along the rest of Woodward and across the region. The State House of Representatives is reportedly expected to take up the bills within the coming days.

Working in parallel in those efforts are series of community meetings envisioning what rapid transit along Woodward Avenue could look like and what local residents want to see happen. The meetings are being hosted by the Michigan Suburbs Alliance, Woodward Avenue Action Association and SEMCOG, which is creating a Woodward rapid transit alternatives analysis that will work in parallel with the proposed regional transit authority.

"This is an attempt to create a rapid transit system on Woodward Avenue," says Richard Murphy, programs director of the Michigan Suburbs Alliance. "We're looking at the entire length from Jefferson Avenue to Pontiac."

Among the issues that will be discussed are which mode of transit works best for the Woodward corridor (light rail or bus rapid transit), how such a system should be funded and whether it should have dedicated lanes or mixed in with traffic.

The meetings will be be held along the Woodward corridor. The Detroit meetings will be held today (Tuesday, Dec. 4) at SEMCOG offices in downtown Detroit (535 Griswold St, Suite 300) from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and at the Detroit Police Dept's Central District (7310 Woodward) from 4-6 p.m. Another one will be held on Dec. 11 at the Detroit Police Dept's Palmer Park Station (12th Precinct, 1441 W. 7 Mile Road).

Source: Richard Murphy, programs director of the Michigan Suburbs Alliance
Writer: Jon Zemke

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'Tis the season for retail evolution

Detroit’s neighborhoods are popping with new business and shopping this holiday season. 

Like the Historic Hubbard Winter Market in Southwest Detroit, Dec. 9, where Tashhmoo Biergarten, 555 Gallery, Detroit Farm and Garden join a stellar line-up of your favorite purveyors of fine food, retail and art at the newest celebration of a historic neighborhood. The Historic Hubbard Winter Market will take place at 1759 20th St. from noon to 8 p.m.

The Historic Hubbard Winter Market is a collaboration between Southwest Housing Solutions, Southwest Detroit Business Association, COMPAS, REVOLVE and many others.
 
"The Historic Hubbard Winter Market is a great chance to support our local businesses, celebrate our historic Hubbard Farms and Hubbard Richard communities, and welcome new retailers and shoppers to our neighborhood this holiday season," says Rachel Perschetz, Real Estate Development Project Manager at Southwest Housing Solutions who’s leading the charge for Winter Market. "We can’t wait to show the rest of the city what this wonderful area has to offer."

Visit the event on its Facebook page for all the latest information on vendors, music, holiday cheers and -- of course -- bier.  

Plan another stop at Always Brewing Detroit Coffee Shop and performance venue in Grandmont Rosedale. Warm up over a fresh cup of coffee and listen to some great music with Detroit retail revolutionary Amanda Brewington. Always Brewing teamed up with Grandmont Rosedale Community Development Corporation to provide residents and a vacant space with a much needed caffeine fix. 

"We want to provide a space where you can have lunch with a co-worker, settle in with an amazing cup of coffee and a good book or perform your new song at our open mic," says Brewington. "We're getting to know the neighborhood and making sure we are what they want and need. Nearly 90 percent of our customers are from the area. We're always asking for feedback."

Located at 19180 Grand River Avenue, Always Brewing is open seven days a week, and open Thursday nights until 10 p.m. for special events. They serve locally sourced fair trade & organic coffee and tea and also feature locally made baked goods, sandwiches and salads. Check out Always Brewing for all the latest information on shows and hours. The pop-up is open now through Dec. 23 -- but hopefully much longer. 
 
Another holiday stop should be at Maison LaFleur in West Village. Maison LaFleur is a pop-up gallery specializing in contemporary culture. The gallery exhibits contemporary art, design, and limited editions.
 
"After being home for the past year, I am very excited to have my first pop-up in Detroit in this charming neighborhood. Detroiters have been so supportive and embracing making this wonderful opportunity an even better experience," says founder and director Ingrid LaFleur.

Maison LaFleur is popping up in the future home of the Red Hook at 8025 Agnes St. The pop-up is open now and will be open until Jan. 13. After you stop by Maison LaFleur don’t forget to pick up apparel from your favorite Detroit designers at PRAMU and place your holiday pie order at Coffee And (__).

Thanks to Micha