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Grandmont Rosedale : Detroit Development News

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Hoping for changes to streetscape, pop-up park shuts down intersection in Grandmont Rosedale

A park is popping up in the middle of an intersection, and residents of the Grandmont Rosedale neighborhoods are hoping that the temporary road closures will lead to permanent improvements to the Grand River corridor and its streetscape.

On Saturday, May 12, a grand opening celebration is being held for the GRANDpark(let), a pop-up park at what used to be the three-way intersection of Grand River, Puritan, and Plainview avenues. Characterized as dangerous by some, the intersection will now be blocked off, and in its place will be landscaping, tables, seating, a community stage, and more.

The pop-up park is a collaborative project between the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation, the city of Detroit's planning department, and Project 561, the last of which partners high school students from Oakland County and Detroit for annual service projects.

"This is really important, and a critical point for us," says Larissa Carr, economic development program manager for the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation. "The GRDC is trying to help create a corridor that our neighborhood wants, and one that addresses our needs in the pedestrian and shopping experiences.

"Right now, it's more-so built for cars, but street infrastructure improvements will make for a better experience for pedestrians, and the businesses that are here, too."

Organizers hope that the temporary park will help build their case for an improved pedestrian experience along Grand River Avenue. Not only does the GRDC have to contend with the city planning department, but because Grand River is a state highway, the Michigan Department of Transportation is also a key player in any discussions.

The road closures are in effect from April 27th through June 8th, 2018.

"Residents know that this is a dangerous intersection. We want the changes to be permanent," says Carr. "We are expecting permanent improvements within the next few years, and we're working with city planning and MDOT.

"This is just the beginning."

The grand opening celebration for the GRANDpark(let) is free and open to the public.

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

Groups seeks to improve North Rosedale Park through public art projects

Prominent Detroit artists, neighborhood schoolchildren, and community boosters have teamed together to bring two pieces of public art to the North Rosedale Park neighborhood in northwest Detroit.

Having already won a $76,000 grant from the Knight Foundation, the Legacy Project is nearing its goal in improving public spaces through art. There is a catch to the Knight grant, however, and for the Legacy Project to receive the money, they must first raise a matching $76,000 of their own, which would bring the grand total to $152,000 to go toward the project.

Marsha Bruhn is chair of the Legacy Project, a group started to improve the North Rosedale Park Community House and its surrounding park. Bruhn says that they have entered the final leg of fundraising for the project, and need to raise just $20,000 to receive their $76,000 Knight grant.

The group has turned to Michigan-based crowdfunding platform Patronicity to do just that. The project, titled Great Art! Great Park!, has until 10:30 a.m. on Sep. 30 to raise the $20,000.

"Public art signals to the community that art is important, that the creative process is important. Creativity stimulates thinking," says Bruhn. "And it's another reason for people to come to the neighborhood. This will be the quality of art that is found in museums and galleries."

Two pieces of art are planned for North Rosedale Park. The first is a 25-foot metal sculpture designed by Detroit's Charles McGee, a well-renowned artist and decades-long resident of the neighborhood.

The second is a mosaic from Kresge Fine Arts Fellow Hubert Massey. In addition to his own mosaic, the artist is working with third and fifth-graders at the neighborhood's Cooke STEM Academy to help them design and construct their own mosaics, which will also be completed and installed.

Approximately $8,000 has been raised at press time. Click here to see the fundraiser's current status.

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

Placemaking in the city: Kite festival, innovation center, sustainable living, and public art

A spate of exciting placemaking projects have been announced this month, each seeking to improve city life through placemaking and community-building practices and projects.

Each are the targets of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation's placemaking initiative, Public Spaces Community Places. The projects are eligible for matching grants from the MEDC, should they reach their intended crowdfunding goals. The campaigns are being hosted on the Michigan-based Patronicity platform.

The inaugural Detroit Kite Festival is planned for Belle Isle on July 16, 2017 and organizers are hoping to raise $7,500 to help fund the event. Festivities include on-site kite-making classes, kite culture educational programming, and performances from professional kite flyers. Free transportation for 150 Detroit children will be provided and, beginning in April, several months of kite workshops and programming are planned throughout city neighborhoods.

The Detroit Kite Festival has until April 9 to reach its goal.

Detroit-based non-profit Life Remodeled is seeking to transform the neighborhood surrounding Central High School through a series of placemaking projects that include blight removal and home repair campaigns. Having signed the lease on the historic Durfee Elementary-Middle School building, Life Remodeled is raising $50,000 through a crowdfunding campaign to help transform Durfee into the Community Innovation Center. The community center will offer a number of services, including business acceleration workshops, maker spaces, and recreation opportunities. Funds raised through the campaign will help with construction, among other costs.

Life Remodeled has until April 14 to reach its goal.

Over on the city's west side, a group of architecture students from the Netherlands has launched the Motown Movement, an exercise in sustainable and green living. The group is attempting to raise $50,000 to transform 1995 Ford St. into a multi-purpose property, including a community resource center, sustainable living demonstration space and training center, and a second-floor residential unit for a Detroit family that has lost its home to tax foreclosure. A community garden is also planned.

The Motown Movement has until April 18 to reach its goal.

In Grandmont Rosedale, the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation is looking to raise $10,000 to help fund its beautification efforts along Grand River Avenue, the main commercial thoroughfare running through the area. The GRANDcorridor Beautification Project will use the money raised to paint three 3,000 st. ft. murals on the sides of local businesses as well as plant 31 new trees along the east side of the avenue.

The GRANDcorridor Beautification Project has until May 13 to reach its goal.

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

Small business contest seeks applicants for $50,000 award

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

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

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

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

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

Visit HatchDetroit.com to enter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Visit motorcitymatch.com for details on how to apply.

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

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

District One businesses to receive investments totalling $100K

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Pop-ups and peplums: Trish's Garage makes its Detroit retail return

Ebony Rutherford's clothing store has popped back up in Detroit. Trish's Garage is celebrating its opening in the Grand River Workplace, a co-working space in Grandmont Rosedale. The clothing and accessory shop first popped up downtown in April and May 2014.

Trish's Garage sells clothing, jewelry, and accessories, much of which is Detroit-themed. Rutherford's specialty are her self-designed and -made peplums, tops with flares at the bottom meant to flatter women of all shapes and sizes.

The Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation opened Grand River Workplace in Oct. 2014. The co-working space also hosts pop-ups, the first having been Love. Travels. Imports., an artisanal crafts boutique. Trish's Garage will be open until the end of the year.

"Trish’s Garage is exactly the kind of home-grown, locally-owned business we would like to see more of in our community. It embodies the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit that are needed to bring new life to neighborhood business districts like Grand River," Tom Goddeeris, executive director of GRDC, says in a statement.

The store's first run as a pop-up occurred in the spring of 2014, after it was accepted into the D:Hive pop-up program. Rutherford went through that organization's Build Institute--which has since spun off as its own entity--learning business planning, pricing, and money management. She's also a graduate of the TechTown Retail Boot Camp, where she learned to identify customers' needs rather than stocking only what she wanted to sell. Now it's a pop-up in Grandmont Rosedale. She won a contest for the spot, one run by GRDC and REVOLVE Detroit.

Trish's Garage opened Saturday, June 20, and will operate out of the Grandmont Rosedale storefront every Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m until the end of the year.

The clothing and accessories shop is located at 19120 Grand River Ave.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Detroit groups raise funds for placemaking projects, from opera to sunflower living rooms

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation has added two more Detroit placemaking projects to its Public Spaces Community Places initiative. An events venue in southwest Detroit and a community garden in a northwest playground will receive sizable grants from the MEDC should each of them meet crowdfunding goals.

Several blocks west of Clark Park is 1620 Morrell St., an abandoned house stripped of much of its infrastructure. It's the focus of House Opera, an arts and performance group hoping to transform the derelict structure into a community space and venue called House Opera | Opera House.

House Opera is attempting to raise $10,000 through the Michigan-based crowdfunding site Patronicity. If successful, the arts and performance group will receive an additional $10,000 from the MEDC.

A huge transformation is planned for the building, including structural and roof repairs, a custom Tyvek wrap, and a 25-foot-high open stage. One of the events planned for the space is the inaugural Sigi Fest by Afrotopia.

House Opera has until July 1 to raise the $10,000.

On the city's northwest side, near the intersection of Seven Mile and Evergreen, is Votrobeck Playground. A number of organizations have banded together to form It Takes a Village Garden, which aims to raise $27,500 through crowdfunding in an attempt to receive a matching grant from the MEDC.

Among the many improvements planned for the park include a bioswale and rain garden, butterfly garden, gourd trellis, meadow maze, island hopping playground, and sunflower living room. The MEDC says that the project "supports families and seniors in their move towards improved health and economic independence." It's the final phase of a comprehensive neighborhood rehabilitation project in that neighborhood.

It Takes a Village Garden has until July 16 to raise the $27,500.

These two projects join two other Detroit-based Public Spaces Community Places initiatives currently ongoing in their crowdfunding efforts. The Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation is hoping to beautify its Little League baseball diamonds while the Detroit Eastside Community Collaborative attempts to raise funds necessary for making upgrades to a busy bus stop at Gratiot and Conner.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Northwest Detroit Farmers Market returns to Grandmont Rosedale

It's farmers market season in the city of Detroit. The northwest side is celebrating the return of its own seasonal market Thursday, June 4.

Occurring from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Thursday through October 1, the Northwest Detroit Farmers Market takes place at the North Rosedale Park Community House in North Rosedale Park.

For the past 10 years, the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation has hosted the market.

"The Northwest Detroit Farmers Market is not just a place to buy fresh produce. It's also a place to meet your neighbors, learn a new recipe or do a craft with your kids," says GRDC executive director Tom Goddeeris. "It's a place where people come to feel connected to their community."

More than 15 produce and food vendors will be selling their goods at the market. The vendors come from all around southeast Michigan. Fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, dairy products, and baked goods will be among items sold. James Tate, District 1 city councilman, says the market addresses some of the challenges local residents face in accessing nutritious, fresh, and affordable food.

On opening day, June 4, the market will also play host to a number of events as it celebrates the start of market season. DMC Sinai-Grace will be on hand to offer free health screenings. A yoga class by Detroit Community Yoga will be offered from 6 to 7 p.m. Home Depot will be hosting a youth wood working workshop, free to attend. A perennial swap and a local artists market are also planned. The market is a part of Eastern Market's Detroit Community Markets program.

Organizers say that Northwest Detroit Farmers Market is the second most frequented farmers market in Detroit.

The North Rosedale Park Community House is located at 18445 Scarsdale St.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Baseball, buses, and the latest Detroit neighborhood improvement efforts

Two Detroit community groups have turned to crowdfunding to improve the neighborhoods that they represent. A Grandmont Rosedale park and an eastside bus stop are the targeted projects. In both cases, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation has pledged to provide each successful crowdfunding campaign with a matching grant.

Launched May 5, the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation hopes to raise $13,000 as it seeks to beautify Stoepel Park No. 1. It plans on doing so through the creation of seven murals of mosaic tilework in Stoepel Park No. 1. The park is home to a vibrant baseball Little League and each mosaic will cover one of the dugouts there.

Detroit artist Hubert Massey made one such mosaic in 2014, and now the GRDC plans on working with Massey to create seven more over the course of one weekend in July. More than 180 youth volunteers have committed to assisting Massey in installing the 1,400 sq. ft. worth of mosaic art.

The GRDC has until June 19 to raise the $13,000.

Also launched is a campaign to raise $10,000 to makeover an oft-used bus stop on the city's eastside. MEDC has agreed to provide a $10,000 matching grant to the Detroit Eastside Community Collaborative (DECC) if they're able to reach their goal.

Organizers say the bus stop at Gratiot and Connor is used by thousands each year, despite it being nothing more than a plot of unkempt grass. DECC hopes to use the money to install a new walkway, bench, and trash receptacle. They also plan to plant low-maintenance landscaping elements including trees, flowering shrubs, buffalo juniper, and switchgrass.

The DECC has until June 5 to raise the $10,000.

Each project must raise all of their funding goals to receive the MEDC grants. The grants are part of the Public Spaces Community Places initiative, which has awarded similar grants to successful crowdfunding campaigns in the past that include a green alley and an arts district. A campaign to improve Hamtramck's Pope Park is also currently under way.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Grandmont Rosedale bookstore to celebrate grand opening on Independent Bookstore Day

Finding a permanent location for her bookstore hasn't been the easiest thing Susan Murphy has ever done. Now that Pages Bookshop has found a home on Grand River Avenue, however, Murphy can focus on establishing her business as a community hub for both the neighborhood and the region's literary set.

Pages Bookshop, located at 19560 Grand River Ave. in the Detroit's Grandmont Rosedale neighborhood, is celebrating its new location with a grand opening party on Saturday, May 2. The event is free and open to the public.

After nearly two years of bouncing between different pop-up locations and touring a number of less-than-suitable storefronts, Murphy connected with the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation, which set her up with 19560 Grand River. Murphy has been busy painting and focusing on creating a welcoming environment, one with reading nooks and tables and chairs. She says that sometimes bookstores can seem intimidating and it's her goal to make Pages a place where people can walk in and immediately be comfortable.

"Reading made a big difference in my life. Even though reading can be a solitary experience, ideas and books can bring communities together," says Murphy. "I hope this becomes more than a bookshop."

In addition to the new fiction, non-fiction, and local books she carries, Murphy hopes to draw people to Pages through author readings and other events. She's been working with local literary groups 826 Michigan and Wayne State University Press. Murphy has also been reaching out to a number of publishers, hoping to establish Detroit as a destination for touring authors.

On Thursday, April 30, she hosted one such author, Angela Flournoy.

The grand opening celebration occurs Saturday, when, beginning at 10 a.m., Pages will officially open its doors to the public with raffles, food, wine, appearances and readings by three authors, and a performance from local bluesman Luther "Badman" Keith. Saturday is also Independent Bookstore Day, in which Pages will be taking part. That nationwide event celebrates independent bookstores by offering books published exclusively for the occasion.

Pages Bookshop officially opens at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 2.

Source: Susan Murphy, owner of Pages Bookshop
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Family brings the craft of shoe repair to Grandmont Rosedale

When Moe Draper of Detroit Shoe Repair compliments the quality of shoe you've brought him, you can't help but feel a rush of pride. This is a man who's seen a lot of shoes. That pride quickly turns into a sheepish embarrassment, however, realizing just how poor of shape those shoes were in. They were going to need a lot of work. Over the next hour, Moe paced from one end of the shop to the other, re-heeling, re-soling, re-sealing, and shining my shoes and bringing them back to life. It wasn't just a lesson in shoe repair, it was a lesson in craftsmanship.

Moe and his wife Aziza opened Detroit Shoe Repair in December 2014. The Grandmont Rosedale storefront on Grand River is the second shoe repair and shine location for the Drapers, who have been running an operation out of Shed 4 at Eastern Market since 2012. This year should be a busy one for the family as they look to open a third location. Moe is also preparing his own line of boots to debut December 2015.

Moe got into the shoe business by shining at Detroit bars. He parlayed that into shoe shining gigs with the Detroit Police Department and the Claymore Shop in Birmingham. Spending so much time at shoe repair shops while buying supplies, Moe networked and built relationships with influential cobblers, eventually traveling with a shoe repair champion to Florida to learn more about the trade.

Moe takes great pride in the craft of shoe repair and enjoys educating people about shoes as much as he does fixing them. Aziza, who also works at the shop, says that most people don't even know that they can get their shoes repaired, they just throw them away and get another pair. The Drapers say that as long as they perform high quality work, word will spread and business will continue to grow.

"You have to stay consistent. When you stay consistent, more and more people will write about you. And the main thing is, when they come see you, be worthwhile to be written about," says Moe. "I just try and do the best I can every day and never get tired of selling the pitch."

Moe opened his first shop downtown in Detroit's financial district. While that shop eventually closed, it was there where he met his wife Aziza, who was running her own natural hair salon nearby. In 2012, the couple combined forces and moved on to open their shoe repair and shining station at Shed 4 in Eastern Market.

They've done well at Eastern Market, where customers can watch Moe repair shoes right in front of them. They've become part of the community there. The Drapers launched a shoe drive for the area homeless; outfitting people with proper footwear, especially in the winter months, can save lives.

In December 2014, the Drapers opened their second shoe repair location, the aforementioned storefront in the Grandmont Rosedale neighborhood. Moe grew up there and the family recently moved back to the area. They're working to establish themselves in that neighborhood as they ready location number three.

Detroit Shoe Repair is located at 18716 Grand River Ave.

Source: Moe and Aziza Draper, owners of Detroit Shoe Repair
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Detroit leads pack with 25 finalists for Knight Cities Challenge awards

Finalists have been announced for the first ever Knight Cities Challenge. Of the 26 cities eligible to enter the contest, Detroit is by far the best represented. Knight selected 126 finalists and Detroit claims nearly a fifth of the total finalist pool with 25 proposed projects. 25 other cities, including Duluth, Miami, and Philadelphia, account for the remaining 101 finalists.

The Knight Cities Challenge is a John S. and James L. Knight Foundation contest, one that will split $5 million in grants among winning projects that address how cities can attract and retain residents, how they can boost economic activity for everyone, and how to better connect and involve citizens in their collective future. Applications closed Nov. 14, 2014.

"The challenge has introduced us to a host of new ideas and people who want to take hold of the future of their cities," says Carol Coletta, Knight Foundation vice president for community and national initiatives. "Through these new connections we hope to grow a network of civic innovators to take on community challenges and build solutions together."

The 25 ideas from Detroit were submitted by individuals and organizations alike. Graig Donnelly's Border Talks proposes to create an actual physical space that encourages Detroiters and Grosse Pointe Parkers to engage with one another.

In a proposal submitted by Jan Shimshock on behalf of the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy, Information Supergreenway would install continuous wifi Internet access along the RiverWalk, Dequindre Cut, and Eastern Market.

Bus Riders Need to Be Engaged Too, submitted by Jacob Rayford Jr., would place information agents on public transit to answer questions about the city and city transportation.

The winners of the contest will receive a portion of $5 million and will be announced in March 2015. Over 7,000 proposals were initially submitted to the Knight Cities Challenge.

A full list of finalists with project descriptions can be found here.

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

Twenty new 'Little Free Libraries' sprout up across Detroit

Since Nov. 6, twenty new libraries have opened in Detroit -- though perhaps not the kind that immediately comes to mind. They're called Little Free Libraries and come from a nonprofit organization out of Madison, Wis. that has erected nearly 20,000 "libraries" in places around the U.S. and Canada (and as remote as Antarctica!) since 2009. Detroit received twenty of these Little Free Libraries early this month.

Uniquely designed and attractively built, a Little Free Library is basically a box on a post filled with books. It's a leave-a-book, take-a-book system where everyone is encouraged to take a book or two and replace them with a book or two from their own shelves. According to the organization, Little Free Libraries foster a sense of community, literacy, and a love for reading.

The libraries are scattered throughout the city and can be found in, around, or in front of the following locations:
  • North Rosedale Park Civic Association
  • DetroitLoves You Airbnb
  • Corktown's Murphy Play Lot
  • Westminster Church in Northwest Detroit
  • Highland Park's Ruth Ellis Drop-in Center
  • Write-A-House
  • Residential homes in Palmer Woods, Palmer Park, and Boston-Edison
  • Clark Park
  • Weiss Park
  • Hawthorne Park
  • Bennett Park
  • LaSalle Ford Park
  • Lafayette Central Park
  • Wilson Park
  • Edmore-Marbud Park
  • Butler Park
Todd Bol, founder of the Little Free Libraries organization, donated the first twenty. Kim Kozlowski founded Detroit Little Free Libraries and says that these libraries are the first of 313 planned throughout Detroit, making the city the "Little Free Library Capital of the World."

"The first 20 locations aim to promote a sense of community and engagement, not only within Detroit's diverse neighborhoods, but also among visitors in Detroit who chose to rent while staying here, to literary artists as well as community groups," says Kozlowski.

Sam Constantine and Chris Behm of the End Grain Woodworking Co. helped with the project, using reclaimed wood from the city in building the libraries. 

Source: Detroit Little Free Libraries press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Historic Catholic school building re-opens as charter school

Cornerstone Charter Schools has moved its Health + Technology High School to the old St. Scholastica Grammar School building along the Southfield Service Drive.

St. Scholastica Grammar School, located just north of the Grandmont Rosedale neighborhood at Southfield Road and Outer Drive, closed in 2012 due to declining enrollment and financial woes. According to the Michigan Catholic, the official publication of the Archdiocese of Detroit, the final count for 2012 was 85 students, down from 133 students during the '07-'08 academic year. The school opened in 1939.

Unlike many of the schools -- public or private -- that have been shuttered throughout Detroit, St. Scholastica didn't sit vacant long. Cornerstone Charter Schools, a not-for-profit corporation, purchased the building earlier this year and has reportedly spent over $10 million in renovating the school building. Cornerstone has four schools, three in Detroit and one in Redford.

"The improvements we've made will be truly impactful for our students' educational experience," says Cornerstone Charters School CEO Tom Willis. "Our curriculum and teaching methods have shown to be quite successful for our current students, and we look forward to seeing it implemented with our new students."

Cornerstone moved its Health + Technology High School from the old location at 19900 McIntyre Street and into the St. Scholastica building this fall where it began the school year. A ceremonial ribbon-cutting event is being held on Oct. 28 to celebrate the changes at the school, located at 17351 Southfield Rd.

Source: Cornerstone Charter Schools press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Co-working space to open in Grandmont Rosedale

The rise of Detroit's co-working scene is well-documented. More and more small business incubators and co-working spaces are popping up, though largely limited to the greater downtown area. In Grandmont Rosedale, far outside the 7.2 square miles of greater downtown Detroit, a new co-working space will celebrate its opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday, Oct. 24th.

Called the Grand River WorkPlace, the 2,800 square foot co-working facility at 19120 Grand River Ave. will officially open for business Nov. 1st. WorkPlace will offer many of the amenities expected of a co-working facility these days, including conference rooms, printing capabilities, WiFi Internet access, personal mailboxes and lockers, parking spaces, a community kitchen, and small business development programming.

There are two membership levels at WorkPlace. At $75 a month, individuals gain 24-hour access to the facility and all of its offerings. For $300 a month, entrepreneurs can rent one of five private offices. Four of the five offices have already been leased. WorkPlace also features a 300-square foot storefront that will rotate pop-up businesses on a regular basis. Love Travels Imports, an artisanal crafts boutique owned by WorkPlace manager Yvette Jenkins, is the first pop-up to occupy the Grand River storefront.

"Something about Grandmont Rosedale that a lot of people don't talk about is how easy it is to get here," says Jenkins. "You can get here or go just about anywhere in twenty minutes. The Southfield Freeway, I-96, and M-10 are all nearby. It's easy for clients and customers to get here."

WorkPlace was started by the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation. Originally developed as a traditional office space, the GRDC changed course after conducting focus groups, finding more demand for a co-working facility. The former office building with an old hair salon storefront has been completely re-designed and modernized, including furniture from Reclaim Detroit.

Source: Yvette Jenkins, manager of Grand River WorkPlace
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Anahata Yoga opens pop-up studio in Grandmont Rosedale

With business partner Regina Ward, certified yoga instructor Nicole Martin has opened Anahata Yoga in Detroit's Grandmont Rosedale neighborhood. The yoga studio, located at 19560 Grand River Ave., is part of the REVOLVE Detroit 90-day pop-up program. Martin and Ward have the opportunity to take that time to decide whether they'll remain open and make the transition to a permanent business.

According to Martin, the Grandmont Rosedale community has responded enthusiastically since the studio's grand opening on Sept. 20. It's a tight knit and supportive community, she says, one that has been waiting for a yoga studio for some time now. The people that have been coming to Anahata Yoga are people that live in the neighborhood but were forced to drive to suburban cities like Ferndale, Royal Oak, and Bloomfield Hills to get their yoga fix. Now, with the presence of Anahata, those people can practice yoga without leaving their neighborhood.

"This is a studio for the community," says Martin. "We want it to be accessible for people in the neighborhood. We keep prices low and offer some donation-based classes, too."

Martin is already envisioning opening up additional Anahata yoga studios in other parts of the city. The idea is to open in neighborhoods outside of the typical Midtown and downtown areas and make yoga accessible for under-served sections of Detroit. Martin hopes, too, that she'll be able to educate people, not just on yoga, but on wellness as a whole.

The studio focuses on hatha yoga, which is considered a basic yoga practice that teaches fundamentals. Classes are offered seven days a week and schedules are available on the Anahata website.

Anahata Yoga is one of two Grandmont Rosedale pop-ups in the REVOLVE Detroit program. Love Travels Imports, an artisanal crafts boutique, also opened a pop-up on Grand River Ave.

Source: Nicole Martin, owner of Anahata Yoga
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Artisanal crafts boutique opens second Detroit location in Grandmont Rosedale

It's been so nice she's tried it twice. Yvette Jenkins owns Love Travels Imports, an artisanal crafts boutique with a focus on fair trade products imported from all over the world. Her store, now firmly established along the Avenue of Fashion, got its start as a pop-up thanks to the REVOLVE Detroit program. Once the pop-up program was complete, Jenkins kept her shop open, becoming a fixture at 19452 Livernois Ave. Thanks to that same REVOLVE Detroit pop-up program, Jenkins has opened a second Love Travels Imports, this time in the Grandmont Rosedale neighborhood.

The newest Love Travels Imports is located at 19120 Grand River Ave. It's the storefront of the Grand River WorkPlace, a new business incubator and co-working facility. That organization's Katie Bramlage collaborated with Jenkins on the design of the shop, crafting, among other things, a counter made of recycled wood bits. Jenkins says that the design of the store is inspired by her dedication to fair trade products.

While the two locations share some inventory, Jenkins says that there are some products available only at the pop-up. In addition to featuring new artisans, Jenkins is selling more clothing items, like embroidered tunics and dresses, at the Grand River storefront.

She's rotating products from a different country every two weeks, with the first from Burkina Faso. Another new product is a line of necklaces fashioned from bullet casings. Farmers in Ethiopia are collecting bullet casings which are then transformed into beads. Ethiopian women with HIV and AIDS then fashion the bullet casings into beaded necklaces.

While there is no guarantee that the pop-up will lead to a second permanent location, Jenkins acknowledges that it's a possibility. The pop-up model has worked before. "It's a great opportunity to test the concept in another historic neighborhood," she says.

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

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Grandmont Rosedale coffee shop celebrates one year anniversary

This week marks the official one year anniversary of Always Brewing Detroit. To thank its customers and community, the Grandmont Rosedale coffee shop is celebrating with a week's worth of events including music and poetry performances, massages by a professional masseuse, and a community brunch.

Shop owner Amanda Brewington has been working with Chazzano Coffee of Ferndale to perfect her own blend of house coffee. After several taste tests, Brewington will debut the Always Brewing First Blend this week. She recently achieved her goal of having all of her products locally sourced from within 15 miles of Always Brewing. Even the cups are from nearby.

While downtown Detroit and the Corktown and Midtown neighborhoods have seen their fair share of coffee shops open in recent years, neighborhoods like Grandmont Rosedale, far from the city's core, haven't experienced such the development frenzy. Even when she was opening the shop, Brewington says that people asked her why she wasn't opening somewhere like downtown instead.

"Those places have a ton of coffee shops. They're good. They don't need me," says Brewington. "I wanted to go to a place where there is a need."

She estimates that 80 percent of her customers are people that either live or work in Grandmont Rosedale. With her business humming along, Brewington sees more business opportunities along her stretch of Grand River Avenue. She anticipates a thriving district -- one where the community doesn't have to drive to the suburbs for a good cup of coffee or yoga class.

Amanda's all in on Grandmont Rosedale, having recently purchased a house in the neighborhood. In one short year, she's become a champion of the area, taking joy in hosting her community while also introducing new people to the neighborhood.

"I always try to have people leave with more than a cup of coffee."

Source: Amanda Brewington, owner of Always Brewing Detroit
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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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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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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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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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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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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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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EMU opens office in NW Detroit, MI-SBTDC moves downtown

Educational and entrepreneurial options are moving around and into Detroit this fall.

Eastern Michigan University
is opening a new off-campus center on the city's northwest side at 7800 W. Outer Drive across the street from Wayne County Community College District's northwest campus. The 10,983-square-foot facility consists of space for faculty offices, classrooms, a computer lab and a student lounge.

EMU offers a wide range of courses and degrees in the new space, including nursing, social work and education sectors. The new office replaces a smaller location in the Northwest Activities Center.

The Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center, commonly known as MI-SBTDC, is also moving its offices from TechTown to the former Barden Communications building in downtown Detroit. Grand Valley State University purchased the building earlier this year and MI-SBTDC, which helps grow tech entrepreneurs and start-ups, moving into the space to be closer to Grand Valley State, which also is the home to MI-SBTDC headquarters.

"It's really about creating some synergies between Grand Valley State University and the Detroit office of MI-SBTDC," says Wendy Thomas, associate regional director of MI-SBTDC.

MI-SBTDC will move six employees into 1,500 square feet of space in the former Barden building, which overlooks Comerica Park.

Source: Eastern Michigan University and Wendy Thomas, associate regional director of Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Midtown Lending Solutions takes aim at condo lending logjam

Midtown Detroit Inc is joining a small-but-growing group of Michigan-based community-development-oriented nonprofits to help make financing for renovations and sales more accessible.

Four of these eight non-profits (Midtown Detroit Inc, Southwest Solutions, Vanguard Community Development Corp and Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp) are from Detroit and make up the bulk of the Michigan Lending Solutions consortium. The group helps homeowners prevent foreclosure, find mortgages for home sales and locate financing for building renovations.

The Midtown branch of the Michigan Lending Solutions, Midtown Lending Solutions, is based in Midtown Detroit Inc's Co-Lab space on Woodward. One of Midtown Lending Solutions is helping locate financing for condo sales.

"At least 85 percent of all of the condos in Detroit are non-warrantable," says David LeClerc, manager of lending operations of Michigan Lending Solutions. He adds that non-warrantable means banks won't extend mortgages in those condo buildings because there aren't enough pre-sales or the condo association doesn't have enough cash reserves or to many units in the building are rentals, among a bevy of other disqualifiers.

Midtown Lending Solutions is looking to secure a $15 million loan fund that would be able to provide the financing for local condos sales. If enough condo sales are approved through this fund, that should help release pressure on the market and make it more attractive to traditional lenders. LeClerk believes the fund will be able to close 200 mortgage deals for local condos within the next two years.

"We believe we will be able to free up all of these condominiums within two years so they can leverage traditional financing," LeClerc says.

The Michigan Lending Solutions will also be able to help other homeowners and small developers find financing. That could be as complicated as nailing down a $140,000 loan to renovate a derelict building to financing a $5,000 loan so a homeowner can improve their house with minimal hassle and frustration.

Source: David LeClerc, manager of lending operations with Michigan Lending Solutions
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Sweet Potato Sensations celebrate 25 years, opens new cafe

Agricultural scientist George Washington Carver’s name is synonymous with peanuts, and surprisingly, sweet potato pie too. Cassandra Thomas wants her name to be synonymous with the latter, which is why her shop Sweet Potato Sensations, is now celebrating 25 years of business.
"People only think of sweet potato pie during the holidays, especially Thanksgiving," says Thomas. I want people to know they can have it all year long."
Visitors can enjoy a variety of goods from cookies, pies, cakes, ice cream and corn bread- all made from sweet potatoes.The treats are in such demand that lines literally form outside the door and down the street. 
Recently, Thomas added 16 flavors of Hershey’s iced cream to the menu, and a café across the street where book clubs, block clubs, and other meetings take place. Her two daughters even hold natural hair meetups at the new location, bringing in a large crowd of women interested in the natural hair phenomenon. 

Sweet Potato Sensations is run by Thomas, her husband, and her two daughters. They also have four summer interns who are learning baking tips and invaluable job skills.
Thomas loves that the business is growing and thriving in a city she loves.
"Detroit is the place to be and I want to be the change I want to see," she says.

Sweet Potato Sensations is at 17337 Lahser Road in Detroit's Grandmount-Rosedale neighborhood.

Source: Cassandra Thomas 
Writer: Leah Johnson 

Home is where the heart is: Rosedale hosts open house for home buyers

One of Detroit’s premier neighborhoods has quite a selection for those looking for a new house. Up to 20 homes are for sale in the Grandmont Rosedale community and will be featured during the 7th Annual Grandmont Rosedale Communities Neighborhood Open House on Sunday May 6, 1-5 pm at North Rosedale Community Park Open House, 18445 Scarsdale.
"This is a great opportunity for potential home buyers to see a wide variety of homes in one afternoon and get a good feel of the neighborhood," said Marsha Bruhn, open house chairperson. "Continuing public and private investment in Grandmont Rosedale is making our already desirable area even more attractive to new homebuyers."  
Attendees at the open house will be able to pick up a list of homes for sale, view presentations on the neighborhood, meet residents, and get information on the 15- year tax abatement available to new buyers. The homes for sale reflect a variety of styles ranging from traditional brick colonials to contemporary ranch houses.
Shuttle bus tours will allow run throughout the afternoon, letting attendees view featured homes and neighborhood amenities. Several homes are being shown in "as is" condition and will offer buyers to get involved in renovation from the start.
In the past year, the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation (GRDC) has sold 15 houses, about half of them to buyers moving from the suburbs. Through the Detroit Development Fund, GRDC is able to offer $10,000 in down payment assistance on its renovated houses, and city employees are eligible for up to $15,000 in down payment assistance on any of the homes for sale.
New residents Hubert and Eliza Sawyers are pleased with their neighborhood.
"We have lived in several other cities in the metro Detroit area… we are very excited to be part of such a friendly and established neighborhood and look forward to building our lives and family here."
For more information, home listings and directions, go here.

Writer: Leah Johnson 

Focus: HOPE invests $1.36M in making its campus sustainable

Focus: HOPE is investing $1.36 million toward improving its Oakman Boulevard campus with a multitude of upgrades geared toward sustainability.

"The overall goal is to reduce our kilowatt usage by 15 percent, which I know we will reach," says Arnold Pirtle, director of facilities for Focus: HOPE.

This is the first renovation projected focused on energy efficiency for Focus: HOPE, which calls itself a nonprofit civil and human rights organization. It plans to make these improvements to nine buildings, starting sometime around the Fourth of July. The campus is composed of buildings that were once part of Ex-Cell-O's world headquarters, a former machine shop, an old Ford engine plant, and what was once a grocery store. Focus: HOPE uses them now for its career training programs, child care center, food program, and other activities.

"Four facilities haven't had any real energy-efficiency upgrade," Pirtle says. "The other five have had at least partial renovations."

Among the improvements include installing energy-efficient lighting, low-flow bathroom fixtures, and weatherization upgrades. The idea is to make the campus safer and more environmentally friendly for long-term results. Part of the project is being funded by the city's SmartBuildings program.

Source: Arnold Pirtle, director of facilities for Focus: HOPE
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

West Side entrepreneur creates community at The Friss Center

Shirley Ross-Banks grew up in here little corner of Detroit's West Side near Renaissance High School, made it her home and based her janitorial business there. Now she is reinventing one of the community's hubs, The Friss Center, into a space for entertainment, education and entrepreneurship.

"This building used to be a neighborhood service building and I want it to continue as that," says Ross-Brooks, owner of The Friss Center.

The Friss Center is a 12,000 square foot, multi-use building at the corner of West McNichols and Hubbell Street. The one-story structure was built in the mid-20th Century but Ross-Brooks bought it in October 2010. Back then her business had recently lost a janitorial contract because her employees weren't properly trained. She bought The Friss Center partly as a place for workforce training for her employees and to help create a destination in her neighborhood.

"My dream is to have a nice place where people can have their events, like birthdays and bridal showers, here," Ross-Brooks says. "A place that is just as nice as anywhere in the suburbs."

Today The Friss Center hosts dance classes, conference rooms for small businesses, two churches and is working to complete a commercial kitchen. Ross-Brooks would like to continue building out the space so more small businesses and entrepreneurs take up residence there, along with a law firm and a notary public.

"I love everybody," Ross-Brooks says. "I want to be part of bringing my neighborhood back up."

Source: Shirley Ross-Brooks, owner of The Friss Center
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

New Meijer store set to replace Old Redford High School

Meijer plans to replace the old Redford High School in Northwest Detroit with one of its big-box stores, providing a prime example of demolition with a plan in the Motor City.

The former Detroit Public Schools high school's architecture served as a staple of the the Old Redford, Grandmont, Rosedale Park and Brightmoor neighborhoods at 21431 W Grand River Ave since it was built in 1924. It graduated a number of notable national personalities, including George C Scott before it closed in 2007.

The current development plan calls for razing the empty 1 million square foot school to make way for a new Meijer big-box store. The $22 million project will feature a retail, grocery and garden center. The Michigan Economic Development Corp provided brownfield tax credits worth $3.3 million from the state and $6.5 million from local government entities.

"In that respect it's a good thing there is a redevelopment plan," says Karen Nagher, former executive director of Preservation Wayne who now works consulting for historic redevelopment. "But I wish there would have tried to find a way to put retail and office space in there."

A common lament among Metro Detroit's preservation community is that many of the region's historic structures are razed with no plan to redevelop the property, leaving an urban prairie of blighted vacant lots. Some closed Detroit Public Schools buildings with remarkable historic architecture have fallen by the wayside in this way, including the historic Cass Tech building. The redevelopment of the old Redford High School building represents a move toward demolition with a plan for these sorts of structures.

Source: Michigan Economic Development Corp and Karen Nagher, former executive director of Preservation Wayne
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Marygrove College opens Tom Doak-designed golf practice facility

Golf architect Tom Doak has designed four of the world's 100 top golf courses, according to Golf Magazine. He's now left his mark on Detroit, in the form of a pro bono golf practice facility crafted by Doak for the Midnight Golf Program and students at Marygrove College.

The Midnight Golf Program is a 30-week course for high school students that teaches life essentials like financial literacy and community activism alongside the rules and customs of golf.

"The organization does amazing work with youth around their own development, life skills, life lessons and choices and college preparedness, and it's all built around the game of golf," says Marygrove President Dr. David Fike, who partnered with the Midnight Golf Program several years ago and hosts the students on the university campus. "They utilize the game of golf in emphasizing successful life choices, integrity and discipline."

Those students will now have the chance to study chipping and putting in the new facility, which includes a large sand bunker, a four-hole short course, two practice tee areas with 26 hitting bays and a putting green. It's located near the soccer fields just to the left of the college's main entrance off McNichols. It will also be the home practice facility for Marygrove's new intercollegiate golf program. "Tom Doak says you can practice any shot with the exception of a long tee with the space that we've designed here," he says.

Dr. Fike says the facility was also built with a commitment to environmental sustainability, inspired by the influence of the sisters and servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who founded and continue to guide the university. The college worked with Renaissance Golf to build the facility without altering the topography of the land. The golf facility uses 100 percent organic seaweed fertilizer donated by Ocean Organics and is committed to using as little water as possible, thanks to a low irrigation grass seed mixture designed by Tom Mead.

"It's serving inner-city youth with a game that doesn't typically provide opportunities for inner-city youth," Dr. Fike says. "And we're doing it using a compact urban land use. The game is generally suburban and rural, and needs sprawling space. That not only makes it inaccessible to inner-city youth, but it also presents some environmental issues."

Golf aficionados, good news -- Dr. Fike says there are long-term plans to make Marygrove's new golf practice facility open to the public.

Source: Dr. David Fike, President, Marygrove College
Writer: Ashley C. Woods

Greening of Detroit seeks volunteers for last seasonal planting

It's been quite the green spring for the passionate tree-planters at The Greening of Detroit, which is seeking 300 volunteers for the season's final two plantings on Saturday, June 11 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

"It's especially great because June 11 is National Get Outdoors Day," says Greening's Monica Tabares. "So we're really hoping folks will want to get outdoors with us. It's a great way to start out a Saturday."

The Greening of Detroit, which plants trees every spring and fall, began March 26 with a sizable goal -- putting at least 4,000 new trees in the ground before summer began. The arbor assault helps combat poor air quality, storm water runoff, soil contamination and deforestation due to the Emerald Ash Bore. It's all been made possible due to the help of at least 1,200 volunteers this spring, resulting in Greening's largest planting season to date. They received funding for the 2011 season from DTE Energy Foundation, the Erb Family Foundation, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Forest Service.

The last two plantings of the season, thanks to partnerships from SEMCOG and the City of Detroit Water and Sewage Department, will help root 500 new street trees in the neighborhoods of Rosedale Park and Cody/Rouge.

"We're looking for a number of folks to come out," says Greening of Detroit's Monica Tabares. "We've had tremendous support from individuals to come out and help us volunteer. When we started out, it was so cold -- it was snowing until April!"

What to bring? Energy and enthusiasm. Forestry staff will be on hand to give volunteers a full education on proper planting techniques, and the organization provides all the necessary tools. All ages are welcome.

Registration begins at 9 a.m. for both plantings. Volunteers for the Cody/Rouge neighborhood excursion will meet at St. Peter & Paul Church, which is located at 7685 Grandville. Volunteers in Rosedale Park will meet at 14593 Faust.

Sign up online at the Greening of Detroit's website or call 313-237-TREE for more information.

Source: Monica Tabares, Marketing and Special Events Director, The Greening of Detroit
Writer: Ashley C. Woods

Annual Grandmont Rosedale home tour showcases neighborhood gems for sale

Grandmont Rosedale's sixth annual Open House tour, scheduled for Sunday, May 1, will offer visitors and potential home buyers a glimpse into one of the city's most community-oriented and stable neighborhoods.

Visitors will begin at the Welcome Center in the North Rosedale Park Community House, located at 18445 Scarsdale. Open 1 - 5 p.m., tour-takers can get a list of 20 properties for sale in the Grandmont Rosedale collection of neighborhoods, meet residents, view a presentation on the neighborhoods, and learn about tax abatements for new buyers from a City of Detroit assessor. Shuttle bus tours will run throughout the afternoon.

"There are just so many good things to say about the Grandmont Rosedale area and the four neighborhoods that comprise it," says Marsha Bruhn, chairperson of the event. "First of all, it's wonderful park-like setting. We have tree-lined streets, and lovely boulevards. We have very high-quality homes, many of them custom-built, starting from the 1920s and 1930s, and some built later."

The homes for sale, which are priced from $65,000 to $140,000, reflect the community's diverse architectural styles, from bungalows to Arts & Crafts homes, colonials and Tudors.

The Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation will also showcase five fully restored homes, thanks to investment from the Kresge and Ford Foundations, which balance historic charm with new kitchens and updates. This new program allows the GRDC to acquire foreclosed homes through the National Community Stabilization Trust and sell them, fully renovated, at a profit.

Bruhn says, with community events, a weekly farmers market, activities for kids, and neighborhood shopping nearby, Detroiters looking for a community experience should consider the Grandmont Rosedale district. It's located near the intersection of the Southfield Freeway and Grand River.

"We have so many committed neighbors who maintain their property, are involved in their community organizations, like living in the city, like being part of the neighborhood," Bruhn says. "Here, we say, it's not just buying a house, you're buying a community. You're buying into a close-knit neighborhood of residents."

For more information, directions and listings, visit grandmontrosedale.com.

Source: Marsha Bruhn, chairperson, Grandmont Rosedale Home Tour
Writer: Ashley C. Woods

Three markets, and their customers, to benefit from Green Grocer Project's first award of $90,000

The Detroit Economic Growth Corp. has made grants to three city markets under its Green Grocer Project. The grants are the program's first awards since its launch in May 2010, and will benefit the following independent grocery stores:

  • Family Fair Food Center, located on Chene Street at Lafayette, will receive up to $30,000 in matching funds for a planned $350,000 exterior renovation. Improvements will be made to the store's facade, entryway, parking lot, signage and lighting.

  • Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe, scheduled to open soon at 3100 Woodward Ave. in Brush Park, will receive $30,000 that will go towards up to 75% of its eligible costs for the development of a store marketing plan and construction documents as well as other start-up-related expenses.

  • Metro Foodland at 18551 Grand River in Rosedale Park will receive $7,500 towards marketing materials including launching and managing a loyalty card and a healthy eating campaign. Another $22,500 is set aside to match other eligible costs for additional store improvements.
The goal of the Green Grocer Project is to improve the overall quality of Detroiters' grocery shopping experiences and access to fresh food. It is funded by the Kresge Foundation and the City of Detroit, but additional funding is being solicited by DEGC to grow the program. It currently includes a technical assistance grant program, a grocer clearinghouse for existing store operators and others interested in making new investments in Detroit and a revolving loan fund.

For more information, or to apply for the program, contact GreenGrocer@DEGC.org.

Source: DEGC
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Once-vacant houses get new life through efforts of Grandmont Rosedale Dev. Corp.

Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation is busy renovating seven homes in its cluster of neighborhoods -- North Rosedale Park, Rosedale Park, Grandmont and Grandmont #1 -- with the plan to sell them to qualified homebuyers. "We've ramped up our rehab activity," says GRDC executive director Tom Goddeeris. "It doesn't make sense to be adding more units when we have such beautiful homes sitting empty."

Goddeeris calls one home that was recently completed on Bretton Dr. in North Rosedale "the nicest house we've ever done." The four-bedroom three-bathroom dwelling features hardwood floors, a dramatic staircase -- and there is a purchase agreement for the property pending for $137,000. "It's a sign of the times that we are even getting our hands on some of these houses," he says.

Most of the other half-dozen homes are three-bedroom, but a couple are four-bedroom and one even has six. There are stucco cottages and big brick colonials and the average price range is $70,000 to $80,000. "This is one of these neighborhoods that still has market appeal," says Goddeeris. "This is a real opportunity for people that are first-time homebuyers to get such a great value on a home."

GRDC has been supported in its efforts by Community Legal Resources and the Vacant Property Campaign. Prior to obtaining title to vacant homes, a team of volunteers manage basic upkeep of the properties to keep values from dropping.

Anyone interested in purchasing a home renovated by GRDC should contact homeownership program manager Brad Mattison at 313-387-4732, ext. 101.

Source: Tom Goddeeris, GRDC
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Neighborhood farmers markets begin their seasons -- here are the wheres and whens

Eastern Market -- much as we love the grande dame -- isn't the only game in town when it comes to farmers markets. Here's a rundown of some other markets in Detroit.

Northwest Detroit Farmers Market began its season on May 27 and will run through October 14. It occurs each Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. and boasts 15 to 20 stalls with locally grown produce, baked goods, flowers, spices, teas, coffee, meats and seafood -- all produced by the person selling it. Cash, credit and debit cards, Bridge Card, Project FRESH and Senior Project FRESH are all accepted. Head to the south parking of the Bushnell Congregational Church, along the Southfield service drive, south of Grand River.

On Saturdays, the East Warren Ave. Farmers Market pops up in East English Village from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. It will run from June 12 through October 2, with a break on July 3. Cash, credit, Bridge Card and Project FRESH are accepted. The market is located at the corner of E. Warren and Bishop. For more information, contact Jenny at 313-571-2800 x1131.

Midtown has two markets, both operated by SEED Wayne. They start this week and run through the end of October.

The Wayne State Wednesday Farmers Market will take place Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Cass Avenue, in front of Prentis Hall and across from Detroit Public Library's Main Branch. The Wayne State University School of Medicine (Monthly) Farmers Market can be found every third Thursday of the month from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in front of Scott Hall, across from Detroit Receiving Hospital, and close to the intersection of St. Antoine and Canfield Streets.

Both markets accept cash, Bridge Card, Project Fresh and Senior Project Fresh coupons. Only the Wednesday market accepts the WSU One Card. SEED expects to double Bridge Card Benefits at the markets starting in July.

Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

N. Rosedale home renovated by Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp. can be yours for $89,000

A North Rosedale Park colonial is getting the finishing touches on a complete renovation courtesy of Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp. The three bedroom, 1 1/2 bath, brick home includes a two-car garage, full basement, newly remodeled kitchen/great room, new energy-efficient thermal windows, new high-efficiency gas furnace and central AC, new gutters, updated electrical, and freshly refinished hardwood floors throughout. When all is said and done, GRDC will sell 16759 Edinborough for $89,000.

The home ended up in GRDC's hands after its longtime residents had sold the property on a land contract. When the contract buyer defaulted, they transferred ownership to GRDC through a bargain sale, which is the sale of a piece of property for less than 20% of its market value. "The rest (of the value) is considered to be a donation, making it a win-win situation," says Tom Goddeeris, the organization's executive director. "They were able to get some money for their transition, they owed a little bit of money on the property, and they paid some back taxes that the land contract buyer had not paid. ... Plus they got a tax deduction."

The transaction made financial sense, but Goddeeris thinks there was a bit more to the deal. "They felt so good about the neighborhood. They lived here a long time, raised their kids here," he says. "The seller clearly had sentimental feelings for the neighborhood and the house itself."

Contact Goddeeris for more information at 313-387-4732, ext. 111.

Source: Tom Goddeeris, GRDC
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Grandmont Rosedale's annual open house set for May 2

For the fifth year in a row, the Grandmont Rosedale Communities -- which is comprised of the North Rosedale Park, Rosedale Park, Grandmont and Grandmont #1 neighborhoods -- will host an Open House that will showcase the variety of housing options available in the historic area.

Organizer and resident Marcia Bruhn says that past events have been successful in several ways. "One is obvious, that we've had really good attendance, well over 200 people (a year)," she says. "And we've had feedback from realtors that they've gotten a lot of foot traffic and that houses have sold as a result -- and we've gotten some new neighbors, which is one of the main reasons that we're doing it."

Bruhn says that there are long-term benefits as well. "It plants seeds in people's heads -- sometimes homes are not sold now, but in subsequent years they receive offers," she says. "It has stimulated an interest in the neighborhood."

Registration begins at 1:00 p.m. on May 2 at the North Rosedale Park Community House located at 18445 Scarsdale, which is located three blocks west of the Southfield Freeway and four blocks north of Grand River. There, visitors can pick up a list of homes that will be open for viewing as well as information on the neighborhood and the 15-year tax abatement available to new buyers. A newly renovated historic home will be open for viewing, and tours highlighting homes and neighborhood amenities will run throughout the afternoon. Homes for sale will be open from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. For more information, visit www.grdc.org.

Source: Marsha Bruhn, Grandmont Rosedale Communities Open House
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Grab a shovel: Greening of Detroit to plant 1,750 trees by June 5

The arrival of spring heralds the digging of dirt, if The Greening of Detroit's ambitious 2010 schedule has anything to say about it. From April 10 to June 5, about 1,750 trees will be planted citywide in 14 separate plantings. Greening, in partnership with the City of Detroit's General Service Department, will plant 680 trees that will reforest neighborhoods affected by the Emerald ash borer infestation; And about a thousand trees will be planted with over 16 community groups and block clubs.

The schedule is as follows: April 10, University District and Annchester street tree plantings; April 17, Warrendale and E. Outer Drive; April 24, Trumbull and Corktown tree nursery; April 20, East English Village; April 22, Grandmont Rosedale tree nursery; April 25, Creekside; May 1, Boston Edison and Virginia Park; May 8, Beresford Block Club and Osborn Neighborhood; May 15, Hartwell and West Grand Boulevard; May 22, Ecclesia and Pallister Park; June 5, Ferdinand.

More than 1,000 volunteers will be needed; contact Greening at 313-237-8733 to sign up for a planting.

Greening's annual Tree and Shrub Sale will take place on Saturday April 24, from 9 a.m. to noon at Eastern Market's Shed #6. Trees are $30 and shrubs are $20, with special rates offered to Greening members. Pre-orders are being taken now; order forms can be found at www.greeningofdetroit.com.

The Greening's urban agriculture initiative, the Garden Resource Program Collaborative provides training and resources to individuals, community groups and families that grow vegetable gardens. Interested individuals should contact Lindsay Turpin at 313-237-8733.

Source: Monica Tabares, Greening of Detroit
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Community development organizations release right-sizing strategic framework

Community Development Advocates of Detroit (CDAD) is comprised of community development organizations from across the city. They built houses before lofts were all the rage, paving the way for for-profit market-rate ventures and, now that the housing market is kaput, they've turned their sights on talking about what's next for Detroit. About a year ago, they formed a Futures Task Force, and the first deliverable is a document entitled "Neighborhood Revitalization Strategic Framework." It looks at the concept of right-sizing, down-sizing or reinventing Detroit -- whatever you want to call it -- and makes a set of recommendations that, hopefully, will guide policy-makers, elected officials and the funding community when they start tackling the heated issue.

"(The strategic framework) is about reinventing Detroit so that it is a better place for people to live in," says Tom Goddeeris, executive director of Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation and a Futures Task Force participant. "It's how to think about how to improve it in a way that recognizes that there is lots of vacant land, (there are lots of) vacant buildings and we don't have the population that we once had...We wanted to put forward an idea about the city that says that it can be a better place, a greener place, a more economically viable place."

The community development community has always operated on the notion that rebuilding a city means building more houses. The strategic framework they've released abandons that principle, instead looking at numerous different ways -- be that open space, greenways, urban farms or even traditional neighborhoods -- that Detroit might evolve. "These are concepts to get people thinking a different way as opposed to going back to some previous time where (success meant) more people and more businesses," says Goddeeris. Along with drawing other stakeholders into the conversation, he says a goal of the collaborative is to show that "there can be a vision for reinventing the city in a way that is looking to make it a better place, not as an exit strategy or a sign of defeat."

While the concept of right-sizing holds allure in some camps and -- shades of Poletown -- horror in others, Goddeeris stresses the point that much work can be done before relocation is even close to a reality. "There are parts of the city that we can immediately start strengthening and some that we can immediately start greening without having to displace a bunch of people," he says.

Source: Tom Goddeeris, Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp. and CDAD
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Intensive property survey captures state of Detroit housing, vacancy

The Data Collaborative, a joint effort by the Detroit Office of Foreclosure Prevention and Response, Community Legal Resources and Data Driven Detroit, has completed a landmark survey of residential properties in Detroit, and the results indicate that 86% of the city's single-family homes appear to be in good condition and another 9% generally only need minor repairs -- meaning that more than 218,000, or 95%, of the city's single-family homes appear to be suitable for occupancy.

While this number sounds heartening, Heidi Mucherie, executive director of Community Legal Resources, urges some restraint in interpreting the numbers. "We have some good-condition housing stock, an asset that we don't fully realize as an asset, and I'm glad that the study substantiates that," she says. However, she points out that large areas of the city have nowhere near these statistics. "This is a citywide aggregate number, and while we might be tempted to say things aren't as bad as we thought they are, (conditions have) changed over the last 10 years, even in traditionally stronger neighborhoods, and I worry about the aggregate figures painting too rosy of a picture."

A statistic that bears out Mucherie's temperance is that 26% of the city's residential parcels -- or 91,000 lots -- are now vacant. But she believes that knowing the good and the bad of where the city currently stands is empowering. "The way I've been thinking about it is that it paints a picture of a moment in time. ... It's only the start, not the ultimate answer," she says. "(These communities are) changing daily, especially neighborhoods hit by foreclosures."

Mucherie says the data collected is only as good as its upkeep and the community's buy-in, as in getting the "community engaged to collect updated information and track how it changes over period of time," she says. "One snapshot in time is not going to provide the answer for very long, but I'm excited about it changing the conversation."

Interested in checking out information about your house, block and neighborhood? Information is easily accessed by visiting www.detroitparcelsurvey.org and typing in a residential property address.

Source: Heidi Mucherie, Community Legal Resources
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Grandmont Rosedale kicks off new year with home repair classes

Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp. (GRDC) is hosting a six-week series of free home repair workshops, after a successful run in 2009. "We had a great response to last year's program, so we are happy to host another series," said GRDC deputy director Cathy Marshall. The first session is today, Tuesday, Jan. 12, and will cover how a house system works (plumbing, electrical, heating), how to inspect for problems and ways to conserve energy around the house.

The workshops are scheduled for Tuesday evenings from 6 to 8:30 p.m., at GRDC's building at 19800 Grand River. The dates for the workshops are Jan. 12, 19 and 26; and Feb. 9, 16, and 23. Future topics include weatherization and energy conservation, introduction to carpentry, basic plumbing repair, basic electrical repair and wall repair and painting.

This program is sponsored by the City of Detroit's Next Detroit Neighborhood Initiative, DTE Energy, State Farm Insurance and WARM Training.

RSVPs are required for the home repair series because space is limited. To register, contact Sheila Vanfield at 313-394-1038 or sheilav@next-detroit.org. Contact GRDC intern Simon Wang at 313-387-4732, ext. 104, with any questions about the program.

Source: GRDC

Grandmont Rosedale wraps up forward-focused neighborhood planning series

When the times get tough, the tough get creative. At least that's the attitude that Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp. (GRDC) took with the four "Community Conversations" that they hosted this fall. Covering transit, sustainability, housing and public services, the community delved deep into "big picture issues that we felt we needed to address as a non-profit, as a community," says GRDC Executive Director Tom Goddeeris. "(We took) on subjects beyond what we would normally look at."

The topic "A Leaner, Greener Detroit" looked at transit and sustainability, two concepts that Goddeeris says have "never been big priority issues in our community, never been discussed very much." After hearing about the current regional transportation plan, which calls for a light rail line down the community's main street, the present-day importance of transit became clear. "We've been a very car-oriented neighborhood ... (we need) to think about how we can provide more options for people," he says.

Some "outside-the-box" concepts that were discussed include future mixed-use development on Grand River as well as community-based enterprise, the concept of community-owned or operated business as a route to commercial revitalization. While GRDC is not prepared to take on any of these ideas immediately, Goddeeris says they certainly will inform the organization's planning, particularly while the economy is not currently supporting new developments. "We want to think about things we can do now to lay the groundwork," says Goddeeris. "This is a long-term perspective ... we are changing our whole mindset towards the future."

The presentations are available for view at GRDC's website here.

Source: Tom Goddeeris, GRDC
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Community Development Advocates of Detroit propose comprehensive land use strategy

Community Development Advocates of Detroit (CDAD) is a trade association for the city's more than 60 community development corporations. At the end of 2008, the group decided to create an emergency task force to help its members deal with the financial crisis through advocacy, resource identification and technical assistance.

Growing from that work, the committee, now called the Futures Task Force, has released a set of land use recommendations for Detroit that include some concepts that are being discussed by many -- such as the repurposing of vacant land -- but with an added focus on the importance of community development organizations in the work to be done. "What we're saying is not radically different (than what others are saying)," says Tim Thorland, CDAD's chairperson and executive director of Southwest Housing Corp."(Our vision) is nuts and bolts, what organizations with resources that they have identified think they can accomplish based on practical ideas from people that live in these neighborhoods."

CDAD's recommendations call for a bold new vision for Detroit, one that targets resources into denser neighborhoods and requires unprecedented collaboration. And what community development corporations bring to this table, besides a proven track record of real estate development, is the voice of the community, says Thorland. "(It's) necessary to the success of whatever plan you want to implement and it's the one asset we have that nobody else does," he says. "It's in an honest and meaningful way, not window dressing...We've been doing this for 30 years in the best interest of the community, what the community has told us that they want."

CDAD plans to shop its plan to city officials and foundations. Read the entire set of recommendations here.

Source: Tim Thorland, CDAD and Southwest Housing Corp.
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

All around town, Summer in the City murals beautify walls

Summer in the City's mural program puts suburban youth to work painting murals in Detroit. The result is twofold: the beautification of blank walls and exposure to neighborhoods that kids might not otherwise discover. "Most people can find Downtown and that's about it," says Summer's painting and murals director Bob Spence. "We're always trying to introduce them to the city."

Spence estimates the program has completed between 20 and 30 murals this season alone all across Detroit: Grandmont-Rosedale, several in the area around Marygrove College, Gratiot and Chene, E. Warren near Balduck Park, Southwest Detroit and, most recently, on the south wall of Canine to Five in Midtown.

The murals are typically designed by Spence and a few other artists with input and approval from the building owner. Liz Blondy, owner of Canine to Five, is pleased with the result. "I really admire the program," she says. "Actually, I'm honored that they chose to work with me."

Summer in the City is hosting an Ice Cream Extravaganza on August 13 at Marygrove at which they will debut a video about the program. There will also be music and awards. Learn more and buy tickets here.

Sources: Bob Spence, Summer in the City and Liz Blondy, Canine to Five
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

LISC invests $3M over 3 years into Detroit community development orgs

Detroit Local Initiatives Support Corporation will invest $1 million annually for three years into the city's community development organizations. Its motivation? The current economic situation and its impact on the community development industry.

LISC wil offer $25,000 in operating support grants to over a dozen organizations. Several of the organizations will then receive additional financial support, technical organizational assistance and business planning assistance.

LISC hopes to help CDCs become recession-proof by strengthening, adapting, changing or merging -- whatever it takes.

For one of the grantees, Greater Corktown Development Corporation the grant has been a welcome infusion, but it has also meant they've had to evolve. "LISC offered up technical assistance, (helped us look at things in an) entrepreneurial approach to sustainability," says executive director Tim McKay. "We got included in their $3 million initiative to help us reorganize our office, to sustain us through this kind of difficult time, to give us a business plan and to strategize to develop a revenue stream -- which was much needed and much welcome."

Other community development organizations awarded operational funds are Bagley Housing Association, Southwest Detroit Business Association and Urban Neighborhood Initiatives (formerly Neighborhood Centers, Inc.) in Mexicantown and Southwest Detroit; Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation; Creekside CDC and Jefferson East Business Association on the lower Eastside; Messiah Housing Corporation in The Villages; Warren Conner Development Coalition and U SNAP BAC on the East Side; Vanguard CDC, Central Detroit Christian CDC and New Center Council in the New Center/Central Woodward area; Detroit Community Initiative in the Van Dyke/Eight Mile area and citywide agencies Focus: HOPE and Wayne County Child Care Coordinating Council.

Source: LISC and Tim McKay, GCDC
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

LISC accepting nominations for CDC of the year

Is your neighborhood a better place because of the efforts of your local community development corporation? If so, nominate it for Detroit Local Initiatives Support Corporation's (LISC) 9th Annual Detroit Community Development Awards.

The first category, CDC of the Year, will go to a comprehensive organization that builds houses and maybe even takes on commercial development. It delves into community issues of all stripes and probably is involved in a park or greenway project.

The second category, Community Champions, is for ordinary citizens that go to extraordinary lengths to improve their neighborhood. There will be five winners of this award, one in the following geographic areas: Central Woodward, East, Northeast, Northwest and Southwest. Additionally, three organizations will be designated as Community Champions.

Nomination forms and additional information are available at www.detroit-lisc.org. They are due on Friday, July 17 and will be handed out at the awards ceremony in September.

Source: Detroit LISC
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

WDET, Model D partner on series looking at how Detroiters are facing the foreclosure crisis

This week, public radio station WDET 101.9 FM launched a special series, "Facing the Mortgage Crisis: Home Is More Than Our House," that will air over the next seven weeks. Starting next week, Model D will also present a series of stories on the topic. The media partners will join together on June 24 for a Speaker Series that will delve into the subject matter from yet another angle.

Model D publisher Brian Boyle sees an opportunity for the local coverage to reveal individual neighborhood responses to the crisis. "In this market, with everything being so cheap, you don't have to wait for a program," he says. "Individuals are doing some of the more innovative things."

Listeners and readers will learn about volunteer opportunities and other ways to take action. WDET also will host a blog at on its web site that will compile all information reported on-air.

Sign up for the Model D speaker series here, and follow WDET during its news programs like Detroit Today for more from the series.

Source: WDET and Brian Boyle, Model D
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Map outlines greenways progress around Detroit

The Detroit Greenways Coalition has released a nifty map and guide to greenways that exist and are planned in Detroit, Highland Park and Hamtramck. Entitled "Building Pathways that Unite a City," the brochure unfolds to a full-color map that reveals off-road and on-road routes all over town, some denoted as existing, some as planned and a few that are merely conceptual at this time.

There are ten main greenways described:
  • Conner Creek Greenway: Nine miles of pathways that will roughly follow the route of the former Conner Creek on the eastside, from the Detroit River to Eight Mile. Two miles are complete.
  • Corktown-Mexicantown Greenlink: 16.25 miles that will connect Corktown and Mexicantown to each other and to the West Riverfront. The plan is complete and community groups are hoping to see construction begin this fall.
  • Dequindre Cut: This two-mile rail-to-trail project will run two miles between the East Riverfront, Lafayette Park and Eastern Market up to Mack. 1.2 miles of it are complete and open to the public.
  • Detroit RiverWalk: A stretch of public river access targeted to pedestrians and cyclists that will eventually stretch 5.5 miles between the Ambassador Bridge and Belle Isle; 2.7 miles are complete.
  • Downriver Delta Greenways: Located in the 48217 zipcode on the lower Southwest side of Detroit, this 2.5 mile greenway will run along Fort Street into Downriver when built.
  • Hamtramck Trail: This 1.5 mile route will connect Hamtramck's downtown to its parks. Eventually, hopes are to tie it into the Dequindre Cut on its south end.
  • Inner Circle Greenway: Mostly conceptual at this time, the vision for the Inner Circle Greenway is a 20-mile route that would make use of the abandoned Detroit Terminal Railroad right-of-way. Picture a Dequindre Cut that take a roughly half-circle route through Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park.
  • Midtown Loop: Work is expected to begin this summer on this two-mile loop through the Cultural Center. Future plans include connections to New Center and Downtown.
  • Southwest Detroit Greenway: This 3-mile greenway connects Woodmere Cemetery, the West Vernor business district, Patton Park and Dearborn's Lapeer Park. Hopes are to run it further east to Clark Park in Mexicantown.
The purpose of the map is to inform, but also to "sell the vision," says Todd Scott of the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance, the organization that coordinates the Detroit Greenways Coalition. The target audience is residents, elected officials and funders.

Copies of the map will be available on the RiverWalk during the upcoming RiverDays event, June 19-21.

Source: Todd Scott, Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Fourth season of Grandmont Rosedale Farmers Market to begin June 4

Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp. will kick-off its fourth season of the Northwest Detroit Farmers Market on Thursday, June 4 from 4 to 8 p.m. The market features locally-grown produce, baked goods, antiobiotic- and hormone-free meats, flowers, landscaping supplies and hand-blended teas. Market manager Pam Weinstein of GRDC estimates approximately 15 vendors will set up shop each week.

A big change at the market this year is the ability for shoppers to use plastic -- whether that be credit, debit or EBT -- to purchase market goods. Also debuting: Grandmont Rosedale's new community garden will be selling at the market -- which may be just about the most-locally-grown produce ever.

The Northwest Farmers Market is located in the south parking lot of Bushnell Congregational Church, 15000 Southfield. It will be open
every Thursday through Oct. 15.

For more information about the Northwest Detroit Farmers Market, call Weinstein at 313-387-4732 x103.

Source: Pam Weinstein, GRDC
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Grandmont Rosedale open house to be held May 3

Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation and several other neighborhood organizations will host the community's fourth annual Neighborhood Open House at noon Sunday, May 3.

Registration is at the North Rosedale Park Community House, located at 18445 Scarsdale, where visitors can pick up a list of homes that will be open for viewing as well as information on the four featured neighborhoods -- Rosedale Park, North Rosedale, Grandmont and Grandmont #1. Info on the 15-year tax abatement available to new buyers will also be available. Homes for sale will be open from 1-5 p.m.

Other Open House activities include:
  • Neighborhood Tours to highlight amenities, featured homes, and local businesses;

  • A newly renovated historic home open for viewing;

  • Open houses at local businesses;

  • Resource persons available throughout the day to discuss home financing, reverse mortgages, historic designation requirements, tax assessments and home renovation; and

  • Social Hour from 4-6 p.m.

Source: Tom Ridgway, GRDC
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

State land bank going green, offering vacant lots up as community gardens

The State of Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority is making its inventory of nearly 7,000 vacant lots statewide -- 6,000 in Detroit alone -- available as community gardens via its Garden for Growth program.

"Our goals, in addition to finding productive uses for these vacant plots, is to support the Governor's Urban Food Initiative," says Carrie Lewand-Monroe, the Michigan Land Bank's executive director. "We're hoping to help allow folks in urban areas to access fresh, healthy food."

The way it works is that any community member can apply to garden a lot in the Michigan Land Bank for $50 for one year. At that point, participants are able to put in an application to purchase the land.

This lease-first approach is considered a "best practice" for programs of this type for two reasons: It allows time for the garden to be established and it keeps it tax-free for the first year. The Land Bank is willing to flexible with lease terms; it is working with The Greening of Detroit on five parcels that will be leased for five years.

Any kind of garden is eligible: native plants, flowers and vegetables -- even a park, says Lewand-Monroe. All gardeners will be connected with the Greening of Detroit's Garden Resource Program for classes and planting material.

Lewand-Monroe explains why 7,000 of the Michigan Land Bank's 8,000 properties are vacant lots: because they are all foreclosed properties that date back to 1999, which was when tax laws changed. "There aren't as many structures as the county would have," she says.

They also administer a Side Lot program for vacant lots that are adjacent to occupied residences. To search for a property, use the Land Bank's web site Search for Property feature. The application for the Garden for Growth program is also available on the site.

Source: Carrie Lewand-Monroe, Michigan Land Bank
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

DDOT will use $37.5M to upgrade fleet, signage, shelters

The Detroit Department of Transportation will receive $37.5 million in economic stimulus funds, which will be used to update its fleet and facilities. In a statement, Mayor Ken Cockrel, Jr. pledged to "put the money to good use, making travel in Detroit a more enjoyable experience.”

The funds will replace 50 older DDOT buses with 50 new buses, including gas-electric hybrid vehicles. The money also will pay for new bus shelters; new bus stop signs, such as those at Woodward and Warren and Woodward and Mack; and the improvement of the Shoemaker Terminal and Garage at St. Jean and East Warren. (Model D writer and bus riding convert Terry Parris Jr. wrote about the need for better signage and shelters here.)

In other transportation funding for the city, the Department of Public Works will receive $37.5 million for road resurfacing. This $59.3 million package is the second for Detroit from the
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009; the first was more than $30 million in weatherization funds.

The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments will administer the distribution of any economic stimulus funds involving transportation in Southeast Michigan. The agency has indicated the transportation money for Detroit will be available by the end of the month.

Source: City of Detroit
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

LISC invests $30.5M into Detroit neighborhoods in 2008

Detroit LISC invested $30.5 million into Detroit community and neighborhood development in 2008, which is the largest annual investment made in its 19-year history in the city. Most of this money was spread among 30 community development partners in its five targeted geographic areas: Central Woodward ($22.1 million); East ($980,000); Northeast ($614,000); Northwest ($346,000); and Southwest ($5.5 million).

Two prime examples of LISC's support include an equity investment of $12.5 million in New Market Tax Credits for the rehabilitation of the Argonaut Building in New Center and $4.2 million of
Low Income Housing Tax Credits for two apartment rehabs in Southwest Detroit.

LISC is also providing operating funds to community development corporations with which it works -- helping to keep their doors open in tough fundraising times.
"With the economic situation, which is just unprecedented, we have to be able to be nimble and flexible and work with our partners on the ground," says development officer Jacqueline Burau. "We are tweaking our financing to meet the need, to make things happen in the community."

Recoverable grants for predevelopment work have also been upped, which help projects get off the ground early in the process. Despite the state of the housing market, Burau says that LISC remains committed to their brick and mortar mission. "Most of our investment continues to go to physical development, whether that be housing or commercial," she says.

LISC is able to ride out the current funding storm because it raises money in three-year chunks, meaning that money they are spending this year was raised in 2007.

Source: Jacqueline Burau, Detroit LISC
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Tree planting, home repair targeted for Grandmont community

Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp. is targeting rehabilitation and greening resources in the Grandmont community, roughly bounded by the Southfield Freeway, Grand River, Longacre Street and Schoolcraft.

The agency is implementing a home repair program for low-income homewoners in the area and will plant a community garden at the site of the already-established and popular Farmers Market.

On March 28, the City of Detroit Forestry Division and the Greening of Detroit are teaming up to plant 50 trees in the area. The focus is on replacing ash trees that were removed due to borer infestation.

This planting is the first of the spring in Detroit, but many more are planned -- in fact, more than 1,000 trees will be planted this spring. The plantings are targeted in communities that have block clubs or community development organizations, as volunteers are needed the day the trees are planted and the trees need water their first two seasons.

The partnership between the City and Greening works thusly: The City provides funds for the plant materials and Greening, with its two decades of resources at the table, organizes the manpower.

To volunteer for the Grandmont planting or any other, contact Anthony Todd at 313 237 8733, ext. 239 or e-mail him at anthony@greeningofdetroit.com.

Sources: Todd Mistor, City of Detroit Forestry Division and Tom Goddeeris, GRDC
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Powerhouse Gym opens on Grand River in Grandmont Rosedale

Powerhouse Express Gym has opened its doors in Grandmont Rosedale on Grand River just west of the Southfield Freeway. It occupies the space formerly occupied by Hollywood Video.

Owner Joseph "JB" Braxton worked for Ford Motor Co. for years; he took the recession as a sign he should follow his dream of owning a gym. The doors of his Powerhouse opened on December 1 with a motto of: “Get a Membership. Get a Great Workout. And Get on with Your Life."

The gym has all new equipment from Precor and Icarian, including weight machines, free weights, ellipticals, treadmills, stationary bikes and AMTs. Braxton plans to install TV sets, mirrors and a health drink bar.

The gym is open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 313-397-3615. The address is 18230 Grand River.

Source: Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp. and Joseph "JB" Braxton, Powerhouse Express Gym
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

$60K in down-payment assistance available for Grandmont Rosedale's new houses

Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp. has sold one of the three homes it constructed this year, and a new program means that potential buyers of the two remaining now have even more incentive to do so. In partnership with the city, the organization is now able to offer buyers up to $60,000 of down payment assistance towards purchasing a home. "Someone that could get a mortgage for $55,000 could potentially buy one of these homes," executive director Tom Goddeeris says. "It opens up the possibility."

The homes, located at 16823 and 16839 Stahelin, are 1,300 square feet and have three bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms, full basements, attached garages and appliances. They are also Energy Star certified because of their efficiency, including thermal windows and extra insulation.

The construction cost of each home cost $180,000, and the starting sales price is $110,000 before the down payment assistance. Subsidies were provided by City of Detroit HOME funds and Community Development Block Grant dollars and the Development Corporation of Wayne County. Construction loans were provided by the Michigan Interfaith Trust Fund and Detroit LISC.

Source: Tom Goddeeris, GRDC
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

$47.1M neighborhood stabilization plan presented to Council

One month ago, Housing and Urban Development awarded the city of Detroit $47.1 million to stabilize housing in light of the current foreclosure crisis.

Before spending it, the city must develop a plan that is approved by Detroit City Council and then HUD. Last week, Planning and Development took the first step and presented the plan to Council's Economic Development Committee.

The plan focuses on three things: reversal of the decline of neighborhood housing values; significant elimination of blighted and abandoned structures; and stimulation of investment in and around targeted neighborhoods.

The plan can be downloaded at PDD's site; public comment is welcomed until November 20 at 313-224-6380 or NSP@detroitmi.gov. On Nov. 21, it will go to the full Council followed by submittal to HUD on Dec. 1.

Read more about the grant, the process and guidelines here.

Source: Sylvia Crawford, PDD
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

New mini stations, foot patrols aid development of neighborhood commercial districts

Four mini police stations have been opened in Detroit -- three on the East Side and one on the West Side. The stations will be staffed from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. by police officers and community volunteers.

One of the mini stations, located at 13206 E. Jefferson in Riverbend Shopping Plaza, will service the Jefferson East Business Association (JEBA) commercial corridor. "Of course we're ecstatic that we have increased police presence in the district," says Sheila Jackson, JEBA's clean and safe initiative director.

JEBA had been lobbying for a mini station for years, but finally saw results with the installation of a new police chief and two new commanders in the Eastern District. A foot patrol and the re-establishment of a citizens radio patrol is also in the works. "The businesses and residents are encouraged to start working together with the police," says Jackson.

JEBA board member Mike Curis is donating spaces at Riverbend Plaza and Mack-Alter Square Plaza to the City of Detroit for use as mini stations. The other two are located inside St. John Hospital and Northwest City Hall.

Source: Sheila Jackson, JEBA
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

City Council adopts non-motorized plan that calls for 400 miles of bike lanes in the Motor City

Detroit City Council has adopted a non-motorized transportation plan as well as a resolution urging Mayor Ken Cockrel Jr. to implement it. Among other things, the plan calls for more than 400 miles of bike lanes, as well as other improvements to pedestrian and bike facilities. The Michigan Department of Transportation funded the plan's development; the city brought on Giffels-Webster Engineers as consultants to design it.

Scott Clein of Giffels-Webster says that the adoption of the plan means many things to proponents of non-motorized transportation. For starters, MDOT will now attempt to incorporate its recommendations into any future roadway projects it undertakes in the city, such as the reconstruction of Michigan Avenue.

It also does the same for city departments like the Department of Public Works. "DPW is now in charge of supporting and, hopefully, implementing portions of the master plan," says Clein.

The adoption of the plan means that community groups working to establish bike lanes know that the government, at least on paper, is on board. Clein cites Greater Corktown Development Corporation's Corktown-Mexicantown Greenlink as an example. "Now they know that the city will be supportive instead of obstructionists," he says.

DPW is in the process of writing a letter of conceptual support to MDOT, a step necessary for the project to capture funds the state committed to it a few years ago.

Besides bike lanes, the plan looks at pedestrian safety via the separation of bikes and pedestrians and the continued improvements of sidewalks.

Read more about the plan here.

Source: Scott Clein, Giffels-Webster
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh
Photo by Marvin Shaouni

Hit the town by bike during upcoming Tour de Troit event and Wheelhouse tours

There are some great opportunities coming up to see Detroit from the luxury of your own, or a rented, bike. The best part of these tours is that they take you into the city's neighborhoods at a pace that affords participants the chance to admire the architecture and get a real feel for the places.

The annual Tour de Troit is Saturday, Sept. 20. Take in 40 miles of the city at a leisure pace with several hundred of your closest friends. It's a police escorted ride through Downtown, Eastern Market, Brush Park, Boston Edison, University District, Palmer Park, Old Redford and Grandmont-Rosedale.

Last year 600 people participated. Advance registration is strongly encouraged to guarantee a T-Shirt. Register by Sept. 13 to ensure you'll get one. Advance Registration is $25, $15 for students. Day-of-ride registration is $35 from 8:30-9:30 a.m.

But wait, there's more. Wheelhouse Detroit, the city's newest bike rental and repair shop, is also offering weekly tours of Detroit's neighborhoods. Each week, they feature a different portion of the city, and most rides are around 15-25 miles. Upcoming tours include Southwest Detroit (9/13), The Villages (9/27), Boston Edison (9/28), Creekside (10/04) and the Conner Creek Greenway (10/5). Wheelhouse also offers weekly tours of Downtown and the Woodward corridor, offered in conjunction with Inside Detroit. For more information and pricing, check their web site.

Sources: Wheelhouse Detroit, Tour de Troit
Writer: Clare Pfeiffer Ramsey

Wayne County land bank to release 7,000 properties

Today, the Wayne County Land Bank will release a list of their inventory of 7,000 tax-reverted parcels. Qualifying non-profit organizations and adjacent residential landowners will be able to purchase property for a nominal fee as long as they adhere to certain criteria that includes maintaining and/or rehabilitating the property.

Properties will be disposed of on a first-come, first-served basis to qualifying entities. 

The Land Bank is a collaborative effort between County Executive Robert Ficano and Treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz. The process begins today at 3 p.m.
with an informational session for qualified non-profits. Further information is available at the Land Bank website.

Source: Jill Ferrarri,
Executive Project Manager, Wayne County
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Recycle Here! expands reach throughout city, adds drop-off locations

Recycle Here! is expanding its reach, making it easier for residents from various neighborhoods to drop-off their goods. New drop-off sites are located in Southwest Detroit, East English Village and Palmer Park.

In its first 18 months of operation, the program has reached more than 20,000 participants and has collected more that 1.3 million pounds of recyclables.

Its main facility, at 1331 Holden, is open every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The  full schedule of rotating drops sites is as follows:

1st Saturday of every month:
Eastern Market, Wilkins and Russell, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
2nd Saturday of every month:
Corktown, Roosevelt Park, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
East English Village, E. Warren Ave. and Farmbrook, 8 a.m. to noon
3rd Saturday of every month:
Palmer Park, swimming pool lot, from 8 a.m. to noon
Rosedale Park, Christ The King Church, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

4th Saturday of every month:
Southwest Detroit, Clark Park, 8 a.m. to noon
Creekside, Jefferson and Chalmers, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Source: Matt Naimi, Recycle Here!
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

HGTV show headed to Detroit, looking for homes, Realtors to showcase

HGTV's show, My House is Worth What? is headed to Detroit, and its producers are looking for homes to showcase and knowledgeable Realtors to show them the ropes.

Selected homes will be evaluated by a team of experts
. Renovations, actual purchase price and current market conditions will be taken into consideration.

The show is especially interested in homes located in the following neighborhoods: Boston Edison and Arden Park, Corktown, East Riverfront, Grandmont Rosedale, University Commons - Palmer Park, Indian and West Villages, and Woodbridge.
My House is Worth What? is also looking for Realtors with an expertise in these neighborhoods.

Interested homeowners should apply here and realtors here.
The deadline is June 30.

Source: Holly Schwartz, My House is Worth What?
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Tour, interactive 'toolkit' to introduce potential buyers to 6 neighborhoods; Villages event June 8

Prospective homeowners will get an opportunity to explore the Villages this weekend, including homes in the Islandview Village neighborhood.

The first of a six-part series aimed at showing potential buyers what Detroit has to offer launches June 8 and runs through October. Each month, the MI CITY HOME - Homeowners Toolkit will offer a tour of three homes in a different Detroit neighborhood.

Participants will:

• Meet homeowners and hear firsthand what it's like to own or rehab a historic Detroit home.

• Talk one-on-one with Realtors, contractors and mortgage brokers to learn more about making smart purchasing and renovation decisions.

• Learn how to take advantage of home buying incentives like NEZ property tax discounts, historic tax credits and more.

Each event is free, but space is limited so please RSVP. The tours all start at 3 p.m. on the following dates:

• The Villages – Sunday June 8, 2008
• Grandmont Rosedale – July 27, 2008
• East English Village – August 17, 2008
• Woodbridge – September 21, 2008
• Corktown – October 12, 2008
• 7 Mile/Livernois – October 26, 2008

The event is co-sponsored by United Way Leadership Next, Detroit Young Professionals, City Living Detroit and Preservation Detroit.

For more information, go to www.micityhome.com.

Source: Matt Clayson, United Way Leadership Next
Writer: Clare Pfeiffer Ramsey, editor, Model D

Detroit preservation group releases list of 10 endangered buildings, announces name change

In an effort to instigate a citywide dialogue about historic buildings that are in danger of demolition, Preservation Wayne — now called Preservation Detroit — has released a list entitled Endangered Buildings List 2008. It includes iconic structures like the Michigan Central Station, Lee Plaza Apartments, Forest Arms and the Vanity Ballroom.

The list also draws attention to several broader categories such as religious buildings no longer in use, retired schools and foreclosed single family houses.

"These are widespread issues that will require widespread solutions," says the organization's executive director Francis Grunow. "A wholesale approach is a better approach."

Conversation about endangered buildings was a focal point of the group's annual membership meeting that was held on Thursday, May 22 at the Detroit Boat Club on Belle Isle -- another structure on the list.

At the event, which was attended by 150, Grunow also made the announcement that the organization was changing its name to Preservation Detroit. "It's exciting and very long overdue," he says.

Preservation Detroit host an awards ceremony on September 25 at the Colony Club on Park Avenue and are inviting nominations, which are due on June 13 and can be downloaded here: http://www.preservationwayne.org/docs/Awards_Nomination_2008.pdf.

Source: Francis Grunow, Preservation Detroit
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Grandmont Rosedale opens neighborhood doors on May 4

For the third year in a row, the four neighborhoods that comprise the Grandmont Rosedale community will host an open house to allow prospective residents to visit numerous houses that are for sale all in one afternoon.

The event is set for Sunday, May 4 and will include the Grandmont, Grandmont #1, North Rosedale and Rosedale Park neighborhoods. Attendees should first stop by the new offices of the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp. starting at 1:30 p.m. to pick up a list of homes that will be open for viewing as well as information about the neighborhood, mortgage options, and a tax abatement that is available to new buyers. Homes for sale will be open from 2 to 6 p.m.

Grandmont Rosedale's open houses have been replicated as a neighborhood marketing tools by the University District, The Villages, Boston Edison, the city of Berkley and Bloomfield Township. "All have proven successful in bringing potential buyers to a concentrated area," said event organizer and neighborhood resident Marsha Bruhn in an email. "Those in Detroit have been particularly successful in making people aware of the city's many fine neighborhoods."

Grandmont Rosedale is known for its residential architecture as well as its amenities, which include a community house, youth sports leagues, a farmers market and numerous events throughout the year. Learn more about the community by reading Model D's Grandmont Rosedale Moving Guide.

Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation’s office is located at 19800 Grand River, one block east of Evergreen and six blocks west of the Southfield Freeway in northwest Detroit. Read more about the new facility here.

Source: Marsha Bruhn, Grandmont Rosedale neighborhood open house
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

D-Biz: Counting 21 businesses in 19 neighborhoods, and we want more of your faves

In October 2007, Model D kicked off a recurring series called D-Biz that is designed to draw attention to small businesses in Detroit that are unique or fill an important niche in their community.

Part of the reason we wanted to start this series was to highlight businesses that are not new but still deliver important services to Detroiters. The city's small businesses are a big part of what make Detroit's neighborhoods liveable, but they don't often get media attention.

As of last week, D-Biz has covered all of our featured neighborhoods. Here's a look at the 21 businesses in 19 neighborhoods that we've covered in the last six months, from bike shops to optical shops, from coffee shops to photo studios, and even a tennis racquet repair shop:

D-Biz will continue, and Model D encourages readers to share their neighborhood faves to be considered for coverage. Email kellibkav@issuemediagroup.com with your ideas.

Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Grandmont Rosedale selected for national retail attraction program

Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp. is one of five community development corporations from around the nation that has been selected to participate in a national retail attraction training program.

The Retail Attraction and Dealmaking Applied Training, as it is called, is co-sponsored by Local Initiative Support Organization's Commercial Markets Advisory Service and the International Council of Shopping Centers, or ICSC.

The program is comprised of three learning opportunities:
  • Web-based training sessions;
  • The services of a retail marketing consultant to help develop a neighborhood business attraction marketing strategy; and
  • The assignment of a local mentor that is a real estate professional and a member of ICSC.
The training will be tested with Grandmont Rosedale's appearance at the ICSC deal-making event to be held in Detroit in July.

“This whole effort is geared towards culminating in that event,” says Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp.'s executive director, Tom Goddeeris. “We’ll be meeting face to face with some businesses with the potential to locate here.”

Source: Tom Goddeeris, Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp.
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Greening of Detroit expands Corktown offices, plans busy spring season

Greening of Detroit is spreading its roots: it has expanded its Michigan Ave. office space by a third, to 3,000 square feet. The extra room was desperately needed: the organization will grow from nine employees in 2007 to 25 by the end of 2008.

The additional staff will be busy this spring planting season. Its core mission is reforesting the city, and tree plantings are scheduled weekly from April 19 through June 7, with an estimated 1,500 trees going into the ground.

Planting so many trees requires plenty of volunteers; call the office at 313-237-8733. A special call is out for hands at a May 17 planting in East English Village, for which 250 slots still need filling.

Greening is also a partner in the ever-growing (no pun intended) Garden Resource Program, which supports urban agriculture in the city. Last year, over 5,500 residents participated in 220 family, 115 community and 20 school gardens. More than 120 tons of food were grown, and Greening is anticipating a 20% increase in both participation and output this year.

Little marketing is done to promote such an increase, says Greening's Ashley Atkinson. "It is literally growing down the street from house to house," she says. "It's really cool, committed people that we are attracting, and that's encouraging." Visit GRP's website to find out how to sign up and when plant pick-ups and workdays are scheduled.

One last thing: Greening's annual tree sale is scheduled for April 19 at Eastern Market, but Atkinson recommends reserving plants ahead of time. With just a month to go, half of the 1,400 trees, bushes and shrubs are already sold.

Source: Ashley Atkinson, Greening of Detroit
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh
Photograph: Marvin Shaouni
Marvin Shaouni is the managing photographer for Model D & Metromode

Grandmont Rosedale Dev. Corp. renovating new offices, move-in planned for May

The drywall is up at the soon-to-be home of the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation on Grand River, and painting will soon commence. The organization plans to be moved in by May 1, in time to host the Neighborhood Open House scheduled for May 4.

The 2,800-square-foot building might first be noticed for the colorful Barney Judge mural on its western face, but some of its most notable features lie below the surface. It was renovated with an extreme eye towards energy efficiency: it is highly insulated, its windows are high efficiency and its roof is light-colored and reflective in order to reduce the cooling load in the summer.

Skylights are being installed to maximize natural light and low-VOC paint is being used. Light fixtures and heating and cooling equipment are high-efficiency and material with recycled content is being used as often as possible.

Another key feature of the space is the Maryann Mahaffey Community Room, which will be used to host a variety of events.

GRDC executive director Tom Goddeeris is thrilled to be moving into such a visible location. "We've been around for 19 years now, and we've never had an office of our own," he says. "This gets us right where the action is, and it is making us more accessible to the businesses and residents that we're trying to serve."

This accessibility will serve GRDC well when it becomes an outpost for Southwest Housing Solutions' Housing Opportunity Center. A staff person will be on-site to provide one-on-one counseling about foreclosure avoidance and home buying. "We wouldn't be doing it if we weren't in this space," says Goddeeris.

Source: Tom Goddeeris, GRDC
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Shopping commences at Highland Park Aldi; two more locations in the works

An Aldi's was expected to open in Highland Park this summer, but guess what? It beat its deadline by a few months, opening its doors for business last week.

The 17,000-square-foot grocery store is the anchor of the Shops at Woodward Place, a 40,000-square-foot, $6 million development that will also include an office for the Highland Park Police and a Communicating Arts Credit Union — both of which should be in business within the month.

Developer Mark Thomas says the Woodward Place team is currently in negotiations with a number of other national retail tenants for the remaining space in the plaza.

At least two more Aldis are in the works for Detroit: one in Grandmont-Rosedale and another in Hamtramck. The Hamtramck one is notable in that it will be of a more urban design; it will occupy the site of the former Shopper's World department store and will include additional retail storefronts and two floors of luxury senior apartments above.

Thomas, who is partnered with the Curis family — Michael, Michael Jr. and Anthon — on all three projects, says there is a very simple reason Aldi is investing in Detroit. "The urban market vastly under-served in the grocery category."

Likewise, there is a reason city residents have embraced the chain. "It's a limited assortment grocer with high quality products at deeply discounted prices," he says. "It's a very simple format for a daily needs grocer, and the pricing is just incredible."

Source: Mark Thomas, Shops at Woodward Place
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

City looking for developer to create 4,000 units of permanent housing for homeless

The City of Detroit has released a request for proposals for the development of 4,000 units of service-supported rental housing targeted to the homeless. The NEXT Detroit Permanent Supportive Housing Initiative is looking for developers  teamed up with service providers to deliver such a product.

The city, along with partner organization Detroit Collaborative to End Homelessness Together, recently completed a ten year plan for the elimination of homelessness that calls for a three-pronged strategy: the development of permanent housing called for in this RFP along with prevention and rapid re-housing.

Elterro Carroll, deputy director of the planning and development department hopes that this first round will generate 250 to 500 units over the course of the next two years. He anticipates that applicants will be both teams of developers and service providers as well as single organizations, such as Southwest Solutions, that already do both.

The RFP is deliberately vague as to the size and scope of proposed developments, leaving the door open for large projects sited on large parcels as well as smaller ones; types of housing called for include units designed to serve families, youth and the chronically homeless.

Prospective applicants can pick up an RFP from PDD's Welcome Center on the second floor of Cadillac Tower. They also can view and download the RFP at the City’s Website, www.detroitmi.gov/pdd. On Feb. 27, applicants are invited to attend an RFP information session at 10:30 a.m. in the department’s 23rd floor conference room. Completed proposals are due on March 28 and development teams selections will be announced on May 1. For more information call 313-224-1538.

Source: Elterro Trent Carroll, PDD
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Three new single family homes under construction in N. Rosedale

The walls are framed and the roofs are on! Three new single family homes on Stahelin Street in N. Rosedale are fully under construction and will be complete by May. "The siding and shingles are not up yet, but they look like houses," says Tom Goddeeris, executive director of the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp. "We started in December, less than a month ago, but we're really moving fast." He anticipates the homes being ready for walk-throughs in March.

The 1,300-square-foot homes will have three bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms, full basements, attached garages and appliances and will be available to income-qualified buyers for $110,000. Down payment assistance of $20,000 can mean a buyer is actually making payments on a $90,000 mortgage at the end of the day.

"People looking to buy right now; it's a good time to buy," says Goddeeris. "The value of this purchase is great." The construction cost of each home is $180,000, which was subsidized by City of Detroit HOME funds and Community Development Block Grant dollars and the Development Corporation of Wayne County. Construction loans were provided by the Michigan Interfaith Trust Fund and Detroit LISC.

Interested buyers should contact Martina Orange at GRDC. She can be reached at 313-835-8190 x108.

Source: Tom Goddeeris, GRDC
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Goodness Gracious! Florist opens up shop in Grandmont

Grandmont-Rosedale residents wishing and hoping for more retail amenities in their neighborhood will be thrilled to learn that very soon, flowers, plants and custom ceramics will be available right on Grand River. Goodness Gracious, a florist, and Essence of Molds, a custom ceramicist, are preparing to open up in a storefront just east of the Southfield Freeway.

The shop is being opened by partners Morla Jenkins, Kelly Jones and Wayne Williams. Jenkins comes from an accounting background, Jones has a florist's background and Williams owns the building and is a ceramicist.

What is the atmosphere the team is cultivating? "Warm, friendly and professional," says Jenkins. "It's not like a regular walk-in floral shop that you see. It's more laid back, with a contemporary style."

Goodness Gracious is also stepping into event decor, having already nabbed a contract to do the holiday display at Arturo's Restaurant at the AMC Star Theatres Southfield. "We're a little more than just a flower business," says Jenkins.

Goodness Gracious is located at 16801 Grand River. It will be open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week.

Source: Morla Jenkins, Goodness Gracious
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

D-Biz: Sweet Potato Sensations bakes up goodness in Old Redford

Cassandra Thomas is celebrating her 20th year in business as a master of the lowly sweet potato. Well, lowly until you taste her sweet potato cookies, pies, cakes, ice cream and cobbler. Then you realize that George Washington Carver -- who she deems her "posthumous mentor" -- was onto something pretty amazing with his tuberous experiments.

Thomas launched Sweet Potato Sensations as a home business 1987 and opened her Old Redford storefront in 1994. "I love my community," she says, name-checking neighbors like the Redford Theatre and the Detroit Dream Project artist's village. "We all work together like a family to uplift this area, to bring it back."

Thomas and her husband and business partner, Jeffery, purchased a building across from their current location on Lahser just north of Grand River that they plan to open as a bakery and café in 2008. "You will be able to have coffee or tea and sit down and have pie," says Thomas.

Sweet Potato Sensations has been featured on the Food Network and its ice cream won the "best dessert" award at this year's Chrysler Arts, Beats and Eats festival.

Customers can walk in, order on-line or via phone and purchase goodies at Metro Foodland in Rosedale Park, Western Market in Ferndale and at restaurants like Beans and Cornbread and Southern Fires.

This Thursday is the final Northwest Detroit Farmers Market -- and Thomas, a North Rosedale resident, will be there, manning a table of sweet potato delicacies.

Sweet Potato Sensations is located at 17346 Lahser and can be reached at 313-532-7996. It is open Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. A product and price list can be found here. Orders for Thanksgiving pies will be taken from Nov. 1-15; a 9-inch pie is $9.75.

Source: Cassandra Thomas, Sweet Potato Sensations
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Cake Luv bakery opens storefront on Grand River

From basic birthday cakes to elaborate constructions worthy of the Food Network, Felicia Johnson knows how to bake a cake. In June, she transitioned her home business, Cake Luv, into a storefront operation in the Grandmont-Rosedale neighborhood.

Johnson honed in on Grand River almost immediately. "I knew it was a nice area, and there are quite a few businesses along this strip," she says. The cake shop ended up locating just east of Outer Drive.

All of Johnson's recipes are from family members or ones that she developed herself. "All of our cakes are made from scratch," she says. "Everything is fresh to order, we don't bake ahead and freeze." Cake Luv can deliver cakes to anywhere in Michigan and Ohio, and sells by the slice to walk-ins.

Strawberry tall and pineapple cream cheese cakes are the shop's best-sellers, and Johnson highly recommends the carrot cake and cheesecakes.

The neighborhood has been welcoming. "People who stay in this community like to support businesses in the community, which has been nice," says Johnson.

Cake Luv is open Monday through Friday 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.

Source: Felicia Johnson, Cake Luv
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Social Compact study findings make powerful statement about Detroit's growing core

Washington, D.C.-based Social Compact has released initial findings from its study of Detroit demographics. The numbers revealed by their DrillDown approach paints a wealthier and more populous picture of Detroit than does the Census.

This is good news for the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., which plans to use the information to attract retailers to the city. The findings include:
  • The resident population of Detroit is 933,043, nearly 62,000 more than projected by the current Census population estimates. 
  • The average income of a Detroit household is $48,000 as opposed to the 2000 Census estimate of $40,900. 
  • There is $800 million of informal economic activity in Detroit's economy each year. This is income like tips, side-consulting, baby-sitting and the like that do not register on traditional market measures.
  • The aggregate income of Detroit households, $15.8 billion, is $2 billion greater than indicated by 2000 Census estimates.
  • At least $1.7 billion of resident retail spending is being leaked outside the city limits.
Traditional census methods tend to undervalue older urban cities for several reasons, one of them being a bias towards new home construction. "The bureau assumes that a certain percentage of homes built before 1940 are retired each year," says Social Compact president and CEO, John Talmage. "The burden rests on the city to prove otherwise."

Immigrants and intergenerational households are also often under-counted.

"This really creates better information for actual business people, developers and brokers," says DEGC project manager Olga Savic. The organization will work to educate these entities, along with government officials and community development corporations, as to how these numbers can be used to leverage commercial investment.

There will also be more surveying at the neighborhood level, which has the potential to reveal even more residents and income. "The numbers are good enough to go after grocery stores now," says Talmage. "It's just going to get better."

Download a copy of the report here.

Source: John Talmage, Social Compact and Olga Savic, DEGC
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Networking group launched to encourage new Detroit businesses

Any slightly-observant Detroit resident -- or even an intermittent Model D reader -- has likely noticed that new businesses are sprouting up all around the city. It's just not happening quickly enough for a couple of local entrepreneurs who have started Open City, a networking group for would-be Detroit business owners.

Over 60 people, a mix of aspiring and actual business owners, attended the group's kick-off meeting at Cliff Bell's on September 18. "We wanted to introduce people to the concept of having a group whose purpose is simply to encourage them and educate them about opening a business in Detroit in an informal manner," says co-founder Liz Blondy of Canine to Five Detroit Dog Daycare.

Blondy and her cohort, Clare Nelson of The Bureau of Urban Living, realized that there were plenty of hurdles standing in the way of starting up a business in Detroit, such as red tape, the perception that the city is unsafe and is not a place where money can be made. Start-up financing is also an issue.

They think the effort is worth it. "People will be so appreciative. They will notice it more then if you open in the suburbs," Blondy said in her opening remarks. "You’ll get more PR for opening in Detroit. Detroiters crave new exciting businesses. Being located in Detroit will help distinguish your business. A high end modern furniture store in Birmingham? There are like four of them. In Detroit, it is unique."

Detroiter Dave Mancini has been contemplating opening up a pizza parlor in the city for several years. "I gave up on Detroit, to be honest," Mancini says. "It was difficult to get in touch with the type of people I needed to get in touch with, and I was having trouble finding space that was not prohibitively expensive to rehab." He attended the meeting as a last-ditch effort at the urging of a friend.

He's glad he did. "There was such good energy from so many people," Mancini says. He was greatly encouraged by keynote speaker Jackie Victor of Avalon Breads. "Having talked to her made me feel better about my prospects down here," he says. "Since the meeting, I've been making more calls. I realize that I haven't turned over every rock yet."

Open City's next meeting will take place October 16. For more information, contact Blondy at liz@caninetofivedetroit.com.

Source: Liz Blondy, Open City
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Community development corporations honored for neighborhood achievements

Saavy Detroit-observers recognize that the real workhorses of the development world are community development corporations (CDCs). Often the first to invest in an area, their work paves the way for market-rate development.

Every year, two of the CDC world's biggest supporters, Detroit Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC) and the Community Development Advocates of Detroit (CDAD) band together to recognize the year's biggest success stories in their community. At this year's luncheon, five CDCs and one individual were recognized.

The Masco CDC of the Year was awarded to the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation (GRCD). The organization works to strengthen the Grand River commercial corridor with facade grants and infrastructure improvements, organizes a weekly farmer's market and will break ground on three new infill houses later this year.

"It's nice to get this kind of recognition every now and then," says executive director Tom Goddeeris. "We've been around for 18 years, and every year presents new challenges." GRDC is preparing to embark on its first-ever capital campaign to raise funds for its new headquarters. "This process is a continuation from year to year, but this year we are branching out into some new things," he says. "We're pleased to have them recognize us for it."

Other awards presented include:
Model D wishes to extend our congratulations to the winners and our thanks to all of Detroit's hard-working CDCs.

Sources: LISC and Tom Goddeeris, GRDC
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Rice Bowl opens second location, third in the works

Get your chopsticks ready. Rice Bowl Asian Kitchen has opened a second location in the Grandmont-Rosedale area. Its first location is in the New Center One Building and it will open a third in the Millender Center in January of 2008.

Owner Paul Kado is pleased to add a location in the city's northwest side, at W. Outer Drive and the Southfield Freeway. "It is an established area in a more affluent part of the city," he says. An added plus is its proximity to Henry Ford Health Systems medical center and Sinai-Grace Hospital. The restaurant seats 45 and is located in the College Park Commons shopping center.

Although Kado had hoped for his downtown location to be open by now, the overhaul of the Millender's HVAC system has delayed the date. "The Central Business District needs a quality Asian fast-casual restaurant. There is a demand for it," he says.

Source: Paul Kado, Rice Bowl Asian Kitchen
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Detroit development is target for new ShoreBank loan fund manager

On July 2, John Schoeniger began work as Loan Fund Manager at ShoreBank Enterprise Detroit (SED), a nonprofit affiliate of ShoreBank Corporation. Most recently, Schoeniger was Vice President of Residential Real Estate Lending for ShoreBank in Cleveland.

Schoeniger will work primarily with small- and mid-sized developers and minority- and female-owned small businesses. Money from the fund can be used for predevelopment and preconstruction financing as well as predevelopment work such as appraisals, environmental assessments and architecture and engineering. "We want to fill gaps if there are any," he says. "We are willing to be creative and flexible, up to and including equity or equity-like deals."

The new position became necessary when SED received nearly $12 million in investments and loans from the Ford and Knight foundations in January. The fund's goal is specific: build and renovate commercial and residential properties in Detroit, particularly in Next Detroit neighborhoods. Schoeniger's goal is to have $2 million "out the door" in the twelve months.

He points out that funds from SED can be used to leverage conventional financing and/or to fill in any gaps that remain in a development portfolio. A developer, he says, "might have some of the money, but not all. We will try to figure out what they need and how to get it to them."

Schoeniger came to banking from a background in construction and real estate which, he says, helps him "communicate to all kinds of small- to mid-sized contractors and developers." He sees "rust belt" parallels between his experiences in Cleveland and the initiative he has undertaken in Detroit.

Source: John Schoeniger, SED
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Northwest Detroit Farmers Market starts second year

Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation  kicked off the Northwest Detroit Farmers Market last week. The market will be held every Thursday from 4 to 8 pm through October.

The market features produce, baked goods, crafts, hand-blended teas, honey and organic eggs. GRDC special projects coordinator Pam Weinstein is excited about the number and diversity of the vendors including, new this year, one selling perennials.

The market is held in the south parking lot of the Bushnell Congregational Church, located at 15000 Southfield Service Drive just south of Grand River.

Other local farmers markets include:
  • Hamtramck: Fourth Saturday of the month through October from 9 am to 2 pm at Caniff and McDougall;
  • Corktown: Second Saturday of each month through October from 10 am to 2 pm in front of Michigan Central Station;
  • Highland Park: every Saturday in August and September from 10 am to 2 pm, on Victor Street between Woodward Avenue & John R.

More information about locally-grown agriculture and neighborhood farmers markets can be found at the Garden Resource Program Collaborative's website.

Source: Pam Weinstein, GRDC and GRP
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

LISC unveils $100M of "Neighborhoods Now" planned investment

Detroit's Local Initiative Support Organization unveiled plans totaling $100 million for seven targeted areas. The plans were developed over the last two years by community groups and residents, says Deborah Younger, Detroit LISC program director. "No one knows best what a community needs than the folks that live there,"Younger says.

The seven areas fall under one of two targets: Strategic Investment Area or Regional Investment Initiative. The former groups community development corporations with service providers, residents, businesses, government agencies and other stakeholders to craft plans for their areas. The latter pairs CDCs from Detroit with partners from inner ring suburbs to attempt to bridge a gap between the cities and to address shared needs.

SIA areas include Southwest Detroit which will attempt to build on its cultural and historic heritage and increase market rate housing; Far East/Lower East Side which will develop mixed income housing and increase retail services; Northwest Detroit which will focus on infill housing and a strengthened commercial corridor; and Central Woodward which will focus on workforce training, mixed-income housing and retail.

RII teams paired up the Jefferson East area with Grosse Pointe; the South Fort/Visger Corridor  with Ecorse, Lincoln Park, and River Rouge; and Van Dyke - 8 Mile with Center Line and Warren. RII was supported primarily by the Ford Foundation with the objective that similar efforts can be replicated across the country.

Now that general plans have been crafted for each of the areas, LISC will target fundraising efforts towards foundations and others that support each particular initiative a community has identified. Already $38 million has  been secured; an estimated $100 million is needed to complete the initiatives. LISC will also continue to play a public policy role as well as connecting neighborhood groups with larger economic development initiatives.

Source: Deborah Younger, Detroit LISC
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Grandmont Rosedale open house to facilitate one-stop home shopping in the district

Grandmont Rosedale Communities will host a neighborhood open house on May 6, following the success of last year's event. "We know of at least seven or eight homes that were sold," says Marsha Bruhn, the neighborhood resident and event chair.

The event begins at the North Rosedale Community House at 18445 Scarsdale at 1:30 p.m., where visitors can pick up a listing of available homes and view a presentation on the four neighborhoods that make up greater Grandmont Rosedale: North Rosedale Park, Rosedale Park, Grandmont and Grandmont #1. The homes that are for sale will be open for viewing from 2-6 p.m.

Of the approximately 5,300 homes that comprise the four neighborhoods, Bruhn estimates that 140 are currently available. Some listings can be viewed in advance of the open house at Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation's website.

The event is sponsored by  Rosedale Park Improvement Association, North Rosedale Park Civic Association, Grandmont Community Association, Grandmont #1 Improvement Association and GRDC with support from Huntington Home Lending.

Learn more about what it's like to live in Grandmont Rosedale from Model D's Moving Guide.

Source: Marsha Bruhn, Grandmont Rosedale Communities Neighborhood Open House
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Exam Experts doubles size of Rosedale location

Exam Experts, an exam preparation and tutoring business, is doubling the size of its location on Grand River between Outer Drive and Evergreen. Exam  Experts' original location is downtown, but Owner Mark Mayberry decided to open a second location in the Grandmont-Rosedale community last year because he "saw a revitalization taking place with the area's businesses. It's exciting to be a part of the revitalization of Grand River."

With the addition of the new space, Exam Experts is 2,800 square feet. The learning center offers preparation for civil service, MEAP, ACT and SAT exams as well as small group and personal tutoring for kindergarteners through adults.

Mayberry says, "We've worked with a lot of students in the community who have really responded to our services. We also have clientele coming from the surrounding suburbs, like Canton and Southfield. We are serving not only the immediate area, but the entire metro Detroit community as well."

Mayberry also offers a program called Young Millionaires, entrepreneurial training classes for ages 9 through adult. He believes that entrepreneurship is the "new American dream for the 21st century," and that it "can be taught to youth as well as to adults." The course teaches basic principles such as business plan formulation and marketing strategies and includes real-world entrepreneurs as speakers.

Source: Mark Mayberry, Exam Experts
Writer Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Spring has sprung, and there are trees to be planted

The Greening of Detroit's spring planting schedule is intensive and, to that end, the organization needs volunteers. Lots of them.

Project manager Ashley Atkinson explains, "We have an expanded mission, we have more work, and we get most of our work done with the help of volunteer labor. We really need a lot of people this spring."

A sampling of events include:
  • April 14: harvesting and replanting trees from North Corktown's Hope Takes Roots community garden into the neighborhood;
  • April 27: Greening of Detroit Park on E. Jefferson spruce up.
  • May 5, tree planting at Gabriel Richard Park at the foot of Belle Isle's MacArthur Bridge;
  • May 12, installation of a sensory garden at Greater Detroit Agency for the Blind and Visually Impaired; and
  • June 2, planting of trees, shrubs and perennials for Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision's viaduct project.
A full calendar that lists all planned events with descriptions, times and locations is available at Greening's website. To sign up to volunteer, contact Monique Torbert at 313.237.8733 or send an email to volunteer@greeningofdetroit.com.

The Greening will hold its annual Spring Tree Sale at Eastern Market on April 21 from 9 a.m. – noon. The event gives residents of Southeastern Michigan an opportunity to purchase trees and shrubs at extremely discounted rates. Call 313.237.8733 to request an order form or inquire about plant availability.

When the spring planting season ends, there will be plenty of additional volunteer opportunities through Greening's participation in the Garden Resource Program.

Source: Ashley Atkinson, Greening of Detroit
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh 

Public input sessions held for Detroit Transit Options for Growth Study

The cities of Detroit, Hamtramck, Highland Park and Dearborn have retained transit consultants to identify feasible rapid transit alternatives within the four cities. The study's managing agency, the Detroit Department of Transportation, is hosting four open houses in the coming week to share ideas and solicit input on the project, called Detroit Transit Options for Growth Study.
  • Mar. 21, 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the Guardian Building
  • Mar. 21, 5 p.m. - 8 p.m. at WSU McGregor Conference Center
  • Mar. 22, 5 p.m. - 8 p.m. at U-M Dearborn, Fairlane Center
  • Mar. 24, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. at the Samaritan Center on Conner
Two presentations will be given at each event by DDOT staff and DTOGS consultants, potential routes and modes will be on display and questions and comments from the public will be heard.

The study is the first step in the formal process established by the Federal Transit Administration in securing federal funds for rapid transit.

Please RSVP to Tim Roseboom.

Source: DTOGS

Cityscape event to discuss historic preservation's effect on state economy

Cityscape Detroit will host an event entitled "The Economic Benefits of Historic Preservation" on Mar. 20. The keynote speaker will be Kristine Kidorf, a preservation consultant and board member of the Michigan Historic Preservation Network.

Kidorf will discuss the recent MHPN "Report Card" study that analyzes the impact that historic preservation has on Michigan's economy; in 2002-05, the years the study was conducted, $1.93 billion was added.

Because of this enormous impact, the study recommends increasing the state tax credit for historic preservation to 25% which, when coupled with the federal 20% credit, adds up to a 45% credit for a rehab project. Kidorf points out that since the state of Missouri enacted such a credit, not one historic building in St. Louis has been demolished.

She says the study also demonstrates, "For every $1 in credit, there was $11 in economic impact added."

The study can be downloaded here.

The Cityscape event begins at 6:30 p.m. and will be held at SmartDetroit on the Penobscot Building's 13th floor. It is free and open to the public. RSVPs are preferred; email rsvp@cityscapedetroit.org.

Source, Kristine Kidorf, Kidorf Preservation Consulting and MHPN

Grandmont Rosedale to break ground on 3 new affordable homes

Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation will begin construction in March on three affordable single-family homes, according to GRDC executive director Tom Goddeeris. The homes will be 3-bedroom and 2-½ bath, feature full basements and attached garages and will sell for $138,000 to buyers with incomes at or below 80% of the Area Median Income. Down payment assistance is also available to eligible buyers.

Goddeeris explains that, with the construction of these homes, GRDC is "introducing affordable housing into a neighborhood that might otherwise seem unaffordable to the lower income homebuyer."

The homes are being built on Stahelin Street in North Rosedale Park as part of a targeted effort by GRDC to improve the area around T. Dale Cooke Elementary School. The organization is also offering home repair matching grants to existing residents in the vicinity of the school.

Goddeeris explains the strategy. "While this area is right in the heart of North Rosedale, [the houses] sort of have a different character. They were built at a later time and are smaller. Consequently, they suffered more decline. There is a higher percentage of vacant homes, a higher percentage of rental properties as opposed to homeowners and some problems with absetee landowners. We are try to being them up to the quality of the rest of the community."

The home repair matching grant funds are being funded by a $40,000 grant from LISC that Goddeeris is hopeful will be matched by a Federal Home Loan Bank grant from Fifth Third Bank. The city of Detroit has also provided home repair funds so, all together, Goddeeris hopes to improve 14 homes in the target area. "By concentrating the grant in one area, we will increase the impact of each individual grant," he says.

For more information about the new homes or the home repair grants, call GRDC at 313.835.8190.

Source: Tom Goddeeris, GRDC

Greening of Detroit developing sensory garden for visually impaired

Greening of Detroit, in partnership with the Greater Detroit Agency for the Blind and Visually Impaired (GDABVI), is developing a sensory garden to be planted at the organization’s headquarters on Grand River in the Grandmont neighborhood.

The approximately 1,500 square feet garden, which has been funded by a $14,000 grant from the Carl’s Foundation, is currently being designed by Jeff Klein of Classic Landscape, Ltd (pictured).

Greening’s Ashley Atkinson says that the garden is being designed only after a series of visioning sessions with GDABVI staff and clients as well as a “Dream and Design” session held on Jan. 21. At that meeting, clients, volunteers, GDABVI staff and board and neighborhood residents gathered to rate options and provide feedback.

Atkinson explains that traditional charette exercises rely on the visual. Since that method would not work in the context of the blind and visually impaired, five stations—one for each sense—were set up with 6-8 options at each that were rated by each participant. She says, “At the touch station were different textures, and at the sound one, different garden sounds. At the taste station, there were different herbs and some vegetables and at the sight one, powerful colors of flowers—how they mix together. And of course, there was a smell station with garden smells.”

Klein is using the ratings as well as subsequent group discussion to complete a design, which Atkinson expects to share with the agency in March.

Source: Ashley Atkinson, Greening of Detroit

$400,000 awarded to arts community to establish Cultural Alliance of SE Michigan

The Cultural Alliance of SE Michigan has received $400,000 in start-up funding from the Community Foundation of Southeastern Michigan along with the McGregor Fund and the Hudson-Webber Foundation. The Alliance will work to increase collaborations between and visibility of arts and cultural organizations in the seven-county SEMCOG region.

The Cultural Alliance will represent the arts and culture community in regional planning efforts and will market the programs and amenities of member organizations to a diverse group of audiences.

The chairman of the Cultural Alliance’s board will be Steven K. Hamp, former president of The Henry Ford and Chief of Staff of Ford Motor Co. “The Cultural Alliance represents a new era for the arts and culture in our region,” he said in a release. “It embraces all dimensions of the cultural community: performing arts, visual arts, history and historic preservation, community cultural activities, arts education, science and nature, libraries and literature. Our goal is to foster innovation and creativity and enable our many and diverse cultural resources to contribute more dynamically to the people and communities of southeastern Michigan.”

All participating parties stress the Alliance’s inclusiveness, as organizations both big and small, fledgling and established, will have access to the collective’s resources and expertise.

More than 60 organizations from across all seven counties participated in an 18-month planning process to develop the Cultural Alliance, and several hundred will be invited to participate.

Source: CFSEM

Grandmont Rosedale Dev. Corp. to transform vacant building into office, green building demo

Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation has purchased a vacant building on Grand River east of Greenfield with the intention of renovating it as “greenly” as possible. This will be their fifth commercial building rehab project, and Executive Director Tom Goddeeris says that “in the past, they have been typical kinds of renovations, but there are a lot of reasons to do a green building project—it will save costs over the long run and it is good for the environment.”

GRDC will work with WARM Training Center to determine sources of funding for the project as well as help formulate and environmentally-sustainable rehab strategy. Goddeeris says the State of Michigan DEQ has also been helpful in pointing the organization in the right direction.

GRDC is also considering moving their offices into the 2,800 square foot building, which would then allow the building to serve as a demonstration project for other commercial developers and small business owners. Plus, Goddeeris notes, “We’d really like to be located within the Grand River Commercial corridor—it’s a big part of our community development strategy.”

Goddeeris anticipates that the renovation will begin this spring.

Source: Tom Goddeeris, GRDC

New State Farm office on Grand River sports new facade

A new modern facade for Grandmont Rosedale's neighborhood State Farm Insurance office features stainless steel and glass elements. It was designed by architect Fred Ideozu and cost $30,000, $5,000 of which was offset by a grant from the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation.

State Farm was already located in the community, but agent John E. Cash says they "needed addtional space. We needed room to grow." Their new 4,000 square-foot facility, located at 19203 Grand River east of Outer Drive, has 9 offices and a 10-vehicle parking lot.

Cash is pleased with the facade and with the community in which his agency is located. He appreciates "being located directly across the street from the Neighborhood City Hall" and says the "area is a viable marketplace for me. The homes in the area are very nice. This is a middle class community that can afford our products and services."

Source: John E. Cash, State Farm

Six civic groups come together as 'One D' to seek regional solutions

The leaders of six regional organizations have announced a new collaboration, called One D, that aims to address pressing issues in Southeast Michigan.

The heads of United Way for Southeastern Michigan, the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau, Cultural Alliance of Southeastern Michigan, the Detroit Regional Chamber, New Detroit and Detroit Renaissance said Tuesday morning that they will work together to focus on:
• Economic prosperity;
• Educational preparedness;
• Regional transit;
• Race relations;
• Regional cooperation;
• And quality of life.

No government agency specifically was represented among the six leaders of the alliance, but Michael Brennan, CEO of the regional United Way, said the group's make-up is significant because private sector leadership plays an important role in growing and uniting the region. "There is no mayor of Southeast Michigan, no county executive of Southeast Michigan," he said. On the other hand, the groups say their boards represent more than 250 local businesses, as well as countless nonprofits, community agencies and cultural groups.

One D member Shirely Stancato, CEO and president of New Detroit, said the group would present a specific agenda that includes a report card for the region at the chamber's Mackinac Conference in late May next year.

Brennan said that it's imperative to work together and show a united front for working regionally. During interviews for a recent United Way survey, respondents were asked to name a regional organization affecting change. "More often than ot we got a long pause," he said.  The One D coalition hopes to fill that void, he said.

Residents can learn more about the One D project during a special 30-minute broadcast on local PBS station WTVS (Channel 56) at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 20.

Writer: Clare Pfeiffer Ramsey
Source: One D

Preservationists sign on to unified vision

The Greater Detroit Historic Preservation Coalition ratified a "Vision for Detroit" document on October 17. The GDHPC is comprised of more than twenty organizations that believe that preserving Detroit's built environment is integral to its overall redevelopment. Member organizations include Preservation Wayne, Cityscape Detroit, Detroit Synergy and Riverfront East Alliance.

Francis Grunow, Preservation Wayne's executive director, credits the National Trust for Historic Preservation for bringing the organizations together in the wake of the demolition of the Madison and Lenox buildings. He says, "This coalition-building process with the National Trust over the last year has the been the catalyst for bringing the Detroit preservation community together."

The Vision document states the coalition's commitment to preservation and explains it reasons for this commitment, which include: job creation, tourism, return on investment, the city's identity and social justice.

For more information, contact Preservation Wayne.

Source: Francis Grunow, Preservation Wayne

Wayne County to host Nuisance Abatement Seminar

Wayne County's Nuisance Abatement Program, which can be utilized as a tool for community groups and individuals to deal with vacant and dangerous structures in their neighborhoods, will be explained at the "RAP with NAP" seminar and reception at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 21.

"A lot of community groups call our office because they have problems with abandoned properties in their neighborhoods. Sometime we can do a wonderful job, sometimes we can't because [the property is] beyond our scope," says Wayne County's Mike Russell. "We will explain what the NAP program can do, what we cannot, and then give alternative resources to address the issue."

If a property is ultimately deemed a nuisance by the county, the first priority is to work with the owner to rehab the property or sell it to someone that can. "The court awards title to the county as a last resort," Russell notes. At that time, NAP places the property on its Web site in hopes of finding a new owner.

Russell hopes to see "developers, community activist groups and financers together in a nice atmosphere." The seminar will be at the Wayne County Building, 600 Randolph, in the Atrium.

For more information contact Mike Russell at 313.967.2203 or mrussell@co.wayne.mi.us.

Source: Mike Russell, Wayne County

Crain's to throw house parties at 40 Detroit homes

Crain’s Detroit Business is hosting the Ultimate House Party at 40 private homes across the city to showcase the diverse range of housing options available in the city. The Sept. 28 invite-only event will start off with cocktails at each guest’s designated home. All guests will then converge for food, drinks and jazz at a downtown afterglow.

Crain’s publisher, Mary Kramer, says the goal of the House Party is to “introduce suburban professionals to a neighborhood experience.” Attendees will be directed to a particular house, which may be a historic home such as the former home of Henry Ford in Boston Edison, or a newer development like Shorepointe Village in Grayhaven on the riverfront.

The invitation-only event was nearly sold-out as of Monday, with at least 700 people expected to attend.

Kramer, who is a Detroit resident, says, “Many people come down to Detroit for entertainment, but far fewer get off the highway and experience a neighborhood.”

She hopes to grow the event into a weekend-long open house of properties for sale citywide.

Source: Mary Kramer, Crain’s Detroit Business

Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp.'s renovation lands new buyer

Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation (GRDC) expects to complete the renovation of a house in the Minock Park neighborhood in approximately one month. A first-time homebuyer has already signed a purchase agreement for the home located on Auburn Street north of Fenkell.

The home will be sold to the moderate-income buyer for only $62,000 with the use of MSHDA’s Acquisition Development Resale (ADR) program, which provides a subsidy and down payment assistance; the project cost is estimated at $100,000 including acquisition.

Built around 1950, the three-bedroom home is one of 10 in the neighborhood constructed of cinder block. “They are unusual houses not characteristic of the rest of the neighborhood,” says Tom Goddeeris, GRDC’s executive director.

Source: Tom Goddeeris, GRDC

Crain's 'Living in the D' guides still available

Looking or a copy of Crain's Detroit Business' special Living and Investing in the D section but missed last week issue? The issue featured business opportunities and places to live in the city.

You can still purchase a copy from Crain's for a dollar each. Contact Crain's at
(888) 909-9111.

You can also view all the content online and download a PDF version at crainsdetroit.com.

Wayne County Development Corp. awards 13 area CDCs with $ 1.8 million in pre-development grants

Over $1.8 million was awarded to 13 community development corporations in Wayne County recently for pre-development spending on selected projects. The grants averaged around $150,000 per project.

"Pre-development costs are more difficult to get, and are essential in creating affordable homes for people," says Katie Miller of Northwest Detroit Neighborhood Development Corp.

The pre-development grants provide funds for title applications, marketing, land surveys and other tasks necessary to begin a housing development project. NDND is using the grant to begin the process on their Hope Park Estates project in the Brightmoor neighborhood in Northwest Detroit. 11 homes are scheduled to be built for this project, with more being planned for the future.

Other Wayne County and Detroit CDCs that were awarded grants include the Greater Corktown Development Corp., Habitat For Humanity, Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp., the Detroit Catholic Pastoral Alliance and more.

"Without the pre-development funding it would be hard to sell the homes as affordable housing," says Miller.  

Sources: John O'Brien, Michael Chateau, Katie Miller, Northwest Detroit Neighborhood Development Corp.

Grandmont Rosedale neighborhoods add a locally grown farmers market

The Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp. has created a local farmers market to serve the neighborhood. The Northwest Detroit Farmers Market will provide fresh fruits and vegetables from the parking lot of Bushnell Congregational Church from 4 to 8 p.m. every Thursday.

Shoppers will have access to vendors selling locally grown fruits and vegetables, herbs, honey and fresh-baked bread by Detroit’s Avalon Bakery. Several vendors sell certified-organic produce.

The GRDC represents five neighborhoods, including Rosedale Park, North Rosedale Park, Grandmont, Grandmont #1 and Minock Park, home to over 8,000 households. They are looking for more vendors to add to the market.

“We’re an eclectic, funky, little neighborhood and we want to support local growers and the local economy,” says Pam Weinstein of the GRDC.

 The Northwest Detroit Farmers Market will be open every Thursday through October. Bushnell Congregation Church is at 15000 Southfield, on the northbound service drive of the Southfield Freeway, just south of the Grand River-Fenkell exit.

Source: Pam Weinstein, Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp.

Three Detroit groups get Cool Cities designations

Three Detroit organizations have been awarded Michigan Cool Cities’ designations. The three Detroit groups whose projects qualified have been awarded Neighborhoods in Progress designations and $100,000 catalyst grants.

Twelve groups in Michigan received the latest rounds of catalyst grants and cool cities’ designations. The designations allow the groups possible access to more Michigan state funds and tax credits for neighborhood improvements, as well as the $100,000 grants.

The Detroit groups who received the designations and grants are:
• The Arab American and Chaldean Council: The group’s project is for the creation of artists' studios and gallery space for the 7 Mile and John R area.
• Focus: HOPE:  The grant and designation help in the creation of a park and green space area on the corner of Oakman and Woodrow Wilson, in Detroit on the border of Highland Park.
• Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp.:  The grant and designation will go to streetscape and landscape improvement for the Grand River commercial district as well as improvements for the site of the Northwest Detroit Farmers Market.

Tom Goddeeris, director of Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp., was as pleased by the Cool Cities neighborhood designation as he was the grant money. “To be recognized as a Cool Cities neighborhood, from a marketing perspective, is ideal,” says Goddeeris.

Sources: Kathy Moran, FOCUS: Hope, Tom Goddeeris, Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation

Detroit visitors bureau offers $50 gas card summer promotion

The Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau has created a summer city promotion offering a $50 gas card when two or more adults stay in select Detroit metro area hotels for two nights.

Carolyn Artman, media relations manager for the bureau, says it’s one of the largest city gas promotions in the country. To take advantage of the promotion, travelers to Detroit must register on the Visit Detroit website at http://www.visitdetroit.com/ and click on the free $50 gas card package.

Participants can choose from 13 select area hotels taking part in the promotion, and can customize and reserve their stay online at the Visit Detroit Web site.

“We want people to come see what Detroit has to offer,” says Artman.

Source: Carolyn Artman, Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau

Summer in the city kicks into high gear

Get yourself out and enjoy Detroit. From the Riverfront to New Center, this is prime time to get out in the city, and there's no shortage of big events, outdoor music, festivals, picnic spots, etc.

A few ideas:

• Catch the International Freedom Festival fireworks Wednesday, June 28. Pick your favorite viewing spot (Eastern Market, Belle Isle, Hart Plaza, wherever) and pull up a lawn chair for the biggest, the best big boomers in Southeast Michigan.

• The Comerica Tastefest in New Center runs June 30-July 4. There's no better place to eat, drink, be merry, then eat some more. Plus there's a killer music lineup, too.

• Is anybody else unable to stop humming the circa 1984 "Bless You Boys" anthem? The Tigers are out of town, but catch the game in the shadow of the old stadium at Nemo's in Corktown, or in the shadow of the new one at the Hockeytown Cafe or Cheli's Chili.

• Get out to Belle Isle. Bike, swim, run, picnic, let the rugrats go on the Playscape. And there's a new Nature Zoo for the kiddies, too.

• By land or sea, listen to music on the Riverfront. Chene Park has national acts like Teena Marie and Brian McKnight. Plus GM's added a concert series in front of the Renaissance Center.

Preservation Wayne celebrates 30 years of efforts, looks ahead

Preservation Wayne is marking its 30th anniversary this week.

The nonprofit is dedicated to “promoting and protecting Detroit’s historic built environment.”

The group’s efforts aim to preserve as well as revitalize Detroit’s historic areas, promoting awareness through events, lectures and media, as well as advocating for policies and preservation-friendly development.

“We're looking to further the preservation ethic in Detroit and set the stage for efforts in Detroit for the next 30 years ... and we're looking to the community for help and input,” says Douglas McIntosh, Preservation Wayne's president.

The group offers popular walking tours of the city. The tours help introduce people to the city’s architecture, history and landmarks. For more information on Preservation Wayne, go to http://www.preservationwayne.org.

Source: Preservation Wayne

High-end furniture store opens in Grandmont Rosedale

Exotic Furniture opened its doors recently on Grand River Avenue.

Owner Mark Jones says the store will be the first in Michigan to carry the high-end Fijian furniture line Pacific Green, a line of furniture that also works well in lofts. "“These couches look as good from the front as they do from the back," he says.

With some sofas priced at $3,700, chairs at $2,100 and beds at $2,400, Jones is targeting a niche customer. “We’re not trying to reach the 99 percent — we’re trying to reach the 0.5 percent.”

He and his partners selected their 1,100-square-foot showroom in part because of the renovations completed by his landlord, neighborhood business association Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp.

The partners give GRDC credit for helping their business getting its start: “They’ve been very instrumental and supportive. We share the same vision and dream of a revitalized Detroit — even if it’s one store, one block, one street at a time.”

Source: Mark Jones, Exotic Furniture

Detroiters to bike to work en masse

Rising gas prices or expanding waistline got you down? Friday, May 19 is National Bike to Work Day, and Detroit Synergy’s Detroit Bikes! Team is sponsoring the Detroit edition of the event. While everyone is encouraged to join in regardless of geography, the Detroit Bikes! main route follows Woodward Avenue from Royal Oak south to Campus Martius, with meet-ups scheduled along the way in Ferndale, the State Fairgrounds, Highland Park, New Center and Midtown.

“Our goal this year is to lay down the foundations of a solid tradition that doesn’t have to stop at just one day. Cycling is an alternative transportation method, is great exercise, conserves the environment and your pocketbook, and is a asset to healthy urban living,” event organizer Alexander Froehlich says.

For schedule, exact meet-up locations, or any further information, click here or e-mail Froehlich at detroitbikes@detroitsynergy.org. Detroit Bikes! Works to promote cycling in the city of Detroit, educate the public about the benefits of cycling as well as bike safety and maintenance.

Earlier in the week, on Wednesday, May 17 at 7 p.m., cyclists around the country will be participating in Rides of Silence, an event organized to commemorate cyclists who have been killed while riding on public roads. Detroit’s Ride of Silence begins and ends at Belle Isle’s Scott Fountain. The ride will be approximately 10 miles and is paced at about twelve miles per hour. Helmets are required; for more information go to www.rideofsilence.org.

Sources: Alexander Froehlich, Detroit Bikes! and www.rideofsilence.org

Post-Super Bowl excitement leads to more city tours

The Tourism and Economic Development Council will offer tours each Saturday, May through September, due to heightened interest generated by the Super Bowl. Designed to augment Preservation Wayne’s tour schedule, the tours will begin at Campus Martius at 10:00 a.m. and will include several distinct options ranging from walking to bus to People Mover tours.

The new types of tours will be:

• People Mover Tours, which will take participants around the People Mover as well as into new loft developments and the Renaissance Center.

• City Living Tours are each a unique bus tour that will focus on living options in different areas of Detroit including the Riverfront, Lafayette Park, Downtown, University Commons-Palmer Park, Rosedale Park, North and South Midtown, the eastside, and New Center.

• “What’s New in the D” Tours will provide an insider’s view of recent developments downtown—including shopping, restaurants and bars, living options, and parks.

Tours range in price from free to $10. A complete schedule is available at http://www.theworldiscoming.com/tours.html.

Source: TEDC

Check out homes for sale in Grandmont Rosedale

Grandmont Rosedale Communities will host a neighborhood open house on Sunday, May 7, to showcase the housing options available for sale throughout the area. A presentation about each of the four neighborhoods that comprise the larger Grandmont Rosedale area will be made at 1:30 p.m. and repeated every half hour through 3:30 p.m. at the North Rosedale Park Community House at 18445 Scarsdale.

The Community House will remain open until 6 p.m. so attendees can pick up a listing of available homes and get information about home loans and tax abatements. Neighborhood residents will also be on hand to answer questions and provide insights into their community. From 2-5 p.m., Realtors will be hosting open houses of each home for sale in the area, giving attendees a unique opportunity to house-hunt in a concentrated manner.

Resident Marsha Bruhn moved to the neighborhood after attending a similar event in the late 1980s. The open house, which she is helping to organize, gives her a chance to get the word out about the neighborhood she is proud to call home. “A lot of the real estate community as well as individuals might not really know about what our neighborhood has to offer. This is an effort to promote the neighborhood and why this is such a special place to be.”

Bruhn points out amenities such as the area’s custom-built homes, youth activities, parks, and neighborhood shopping district along Grand River. She also notes that the area “is really a park-like setting—it is very walkable, with mature trees and boulevards.”

The Rosedale Park Improvement Association, North Rosedale Park Civic Association, Grandmont Community Association, Grandmont #1 Improvement Association, and Huntington Home Lending are sponsoring the event with the support of the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp.

The North Rosedale Park Community House is located three blocks west of the Southfield Freeway and four blocks north of Grand River.

Source: Marsha Bruhn, Grandmont Rosedale Open House

Cityscape aims to educate Detroiters about national retailers

Ever wonder why there isn’t a Linens ‘N Things in your neighborhood? Cityscape Detroit is holding a forum to help Detroiters understand what national retailers look for in deciding where to open their stores — and hopefully, “learn what Detroit can do to get more national retailers,” says Andrew Koper, senior officer of the organization.

The forum will take place Monday, May 8 at 6 p.m. Patty Formosa of MapInfo — a corporation that utilizes Geographic Information Systems (GIS), databases, and demographics to advise retailers and restaurants where to locate — will make a presentation tailored to the Detroit market followed by questions and answers and discussion.

The event will be held in the Bernath Auditorium of the WSU’s Adamany Library, located at 5155 Gullen Mall. Non-members are requested to make a $7.50 donation.

Through this and other events, Cityscape aims “to support the community of people in Detroit who are interested in urban planning, architecture, preservation and ‘the built environment,’ and to attract people outside the city who are interested in urbanism…into [the] city,” according to Koper. For more information, visit www.cityscapedetroit.org.

Source: Andrew Koper, senior officer, Cityscape Detroit

City's second environmental forum to discuss quality of life issues

The City of Detroit is hosting a second Environmental Forum to identify actions that can be taken to address issues raised at the first forum held in March. The forum will be held on from 5-8 p.m., Wednesday, April 19, at the Northwest Activity Center at 18100 Meyers Road.

Air quality and illegal dumping ranked as priority issues based on analysis of the first forum. Other issues raised include recycling, water quality, abandoned buildings and lots, and green roofing.

Source: Lareina Reid, City of Detroit Department of Environmental Affairs

Bike, plant, clean to kick off spring

• Greening and Cleaning: Greening of Detroit’s spring planting season starts Saturday, April 8, at 9 a.m., volunteers will gather at the North Rosedale Park Community House, located at 18445 Scarsdale.

Fifty trees will be planted on Bretton and Lancashire Streets to replace trees lost to the emerald ash borer. “The neighborhood rallied to raise funds to cut the trees down; we’re continuing our re-planting efforts that we began last fall,” says Joe Sulak, Greening of Detroit’s urban forester.

Detroit Synergy’s Project Clean is starting off its spring season by committing volunteers to lend a hand at the North Rosedale planting. You can sign up to volunteer for this planting by contacting Detroit Synergy at clean@detroitsynergy.org or by calling the Greening of Detroit at 313-237-8733.

Plantings take place every Saturday through June 10. Click here for a full planting schedule that even includes weekday opportunities.

Biking: Also on Saturday, Detroit Synergy’s Detroit Bikes! Group is hosting its first city ride of the year. Cyclists will gather at the Millennium Bell in Grand Circus Park at 1:30 p.m. for a 8 to 9 mile ride around downtown, along the riverfront, to Belle Isle and back to Eastern Market for lunch and/or shopping.  The ride is at an easy pace of 8 to 12 mph.

Click here for more info. Please note that riders are required to wear helmets.

Sources: Joe Sulak, Greening of Detroit and Alexander Froelich, Detroit Bikes!

Greening of Detroit working to coordinate, link greenways projects

The Greening of Detroit, along with the city's Planning Commission and Planning and Development Department, is holding a series of events  to coordinate greenways planning throughout the city.

The Community Foundation for Southeastern Michigan’s Greenways Initiative has sparked "an explosion of excitement and enthusiasm for greenspaces,” says Greening of Detroit’s Ashley Atkinson. "Now a plan must be created to identify a unified vision and plan for linking greenways citywide.”

The Greening of Detroit is hosting an open house from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 14 at their office at 1418 Michigan Avenue. Any organization is invited to stop by to ensure that a copy of their greenway plan is included in the overall city inventory.

This inventory, combined with City of Detroit data, will be presented at two workshops at the Belle Isle Casino. The first, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 28, will present a preliminary greenways map. At this time, the public will be invited to identify missing projects and share ideas for future greenways.

The second workshop from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, March 29, is intended to allow city officials and other key stakeholders an opportunity to review and discuss the preliminary map.

Greenways currently being planned or under development in Detroit include the Corktown-Mexicantown Greenlink, Southwest Detroit-East Dearborn Greenway, Midtown Loop, Dequindre Cut, Hamtramck Trail, the Lyndon Greenway Project in Northwest Detroit, Conner Creek Greenway, and the Electric Avenue Greenway in Southwest Detroit.

Source: Ashley Atkinson, Greening of Detroit  

Meeting to finalize plans for Grand River makeover in Grandmont Rosedale

A kickoff meeting will finalize design plans for streetscaping program in the Grandmont Rosedale neighborhood on Feb. 16 at the Detroit Transportation Service Center.

The Michigan Department of Transportation awarded a $569,500 grant to enhance Grand River between Asbury Park and Evergreen, Grandmont Rosedale’s main commercial strip. Improvements will include planting about 180 trees, five new landscaped boulevard islands and six decorative crosswalks made of stamped and colored concrete.

“These additional enhancements, along with the new light poles we got from Detroit Public Lighting and MDOT’s repaving of Grand River, are going to create a whole new look for our commercial district – much more pedestrian friendly and much more attractive,” says Tom Goddeeris, executive director of the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp.

The community development group is also using money from a Michigan State Housing Development Authority grant to install black cast aluminum neighborhood identification signs along Grand River. The first nine signs were installed in December, and five more will be up by the end of February

The Parsons Transportation Group, an affiliate of Parsons Brinkerhoff, which drafted the traffic control plan for the Super Bowl, has been chosen as the design engineers for the Grand River streetscaping portion of the project.

The seven-lane thoroughfare carries high volumes of traffic both within the city and between Detroit and its northwestern suburbs. By adding landscaped traffic islands, Grand River will become more pedestrian-friendly, helping to reconnect both sides of the strip. The road also will serve as an attractive gateway to Detroit from the northwest.

Construction is scheduled for 2007.

Sources: Tom Goddeeris, executive director of GRDC; Pam Weinstein, special projects manager for GRDC

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