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The Lorax comes to a historic Woodbridge home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More affordable housing for Midtown announced

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Business is popping for these unconventional restaurants

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coming soon: Corktown, Woodbridge condominium development

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live Coal Gallery in Woodbridge getting renovations, reopening in September

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

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

Pie-Sci to open own pizzeria next to Woodbridge Pub

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

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

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

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

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

Grand River Station Castle Lofts will be mixed use commercial and residential space

The Grand River Station in Woodbriidge, built in 1901 and formerly used as a police station, boys' home and bomb squad headquarters at different points in time, will now be the home of the Castle Lofts, a new mixed-use commercial and residential property operated by the Detroit Legacy Group.
 
According to Brittany Washington, co-founder of the Detroit Legacy Group, renovations have more or less ongoing for the past 20 years. They are now putting on the finishing touches and readying the property for future residents.
 
The first floor will be dedicated to commercial space for small "virtual" corporations and start-up companies. The companies will share common areas including a conference area, office center (with copy and fax machines), restrooms, a common entrance, and a reception area that services them all.
 
The remaining floors will be the Castle Lofts, which range from one to four bedrooms and can be one, two, or three levels (multi-level units feature spiral staircases).
 
"There are 15 units and all are different models with no set floorplan," says Washington. Units feature a variety of features including Jacuzzi tubs (in some), hardwood floors, exposed brick walls, stainless steel GE appliances, recessed lighting, and a heated parking garage (for an additional cost).
 
Renovations on the rental units are almost complete and tours to prospective renters start this week. They hope to start moving people in by mid-March.
 
The Detroit Legacy Group, a youth-oriented development group, took control of the property in January and hope to use this property to serve their mission to "provide luxury housing, entertainment (options), and business (opportunities) in the heart of the Creative Corridor" in the Midtown and Woodbridge neighborhoods.
 
Source: Brittany Washington, Co-Founder of Detroit Legacy Group
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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

Shipping-container apts set to break ground in Woodbridge, Corktown

Detroit's first shipping container building is about to break ground in Corktown.

Three Squared (formerly Exceptional Green Living) plans to begin building a couple model units of the larger multi-family project destined for Woodbridge in early 2013. The two live-work units will be made of old shipping containers. The units will go up on Michigan Avenue next to the Grinnell Place Lofts.

"We will have this entire model center framed in four hours," says Leslie Horn, CEO of Three Squared.

Three Squared, and the six people working to make it happen, plans to build out two areas of multi-family shipping container developments in Corktown and Woodbridge. The Woodbridge development will go up on the southeast corner of Warren Avenue and Rosa Parks Boulevard. It will consist of 20 units ranging in size between 853 and 1,920 square feet.

The second development will consist of 6-12 units at Michigan Avenue in Corktown. The units will first be marketed as for-sale condos that Horn describes as "extremely competitive with market-rate sales." If condo sales don't work, Horn is ready to go forward with construction of the projects and marketing the developments as rentals.

Shipping container construction is considered one of the greenest forms of construction because it reuses so much material. Such construction has been proven not only viable across the U.S. and around the world but popular.

"We know they will be LEED certifiable, gold or maybe platinum," Horn says. "But we won't go for certification until we have our first units up. We want to prove our concept as soon as possible."

Source: Leslie Horn, CEO of Three Squared
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Lentine Group renovates Woodbridge building into office for 150 new jobs

The Lentine Group of businesses is making a homecoming of sorts to Detroit, bringing 150 new jobs to Woodbridge and expectations of another 50 hires.

"We just love being in the city," says Anthony Lentine, vice president of LeCom and Golden Dental Plans. "There is a real buzz in the city. It's a fun place to be."

The Lentine Group consists of LeCom Communications, LeCom Utility Contractors, Golden Dental Plans Marketing and UnionCircle.com. It has recently renovated a commercial building on Trumbull Avenue just north of I-94. That building is now the home to 100 jobs that were moved from the suburbs into the Motor City and another 50 hires. Lentine Group expects to hire another 50 people in the coming months.

"There is a lot of room there," Lentine says. "By the end of the year we expect to have 200 people working there."

Lentine's father built the structure on Trumbull in 1986 for an ambulance business the family once owned. Now the Lentine Group has invested $250,000 in renovating the building, including adding new fiberoptic lines in what Lentine describes as a "general upgrade to the property."

"It's really in an excellent location for our business," Lentine says. "It will reduce the travel time for our employees."

Source: Anthony Lentine, vice president of LeCom and Golden Dental Plans
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Icrontic turning iconic Victorian in Woodbridge into geek mansion

Detroit's newest tech company is moving to the Motor City by renovating one of the city's Victorian gems. The co-owners of Icrontic, a website that covers tech, gaming and Internet culture, have purchased the Sullivan House in Woodbridge and are in the early stages of renovating the 100-year-old mansion into its new headquarters.

"We have both been interested in Detroit for quite sometime," says Brian Ambrozy, a native Detroiter and co-owner and editor in chief of Icrontic. "The momentum has been building for a few years. The reason we chose Woodbridge is the momentum has been centered on the Midtown, Corktown and Woodbridge areas."

Ambrozy and Lincoln Russell, Icrontic's other co-owner and lead web developer, have been building the geek-lifestyle-oriented website community from Ambrozy's home him in Warren since the early 2000s. They are now turning the seven-room mansion at the corner of Calumet and Avery streets into not only Icrontic's new home but also the home for both of their families. They also plan to use the sprawling Victorian mansion as the base for Icrontic's events, which attract dozens of tech enthusiasts at a time.

"The place we stay has to have space so 30 of our friends can crash here," Ambrozy says.

And then there is the 'Wow' factor. That's what the new owners of the Sullivan House, named for Detroit coal magnate Daniel Sullivan, couldn't stop saying when they first saw it. There is so much 'wow' to the structure's fireplaces, pocket doors, wrap around porch and corner tower that it overcame the house's significant renovation needs. Russell says he always wanted a house with a turret so that he could look out at the neighborhood while he codes.

"I love the architecture," Russell says. "I was going to be a history teacher before I went into web development. I love finding out everything about this house."

The circa-1899 Victorian needs significant upgrades in its core systems, exterior and a growing list of other places. However, Ambrozy and Russell are aiming to do everything right the first time, such as installing a super-energy-efficient boiler system. The business partners expect to spend this year getting all of the core systems online, and then taking their time with the rest of the restoration to make sure it is done right. You can read more about their renovation experiences at Icrontic's new blog, IntoDetroit. Not to mention even more on the "wow" factor at Curbed Detroit. 

Source: Brian Ambrozy and Lincoln Russell, co-owners of Icrontic
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Grants, Kickstarter and a lot of hard work bring art park to Lincoln Street

Down at the newly-imagined Lincoln Street Art Park, bridging New Center and Woodbridge, the Oct. 29 dedication ceremony will be both a celebration of local funders and believers, and a chance to find out what lies ahead for one of the city's most exciting new community spaces.

The Lincoln Street Art Park is a collaborative project between Detroit Synergy, Recycle Here! and Midtown, Inc., funded with the help of a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (not to mention 44 art-lovers who ponied up Kickstarter funds to help make the park a possibility). This community space, designed by James Willer on land donated by Recycle Here!'s Matthew Naimi, will feature plenty of recycled and re-imagined materials, not to mention the works of Lincoln Street Art Park's founding artists -- Marianne Burrows, Amanda Box, John Suave, Lindsay Harnish, Sarah Gavie, Carl Oxley III, and graffiti artists Fel3000 and BrownBag -- from murals and paintings to sculptures, and even a garden of wishes.

"Lindsay Harnish did this installation/exhibition at Figment on Belle Isle this year, where she made this handmade paper with wildflower seeds in it, and invited people to write wishes on the paper," says Michelle DiMercurio of Detroit Synergy, who serves on the park planning team. "Then, for Figment, she strung them up on a tree, so she had a tree of wishes. So we took the wishes, and we actually planted them in the garden."

The dedication ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 29 kicks off at 4:30 p.m., though the bonfire will last till 10 p.m. Make sure to drop by for hot apple cider, s'mores and the inside scoop on plans for the park's second phase of development.

"It's a chance to do something permanent and have that be something that people can enjoy," says DiMercurio. "And it's a way to establish connections between the neighborhoods," she says, noting that the Lincoln Street Art Park is a "connection point" between many other local green spaces, like the Woodbridge Community Garden, New Center Park, Anna Scripps Park and Sprit of Hope. "It's connecting dots on the map that are about a mile and a half to two miles apart, so it makes this little chain of green spots throughout the neighborhoods."

Click here to RSVP to the dedication on Facebook.

Source: Michelle DiMercurio, Detroit Synergy
Writer: Ashley C. Woods



Detroit Bike Project seeks to link Detroit's greater downtown

Bike-sharing companies, which offer 24-hour access to bicycles for short trips around cities, have popped up in Europe, and along the East Coast; DC, Boston and New York City. If three CCS grads have their way, Detroit will be the next city to offer visitors and residents a network of two-wheeled transportation stations throughout the greater downtown district.

The Detroit Bike Project is the brainchild of Victor Quattrin, Stephanie Lucido and Jenna Przybycien. The three college friends have spent the past year working on the first phase of their plan, which they will submit to Hatch Detroit by the Sept. 1 contest deadline. No matter what happens with Hatch, the three say they're committed to launching the company within the next year.

Their plan involves building park-and-ride bike stations in the Renaissance Center, Wayne State's campus, the Detroit Institute of Arts, Woodbridge, New Center, Grand Circus Park, Corktown and Eastern Market, as a public transportation alternative "Sometimes, there's a little distance between the main veins of Detroit," says Quattrin. "Nothing is really that walkable," says Przybycien, comparing Detroit's layout to that of more densely-populated cities like New York. "If someone parks downtown and wants to head up to Wayne State, it takes a lot of time to get there. Bike sharing allows you to see a lot more of the city, and to get places quicker, because it's so spread out."

With a swipe of a credit card, customers will be able to rent a bike from any station and take a spin through the city -- then drop it off at the closest bike rental facility upon completion.

The Detroit Bike Project will operate as a nonprofit, and they hope the promise of increased mobility from residents and visitors throughout the greater downtown will inspire local companies to lend their support, through advertising or sponsoring a bike station on their properties. They're also committed to purchasing bikes made from recycled materials. The team estimates they'll need $137,000 in investment dollars to launch the first phase of the program.

Lucido says the team is encouraged by the immediate feedback, all of it positive, from the first 48 hours of their viral campaign, which launched last week. "In the first 48 hours, we had 500 page views on our website and 150 likes on Facebook," she says. "We know this can work."

"Our goal is to not let them down, and make things happen," Przybycien says.

Become a fan of the Detroit Bike Project on Facebook, and read more about the team's proposal here.

Sources: Jenna Przybycien, Victor Quattrin and Stephanie Lucido, co-founders, Detroit Bike Project
Writer: Ashley C. Woods

Kunthstalle Museum lights up Grand River Avenue

The only museum devoted exclusively to multimedia and light art exhibits in America opened its doors June 10 in the historic former Comerica Headquarters building on Grand River at Warren on the western edge of the Woodbridge neighborhood.

In Germany, where the term originates, a kunsthalle is more than just a gallery. Around the world, kunsthalles operate as exhibition halls and community centers for temporary art exhibits, unlike museums, which host permanent collections. And Kunsthalle Detroit director Tate Osten says the organization hopes to be more than just art space to the city.

"Why Detroit? Everything is ready to go here," Osten says, comparing Detroit's potential to that of New York City's Chelsea meatpacking district in the late 1990's. "These ideas, of Detroit becoming an international center for the arts, this is not my idea. It's been brewing. It's been up in the air. A lot of people have been talking, thinking and writing about it," she says. "And I thought, it's just time to act. Somebody has to take the first step. And the first step is to add something that's missing from Detroit's art scene."

A rotating gallery of multimedia projects, film and light installations is certainly something new to the area.  It's also an opportunity to see a dozen of the nation's preeminent multimedia artists, most of them more accustomed to solo exhibitions at museums around the world, sharing 4,000 sq. ft. of space and a collective theme. With the museum's first exhibition, Time & Place, Osten says, "We're trying to connect video and light-based arts to visual arts in general."

Osten says the Kunsthalle has received enthusiastic welcome from both art insiders and neighborhood residents.

"Everyone understands film," she says. "It's the most understood and accepted medium for the widest audiences."

She found the building, which is around 100 years old, driving around Detroit. "We don't want to be where things are already done," she says. "We want to bring art education to where they are most needed. And people have never seen anything like this. That's the idea."

Kunsthalle Detroit
is open Tuesday thru Saturday from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Source: Tate Osten, Director, Kunsthalle Detroit
Writer: Ashley C. Woods

DUST urban sustainability series kicks off

The greenhouse and garden at the corner of MLK and Trumbull in North Corktown known as the Spirit Farm will soon become ground zero for a series of intensive workshops dedicated to increasing knowledge and awareness about urban sustainability, food justice, community art and grassroots community building.

"The DUST workshops have grown out of what I've been doing the past few years with teenagers," says organizer Kate Devlin. "And I thought, wouldn't it be cool if adults came and camped out and learn about sustainability?"

The DUST: Detroit Urban Sustainability Training bills itself as "10 Days in Detroit learning urban sustainability from Detroiters living it." The activity list is an urbanist's dream. Spend a week and a half visiting Brother Nature Produce and the Heidelberg Project, checking out urban farms keeping everything from baby ducks and chickens to bees. Community art and the Green Garage. The curriculum will dip into deeper processes, depending on community wants, on subjects as broad and diverse as bioremediation, grey water systems and natural building techniques.

"It's really geared to bringing people from the outside of Detroit in to see what we're doing. As it grows, we pick what subjects we want to tackle, and pick a project we want to work on together," Devlin says.

The workshops begin June 1, June 20, July 10, Aug. 1 and Aug. 20. The cost is $1,000, and includes lodging at the Spirit Farm, food and the workshop series. There's a sliding scale for low-income people and a few scholarships are available, with preference to Detroiters and Michiganders.

"I don't think there's any city in America doing the stuff we're doing on this scale. And we're also learning at a really incredibly fast rate," Devlin says. "And Detroit's a cool place to be. We've got some of the coolest things and I think we're an under-appreciated city. We've got great music, we've got great art, and we've got the green thing going on."

Sign up for DUST or find out more here.

Source: Kate Devlin, Spirit Farm
Writer: Ashley C. Woods


Scripps Park partners turn to the web to fund their field of dreams

Scripps Park, located at the corner of Trumbull Street and Grand River Ave. in Woodbridge, could soon see new life as a community gathering space and site for local art installations.

The park, which is adjacent to the Douglass Branch of the Detroit Public Library, began its life as the gardens of George Booth, founder of both Cranbrook and the Detroit News. While redevelopment efforts in 2001 added benches, walking paths and shade pergola to the greenspace, the new framework envisions more synergy between the library and the park, as well as a performance stage, improved outdoor lighting and a toddler playscape.

Woodbridge resident and volunteer Mike Spence, who heads the Friends of Scripps Park, is helping Forward Arts raise $4,000 to donate to the Woodbridge Neighborhood Development Corporation. The WNDC, in council with Forward Arts, will bring two large scale art exhibitions to Scripps Park, as well as four youth art workshops this summer. Following the example of successful online campaigns like Robocop, these groups together have turned to the Web to help raise funds and awareness.

"Scripps Park is kind of the southern welcome mat of Woodbridge," Spence says. "It's a really important space to have maintained and look inviting for kids and people who are visiting the neighborhood."

He says they also hope to reach out to churches and community groups who can utilize the park for gatherings during the summer months. The Friends of Scripps Park will maintain a community events calendar for the park that will be houses at the Douglass Branch library, while providing residents with city materials if they wish to program an event.

"The interest has always been there," Spence says. "We're really trying to engage as many community stakeholders as possible to keep up the momentum."

On April 16, the Friends of Scripps Park will host their first park cleanup -- think litter and trash removal, lawn maintenance and wall repairs. You can also make a donation to the online campaign.

Source: Mike Spence, Friends of Scripps Park
Writer: Ashley C. Woods

Foodie Round-up: Neighborhood Noodle looks to incubate local foodie businesses

Mondays just got a lot more exciting around here, with the introduction of Neighborhood Noodle, a dinner pick-up joint operating out of a Woodbridge home one day a week.

Jess Daniel relocated to Detroit just this summer and is already hard at work shortening the local food chain. As someone that's been involved with cooking -- primarily Asian, as befits her half-Singaporean background and time spent in Cambodia -- as well as farming and local food policy efforts in her home state of California as well as Washington, D.C., she ended up in the 313 because of her interest in burgeoning food entrepreneurship and urban agriculture efforts here.

With grand plans that include the pursuit of a thesis at Michigan State University that will develop a business plan for a Detroit food incubator and the operation of one or more food trucks in the coming years, Daniel got started small and realistically, with a once-a-week noodle bowl enterprise that, in its first week on Aug. 23, served 92 plates of food and is already poised to double.

Neighborhood Noodle keeps it simple by offering two entrees with available add-ons and potentially one extra -- this past week, non-dairy coconut-tamarind ice cream from another local foodie start-up, Suddenly Sauer. Prices are reasonable, starting at $5 a serving, and all the while Daniel is closely monitoring her income and expenses with plans to extrapolate those numbers into a sustainable full-scale business.

Part of Daniel's goals in studying a legitimate food incubator in Detroit is to help other like-minded foodies, but it is also to prove that ideas like hers are legitimate -- even after labor, licensing and equipment expenses.

Neighborhood Noodle will take Labor Day, Sept. 6, off, but will return on Sept. 13. Order the week prior to ensure availability.

Source: Jess Daniel, Neighborhood Noodle
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


Woodbridge Pub welcomes spring with new patio, new menu

Woodbrigians now have a new outdoor space to pull up a chair and grab a bite or quaff a brew. Just in time for warmer weather, the Woodbridge Pub has a new patio facing Merrick St. that seats 16. The eight-by-30-foot space is enclosed with a wooden fence, and owner Jim Geary plans to build tables and chairs for the space. (He's leaning towards picnic tables at the moment.)

Geary wanted patio space for his restaurant since day one, but permit delays kept it from becoming a reality until now. "It's a neighborhood bar, a neighborhood restaurant, nestled in a neighborhood," he says, as to why he was determined to go through the bureaucratic process. "Being able to sit outside on a nice sunny day is a luxury, and (with that is the) potential for more profitability."

Woodbridge also recently changed up its menu to put an emphasis on fresh preparation and local sourcing, with products from Avalon International Breads, Mexicantown Bakery, R. Hirt Jr. and Detroit Wholesale Produce. The lunch menu is geared toward the business crowd -- i.e., less expensive and quicker -- and the dinner menu features bistro-style entrees. Plans are to change it up every season, so expect a new spring menu at the end of March.

With change -- no more pizza, for instance -- came some grumbling, but mostly praise. "The response to the new menu has been really strong," says Geary. "For the most part, once we explain to (customers) what we're doing, they're really happy -- it's fresher food, it's better for them and it tastes better than it would if it wasn't good for them."

Woodbridge Pub is at 5169 Trumbull. Call 313-833-2701.

Source: Jim Geary, Woodbridge Pub
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


Office of Foreclosure Prevention and Response marshals resources to keep Detroiters in their homes

The Detroit Office of Foreclosure Prevention and Response has a tough job: keeping residents in their homes during an unprecedented mortgage meltdown coupled with record unemployment. In the years 2005 to 2008, it is estimated that 51,000 1- to 4-unit residences completed the foreclosure process in the city. "It's not over yet," says Diane McCloskey, the initiative's director of community initiatives. "We're hoping we are through the worst."

To accomplish its goal the Office of Foreclosure, while working closely with banks and community funders like Skillman Foundation and Detroit LISC, aims to be the Detroit clearinghouse for all things foreclosure-related, meaning research, advocacy and relationship- and capacity-building for other community groups helping their residents avoid foreclosure.

A top priority is letting people know their options, which is where ForeclosureDetroit.org comes in. McCloskey says the website is intended to be user-friendly for people of varying levels of computer savviness. "Foreclosures affect people of all economic, racial and social backgrounds," she says. "People make assumptions that people know where to go (for help), but they have no idea where to reach out (to) -- we needed a way (to give them information) quietly, in the privacy of their own home...sitting at a friend's house or the library."

The site details resources for people in various places on the spectrum of foreclosure trouble -- from someone who hasn't even missed a mortgage payment yet to someone who has already lost their home.

Community meetings on the foreclosure issue are headed to various Detroit neighborhoods in the coming months, with planning underway for a larger summit before the end of the year.

Source: Diane McCloskey, Office of Foreclosure Prevention and Response
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


Detroit Dance Studio leaps onto Grand River

Detroit Dance Studio has opened its doors in a space at the 4731 Gallery building. Classes are geared for experienced adults and advanced youth. "It's for people who don't need to learn first, second and third positions," says owner and instructor Linda Ornsby. "It's for people that want to get in, get flexible again and learn some choreography."

Ornsby has been dancing since age three and, although she became an accountant, stayed active rehearsing and teaching. When she transferred to New York City, she was inspired by the quantity and quality of dance classes that were available there for adults. When she was laid off -- "Not even in Detroit, in New York!" she laughs -- she returned to Detroit.

In determining her next move, she came across 4731. "I found this building and the rent was affordable, so I said, "Why not?'" says Ornsby. "I've already been getting really great feedback."

DDS offers ballet, tap, modern and hip-hop classes. A schedule and prices are available here.

Source: Linda Ornsby, Detroit Dance Studio
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


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


Info sessions to inform developers, CDCs about neighborhood stabilization funds

Nine Detroit communities have been targeted for $47 million in neighborhood stabilization funds the the City of Detroit Planning and Development Department secured from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The areas were chosen for an abundance of vacant, abandoned, foreclosed buildings. Four information sessions will explain to the for profit and nonprofit development community how to access these funds for community redevelopment activities, like housing rehab, as well as financing opportunities.

Each session will cover:
  • An overview of Detroit’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program;

  • Information on Detroit’s nine targeted ares: Southwest Detroit (which takes in Midtown and Woodbridge in its borders), Central Woodward (which takes in much of New Center), Brightmoor, Grand River/Greenfield, East English Village, Osborn, North Central and Kettering;

  • An explanation of the competitive selection process to receive NSP funding; and

  • NSP financing mechanisms and opportunities, including gap funding for “ready to proceed” projects.

The sessions will be held 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Feb. 18-19 from  at the Northwest Activities Center, 18100 Meyers Rd at Curtis, Detroit. RSVPs are available on a first-come, first-served basis and must be confirmed in advance. Call 313 224-3461.

Source: Sylvia Crawford, City of Detroit
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


SDAT wrap-up: A look at what's next for AIA's sustainability audit

Austainability experts from around the country joined with local architects, planners and other interested parties in Midtown Detroit for an SDAT, or Sustainable Design Assessment Team, charette, recently.

Given estimates that Detroit will continue to shrink -- down to about 500,000 or 600,000 residents by 2025, they looked at what to do with 88 square miles of land that is essentially excess.

The group looked at developing the core 50 square miles of livable space  developed as a series of densely populated urban villages -- looking specifically at Southwest Detroit, Corktown, Downtown, Eastern Market, Woodbridge, Midtown and New Center -- each with housing, recreation, entertainment and work opportunities, and each linked to each other and the main urban core.

From this base, SDAT worked at making policy and design recommendations in five areas, all of which intersect and feed into the urban villages concept: community development, transportation and transit, open space, economic development and local food systems and community gardens.

Some points of note: Many ideas centered on one of the city's greatest assets, the Detroit River -- for example, "blueways" were discussed as a mode of transportation; the importance of incorporating wind turbines into Detroit's energy system was stressed; Eastern Market was lauded as "the best farmers market in the country" by Edwin Marty, the executive director of Jones Valley Urban Farm in Alabama; reduction of energy costs for individuals was stressed as a method of creating wealth; and local food production within each urban village node was recommended.

A strategy was developed for the creation of 75,000 jobs over 10 years by leveraging new green industries as well as existing employment leaders like health care.

Next step: implementation. Local SDAT leaders will begin working with organizations and institutions to move its strategies forward. Funding from Kresge Foundation has been secured to undergo this process, and State of Michigan Energy Department funds will be used to conduct energy audits and technical assistance.

For more information, check out Zachary and Associate's web site or contact Zachary at 313-831-6100 or WARM Training Center at 313-894-1030.

Source: Diane VanBuren Jones, WARM
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


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

Model D TV: Woodbridge Pub starts pouring, bringing neighbors together

Jim Geary, owner of the newly opened Woodbridge Pub, talks with Model D TV video producer/director Tom Hendrickson about his new neighborhood watering hole.

The Woodbridge Pub is at 5169 Trumbull at Merrick. Read more about Geary and his vision for the pub and the neighborhood here.




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


Thankful throngs delight in Woodbridge Pub

Hey, it takes time to get something right. And although the build-out of the Woodbridge Pub seems to have taken a while, it was worth the wait. At least, that seemed to be the consensus of people at the grand opening party this past weekend.

From the tin ceiling to the beautiful deep wood bar (that must have been shellacked about a dozen times), every detail of the pub has been meticulously thought out -- and executed -- by owner Jim Geary, who is elated to have his doors open to the neighborhood. "It feels like the best feeling in the world," he says.

The pub will be open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. The kitchen is open until 10 p.m. on weekdays and until midnight on Friday and Saturday. The menu is beyond-bar, with vegan harvest grain and portabella soup, a variety of salads and appetizers, pizza and pasta, sandwiches and burgers. The emphasis is on fresh and non-deep fried. Prices hover in the $7 to $9 range.

Woodbridge Pub is at 5169 Trumbull at Merrick. There is on-street parking and a huge bike rack.

Read more about Geary and his vision for the pub here.

Source: Jim Geary, Woodbridge Pub
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


D-Biz: Architectural Salvage Warehouse makes (re)use of history

Architectural Salvage Warehouse does exactly what its name implies: it salvages architectural elements from homes and trucks them to its warehouse where do-it-yourselfers can buy them for use in their own homes. But it's not just elements like molding and cornices: doors, flooring, windows, ceiling fans, appliances and cabinetry can all be found.

Executive director Tom Friesen says that the concept of reuse is catching on. While most of the homes they currently dismantle are in the suburbs, Wayne County's land bank is planning to contract with the organization via its blight elimination program. "They've asked us to be the lead for a pilot project to [establish] a green way of demolishing these homes," he says.

Not only is architectural salvage environmentally sustainable, it is an economic force as well. The Architectural Salvage Warehouse estimates that for each job demolition creates, salvage creates two to five times more.

The warehouse recently expanded its hours to six days a week, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. "We wanted to be more accessible to the community," says Freisen.

The warehouse is at 4885 15th Street, just off Grand River. Call 313-896-8333.

Source: Tom Friesen, ASW
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


Tour Detroit's urban farms and community gardens tomorrow evening

Here's your chance to tour Detroit's urban agriculture network -- the very one getting attention from the New York Times, Harper's and Oprah Magazine. The 11th Annual Detroit Agriculture Network (DAN) Tour of Urban Gardens and Farms is set for Wednesday, August 6.

There are three simultaneous tours that evening: bus tours will take participants either west or east, while a bike tour will focus on the Greater Downtown area. DAN's garden resource program has grown to include 320 backyard, 160 community and 40 school gardens -- that's an increase of 50% from last year -- and the tour aims to showcase ones that are unique, particularly productive or have an otherwise unique story to tell.

Interested? Last year's tour sold out, with 500 participants, so registration is required. Call 313-237-8736 to do so.

Registration begins at 5 p.m. at Katharine Ferguson Academy, 2750 Selden, and the tours will take off at 6 p.m. sharp. After the tour, enjoy a locally-grown feast. The tour cost, which is tax-deductible and will be used to grow DAN, is a sliding scale of $1 to $20.

Source: Lindsay Turpin, Garden Resource Program coordinator
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


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


Woodbridge Youth Center serves kids from 7 neighborhood schools

The Woodbridge Community Youth Center opened a year ago on W. Canfield, across the street from Woodbridge Estates, and has become the place for kids in the neighborhood to learn and play after school and on the weekends.

The center works with kids in a method that utilizes the Three L Model, which focuses on life management coaching, literacy support and leadership development. All classes and activities fall into one of the Triple A categories for arts, athletics and academics.

Sports teams fielded by WCYC include soccer, basketball, flag football and baseball. Adult health and wellness activities, including aerobics, dance and financial literacy courses, are in the works.

The center is located in what was originally Poe Elementary and is leasing the space from Detroit Public Schools.

Youth from seven local schools make use of WCYC, according to executive director Mike Wilson, who says that many of them walk to the facility from the immediate area. "That lets you know how great of a need there was," he says.

Nine community centers have closed in recent years in the greater Woodbridge area, including Wiegle, Brewster-Wheeler and St. Dominic's, so Wilson aims to fill in that gap. "We are in the ideal area to bring some revitalization to the community," he says.

WCYC is located at 1200 W. Canfield. Call 313-832-4770.

Source: Mike Wilson, WCYC
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


Woodbridge puts vision for neighborhood on display at 4731 gallery

The Woodbridge Neighborhood Development Corporation (WNDC) will kick off a neighborhood strategy exhibit called LEVERAGE: the Woodbridge Connection
on Friday May 2 from 6-8 p.m. at the 4731 Gallery. The next day, the gallery will host a fundraiser for the Woodbridge Springfest from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. featuring a silent auction, food, drink and music.

LEVERAGE will showcase the neighborhood framework plan that WNDC developed in collaboration with the with the Detroit Collaborative Design Center at the University of Detroit Mercy. It will remain installed at 4731 for the entire month of May.

"The idea is to make it very accessible to as wide a variety of people as possible," says WNDC executive director Graig Donnelly. "We want to take people through from the neighborhood that haven't been a part of process, potential funders, folks from banks. ... We can sit down with the display surrounding us."

Donnelly believes that the breadth and depth of LEVERAGE merits more than the typical single event. "This is really a vision of the future of the entire neighborhood," he says. "This is the framework for everything."

For more information, call 313-887-9699 or visit WoodbridgeNeighborhood.org.

Source: Graig Donnelly, WNDC
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


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


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


Woodbridge puts finishing touches on neighborhood development strategy

The Woodbridge Neighborhood Development Corp. is wrapping up work on its neighborhood development strategy in collaboration with University of Detroit Mercy's Detroit Collaborative Design Center. The organization prefers referring to their document as a "strategy" as opposed to a "master plan" so as to remain open to future possibilities.

The strategy has three goals: to create a place that celebrates arts and culture, a become a place of innovation and "taking risks" and a remain people-centered community.

After an exhaustive planning process that included stakeholder input, the creation of narratives and examination of current strengths, the organization selected three areas of focus.

The first is the Artists' Triangle, centered around the Grand River and Warren intersection, which will capitalize on the 4731 and 555 Galleries, the Architectural Salvage Warehouse and the building that WNDC hopes to turn into an incubator.

The NW Triangle will develop infill housing north of Merrick, first to be populated with WNDC's affordable sustainable replicable housing prototypes. Finally, the Trumbull Commercial Corridor will focus on attracting retail to, well, Trumbull.

The finishing touches are being put on the strategy documents, and WNDC will present them to the public this spring.

Source: Graig Donnelly and Ed Potas, WNDC
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


Learn about WSU's master plan at CAID on Feb. 25

The Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit will be the setting for a series of four speakers presented by Cityscape Detroit. The first, to take place Feb. 25 at 6:30 p.m., will feature James Sears, Wayne State University’s associate vice president for the office of facilities management and planning.

Sears will discuss the university's master plan, which guides its longterm development -- and influences Midtown as a whole. "This is an opportunity for communities, developers, banks and ordinary concerned citizens to see how the growth of a college can positively impact their lives and neighborhoods," said Cityscape's James Willer in an email.

Each of the following three presentations will examine neighborhoods that surround CAID's Woodbridge neighborhood.

The event is free and open to the public.

Source: Tanya Stephens and James Willer, Cityscape Detroit
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


Woodbridge Estates offers new models, home ownership grant

Woodbridge Estates is debuting two new condominium models on Feb. 16 and has announced a new HOPE VI grant program that can contribute up to $75,000 of a home or condo's purchase price.

The Supremes are three-bedroom townhouse units with ground-floor garages below two stories of living space. The 1,276-square-foot units are listed at $187,900 before applying any grant funds.

The Simms, which come in two- and three-bedroom styles, are side-by-side duplexes with garages in the rear and full basements. The before-grant asking price for the two-bedroom unit is $177,900.

The HOPE VI program contributes up to $75,000 towards the purchase price for a first-time home buyer; the grant amount is dependent on the applicant's income and the purchase price. Some lenders that Woodbridge Estates is working with are offering other incentives, such as contributions towards closing costs.

Todd Craft, the development's sales manager, says the neighborhood is attracting Wayne State University staff, Detroit Public Schools teachers and medical professionals from the Detroit Medical Center. One of the draws is that the neighborhood is mixed-income. "There are 28 condos, and only 12 of the 28 are in the HOPE VI program," he says. "Someone is getting the grant, and someone who doesn't need it is buying right next door."

All Woodbridge Estates homes feature R17 insulation, 30-year roofs, high-efficiency furnaces, central air and double-pane windows.

For more information about the new townhouses and other single-family homes that are available at Woodbridge Estates, visit the on-site sales office, which is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For more information, call 313-833-6360 or email woodbridgesales@gmail.com.

Source: Todd Craft, Woodbridge Estates
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


D-Biz: Patterson Dog & Cat Hospital known for its loving care, historic digs

Patterson Dog & Cat Hospital has seen many changes since it was founded downtown in 1844 by William Patterson. His son, Elijah, moved the practice to its current location on Grand River in 1905. "It was a large animal clinic -- this was the suburbs," says current proprietor Dr. Glynnes Graham. "Between 1905 and 1930, horses went away. It was remodeled in 1926 to a small animal clinic, and it's been a small animal clinic ever since."

Graham started working at Patterson's front desk at the age of 15 and bought the practice in 1986, the fifth veterinarian to own the clinic. Patterson focuses mainly on dogs and cats, but she confesses to seeing the occasional lizard. "They're kind of interesting," she says.

While aware that she is not in a position to charge the kinds of prices she could in say, Livonia, she keeps busy, averaging 450 client visits per month. Patterson also offers grooming and boarding, although she is scaling back that side of the business.

The urban location of her practice means that Graham sees things that her suburban counterparts may never experience, like scabies. She also chooses to inoculate dogs against leptospirosis. "My patients get some different things," she says. "I think it's because of the high dog density in Detroit and that dogs have been living here for a long, long time."

Graham knows that, for some of her clients, vet care is a non-essential expense. "My clients are great -- they are here because they really want to do what they can for their pet," she says.

Source: Dr. Glynnes Graham, Patterson Dog & Cat Hospital
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


Woodbridge development group launching arts/biz incubator with its new office space

A former bank building on Grand River at Warren will become a business and arts incubator and headquarters of the Woodbridge Neighborhood Development Corp.

The actual bank building, at about 2,500 square feet, fronts the corner and will be used by WNDC for office and event space.

To the rear is another 2,500 square feet of storefronts that will house the incubator. The idea is to provide five entrepreneurs with individual spaces, plus a common space that would be developed by WNDC.

Possible scenarios include an office incubator with common copy and fax machines, a culinary incubator with common kitchen space, a glass-blowing incubator with a common kiln and furnace or a fashion incubator with common sewing and manufacturing equipment.

"The common theme is that we would be looking to find funding to build out the common area and whitebox the storefronts," says WNDC executive director Graig Donnelly. "Then there is a relatively small investment someone would have to make to be able to leverage that into a business for themselves."

Donnelly says that what the project incubates is besides the point. "It's not as important as the overriding incubator principle. We see a lot of promise in that kind of approach," he says. "We're trying to give artists the opportunity to make a living at what they do." Ultimately, Donnelly hopes the bank building becomes a corner hub for Woodbridge's burgeoning arts district.

WNDC will be hosting events in the space to raise money for its redevelopment. Contact Rachel Klegon at 248-894-0139 or rcklegon@gmail.com for more information.

Source: Graig Donnelly, WNDC
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


Affordable housing prototype under development by UDM Design Center

The University of Detroit Mercy's Detroit Collaborative Design Center has secured a $60,000 grant from an anonymous national foundation to develop a unique housing prototype. The best part is, it will be priced to sell, says DCDC director Dan Pitera.

"You can actually do wonderful design and make it sustainable within the budget of affordable housing," Pitera says. He aims to keep construction costs of the prototypes at $100 per square foot.

Because it will first be built in Woodbridge, the design will be developed through a series of workshops with its partner organization, Woodbridge Neighborhood Development Corporation. Neighborhood residents and business owners will take part, as will contractors, bankers and other community development groups from around the city.

Two prototypes will be developed, one for new construction infill and one that details renovation procedures. The designs will use salvaged materials and employ green building techniques like rain water collection and other passive design considerations.

DCDC and WNDC are collaborating on the Quilted House, also made from salvaged materials and employing green building techniques. But the Quilted House will cost about $250,000. What makes this project different? Pitera says that size is one important consideration, but actual design is another. "We will be more restrained, but be more inventive through that restraint," he says.

After the design workshops are expected to be completed in January, construction drawings will be produced, which should take about six months. "The houses are intended to be reproducible, but each house will not be just the same as the last house," says Pitera. "It's sort of an IKEA version of mix and match construction drawings."

Source: Dan Pitera, UDM DCDC
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


For sale: one "quilted" Woodbridge house

Woodbridge Neighborhood Development Corporation, Architectural Salvage Warehouse of Detroit and the University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture have teamed up on a unique development. Quilted Space is a home that will be constructed using materials that ASWD salvaged from a house in Chicago.

Schematic design is complete, as are most pre-development activities; all the project needs is an owner to get started on construction.

The plan generated by UDM calls for a 1,640-square foot home on Avery St. to be built with green building techniques. A second-floor balcony can be enclosed to bump that number up to 1,715. WNDC's Graig Donnelly estimates the project cost to be in the $250,000 range. "It's a little more friendly to the environment," Donnelly says. "It's built a little bit more efficiently, so it's going to cost a little bit more."

Donnelly says that his organization has no intention to exclusively build houses in this price range. "We're interested in building houses across all spectrums," he says. "We want that diversity in our neighborhood."

One aspect of the Quilted Space project that Donnelly is excited about is its ability to be duplicated. "We can apply this concept to future buildings in our neighborhood," he says. "But we also want to influence the mindset behind housing in Detroit."

Donnelly anticipates that future replications of the concept would benefit from this initial experience, ultimately resulting in lower prices. "It always costs a little more the first time you try something," he says.

If a buyer is found within the next couple of months, ground could be broken in the spring. For information, contact Donnelly at 313-485-4100 or wndc.director@gmail.com.

Source: Graig Donnelly, WNDC
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh
Illustration courtesy of UDM School of Architecture


Woodbridge's Carriage House gallery stages first installation

On Saturday, the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit celebrated the opening of its new installation space, the Carriage House Gallery on Warren just west of Trumbull. CAID, along with help from neighborhood groups Woodbridge Neighborhood Development Corporation and Safe in Woodbridge, completed renovations including a new roof, fence installation and improvements to the front entrance.

It was CAID's conscious decision to make minimal changes to the building's appearance. Initially, the non-profit organization planned to white-box the interior, then decided against it. "We wanted to preserve the historical integrity of the building," says Aaron Timlin, CAID's executive director. "This allows the artists to play with the historic architectural elements of the building."

The two artists featured in the first installation, "What is a Carriage House?" have done just that. Jacque Liu framed and covered its exterior with plastic. Kim Faler worked with silicon on the interior, drawing attention to the structure of the mortar between the bricks.

Plans for future installations include one that uses all recyclable materials and another, by a group from New York, that will install sod from Cranbrook. Every installation, as stipulated by CAID, will include a community component such as an open house, presentation or gallery talk.

CAID will open another outpost in Southwest Detroit in September (look for more info on that in the coming weeks).

The gallery will be open Fridays and Saturdays between 4 and 6 p.m. For more information contact CAID at 313-899-CAID or e-mail info@carriagehousegallery.org.

Read more about the collaboration between WNDC, CAID and the property owner here.

Source: Aaron Timlin, CAID
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


26 more neighborhoods to receive NEZ tax breaks

On July 25, Detroit City Council approved the list of 26 neighborhoods -- including Woodbridge, West Village, Midtown and New Center -- that Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick recommended to receive Neighborhood Enterprise Zone tax cuts for fifteen years starting in 2008. Last year, another 25 became eligible. Deputy press secretary James Canning explains that legally, up to 15% of the city can be designated NEZ and that only homestead homeowners are eligible. This is why the neighborhoods that were selected were those with the "densest homestead homeowner properties, where the most people have the potential to benefit."

As for revenue loss to the city, Canning says, "We don't see it as a loss, we see it as an investment. It will give more people the potential to buy a house." The city estimates it will lose $6-8 million a year and has factored that into the budget. However, they estimated the same amount of losses for this year, from the first 25 neighborhoods, and have only seen $2 million in losses because almost 80% of the 10,000 households eligible for the savings have not turned in an application. [Editor's note: What?!? And yes, applications are still being accepted from last year's group.]

Eligible residents will be mailed applications next week, which must be filled out and returned to the Assessor's Office. The application requires that the homeowner agrees to perform $500 worth of home improvements to the property within three years. If no proof is rendered within that time frame, NEZ status will be rescinded. Savings to the homeowner range from 18-35% of annual property taxes, as determined by the assessor. Any homestead homeowner that purchased their home since 1997 is eligible to apply.

Maps and a list of neighborhoods from both years are available here. A third and final crop of neighborhoods will be recommended again next year.

Source: James Canning, City of Detroit
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


Los Pistoleros installs shelter made of recycled materials at CCeX

Local design collective Los Pistoleros has installed a self-contained shelter at Center for Creative eXchange in Woodbridge. The 8- by 12-foot structure – complete with porch, windows and cross-ventilation – was built out of a dismantled Brightmoor home in an attempt to demonstrate the viability of reused materials, including nails.

According to Los Pistoleros member and architect Brian Hurttienne, the shelter can theoretically be used as a "homeless shelter or an artist studio. It's essentially a temporary residence for someone."

The project came out of the Shrinking Cities exhibit at MOCAD. Hurttienne says, "It's the thought of using resources that Detroit has: a number of abandoned houses. Reinvent them, provide jobs and create shelters for people." He hopes the installation can "be an example of good stewardship."

Los Pistoleros envisions this project evolving into a business, similar to others across the country, that dismantles houses and reuses materials. "Not just toilets and cabinets," says Hurttienne, "but studs and joists. In Detroit and the suburbs, this may be a very viable industry."

Hurttienne credits Los Pistoleros cohort Phillip Cooley with leading the project and CCeX director Phaedra Robinson with giving it a home for the summer.

Source: Brian Hurttienne, Los Pistoleros
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


Clock Tower latest addition to Woodbridge Estates

The three remaining Jeffries Towers at the Woodbridge Estates development look remarkably different now that they are capped with mansard roofs and one -- as of April 10 -- is proudly sporting a four-sided clock tower visible for miles. Less obvious, but just as significant, are the other improvements made to the towers that include apartment expansion and renovation and the construction of covered entrances for each building.

Other components of the $97-million 47-acre Woodbridge Estates development continue to progress. All 15 single-family homes that were offered via the HOPE VI home-ownership grant program have been sold, and only 25 out of 32 market-rate ones remain.

As for townhouses, 16 are eligible for the HOPE VI program out of 54 total units.

The next construction phase will be a 16,000-square foot retail strip to be built just south of the towers, fronting on Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.

Source: Todd Craft, Woodbridge Estates
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


City tax incentives available for small businesses

The City of Detroit is promoting a program called "Owe Less to the IRS" to get the word out to existing and potential small businesses in Detroit about available tax incentives. Through both the Empowerment Zone (EZ) and Renewal Communities (RC) programs, businesses located in specific geographic areas are eligible for tax breaks ranging from $2,400 to millions of dollars.

The EZ has Southwest, Central and East areas and Renewal Communities is located in the northeast sector of the city. Maps are available -- for EZ, here and for RC, here.

Both programs include variations of the following programs:
  • employment credits, which gives a deduction to employers for employees they hire that live in the respective zone;
  • work opportunity tax credits, that are similar deductions for the hiring of employees aged 18-24 or others that have special employment needs;
  • an increased section 179 deduction on equipment that depreciates;
  • capital gains exclusions of up to 60% for small business stock investment;
  • academy bonds that can be issued at 0% interest to finance programs with public schools; and
  • facility bonds that can be issued at lower interest rates for construction costs.
The Empowerment Zone's Brian Watkins says, "We are making our push in tax time to put the word out, to get the word out. The city wants to save you real dollars on your tax burden." The ultimate goal of both programs is increased investment that leads to an increase in job opportunities for residents of the zones.

Both programs expire in 2009, although an extension is possible. For more information, call the Empowerment Zone at 313.224.1336 and Renewal Communities at 313.224.1281.

Sources: Brian Watkins, EZ and Loretta Rivers, RC
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


DivaGoove fashion design studio opens at 4731 Gallery

DivaGroove designer Dana Keaton has opened a first-floor studio at the 4731 Gallery  where, by appointment, customers can peruse her collections and discuss custom designs. Keaton will celebrate the opening of the new studio and debut her spring/summer 2007 collection on Mar. 10.

The highlight of the collection is a “urban couture” bikini top and skirt combo that took Keaton three months to complete. It is constructed of multiple animal prints, leathers and suedes.

Keaton’s studio, which will be open for the event, displays her clothing collections and the belts, purses and other accessories that she has designed. She describes the décor as “bohemian-style,” with lots of reds and other bright colors.

The evening begins with cocktails and an art exhibit of Keaton’s fashion-themed paintings displayed in 4731’s gallery space. A strolling fashion show will take place at 9 pm, and DJ Minx will spin from 10 pm-midnight. Admission is $5.

Source: Dana Keaton, DivaGroove


Local online company markets conscience capitalism

Nev Muftari, a local entrepreneur, has launched a “cause-marketing” company that will promote products sold for the benefit of a non-profit agency. The company, idUnited, is currently selling hooded sweatshirts screen-printed with designs by two local artists on the company's website. 25% of the sale of each sweatshirt will benefit Woodbridge’s 555 Gallery/Studio.

The designs, both printed on American Apparel sweatshirts, are adaptations and enhancements of the classic Old English D. The girl’s hoody was designed by local artist AJ Brackel and the guy’s by Wayne State University student Ric Breeze. idUnited will sell the sweatshirts, priced at $31 and $48 respectively, only until the end of Feb.

A tee-shirt version of the female design will be featured in Six Degrees Magazine in the month of March.

Muftari says that, in the future, what his site markets “may or may not be clothing” and agencies supported “may not always be in Detroit.” He is particularly interested in the issue of access to drinkable water in developing nations.

Source: Nev Muftari, idUnited
Image courtesy idUnited


City Council task force recommends recycling implementation by 2009

Detroit City Council’s Solid Waste Recycling/Environmental Waste Task Force has released a plan recommending termination of the use of the incinerator by 2009, at which time the city’s debt obligation to the Greater Detroit Recourse Recovery Authority will be fulfilled.

The task force presents several reasons for the city to stop utilizing the incinerator that include:
  • Cost. Detroit is paying an average of $150/ton for its garbage to be incinerated while other cities are paying much less.
  • Jobs. Recycling creates more local jobs than incineration or landfill. The task force estimates that more than 1,000 jobs can be created by implementing a recycling program with a 50% participation rate.
  • Health. Toxic emissions from the incinerator can lead to an increased rates in asthma and cancer.
  • Energy. Energy produced by the incinerator is not clean, renewable nor cost effective.
The plan ultimately recommends curbside recycling, encouragement of composting, an education campaign and incentives for waste reduction.

A copy of the plan can be downloaded from the Ecology Center’s website.

Source: Solid Waste Recycling/Environmental Waste Task Force Future Solid Waste Plan



$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


Bonnie Bridge Villa construction complete, hosting weekly open house

The first phase of Woodbridge’s Bonnie Bridge Villa, which consists of four attached townhouse units, is ready for purchase; one unit is pre-sold. The townhouses front Canfield just west of Trumbull and are being developed by Belmar Development Group and sold by Global Group GMAC Real Estate, who is hosting an open house on-site every Sunday from 1-4 p.m.

There are three designs available for purchase, all of which have 2 bedrooms and 2-1/2 baths:
  • The corner unit, the Alexandria, is the largest at 1,715 square-feet. There is a Canfield-facing 2-car garage and a finished lower level that can be converted to a third bedroom. It is priced at $214,900.
  • The condo that has sold is the Elise, at 1,547 square feet and $194,900. It also has the potential for a third lower-level bedroom but has a rear-facing 1-car garage and bay windows instead of the Alexandria’s turreted corner.
  • Two units, the Errington, are 1,414 square feet and feature a 2-car rear-facing garage. The Errington is priced at $174,900.
All 4 units have additional parking pads adjacent to the rear of the condo as well as balconies off the master bedrooms. Upon purchase and selection of finishes, buyers can be moved in within 30-60 days.

Future phases of Bonnie Bridge will front Trumbull and wrap around Lysander. Construction will include one more Alexandria, at the corner of Trumbull and Lysander, three more Elises and eight more Erringtons for a total of 16 condos.

A shared rear courtyard will also be part of the final development.

Source: Kevin Wobbe, Chandra Broadnax, GMAC


Detroit Fashion Incubator to hold grand opening Dec. 1

Detroit Fashion Incubator has opened its doors at 4737 Grand River in Woodbridge. DFI is intended to serve as a retail outlet for local designers and a home-base where they can interact to learn about the business side of fashion.

DFI will celebrate its grand opening on Dec. 1 with a charity fashion event. 25 pieces of clothing and accessories—signifying 25 years since the first reported case of HIV—will be auctioned off to benefit local HIV and AIDS charities. DJ Minx will perform and the auction will be hosted by Charles Pugh.

DFI is currently working with 15 local designers, but has plans to include emerging designers from around North America as well as overseas.

Source: Michael Wislon, DFI


Woodbridge Senior Apartments improve former Jeffries Projects

One very visible aspect—the transformation of the remaining Jeffries Projects towers to senior apartments—of the Woodbridge Estates development is currently underway. The interiors have been remodeled and exterior renovations, including construction of new entryways and parking lots as well as adding roof capping, have begun. Additionally, the building closest to the Lodge Freeway will soon feature a clock on all four faces of its roof.

Interior renovations of the buildings included expansion of the apartments; eight units on each floor were made into four. The Woodbridge Senior Apartments, as they are called, are leased to residents 55 and older.

The entire Woodbridge Estates development is 47 acres and estimated to be a $97 million investment. Other phases include the occupied Woodbridge Manor, a 98-unit senior-enhanced apartment complex and future development of a retail strip at the northwest corner of Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and the M-10 Service Drive. Tood Craft, community sales manager for the project, says the development has already received interest from University Foods and CVS.

Source: Todd Craft, Woodbridge Estates


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

Work under way for new pub in Woodbridge

A neighborhood pub and restaurant is in the works for Woodbridge. The Woodbridge Pub would occupy a small one-story commercial building at 5169 Trumbull Ave. at Merrick Street.

Jim Geary, 28, and his cousin are behind the project and are currently working to rezone the building as a commercial property. They hope to wrap up the rezoning process by the end of the winter and open the business sometime next summer.

Geary, a Woodbridge resident for six years, envisions a quiet, old-fashioned neighborhood pub that serves as a gathering place for local residents. It would serve food but not host live music. He hopes to capitalize on the building’s historic character, such as the original tin ceilings, and put large windows facing Trumbull.

The building has been vacant for about 15 years and was last occupied by a deli, Geary said. He believes the 1,900-square-foot structure was built in the 1920s and originally served as a pharmacy and general store.

Source: Jim Geary, co-owner of The Woodbridge Pub
Writer: Jon Zemke

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




Sign up for the first installment of Model D's Speaker Series

Model D is hosting a monthly morning speaker series at the Detroit Yacht Club that will let you hear from the people who are leading the city's transformation, and driving investment in up-and-coming areas. The DYC, Michigan State Housing Development Authority, and LaSalle Bank are co-sponsoring the series.

The first installment — "Creating Neighborhood Tipping Points" — will be Oct. 6 at the Detroit Yacht Club on Belle Isle (click here for a map and directions).

The event will feature two neighborhoods on the comeback — Woodbridge and Corktown — and two developers whose investments and vision have made these areas into destinations. The speakers are Phillip Cooley of Slow's  Bar BQ and Ric Geyer of 4731 Gallery.

The event is free. Registration starts at 8 a.m., the speakers start at 8:30 a.m., and the program will last about an hour. Seating is limited, and an RSVP is required. Click here now to reserve a space.

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


Tour de Troit ready to roll for 5th year of city bike ride

The Fifth Annual Tour de Troit is set for Saturday, Sept. 23, 2006; anyone who registers before Sept. 12 receives a free t-shirt.

Cyclists will complete the 35-mile ride at a leisurely pace of 10-12 mph, escorted by the Detroit Police Department Tactical Services Division. Sights will include downtown, Midtown, Woodbridge, New Center, Boston Edison, Arden Park, Lasalle Gardens and Southwest Detroit including W. Vernor Highway, Patton Park, Woodmere Cemetery and Clark Park. There will be a rest stop at historic Fort Wayne.

After the ride, cyclists will relax in Roosevelt Park, the start/finish point, and enjoy Slow’s Bar-B-Q, Oktoberfest Beer from Elite Brands of Detroit and music. Every rider will be entered into a raffle to win a free set of Maxxis bike tires.

The Tour de Troit is hosted by Greater Corktown Development Corp. as a fundraiser for the Corktown-Mexicantown Greenlink, a series of bike and pedestrian routes intended to link the neighborhoods together and to the Detroit River.

Last year, more than 200 cyclists participated, with organizers planning for 250 this year. For more info or to register online, go to www.corktowndetroit.org.

Source: Greater Corktown Development Corp.


Woodbridge carriage house becoming space for community, art

The Woodbridge Neighborhood Development Corp. and Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit are renovating a historic Woodbridge carriage house on Warren just west of Trumbull. The home will be used for a community kiosk, exterior art installations and micro-gallery.

The owners of the carriage house, long-time Woodbridge residents, are leasing the structure to WNDC and CAID at a very low rate. In June, neighborhood volunteers teamed up with volunteers from Deloitte and Touche to replace the building's roof and clean it out.  

The exterior of the building will be utilized as a community meeting spot, "a Kern Clock type of place," says WNDC’s Edward Potas. There are plans to install a wayfinding map and there will be a place for event flyers to be posted. 

The carriage house will also have a 2-by-18-foot template for a rotating art installation that will be visible from Wayne State’s campus. Potas explains, "It's like a stripe up the side of the building with sight lines down Warren."

CAID will utilize the interior of the building for short-term shows, and is considering using the former attic woodshop for temporary studio space. “We could put a artist up there for a week, then show that work in the space,” says Aaron Timlin of CAID. CAID hopes to have completed sufficient interior renovations in time to offer tours during the Sep. 23 opening of their show entitled Shelter.  

Source: Edward Potas, WNDC and Aaron Timlin, CAID

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.




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

Art show in Woodbridge to benefit Detroit Architectural Salvage, 555 and 4731 galleries

Three organizations that are key to rebuilding and reinvigorating Woodbridge have collaborated on an art show/benefit.

"Urban Alchemy: Artifacts Transformation" will feature work from more than two-dozen local artists from June 9-24. The event will benefit the Architectural Salvage Warehouse of Detroit, 4731 Gallery and 555 Gallery and Studios.

The show, to be exhibited at both galleries (located on Grand River near Warren), will feature work from city-inspired artists, most of who work with found or salvaged objects. There will be a live auction on Friday, June 9, at which more than 15 doors transformed by artists will be auctioned from 6-10 p.m. Tickets for the preview are $75. Call (313) 515-0399 for more info.

The public opening is free, family friendly and will be from 3-10 p.m., Saturday, June 10, at both galleries. For more information, visit www.urban-alchemy.org

Source: Marsha Stopa, Urban Alchemy

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


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

First six Bonnie Bridge Villa townhomes nearly complete in Woodbridge

The first six units of the Bonnie Bridge Villa townhouse development are nearly complete, with the model set to open within the month. Buyers can expect to move in as early as August of this year. The second phase of 10 townhouses will begin construction as soon as the model is complete, with completion targeted for early 2007.

Bonnie Bridge townhouses will sell in the low-mid $200,000s. “We’re looking at offering quite a few incentives to buyers such as closing cost assistance,” says Chandra Broadnax of GMAC Real Estate. The project’s developer is Belmar.

Source: Chandra Broadnax, GMAC Real Estate

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


Investment leaders get tour of up-and-coming neighborhoods

Today, April 11, New Detroit is orchestrating a Community Investment Tour of Woodbridge Estates, Core City Neighborhoods and Corktown that will include neighborhood organizations, bankers and corporate leaders. Dalton Roberson, program associate in economic equity for New Detroit, explains his group’s goal by saying, “We want to be that organization that brings a variety of entities together that will create the ‘perfect storm’ that will result in an increase of development and investment for the city of Detroit.”

New Detroit hosts about three such tours a year. Past attendees include bank presidents and corporate leaders such as Dave Bing. Each neighborhood tour is le    d by a representative from an organization facilitating development in that particular neighborhood. Roberson says, “We really encourage these [organizations] to talk about what they’ve done and what they still want to do and identify what [the tour participants] can do to make this happen.”

The morning starts off at the Village of Woodbridge Manor with presentations from City of Detroit Planning and Development Department and New Detroit before proceeding on to bus tours and development walk-throughs of the three neighborhoods. Roberson notes how impressed participants often are with the developments they tour. “The quality of homes being built is tremendous. We want to facilitate relationships that can lead to banks increasing their loan programs and entrepreneurs identifying amenities that the community needs.”

Source: Dalton Roberson, New Detroit

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  

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