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The Commons laundromat and cafe on east side to host grand opening gala

We've been following the development of The Commons, a combination coffee shop, laundromat, and community space on Mack Avenue for a long time. Last year, we wrote about the community-based development group, MACC Development, spearheading the project and its young leader, Ezekiel Harris. 

Earlier this month, The Commons finally opened. The $1.5 million dollar renovation took a long time to complete, but there's even more planned. 

For starters, MACC Development is hosting a grand opening celebration on Saturday, May 12 from 2 to 7 p.m. The family-friendly event will largely be held in the adjacent lot and park, which Harris hopes will one day resemble New Center Park. This event will act as a way to activate the space that will eventually accommodate concerts, film screenings, and more. 

The community space, as well as offices upstairs, are available for rent. The laundromat has 16 coin-operated washers and dryers. 

Harris believes that this development will spur more along the Mack corridor, which hasn't had much economic activity in recent years.

As he said in our article from last year, "The strategy behind this corridor plan was to bring the different churches and organizations and business leaders in our common area together to dream a little bit about what could this corridor look like, recognizing that we weren't going to necessarily get back to having businesses on every lot, but there was something more that could be done." 

The Commons is located no 7900 Mack Ave. RSVP to the grand opening here

Empowerment Plan starts selling new line of coats, preps for move to larger West Village facility

It started as a way to help Detroit's homeless population. And now, even Founder and CEO Veronika Scott is surprised by the ways that her non-profit organization the Empowerment Plan continues to grow.

Empowerment Plan has recently debuted a retail clothing line, Maxwell Detroit. It's also planning on moving into a larger facility in the West Village. But its mission to address the challenges of generational poverty through employment remains the same. It just has new tools in its belt to do so.

Scott started the Empowerment Plan in 2012. A student at College for Creative Studies, Scott designed the EMPWR Coat, a water-resistant jacket that transforms into a sleeping bag. She employs people recruited from local shelters, who manufacture the coats to be donated back to the homeless population.

What's surprised Scott has been consumers' interests in the coats. So, Scott and her team have designed both a men's and women's coat to go along with the original sleeping bag design. All three products are now for sale via the Empowerment Plan's new line of clothing, Maxwell Detroit.

"The revenue earned from sales goes back into Empowerment Plan," Scott says. "Maxwell is a tool to continue the mission-based work that we're doing."

Scott hires people from local shelters, and enrolls them in a two-year "stepping stone" employment program. During that time, Empowerment Plan prepares their employees for life after coat manufacturing. According to the organization, since beginning in 2012, all 45 of the Empowerment Plan employees have gone on to find permanent housing.

The organization has also grown to the point of needing a new facility. This January, Empowerment Plan will leave its longtime space in Corktown's Ponyride maker space and move into its own 21,000 sq. ft. building in the West Village.

Empowerment runs on-site GED training, financial literacy programs, and other workshops, and the new building will allow the organization to dedicate an entire classroom to the subjects.

Maxwell Detroit coats are available for purchase via their website, here. Scott provided a discount code, which is mw2017. Donations and sponsorships can be made at the Empowerment Plan website, here.

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

Corktown-based bicycle shop to open second location in West Village

Metropolis Cycles, the Corktown bicycle shop that opened in 2015, is opening a second storefront in the West Village neighborhood. Metropolis Cycles East will offer new and used bikes, locks, tires, and other accessories, and a full service repair facility.

While construction at the shop's permanent home of 8116 Kercheval St. won't be completed until this summer, a pop-up location at 8044 Kercheval St. will serve as the temporary location of Metropolis, a seasonal business that needs to be open in time for the warmth of spring. They'll move into the permanent location later this year.

A kick-off party for Metropolis Cycles East is being held this Friday, March 10, from 7 to 11 p.m. Snacks and refreshments will be provided by the nearby Craft Work restaurant. The shop will assume its regular hours of operation11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Wednesday through Sundaythe following Saturday, March 11.

Later in the year on May 6, Metropolis will throw a two year anniversary party at their original Corktown location, planning a bike race, bike-related tattoos, and music for the celebration.

When co-owners Shayne O'Keefe and Ted Sliwinski first decided to open the original shop, O'Keefe says he recognized a need for more bike shops in Detroit. The second location is the culmination of that idea.

A number of factors went into the new shop's location, says O'Keefe, who lives in the nearby Poletown neighborhood. West Village is located near Belle Isle Park, a major destination for the region's bicyclists. It's also become a popular spot for new businesses and residential developments opening outside of greater downtown.

"We're trying to go where the people are but also far enough away from other bike-related businesses," says O'Keefe. "Between downtown and the Grosse Pointes, there's a seven mile gap between bike shops and there's a lot of people in that gap. We have a lot of respect for others in the bike business and don't want to overlap."

The Metropolis Cycles East pop-up is located at 8044 Kercheval St. in Detroit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cycling, sushi, and more: June development news round-up

It's been another busy month for development news in the city. Let's catch up on some of the biggest stories from the past four weeks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Visit motorcitymatch.com for details on how to apply.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Retail Bootcamp complete, Detroit startups work to establish permanent locations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Placemaking projects continue popping up outside greater downtown

Seven placemaking projects, one for each city council district, are being given a boost by Community Development Advocates of Detroit. With the financial support of the Kresge Foundation, CDAD is spreading $42,000 across the city, granting the money to projects addressing the needs and challenges of their neighborhoods.
District 1: In Brightmoor, a house is being converted to provide meeting space for the community. Outside, a learning area will feature native plants, walking tours, and an outdoor seating area with a fire pit.

District 2: A portable artists tent is being installed in Palmer Park, where it's hoped that the addition will stimulate arts programming beyond the Palmer Park Arts Fair.

District 3: Renovations and improvements are planned for a pocket park on Keating Street near East State Fair in the Lindale Gardens neighborhood.

District 4: A mini-fitness park is to be built in an East English Village vacant lot, featuring stationary fitness equipment and a small track.

District 5: At the Peace Zone in District 5, improved seating and murals will be added to the existing area. It is part of the Peace Zones for Life project, which aims to counter neighborhood violence.

District 6: At Garage Cultural, a community arts hub at Livernois and Otis, enhancements to the pre-existing space include a mini-skate park, community stage, market, and outdoor movie area.

District 7: Littlefield Playfield in D7 will receive markers and sculptures acknowledging the neighborhood groups that work to maintain and improve the park.

Both CDAD and Kresge stress the importance of investing in the neighborhoods outside of the city core. CDAD executive director Sarida Scott says that it's projects like these that keep Detroit strong and vibrant. Bryan Hogle, Kresge Foundation program officer, agrees.

"For the city to succeed, neighborhoods have to succeed."

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

West Village pop-up store to promote time spent outdoors in the city

After making an online debut, a Detroit-based outdoor equipment and lifestyle store is set to debut as a pop-up on Saturday, July 25, at the Red Hook coffee shop in the city's West Village neighborhood.

MOR & Co. is the outdoor store for city folk, says founder Sarah White, a West Village resident. The products she carries aren't meant for ambitious excursions far outside the city center, but rather for stimulating outdoor experiences on a day-to-day basis. Be it gardening or biking, recreation in the backyard or a city park, White proposes that small outdoor experiences are as important as the big ones. It's important, she says, to break away from the screens of devices we use at work and at home by being pro-active about spending time outside. She hopes that MOR & Co. will help Detroiters do just that.

White's goal is to open a brick-and-mortar location some time next year. For now, she plans to build a customer base through a series of pop-ups and an ever-present online store. At Red Hook, she'll be selling summer wares like hammocks, picnic blankets, and marshmallow roasting sticks. She's also been collaborating with other Detroit businesses and will be carrying custom-made citronella candles from Detroit Rose Candle Co. and s'more packages from the Detroit Marshmallow Company. Future collaborations include custom picnic-inspired drink mixers from Wolf Moon and tree swings from Reclaim Detroit.

A Grosse Ile-native, Sarah returned to Michigan with an MBA in Design Strategy after graduating from the California College of the Arts in 2014. In school, she studied a triple bottom line approach to business, an idea that promotes creating positive impact through people and planet in addition to profits. She's currently searching for community partners to promote outdoor activities throughout the city. It's also a program very much focused on the study of design, something that affects nearly every aspect of the way White is approaching her business.

"When I look at the design of something, it's not just what does it look like, but how does it work, where did it come from, who made it, what's their story, how am I going to sell it, what does someone do with it after it's done being used? All of those are important components," says White.

White hopes to open a permanent location by next year--she's thinking either West Village or Eastern Market as potential destinations. It's pop-ups in the mean time, which she considers a valuable opportunity to gather feedback from the community. In addition to the pop-up at Red Hook, she'll be taking part in the West Village better block initiative Aug. 1.

Red Hook Detroit is located at 8025 Agnes St. MOR & Co. will operate out of the shop from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 25.

Source: Sarah White, founder of MOR & Co.
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Gabriel Hall to bring New Orleans vibe to West Village

A music venue, bar, restaurant, museum, and music education advocacy group are all coming to West Village -- and they'll all be under the same roof. If all goes to plan, Dameon Gabriel and his business partner will have opened Gabriel Hall by the end of the summer of 2016 in an old three-story house with a ground floor storefront located at the intersection of Kercheval and Van Dyke. Like Gabriel himself, Gabriel Hall is a unique blend of New Orleans and Detroit, or, as he puts it, New Orleans blood with a Detroit heart.

Dameon comes from New Orleans and Detroit music royalty. A family that was at the very beginnings of New Orleans jazz, the Gabriels moved to Detroit in the 1940s and have been carrying on that legacy ever since. Today, Dameon leads the Gabriel Brass Band. His business partner, a Louisiana-born chef, is crafting a menu that draws inspiration from both New Orleans and Detroit.

Finalists in last year's Hatch Detroit contest, Gabriel and his team have a big vision for the place, which they purchased at the end of April. The first floor will house the bar, restaurant, and music venue.

"I love to create an experience. If you have a good time with friends, food, and music, you always remember that," says Gabriel. "I always had that growing up where I would be with my uncles and my dad and everything would turn into a concert and everybody's partying and dancing and everybody's playing an instrument in the house."

Upstairs will serve as a museum, chronicling the deep history of the Gabriel family and New Orleans and Detroit jazz. It will also serve as the headquarters of an already-existing nonprofit dedicated to improving music education conditions in city schools. The group was recently involved in donating 21 instruments to Detroit Public Schools students.

It's a change of intended destinations for the Gabriel Hall team, having originally planned on renting a storefront in Woodbridge. And while Gabriel stresses a deep affection for Woodbridge, the opportunity to own a building proved too valuable to pass up. Gabriel says that the West Village neighborhood and association is thrilled to have the business moving in, already offering to organize volunteer clean-up days for the site. It's a building that has been vacant for quite a while and will require significant effort and investment to become white box-ready.

Gabriel and his business partner have hired the Detroit firm Virtuoso Design+Build to come up with Gabriel Hall's look. The firm is responsible for designing UFO Factory in Corktown and a Big Sean-donated recording studio at Cass Tech. He says they're working on something that evokes that vintage New Orleans flair without looking old and stuck in time.

Dameon hopes to open Gabriel Hall by the end of the summer of 2016. It's to be located at 8002 Kercheval Ave.

Source: Dameon Gabriel, founder and CEO of Gabriel Hall
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Detroit leads pack with 25 finalists for Knight Cities Challenge awards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Businesses work together to draw holiday shoppers to the Villages

Nine businesses throughout Detroit's Villages neighborhoods are making a play for holiday shoppers with the introduction of a shopping passport. Completion of the passport enters shoppers into a January lottery where winners will be chosen at random and receive gift certificates to participating businesses.

Most of the nine businesses taking part in the Villages Passport are relatively new and located in West Village, reflecting the boom in small business development in that neighborhood. The businesses are offering a number of specials throughout the shopping season, including food and drink specials at Craft Work and free gift-wrapping at Sparkle in the Village. Shoppers get their passports stamped as they visit each store throughout the month of December.

Businesses participating in the Villages Passport:The Villages Passport came as a result of September's Detroit Design Festival. According to Brian Hurttienne, executive director of the Villages CDC, a number of the shops participating in DDF experienced such great business during the event that they expressed a desire for organizing something for the holidays.

"There are more and more businesses wanting to do things together. There's a comradery happening," says Hurttienne. "It really shows that this is a true neighborhood."

On Saturday, December 13, the Villages will host Shop Detroit, a holiday shopping booster program started by the Detroit branch of the NAACP in 1988. Hurttienne is currently recruiting several pop-up businesses to complement the event.

The Villages Passports can be picked up and, once completed, returned at any of the nine participating businesses throughout the month of December.

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

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

After a three-year fight, West Village community garden buys land from city

The group behind West Village community garden Shipherd Greens has successfully purchased its land from the city of Detroit. Though the $1,050 price for the land may seem modest, it's a big victory for Shipherd Greens, LLC, which was formed with the purpose of purchasing the lots. Efforts to purchase the land began three years ago and the group's offers have been rejected by the city a number of times since.

Shipherd Greens is located at the corner of Shipherd and Agnes streets in West Village. The all-organic community garden produces a range of produce, including kale, tomatoes, collards, apples, and grapes.

Though the city had no issue with Shipherd Greens operating the two city lots as a community garden through the Adopt-A-Lot program, it took three years of pushing by the group before the city sold them the land. One of the lead organizers of the garden, Rosie Sharp, says they were originally turned down because of zoning issues. After enlisting the help of some local political leaders to pressure the Planning and Development Department and personally calling every other week, Sharp and her community now own the land they've been caring for since Lisa Richter first started the garden in 2006.

The prospect of losing the land was a major driver for Sharp. Having moved to West Village from New York City in 2009, Sharp says the experience of watching her former New York City neighborhood quickly gentrify kept her motivated. While she thinks all of the businesses opening in West Village are great for the neighborhood, Sharp doesn't want to see the community garden get swallowed up by the recent surge in development there.

"Sometimes you worry," says Sharp. "With urban agriculture, it can be tempting for people to reduce it to a monetary value, but the real value is kind of hidden. It's about spending time outside with your community and being connected to the earth."

It's important, she says, that the city recognizes the people who have been caring for their neighborhoods since before the current wave of development. For example, at $1,050 for two lots, the city charged Shipherd Greens nearly twice per lot compared to what Hantz Woodlands paid for a lot, which was around $300 each.

As a result of her experience, Sharp is organizing a series of Land Forum workshops where city residents can learn how to purchase vacant land in Detroit. The third Land Forum Workshop is from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 18 at Repair the World Detroit, 2701 Bagley St. 

Source: Rosie Sharp, a lead organizer of Shipherd Greens
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Twenty new 'Little Free Libraries' sprout up across Detroit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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West Village gains a record store, community hub with Paramita Sound

Andrey Douthard curates the hip hop, jazz, and indie pop/rock records at Paramita Sound. He also owns the shop, which just celebrated its grand opening Saturday, Oct. 25. His collaborators -- he doesn't call them employees, but collaborators -- curate other genres. Anna Atanassova selects the punk, metal, and hardcore records and also acts as social media and events coordinator. Peter Croce curates the dance records, including techno, house, disco, boogie, and reggae, while also acting as resident DJ and promoter. There's Vicente Elizondo, who, besides being store clerk, specializes in soul and funk 45s and tapes. And Zach Poley contributes to the hip hop curation, acting as Paramita's art director, too.

Douthard has assembled this team to help make his dream a reality, to open a record store and pursue a career in the music business. In addition to utilizing his network to help make Paramita hum, Douthard has taken advantage of the many resources designed to nurture a new wave of Detroit entrepreneurs. He took classes at D:Hive Build -- now the Build Institute -- and enrolled at TechTown's Retail Boot Camp. He's benefited from TechTown's SWOT City program, too.

Even his storefront, located at 1417 Van Dyke St., was the result of a collaboration between Practice Space, REVOLVE Detroit, and the Villages CDC. Douthard won their Activate: 1417 Van Dyke contest launched last March, which granted him access to the space.

"All these things came together and worked together," says Douthard. "For someone that hasn't started a business before, the guidance is priceless. It really does take a village."

Unlike a lot of the record stores in Detroit, which mostly feature used records, Douthard and his crew focus on new records. It's a finely curated store. Aiming for an inventory of 500 to 600 records, it's a quality over quantity approach.

For now, Paramita is a pop-up. But Douthard has every intention on seeing his record store stay open through his January 10, 2015 lease. Until then, Paramita Sound will operate as much as a community space as it does a record store. Tuesdays are BYO nights, where Douthard invites the public to bring their friends, records, and beer down to the West Village store. Peter Croce will be teaching turntable mixing every Wednesday. On Thursdays, guest DJs will lead listening parties. And Sundays, from noon to 5 p.m., there will be record swaps.

"The records are how we pay the bills," says Douthard. "But really it's about opening up a dialog."

Source: Andrey Douthard, owner of Paramita Sound
Photos: Matt Chung, D:hive Detroit

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Pop-up biergarten to occur in West Village Saturday, September 27

The West Village Biergarten is popping up Saturday, September 27. Hatch Detroit, the Villages of Detroit, West Village Association, Detroit City Distillery, and the Detroit Lions are teaming together to offer a day's worth of food, music, and craft beer, activating an empty lot on Van Dyke Avenue, adjacent to West Village Manor. The party runs from noon to 8 p.m.

The biergarten is a combination of events. Along with being one of West Village's contributions to the Detroit Design Festival, it's also an opportunity for Hatch Detroit to celebrate the recent work they've completed in West Village. Through their neighborhood initiatives program with the Detroit Lions, Hatch helped install new signage for West Village businesses and replace old gas lights with LEDs.

Many Hatch alums will be contributing to the pop-up. Algeria Pops, who made it to the top ten list in this year's Hatch contest, will be selling their Mexican ice pops. Gabriel Hall, a top four finalist in this year's Hatch contest, will be making their New Orleans food and playing their New Orleans music -- Gabriel Hall owner Dameon Gabriel leads the Gabriel Brass Band. Sister Pie, winner of this year's Hatch grand prize, will be hosting a pop-up at their own soon-to-be location at Parker and Kercheval.

"We try and keep track of our alums and see what they're doing on their own," says Hatch's executive director Vittoria Katanski. "We use them for events as much as we can."

Michigan beers including selections from Short's, Founders, Bell's, and New Holland will be on tap and spirits from the recently-opened Detroit City Distillery, located in Eastern Market, will be on hand. Cornhole, a popular tailgating game involving the tossing of bean bags into wooden boxes, will be set up as well.

Around the corner, new West Village coffee shop The Red Hook is planning a soft opening that same weekend.

Source: Vittoria Katanski, executive director of Hatch Detroit
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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It's happening: The Red Hook coffee shop is set to open in West Village

It's happening this time. It really is. After being forced to push back opening date after opening date, the Red Hook is finally set to open in West Village.

The much-anticipated Detroit location of the popular Ferndale coffee shop will be serving customers Friday and Saturday, September 26-27, during a soft opening that coincides with a number of events happening throughout the city's Villages neighborhoods. The Red Hook will officially be open for business the following week.

The Red Hook's West Village location, 8025 Agnes St. (next door to Craft Work), has been two years in the making. Owner and operator Sandi Heaselgrave, who invested close to $100,000 to build out the space and bring everything up to code, says the longest process was the six months it took for the city's Board of Zoning Appeals to approve the space being re-zoned from retail.

"It's been kind of a roller coaster, though it's been a great experience to learn how to open a business in the city of Detroit," says Heaselgrave. "It's a very lengthy process."

Heaselgrave has put in a lot of work building out the storefront to suit her cafe. She has added a small kitchen, coffee bar, seating, and new hardwood floors. Plumbing, electrical, and HVAC work was required, as well. And then there were the doors, windows, and lighting that had to be replaced and the plaster ceiling and walls that had to be resurfaced.

Even though she thought she'd be open by now, Heaselgrave seems as excited as ever to meet her new neighbors and become a regular part of the West Village community. Expect regular business hours to begin a week after the soft opening.

Source: Sandi Heaselgrave, owner and operator of the Red Hook
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Sister Pie wins $50K grand prize from Hatch Detroit

Sister Pie has won the fourth annual Hatch Detroit contest, taking home the $50,000 grand prize. The bakery and pie shop beat out a music store, a New Orleans-themed bar and restaurant, and a breakfast and lunch spot for the top prize.

While pie is deeply rooted in tradition, Sister Pie often puts inventive twists on its products. Recent pies include a pinto bean, corn, and jalapeno hand pie and a blueberry, plum, and balsamic pie.

Lisa Ludwinski, who owns and operates Sister Pie, has said that the Hatch prize money will go a long way toward completing the renovations of a West Village storefront. $50,000 will help Ludwinski reduce the amount of any loans she may need to take out as she builds out the Sister Pie location at Parker and Kercheval streets. Ludwinski hopes for an April 2015 opening.

A physical location for Sister Pie is important to Ludwinski, having stressed the desire for a community space in the neighborhood. Once the cafe opens, Sister Pie will offer breakfast and lunch items in addition to the pies and cookies for which the business is already well known.

Ludwinski hopes to open a temporary counter at the storefront while construction is completed. In the meantime, Sister Pie products are available throughout the city, including at Parker Street Market, Sister Pie's future neighbor.

After menswear and lifestyle boutique Hugh won the first Hatch contest in 2011, the next three winners have all been food- and drink-based businesses. La Feria, a Spanish tapas restaurant that opened in 2013, won in 2012. Meanwhile, Batch Brewing Company, a small batch brewery that took the top prize in 2013, continues to work on their eventual Corktown location.

Source: Lisa Ludwinski, owner and operator of Sister Pie
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Hatch Final Four: Pies, cookies, and more in West Village

While chefs and other head kitchen types often carry a moody intensity about them, that is decidedly not Lisa Ludwinski, owner and head baker for Sister Pie. She's big on fun, not serious -- at least when it comes to baking. These are pies and cookies, after all. They're supposed to be fun.

Browsing through Sister Pie social media accounts like Facebook and Instagram reveals that sense of fun. Ludwinski and her cohorts have been posting increasingly creative dance videos while they work. It's something that developed naturally out of the rigors of an average workday -- dancing away the stress. It's a positive release for Ludwinski and one that her customers have responded to.

Of course, dance videos wouldn't get Ludwinski too far if her pies weren't up to snuff. The pies are locally-sourced and reflect Michigan farmers and their traditions, says Ludwinski. While pies are old-fashioned and traditional, they also allow her to experiment with new flavors and techniques.

They're flying off the shelves at Parker Street Market, she says. And soon they'll be neighbors with the market, having secured a storefront across the street. For Ludwinski, West Village is the perfect location for the Sister Pie cafe. They're working on the space now.

"While I know wholesale production is a great source of income -- and it's something we'll continue to do -- I always wanted a storefront," says Ludwinski. "I want a community space in a neighborhood. A place where kids can come, where everyone can come, and watch the bakers make the pies."

Ludwinski hopes that the cafe will open April 2015. In the meantime, Sister Pie products can still be found at places like Parker Street. While construction is underway, she'll look to open a sort of pop-up, temporary counter at the storefront to get people used to coming to the West Village location.

Sister Pie is one of four contestants vying to win the $50,000 grand prize from Hatch Detroit. Voting ends August 20 at 12 p.m. EST. Voting is open to the public and available online.

Source: Lisa Ludwinski, owner and head baker at Sister Pie
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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First round of Hatch voting ends Thursday as 10 startups vie for $50K prize

The popular Hatch Detroit contest has entered its fourth year and the ten start-ups announced as semi-finalists are doing all that they can to garner votes. The eventual winner of the small business competition will receive a $50,000 grant and a suite of business support services.

Voting for the semi-finalist round is open to the public and ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on August 14. Voters may select four businesses during the first round and may vote once a day. Voting for the second round will begin August 15, when the field of competitors is narrowed to four businesses. The eventual winner of the $50,000 prize will be announced August 20.

While there is only one winner, just making it into the top ten is a great source of exposure and motivation for businesses.

"Hatch has given us a faster pace to run to," says Jen David, co-founder of Third Wave Music. "I've been meeting new people and talking to many musicians and students excited for a new spot to get what they need and have support. It's been really encouraging to hear positive feedback. It's really motivating."

The semi-finalists are:Source: Jen David, co-founder of Third Wave Music
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Historic West Village apartment building to receive $1M in renovations

West Village, already an attractive option for renters, is set to gain more rental housing with the announced renovations of the historic West Village Manor building. The 16 apartment units and ground floor anchor retail space will receive complete interior renovations. West Village Manor retail tenants currently include Detroit Vegan Soul and Tarot & TeaThe Red Hook Detroit coffee shop is expected to open there some time soon.

Building owners LAND, Inc. have tapped real estate development and construction company Banyan Investments for the renovation work. LAND, Inc. is a nonprofit development group based on the city's east side and is a subsidiary of the Warren/Conner Development Coalition.

According to LAND, the 1920s-built West Village Manor had fallen into disrepair by the time the group purchased the building in 2009. After an initial $750,000 investment in the building, the newly announced renovation costs fall somewhere between $1 million and $1.3 million, says the group. Construction will begin this fall.

"I am happy to say that LAND, Inc. has fulfilled its mission on this project, acquiring a building that was not contributing positively to the neighborhood, bringing lots of subsidy and partnerships together to make significant improvements, supporting local entrepreneurs and creating jobs," LAND, Inc.'s executive director Jacqueline Bejma in a statement.

The historic West Village neighborhood has seen a number of development projects over the past few years. A neighborhood grocery store, Parker Street Market, opened in April. Popular bar and restaurant Craft Work opened this past winter. Even the Detroit Lions are getting involved in West Village as they partner with Hatch Detroit in the Neighborhood Initiative, which assists existing storefront retail in capital improvements.

West Village Manor is located at the northeast corner of Agnes Street and Van Dyke Avenue.

Source: LAND, Inc. press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Summer development news round-up

It's been a busy season for development news in the city. Let's catch up on five stories that have made  headlines this summer.

The longer it takes for construction to begin, the less likely it seems that a development project will ever be built. With that in mind, Detroit light rail advocates are closer to breathing easy as the M-1 Rail project has announced a July 28 start date for construction. Work begins downtown before it makes the slow climb northward on Woodward Avenue to New Center.

Nearly a year to the day after the grand opening of the city's first Meijer store, officials broke ground on a second Detroit location of the popular grocery superstore chain. The second Meijer is being built on the site of the former Redford High School at Grand River Avenue and McNichols Road on the city's northwest side. The new store will hire up to 500 people, reports say.

Midtown Detroit, Inc. is leading a crowdfunding campaign as it seeks money for a new Green Alley. The alley slated for development “is bounded by Second Avenue, Selden, the Third Avenue alley and Alexandrine.” The Michigan Economic Development Corporation will match the campaign's $50,000 goal if it is met by July 25.

Curbed argues that the first thing the new owners of Corktown's CPA Building should do is board up and secure the building. The old building at Michigan Avenue and 14th Street has been devastated by vandals -- among others -- over the years while much of the rest of Corktown continues to experience redevelopment.

Plans to redevelop the old Detroit Fire Department headquarters into a downtown boutique hotel are still under way, assures the development team. Though the developers announced a late 2015 opening, it's still unknown when construction will begin.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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A new grocer to open in West Village

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Small business contest begins in West Village

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

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

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

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

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

Finalists for 1417 Van Dyke will be announced April 11.

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

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Practice Space works to develop two new businesses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Business is popping for these unconventional restaurants

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

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

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

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

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

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

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January development news round-up

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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Detroit Vegan Soul celebrates grand opening in West Village this Saturday

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

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

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Village Park Apartments in West Village receive $6 million renovation

West Village continues its development winning streak with the renovation of the Village Park Apartments at Van Dyke and Agnes.
MHT Housing, one of the largest nonprofit affordable housing companies in the State of Michigan, recently renovated the vintage 1927 building.
The $6 million renovation took approximately one full year to complete. In that time every single unit was renovated, working with pre-existing residents to ensure no one was displaced, and preserving the affordable component while also increasing the market rate.
Village Park was previously a state-owned asset in foreclosure. There are 56 one- and two-bedroom family units in two adjoining buildings that haven’t seen a substantial renovation in 35 years. The rental units are mixed income, offering both Section 8 and market rate housing.
MHT Housing received state and federal historic tax credits to renovate both buildings and update them from their outdated facilities.
"We provided the latest technology in heating and cooling with a lot of green components for utilities and appliances," says MHT Housing President T. Van Fox. Work was also done on the roof, windows, and elevators, and MHT also introduced a new high-security lock-and-key system. They also received brownfield tax credits for some environmental remediation of old fuel tanks.
"Today, this is a state-of-the-art facility with a preservation of the historical and a new component of modern living," Fox says.
The buildings are now at full occupancy.
Source: T. Van Fox, President of MHT Housing
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Shelborne begins transformation of New Center apt district

Shelborne Development is in the midst of rehabbing two significant historic apartment buildings in New Center and is set to transform the block of Seward Street between Woodward and Second avenues with renovations.

The renovations promise to turn some of the biggest, blighted structures in New Center into vibrant buildings filled with new residents. When it's all said and done, the rehabs will bring well in excess of 100 new rental units to the northern tip of the greater downtown area.

"I have always loved that block of Seward," says Kathy Makino-Leipsitz, co-owner of Shelborne Development. "It is one of the prettiest blocks of multi-units in the city. Hopefully, we will be able to turn that block into what it used to be."

The Indian Village-based development firm is the driving force behind the renovation spree taking place in Palmer Park. Its rehabs have expertly leveraged tax credits and other incentives to turn the Art Deco beauties into high-quality rentals that include energy-efficient systems and appliances, insulation, stainless-steel appliances and granite countertops, among other amenities. These rehabs go the extra mile to preserve the historical character of the buildings, which are often chosen in large part because of the architectural beauty.

Makino-Leipsitz plans to do the same thing with at least half a dozen of the apartment buildings in New Center, most of which are vacant and have fallen into disrepair. The first two, which are currently under renovation, are 112 Seward and 628 Delaware.

The apartment building at 112 Seward is called the Birchmont Apartments. It stands as a 3.5-story building with a blond-brick facade and is just east of the 120 Seward condo building. It will house 31 units that include 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom apartments. 628 Delaware is a tudor-style structure that stands four stories overlooking New Center Commons Park just west of Second Avenue.

"That Delaware apartment building is a beautiful building," Makino-Leipsitz says. "It will be 18 units when we're done."

Both buildings, each about 100 years old, are set to come online in August and fully occupied by the end of the year. They will bring 49 units of workforce housing to the rental market. The buildings previously housed 54 units. The developers redesigned the units to offer bigger spaces with more rooms.

Shelborne Development also owns 59, 69, 90, 93, and 100 Seward, which are all high-density apartment buildings on the first block of Seward west of Woodward. The firm has already renovated 93 Seward and plans to renovate 90 and 100 Seward as market-rate rentals next. It recently acquired 59 and 69 Seward, which have long been problem buildings with out-of-town ownership, and plans to renovate those, too, within the next few years.

Source: Kathy Makino-Leipsitz, co-owner of Shelborne Development
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

More Palmer Park apts set to come online in Feb, April

Renovation work on a handful of apartment buildings in Palmer Park is set to wrap up in the next few months.

The first in line for completion is the Sarasota Apartments, 325 Merton, in February. The four-story building exemplifies the Art Deco architecture for which Palmer Park's apartments are famous. It had been vacant for years, falling into disrepair before renovations began last spring.

Next in line are the Seville Apartments and Palmer Lodge. Both are set to come online in April. "I really can't wait," says Kathy Makino-Leipsitz, co-owner of Shelborne Development which is heading up the development of the apartment buildings in Palmer Park.

Palmer Lodge
is one of the marquee apartment buildings in the Palmer Park historic district. The jumbo-sized Tudor-Revival structure stands sentinel at the corner of Woodward Avenue and Covington Drive. The four-story apartment building was designed by Weidmaier and Gay and built in 1925. It's being redeveloped into 54 apartments and space for two businesses (think cafe or martini bar) in its basement. The Seville Apartments is at 750 Whitmore St. The four-story structure at the corner of Third Avenue and Whitmore Street will feature 16 apartments. One hundred and two units will come onto the market when construction is finished at all three, which were vacant and in serious disrepair before renovation work began early last year.

Shelborne Development is renovating these buildings and a handful of others in Palmer Park. The Indian Village-based firm leveraged historic tax credits, federal stimulus funding and other government incentives to renovate these buildings to maintain their historic integrity and upgrade them with modern conveniences such as new Energy Star appliances, high-efficiency furnaces, insulation and granite countertops. It previously renovated the La Vogue apartments last summer.

Makino-Leipsitz says she is still pursuing the idea of bringing mounted security patrols to the neighborhood by utilizing the Detroit Police Department's mounted division, which is housed nearby. She also wants to bring Christmas lights to the trees of the neighborhood to help inject some vibrancy to the area.

"I want to light up the trees in Palmer Park like they do at La Dolce Vita (a nearby restaurant)," Makino-Leipsitz says. "It gives the area such a great feel."

Source: Kathy Makino-Leipsitz, co-owner of Shelborne Development
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Top development news of 2012 spread across Motor City

There was no no shortage of big announcements in Detroit's built environment in 2012, so Model D has expanded its Top 5 Development News Stories to its Top 5 Development News Subjects. This year's list includes:

The Gilbert Effect
Quicken Loans Chairman Dan Gilbert became the biggest power player in downtown Detroit this year. His team's accomplishments include acquiring buildings left and right, filling them with tech businesses, pushing for a retail rebirth in the Central Business District and spearheading the M-1 Rail plans for light rail up Woodward which now seems quite likely with the passage of a regional transit authority bill in the state legislature.

Palmer Park Rebirth
The Palmer Park area - ahem, Uptown - is enjoying a large amount investment these days as the quality of life improves with more community involvement. Shelborne Development is spearheading the renovation of a number of Palmer Park's Art Deco apartment buildings, including La Vogue and Palmer Lodge, and working to establish mounted security patrols. Local residents are improving the area by planting sunflowers along Woodward Avenue, planting orchards in Palmer Park, building trails through the park and rebranding the area Uptown.

Downtown/Midtown Apt Blitz
Developers can't build new living options in Detroit's downtown or Midtown neighborhoods fast enough these days to keep up with skyrocketing demand. Some big projects came online in 2012, including the Broderick Tower, The Auburn and Newberry Hall. More are coming. Construction is in progress for the Sherbrooke Apts and Woodward Garden Block Apts and work is set to begin on the Whitney Building in a few weeks.

Momentum in The Villages
The people working to improve the The Villages scored some big wins in 2012. Those wins include developing plans for more greenways, sparking the pop-up retial store boom, Tashmoo Beirgarten's return, and landing a number of new businesses to take those spots in West Village. Look for The Villages to keep the momentum going in 2013.

Wayne County Tax Foreclosure Auction
This year set the record for the Wayne County Tax Foreclosure Auction. This fall's auction featured more than 20,000 properties and sold more than 12,000. Local officials are working to turn these empty houses into new homes. What happens next to the thousands of unsold properties is becoming a bigger question that needs to be dealt with. Oh, and next year's auction is set to break all of those records again.

Honorable-mention projects include, Avalon's expansion plans, Buffalo Wild Wings moving downtown, the groundbreaking of WholeFoods, Reclaim Detroit's deconstruction efforts and the GAR Building rehab.

Writer: Jon Zemke

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

'Tis the season for retail evolution

Detroit’s neighborhoods are popping with new business and shopping this holiday season. 

Like the Historic Hubbard Winter Market in Southwest Detroit, Dec. 9, where Tashhmoo Biergarten, 555 Gallery, Detroit Farm and Garden join a stellar line-up of your favorite purveyors of fine food, retail and art at the newest celebration of a historic neighborhood. The Historic Hubbard Winter Market will take place at 1759 20th St. from noon to 8 p.m.

The Historic Hubbard Winter Market is a collaboration between Southwest Housing Solutions, Southwest Detroit Business Association, COMPAS, REVOLVE and many others.
"The Historic Hubbard Winter Market is a great chance to support our local businesses, celebrate our historic Hubbard Farms and Hubbard Richard communities, and welcome new retailers and shoppers to our neighborhood this holiday season," says Rachel Perschetz, Real Estate Development Project Manager at Southwest Housing Solutions who’s leading the charge for Winter Market. "We can’t wait to show the rest of the city what this wonderful area has to offer."

Visit the event on its Facebook page for all the latest information on vendors, music, holiday cheers and -- of course -- bier.  

Plan another stop at Always Brewing Detroit Coffee Shop and performance venue in Grandmont Rosedale. Warm up over a fresh cup of coffee and listen to some great music with Detroit retail revolutionary Amanda Brewington. Always Brewing teamed up with Grandmont Rosedale Community Development Corporation to provide residents and a vacant space with a much needed caffeine fix. 

"We want to provide a space where you can have lunch with a co-worker, settle in with an amazing cup of coffee and a good book or perform your new song at our open mic," says Brewington. "We're getting to know the neighborhood and making sure we are what they want and need. Nearly 90 percent of our customers are from the area. We're always asking for feedback."

Located at 19180 Grand River Avenue, Always Brewing is open seven days a week, and open Thursday nights until 10 p.m. for special events. They serve locally sourced fair trade & organic coffee and tea and also feature locally made baked goods, sandwiches and salads. Check out Always Brewing for all the latest information on shows and hours. The pop-up is open now through Dec. 23 -- but hopefully much longer. 
Another holiday stop should be at Maison LaFleur in West Village. Maison LaFleur is a pop-up gallery specializing in contemporary culture. The gallery exhibits contemporary art, design, and limited editions.
"After being home for the past year, I am very excited to have my first pop-up in Detroit in this charming neighborhood. Detroiters have been so supportive and embracing making this wonderful opportunity an even better experience," says founder and director Ingrid LaFleur.

Maison LaFleur is popping up in the future home of the Red Hook at 8025 Agnes St. The pop-up is open now and will be open until Jan. 13. After you stop by Maison LaFleur don’t forget to pick up apparel from your favorite Detroit designers at PRAMU and place your holiday pie order at Coffee And (__).

Thanks to Michael Forsyth of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp for this report.

REVOLVE retail program launches out of West Village with Tashmoo

The Detroit Economic Growth Corporation launched its new retail business program, Detroit REVOLVE, out of West Village last weekend, leveraging the year's first Tashmoo Biergarten weekend as a backdrop.

Detroit REVOLVE allows the DEGC to partner with neighborhood stakeholders to create pop-retail shops with an eye for establishing permanent stores there in the not-too-distant future.

"Our goal is to help transform vacant storefronts into vibrant spaces," says Michael Forsyth, business development manager for the DEGC. "We want to do that with temporary businesses and art. We want to turn them into full-time businesses."

Detroit REVOLVE works with community leaders, building owners, entrepreneurs, and artists to fill the vacant commercial spaces. In West Village, the program created two spaces for pop-up retailers. Coffee and Donuts (a cafe) and PRAMU (a store that sells Detroit-centric clothing) are the first temporary businesses to go into vacant storefronts in the ground floor of an apartment building at Van Dyke and Parker streets.

"(These businesses) have all the ingredients for success," Forsyth says. "You have a setting of cohesive, vibrant space. You have high demand from the community and you have great building owners."

plans to match more aspiring entrepreneurs with more artists and building owners not only in The Villages but throughout the city. The goal is to create a buzz in these commercial districts that will help them support long-term businesses.

Source: Michael Forsyth, business development manager for the Detroit Economic Growth Corp
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Hatch Detroit's finalists have designs for stores across Motor City

Hatch Detroit is down to its four finalists, a small group of promising business that have designs for creating jobs across the Motor City.

The four finalists include Detroit River Sports which plans to bring Kayak rentals to the city and offer tours through the canal districts around Belle Isle, downtown and elsewhere; Detroit Vegan Soul Café which plans to open a storefront business selling vegan food with a soul twist in West Village; La Feria which aims to open a Spanish tapas wine bar in Midtown and Rock City Pies, which specializes in unique combinations such as Salty Apple Carmel Pie and Blueberry-Custard Pie.

"We're happy with the diversity of this final four," says Ted Balowski, co-founder of Hatch Detroit. "Not only the diversity of ideas ... but the geographic areas they want to open."

These four contestants are competing for $50,000 in seed capital to open a retail location for their business in Detroit. Balowski and Nick Gorga launched Hatch Detroit last year as a vehicle to champion, support and grow locally-owned retail businesses. The nonprofit accomplishes this through funding its $50,000 contest, education, exposure, and mentoring. The bottom line is providing a stimulus that helps revitalize the city and inspires others in the community to create change.

Source: Ted Balowski, co-founder of Hatch Detroit
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Tashmoo Beirgarten returns to West Village next month

One of the best parts of living in The Villages area of Detroit is returning this fall, Tashmoo Beirgarten.

The popular community outdoor beer drinking extravaganza launched out of a repurposed vacant lot in West Village last fall. This year it returns, noon to 9 p.m., on the weekend of Oct. 13-14, Oct. 20-21 and Oct. 27-28. Tashmoo Beirgarten, a semi-finalist in this year's Hatch Detroit contest, is participating in the pop-up retail program in The Villages in hopes of helping attract more stores to the collection of high-end neighborhoods on the east side by Belle Isle.

To help do that through the event, organizers are working to offer more options for patron. "There will be a wider variety of local food vendors," says Aaron Wagner, co-founder of Tashmoo Beirgarten. "We will be renting out space to a vegan food vendor. We will have options for people with gluten allergies."

Wagner started Tashmoo Beirgarten last year with his then fiancee, Suzanne Vier. The two hoped to expand the event's footprint this year but got married in August and spent most of this month preparing for the beer-drinking weekends. They hope to expand Tashmoo to other places in the city in the not-too-distant future.

Source: Aaron Wagner, co-founder of Tashmoo Beirgarten
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

DEGC looks for pop-up retail proposals for The Villages

Conventional wisdom in Detroit dictates that The Villages is one of the ripest areas for retail success in the Motor City. A small group of local stakeholders has come up with a plan to help make that happen through a pop-up retail pilot program.

The Villages is a conglomeration of high-end neighborhoods (Indian, Islandview and West Village) on Detroit's East Side near Belle Isle. The new program seeks proposals to create retail and restaurant/bar businesses along Agnes Street between Van Dyke and Parker streets in West Village.

"The Villages are very dense neighborhoods," says Brian Hurttienne, executive director of The Villages Community Development Corp. "We are just lacking a commercial component to make it a very vibrant neighborhood, like bars, coffee shops, ice cream parlors. It's those sorts of things that raise the quality of life."

To make that happen, The Villages Community Development Corp is teaming up with the Detroit Economic Growth Corp, West Village Manor Apartments and Parkstone Apartments to solicit proposals to create full-time and temporary (commonly known as pop-up retail) businesses this fall and winter. The businesses would utilize vacant ground floor retail space in the apartment buildings.

"The pop-ups are expected to be a bit of an infill," Hurttienne says. "They could turn into a long-term tenant or be something quick, like an art gallery."

This pilot project is the first phase of a larger retail initiative for The Villages. The goal is to attract stable, long-term businesses to The Villages and other similar neighborhoods in the city. Participants in the program will have access to help to create innovative marketing and engagement strategies, real estate matchmaking services, and the suite of implementation resources that will be made available.

The DEGC is heading up the pilot program and is working to spread it to other local neighborhoods. For information, email Michael Forsyth here. The deadline for proposals is 10 a.m. on Sept. 10.

Source: Brian Hurttienne, executive director of The Villages Community Development Corp
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Tashmoo Biergarten kicks off year with spring fling in West Village

The first installment of the 2012 Tashmoo Biergarten kicked off last weekend in Detroit's Villages.

The initial community outdoor beer drinking extravaganza at 1420 Van Dyke was a tester for this year's round of events, which will be begin in earnest this fall. "This was a one-weekend spring fling," says Aaron Wagner, co-founder of Tashmoo Biergarten.

Wagner participated in the initial class of the BUILD program at D:hive, which teaches local residents the basics of starting a business and organizing an initiative. Wagner and his fellow co-founder, Suzanne Vier, are looking at expanding the Tashmoo Biergarten this year so nonprofits and other community groups could use Tashmoo's expertise to host their own biergarten parties.

"We're looking at doing a pop-up biergarten in a box," Wagner says.

Tashmoo Beirgarten got its start last fall as a way to build community and buzz in the Villages area on Detroit's East Side. The duo took over a vacant lot, fenced it off and built picnic tables out of old doors, creating a space to serve high-quality beer and for locals to congregate. The mixture proved to be an instant hit with hundreds of participants at a handful of events last fall.

Wagner and Vier plan to do a repeat performance this fall and are also looking at expanding the idea to other neighborhoods in Detroit.

"We're definitely looking at it," Wagner says. "Nothing is set in stone."

Source: Aaron Wagner, co-founder of Tashmoo Biergarten
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Greenway network announced for The Villages, Lower East Side

The GREEN Task Force represents more than just a plan for establishing greenway paths for non-motorized traffic throughout Detroit's Lower East Side. It's also a symbol of bringing a number of big players together to connect a number of neighborhoods and institutions on the Motor City's east side with the rest of the city.

The task force has been able to bring together residents from a number of neighborhoods on the east side by the Detroit River with city officials, Detroit Eastside Community Collaborative, Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, The Villages Community Development Corp and the Mt. Elliott Business Community Association, among others. The GREEN Task Force is funded by a $213,000 grant from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.

"Good things are happening on the east side," says Brian Hurttienne, executive director of The Villages Community Development Corp. "The GREEN Task Force brought everyone to the table. We're keeping everyone at that table."

The GREEN Task Force's Vision of Greenways program is providing a blue print for creating greenways, linear parks, bike lanes and other pathways for pedestrians, bicyclists, roller bladers and others who want to travel without an automobile near Detroit's east riverfront between the Dequindre Cut and Grosse Pointe Park.

The plan outlines 16 miles of new or expanded greenways, including the Elmwood Connector, Belt Line Greenway (a rail trail conversion), Kercheval Greenway, Burns Connector, Conner Creek Greenway enhancements, Sweet Loop, Fox Creek Greenway, Far East Connector, Carstens Spur and the RiverWalk Extension. More information on the plan can be found here.

The plan recommends creating enhancements include: making East Jefferson Avenue between I-375 and Alter Road a "Complete Street," creating bike lanes on Lafayette Street between Iroquois Street and downtown, connecting multi-family housing on E. Grand Boulevard with Belle Isle and connecting the Creekside neighborhood to the Marina District via Freud Street.

"If you have a safe way of getting somewhere it just makes life better," Hurttienne says. "Transit is going to be a big thing for not only us but the city and the region."

Source: Brian Hurttienne, executive director for The Villages Community Development Group
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Tashmoo Biergarten brings Oktoberfest to West Village

The crowds were lined up outside the Tashmoo Biergarten at noon, and they kept coming all day. Just in time for Oktoberfest, Detroit's first pop-up biergarten turned a vacant West Village lot into a "meeting place" (that's the American Indian definition of Tashmoo). The two lots at 1416 Van Dyke were transformed into what one guest called "something like a perfect 1960s block party, but with better beer."

"We thought during the course of the day, we'd get between 300 and 400 people," says Suzanne Vier, who, along with Aaron Wagner, brought the project to life. The total count? Around 1,000 patrons. Guests strode over a groundcover of wood chips to nosh on locally-made bratwurst, and pierogi from the People's Pierogi Collective. The communal tables, all constructed from reclaimed materials, were chock-full of neighborhood residents, Detroiters and suburbanites making their first trip to West Village. They lined up for a rotating selection of Michigan's finest brews on tap, including selections from Ann Arbor's Jolly Pumpkin Brewery and Holland's New Holland Brewing Company. The speaker system played everything from German accordion music to the White Stripes, while an outdoor projection screen showed a short film premiere courtesy of the Burton Theatre.

With less than a week till the next event, Vier says they'll tweak a few details to accommodate the crowds. "We're building a second bar," she says, with two salvaged doors donated by Hostel Detroit. "We're going to change up our lighting a little bit, rotating some of the beers, and everyone loved cornhole, so we'll toss up another couple boards."

Vier says the response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive. "We had people who knew about it, who just wanted to stop by and thank us for bringing a biergarten into their community, which was really humbling and really exciting. All of the Villages have been extremely supportive of the project."

The Villages CDC is acting as the fiduciary for the Tashmoo Biergarten, Vier says. Funds collected from the five-week series will go toward establishing commercial development in the West Village neighborhood. Judging by the crowds, West Village's biergarten will be serving up brews for a long time to come. 

Missed out? West Village will continue to host the Tashmoo Biergarten for four more Sundays this fall. Stay tuned for more here.

Source: Suzanne Vier, co-founder, Tashmoo Biergarten
Writer: Ashley C. Woods

The Villages greenways network progresses, public can weigh in on March 5

After almost a year of planning, The Villages Community Development Corp. GREEN Task Force is near completion of a greenways plan that takes in the territory that stretches from the Dequindre Cut to the city's eastern boundary and from the Detroit River to Mack. One of the last steps remaining before the release of a final set of route recommendations is a public open house, which will be held on March 5 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Northeast Activities Center, 2900 Conner Ave. "We hope to have participants provide us with feedback on routes," says Sheu-Jane Gallagher, one of the coordinators of the planning process.

The Beaufait Greenway has been identified as a key route in the greenways network, and has made some first steps towards implementation. This route will run from the Detroit River to Gratiot on an abandoned rail corridor that is situated east of Mt. Elliott. A visioning meeting for this specific greenway is being held on March 3 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Gleaners, the organization that is spearheading the process.

Implementation for the remainder of the greenways network will be determined by the availability of funding, says Gallagher. "We want to be clear that we only have funding for the planning process...our next step is to pursue funding opportunities," she says. Other routes recognized in the network plan include the Conner Creek Greenway and E. Jefferson, a key travel route for which Complete Streets treatment -- as opposed to greenway construction -- is being recommended.

Gallagher says the most gratifying aspect of the planning process has been wide-spread buy-in from the community. "There has been overwhelmingly strong support for bringing more greenways to the district," she says. "It's one of the highest compliments and the best experience for me out of this whole process."

RSVP for the GREEN Task Force meeting by March 3 to 313-444-0062 or thevillagesofdetroit@gmail.com. For more details on the planning process, visit TheVillagesofDetroit.com/greenways.

Source: Sheu-Jane Gallagher, The Villages CDC
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Round-Up: Spring brings yoga, coffee, senior housing

With spring in the air, lots of new businesses and developments are being whispered about around town. Here are more than a few that we've heard recently; look for more detailed coverage in the future.

Vixen Fitness is set to open Feb. 26 in Eastern Market. The studio will offer female-centric pole dancing, Zumba and belly dancing classes.

Movement celebrated its grand opening on Feb. 19 inside the N'Namdi Center for Contemporary Art on E. Forest. Expect yoga, dance, Tai Chi, Capoeira and bodywork classes.

On the same note, word is that another yoga studio is headed to the site of the ill-fated Sunflower Market and, speaking of markets, May is the month that we understand that Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe hopes to be open in Brush Park.

Onto caffeine: Bottom Line Coffee Shop at the Beethoven is in build-out mode, as is Astro Coffee in Corktown. Signs are up for two more in Midtown: one across the street from the Bronx Bar on Second Ave. and another at the Park-Shelton on Woodward just north of the Detroit Institute of Arts. Again, we'll keep you posted when we know more.

Finally, three senior housing projects, all along the E. Jefferson corridor, have been announced (in addition to Dickerson Manor, which Model D reported on last week!):
  • The former Omni Hotel will become Roberts Riverwalk Hotel and Residence. Half of the facility will remain hotel accommodations, but half will become senior housing. Read more about the plans at Crain's Detroit Business.
  • Two vacant industrial buildings just north of the GM-UAW Center for Human Resources will be converted into a senior citizen complex courtesy of Henry Ford Health System, Presbyterian Villages of Michigan and United Methodist Retirement Communities.
  • The former Riverview Hospital on E. Jefferson near W. Village was sold by St. John Providence to a group of investors that plan to develop the facility into a full-service senior center that includes a nursing home, urgent care center and even a barber shop and beauty salon. Read more at the Detroit Free Press.
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Villages CDC awarded $25k grant to revamp Van Dyke corridor

Public art and custom bike parking are coming to the Villages.

The Villages Community Development Corporation (VCDC) was awarded a $25,000 Kresge Foundation Detroit Program Community Building Grant to fund the implementation of targeted pedestrian improvements to the Van Dyke corridor on Detroit's near East Side.

The improvements will be concentrated in the Van Dyke/Agnes area, with some additional improvements to Kercheval Ave. and Jefferson Ave. The Villages include West Village, Indian Village, the Berry subdivision, East Village, Islandview Village and the Gold Coast.

"The project is to enhance the sense of place along the Van Dyke connector in West Village to create a more inviting environment which attracts retail tenants and investment to the Villages' targeted nodes," says Kirsten Ussery, board of directors' president of VCDC.

The $25,000 will fund a rain garden landscaping demonstration project in a visible area; install public art and signage to reinforce a sense of place, landscape vacant properties, repair streetlights and clean avenues.

By planting trees, shrubs and flowers in a vacant lot in the Van Dyke Corrdor, Ussery says the garden will allow runoff generated by surrounding lots to collect in the ground. She hopes it will improve water quality in the area, while serving as a pilot project for combating potential storm runoff issues. They plan to collaborate with the Sierra Club, local garden clubs and members of the area's community garden.

For public art, though Ussery didn't have all the details at this time, she envisions creating something sculptural, rather than murals. The VCDC may collaborate with area universities on the project.

All of these improvements should be completed by fall 2011 and they're the first of many to come for The Villages.

"The Van Dyke corridor is very important to us, because it's one of the most walkable corridors in the area and it's adjacent to Agnes, which has a lot of retail potential," she says. "What we ultimately envision is a main street district that will promote culturally diverse business ownership and employment."

Source: Kirsten Ussery, president, VCDC board of directors
Writer: Ashley C. Woods

The Villages CDC lands grant for bike lanes

The Villages CDC has been awarded $215,000 from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan for greenways and bike lane planning and design. The money will also be used for community outreach and construction documents. Villages board member Kim Clayson hopes to complete this pre-development phase by February of next year.

While details are yet to be worked out, The Villages hopes to link its community up with other existing and planned greenways in Detroit, including the Dequindre Cut, Detroit RiverWalk and Conner Creek Greenway. Partners will include the Detroit Eastside Community Collaborative, Detroit RiverFront Conservancy, Creekside CDC, Jefferson East Business Association and Gleaners, since the agency is preliminarily planning a connection from its food bank to the Riverwalk.

The Villages has contracted with Ann Arbor-based JJR to design the project. Chicago-based Active Transportation Alliance will assist with getting input and feedback from the community.

Source: Kim Clayson, The Villages CDC
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Summer in Detroit: Home and garden tour season is upon us

Two of Detroit's premier residential neighborhoods will open their doors to the world this month: Indian Village on June 5, and Boston Edison on June 19.

Indian Village's tour, its 37th, includes homes and gardens, an art lot, a community garden, and several food options, including:
  • Jefferson Ave. Presbyterian Church: Pre-ordered box lunches for $7 must be reserved by Tuesday, June 1 by calling the church at 313-822-3456;
  • Iroquois Ave. Christ Lutheran Church: Refreshments, snacks and luncheon items for sale outside and and an indoor sit-down luncheon of Maurice salad and dessert for $15. Make reservations with Doris Bell at 313-821-3576 or at DABell70@yahoo.com;
  • Conventional Missionary Baptist Church: BBQ lunches for sale from 10 a.m. until the food runs out;
  • And Detroit Waldorf School: Snacks and luncheon items for sale.
The tour runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 5. Advance tickets are $15 and can be purchased online. Day-of tickets are $20 and can be purchased at Iroquois Avenue Christ Lutheran, Waldorf School and Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian Church.

Six gardens will be featured when the Historic Boston-Edison Association hosts its Second Annual Garden Tour on Saturday, June 19. Before and after touring the gardens, guests are invited to visit Voigt Park for continental breakfast and lunch. During the tour, individuals interested in possibly calling Boston-Edison home may speak with Realtors who are hosting an open house event at the same time.

Tickets for the event are $15 in advance and $20 on the day of, available at Voigt Park, located between Longfellow and Edison and Second and Third Streets, beginning at 9 a.m.

For more details visit www.historicbostonedison.org or call 313-727-1087.

Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Community development organizations release right-sizing strategic framework

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

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

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

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

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

Intensive property survey captures state of Detroit housing, vacancy

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Old House names The Villages one of nation's best places to buy an old house

The Villages -- a near East Side community comprised of six historic neighborhoods including Indian and West Villages -- has been named one of the 51 best places in America to buy an old house by the editors of This Old House Magazine. And what's good for the neighborhood is good for Detroit, says Kirsten Ussery of The Villages Community Development Corporation. "It makes us feel great because of not only what it says about the beauty of our neighborhood, but it shows that there are still strong neighborhoods in the city, it shows the rest of the nation that Detroit has beautiful neighborhoods,...that Detroit is alive with thriving neighborhoods that people live in."

This Old House designated The Villages "Best Place for a Bargain," citing the neighborhood's more than 17 architectural styles with "intricate woodwork, front porches, and spacious urban yards." It even concludes that this "bargain-hunter's bounty of architectural riches (is) just one reason we're betting on (Detroit's) survival."

Ussery says that The Villages CDC plans on hosting a celebration event later this month and will use the designation in its continuing marketing efforts. And it might be worth picking up a copy of the magazine -- The Villages is one of only six designated communities that made the print edition.

Source: Kirsten Ussery, The Villages CDC
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Round-up: Waldorf gets community planning grant, Harbortown reopening set for Jan. 20...and more

Indian Village's Waldorf School was awarded a $62,700 grant from from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan for use towards a sustainable curriculum that will enhance learning opportunities in the areas of science, ecology, urban gardening, nutrition and food. Facility enhancements will be made in order to institute such curriculum, including renovation of the school's science lab, upgrade of the school's commercial kitchen and expansion of the school's community garden.

Harbortown Market
will reopen for real on Wednesday, Jan. 20, after celebrating with a grand opening event on Jan. 19. As Model D noted last month, the grocer received a a grant from the Detroit Economic Growth Agency towards some renovations after being closed since a June 2009 fire. Harbortown is located at 3472 E. Jefferson.

Also on the grocery store tip, the Detroit Community Grocery Store Coalition, a group working to open a community-based market on the eastside, is holding a meeting tonight, Tuesday, Jan. 12. from 6 to 8 p.m. at Genesis Lutheran Church at the corner of Mack and E. Grand Blvd.

Sources: Waldorf, Harbortown and DCGSC
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

The Villages to showcase residential opportunities at Living in The V! on Sep. 27

On Sunday, September 27, Villages Community Development Corporation will offer two free tour events to showcase a number of select residences for potential buyers. The neighborhoods that comprise the community include Indian Village, West Village, Islandview Village, East Village, Berry Subdivision, and the Gold Coast (riverfront) communities.

The first tour focuses on bank-owned properties. The bus tour will be led by a licensed Realtor, with a contractor and local residents on hand to share their experiences in rehabbing properties. Participants will be provided with detailed information about the tour homes and condominiums. The Lonely Homes Tour will depart from the Detroit Waldorf School at 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Confirmed advance registration is required; email a choice of time to thevillagesofdetroit@gmail.com

Another option is the Living in the V! Real Estate Open House & Self-Guided Tour, which will run from 1 to 5 p.m. and starts at the former Harlequin Café space in the Parkstone Apartment Building, 1415 Parker (at Agnes) in West Village. These tours are designed to showcase houses, condominiums and co-op apartments that are currently for sale. Participants will receive maps and information about tour homes and tax incentives. A PowerPoint presentation on The Villages neighborhood will be shown, and area vendors and neighborhood organizations will be available to provide additional information.

Source: Kirsten Ussery, The Villages CDC
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Shelborne Development buys, will redevelop historic Book House Building on E. Jefferson

The Book House on E. Jefferson between Iroquois and Burns has been purchased by Shelborne Development, who plans to renovate and move into the historic building. The company is getting an assist via a $440,000 Michigan Business Tax credit that was approved by the Detroit Brownfield Redevelopment Authority.

Additionally, a previously awarded Jefferson Avenue Retail Readiness matching grant will go toward the cost of making interior and exterior repairs to the building as well as parking lot and site improvements. Total project investment is estimated at $2.9 million.

Shelborne plans to occupy the ground floor of the building and eventually rent out or expand into the second floor. The future of the property's carriage house is undetermined; possibilities include an apartment, offices or even lodging for Shelborne's out-of-town associates when they are conducting business in Detroit.

Shelborne is relocating to Detroit from Wayne for several reasons, says the company's chief financial officer, Bart Famularo. "All of our business is in Detroit ... but it's not just for proximity," he says. "If we want to let people know that we're here supporting Detroit, we should have our offices here."

Shelborne owns and manages River Plaza and River Terrace apartments, also located on E. Jefferson. They are also involved in the development of St. Aubin Square and Chalmers Square.

Source: Bart Famularo, Shelborne Development
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Comprehensive planning for E. Jefferson corridor improvements begins

Giffel Webster Engineers and ASTI Environmental hosted a breakfast on June 5 to begin moving towards a comprehensive vision for Jefferson Avenue in Detroit. Invitees included neighborhood stakeholders, such as Jefferson East Business Association and The Villages CDC, and other interested parties such as Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance and Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (CFSEM).

Scott Clein, an associate at GWE, was motivated to start the conversation after participating in charettes for the area that CFSEM hosted with noted transportation planner Ian Lockwood. "He came up with high level concepts, ideas of what Jefferson could be," says Clein. "I wanted to see if we could do something to keep those ideas that the Community Foundation helped foster from remaining just ideas."

Clein is hoping the breakfast is a first step in creating an action plan for the entire corridor from downtown to Grosse Pointe. "It's a very wide roadway, some of it has a boulevard and some of it is not a very people-friendly place," he says. "It suffers from the ills that other major streets that developed in Detroit [are suffering from]."

From a transportation perspective, Clein explains that the street's width is no longer necessary because of the freeway system, and could be used in other ways such as for non-motorized transportation and increased on-street parking.

The studies necessary to effect this type of wholesale change are most efficiently and economically performed at once for the whole corridor rather than in pieces, and collaboration would also provide an opportunity ensure that all individual efforts are cohesive. Unique needs for different neighborhoods -- such as wider sidewalks in a business district -- would also be taken into consideration in the planning process.

Clein says the short-term goal will be to obtain funding for a Jefferson Avenue Framework Plan so that the City of Detroit and MDOT will have hard engineering to consider when each organization tries to move forward on their own improvement plans. "This will make the lives of individual groups 100 times easier," he says. "The debate is then simply, 'How do we find money?'"

Source: Scott Clein, GWE
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Lonely Homes tour to showcase ownership opportunities in The Villages on June 14

The Villages CDC, a non-profit comprised of nine of Detroit’s East Side neighborhoods, will host a "Lonely Homes" Tour of about four bank-owned properties in Indian Village and West Village on Sunday, June 14, from 1-5 p.m.

"The Villages CDC is pretty active in trying to take a hands-on approach, taking an active stance in trying to promote the neighborhood," says Joy Santiago, the Realtor who will be leading the tour. "In addition to just touring houses that are vacant, we're trying to give an idea of the neighborhood."

The tour will feature Villages residents with experience in rehabbing bank owned homes, as well as experienced contractors that can answer technical questions about rehabs. Participants may ride in a tour vehicle or follow in their own car.

The Villages CDC also was recently awarded a grant of over $9,000 from the Vacant Property Campaign to go towards installing solar powered lighting, dumpsters, security camera networks, reducing blight and improving curb appeal. "This helps keep homes from being stripped of plumbing and electrical fixtures and helps preserve their value," says Santiago.

Space is limited on the tours, so reserve a spot at thevillagesofdetroit@gmail.com. Tickets will be available for pick-up at Detroit Waldorf, 2555 Burns.

Sources: Kirsten Ussery and Joy Santiago, The Villages CDC
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

Colin Hubbell Memorial Bike Ride set for June 20

Ready to ride? Hopefully you will be by June 20, the date set for the inaugural Colin Hubbell Memorial Bike Ride. The ride will take off from Scott Fountain on Belle Isle and proceed on an 18-mile tour of the city. A shorter option is a 5-mile family loop of the island.

"This ride is meant to bring people together as Colin did when he was alive, while showing them some of the Detroit jewels that Colin held dear, including Belle Isle, the Riverfront, Eastern Market, Midtown, New Center and Downtown," says Bruce Hubbell, Colin's brother and one of the ride organizers.

Registration is currently available online at Active.com or on-site from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. At 9 a.m., bike decorating will begin for family bike parade participants.

Both rides take off at 10 a.m. and participants in the family loop will be entertained and informed by a bike rodeo at 11 a.m. Post-ride, everyone is encouraged to attend River Days at the Detroit International RiverFront.

The ride will cost $20 or $10 for the family ride. All proceeds benefit the Colin Hubbell Fund, which was established to benefit community organizations and start-up businesses in Midtown, the neighborhood in which Colin focused his considerable development efforts.

Applications for community mini-grants are currently being accepted. Download the application here. The deadline for the first round is May 31.

Source: Colin Hubbell Fund
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

New mobile produce market visits East Side neighborhoods

A trio of entrepreneurs called F.O.O.D. (Field of Our Dreams) has started a mobile fresh produce stand that hits several East Side neighborhoods on its route each Thursday. In its fifth week, and with the support of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, F.O.O.D. has three stops -- Butzel Family Center, Sheridan Place Apartments and across the street from the Parkstone Apartments in West Village -- and is looking to add more.

Warren Thomas says the goal is to do this year-round and add more and more Michigan and Detroit-grown products as the growing season progresses.

The current route schedule for Thursdays is as follows:
  • Butzel Family Center, 7737 Kercheval St., 11:30 a.m.
  • Sheridan Place, 7501 E. Jefferson, late afternoon
  • Parkstone Apartments, Parker and Agnes, 5 to 7 p.m.
For information, contact outreach coordinator Lisa Richter at earthworks@cskdetroit.org or (313) 579-2100 X 204.

Source: Lisa Richter, CSK and Warren Thomas, F.O.O.D.
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

Grant targets E. Jefferson corridor retail attraction

The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan has awarded $115,000 to Jefferson East Business Association and The Villages Community Development Corp. The funds will be used to develop a retail enhancement strategy for Jefferson Ave. from E. Grand Blvd. to the city limits.

Neighborhoods affected will include: Creekside, the Berry Subdivision, the Gold Coast riverfront community, Indian Village and West Village. Its landmarks include Belle Isle, Waterworks Park, Pewabic Pottery and Gabriel Richard Park, the eastern terminus of the Detroit RiverWalk.

Specifically, the Community Foundation funds will be used to hire a full-time staff person who will survey existing business owners and work to help develop a strategy for future retail growth. The staffer will also begin to work with the Downtown Detroit Partnership to develop a strategy for the entire Jefferson corridor, all the way to downtown. The thought is to link into an effort to attract retail to the East Riverfront area.

Source: Joshua Elling, JEBA
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Indian Village home to be featured on HGTV this evening

When HGTV looked at Detroit last spring to film several episodes of "My House is Worth What?" they turned to realtor Joy Santiago for possible locations. They ended up shooting two homes in Indian Village, one in Royal Oak and one in Southfield. The first of the four, a home in Indian Village on Seminole, will air at 11 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 10.

The home's owner, Michael Tyson, will be on the air along with Santiago. His 1911 colonial home is 6,000 square feet, has five bedrooms, three full bathrooms and two half baths. The episode looks at whether or not he should continue renovations on the home.

Read more about the filming of the shows and contact Santiago via her web site. Show info can be found here.

Source: Joy Santiago, Dwellings Unlimited, LLC
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

The Villages charrette to focus on connectivity, economic development and sustainability

 The Villages Community Development Corp. is holding a three-day charrette, or planning session, Feb. 6-8 in order to better determine its future development goals.

Students and professors from
Lawrence Technological University's School of Architecture, the University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture and the University of Michigan Taubman School of Architecture and Planning will participate, joined by local professionals.

The Villages is comprised of several neighborhoods:
Indian Village, West Village, East Village, Islandview, the Gold Coast, and the Berry Subdivision. Their individuality is important, says Sheu-Jane Gallagher, a Villages CDC board member and chair of its charrette committee, yet improving their connectivity is one of the session's primary goals. The charrette participants will be asked to look at greenways, intersection improvements, bike lanes and streetscape improvements.

Participants will also look at economic development. "We are sorely lacking in retail," says Gallagher. The charrette will examine ways to attract shops, restaurants and the like to the community.

Finally, the issue of overall sustainability will be examined. The participants will be encouraged to take the "triple bottom line" spproach to sustainability, meaning economic, social and environmental concerns are all considered.

A Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan grant of $35,000 supports the charrette. A final presentation will be given to the Villages CDC board and guests on Sunday, Feb. 8 at 2 p.m. at the Gleaners Community Food Bank.

Source: Sheu-Jane Gallagher, The Villages CDC
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

Foundations team up to award $4M in grants to neighborhoods adjacent to East Riverfront

The Community Foundation's Detroit Neighborhood Fund announced $4 million in grants to benefit Detroit’s near-eastside neighborhoods These are the first program grants to be made from the foundation's $15 million Detroit Neighborhood Fund, which was made possible by a partnership with the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and the Ford Foundation. 

Grantees include:

$1.25 million to the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. for the Jefferson Retail Readiness Program. A bistro to be located in the Kean Apartments has already been allocated $100,000 from the program.
Shorebank Enterprise Detroit was granted $150,000 towards the financing of Downtown Foodland.

New Urban Learning will receive $1.5 million for site acquisition and construction of University Prep Science and Math High School to be built in the Riverfront Development District.

$250,000 to Communities in Schools of Detroit for the Riverfront Village Schools Initiative, which will work to build community partnerships in all 16 public and private schools in the area.
Friends School in Detroit was granted $225,000 for a community building initiative involving the Lafayette Park and Elmwood neighborhoods.
Economic Development Corporation of the City of Detroit will received $100,000 for planning of the extension of the Dequindre Cut across Gratiot into Eastern Market.
Other grantees include the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy ($500,000), Adult Well-Being Services ($150,000) and a partnership between Adult Well-Being Services and Villages Community Development Corp. ($35,000).

Source: CFSEM
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

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

D-Biz: Jefferson Ave. Co-op Nursery School offers part-time, parent-run schooling for tots

The Jefferson Avenue Cooperative Nursery School was founded in 1948, making it Michigan's oldest cooperative pre-school. It is designed for children ages 2-1/2 to 5 to attend classes from 9 to 11:30 a.m. for three or four days a week.

Teacher Michelle Potas' son was a student at the nursery school three years ago. "One thing I like about it is the part-time part of it," she says. "So many kids are rushed into full days of school, especially in the city -- it's hard to find part-time [pre-school] for parents that have that as an option."

The preschool is play-oriented, yet structured with a goal of kindergarten preparation. Its location in Indian Village's Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian Church features a spacious classroom along with access to an indoor gym.

The nursery school's enrollment is typically from five to ten students, and parents are required to assist with class two to three times a month. "The school is completely run by parents," says Potas. "As the teacher, I'm contracted independently for that position -- parents make all the decisions about pretty much everything."

Tuition is $1,500 per year for three days a week and $2,000 per year for four days a week. An after-care program is available for an additional fee. 

For more information, contact the Shields family -- parents of currently enrolled students -- or Potas.

Source: Michelle Potas, Jefferson Ave. Cooperative Nursery School
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

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

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

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

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

The  full schedule of rotating drops sites is as follows:

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

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

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

REAL celebrates 10 years, plans for next decade of neighborhood improvements

The Riverfront East Alliance (REAL) came together a decade ago this month to fight the construction of the three permanent casinos in the East Riverfront district.

They won that battle, and are now focused on positive developments in the area like the Watermark, the Riverwalk and the Detroit Elevator and Globe Buildings. They are also working with entities interested in redeveloping structures like the Detroit Armory building and Shapiro Hall.

The organization plans to celebrate its first ten years with a community forum entitled Going for the Gold (20 Years). The forum will bring together organizations from within REAL's boundaries(I-75, Gratiot, E. Jefferson, and Van Dyke) to ultimately bring about positive changes in the community.

Organizations -- including Lafayette Park 50, Community Foundation of Southeastern Michigan, the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy, Eastern Market Corporation, The Villages and the Detroit Historic Preservation Coalition Task Force -- will also each have an opportunity to talk about their individual efforts as well as planning collaborations on areas of focus, such as security, that overlap.

The forum be held on Spetember 21 at Christ Church Detroit, located at 960 E. Jefferson Avenue near I-375. Regular REAL meetings are held at the same location on the third Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. Call 313-438-4143 for more information.

Source: REAL
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

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

D-Biz: Independent music niche filled at Pearl's Music

In today's iPod era, a small independent music store is a bit of an anomaly. But Pearl's Music has found a way to make it work.

The shop is located in a corner storefront on Kercheval at Parker and is chock-full of hip-hop, jazz and blues CDs — as well as classical, country, reggae and pop.

Such a wide range of genres is prompted by Pearl's location, says owner Walter Esaw. "We're in a unique spot," he says. "All the chains in the area have closed down." The shop draws customers from Grosse Pointe to downtown.

Esaw says that the Internet has not affected his business too much, since most of his loyal patrons are "too busy to sit around and download," he says.

Pearl's has promotions that keep customers coming back, like movie nights at the Riverfront 4 Theater, bus trips to Cedar Point that feature live performances from local artists and summertime customer appreciation events. Esaw also takes Detroit artists to industry events across the country to promote local labels and talent.

Pearl's has been at 8100 Kercheval for nearly 14 years. Call 313-921-1010. Winter hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. In warmer weather, the shop stays open until 9 p.m.

Source: Walter Esaw, Pearl's Music
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alden Park Towers getting $5M makeover; nearly 90% leased

Alden Park Towers, the architecturally unusual Gold Coast apartment complex, is in the midst of a $5 million improvement campaign. Work began in August 2005 after the Northern Group purchased the buildings on E. Jefferson near Indian Village.

The first step in the head-to-toe project was taking care of the buildings' envelopes: the roofs and windows were replaced and the exterior brick was tuck-pointed.

As apartment units become vacant, they are being refurbished, including a new paint job, plus the installation of new appliances, plumbing fixtures and kitchen cabinets. So far, 140 of the 389 units have been completed.

Units range from studios to 3-bedrooms and vary greatly in price depending on location, size and view. Currently, 43 are vacant.

The Northern Group, which recently announced plans for the Cadillac Centre development downtown, sees great promise in their Alden Park investment, says its director of special projects, Jonathan Zich. "Its location is an oasis in an urban setting," he says. "It is separated from the city but still a part of it."

Source: Jonathan Zich, The Northern Group
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

"Living in the V" neighborhood open house will take place Sept. 30

Come one, come all to The Villages of Detroit. Residents there are giving folks a chance to get to know their community by opening their collective doors on Sept. 30.

"Living in the V" is an afternoon neighborhood open house to showcase the area's charms, housing types and amenities. The purpose of the open house is to draw attention to the wide range of housing types available. From affordable historic homes in West Village to mansions in Indian Village, from high-rise luxury at the Detroit Towers to lofts at English Village, the area has a choice for every taste and budget.

West Village resident Jim Boyle says that the area's proximity to Belle Isle, downtown and several high performing schools such as Chrysler Elementary, Friends School and Detroit Waldorf are important to him. Additionally, recreational opportunities — like the Indian Village Tennis Club, the Detroit Rowing Club and the Detroit Yacht Club — abound. For green thumbers, there is a Garden Club in Indian Village and a community garden in West Village.

The collaborative of groups under the umbrella of Villages Community Development Corporation includes Bellevue Village, Berry Subdivision, Detroit Towers, East Village, English Village Brownstones and Lofts, Indian Village, Indian Village Manor, Islandview Village, Shoreline East and West Village.

The first place to stop is the Parkstone Apartments between 1 and 5 p.m. to see a neighborhood presentation every half-hour and receive a listing of properties for sale. Then, guests are free to check out properties that interest them.

For more information, call 313-438-4143.

Source: Jim Boyle, Villages CDC
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

Think Shop designs modern 8-unit loft development for E. Grand Blvd.

Brighton-based architects The Think Shop and Detroit-based development firm The Urban Group have teamed up on an 8-unit loft development on E. Grand Boulevard at Vernor. The project will consist of two four-unit buildings connected by a courtyard.

Think Shop principal Keith Phillips says his firm's intent is "to provide quality design at a reasonable price."

The Grand Boulevard Garden Lofts will take a more modern approach than many other Detroit loft developments. They will be modularly constructed, with each panel built in a controlled environment and insulated to double that of typical new residential construction.

Another "green" element is the collection of rain water run-off in a cistern that will be used to flush toilets and provide landscape irrigation. Furthermore, the roofing material is a membrane that is impervious to water and air filtration which will help direct run-off to the cistern located between the two buildings. Phillips says that these environmentally-conscious elements will result in a slightly higher initial cost, but they should end up saving the purchasers money in the long run.

The team chose its location based on its proximity to Belle Isle, Indian Village and downtown. "It was our intent to pick up on the flavor of Belle Isle and go from there," says Phillips.

All units are 1,400-square feet. The ground-floor units will be priced starting at $175,000 and the second-floor units, which include a roof-top deck, will be start in the range of $220,000. The basic layout is 3-bedrooms, but buyers can work with Think Shop or their own designer for the best layout for their needs.

The project is NEZ-designated. All units will be pre-sold, and they hope to get underway with construction in the fall of 2007.

Source: Keith Phillips, The Think Shop and Ken Watson, The Urban Group

This weekend: Indian Village and Corktown home and garden tours

An annual highlight of the first weekend in June are home and garden tours of two of Detroit's most distinct historic neighborhoods: Indian Village and Corktown.

Indian Village's 34th annual tour is set for Saturday, June 2 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Seven homes and gardens and one additional garden will be open to ticket-holders, including 1771 Seminole, the largest home in the district. At Indian Village's website, advance tickets can be purchased; tickets the day of the tour are $13 and can be purchased at the Waldorf School, Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian Church and Iroquois Avenue Christ Lutheran Church.

The neighborhood's Centennial Garden is sporting a new wrought iron gazebo this year, and a master gardener will be on hand to discuss its Michigan native plants.

Sunday, June 3, is Corktown's 21st tour. Thirteen houses and 3 gardens will be open, as well as several others that are currently for sale. The tour, which costs $12, runs from noon to 5 p.m. It will also feature a demonstration of an archeological dig at the site of the Workers Rowhouse on Sixth Street, the tour's starting point.

For more information or to reserve tickets, contact Lynn Lutton at 313-610-1588.

Sources: Judy Delusky and Lynn Lutton
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Indian Village to dedicate formal greenspace; home tour this weekend

On June 4, one day after the neighborhood’s annual home and garden tour, a formal greenspace will be dedicated in Indian Village. Located on Iroquois just north of Jefferson, the greenspace features native plantings and a historical marker that provides information about the Scranton-Trevor House that once occupied the site. The noon dedication will be attended by a member of the Trevor family who now lives in Houston.

The Indian Village Association has owned the land since 1974 after a lawsuit was settled regarding the property with the adjoining grocery store, which had torn down the circa-1898 wooden Victorian home in 1959. The Indian Village Men’s Garden Club maintained the greenspace, but the recent improvements were made possible by a grant given the organization by descendents of the Trevor family—who were connected to the original owners of the house, the Scrantons, through marriage.

The garden of native plants was designed by Michael Harvey of Nature Bound Designs, and the improvements were made by the Trevor Committee, comprised of members of the Indian Village Association, Indian Village Men’s Garden Club and Indian Village Women’s Garden Club.

Trevor Committee co-chair Dolores Paskal describes the greenspace’s marker—a mahogany granite rock—as “a very nicely-sculpted monolithic.” The marker’s plaque has a picture of the house that once stood there in 1912 with the family standing on the porch, as well as information about the house and the families that occupied it.

On Saturday, June 3, the neighborhood will host its annual Historic Indian Village Home & Garden Tour. The tour will feature six homes, one carriage house, five churches, two schools and three gardens. Tickets can be purchased for $18 on June 3; for more information visit www.historicindianvillage.org or call the tour hotline at 313-922-1736

Sources: Dolores Paskal, Trevor Committee and Colleen Robar, Robar PR

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