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University Commons - Palmer Park : Detroit Development News

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

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

Participating firms included LivingLAB Detroit, McIntosh-Poris Architects, ASTI Environmental, dPOP!, Archive DS, department 01, Conservation Design Forum, Ken Weikal Landscape Architecture, Mark Johnson Architects, Hamilton-Anderson Associates, Downtown Solutions, Inc., Campbell Architeture and Planning, and Gibbs Planning Group.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bravo Graphix now open on the Avenue of Fashion

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

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

Tour nationally-recognized historic renovations in Palmer Park this Saturday

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

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

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

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

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

Palmer Park's new splash park is now open

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

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Hatch Detroit to announce 10 semifinalists for 2013 this Thursday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Woodward rapid transit pushes forward with RTA, community meetings

The options for traveling up and down Woodward Avenue are about to grow significantly.

The Michigan State Senate recently passed a series of bills that would establish a regional transit authority that would oversee the construction and operation of a light rail line on Woodward between Jefferson Avenue and Grand Boulevard. It would also oversee the construction and operation of a bus rapid transit systems along the rest of Woodward and across the region. The State House of Representatives is reportedly expected to take up the bills within the coming days.

Working in parallel in those efforts are series of community meetings envisioning what rapid transit along Woodward Avenue could look like and what local residents want to see happen. The meetings are being hosted by the Michigan Suburbs Alliance, Woodward Avenue Action Association and SEMCOG, which is creating a Woodward rapid transit alternatives analysis that will work in parallel with the proposed regional transit authority.

"This is an attempt to create a rapid transit system on Woodward Avenue," says Richard Murphy, programs director of the Michigan Suburbs Alliance. "We're looking at the entire length from Jefferson Avenue to Pontiac."

Among the issues that will be discussed are which mode of transit works best for the Woodward corridor (light rail or bus rapid transit), how such a system should be funded and whether it should have dedicated lanes or mixed in with traffic.

The meetings will be be held along the Woodward corridor. The Detroit meetings will be held today (Tuesday, Dec. 4) at SEMCOG offices in downtown Detroit (535 Griswold St, Suite 300) from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and at the Detroit Police Dept's Central District (7310 Woodward) from 4-6 p.m. Another one will be held on Dec. 11 at the Detroit Police Dept's Palmer Park Station (12th Precinct, 1441 W. 7 Mile Road).

Source: Richard Murphy, programs director of the Michigan Suburbs Alliance
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

People for Palmer Park plan to refurbish trails in park

The People of Palmer Park group is working to bring back the 12 miles of trails in and around the park, starting with going for a $50,000 grant.

The non-profit activist group has been making great strides to improve the quality of life in Palmer Park and the neighborhoods surrounding it in recent years. Some of its wins have included planting fruit orchards throughout the park and planting sunflowers along Woodward Avenue.

People for Palmer Park
is now going for a $50,000 grant to improve the trail system throughout the park. The Tom's of Maine contest is awarding $150,000 in grants to six nonprofits from across the U.S. The Palmer Park project is the Michigan representative. The project with the most online votes wins a $50,000 grant while the next four runners up each receive $12,000 grants. Voting closes out today.

People for Palmer Park would use the money to restore and rebuild the trails and path throughout the park, along with adding signage to notes the area's historic and natural assets. "There is a lot of history in the park, like Native American history," says Sarah James, a board member for the People for Palmer Park. "We want to highlight the whole area."

Source: Sarah James, a board member for the People for Palmer Park
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Palmer Park area begins to rebrand itself as Uptown Detroit

The Palmer Park/University District communities are undergoing a bit of grassroots rebranding this year now that a growing number of local residents and stakeholders are referring to the area as Uptown Detroit.

"We just kind of came up with the name," says Sarah James, a board member for the People for Palmer Park. "We were thinking of the Woodward corridor and how there is downtown and Midtown and we are the farthest up Woodward."

Uptown Detroit will encompass the Woodward corridor between McNichols Avenue and 8 Mile Road. The area currently consists of a variety of neighborhoods, including Palmer Park, Palmer Woods, State Fair, Sherwood Forest, Green Acres, University District, Chaldeantown and Highland Park.

Local stakeholders like James are hoping to leverage a fresh, all-encompassing brand to boost the momentum that has come from a number of new developments, such as the redevelopment of a number of Palmer Park's apartment buildings and the planting of fruit orchards throughout the park.

The collection of neighborhoods that now fall under the Midtown Detroit banner underwent a similar transformation a decade ago when local leaders combined a fresh brand with the momentum from local developments. The people behind the Uptown Detroit effort are hoping to follow the same game plan to success.

Source: Sarah James, a board member for the People for Palmer Park
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

U-D Mercy completely revamps main campus dinning hall

Quality of life for students and staff at the University of Detroit Mercy's main campus is about to take a big step forward this fall thanks to a newly renovated dinning hall.

The Catholic university is investing $750,000 to expand the current facility on the school's main campus at the corner of Livernois and McNichols avenues. The new dining hall will feature a variety of stations where different kinds of food will be prepared in front of the patrons.

"You can choose to pick to eat at a different restaurant each day," says Tamara Batcheller, associate vice president for facilities management at the University of Detroit Mercy. "That's the concept."

The current dining hall was built in 1969 and hasn't received a major upgrade since its opening. The newly renovated dinning hall will be able to accommodate more people, upping the capacity from 250 people to 320 patrons. The renovation will also open up the dinning hall, giving users views of the Fisher Fountain in the middle of campus.

Construction is set to begin this summer and be done by the time students arrive on campus for the fall semester.

Source: Tamara Batcheller, associate vice president for facilities management at the University of Detroit-Mercy
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

La Vogue Apts restoration leads resurgence of Palmer Park Art Decos

The rebirth of the Art Deco apartment buildings along Palmer Park begins with the restoration of the La Vogue.

The circa-1929 apartment building at 225 Merton (closest to Woodward Avenue on Merton) is arguably the most architecturally distinctive building in a historic district filled with them. The four-story beauty was designed by Cyril Schley in different architectural styles that were popular in the early 20th Century. There are hints of Tudor-revivalism in the exterior with intricate tile and brickwork but has a common area at the entryway that screams Art Deco.

The La Vogue started to show its age in recent decades until it was purchased by Shelborne Development, an Indian Village-based company controlled by Kathy Makino-Leipsitz and Mark Leipsitz, in 2008. They spent four years putting together the financing to make the $6 million restoration a reality, patching together historic tax credits, brownfield tax credits, funding from the federal stimulus package and a number of other economic tools.

To make the building financially viable, Shelborne Development shrunk the 44,000-square-foot structure to 41 units, creating larger apartments with more modern conveniences while maintaining the building's historic character. Downtown Detroit-based EBH Inc did the redesign of the La Vogue.

"When we talk about a gut-job rehab, this is a gut job rehab," Kathy Makino-Leipsitz says. "We went to the studs. This has blown-in insulation and new windows."

The units also utilize high-efficiency furnaces, energy start appliances, and a number of other green features. There are also modern, durable amenities, such as granite countertops and new cabinets. The Makino's refinished the apartments' hardwood floors and preserved the entryway's rich Art Deco designs, such as its ceilings, elevator and front doors.

"We wanted to preserve what it looked like in the 1920s," Mark Leipsitz says. "We want to emphasize the existing architecture with new materials."

The La Vogue will include a mix of both affordable and market-rate housing. The apartment prices will range from $434 for a one-bedroom unit to $800 for a three-bedroom unit. Heat and water will be included with the rent. The Makinos have also purchased a vacant lot behind the apartment building on McNichols that they plan to turn into gated parking.

The building is set to welcome its first residents in early June. Shelborne Development has attracted four-times the number of applications as units available, including twice as many that qualify for affordable housing. The company expects to open the La Vogue to full occupancy this summer.

Source: Kathy Makino-Leipsitz and Mark Leipsitz, co-developers of the La Vogue
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Palmer Lodge, Seville Apts next on deck for restoration in Palmer Park

Shelborne Development expects to bring two more Palmer Park apartment buildings online soon with Palmer Lodge and the Seville Apartments next on deck for a complete restoration. Work is currently ongoing at the two buildings and approaching a finish.

"Both will be online by the end of the year," says Kathy Makino-Leipsitz, who co-owns Shelborne Development with her husband Mark Leipsitz.

Palmer Lodge is the large, four-story apartment building overlooking the southern tip of Palmer Park at the intersection of Woodward Avenue and Covington Drive. The Tudor-Revival was designed by Weidmaier and Gay and built in 1925 at 225 Covington. Indian Village-based Shelborne Development is redeveloping it into 54 apartments and space for up to two businesses in its basement, such as a coffee house or martini bar.

The Seville Apartments, a stately brick building located at 750 Whitmore, is also being redeveloped into 16 apartments. The four-story structure stands sentinel at the corner of Third Avenue and Whitmore Street and has been vacant for years. Shelborne Development is redeveloping both buildings with a bevy of green and modern features like new Energy Star appliances, high-efficiency furnaces, insulation and granite countertops. It is also preserving the historical character of the buildings' exteriors and entrances, among other features.

"It's a brand new unit in the envelope of a historic building," Kathy Makino-Leipsitz says.

Shelborne Development has been working on redeveloping the Seville Apartments and Palmer Lodge since 2008, utilizing a tool box of economic tools such as historic tax credits, brownfield tax credits and federal stimulus funds. The apartments will be made available for both affordable and market-rate housing.

Source: Kathy Makino-Leipsitz and Mark Leipsitz, co-developers of the La Vogue
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Shelborne Development's Palmer Park plans include mounted security patrols

Kathy Makino-Leipsitz and Mark Leipsitz don't just have a vision for the handful of Palmer Park apartment buildings they plan to bring online this year. They have a grand plan for the entire district and its large collection of Art Deco buildings.

"We're very excited," says Kathy Makino-Leipsitz, who co-owns Shelborne Development with her husband Mark Leipsitz. "These buildings are irreplaceable."

The Indian Village-based real-estate development company has purchased nearly a dozen apartment buildings in Palmer Park in recent years. Many of those include some of the district's most jaw dropping architectural gems, such as Palmer Lodge, La Vogue, Coronado, Madrid Court (currently under construction), El Dorado, Alwyne Lane, Sarasota, Merton Manor and Whitmore Plaza. Shelborne Development plans to redevelop all of these into apartments and commercial space, and is considering razing two fire-damaged mixed-use buildings on McNichols. The renovations are expected to all come online by 2014.

The idea is to create a vibrant neighborhood that is a destination for the entire region filled with high-quality homes (both affordable and market rate housing) and spaces for small businesses. The basement of the Palmer Lodge features several thousand square feet of space that could offer space for a coffee shop, restaurant or bar.

"The basement is pretty much open space," Kathy Makino-Leipsitz says. "You would have up to 2,500 square feet in each space."

She is also looking into the idea of bringing a mounted security patrol to Palmer Park. The Detroit Police Department recently relocated its mounted division to Palmer Park. Kathy Makino-Leipsitz is interested in brokering a partnership with the police department that would allow properly trained private security personnel to use the mounted division's horses.

"This should be like Central Park in New York, but for Detroit," Kathy Makino-Leipsitz says.

Source: Kathy Makino-Leipsitz and Mark Leipsitz, co-developers of the La Vogue
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

People for Palmer Park create orchards with 800-plus tree plantings

Orchards are making a comeback at Palmer Park thanks to a massive tree-planting initiative by local activist group People for Palmer Park.

The non-profit led an initiative that has planted 820 apple tree saplings this spring in two orchards on the western edge of Palmer Park. There are also plans to create three more smaller orchards for apples, pears, peaches and other fruits on the northern edge of the park in the near future.

"All of this was born out of the mayor, City Council and local residents creating a solution to take of this gem," says Daniel Scarsella, a board member of the People for Palmer Park and liason for preservation and beautification for the non-profit.

Palmer Park is the major green space in 7 Mile/Livernois area, which is part of the city's NEXT Detroit initiative. City officials organized local residents three years ago to begin creating long-term plans for the park, which are now starting to literally come to fruition with the apple tree orchards.

Palmer Park
was created in the 1920s from the estate of Thomas Palmer, who did have orchards on the southern edge of the park where most of the neighborhood's Art Deco apartment buildings are currently located. The local residents and neighborhood advocates behind the People for Palmer Park choose to bring back the apple orchards so the fruits of those trees can help feed the horses from the Detroit Police Department's Mounted Division, which is located in the park, and for events at park. And then there are the aesthetic enhancements.

"You have a nice bloom in the spring," Scarsella says.

Source: Daniel Scarsella, a board member of the People for Palmer Park
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

U-D Mercy improves residential halls with comprehensive renovations

College living at the University of Detroit-Mercy is stepping into the 21st Century now that the Catholic school is upgrading its dormitories this summer.

The $1 million project will install new bathrooms, replace the lighting and a plethora of other upgrades to the four buildings on the university's main campus at McNichols and Livernois avenues. "It's basically a major renovation to the Quad Commons," says Tamara Batcheller, associate vice president for facilities management at the University of Detroit-Mercy.

The signature improvement will be to the entryway of the circa-1974 buildings. The project will replace the all-glass curtail walls with a more energy-efficient version. "Right now there are single-pane glass," Batcheller says. "We're putting in more energy-efficient glass."

Each of the Quad Commons dormitory buildings has 32 rooms and houses up to 64 students each semester. Construction started this month and is set to wrap up by this fall.

Source: Tamara Batcheller, associate vice president for facilities management at the University of Detroit-Mercy
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Liberty Food Center upgrades with energy-efficient improvements

Liberty Foods Center has made six figures worth of energy-efficient improvements to its store in the University neighborhood.

The $128,000 project allowed the supermarket to put on a new roof, upgrade its refrigeration equipment and add insulation. Liberty Foods Center also received a $32,000 grant from the city's SmartBuilding's program to make the building as energy efficient as possible.

"It's five inches of insulation," says Najai Bahoura, owner of Liberty Food Center. "It's going to save a lot of money."

Bahoura and his family bought the grocery store at 10620 W. McNichols St, between the Lodge Freeway and Marygrove College, in 1984. They have been making improvements to the building consistently since the acquisition, including a $700,000 upgrade in 1993 and $250,000 in improvements in 2004.

"We have spend a lot of money on our business since 1986," Bahoura says.

Source: Najai Bahoura, owner of Liberty Food Center
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

U-D Mercy pushes forward on new Fitness Center in University District

The University of Detroit Mercy is set to debut its first new building on its main campus this year.

The Student Fitness Center will provide exponentially more space for exercising and socializing for the Catholic university's student body. The $8 million building is on schedule to open on the McNichols campus in time for the start of the fall semester. A web cam of the construction can be found here.

"We are finishing up the shell of the building," says Tamara Batcheller, associate vice president for facilities management at the University of Detroit-Mercy. "We are probably 65 percent complete."

Currently students have a few thousand square feet of exercise space in another building on campus. The Student Fitness Center will have 40,000 square feet that will house a range of athletic options, such as an elevated track, fitness areas, workout rooms and a large student lounge.

The building will feature an open design, giving students and staff more flexibility for athletic activities. It will also have green features, such as motion-sensor lights, to make it more sustainable. The building will also offer free Wi-Fi for its patrons.

"We look at it as a space for our students social gatherings," Batcheller says.

Source: Tamara Batcheller, associate vice president for facilities management at the University of Detroit-Mercy
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Palmer Park groups work to plant sunflowers along Woodward

Woodward Avenue between McNichols Avenue and 8 Mile Road is set to become a sunnier place this summer thanks to a large sunflower planting planned for the Palmer Park area.

A number of community groups and businesses in Palmer Park, University District and Chaldean Town neighborhoods that surround the northern section of Woodward, led by the Woodward Avenue Action Association, will be planting 700 sun flowers in medians, in front of businesses and parks on Michigan's Main Street this spring.

"We want to get people talking about the area and get people interested in the area," says Ken Weikal, a landscape architect and vice president of GrowTown, a Farmington Hills-based business helping lead the project. "There is a lot going on and nobody talks about it."

The sunflowers will at first be grown in greenhouses at Penrose Village urban gardens near the east side of 7 Mile Road in Chaldean Town. Once they are sprouted they will be planted along Woodward. Weikel says the community groups choose sunflowers because it is a hearty plant that grew well along Woodward during a few test runs last year.

"Sunflowers are big and showy," Weikal says. "People generally really, really like them."

Source: Ken Weikal, vice president of GrowTown
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

SmartBuildings program award grants for building across city

The city of Detroit's SmartBuildings program, overseen by the Detroit Economic Growth Corp, has approved 19 building improvement grants across the city worth $762,272.

The SmartBuildings program focuses on providing funding for energy-efficiency projects that improve commercial buildings. Among the recepients of this latest round of grants are a handful of buildings controlled by Focus: Hope and the Wayne County Community College District. The DEGC recently increased the coverage area of eligible buildings from the downtown area to commercial corridors throughout the city, including on East Jefferson, southwest Detroit and the city's University District.

"We expanded the area to cast a bigger net," says Scott Veldhuis, senior project manager for the Detroit Economic Growth Corp.

The SmartBuildings grants, which are capped at $100,000 per building, will leverage $3.8 million in outside investment from building owners. Focus: HOPE is using its $320,662 grant as part of a $1.36 million umbrella project for nine buildings on its campus on Oakman Boulevard. The improvements will install insulation, high-efficiency lighting, low-flow bathroom fixtures, and other mechanical upgrades.

Wayne County Community College District received $200,000 in grants for energy-conservation updates to the Central Administration Building and the Downtown Campus Building on its downtown campus as part of $2.25 million project. Southwest Housing Solutions is leveraging$78,812 in grant funds toward $315,250 in projects that include reflective roofing and high-efficiency water heaters at the Harwill, Cole and Harrington buildings at 1453 Hubbard, 4516 W. Vernor Highway and 465 W. Grand Boulevard, respectively.

Other projects include the Hellenic Museum of Michigan (67 E. Kirby), New Center Stamping (950 E. Milwaukee Ave), Hacienda Mexican Foods (6100 Buchanan) a walk-in store at 5564 Woodward.

Source: Scott Veldhuis, senior project manager for the Detroit Economic Growth Corp
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

The Water Station plans health food store in Palmer Park

Located across from Palmer Park on Woodward at Goldengate, the Water Station deals primarily in the business of H20. Specifically, ionized alkaline mineral water, which is said to promote wellness and better hydration.

"In 1977, I was diagnosed with the beginning stages of cancer," says Dr. Keefa Weatherspoon, founder of The Water Station. "That led me on a quest to really know how to be well. And during that 34-year journey, early on, I found out how important water is."

Just a few houses away on Goldengate, she's expanded beyond water to teach wellness to an ever-growing member network at the SanKofa House, a retreat and learning center. The mansion currently offers classes ranging from Pilates to healthy cooking for members and operates as a 501(c)3. To further promote healthy eating in the community, she plans to open a new cafe inside for members this year.

If Weatherspoon has her way, she'll be promoting health and wellness on a much larger scale in the next few years, with the construction of a wellness village along Woodward. Weatherspoon confirmed that The Water Station has leased a parking lot on Woodward with the option to buy. While they negotiate a sale with the owner, Weatherspoon says, they are drawing up plans for a 12,000 sq. ft health food store and cafe. Weatherspoon says she hopes to break ground in 2012.

"I researched Trader Joe's around the country, and 10,000-12,000 sq. ft. is the optimal size," she says. "Having a cafe inside means that, not only will people be educated on food at the health store, but they can then go over to the cafe and taste it, and know how to prepare it, as well."

The Water Station is located at 18710 Woodward Avenue. Visit waterstation.us for more information.

Source: Dr. Keefa Weatherspoon, founder, The Water Store
Writer: Ashley C. Woods

CITGO spruces up four Eight Mile service stations

Four gas stations along Eight Mile Road have received major upgrades, thanks to a new partnership between the CITGO Petroluem Company, local fuel suppliers on Eight Mile Road, and the Eight Mile Boulevard Association (8MBA).

"Our initial outreach to CITGO was in regards to their corporate appearance standards," says 8MBA Executive Director Tami Salisbury. "A lot of their locations on Eight Mile didn't have landscaping, and we wanted to see if they wanted to take advantage of our facade improvement program. And CITGO really stepped it up."

Representatives from CITGO's corporate office flew from Texas to meet with 8MBA, and pledged major improvements at all four of their service stations, at an average cost of $30,000 for each location. The improvements range from new pumps and canopies for motorists to improved lighting and landscaping, upgraded signage and changes to convenience centers. Local facility owners have pledged to keep appearances to a higher standard after the upgrades are complete.

Salisbury says it's just the beginning of the nonprofit's new relationship with CITGO, which has become a sponsor of other events put on by 8MBA. "We hope that we have as warm of reception with some of the other major brands on Eight Mile Road," she says.

And she says the upgrades to Eight Mile's facades provide more than just a face-lift to the corridor. "When we change the physical appearance of Eight Mile Road, we're changing the mental landscape," she says. "Eight Mile has this notorious reputation, and we're trying to break down this negative imagery. Over 100,000 cars traverse Eight Mile Road every day."

Source: Tamil Salisbury, Executive Director, Eight Mile Boulevard Association
Writer: Ashley C. Woods

UDM lax team look for new markets in city

The city of Detroit is home to the state's only Division 1 Varsity lacrosse team, the University of Detroit Mercy Titans. And while we're better known for our professional sports, the Titans' growing competitiveness on the field and willingness to embrace the city off the field is winning them some new-found fans.

It's all part of the Titans' new branding effort, which focuses on integrating the lacrosse teams as members of the Detroit community, not just as sports teams. They've got a new motto for publicizing their outdoor matches, Relax with D-Lax, and a new YouTube video that shows some of the teams' star players eating Coney Dogs at Lafayette, sporting their gear on the People Mover, and generally goofing off around downtown.

"We need to be more connected to our community, that's one side of it," says UDM's Greg Haapala, "and the other side of it is, as people in higher education, part of our student athletes' development should be learning to be members of their community. That's one reason that we reason that we really tried to jump on board with, what can we do to really make this city feel like we're one of their teams?"

One challenge is that most kids in Detroit don't grow up playing lacrosse. They're finding ways to bring the sport to local kids, and also to get more youngsters to the games. They're working with Think Detroit PAL and PlayWorks Detroit to invite their youth participants to the last game of the season on April 16.

"We have players from all different backgrounds on our team, all different ethnic groups. The barriers in lacrosse are starting to change a little bit. And we want to expose that, as a new opportunity for youth, and we just want to give them that ability to learn," Haapala says.

UDM is promoting two more Saturday afternoon games left in the season. On April 9, the men's lacrosse team will play Manhattan College at noon. The April 16 game will have a carnival atmosphere, Haapala says, to celebrate the last home game of the year. The woman's team will play at noon, and the men at 3 p.m. Find out more here.

Source: Greg Haapala, University of Detroit Mercy Athletics Department
Writer: Ashley C. Woods

Greening of Detroit kicks off planting season on March 26

Over the last 20 years, the Greening of Detroit has planted 62,000 trees. This spring, the organization plans to add another 4,000, and needs 7,000 volunteers to make it happen. Two plantings are scheduled for every Saturday from March 26 through June 11 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. with 350 people needed at each site. "We'll have all the tools needed, and the trees placed out -- all we're looking for is the manpower to put them in," says Monica Tabares, Greening's development manager.

The planting locations are confirmed through April as follows:
  • March 26: Deacon/Ethel Street
  • March 26: 7 Mile
  • April 2: Stoepel
  • April 2: Stahelin
  • April 9: San Juan-Pennington
  • April 16: Springwells
  • April 16: E. State Fair
  • April 30: US-23/Plymouth Rd.
  • April 30: I-94/Rawsonville Rd.
Plantings are designed to address storm water run-off, soil contamination, air quality issues and deforestation due to the Emerald Ash Borer. DTE Energy Foundation, the Erb Family Foundation, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment and the U.S. Forest Service contributed funds to Greening's spring planting season.

To volunteer for any of the plantings, call 313-273-8733 or send an email here.

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

M1 Rail Progress Report: draft Environmental Impact Statement released, presentation set for Feb. 12

In August, US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood came to Detroit to announce that funding was secured for Woodward Light Rail stretching from the Detroit River to Eight Mile -- and the forward progress continues with the completion of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). "It really is the most amazing thing, how quickly this has moved, five months (to get) this entire pretty massive analysis completed," says Megan Owens, executive director of transit advocacy organization Transportation Riders United. "For a project of this magnitude, it's quite fast."

The document is available for review online at WoodwardLightRail.com, and a technical presentation is scheduled for February 12 at 11:30 a.m. and again at 4:30 p.m. at the main branch of the Detroit Public Library, 5201 Woodward Ave.

The release of a DEIS is the first of several hurdles the project must leap before construction can begin, with the final EIS, expected to be ready in May, next on the list. The EIS process is required for the release of Federal funds to the project. If all goes well, construction is slated to begin later this year on Phase 1, which would run 3.4 miles from Downtown Detroit to West Grand Boulevard.

EIS is somewhat of a misnomer, as the process looks at potential impacts of all kinds, not just to the environment. "It looks at (whether) noise or vibrations from the train will have any impact on historic buildings, it looks at archeological sites, minority and low-income and transit-dependent communities," explains Owens. So far, the results are promising. "The impacts are largely positive or mostly neutral."

One of the major debates regarding the rail line is its alignment, both down Woodward and within downtown. Owens speculates that decision will be made over the next few months. "Moving into what's called the engineering and design phase, (they're) really getting into the nitty gritty: exactly where each station will be, how traffic flow may shift," she says. "That's what will be worked on over the spring and summer, the detailed engineering work."

TRU is involved with hosting six community engagement meetings this month that are of a less technical nature than the one to be held on Feb. 12. "What is light rail, how does it work, what does it look like, where will it go?" are the kinds of questions to be addressed, says Owens. The forums are set for locations that roughly correspond to planned transit stations.

Palmer Woods: Feb. 16, 7-9 p.m. at Detroit Unity Temple, 17505 Second Ave.
Boston Edison: Feb. 21, Details TBA
Highland Park: Feb. 22, at the Highland Park Recreation Center
Midtown: Feb. 23, 6- 8 p.m. at the Detroit Main Public Library
Grand Boulevard: Feb. 24, Details TBA
Downtown: Feb. 28, Details TBA

On March 2, an event will be held downtown to summarize and conclude the public forums. For more information, contact Owens at MOwens@DetroitTransit.org.

Public comments on the DEIS are accepted through March 14 via email to woodwardlightrail@detroitmi.gov or by post to: Ms. Tricia M. Harr, AICP; U.S. Department of Transportation; Federal Transit Administration Headquarters; 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE; East Building – E43-105; Washington, D.C., 20590.

Source: Megan Owens, TRU
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


Development News Extra: Detroit lands $21.5M in grants, loans and investments for Woodward Corridor

Detroit got some national love in the past week -- and not just just in the media. Living Cities, a collaborative of 22 of the world's largest
foundations and financial institutions, has selected Detroit as one of five cities for its new Integration Initiative and Mayor Dave Bing has been named as a 2010-2011 fellow for the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Daniel Rose Center for Public Leadership in Land Use.

Let's begin with the money. The Integration Initiative will provide $2.75 million dollars in grants, $4 million in investments and $15 million in loans to support the Woodward Corridor. The project has four goals: to create a new framework for solving complex problems such as unemployment and vacant land; to challenge obsolete conventional wisdom based on outdated assumptions; to drive private markets to work on behalf of low-income and under-served people; and ultimately, create a "new normal" in which systems and practices work more effectively on behalf of urban residents.

The program works across traditional boundaries with involvement from the philanthropic, non-profit and business communities. It's all the heavy hitters at the table --  a partial list of Living Cities members include Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Ford Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Bank of America, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley.

Yeah, that's some big bats.

The commercial loans can be used for acquisition of land and property, construction and preservation of affordable housing and development of mixed-use facilities. The funds also will provide working capital and real estate loans to businesses. "These funds will induce private investment and find ways to leverage additional private sector money," says Robin Boyle, chair of Wayne State University's Department of Urban Studies and Planning.

Money will also finance charter schools; create a community land trust; pay for a business development strategy that promotes "live local, buy local and hire local;" facilitate land-use planning and the streamlining of small-business services at the City of Detroit; and, via Data Driven Detroit, create a database of demographic information that can be easily accessed by the public. The University Cultural Center Association will coordinate the money with the Kresge Foundation and the Skillman Foundation.

This operational support is critical, says Boyle, who notes that this type of funding is often difficult for organizations and municipalities to obtain. "It's important for the city and important for Midtown," he says Boyle. "This is about hiring the people and setting up the systems necessary to get the Midtown area up and running and moving ahead."

The other four cities participating are Baltimore, Cleveland, Newark and the Twin Cities region of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

In complimentary news, Mayor Bing has been selected as one of four American mayors selected for a Daniel Rose Fellowship. The year-long program has a core curriculum of real estate market economics and creative public finance tools. The mayors' home turfs benefit from technical assistance provided by urban development and design leaders on a local land-use challenge.

Each mayor brings a team along for the Rose ride; Bing's includes Karla Henderson, group executive for Planning and Facilities for the City of Detroit, Marja Winters, deputy director of Planning and Development for the City of Detroit and Olga Stella, vice president of business development for the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation.

Stella says that the timing of the fellowship is perfect. "This is a real opportunity to get national real estate development experts into Detroit at a time that it is really pivotal," she says, hoping the end result is "some realistic short-term commercial revitalization opportunities while the city has embarked on this historic Detroit Works initiative."

Charlotte, Houston and Sacramento are the other three cities whose mayors and teams will be participating in the fellowship.

Sources: Robin Boyle, WSU and Olga Stella, DEGC
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


WA3 offers facade, streetscape grants along Woodward corridor

Buildings and the streetscape of Metro Detroit's "main street" are being targeted by two grant programs administered by Woodward Avenue Action Association.

As a Detroit ONCR (Office of Neighborhood Commercial Revitalization) district, WA3 is able to provide matching facade improvement grants to Woodward-fronting businesses located between McNichols and Eight Mile. Two of the first to take advantage are La Dolce Vita, which is receiving $15,000 and chipping in that same amount towards exterior improvements, and Prime Medical, for which plans are being finalized.

Nicole Brown, WA3's outreach and promotions director, says that ONCR work has also led to an unprecedented collaboration of area stakeholders. "What you're seeing now hasn't really been seen in the last 30 years, the gathering of all these entities together," she says. "To the west, there is a tremendous amount of investment, while on the other side is a high level of disinvestment, so it's wonderful for us to be able to work with the business owners that are left."

Another grant program focuses on municipalities and nonprofits and is available along the entire stretch of Woodward from the Detroit River north to Pontiac. Grants will be awarded in the amounts of $5,000 to $15,000 for projects ranging from crosswalk and pedestrian accessibility improvements, district or community signage or wayfinding, historical identity elements, benches, bike racks and trash receptacles.

Brown says that a great example of a small but meaningful streetscape improvement is the trash cans that line Woodward in the New Center area. "There is significantly less trash along that part of the corridor."

The total $40,000 allocation was provided through Federal Highway National Scenic Byway funding. Applications are available here or by contacting WA3 executive director Heather Carmona at 248-288-2004. They will be accepted until Nov. 12.

Source: Nicole Brown, WA3
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


Globe-trotting elephant sculpture lands at Marygrove

Marygrove College is hosting Nomkhubulwane (Nom-koo-bull-WAH-nee, Zulu for Mother Earth), an elephant sculpture created by South African artist Andries Botha. The sculpture arrived on campus on Oct. 8 and is being prominently displayed. "We are housing it right in front of our main building, central to campus," says Marygrove president David Fike. "(We hope) it performs in the way the art is intended: to spark conversation, catalyze conversation around subjects we need to talk about, like the vulnerability of the ecological footprint."

The life-size sculpture stands nine-feet tall and weighs in at 1.3 tons. Made of of galvanized steel and recycled truck tires, Nomkhubulwane is traveling around the world to raise awareness about environmental issues and is one of 17 elephants on display globally by the Human Elephant Foundation. "This majestic sculpture of an elephant communicates in way that words can't always," says Fike. "We can't avoid talking about the elephant in the room. This physical elephant represents the physical vulnerability of all of us."

Nomkhubulwane's tenure at Marygrove coincides with the college's hosting of the 2010 Great Lakes Bioneers Conference and will also be a focus of visits to campus from over 300 children from 20 to 30 area schools. Elementary, middle school and high school students will engage in lessons about elephants and ecology while, at the same time, the college's Beyond Words Gallery will display student works related to the project.

Nomkhubulwane's visit to Marygrove was made possible with funding support from DTE Energy. The elephant will migrate to the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History on Oct. 20.

Source: David Fike, Marygrove College
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


1917 American Bistro celebrates good food without the drive

When life led to a fork in the road, Don Studvent took the path that put a fork -- and some delicious food -- in other people's hands.

1917 American Bistro, located in Detroit's Avenue of Fashion commercial district on the city's northwest side, has been serving up fine food with a European flair. The self-proclaimed die-hard Detroiter and part-owner, Studvent says operating a restaurant with his brother, part-owner Anthony Howard, has always been a dream of both.

Some work and life changes last year prompted them to pursue their dream, to "get up and keep it moving," as he says. "I decided to do what I do best, to go after my passion. I'm a chef before anything."

The Avenue of Fashion, popular from the mid-century on until about the 1970s or '80s, is now dominated with hair salons, but there's still a sense of fashion there, he says. He found the property available in a part of the city where there weren't many, if any, nice, sit-down restaurants, and had to renovate it and install a kitchen.

He's tried to incorporate art into the design of the space, especially by letting local artists display their work for free. "We try to bring art into our food as well," he says.

Studvent's culinary training had European influence, as does the restaurant's menu and presentations. The menu sells pretty evenly, but the standouts are the blackened catfish, lamb chops and crab cakes.

They've been open 10 months and plan on having their official grand opening celebration Nov. 13. They were approved for a liquor license last week, and want to offer a wide wine selection so the restaurant keeps its atmosphere, without turning into a bar.

Find 1917 American Bistro (19416 Livernois Ave.) on Facebook or call 313-863-1917.

Source: Don Studvent, 1917 American Bistro
Writer: Kristin Lukowski

Round-up: News from Cass Park, Marygrove and Midtown's Green Alley

A few pieces of news to gnaw on:

Blogger One More Spoke has long admired James Lawton's 1978 sculpture, "Pink Landscape -- Three Trusses Plus" located in Cass Park. As (s)he puts it, "This pink against the greens of summer has always been a sight to behold; while the whites of winter, along with its bare black branches, also create a most remarkable tableau."

So when the piece was mysteriously painted white last year (cough, cough, Kem concert, cough), One More Spoke took notice. Determined to rectify the artistic (literal) whitewash, (s)he contacted Lawson, a professor at Michigan State University, who came up with a list of materials and agreed to help make sure the work was done properly.

On August 22, a small team, that included Lawton, restored the sculpture to its proper shade of pink. One More Spoke's report: "It was a great day in Cass Park. James Lawton's sculpture "Pink Landscape -- Three Trusses Plus" was successfully restored to its proper color with the help of several volunteers. Thank you to everyone who came out to help; and to those who wanted to be there but couldn't. Also thanks to everyone who made this possible through their generous donations."

Read more about Cass Park here.

Last week, Marygrove College previewed its new golf practice facility, which is designed by Tom Doak and will be operated in partnership with Midnight Golf. The college hopes to demonstrate unique urban land use, open up the game of golf to those who have traditionally had little access to the sport, showcase sustainability models and build partnerships to help develop youth leadership.

Read more about the facility here and more about Marygrove here.

Midtown's Green Alley is celebrating its official grand opening this Thursday. The alley, located east of Second Ave. and north of Canfield, now includes landscaping, permeable pavers and high-efficiency lighting.

Project partners Green Garage and Motor City Brewing intend this one alley transformation to be a pilot that can be replicated. To that end, they have created a detailed set of documents to aid other Detroiters interested in a green alley of their own.

Read more about the Green Alley here.

Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


7 Mile and Woodward area targeted for improvements

The -- averted for now -- threat of Palmer Park's closure presents the perfect opportunity to shine a spotlight on community efforts to improve both the park and the nearby stretch of Woodward between McNichols and Eight Mile. Spearheaded by Woodward Avenue Action Association (WA3) in concert with area residents, the city's Office of Neighborhood Commercial Revitalization, University of Detroit Mercy and local businesses, including La Dolce Vita, Cash and Associates and Innate Healing Center, the Park District Initiative is planning -- and implementing -- area improvements.

Heather Carmona, executive director of WA3, says the efforts were initially prompted by calls to her organization from area stakeholders.

"(They were saying,) 'We are having issues with crime and prostitution, how can you guys help us?'" She says. "There was nobody taking ownership of that area of Woodward like they are in Midtown and New Center."

With the help of scenic byway dollars available to WA3, the stakeholder group -- with more than 200 members -- began meeting monthly and visioning the area's assets and concerns. UDM put together a streetscape plan and facade improvements have begun.

Carmona says the efforts are significant.

"This is the primary gateway into the city," she says. "There's a diverse population, lots of strengths, lots of businesses that are stable, but the visual blight outweighs the stability."

Sources: Heather Carmona and Nicole Klepadlo, Woodward Avenue Action Association
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


Marygrove College investing in state-of-art golf practice course for area youth

Marygrove College is partnering with Midnight Golf and world-renowned golf course designer Tom Doak to build a golf practice center for urban youth on its campus. The facility is being designed with state-of-the-art sustainability practices such as minimal site-impact, water conservation and environmentally conscious fertilization and maintenance procedures. It will feature a practice putting green, a sand bunker, two practice tee areas to accommodate up to 26 hitting bays and a four-hole short course.

Doak has designed over 30 courses worldwide, four of which are rated in the top 100 courses in the world. He is providing the design and construction oversight free of charge because "he is enamored with the idea and...is very committed to putting together something innovative and unique," says Marygrove president David Fike. "On a compact urban tract of land, we'll have a world-class facility that allows any golfer, whether novice or professional, to practice any kind of shot except for a long tee shot."

The project stems from Marygrove's existing partnership with Midnight Golf -- an empowerment and mentoring program for young adults that leverages golf instruction into personal development and educational preparedness -- as well as its expanding athletics program. The course will be built on the east side of campus along with a soccer field, which is designed to accommodate a track in the future. Construction will begin on the soccer field in April and on the golf facility in the summer; both should be complete in the fall.

Source: David Fike, Marygrove College
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


Community development organizations release right-sizing strategic framework

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

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

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

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

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


Intensive property survey captures state of Detroit housing, vacancy

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Diane McCloskey, Office of Foreclosure Prevention and Response
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


Greening of Detroit kicks off fall planting schedule

Greening of Detroit began their fall planting season on October 3 with 200 trees planted by 100 volunteers. That's just the tip of the shovel, though: the organization plans to mark their 20th Anniversary by planting 2,000 trees this season. To make that happen, many volunteers are needed.

Here is a schedule, and description, of the plantings, all of which occur at 9 a.m. rain or shine.

There are four set for E. Jefferson: October 24 and 31 and November 14 and 21. A total of 1,080 volunteers are needed; each date will see 135 trees planted on the thoroughfare.

On October 10, 150 volunteers are needed for a University District planting and 80 for one in Warrendale.

On October 16, 35 trees are headed to Euclid Street and the next day, 200 people will help plant 100 trees, half in East English Village and half in the Detroit Area Residents East (DARE) neighborhood.

Weiss Park, which has been newly renovated to accommodate children with disabilities, will receive 20 trees on October 23; the following day, Mack Ave. will get 25 and Dragoon in Southwest Detroit will get 90.

On October 31, 60 volunteers will plant trees at the Southwest Detroit Greenway in Patton Park. Ninety more people are needed on November 14 on Harding Street at Jefferson to plant 45 trees.

The final planting of the season is set for November 21 at Luger Playfield on the west side, where 15 trees will be planted by 30 volunteers.

All plantings are subject to change, so it is important to sign up in advance with volunteer coordinator Anthony Todd at 313-237-8733 or
anthony@greeningofdetroit.com.

Source: Monica Tabares, Greening of Detroit
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


Meijer signs on the dotted line to anchor Shoppes at Gateway

Big news for Detroit: Meijer Inc. just signed a development agreement for a 192,000-square-foot store that will anchor the Shoppes at Gateway Park located on Eight Mile at Woodward. The entire development, which also will include a 28,000-square-foot Marshalls, is slated to span 365,000 square feet and is expected to create 600 jobs.

Considering there is no chain grocer currently operating within the city limits, there is clearly reason to take note of Meijer's decision to make this move. "Detroit has had difficulty in attracting major national retail, so this investment from Meijer signals a lot of confidence in the city and its residents to support this retail, the kind that you find in many other cities across the country," says Olga Savic Stella, the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation's vice president of business development.

On the other hand, with recent grocery closures (Zaccaro's, Downtown Foodland) in the news, is there reason for the city's independent grocers to be concerned? No, says Stella. "We are commited to working with [them] to help them improve and expand their businesses," she says. "Also, independent grocers compete against Meijer in the suburbs already. We're confident that with the additional assistance that the new program we are developing will provide, most of them will be able to compete successfully with this one as well."

The Shoppes at Gateway is estimated to be an overall $90 million investment. An additional 173,000 square feet of leasable space remains available. Doors should open in 2011.

Source: Olga Stella, DEGC
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


D-Biz: Tuffy hangs tough on 8 Mile

Tuffy Auto Service Center on Eight Mile just west of Livernois is many "onlies." It's the only African-American-owned Tuffy in the state of Michigan. It's the only Tuffy in the city of Detroit. And its owners, Nicole and Gerald Huffman, might be the only auto shop owners looking to give away free service.

The couple is offering two free tune-ups -- up to $500 in value -- to Detroiters that need work done on their car but just can't afford it at the moment. "We have a lot of people supporting us, and this is our way of giving back to the community," says Nicole. "We've been noticing a lot of people haven't been able to get their car repaired and, before we purchased this facility, we were in the same boat."

Anyone in need of car repair that they cannot afford should send a letter to Tuffy's at 7411 W. Eight Mile Rd. explaining their current situation and naming the year, make and model of the vehicle needing repair, an outline of any concerns with the vehicle and any previously written estimates. Two letters will be drawn at random on June 30, 2009.

The Huffmans were offered the Detroit Tuffy franchise in 2007 after Gerald, who has been a mechanic and technician for 26 years, had worked there six months. Nicole, who has a background in customer services, says, "It was such a blessing, of course. It was a perfect fit for us." Their purchase was financed in part by ShoreBank Enterprise Detroit, a nonprofit affiliate of ShoreBank Corporation.

Tuffy Auto Service Center can be reached at 313-862-2886.

Source: Nicole Huffman, Tuffy Auto Service Center Detroit
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


University Commons opens outdoor market on Livernois at The Lodge

In partnership with Wayne County and the Black Farmers Coalition, University Commons Organization is starting up a farmers market, the New Windmill Market at the southwest corner of the Lodge Freeway and Livernois. Along with fresh produce and flowers, the market will spur agriculture education and community garden efforts for the area.

The opening will be celebrated two ways: on May 30, with flower day and on June 6, with a grand opening ribbon cutting -- from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. both days. After that, it will be open every Saturday through November 1.

Windmill Market was open in the 1970's but has been vacant for some time. Now that it is re-opened, the goal is to power it completely by windmills to be located on the Lodge side of the property.

Visitors to the market should expect not just plants and flowers, but an opportunity to learn about commercial revitalization efforts along the Livernois corridor by University Commons, an organization that is one of Detroit's six Office of Commercial Revitalization districts.

For more information, call University Commons at 313-653-1121.

Source: Holly Clements, University District Community Association
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


$65,000 Community Foundation grant to fund Eight Mile code enforcement

Eight Mile is about to have an extra set of eyes looking out for code violations. The Eight Mile Boulevard Association (8MBA) was awarded $65,000 from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (CFSEM) to implement an Eight Mile Corridor Keeper program that will address public safety, urban blight and code violations along the corridor.

The underlying principle of the Keeper program is that a property’s appearance impacts the success of a business and thus, a well-maintained business is more likely to be successful. Tami Salisbury, executive director of 8MBA, says the the three counties and 13 communities, including Detroit, that comprise the membership of the organization came up with the concept a couple of years ago, but it took time to find funding for the novel program.

The Keeper will traverse the corridor looking for peeling paint, trash and litter, weeds and un-shoveled walks. He or she will first be acclimated to the job by spending time with code enforcement officers from each of the communities.

The CFSEM money will fund the position for two years. Salisbury hopes to have someone hired and in place by May 18.

Source: Tami Salisbury, 8MBA
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


$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


$2.3M artist learning center opens on 7 Mile

Yesterday, the Arab American and Chaldean Council celebrated the grand opening of its Artisana and Adult Learning Center located at 55 W. Seven Mile, between Woodward and John R. The $2.3 million building joins three others built in the last decade: the agency's Detroit headquarters, a youth center and a club house for a total of a $14 million investment into their stretch of street. Construction began a year ago on the building, which features a first floor gallery and a Middle Eastern-themed café. There is also work space for artists that will encourage interaction between different ethnicities and social and economic backgrounds. "As they do work side by side, they will learn from each other, learn about each other's backgrounds," says ACC executive director Isa Hasan. School field trips will also allow students to interact with these same artists as they work.

The second floor has a computer lab, conference room, program offices and an adult learning center that will provide programs such as English as Second Language learning as well as other life skills training.

Recent streetscape work also was completed last week along Seven Mile between Woodward Avenue and Carman Street. Funded by the Michigan Department of Transportation and Wayne County Parks and Recreation, the upgrade includes sidewalk improvements, street trees, planting beds, trash receptacles, benches and crosswalk pavers.

ACC is in discussions with MDOT about the second phase of streetscape improvements, which would take the work east all the way to John R. Hasan hopes to see that work undertaken in 2009 or 2010.

Source: Isa Hasan, ACC
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

City-sponsored home tour focused on LGBT audience, Palmer Park vicinity

The city's Next Detroit Neighborhood Initiative is promoting a potential "Gayborhood," in an effort to prompt lesbians, gays, bisexuals and the transgendered to consider a move to Detroit. The event is set for 2-8 p.m. Sept. 28.

The area of focus is roughly the Palmer Park - University Commons area, including the Bagley (Wyoming to Woodward/8 Mile to McNichols), Green Acres (Pembroke to 8 Mile/Livernois to Woodward), Sherwood Forest (Pembroke to 7 Mile/Livernois to Parkside), University District (7 mile to McNichols/Livernois to Woodward) and Palmer Woods (NW corner of Seven Mile and Woodward) neighborhoods.

The theme of the tour is "Come for the architecture...stay for the neighbors!"

Five homes will be open on the tour, none of which are for sale. Neighbors will gather at each home to meet and greet people on the tour. Maps and addresses of homes that are for sale in the area will be provided, as will appetizers and wine.

The tour starts and ends at the Detroit Golf Club, from where buses will be departing every 15 minutes to take attendees to the next home on a tour. Post-tour, refreshments and a cash bar will be available at the Golf Club. The City of Detroit Assessor's Office and Preservation Wayne will be in attendance to talk about tax credits and the like.

Tickets are $20 and available here; proceeds will be donated to the Michigan Equality Education Fund.

Source: NNDI and Supergay Detroit
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


D-Biz: Innate Healing Arts Center near Palmer Park caters to whole person

The Innate Healing Arts Center encompasses many things: a vegetarian cafe, chiropractor and holistic healing, massage, colon therapy, art and music.

From the extensive garden outside to the calm decor of the interior, Innate aims to soothe, clarify and, of course, heal its visitors. "I had this idea of the countryside, animals, land -- and that's the gist of this place," says Dr. Robert Pizzimenti, AKA Dr. Bob. "We wanted to create a setting that healed you when you look at it."

Dr. Bob bought the building in 2002. He's been a practicing chiropractor for more than two decades, but, since opening Innate, has expanded his purview to encompass a more holistic brand of treatment. "Healing is a science, a philosophy, an art," he says. "I finally got that after 22 years ... I'm healing, not fixing."

Innate's vegetarian cafe is open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, with Sunday brunch served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. There is meditation on Tuesday evenings, a drum circle on Wednesdays, vibrational healing bowls on Thursdays and jazz on Fridays.

Dr. Bob cherishes his view of Palmer Park. "If I look a distance, I'd think I was in Pennsylvania," he says. "I get an amazing sunset right here." Innate is at 18700 Woodward at Goldengate, three blocks south of Seven Mile. Call 313-366-2247.

Innate accepts most forms of medical insurance for treatment with Dr. Bob. He's offering Model D readers 20% off their initial consultations.

Source: Dr. Robert Pizzimenti, Innate
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


UDM dedicates new tennis complex; Titans ready for autumn season

The University of Detroit Mercy will dedicate a new tennis complex on Sept. 11 as part of its week-long Founders Celebration. Eight new hard courts and one grass one have been built just south of Calihan Hall. "The location will give the entire student population direct access to the tennis courts," says athletic director Keri Gaither. "It does not just benefit athletics, it benefits the entire campus community."

A 4,000-square-foot viewing pavilion also has been built. As a whole, the tennis complex represents a $750,000 investment by the university.

That's not the only thing the Titans will be showing off during Founders Celebration. Open practices will be held on the new $1.7 million track and field complex that also will used by their new lacrosse teams.

Inside Calihan, there are two new locker rooms for the LAX crew, a brand new surface for the wood gym floor and $30,000 worth of improvements to the weight room. The Wayne Wheeler Golf Center has also been built, creating an indoor hitting and putting practice area in the arena.

The softball field also picked up a new hitting and pitching cage. A total price tag for all the athletic improvements tops $2.7 million.

Source: Keri Gaither, UDM
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


Community arts building, theater at State Fairgrounds get upgrades, will house year-round auto fair

The State Fairgrounds is being highlighted in a collaborative effort to promote its -- and the region's -- automotive heritage. A week-long event, AutoFair,  runs through Aug 16 and will kick-off the grand opening of a permanent automotive display and meeting center that will operate year-round in the renovated theater and arts building.

The parties involved are MotorCities National Heritage Area, Motorcities Dreamakers and the Detroit Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Motorcities Dreamakers have completed renovations to the 24,000-square-foot community arts building and the 600-seat theater. After the AutoFair is over, the entities are partnering to mount a permanent exhibit and operate meeting and conference space. The DMCVB will market the facility nationwide to car clubs and companies with an automotive bent.

Proceeds from the AutoFair also will go towards refurbishing the Veterans Memorial Flame at the Fairgrounds. It has been out of commission for decades. The flame will be a hologram so it will have no carbon footprint.

Why all the auto focus at the Fairgrounds? The site has a significant auto industry and labor heritage: It was the home of early General Motors Autorama and competitive open-wheel auto racing in the 1940s and ‘50s that led to the formation of the National Street Rod Association. "For the MotorCities National Heritage Area, [we want to show] the Michigan State Fairgrounds for what it represents from an auto heritage point of view," says Gary Familian,
managing director of the MotorCities National Heritage Area. "We're making it one of our places."

The Fairgrounds will now be featured on the organization's web site and in all of its auto-themed tourism materials.

Source: Gary Familian, MotorCities National Heritage Area
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


PIME Missionaries invest millions into improving their University District HQ

PIME Missionaries has been located in Detroit for six decades. Their facility, located just north of McNichols in the University District, was built in 1928 and it needs some work -- enough that the organization considered relocating, perhaps even to a new city.

Instead, PIME decided to undertake an extensive, multi-million dollar renovation of the four-story, 70,000-square-foot building. "It's an ideal location;  it's close to several communities we work with in the Detroit area," says Rick Schulte, PIME's communications director. "Sometimes our priests need to learn languages, and [University of Detroit Mercy] is right down the street -- it's nice to be next door to a great school like that."

PIME is a Roman Catholic missionary organization whose members dedicate their lives to service on five continents. It was founded in Italy in 1850, and established its United States regional headquarters in Detroit in 1947. The facility houses PIME's long-term residents, visitors and seminarians undergoing training.

The renovations will take about one year and will be extensive. "It's safe to say that it will be gutted down to bare studs and rebuilt," says Schulte.

The project is being supported by private donors as well as by the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Source: Rick Schulte, PIME
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


$1.2M renovation of Frank Lloyd Wright's Turkel house reveals architect's original vision

The Dorothy Turkel House on Seven Mile, the only Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home in Detroit proper, is the beneficiary of a $1.2 million renovation that has painstakingly returned the home to the architect's original vision.

Owners Norman Silk and Dale Norman retained architect Lawrence Brink, a Wright expert, and began to pull together all of the available information on the house they could find, including the original blueprints and communication between Turkel and Wright. "Some things were documented in extreme, excrutiating detail, while others were completely ignored," says Silk. "This long renovation process that we've gone through has made it more interesting and intriguing."

The drawings that they found ensured that the original kitchen cabinetry could be reproduced, as well as the original Music Room furniture that had been removed.

A new energy efficient heating system was installed, broken blocks in the parapet wall were replaced and a new insulated rubber roof was added. Energy efficient glass was installed in over 150 perforated block windows.

Interior work that remains to be completed includes the repainting of concrete surfaces, polishing of red concrete floors and returning the mahogany paneling and gallery cabinets to their original finish.

Outdoors, concrete terraces and walks will be stained red again, sixteen steel frame exterior doors and 24 ventilating windows will be returned to their original robin's egg blue color and a never-executed courtyard terrace will be built.

The Dorothy Turkel House was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1955 at age 87. It is 4,300 square feet and is the only built example of a two story Usonian Automatic.

Source: Norman Silk, Turkel House
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


Detroit one of 9 cities chosen for AIA sustainability audit, planning session

The American Institute of Architects has selected Detroit as one of nine cities that will receive a sustainability audit from a Sustainable Design Assessment Team later this year.

Teams of volunteer professionals like architects, urban designers, planners, hydrologists, economists and attorneys will come to the city for a three-day charette and team up with local architecture and engineering students, along with government officials, community groups and other stakeholders.

Diane VanBuren Jones of WARM Training spearheaded the SDAT application and is now coordinating the assessment itself. She says the out-of-town experts will arrive with "a national eye on how sustainability will work in your community."

Jones is particularly interested in mapping the city's energy systems. "We will take it down to the level of each business," she says.

The group could look at a tortilla factory, for example, she says. "It brings in corn and wheat -- some of it from Ohio instead of Michigan -- and the production uses a ton of natural gas. There is people energy and transportation energy and energy to heat and light the building." A map of all such systems would allow experts to close some energy loops. "How much would be spent on all of those energy systems if we got smart about it?" she asks.

The process is motivated by the environment and economics. Money saved by increased energy efficiency can create prosperity and new jobs, says Jones.

Which is why her next task is identifying funding sources for entrepreneurs, neighborhoods and developers interested in investing in green technologies such as solar panels or anaerobic digesters.

Jones anticipates that the SDAT will focus on areas with a framework for environmental initiatives already in place, like Southwest Detroit, the Woodward Corridor and Eastern Market.

Jones is currently working with several universities, including Wayne State, Michigan State and University of Michigan, to select the date for the SDAT.

Source: Diane VanBuren Jones, WARM Training
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


D-Biz: Get strung up by Professional Racquet Services

Michael Banks has sold and serviced racquets from his Avenue of Fashion storefront since 1987. The shop's specialized nature has worked for the best: Professional Racquet Services draws tennis, racquetball, squash, badminton and platform tennis players from all over Metro Detroit and as far away as Flint, Grand Rapids and Toledo.

When Banks opened up shop, there were seven racket stores around Metro Detroit; now there is just one other, in Royal Oak. He credits his long-term success to his deep ties to the sports he works with. "I've been playing tennis for 44 years," he says. "I know people, I've been highly ranked in tennis — there's a respect there."

Banks also teaches tennis, racquetball and squash. He primarily gives lessons at Palmer Park's outdoor courts and the indoor ones at the YWCA on Grand River. He credits the popularity and advocacy of the Williams sisters with tennis' growth among young people. A junior novice tournament he runs each fall at the YWCA has grown from 25 participants to at least 125.

Although Banks has seen his area of Livernois change from a retail-oriented corridor to one that is more service-oriented, he is staying put. "You can buy a racket on the Internet," says Banks. "But if you need repairs, you have to come here."

Professional Racquet Services is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. It is located at 19444 Livernois and can be reached at 313-863-1880.

Source: Michael Banks, Professional Racquet Services
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


New McNichols entryway planned for UDM

The University of Detroit Mercy is planning an aesthetic and operational makeover of its McNichols entrance. The vision includes the installation of a large archway, removal of a chain link fence and the overall lengthening of the entry drive, which is intended to prevent back-ups when there are large events on campus.

"We want to create a nice welcoming face for the university to first time visitors and to people in the neighborhood just driving by," says Tamara Batcheller, UDM's associate vice president for facilities.

Batcheller says the new entryway is in line with not just UDM's efforts to improve its appearance, but the surrounding area as a whole. "We're all trying to give this whole community a face-lift -- businesses are trying to do it too," she says. "It's truly a team effort."

The start date for construction is dependent on fund-raising; a full cost estimate is due in January. The new entryway is one of several capital improvement projects happening on UDM's main campus, including work on two dormitories and two academic buildings and the installation of a new track and field. Future plans include a student fitness center, stadium seating around the track and field and an addition to the downtown law school.

Source: Tamara S. Batcheller, UDM
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


Wayne County seminar to focus strategies, successes for rehabbing nuisance properties

This evening, the Wayne County Nuisance Abatement Program (NAP) will host its second annual RAP with NAP forum. The event will, as it did last year, explain NAP's history and how it works.

If a vacant property is ultimately deemed a nuisance by NAP, the county will first work with the owner to either rehab the property or sell it to someone that will. As a last resort, title is awarded to the county and a new owner is sought.

A new element at this year's RAP includes the Wayne County Community Renaissance Award, which will be given to five rehabilitation projects that were targeted by NAP lawsuits. The awards will be given to three residential property owners, the owner of a commercial building near the University of Detroit Mercy (pictured) and Bagley Housing Association, for its restoration of an entire block of the Hubbard-Richard neighborhood.

NAP attorney Michael Russell says the five awardees did "exemplary" jobs on their properties. "When people see the 'before' and 'after' pictures, they say, "Wow!' "

Other speakers will include Regina Strong from the Community Development Advocates of Detroit, who will discuss community initiatives that work in tandem with NAP, and Police Inspector Leslie Montgomery, who will share tactics to help neighborhoods prevent vacant properties from becoming nuisance properties.

The event begins at 5:30 p.m. in the atrium of the Wayne County Building. Russell anticipates 100 to 150 attendees.

For more information about NAP, contact Russell at 313-967-2203 or mrussell@co.wayne.mi.us.

Source: Michael Russell, Wayne County
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


Rec Department celebrates grand opening of NW Activities Center on Nov. 9

There has been $16 million worth of improvements made to the Northwest Activities Center, and the Detroit Recreation Department is excited for the public to get an eyeful of all the work that has been done.

The grand opening will be celebrated on November 9  at 12:30 with special guests Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick, Detroit Recreation Department Director Loren S. Jackson, and Northwest Activities Center Executive Director Ronald Lockett. The entire center open for tours until 8 p.m. that day.

Renovations have been made to the health club, swimming pool, racquetball and squash courts, locker rooms and steam and sauna rooms. The health club has new equipment, including elliptical machines, treadmills, bicycles, stair masters and a rowing machine. There is also strength equipment, both machines and free weights.

The center also has eight meeting spaces that are equipped for groups of eight up to 100. There is a ballroom with capacity for 250 and a 488-seat theater. Several city services are now housed at the center, with the Recreation Department, Senior Citizens Department and Neighborhood City Hall having moved in post-renovation.

Use of the center is free for youth Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Health club memberships are available ranging from $100 for seniors up to $600 annually for a family.
 
The Northwest Activities Center is located at 18100 Meyers. It is open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. - 10 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., and Sunday from 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Source: Jennifer Roberts, Detroit Recreation Department
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


11,000 SF retail plaza to be built across from Palmer Park

Palmer Woods Square is coming to one of the city's most stable areas that still remains woefully under-served by retail.

Located on Woodward Avenue at W. Goldengate Avenue, between Seven Mile and McNichols roads, the 11,000 square foot retail plaza is currently seeking tenants for spaces ranging in size from 900 to 9,000 square feet.

The prosperity of Palmer Woods, Sherwood Forest, Green Acres and the University District prompted developer Charlotte Knight to embark on the project. She has run her State Farm Insurance office from the area for seven years and saw good market potential. "It is not enjoying the the amenities that type of income level enjoys in the suburbs," Knight says.

Other indicators that cemented her desire to proceed with Palmer Woods Square is the work of the Palmer Park Conservation Society and efforts of groups such as the Woodward Avenue Action Association to connect communities all along the corridor. "There is a push to bring this area back," she says.

Knight was particular that the design of the plaza respects the historical nature of the communities it will serve without resorting to imitation. "I want it to fit into the neighborhood, but with a modern edge," she says. "I'm not trying to do a replica of something."

She hopes to break ground in spring of 2008 and complete construction six to eight months later.

Land for the project was assembled by David Shanaman from Colliers International. Inquiries should be directed to Knight at 313-340-1907.

Source: Charlotte Knight, Palmer Woods Square
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh
Illustration courtesy of Colliers International


Detroit LISC awarded $100K for neighborhood development

The national office of Local Initiatives Support Collaborative (LISC) has awarded its Detroit office $100,000 in its Building Sustainable Communities program. The grant will be used in the five areas of the city that the organization has targeted in its Neighborhoods NOW initiative.

LISC defines sustainable communities as those that are working to expand capital investment in housing and real estate development; increase family income, wealth and employment; stimulate local economic activity and connect to the regional economy; improve access to quality education and support healthy environment and lifestyles. "It is all of those kinds of things that lead to communities being able to be self-supporting," says Program Director Deborah Younger.

Although LISC has been primarily known for its efforts in real estate development, their reach has expanded with their Neighborhoods NOW efforts. "What we're saying is that we're going to do community development activities in these areas in every component, not just real estate," says Younger.

Neighborhoods NOW is a $100 million initiative overall. Detroit is one of eleven cities nationwide that is a demonstration site for the Building Sustainable Communities program.

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


DDOT seeking public input on 3 rapid transit lines

The Detroit Department of Transportation will host four public meetings this week to ascertain public support for three possible rapid transit routes. The options, all of which include a three-mile stretch of Woodward between downtown and New Center, are:
  • Woodward to Eight Mile;
  • Michigan Avenue to Dearborn, near Fairlane Mall and University of Michigan-Dearborn; and
  • Gratiot to Eight Mile.
These three alignments were deemed worthy of further study for several reasons, including public support at an earlier round of public hearings, population, housing and employment density, major destinations, traffic volume, bus ridership, and concentration of car-less households. Modes being evaluated include bus rapid transit, light rail and upgraded traditional bus service.

The public meetings are being conducted under the auspices of the Detroit Transit Options for Growth Study (DTOGS) and are a step in the Federal Transit Authority-mandated process that must be followed in order to apply for federal funding.

DTOGS is expected to be complete by the end of the year, at which time the FTA will receive a recommended alignment and mode. The study's lead consultant is URS, a company that assisted cities such as Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Dallas, Denver and Portland in submitting successful transit grant applications to the FTA. If DTOGS's application is funded, construction could begin on a transit line by 2010.

DTOGS is comprised of representatives from Wayne County, Detroit, Dearborn, Hamtramck, Highland Park, Michigan Department of Transportation, Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, the Regional Transportation Coordinating Council and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation.

Technical Committee member Erik Tungate, who is Hamtramck's community and economic development director, stresses the collaborative nature of the endeavor. "This process has brought ties between us, just by virtue of us sitting down on a monthly basis together," he says. "We all know the spin-off positive effect transit would have on each of our communities, directly and indirectly, in terms of development."

Each meeting will begin with an hour-long open house that will be followed by a presentation and public comments. The meeting schedule is:
  • Wednesday, July 25 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Guardian Building

  • Wednesday, July 25 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Wayne State University's Welcome Center

  • Thursday, July 26 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Wayne County Community College's Cooper Community Center

  • Saturday, July 28 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Ford Community and Performing Arts Center in Dearborn

Source: Erik Tungate, city of Hamtramck
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


UDM breaks ground on track and field

The University of Detroit Mercy broke ground on a new track and field at their main McNichols campus.

The complex, to be located just north of Calihan Hall, consists of a synthetic turf field and a six-lane all-weather track. The field will be playable by the first week in October, according to UDM's new athletic director Keri Gaither.

The field will be lined for soccer and football and will be usable for the university's intramural athletes as well as Horizon League teams. Gaither points out that if lacrosse is added to UDM's roster of competitive sports -- as is being considered -- that team would use the field as well.

Because UDM had no outdoor track, its track and field athletes had to practice off-site in Ferndale and Windsor. The new track will allow the university to host home dual meets as well improve the quality of athlete's lives by saving time on practice days.

Gaither estimates the track and field, stadium and associated lighting will cost $1.3 million. It is being funding partially through university bonding as well as through contributions from the athletic department.

Gaither also notes that six new positions have been added to the athletic department as part of UDM's sport expansion plan. "Really, there's just a whole number of wonderful things happening right now," she says.

Source: Keri Gaither, UDM
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


National Bike to Work Day hits the Woodward corridor on Friday, May 18

This year's National Transportation Week is being centered in Detroit, and there is lots going on to commemorate that fact. (Visit our sister site, metromode, to read more about transit and alternative fuel events happening all throughout the week.)

For its part, Detroit Bikes! will hold the local version of National Bike to Work Day on Friday, May 19 along the Woodward corridor. From Royal Oak south to Campus Martius, with stops along the way in Ferndale, Palmer Park, New Center and Midtown, participants will roll into downtown just after 8 a.m.

Held both to draw attention to the viability of cycling as a means of transportation and to bestow a bit of group courage to the novice cycler, the event is free. Last year -- its first -- the Woodward Avenue Bike to Work drew 50 riders; event organizer Alexander Froehlich expects up to 75 this year.

On Monday, May 14, the organization held a similar ride along Michigan Avenue from Dearborn, though Southwest Detroit and Corktown, to Downtown.

They encouraged participants to ride home via bicycle or to hitch a ride on SMART buses, which are each equipped to carry two bikes.

Detroit Bikes! hosts group rides through the entire summer and fall. Check out the group's website to keep up-to-date.

Source: Alexander Froehlich, Detroit Bikes!
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


University District to host neighborhood open house

Inspired by last year's Grandmont-Rosedale neighborhood open house, University District has decided to hold its own on April 29.

A community reception will be held at All Saints Church on W. Seven Mile at Birchcrest from 12:30 - 5 p.m. The reception will allow guests to meet current residents and receive a listing of all homes for sale in the community that specially denotes the nearly 30 that will be open for viewing that day. The open houses will be staffed by realtors from 1 - 4 p.m.

One of the event's organizers, Mary Leonard from the University District Community Association, encourages people to stop by the reception before hitting the open houses. "Receiving the full listing will allow people to prioritize homes and, for any that they miss, they can schedule a personal showing on some other day."

Expect many homes for sale that are owner-occupied to range from $250,000 up to $350,000. Others that are currently owned by lenders may be available for less, explains Leonard.

Learn more about living in the University District by reading Model D's University Commons - Palmer Park Moving Guide.

Source: Mary Leonard, UDCA
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


Neal Shine Media Center dedicated at UDM

University of Detroit Mercy celebrated the opening of the Neal Shine Media Center on April 18. The center, located on the third floor of the Briggs Building on the university's McNichols campus, will serve as the dedicated home for the campus' newspaper, The Varsity News.

First published in 1918, The VN struggled in recent years and was relegated to club status, then disbanded. It began again operating as a function of the communication studies department but without its own space about three-and-a-half years ago. A group of alumni -- including namesake Neal Shine -- banded together to rectify the situation, ultimately raising $40,000 towards the creation of the center.

The committee voted back in October of 2006 to dedicate the center to Shine, the much-loved former editor of the Detroit Free Press and one-time instructor at UDM. VN faculty advisor and adjunct journalism professor Craig Farrand says, "He was so well-respected." Sadly, Shine died just two weeks before the dedication of the center.

Fully stocked with 12 state-of-the-art Macintosh computers, dedicated phone and fax lines, printers and copiers, the center is a functional space that Farrand hopes will "stimulate more activity." He is thrilled that journalism students now "have their own office, their own place to go."

The VN is currently a tabloid-sized paper that reaches up to 16 pages in length. Farrand hopes to see size and quality of the publication begin to grow, particularly since the alumni group that so successfully built the media center has a new target: rebuilding UDM's journalism program.

Source: Craig Farrand, UDM
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh, VN 1994-95


Fifth Third Bank opens new Detroit branch

Fifth Third bank has opened a 4,500-square foot office on Eight Mile just east of Livernois. The branch is full-service; it includes four drive-up banking lanes, a 24-hour ATM, safety deposit boxes and private offices for commercial banking, loans and mortgages.

Later this month, Fifth Third will open another branch at Seven Mile and Telegraph and hope to occupy its "regional hub" branch in the South University Village development by the end of the year.

Fifth Third's president for Southeastern Michigan, Greg Kosch, says the bank is scouting sites for an additional three or four locations in Detroit, which he calls "an underserved banking area."

Kosch says the bank has an interest in locating in neighborhoods, where he says, "individuals need banks." Although a downtown location is not off the table, he says Fifth Third is currently more interested in being part of "revitalized neighborhoods."

Kosch describes how a Sherwood Forest resident went door-to-door gathering petition signatures for a necessary additional curb cut for the new branch. He says, "The neighborhood wants this office there. It wouldn't have happened without grass roots support."

Source: Greg Kosch, Fifth Third Bank
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


Public input sessions held for Detroit Transit Options for Growth Study

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

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

Please RSVP to Tim Roseboom.

Source: DTOGS


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

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

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

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

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

The study can be downloaded here.

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

Source, Kristine Kidorf, Kidorf Preservation Consulting and MHPN


14 of 16 units sold in Palmer Park condo complex

1001 Covington, the first condo conversion project in the Palmer Park neighborhood, has sold 14 of its 16 units in just nine months. The 3,000 square-foot condos sold for approximately $75/sf, averaging $200,000 per unit.

Developer Joseph Brophy attributes the project's success to the craftsmanship of the renovation, its proximity to Palmer Park and the Detroit Golf Club and “its good, central location to the suburbs or pretty much anything going on in the city.”

He also points out that house-hunters already looking in Sherwood Forest, the University District or Palmer Woods were “won over with the NEZ tax abatement.”

Brophy is currently involved with the creation of P4 (Positive Presence for Palmer Park), an association of building owners, churches and residents to improve the area. He says there is “real neighborhood energy around making this a better place.”
 
Brophy plans to embark on more condo conversions in the area, which he believes will help stabilize the area. “We are changing the perception of this area so that people want to live here. We’re changing it one condo at a time.”

Source: Joseph Brophy, 1001 Covington



City Council task force recommends recycling implementation by 2009

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: CFSEM


UDM architecture Michael Rotondi lecture DATE HAS CHANGED

Please note: The date for the first lecture of
University of Detroit Mercy’s architecture series has been changed to 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 31. The event had been scheduled for Jan. 24.

The series features lectures from four leading architects in the first quarter of 2007.

The first lecture, entitled “Stillpoint,” will take place on Jan. 31 at 6:30 p.m. and will be given by Los Angeles architect Michael Rotondi.

Rotondi first gained prominence in firm Morphosis with partner Thom Mayne. In his own firm, Roto, he began to “gear his practice [towards] social justice and social good” according to Julie Kim, UDM architecture professor and curator of the lecture series.

To this end, Kim says that Rotondi often focuses on “working with non-profits and trying to basically open up the field of architecture to clients like that.” One of his 1990’s projects was the design of a new campus for Sinte Gleska University, the oldest tribal college in the United States and he has since designed the Oglala Lakota Fine Arts Center, both in South Dakota.

Kim was interested in the shift in his work “from glitzy, sexy projects” and hopes that “students and local practitioners will share this enthusiasm for his work.”

Rotondi has been on faculty at Southern California Institute of Architecture since the early 1970’s. Kim says, “He has maintained teaching as one of the layers of what he does.”

Future lectures include:
  • Dan Hoffman, professor at Arizona State University and former head of architecture at Cranbrook – Feb. 23, 5 p.m.
  • Renée Daoust Lestage from Montreal, Canada – Mar. 14, 6:30 p.m.
  • David Adjaye from London, England – Mar. 26, 6:30 p.m.
The lectures will be held at the Warren Loranger Architecture Building at UDM. More information about each of the speakers can be found at the Architecture School’s website.

Source: Julie Kim, UDM


University Commons adds new retailer, hosts holiday celebration

There is one more place to shop for fashion on The Avenue of Fashion. Simply Casual has opened on Livernois at Outer Drive, and owner Rufus Bartel will be one of the many area business owners busy decorating his windows for the University Commons Organization’s Holiday Windows Decoration Competition.

Inspired by the Macy’s New York City window displays, Livernois businesses will decorate their windows around the theme of “Home for the Holidays.” Neighborhood residents can vote for their favorite windows from Dec. 9-16, with the winner to be announced at UCO’s holiday celebration on Dec. 16. “We want to get some activity up and down Livernois, so that people can see what we have to offer,” explains UCO’s Kim Tandy.

Events planned for the Dec. 16 event include:
  • Horse-drawn carriage rides;
  • Specials and discounts at stores;
  • Children’s activities;
  • Photographs with Santa Claus at Motown Photography, located at 19320 Livernois;
  • Caroling;
  • Music at Baker’s Keyboard Lounge;
  • Christmas tree lighting (at Outer Dr. & Livernois) at 6 pm.
Source: Kim Tandy, University Commons Organization


First phase of Livernois boulevarding project wrapping up

Phase One of the Livernois Boulevard project is expected to wrap up by the end of the month, according to Sunny Jacob, traffic engineer with the Detroit Department of Public Works. Jacob has observed traffic in the area flowing smoothly and hopes the project will promote more pedestrian traffic along the corridor.

Phase One stretched between Eight Mile and McNichols, Phase Two will extend the boulevard south to Davison and Phase Three to Grand River. Both future phases will begin construction in 2008; reconstruction of the Lodge Freeway will prevent any work to occur during the 2007 construction season.

Source: Sunny Jacob, DPW


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writer: Clare Pfeiffer Ramsey
Source: One D

Preservationists sign on to unified vision

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

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

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

For more information, contact Preservation Wayne.

Source: Francis Grunow, Preservation Wayne




Wayne County to host Nuisance Abatement Seminar

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Mike Russell, Wayne County


Crain's to throw house parties at 40 Detroit homes

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Mary Kramer, Crain’s Detroit Business


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

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

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

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




Detroit visitors bureau offers $50 gas card summer promotion

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

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

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

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

Source: Carolyn Artman, Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau


Summer in the city kicks into high gear

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

A few ideas:

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

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

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

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

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


UDM accepting applications for new community development master's program

University of Detroit Mercy’s new master's of community development program will start its second year in the fall. The program is accepting applications now.

The 36-hour credit program prepares graduates for careers in a variety of roles in community development, including municipal government, nonprofits, social service agencies and real estate development. The program's inaugural year has attracted teachers, youth counselors, Detroit City Council staff members and information technology professionals.

The interdisciplinary curriculum uses faculty and content areas from across the University. The program model integrates human, economic, physical and organizational aspects of community development. Service, social justice and sustainability comprise a three-part philosophical and ethical foundation for the program.

The master’s program ends with a capstone project that will engage students in work with a community group on a real-world project that could include something like a business plan for a neighborhood development project.

Classes begin this fall. The deadline for application is July 15. Go to http://www.udmercy.edu/mcd/ for more information.



Preservation Wayne celebrates 30 years of efforts, looks ahead

Preservation Wayne is marking its 30th anniversary this week.

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

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

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

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

Source: Preservation Wayne

Stretch of Livernois to become a more pedestrian-friendly boulevard

Work has begun on transforming Livernois between Eight Mile and McNichols Roads into a boulevard. Currently nine lanes wide, the roadbed will be reduced to two lanes of travel and a dedicated parking lane in each direction.

City of Detroit Traffic Engineer Sunny Jacob says the project was prompted by a series of “pedestrian crashes in the Livernois area [because of] stores on both sides and people crossing a 90-feet wide roadway.” The addition of a boulevard gives pedestrians a safe haven halfway across the road, and it also has been shown to slow traffic.

Looking to decrease insurance costs in the city, AAA Insurance studied the corridor, with results that backed up the analysis of the Traffic Engineering division of Detroit’s Department of Public Works, which recommended the narrowing of the roadway. The analysis also confirmed that two travel lanes in each direction would be able to handle the capacity of traffic that Livernois carries.

The project budget is just over $1.4 million and is being funded in large part by the Michigan Department of Transportation. Jacob notes that “MDOT bought into the project because they also see a benefit in the reduction of crashes.” Construction is expected to be complete by November of this year.

Phase Two will continue the boulevard south to the Lodge freeway.
 
Source: Sunny Jacob, City of Detroit Department of Public Works


Detroiters to bike to work en masse

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

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

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

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

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


Post-Super Bowl excitement leads to more city tours

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

The new types of tours will be:

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

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

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

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

Source: TEDC


Cityscape aims to educate Detroiters about national retailers

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

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

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

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

Source: Andrew Koper, senior officer, Cityscape Detroit

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

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

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

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


Greening of Detroit working to coordinate, link greenways projects

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Ashley Atkinson, Greening of Detroit  


Preservationists to discuss Detroit at Marygrove event

A panel of preservation experts will discuss Detroit at an event this
week presented by Marygrove College's Institute for Detroit
Studies.(www.marygrove.edu)

The discussion, titled "Historic Preservation in Detroit: Aesthetics
and Sustainability," will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, in the
Madame Cadillac Building at the college.

Panelists include:
• Royce A. Yeater, AIA, an architect with an M.A. in Historic Preservation.
• Francis Grunow, executive director of Preservation Wayne and a
co-founder of Detroit Synergy.
• James A. Turner, principal of Turner Restoration, which restores
residential and commercial buildings.

For more information, contact Thomas Klug at (313) 927-1520 or
tklug@marygrove.edu.


45 homes under construction in University Commons area

NorthStar Community Development Corp. is currently building 45 homes over a seven-block area surrounded by Puritan, Livernois, the Lodge to the Highland Park border.

NorthStar has been tearing down dilapidated homes in this area to build new, infill housing that will serve as a catalyst for new development and enhance neighborhood identity. The first new homes of the University Village Homes project broke ground in October.

All homes will be leased to residents, who have filled out an application and met qualification standards. Homes will range from 1,400 to 1,600 square feet with either three or four bedrooms. Leasing prices will be between $381 and $801 per month depending on income levels.

To date, three homes have been completed with the first three occupants moving in on the week of Jan. 30. NorthStar plans to have three new homes completed and ready for move in every week until the project is finished.

Source: Helen Seaton, NorthStar Community Development Corp.


Marygrove College site, program offer discussions on Detroit

Marygrove College launched its new Web site on Jan. 26. The college hopes to encourage more students from Detroit to enroll as well as attract students from outside areas to the city. The new site also features several links to events and things to do in Detroit, relaying the message that the university is located in a vibrant city.

Marygrove, through its Institute for Detroit Studies, is also offering an ongoing community outreach program called Defining Detroit. The program features panels of several well-known Detroit figures. The next panel, “Preservation Downtown; The Politics of Preservation,” will be held on Feb. 23 at 7:30 in the Madame Cadillac Bldg. This lecture will feature Francis Grunow, the head of Preservation Wayne, among other local preservationists. These lectures are free and open to the public.

For more information visit: www.marygrove.edu

Source: Renee Ahee, director of communications; Andrew Koper, webmaster


10-0-1 Covington nears completion in Palmer Park

One of Albert Kahn’s first apartment buildings, built in 1926, is being converted into condo units in the Palmer Park Apartment Building Historic District.

The 10-0-1 Covington project, located at the respective address, consists of 16 units at approximately 3,000 square feet with four bedrooms and three full baths, including maids quarters and butlers pantries. Some units offer views of Palmer Park.

“These are not lofts,” say Joe Brophy, developer. “They preserve the character of the building and have modern amenities and interior finishes.” The interiors are fully finished with formal living and dining rooms and wood burning fireplaces. Additionally, the units have no shared walls with windows on three sides. Each unit also has a protruding sunroom with large windows on three sides. 

“We want to keep the prices as low as possible, at $60 per square foot,” says Brophy. To do this they are giving buyers the option to buy units in their current state with updated infrastructure and new windows. However, there are a variety of layout configurations and remodeling packages that are available for those who wish to upgrade their unit.

The first units will be move-in ready on Dec. 1, with other units following soon after.

For more information visit www.1001covington.com

Source: Joe Brophy, managing member of 1001 Covington, LLC


Work begins on 40 condo units in University Commons neighborhood

NorthStar Community Development Corporation has begun work Oct. 6 on the $7 million Titan Pointe condominium project in the University Commons neighborhood.

Titan Pointe – on Puritan, just east of Livernois – will feature 40 two-and-three bedroom, 3-story townhouse style condos.  Residents must meet income qualifications. Sizes and prices for the units range from a 1,425-square-feet for $149,625 to 1,716-square-feet for $180,180.

NorthStar, LaSalle Bank and the City of Detroit partnered on the project, which is estimated to be complete by December 2006.

Source:  Regina Strong, NorthStar Community Development Corporation


Federal Grant to help clean up neighborhoods and plant vegetation

Environmental Protection Agency approved a grant for the cleaning and greening of Detroit. Community groups, along with the Greening of Detroit, will create maps of areas in their neighborhoods that need to be cleaned up and planted with vegetation.

- Source - Detroit Free Press

 


Detroit-Ann Arbor rail plan gets $100 million look

A $100 million federal allocation will enable design and plans for a mass transit system to connect Michigan’s two premier cities: Detroit and Ann Arbor.

Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) officials this fall "will present options for light rail, rapid bus and commuter rail lines to local leaders in the Ann Arbor-Detroit corridor. Local support is critical because the federal grant requires a local match of at least $20 million," says The Detroit News.

- Source: Read the entire article at The Detroit News


U-M to offer a new certificate program in real estate development

The University of Michigan this year will offer a new certificate program in real estate development that focuses on building well-designed, livable and sustainable communities with a high quality of life.

The program will enroll graduate students in a curriculum that focuses on development and redevelopment of economically, environmentally and socially sustainable places. The certificate program gives graduate students in professional programs, such as urban planning, business, architecture and law, the opportunity to take a range of courses that deepen their skills and qualifications in real estate development and related fields.
 
With a national advisory board of industry leaders, it aims to strengthen the curriculum in real estate development and ultimately enhance the knowledge base underlying this interdisciplinary field.

- Source: University of Michigan's Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning website


New garden will stimulate the senses of touch, smell

The Greater Detroit Agency, a nonprofit organization, recently received a grant for facade improvements to help clean up the business district in northwest Detroit.  While sprucing up the office exterior, the Greater Detroit Agency and the Greening of Detroit decided to team up to lay the foundation of a new sensory garden. 

By incorporating pussywillow and roses, the sensory garden will help the blind and visually impaired challenge their senses of touch and smell.

The garden is likely to be completed by next year.

- Source: The Detroit News


Hilton Head buys portfolio of over 400 homes in Detroit

Hilton Head Properties Inc., a Houston-based real estate investment company, has bought more than 400 residential properties in Detroit from the Detroit Neighborhood Development Corp.

With most of the properties, scattered across the city, Hilton Head Properties Inc. plans to revitalize these homes and resell them.

- Source:  San Antonio Business Journal


Day trips in the D

The World is Coming-Get in the Game, a public information campaign aimed at metro Detroiters, wants folks to experience the new Detroit and talk to visitors and friends in a new way.  Planned Day Trips around “new developments, polished up Riverfront and renovated city landmarks and skyscrapers” give a sample of what the city and the suburbs now have to offer.

“Get Informed, Experience it, Get Involved, Spread the word and see the changes,” says the site because “we have the ability to change the conversation about Detroit, how we talk about ourselves and the pride we feel. It all begins with us. When you’re on a plane, at a restaurant, out with your friends -- spread the word about all the positive things that are happening in Detroit”.

Click here to get detailed tour information and other fun facts about the D

- Source:  Information gathered from The World is Coming-Get in the Game site


740 Major Projects in last 12 months

"Development report shows 740 major real estate projects in city during last 2 months."  Read more

- Source:  The Detroit News

 

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