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Architecture : Detroit Development News

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Restoration of the Treymore Apartments building results in 28 affordable housing units in Midtown

Detroiters feeling the pinch of rising rental rates in the city's greater downtown have reason to turn their attention to Brainard Street. There, in the bustling development hotspot between Wayne State University and Little Caesars Arena is the Treymore, will be an affordable housing redevelopment that offers 28 one- and two-bedroom units to Detroiters earning 50 to 60 percent of the area's average median income.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan cut the ribbon on the redveloped apartment building this past Friday, Dec. 9.

"These are the kinds of projects the City of Detroit is happy to support because they are example of how Detroit comes back, there is room and opportunity for everyone," says Mayor Duggan. The city contributed $3.5 million in HOME program funds.

A number of other organizations contributed to the redevelopment, creating a patchwork of financing. The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) contributed $3 million in affordable housing tax credits. Cinnaire financed and syndicated the MSHDA credits. And the building's developer, Paradise Valley Investment Group (PVI), contributed hundreds of thousands in private equity and brownfield tax credits.

In all, it cost $7 million to renovate the building, which has sat vacant for over two decades. The condition of the building forced developers to completely strip it of infrastructure and start fresh, requiring the installation of new windows, energy efficient HVAC, and lighting. Also new is the roof, landscaping, and greenspace.

The Treymore is a four story, 30,000 sq. ft. building erected in the early 1900s. Two-thirds of the 28 units are already leased.

"Restoring this building has been life changing," says PVI president and CEO, Robin Scovill. "Its condition when we started, juxtaposed with the finished product, is shocking."

The Treymore is located at 457 Brainard St.

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

November development news round-up: New homes in North Corktown, a new home for basketball, and more

Let's catch up on some of the biggest stories from the past five weeks.

While it's Corktown that receives the lion's share of development attention, its neighbor across the freeway, North Corktown, has been in the news lately, too. Construction of traditionally-financed single-family homes will begin in Spring 2017 on Ash and Sycamore streets, featuring contemporary designs by Christian Hurttienne Architects. Meanwhile, an affordable housing development that stretches across 54 acres was reported by the Detroit News and includes "elite" New York architect Alexander Gorlin and possibly Grammy-winning musician Pharrell Williams. There is, however, no official word on any timeline.

The Detroit Pistons are moving back to their namesake city, 38 years after leaving the cozy confines of Cobo Arena for the Pontiac Silverdome in 1978. The basketball organization announced this month that they will be joining the Detroit Red Wings hockey team in occupying Little Caesars Arena, which is currently under construction just north of downtown. Both teams will open their 2017-18 seasons in the new arena. Rumored sites for a Pistons practice facility include a West Grand Boulevard location in New Center. The Pistons are leaving The Palace of Auburn Hills, built by former owner William Davidson in 1988.

In historic preservation news, the CPA Building across from Michigan Central Station has been saved from demolitionat least for now. It was reported earlier this month that the building's owners, the New York City-based BFD Corktown LLC, were granted a demolition permit for the building. But as news broke, preservation and neighborhood advocates quickly mobilized, gathering over 1,000 signatures to petition its destruction. Detroit City Council took note and granted the building, which opened in 1923, an interim historic building designation, delaying demolition for up to one year and opening it up to further studies.

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

August development news round-up: Residential, residential, and more residential

Let's catch up on some of the biggest stories from the past five weeks.

The Detroit Tigers matchup with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim last Saturday, August 27 was as notable for an umpire's ejection of two Tigers players and two Tigers coaches as it was for another event at the game: Olympia Development of Michigan in partnership with the Detroit Tigersboth organizations being owned by the Ilitch familyto promote its District Detroit development. 10,000 fans received District Detroit-branded Tigers caps as they entered the game. They were were also treated to numerous video displays and a red carpet promotion as Olympia touted its more than $1.2 billion hockey arena, residential, and commercial development being built north of Comerica Park.

Capitol Park, a public park in the city's downtown, is experiencing its own impressive wave of development as nearly every building surrounding that park is being renovated and redeveloped into apartments and retail space. One of those buildings, the Farwell, has announced a projected fall 2017 opening. DBusiness is also reporting the construction of two brand new buildings. The eleven- and eight-story buildings will contain residential, office, and retail space, replacing a vacant low-rise building and a surface parking lot, respectively.

Another new build, the Russell Flats, will bring 82 new residential units to Eastern Market. The five-story building will also have ground floor retail space. This is part of a major 10-year plan being put into place for the market. 

A crowdfunding campaign is being held to raise funds for the historic log cabin in Palmer Park. If successful, the building and its neglected stained glass windows would be restored and the cabin would be utilized as a community space. Organizers hope to raise $25,000 by October 28 and, in doing so, would receive a $25,000 matching grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Michigan State Housing Development Authority and their Public Spaces Community Places initiative.

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

Barbers and landscapers join forces to transform vacant city lots

To work as a barber or a landscaper can mean a variety of things. To some, it can mean nothing more than a job, punch in and trim some hair, cut some lawns, and go home. To others, it's more than a job but a craft, dutifully studied and skillfully executed. They're the ones who can elevate these seemingly menial tasks into art.

A flourish to a hair cut or a landscaping job is not that different from one another. It's this idea that has launched The Buzz, an innovative approach to address the city of Detroit's vacant land management issues. The Buzz organizers have partnered local barbers and landscapers to creatively maintain overgrown vacant lots throughout the city.

The Detroit Future City (DFC) Implementation Office is responsible for the program, winning a Knight Cities Challenge grant for its efforts. The DFC Implementation Office has partnered with Urban Neighborhood Initiatives, the East Side Community Network, and the City of Detroit's General Services Department on the project.

"This creative idea of bringing barbers and landscapers together to discuss how popular hair style trends can be used with mowing patterns is another way to beautify some of the city's lots," says Hector Santiago, The Greening of Detroit's workforce development program manager. "The implementation of the designs will provide an interesting and appealing landscape in the neighborhoods."

Over 25 barbers and landscapers met this June to brainstorm and trade ideas for the program, meeting on the east side in Jefferson-Chalmers and the southwest side in Springwells Village. A "mow and show" took place on Monday, July 18 in Springwells Village to showcase what is possible with the program.

This is not the first vacant lot-related program for Detroit Future City. In October 2015, the office released a field guide for Detroiters looking to make use of the vacant lots in their neighborhoods, including transforming unused lots into rain gardens, native butterfly meadows, and more.

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

Belle Isle beautification efforts focus on fundraising events for fountain, community programming

The popular fundraising event Detroit SOUP is coming to Belle Isle. The micro grant-awarding program, typically reserved for the city's neighborhoods, is making a one-time appearance on the island park. While the dinner doesn't take place until August 31, organizers are currently seeking grant proposals, which are due August 14.

A typical SOUP event will include a five dollar fee for a dinner that's open to the public. The five dollars pays for soup, salad, bread, and a vote in the micro-grant contest. Four proposals are heard and the dinner crowd votes on which proposal they feel best benefits the community where the dinner is being held. The winner of that vote receives the money collected at the beginning of the night. Many types of proposals are heard, from business plans to community events.

Organizers say that the Belle Isle SOUP will operate in the same fashionthe one caveat being that the proposal must take place on Belle Isle. In addition to the money raised, the Belle Isle Conservancy will offer staff support to help make the winning proposal happen.

Applicants can submit SOUP proposals online or at a physical drop-off location that includes the offices of the Belle Isle Conservancy, Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation, Live6 Detroit, Osborn Neighborhood Alliance, Eastside Community Network, SER Metro Detroit, and the Joy-Southfield Community Development Corporation.

In other Belle Isle news, the Conservancy is hosting a fundraising event to help restore the historic Pewabic tile mosaic at the basin of the James Scott Memorial Fountain. The Conservancy has currently raised nearly $75,000 of a $300,000 goal to restore the mosaic.

On Wednesday, August 17, the Sunset at the Scott fundraiser will include food from El Guapo Fresh Mexican Grill and Cool Jacks Handcrafted Ice Cream + Cookies, an open beer and wine bar, and music from local band ONEFREQ.

Advance tickets range from $50 to $250 and are available until August 1. After the first of the month, tickets will cost $65 at the door.

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

Stadt Garten, a pop-up beer garden, to debut in Midtown

A beer garden is popping up in Midtown this Saturday, July 16, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The inaugural Stadt GartenGerman for "City Garden," a nod to co-founder Mark R. Beard's German heritageis the first of several planned this summer. Proceeds from the event will benefit Hostel Detroit.

The setting for Stadt Garten is the yard a Gothic-Victorian mansion built in the 1880s. Beard was part of the team that redeveloped the property, which has three residential units, a clothing shop, and, now, a beer garden.

Why does Beard, who lives in one of the aforementioned residential units, wants to invite a couple hundred strangers to party in his yard?

"It's more important now than it has been in the recent past to come together as a community," he said via text message. "I don't really know of any better way to start knocking down some of the implicit biases that exist in peoples' minds than spending time with one another (in a positive way). Also, horseshoes!"

He added, "And, there's too much mulch in the yard and not enough people."

Vendors for Stadt Garten are mostly local. Corktown brewery Batch Brewing Company will be supplying four different types of beer, ranging from $5 to $7 each. Sfumato Fragrances will offer scented cocktails. Wine and food will also be on hand.

Will Leather Goods, the retailer located across the street, will be selling their own cold brew coffee blend, roasted by Tailored Coffee Roasters. Vice Cream, the vegan ice cream business that operates out of an Air Stream trailer, will bring their dairy-free treats to Stadt Garten, as well.

From 7 to 10 p.m., Ryan Spencer from local eletropop group Jamaican Queens will spin records. Detroit Clothing Circle, the retailer located in the house, will be open during the duration of the beer garden. Beer pong and staring contests, too, are planned.

Stadt Garten is located at 3980 Second Ave.

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

Detroit Police Department to repurpose historic Old Redford Library building

The Old Redford Library building, a City of Detroit Historic Landmark, will once again play an important role in the west-side neighborhood. It's been announced that the former library will be repurposed as a police-community outreach center. In addition, the neighboring building will become home to the new Detroit Police 8th Precinct.

The Detroit Building Authority selected SDG Associates, Architects and Planners as the architect-of-record.

"The DPD 8th Precinct will serve as part of the continued resurgence of the City of Detroit's municipal fabric, and as part of the community," Melvin Cross, principal at SDG Associates, Architects and Planners, said in a statement. "What makes designing the project special and unique to the 8th precinct will be a semi-public lobby and auditorium to accommodate police and cadet graduations and a space for community meetings to be located in the historic landmark library building."

Much of the aesthetics of the library will remain the same, save for a barrier-free access ramp being added to the front of the building. Necessary repairs will be made and barrier-free access will be added to the interior, including an elevator.

As for the future precinct, it will be completely renovated. Exterior repair work will be carried out and the "Egyptian"-style columns and obelisks will be removed with the architects opting for more simple rectangular forms clad in stained stone to better matching the old library next door. An interior auditorium will be retained for police and community use.

SDG Associates, Architects and Planners are based in downtown Detroit in the Ford Building. Founded by the recently-deceased Howard Sims, SDG is the oldest African American-owned architecture firm in the state of Michigan.

The former Old Redford Library is located at 21551 W. McNichols Rd.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Detroit entrepreneurs have until July 1 to apply for Motor City Match

The clock is ticking for entrepreneurs thinking about applying to Detroit's Motor City Match program. July 1 is the deadline for the small business competition, which awards grant funding, design and technical support, and landlord-tenant match-making assistance. The quarterly competition offers up to $500,000 in grants each round.

Entrepreneurs ranging from established to nascent are encouraged to apply. The competition offers different levels of prizes to local small businesses, depending on a number of factors. For the new entrepreneurs, Motor City Match offers free business planning programming. More advanced entrepreneurs may be matched with a Detroit landlord seeking to fill a storefront or building. Design services from local architecture firms are also available.

The most advanced applicants are eligible to receive up to $100,000.

Since launching in 2015, Motor City Match has awarded $1.5 million in grant funding, which has been leveraged for nearly $10.5 million in investment.

Lana Rodriguez is the recipient of one of those grants, having received $18,000 from Motor City Match in the most recent round of competition. She's using that money to help start Mama Coo's Boutique in Corktown, an upscale resale and vintage clothing shop.

"I'm a hustler and I knew the store would open, but it would have only been partially realized," says Rodriguez. "This grant money lets me get started and go all in. I know I have a better chance of longevity and success."

According to Motor City Match, the organization has already served over 300 businesses and 180 commercial properties since 2015. Detroit-based businesses make up about two-thirds of the winners and minority-owned businesses make up 70 percent of the successful applicants.

Visit www.motorcitymatch.com to apply.

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

70 units in 30 days: Forest Arms redevelopment fills up fast in Midtown

Having met Scott Lowell on the grounds of the Forest Arms redevelopment, he has the look of a person nearing the end of a long journey. He's tired, relieved, and grateful. After the better part of a decade, Lowell and his wife Carolyn Howard's rehabilitation of the Forest Arms apartment building in Midtown is going to accept its first tenants since 2008. They opened the building up to the market and, in just 30 days, it reached full capacity. 70 units. No vacancy. Residents begin to move in May 28.

The apartment building, built in 1905, experienced a devastating fire in 2008. One person died and the rest were displaced, many with their belongings destroyed. The roof caved in, leaving the building open to the elements. It was a disaster, one that some in the neighborhood believed would surely result in the razing of the historic building. Lowell and Howard, experienced developers with both residences and restaurants to their credit, decided to take on the project, their biggest to date. After six years of the stop-start nature of nailing down the financing and two years of construction, the Forest Arms is open for business.

Lowell uses words like "intense" and "tiring" to characterize the experience of redeveloping the Forest Arms. He's tired, sure, but definitely happy.

"Is it worth it? Yeah, for me," says Lowell. "The building's still standing. It was destined to be torn down. I grew up in the city and watched the neighborhood I grew up in, the east end of the Davison, just implode and watched house after house get demolished and people move away. To be part of this, to save a building, to create something where people want to move to and see the demand, there's a certain kind of reward in that."

Walking through the courtyard and up to the building, Lowell points out the front doors being installed. The wooden doors are new and fashioned after the originals, those having been ruined by fire axes. Walking up the re-built stairs to the roof, workers buzzed through the hallways, putting the finishing touches on the interior, installing light fixtures and other last-minute details.

There are two ways to take in the views from the roof. A community deck, complete with a public kitchen, is open to all of the residents. There are also five penthouses, built atop the newly-built roof, each with their own private deck. Down below the workers are preparing the sprinkler system in time for new sod, originally torn out to install an expensive geothermal heating system. Rainwater is recycled for many uses throughout the grounds. On the north side of the building are two retail units, one reserved for music instrument store Third Wave Music and a second envisioned as a bar and restaurant, still searching for a tenant.

At one point, Lowell and Howard had a deal with Wayne State University to lease the building. The deal would have ensured a steady flow of tenants for the developers while easing that school's student housing shortage. The deal fell through, however, and they opened the building to the market. Unsure how much interest the building would draw, the dissolution of the deal with Wayne State proved to be a boon for the partners. The building filled up in the span of a month. Lowell says he still receives three to five inquiries a day.

"70 units in 30 days. It's been phenomenal," says Lowell. "I'm just amazed that demand's still here. It's pretty encouraging."

With demand outpacing supply in Midtown, Lowell should be comfortable in the two more buildings they're redeveloping in the area, one with 23 units and the other around 27 units. Those are in the early stages of redevelopment, awaiting the partners' full attention once the Forest Arms project is complete.

Lowell and Howard are also moving a family barn from western Michigan to Detroit, reassembling it as a restaurant and venue in the city that will host live music, weddings, and parties. It's clear Lowell is pretty excited about the project. Though he's not divulging too much information just yet, he did say they've acquired an acre and a half site in Corktown.

Lowell began purchasing properties in Hamtramck in the 1980s and Midtown in the 1990s. Times are different, he says. Back then, people made agreements on beverage napkins at neighborhood bars, handshake deals among neighbors and friends. Today, he regularly fields calls from investors outside of Detroit, promptly turning down offers on his buildings throughout the neighborhood.

With the restoration of the Forest Arms, those phone calls and emails aren't going to slow down any time soon.

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

Work continues on the restoration of the Detroit Yacht Club

The Detroit Yacht Club Foundation (DYCF) is kicking off another year of major repairs to its clubhouse with its spring fundraiser, "Restoring the Grandeur: City Lights Gala." The nonprofit dedicated to the restoration of the country's largest yacht club clubhouse expects another full-capacity crowd for the event, which is open to the public and takes place May 20 at the Detroit Yacht Club on Belle Isle.

The gala is an opportunity for both club members and the general public to celebrate the preservation progress already made as well as what's in store for the historic clubhouse, says DYCF president Mark Lifter. Formed in 2011, the foundation has guided a lot of crucial restoration to the building, yet much remains. Lifter estimates that 40 to 50 percent of the exterior work has been completed. At 93,000 sq. ft., it's the biggest yacht club clubhouse in the country.

He calls the current phase of repairs "sealing the envelope" -- big tasks that must be completed before focus can shift to the building's interior. This summer, as in summers past, the foundation will be repairing the roof, stucco, masonry, and windows, protecting the treasures inside from the weather outside. Lifter says that the remaining roof leaks will be finished this summer. "If you don't fix things, they're going to get worse," he says.

It's a big building with a lot of history, making it a sizable undertaking for a relatively small non-profit. Opening in 1923, it was the fourth clubhouse for the Detroit Yacht Club, which was established in 1868. It was designed in a classic Mediterranean style by George Mason, the architect famous for a stable of postcard-worthy buildings that include Detroit's Masonic Temple and the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.

Tickets for the fundraiser gala are available online and via phone. Live and silent auctions, a cash bar, and a strolling dinner are included in the ticket price, which ranges from $125 to $400 -- a significant portion of which is tax deductible. The DYCF also offers monthly tours of the facilities to members and non-members alike.

The Detroit Yacht Club is located at One Riverbank Rd. on Belle Isle. Call them at (313) 757-5240.

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

April development news round-up: Retail, restaurants, and office space

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

Detroit City Football Club (DCFC), which announced a move from Detroit to Hamtramck last year, opened a retail store, office, and community space at 2750 Yemans Street this month. To celebrate, DCFC is hosting an open house there from 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 27. DCFC opens their first season at Keyworth Stadium on May 20, 2016.

Bedrock Detroit, Dan Gilbert's real estate arm, pulled in two more high-profile office tenants. Ally Financial will lease 13 floors in One Detroit Center at 500 Woodward Ave. and is consolidating more than 1,300 employees into the building. As a result of the move, Bedrock is renaming the building Ally Detroit Center. The Detroit-based consulting firm LoVasco, which specializes in insurance, employee benefits, and retirement services, is moving into the Bedrock-owned and -managed One Woodward Avenue building. 20 employees will make the move, too.

Six Detroit-based projects were announced as 2016 Knight Cities Challenge winners, receiving awards that total $638,084 of the $5 million awarded nationally. According to organizers, each of the ideas help "cities attract and keep talented people, expand economic opportunities and create a culture of civic engagement." Winners include Pedal to Porch, a monthly bike tour that gives neighborhood residents the opportunity to tell their stories; Dequindre Cut Market, a pop-up retail district along the bike and pedestrian trail; Detroit’s Exciting Adventure into the Pink Zone, which will seek to transform how the city's commercial districts are developed and designed; Give a Park, Get a Park, a micro-park system throughout the city; Sensors in a Shoebox, an educational program that enables youth to better understand their neighborhoods through sensors and data; and the People First Project, which creates a network of tactical urbanists to affect change.

The Wayne State University School of Social Work celebrated the renovation of and their moving to a new building at 5447 Woodward Ave.

Earlier this month, the city's first Panera Bread opened in the GMRENCEN, the building formerly known as the Renaissance Center.

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

Detroiter opening vintage clothing shop in Corktown discovers deep roots

As determined as Lana Rodriguez has been to open her Mama Coo's Boutique in a brick-and-mortar storefront, she's been just as determined to keep the business where she grew up, in southwest Detroit. Fortunately for her, Rodriguez recently signed a letter of intent to lease the storefront at 1707 Trumbull St. for her resale and vintage clothing business in the city's Corktown neighborhood.

Then she learned something incredible about the building when she took a picture of it soon after signing the lease. "I showed my mom the picture and she just started laughing," says Rodriguez.

Call it fate, chance, or whatever you want, but the building Rodriguez is renting in 2016 is the exact same building that housed her grandparents' first apartment when they moved from Texas to Detroit in the 1950s. Rodriguez had no idea.

The Rodriguez's roots in Corktown go even deeper. Across the street from Mama Coo's future home is a statue of Father Clement Kern, an influential priest in the community who lead the congregation at Most Holy Trinity Church for three decades. Father Kern is also the reason the Rodriguez family, previously Pentecostal, converted to Catholicism. Lana's grandmother promised Father Kern that if he said a prayer for a daughter sick with tuberculosis and she survived, Lana's grandmother would convert the family. Lana's aunt recovered and Father Kern would go on to baptize a number of her family members.

Mama Coo's Boutique is an upscale resale and vintage clothing shop. Rodriguez makes her own accessories and other wearables, which she'll sell. She'll also bring in outside artists and let them use her space for pop-ups and other events.

Earlier this month, Rodriguez was awarded $18,000 by the city's Motor City Match program. She says the money will help her get off on the right foot and not be hindered by up-front financial constraints. It will also benefit others in the community.

"Motor City Match allowed me to purchase items from local artists and makers through wholesale and not just on consignment," says Rodriguez. "This way I can support local artists directly and they don't have to wait to be paid."

Rodriguez found the storefront with the help of TechTown, where she graduated from the retail bootcamp program. While she wanted a location closer to the Bagley strip of Mexicantown, Rodriguez found the building on Trumbull to be perfect in size, aesthetics, and history.

She'll have a number of new neighbors, too. As Rodriguez hustles to open, also opening in the building will be a barber shop, a small market later in the summer, and hopefully two more businesses in the fall.

Mama Coo's Boutique is expected to open in June. It is located at 1707 Trumbull St.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Detroit outpaces rest of southeastern Michigan for new residential unit permits

In prior decades, Detroit had very little new building construction. Not anymore, especially for residential units.

According to a report recently released by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG), Detroit issued more permits for new residential units than any other city in southeastern Michigan last year.

There were 913 residential units permitted in Detroit in 2015, more than double the second-highest city on the list, Ann Arbor, at 405 units. Canton, the only other city in Wayne County to make the top ten, came in third with 397 residential units permitted.

Of the 913 residential units permitted in Detroit, 97 percent were apartment and loft units. Broke down further, there were 882 apartment units, 17 condominium units, and 14 single family homes permitted in 2015.

According to the report, "Gains continued in apartment construction due to pent-up demand for rental housing from young professionals and downsizing households, low vacancy rates, and a growing job market."

Still, it's not all rosy in Wayne County. According to this Detroit Free Press article from March 28, 2016, new census numbers revealed that the county lost 6,673 residents between July 1, 2014 and July 1, 2015, the second highest population decline in the country. Only Cook County, Illinois lost more during that period. Though second place is better than first, which is what Wane County occupied for the previous eight years.

Detroit also far exceeded any other city in demolitions, razing 4,667 residential units in 2015.

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