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Arts : Detroit Development News

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Hamtramck performance space and bar turns to crowdfunding for key renovations

Public Spaces Community Places, a state-sponsored placemaking initiative operated by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, has set out to raise funds for a Hamtramck-based project. The campaign's focus is Planet Ant Hall, a performance and social complex located across the street from the original Planet Ant Theatre.

Planet Ant and MEDC have launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to help finish and repair Planet Ant Hall. Should the crowdfunding campaign successfully raise $35,000 by Nov. 1, the MEDC will kick in an addtional $35,000 as a matching grant.

The campaign is being hosted on the Michigan-based Patronicity crowdfunding platform.

Though Planet Ant Hall opened earlier this year, organizers say that there is still much work to be done. The group plans on using its crowdfunding and matching grant money, a total of $70,000, toward a new HVAC system, an improved facade, a build out of the back stage area, roof repairs, an upgraded lighting grid, and new techinical equipment.

According to Planet Ant Executive Director Darren Shelton, "Planet Ant Theatre was founded 25 years ago on the core principles of artistic freedom and experimentation, and the belief that these principles are fundamental to the spirit of community, creative fulfillment, and success. The completion of Ant Hall will accelerate the pursuit of this mission by expanding our space and resources and thus, our overall impact."

The original Planet Ant, which is still open today, debuted across the street in 1993. Originally a coffee shop, the storefront became a small black box theater in 1996, and has been putting on scripted and improv productions ever since. Among its famous alums include Keegan-Michael Key, co-creator of Comedy Central's "Key and Peele."

The new Planet Ant Hall includes a 470 capacity performance space and the attached Ghost Light Bar, and features music, comedy, films, karaoke, and more.

Click here to view the status of the crowdfunding campaign.

Planet Ant Hall is located at 2320 Caniff St. in Hamtramck.

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

Groups seeks to improve North Rosedale Park through public art projects

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Black arts criticism journal to host book fair and fundraiser to help publish in Detroit

Taylor Renee Aldridge and Jessica Lynne, of Detroit and New York City, respectively, are bringing their internationally renowned arts criticism journal ARTS.BLACK to life in Detroit this August.

Recipients of the 2016 the John S. and James L. Knight Arts Challenge award, the co-founders of ARTS.BLACK are holding a Book Fair and "Friendrasier" at Good Lab in Detroit's Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood. The event takes place Saturday, Aug. 26, from 1 to 5 p.m.

The Knight Arts Challenge award is contingent on the recipients raising matching funds and the book fair is an opportunity for Aldridge and Lynne to do just that. Funds raised from the award and book fair will cover publication costs, payments for writers, and continued operations for the journal, which provides art criticism from a Black perspective.

"We operate online and we're constantly interacting with the different communities there. The book fair is an opportunity to take a step back and interface more intimately with each other," says Aldridge. "It's an opportunity to talk about critical literature that isn't off-putting or intimidating. It'll open it up to people."

The ARTS.BLACK Book Fair and Friendraiser features books that focus on issues of art, labor, or both. New and used catalogs, zines, history books, and more will be on hand. Many of the books have been donated by Detroiters like Janet Webster Jones, owner of Source Booksellers.

ARTS.BLACK t-shirts and totes will also be for sale at the event. Music, refreshments, and snacks may also be part of the day's festivities.

"In our research, we've found that labor is an essential theme of an artist's practice in Detroit," says Aldridge.

"We really want to examine that and explore those themes."

Good Lab is located at 14720 E. Jefferson Ave. in Detroit. Click here for more information on the ARTS.BLACK Book Fair and Friendraiser.

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

Art, design, and urbanism combine for 'groundbreaking' MFA program in Midtown

A confluence of art, design, and urbanism is coming to Detroit thanks to a new master's degree program at Lawrence Technological University's Detroit Center for Technology + Design in Midtown. Officials are touting the Master of Fine Arts program as groundbreaking and a first for the region.

The Social Practice master's degree looks at how art and design can positively impact public space in our communities, says Steve Coy, the Lawrence Tech assistant professor who developed the program.

Coy estimates there are only eleven such programs in the United States, with the first known Social Practice program developed at the California College of the Arts in 2005. Most other Social Practice programs are located on the east and west coasts of the country, with the nearest known program being offered at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

While Coy says that people have been using art, design, and urbanism to affect positive change in Detroit for years, a more formal and institutional approach can further enhance such efforts.

"This will allow us to connect people so that conversations and movements can unify, to give us a point to rally around," says Coy. "Universities are open source networks. We can share what works, what doesn't work, and make it better so people aren't acting in isolated pockets."

The program will cover a broad spectrum of ideas, from city planning and tactical urbanism to street art and public persuasion. It's a win-win, says Coy, as communities get well-thought out solutions to planning issues while students get on-the-ground training for future professions.

He adds that the program should appeal to those interested in planning, design, and the arts.

Coy first started teaching at Lawrence Tech in 2011, though he's probably best known for the Hygienic Dress League, the public art project he co-founded with his wife Dorota. The Coys also co-founded Wolf Moon Mixers.

Enrollment for the Social Practice MFA program is now open. More information is available online.

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

New guitars made from pieces of the former Detroit Fire Department Headquarters

In some sense, the guitars made by Wallace Detroit Guitars are over 300 years old. 

Since 2014, Wallace Detroit Guitars has been transforming salvaged wood into electric guitars. The company recently released the Firehouse Series, a new limited-edition line of guitars made of maple and pine from the old Detroit Fire Department Headquarters downtown. Mark Wallace, president of the instrument maker, estimates that the wood comes from trees that were growing in Detroit as far back as the 1700s.

Wallace has used wood from the David Whitney Building, the Theodore Levin Courthouse, and the Brewster Wheeler Recreation Center to build his guitars. A call from his friends at the Architectural Salvage Warehouse tipped him off about a new load of wood that arrived from the former Detroit Fire Department Headquarters.

"These guitars have a great story and they look great, but they're also great to play," says Wallace. "It's like a Cadillac. They're great to look at but they're also great to drive."

The building at 250 W. Larned St. downtown was built in 1929, though the Detroit Fire Department had operated at the site since the 1840s. In 2013, DFD left their longtime home to share a headquarters with the Detroit Police Department on the western edge of downtown.

The wood reclaimed from the old headquarters is a result of it being converted into the Detroit Foundation Hotel, a boutique hotel complete with over 100 rooms, a bar, restaurant, and even a "podcast studio." The hotel purchased one of the Firehouse Series guitars for display.

The limited edition series features twelve guitars, ten of the company's flagship single-cutaway design and two of its new offset body shape design. The guitars are built by hand; even the electric pick-ups are hand-wound.

"We want to be part of the city's long history of people that know how to make things," says Wallace.

The Firehouse Series guitars can be found online.

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

Detroit to be celebrated at international design festival in Saint-Étienne, France

Having stolen away for a fifteen minute phone call from Saint-Étienne, France, Anya Sirota says she's glad for a brief respite from the noise that accompanies the preliminary stages of the Saint-Étienne Design Biennale. A lot of work goes into setting up the a month-long international design festival that welcomed more than 250,000 visitors last year.

The City of Detroit has been named Guest of Honor for the festival, which has invited three Detroit-based design groups to showcase their works and their city to international audiences. Detroit design groups Creative Many, Detroit Creative Corridor Center, and Akoaki have each brought their installations, ideas, and people to the festival, which takes place March 9 through April 9.

Detroit was made Guest of Honor as a result of it being named the first and only American UNESCO Creative City of Design in 2015.

"It's a huge honor for us," says Sirota, a principal at the architecture and design firm Akoaki and an assistant professor at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. "So much of what we're doing has been off the radar. It's not institutional work, it's in local fields and garages."

The Akoaki team works in the city's North End. And not only are they bringing the installations they've created throughout the neighborhood, they're bringing part of the neighborhood itself. Nearly 30 participants in the installations, from local builders to musicians, are traveling to take part in the festival.

Fundraising efforts as well as help from organizations like the Knight Foundation and the Ford Foundation have made it possible for so many to travel to Saint-Étienne. It's been no small feat. For a number of the travelers, the trip marks the first time that they've received passports or set foot on a plane, says Sirota.

"There are lots of times where 'experts' descend into Detroit, but we wanted to turn to the experts in the neighborhoods."

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

Free after-school program for Detroit poets to expand and enhance services with sixth site

Detroit's Martin Luther King, Jr. High School, located at the intersection of McDougall and Larned streets on the city's east side, will soon receive a Citywide Poets site. The InsideOut Literary Arts Project's Citywide Poets is a free after-school program for teens.

Citywide Poets uses the written and spoken word to encourage teens to tell their story, examine the challenges they face, and explore solutions, says the organization. The program offers students relationships with artistic mentors and the opportunity for performances and publication.

According to InsideOut Literary Arts Project (iO), over 90 percent of students participating in the program go on to attend post-secondary institutions.

The new Citywide Poets site is the sixth for iO. It was made possible by a recently-announced $150,000 three-year grant from the Dresner Foundation.

Suma Rosen, iO Executive Director, says the organization is thrilled to have the support of the Dresner Foundation.

"Aside from improving literary skills and boosting college readiness, this program gives participants the space to embody their full selves; the power that comes from discovering one's voice through poetry and performance is truly transformational."

In addition to the new Citywide Poets site, the Dresner grant will enable iO to improve and expand other components of its creative arts programming. Among the improvements include the planned bolstering of the Youth Poet Laureate and Ambassadors program, which nurtures both creative and civic engagement. The statewide and Detroit-based youth poetry festival Louder than a Bomb will also be expanded.

Other Citywide Poets locations include the main branch of the Detroit Public Library, Detroit School for the Arts, Communication & Media Arts High School, Detroit Institute of Technology at Cody, and Detroit International Academy for Young Women.

"Citywide Poets fosters artistic excellence for youth, offers pathways for personal and professional development, and utilizes writing and performance as a method for community engagement," says Associate Director Alise Alousi.

Registration for the Citywide Poets program can be completed in person, by mail, and online.

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

Art and coffee collide in Hamtramck with the opening of Oloman Cafe

A new cafe and gallery has opened in Hamtramck. And for owner Zlatan Sadikovic, it's an opportunity to combine many of his loves.

Oloman Cafe opened to steady crowds on the morning of Monday, December 5th. The cafe, which is part coffee shop, part art gallery, and part photography studio, is located in the former space of the Belmont Bar.

The Belmont spent most of its life as a music venue, though in its latter couple of years new ownership had turned it into a sports bar. Vacant for several years, Sadikovic obtained the venue and began working on it in 2014. Originally planning on using the space for a photography studio, the infrastructure of the building sparked Sadikovic's coffee shop idea. So he combined the two visions, spending the last few years working on an exhaustive overhaul of the building.

Sadikovic and his son Igor, who manages the business, did much of the work themselves, tearing up a floor left rotted by a badly leaking roof and coming up with their own interior designs. The old bar remains, though sharply redesigned, and a small portrait studio occupies the space of the old stage. Out on the back patio, which Sadikovic is outfitting with plants and flowers, is the old Belmont sign, something Sadikovic plans on displaying.

"I kept the sign," says Sadikovic. "People have an emotional attachment to old places."

Sadikovic is one of those people. A native Bosnian, Sadikovic and his wife left for the United States after the war of the 1990s ravaged their country. They've named the Oloman Cafe after one of their favorite cafes in downtown Sarajevo, a place where the city's artists would gather and drink espresso on the sidewalk patio. Zlatan and his wife Indira met at that cafe, which would come to be damaged and demolished over the course of the war.

"That place disappeared. We decided to create something on the other side of the world with the same feel," says Sadikovic. "It's maybe a sentimental type of thing but it is what it is. We come back to things from our past."

The Oloman Cafe has a good chance at becoming a spot where artists congregate. In addition to the coffee and food, which is purchased from local makers Golden Wheat and Guerilla Food, Oloman will have once-a-month art openings in the gallery.

Sadikovic also purchased the building next door, which he has turned into Lint Silver and Sawdust, a rentable co-working space for artists.

Oloman Cafe is located at 10215 Joseph Campau Ave. in Hamtramck.

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

The Craft Cafe Detroit thrives on city's lower east side

The Craft Cafe Detroit is off to a fast start. The "sip and paint" party venue opened last June on Mack Avenue, just blocks from city's eastern border with Grosse Pointe Park, and it's already turning away customers as some parties reach capacity. But that's a good problem to have.

While owner Candice Meeks is considering a move to a bigger location, she says she wants to keep the Craft Cafe in the neighborhood. Its location is part of the reason for its success.

"The location at Mack and Phillip, there's nothing like this in our community," says Meeks. "You have to drive downtown and pay for parking or drive out to the suburbs for this kind of fun. We need to keep something like this in the neighborhood."

Craft Cafe Detroit hosts a wide variety of celebrations, from birthdays to bachelorette parties. Guests can bring their own food and drinks while Meeks leads the party through a painting session. Subjects are pre-sketched onto each person's canvas, allowing them to paint along while Meeks teaches different techniques like blending colors. She also offers vision mirrors, where guests create collages on mirrors and then seal them with a clear coat finish.

Other parties include Eat | Paint | Drink, where refreshments are provided, and monthly date nights, where couples paint together.

Meeks credits a number of small business programs that helped her get off the ground. She graduated from ProsperUs Detroit, where she met her current landlord. Meeks was also the recipient of a $4,000 technical assistance grant from Motor City Match. She says she plans on using the grant money to help with marketing and website construction costs.

"Going through those programs really gave me a platform to open my own business."

The Craft Cafe Detroit is located at 14600 Mack Ave. It's open Tuesday through Friday, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.

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

'Impromptu performance space' to open along Dequindre Cut

The Dequindre Cut, that two mile-long stretch of paved greenway connecting Eastern Market with the Detroit riverfront, was designed with bicyclists and pedestrians in mind. And while movement motivates much of its usage, it's a stationary feature that will soon be celebrated.

The Campbell Memorial Terrace, an outdoor performance space, will officially be unveiled this Thursday, October 13. A children's concert, its first scheduled programming, will occur during the Harvestfest Detroit celebration on Saturday, October 22.

Located at the base of the Lafayette Street ramp between Orleans and St. Aubin streets, the Terrace includes a covered stage for performances and tiered seating walls for spectators.

The Terrace was designed with the community in mind. While there will be the occasional scheduled performance, its real function will be determined by those who use it. The space has a come-what-may policyno permits or reservations required. Whether it's working musicians wanting to put on an impromptu performance, local poets wanting to give readings, or neighborhood children coming up with their own fun and games, if the stage is open, the community is encouraged to use it.

Spontaneity is the name of the game here.

"We wanted to leave it flexible and see what the community comes up with," says Mark Wallace, president and CEO of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. "We set the table and let the community bring the programming instead of us bringing the programming from the top down."

The Campbell Memorial Terrace is named after C. David Campbell, former president of the McGregor Fund and a founding member of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. A long-standing member of the Detroit non-profit community, Campbell passed away in 2014. The McGregor Fund presented the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy with a $1 million gift to honor Campbell. According to those responsible, the terrace, which incorporates all the things Campbell lovedthe outdoors, music, art, and, most of all, the communitydoes just that.

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

Planet Ant turns to crowdfunding to complete redevelopment of old Hamtramck banquet hall

Planet Ant Theatre is growing. Not just in the size of its audience, but physically. 

The theater that showcases Metro Detroit's longest running improv show has acquired a banquet hall kitty corner from its black box theater on Caniff Street, and is in the process of transforming it into Planet Ant Hall. While Planet Ant will continue to utilize its theatre for shows, the hall will allow Planet Ant to increase seating capacity for shows and also offer more improv comedy classes.

(Check out this Model D article on the local improv comedy scene)

Construction is already underway. The drop ceiling has been torn out but the air conditioning will remainan upgrade those familiar with Planet Ant might appreciate today. But a maxed out budget now has Planet Ant turning to the community to help finish the job. Planet Ant has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise $55,000. An August 31 deadline has been extended by ten days to help Planet Ant reach its goal.

Michael Hovitch, managing director of Planet Ant, says the money raised will go toward things like sound and lighting equipment, seating, and a renovated floor. The goal is to complete construction by the end of October, the theater's 20th anniversary, and launch the new space with a popular show from Planet Ant's past.

"Planet Ant has been around for a long time and it's become a big part of the community," says Hovitch. "It's a small black box theater but we've been wanting to expand for a while. We've been having more and more success with our classes and want to grow, offer more opportunities for our performers."

It's an impressive list of actors, comedians, and musicians that have come through Planet Ant's doors. Two of the most famous include Jack White, who performed at the Planet Ant Coffee House open mic night, and Keegan-Michael Key, who was a founding member of Planet Ant Theatre and its comedy group.

Planet Ant Coffee House opened in 1993. It transitioned to being a theater three years later.

The Planet Ant Hall crowdfunding campaign is being hosted on Indiegogo.

Planet Ant Hall is located at 2320 Caniff St. in Hamtramck.

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.

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.

Sit On It Detroit to open furniture store and studio in Midtown

Sit On It Detroit is opening a store in the 71 Garfield building in Midtown. The custom furniture shop is renowned for the benches it's built, donated, and installed at roughly 50 bus stops around the city. The new location will serve as a space to both showcase some of its work and provide co-founders Kyle Bartell and Charles Molnar a place to sit down with clients and customers and hash out the planning and design part of the business.

While Sit On It Detroit is best known for fashioning reclaimed wood into free and creative benches at city bus stops, the company is also an accomplished designer and manufacturer of custom indoor furnishings. It's produced headboards for the home, the mason jar chandelier at Kuzzo's Chicken & Waffles, and tables at Thomas Magee's Sporting House Whiskey Bar, among many other products.

The Midtown showroom gives Sit On It Detroit a more central location to display its wares and meet with clients, away from the flying sawdust and noisy tools of its workshop. It's a store-studio hybrid.

The workshop is located near McNichols and John R roads.

"There's a lot going on with this space and we're still figuring it all out," says Bartell. "It's not going to be your typical showroom or furniture store."

The duo values community engagement and placemaking, he says, and their location at 71 Garfield lends itself to those objectives. The building is an art cooperative, located along the same block as the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. Among its tenants are artists, architecture firms, and pottery studios.

The spring is a busy time for Sit On It Detroit. The company hopes to install another ten benches at city bus stops as the warm weather comes. They've teamed with artists and sponsors to create new takes on the already unique benches.

Bartell says to expect a soft opening some time in mid-March. As for the official opening, they've set a target date of April 8, opening day for the Detroit Tigers baseball season.

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