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Life Sciences : Detroit Development News

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Detroit Future City, Michigan Community Resources mini grants spur green infrastructure projects

Two organizations are supporting implementation of green infrastructure in Detroit neighborhoods through competitive mini-grant programs.
Michigan Community Resources (MCR) in partnership with ULI Michigan recently announced the following five awards to community groups to implement green infrastructure:
  • The Jefferson Chalmers Community Food System to build a water catchment system to irrigate their cut flower farm.
  • Urban Neighborhood Initiatives to create a water catchment system on a commercial building
  • Earthworks Urban Farm for research and development of an affordable, modular solar pump that will allow for the captured water to be used for irrigation in urban agricultural systems.
  • North Corktown Neighborhood Association to build a four-season rain garden on a vacant lot.
  • Marygrove Community Association to create a community rain garden with park-like amenities on a residential lot.
Each recipient will receive $5,000 in cash from MCR for materials and construction and an additional $2,000 in cash from ULI for signage, education, and maintenance. ULI will also provide pro bono technical assistance from their network of civil engineers and landscape architects.
According to CEO Jill Ferrari, this program represents a shift in its service strategy and focus.
"MCR envisions a more comprehensive approach to neighborhood revitalization in the City of Detroit," says Ferrari. "To meet this challenge, we are focusing on more targeted technical assistance that includes support for sustainable community initiatives. We want to empower groups to design and implement projects that have environmental, social and financial sustainability so that their work in the community is more impactful."
Funding for the MCR mini-grants is provided through a grant from the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation.
Detroit Future City is also working to stimulate green infrastructure implementation in neighborhoods through a second-year round of competitive mini-grants to support neighborhood transformation of vacant lots into green infrastructure assets.
The program is offering $65,000 in funds to up to ten neighborhood groups to utilize its DFC Field Guide to Working with Lots (available online at dfc-lots.com). Each group will receive a maximum of $5,000 to be used toward lot design and implementation. An additional maximum of $1,500 must be dedicated toward the maintenance of the lot, programming and education. The program is funded by the Kresge Foundation.
Applicants must be community groups which own the land or have written permission to use the land, and must demonstrate use of the field guide. To find out more on how to apply, contact the Detroit Future City Implementation Office.
Victoria Olivier is deputy director for neighborhoods for the DFC Implementation Office. She says the program is designed to work at small scales to address specific neighborhood goals. For example, the HOPE Village neighborhood installed a design on a lot that was adjacent to Davison Street to avoid it being seen as a cut-through for cars.
"If it was to serve as a shortcut to those businesses,  we wanted it to be for the community's pedestrians and be an inspiring space," says Olivier.
DFC has also partnered with ioby to implement a crowdfunding program so that neighborhoods can leverage grant funds to build additional community amenities beyond landscaping, as well as to support education and maintenance. She says the ultimate goal is to build capacity in neighborhoods.
"This is about building a cohort of land leaders through technical assistance and the connections they make with each other, so that these groups can then be a resource to their respective neighborhoods," says Olivier.

Outdoor Education Center transforms vacant land in Osborn neighborhood

This past week, the Greening of Detroit and Osborn Neighborhood Alliance have partnered together to repurpose four vacant lots into an Outdoor Education Center. The project was made possible through funding by Bank of America and American Forests.

The Outdoor Education Center is now located at the corner of Mapleridge and Schoenherr streets in the Osborn neighborhood on the city's eastside. From May 4 through May 7, volunteers from the aforementioned organizations as well as from the neighborhood and its schools have worked to install the natural ecosystems that make up the Outdoor Education Center and its grounds.

The education center presents a number of opportunities for Osborn and its residents. "The project allows residents to use the land in a productive way, giving them a place to congregate, play, and use," says Tiffany Douglas, market manager for Bank of America.

It also provides learning opportunities to neighborhood youth. The Greening of Detroit is offering up to 20 environmental education courses at the center in coordination with Detroit Public Schools.

It will also hopefully spark the imagination of area youth as they decide on possible career paths.

"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service both recognize that there's an under-representation of minorities among their ranks," says Dean Hay, The Greening of Detroit's director of green infrastructure. "That under-representation has a lot to do with minority children's lack of access to outdoor and wildlife activities. The outdoor center will get them involved with hands-on experience."

In addition to education programming, the grounds will provide rest and recreation opportunities for the neighborhood, including the installation of playscapes, benches, shade trees, and plants with edible fruits.

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

Construction begins on Wayne State's new Biomedical Research Building

Workers have broken ground on the project that will turn the former Dalgleish Cadillac car dealership into Wayne State University's new Multidisciplinary Biomedical Research Building.

The $93 million project is turning the longtime car dealership at Cass Avenue and Amsterdam Street into 200,000 square feet of research space geared toward life sciences. When the project is done it will become the home of 500 researchers and 68 principal investigators for the university.

While the project is Wayne State University's most expensive to date, it will be less expensive than building a brand new building from a vacant lot.

"That's the primary reason we're refurbishing Dalgleish," says Jim Sears, associate vice president for facilities management at Wayne State University. "It's nice not to start from scratch every time."

Wayne State University is going for LEED silver rating for the Multidisciplinary Biomedical Research Building. One of the green features will include replacing the car ramps with a 3-story atrium.

The Multidisciplinary Biomedical Research Building will have space for both wet and dry laboratories, faculty offices and common areas, as well as clinical space. Faculty members from across the university's School of Medicine, College of Engineering, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, School of Social Work, and Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences will conduct research at the facility. Ninety-three percent of the structure will be occupied by Wayne State University, with the remaining 7 percent housing partners from the Henry Ford Health System, including its bone and joint research program and biomechanics motion laboratory.

Researchers will work on a number of thematic areas, such as cardiovascular disease, metabolic disorders such as diabetes, hypertension & obesity, systems biology, biomedical engineering, bioinformatics and computational biology, and translational behavioral science.

Source: Jim Sears, associate vice president for facilities at Wayne State University
Writer: Jon Zemke

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$76 million lecture hall and research facility opens on WSU campus

The second phase of the A. Paul Schaap Chemistry Building and Lecture Hall opened last week at 5101 Cass Ave. on Wayne State's campus, expanding and renovating the school's chemistry laboratories and classrooms to state-of-the-art levels. The $76 million project, which began in 2004, was funded by Wayne State University and a $10 million donation from A. Paul Schapp (a former chemistry professor at WSU) and his wife Carol through the Community Foundation of Southeastern Michigan.

New updates include a four-story glass atrium, a new 150-seat lecture hall, and renovations to the building's 96,000 sq. ft of laboratories and lab-support areas. The Schaap building's labs were expanded, and all feature brand-new case and fume hoods.

Attracting the nation's top chemistry faculty and graduate students is the aim of the Lumigen Instrument Center, which redesigns the Schaap building's basement lab into a cutting-edge machine hub for nanotechnology, drug delivery systems and novel molecule research. The Chemistry Department has "something of an entrepreneurial spirit," says WSU Chemistry Dean Jim Rigby, producing three spinoff entrepreneurial ventures from the WSU labs in recent years. He says the facility modernization have the ability to create new economic activity. "There is substantial opportunity, and in the case of our department, the reality of converting intellectual property into something commercial that provides jobs, creates wealth in the state, pays taxes and all of these things," Rigby. "Really it's only the research universities (University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University) that can lead to that kind of commercial development."

Rigby says achieving silver LEED certification was also a priority for the department. Chemistry buildings, Rigby says, "move either warm air or cold air out of the building; so by definition, it’s a little less efficient than most. But we have aggressively pursued the LEED certification." Two sloped "green roofs" cool the building during the warmer months; all electrical systems were also modernized for additional long-term savings.

A. Paul Schaap was Professor of Chemistry at WSU before leaving to found Lumigen, Inc., after a discovery he made in the very laboratories his gift has funded. Lumigen, recently acquired by Beckman Coulter, discovered a light-emitting molecule, now used in a compound that's used to diagnose AIDS, cancer and hepatitis. "He's one of the ideal donors because he knows what is needed and to move in that particular direction so it's worked out very well for our department," says Rigby.

Find out more here.

Source: Jim Rigby, professor of chemistry; Dean, Department of Chemistry, Wayne State University
Writer: Ashley C. Woods

Grand opening of new $35M WSU medical facility set for June 5

The Wayne State University School of Medicine will celebrate the grand opening dedication and open house for its new Richard J. Mazurek, M.D. Medical Education Commons on Friday, June 5 from 3 to 5:30 p.m. The $35 million, three-story facility, 53,000-square-foot facility will represent the new face of the nationís largest single-campus medical college.

The building, built entirely with private donations, is named for Richard J. Mazurek, M.D., a 1961 graduate of the School of Medicine. Dr. Mazurek, now deceased, was honored with a naming gift of $10.2 million by his partner, Nick Labedz.

Although Mazurek practiced primarily in the Los Angeles area, Labedz says, "We're Detroit guys." They met while attending Wayne State, and Labedz says it was a "no-brainer" for him to direct funds there that were left for him to bequeth as he saw fit.

Mazuerk specialized in family practice. He also worked in real estate and taught at the University of California Los Angeles. Labedz characterizes him as a "hands-on guy" who was "big into education."

Labedz also donated money to University of Detroit Jesuit, the high school that Mazurek attended. He will be present at the dedication -- as well as Tuesday's School of Medicine commencement ceremony.

Source: Nick Labedz
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Wayne State Chemistry Building to be renovated and expanded

DeMaria Building Company has been selected to undertake the expansion and renovation of the Wayne State University Chemistry Building. Work will begin this summer and wrap up by the end of 2010.

The scope of work includes a new building entrance, multi-purpose gathering space, 150-seat fully-wired lecture hall and office suite for the Chemistry Department Chair as well as a complete rebuild of 96,000 square feet of lab space. The university will seek LEED Silver certification for the project for its attention to green building principles.

While the university declined to provide a total project budget, it is being funded in part by a $7.77 million grant from the A. Paul and Carol C. Schaap Fund of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. A. Paul Schaap is a former WSU chemistry professor and founder of Southfield-based Lumigen Inc.; his wife Carol also worked for the deparment.

The architect of record is Harley Ellis Devereaux. DeMaria estimates that 75 workers will be employed on the project.

Source: Amy Patterson, DeMaria
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

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