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April Development News Round-up

April was another busy month for development news in the city. Let's catch up on six stories from the past four weeks.

Come November, downtown will add 150 jobs and 24,000 square feet of dining, drinking, and gaming -- and all under one roof. Dan Gilbert's Bedrock Real Estate Services announced that the Denver-based Punch Bowl Social will be opening a location in the recently-opened Z Garage.

There's a new name in the downtown development scene. Roger Basmajian has recently purchased three office buildings in the central business district, acquiring 104,000 square feet of office space in nine months. Basmajian expects to spend at least $7 million in renovations, says Crain's.

Midtown Detroit, Inc. announced two beautification projects in its district: a second green alley and a dog park. The green alley will run behind Avalon Bakery, from Willis to Canfield. The dog park is planned for the empty lot at Canfield and Cass. Midtown Detroit, Inc. signed a three-year lease on the lot with a two-year extension possible.

There's a new restaurant in New Center. The Zenith, a Mexican-Southern fusion restaurant, opened in the Fisher Building this month. The pictures at Eater Detroit reveal a colorful and eclectic interior, one that draws from 1940s and 1950s kitsch.

Another grocery store has opened on the city's east side. Parkway Foods joins Parker Street Market in debuting this month, providing residents with more food options. While Parker Street Market is a smaller, specialized neighborhood grocer, Parkway Foods is more of a traditional super market, not unlike the Farmer Jack that used to be in the same location.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

A women's clothing boutique pops up on Woodward

A new pop-up retail shop has opened downtown. Ebony Rutherford hopes to be another Detroit entrepreneur success story, one that takes the opportunity of a pop-up store and makes the transition to a permanent location. Her women's clothing boutique, Trish's Garage, opened its doors with a soft opening on April 7 and a grand opening April 11.

The store features local clothing makers and emphasizes products made for women of every size and shape. Rutherford herself makes the peplums found in the store. Other local brands carried include shirts from Bruce Bailey, Quinn Hamilton's Firebrand Candle Company, and artwork from Brooke Ellis. Rutherford also provides free styling services.

Rutherford has worked hard to open Trish's Garage, taking advantage of a number of resources designed for Detroit entrepreneurs. She attended the TechTown Retail Boot Camp, where she says she learned to identify customers' needs rather than stocking only what she wants to sell. Rutherford also completed the D:Hive Build program, where she says she learned a foundation of business planning, pricing, and money management.

All of these lessons led to her eventual acceptance into the D:Hive Pilot pop-up program, situating her boutique next to the D:Hive storefront in the heart of downtown. It's another step that should help her make the transition to a permanent location.

"These experiences -- learning how to staff people, learning how to price merchandise -- will prepare me for the future," says Rutherford. "They're experiences I can show landlords when applying for locations."

Trish's Garage is open through May 31 and is located at 1249 Woodward Ave.

Source: Ebony Rutherford, owner of Trish's Garage
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

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.

A spa opens in Midtown's Park Shelton building

Opening Serene Medi-Spa is the realization of a six year dream for Dr. Manisha Mehta, a podiatrist who also owns and operates a medical practice. The two businesses neighbor each other inside the Park Shelton.

Dr. Mehta first opened Gentle Foot Care of Michigan in the early months of 2008. Forced to move her medical practice from 3800 Woodward as a result of that building's impending demolition, Dr. Mehta moved to the Park Shelton in August of 2013. Serene Medi-Spa opened Valentine's Day of 2014.

Dr. Mehta hopes that as her spa business grows, she'll be able to expand into an additional space and offer waxes and facials. For now, the spa offers manicures and pedicures, including paraffin, scrub, and gel polish services.

Being a podiatrist, Dr. Mehta knows quite a bit about foot care. As such, she places quite an emphasis on the sanitary conditions of the spa, saying that too many spas ignore healthy sanitation practices.

"With me being experienced in sterilization and cleanliness, the nail techs can always come next door to my office and ask questions," says Dr. Mehta.

Liners are placed in the foot bowls and are thrown away after one use. Dr. Mehta also discourages nail techs from reusing nail files. She even sells a polish with anti-fungal properties. With these practices, Dr. Mehta wants customers to know that she's doing everything she can to ensure a healthy manicure and pedicure experience. The doctor knows a thing or two about fungi, bacteria, and infections.

Dr. Mehta also spreads the gospel of ovarian cancer awareness and hopes to start a foundation someday. "With all these women coming into the spa, I want to educate and hopefully save some lives," she says.

Serene Medi-Spa is currently looking for experienced nail techs.

Source: Dr. Manisha Mehta, founder and owner of Serene Medi-Spa
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

State loans millions of dollars to build M-1 Rail, demolish Joe Louis Arena

A couple of Detroit development projects have recently been approved for loans and funding assistance from the Michigan Strategic Fund, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation recently announced. Two projects, the construction of the M-1 Rail and the demolition of Joe Louis Arena, will receive $16 million from the fund.

"Michigan is America’s Comeback State, and these projects add to our growing momentum," said Gov. Rick Snyder in a statement. "These new investments in our state will strengthen our communities, spur new commercial investment in our cities and fuel new opportunities for our talented workforce."

The M-1 Rail, a 3.3-mile light rail system that will stretch from downtown to New Center, is set to receive a $10 million loan from the Michigan Strategic Fund. The $10 million Michigan Business Development Program performance-based loan has been awarded as result of the $130 to $140 million in capital investment and up to 41 permanent jobs that the construction of the line is expected to create.

While some specifics for the project remain, the $10 million in loans provided by the Michigan Strategic Fund should bring the M-1 Rail closer to reality. Recently, the first phase of construction began as crews have started utility work downtown. The M-1 Rail is a curbside light rail system that will stop at 11 planned stops along Woodward.

The current home of the Detroit Red Wings, Joe Louis Arena, will be demolished once a new hockey arena has been built in the lower Cass Corridor. Though nothing has been announced for the future former home of the Red Wings, the riverfront location is poised to receive major development interest.

Anticipating major commercial investment dollars, the Michigan Strategic Fund has approved up to $6 million in Michigan Community Revitalization Program performance-based economic assistance to go toward demolishing the arena. Joe Louis opened in 1979.

Source: Michigan Economic Development Corporation press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Hip, new barber shop opens downtown

A new barber shop has opened in downtown Detroit. Beyond the haircuts, Standard Barber Company also offers straight razor shaves, beard trims, and shoe shines. The company focuses on "hip and cool" haircuts for men, something that was missing from downtown, according to co-founder Matt Charette Temkin.

The barber shop has a clubhouse feel to it as Temkin mentions bourbon and catching a game as part of the experience. Temkin's great grandfather, Joseph Charette, opened his own barber shop in the Delray neighborhood in 1915, eventually moving it to Brightmoor where it was in operation until the 1960s.

Temkin, who lives in New York, got the idea to open his own barber shop while visiting eventual co-founder Steve Economy on a trip home. The pair both grew up in Farmington. Economy, who lives downtown, was showing Temkin around when Temkin learned that Economy drove all the way to the suburbs to get his haircut. The idea for Standard Barber Company was soon crafted.

"It's great to have all these businesses moving downtown, all these people moving down here," says Temkin. "But what makes it a desirable place to live are the daytime services that everyone needs."

Discouraged after looking at over 50 spaces downtown and not finding a single match, the pair stopped in the Greenwich Times pub. It was there over beers that the duo got to talking to the bartender, who then called out her brother, the owner of the building. They were soon led upstairs and found their space at 138 Cadillac Square. Since the business takes up the second floor of a building that is wedge- or flat iron-shaped, the shop is surrounded by windows.

The company is looking to hire more barbers to stand behind their three chairs. The current group is lead by Head Barber David Herrera, who the business found after conducting over 100 interviews this last summer.

Source: Matt Charette Temkin, co-founder of Standard Barber Company
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Detroit Greenways Coalition becomes a nonprofit, grows

The Detroit Greenways Coalition is making a push to play an even bigger role in growing the city's greenways as it becomes an official nonprofit organization. The group has filed papers with the state and has requested recognition from the IRS as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The group, which formed in 2006, has been an informal organization since inception.

By achieving nonprofit status, the DGC will be able to expand its scope, providing the group more resources like access to grant funding. The coalition now has a board of directors. Todd Scott, who was basically a one man staff for the organization in its previous incarnation, will remain with the DGC. He is now Executive Director for the Detroit Greenways Coalition.

"We weren't an official organization beforehand. We were a group of stakeholders that met monthly," says Scott. "I'm excited to see how this moves us forward, to see what we can accomplish."

The group had no intentions of becoming a nonprofit when it first formed in 2006. There were even discussions of the transition happening in 2009 but it was then decided against. More changes may come for the DGC as Scott says that a merger is likely with the Detroit Eastside Community Collaborative, a group that works to build greenways in underserved neighborhoods on the city's east side. The Detroit Greenways Coalition and Detroit Eastside Community Collaborative are already partners in building the Conner Creek Greenway.

The DGC was recently in the news for its involvement in bringing four new miles of bike lanes to Van Dyke Ave. The bike lanes connect the cities of Warren, Center Line, and Detroit and also help complete the Conner Creek Greenway, a patchwork of bike lanes and greenways that now stretches from north of 8 Mile Rd. to Maheras Gentry Park at the Detroit River.

Source: Todd Scott, executive director of Detroit Greenways Coalition
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

March development news round-up

March was another busy month for development news in the city. Let's catch up on five stories from the past four weeks.


Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

February development news round-up

February was another busy month for development news in the city. Let's catch up on five stories from the past four weeks.

  • As development projects continue to multiply throughout greater downtown Detroit, people are starting to use the word gentrification more and more. 1217 Griswold, the Capitol Park residence and events loft space, sparked the latest conversation as its residents have been given notice to move out by the end of February. Dan Gilbert's Bedrock Real Estate Services plans to rehab the building, which is badly in need of repairs.
  • Another decades-long Detroit institution of weird, the Cass Corridor's Showcase Collectible, is also getting the boot as a new owner plans to make capital improvements to the building. A tattoo parlor will be one of the new businesses to eventually occupy the old Chinatown building.
  • Beer isn't nearly as controversial as gentrification--or progress, depending on who you're talking to--and Midtown's about to get a whole lot more of it. The Grand Rapids-based HopCat is opening its third craft beer bar in the old Agave location this August.
  • In other apartment news, downtown's Park Apartments building was sold this month for a reported $3.25 million to Joe Barbat, CEO and chairman of Southfield-based Wireless Toyz. Barbat plans over $6 million in renovations to the building, which will include 116 Class A apartment units and ground floor dining. In a nod to the building's nearly 80 years of history, it will be renamed Briggs House Residence.
  • The Detroit Free Press and Detroit News have announced a coming change of address as the two newspapers are moving operations into the Bedrock Real Estate Services-owned Federal Reserve Building in the city's central business district. The move was made in part to keep up with the demands of modern technology.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

New Corktown gym opens with charity drive

A new gym is opening in Detroit's Corktown neighborhood. The personal fitness club Detroit Tough is celebrating its opening with a benefit for the homeless and under-clothed. Detroit Tough is opening with the help of an Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy grant.

Roger Dyjak is one of the people behind Detroit Tough. He's also responsible for Train like a Savage, a personal training method that uses the pressure of working out within a group to elevate individual performance. This style of personal fitness champions mental toughness as much as it does physical toughness.

Detroit Tough is not a gym in the traditional sense -- there won't be any treadmills or stationary bikes. Instead, it features physical tests like intense obstacle courses to improve fitness. The private club offers tiered training to better fit need and ability.

The gym is celebrating its opening with a charity drive on Saturday, Feb. 15 from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Organizers are asking for a $20 donation and clothing or canned food. All money raised will be given to New Life Rescue Mission and Empowerment Plan. Clothing will be donated to the Salvation Army.

Music is scheduled throughout the course of the event, including sets from Band B, Velveteen Rabbit, and Volcano and the New Radio Standard. Fellow Corktowners McShane's Pub will be there roasting a pig. University of Detroit Mercy dental students will be providing free dental screenings to the homeless.

Detroit Tough is the recipient of an OTSC grant. The money was secured by U.S. Sen. Carl Levin to redevelop the area of the old Tiger Stadium site. A total of $800,000 was reserved for businesses in the Corktown neighborhood.

Detroit Tough is located at 1244 Beech.

Source: Detroit Tough press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Mayor wants to take blighted buildings through nuisance abatement program

The Detroit Downtown Partnership held its first stakeholder meeting of the year Feb. 5, touching on a range of development topics. It featured the first ever public forum between Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and emergency manager Kevyn Orr.

  • The DDP is pushing for a Business Improvement Zone (BIZ) that would provide long-term funding to the Clean Downtown beautification program. The proposed BIZ would also fund downtown landscaping programs, safety and hospitality programs, and marketing initiatives. Funding is raised through an assessment formula that combines assessed value and built floor area metrics. DDP CEO David Blaszkiewicz expects City Council and Orr to approve the request for BIZ formation, leaving a property owner vote as the last step. Passing the BIZ requires at least 60 percent of voting downtown property owners' approval.
     
  • Duggan credits the professionalism of Orr and the new City Council in the election of a new lighting authority, one that will install LED lights throughout the city. The mayor also mentioned that he, the city council, the emergency manager, and the governor were able to consolidate nine separate land banks and blight task forces into one agency.
     
  • Currently stuck in the Michigan legislature, a bill would require all scrapyards pay by check mailed three days after a transaction.
     
  • Duggan advocated for restoring vacant buildings when possible, rather than demolishing them. He also hinted at a nuisance abatement program akin to the one he instituted during his days as Wayne County Prosecutor, saying, "We're gonna go through and take title to all three (blighted) houses (on a block) at once by suing on a nuisance abatement, saying to the owners, you have to maintain your property so it's not a nuisance to your neighbors. Either sign the court order to fix it up yourself or we'll take it and sell it on the Internet."
Source: Detroit Downtown Partnership stakeholders meeting, Feb. 5, 2014

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Let's get physical: Personal trainer opens downtown fitness studio

Robert Gardner is opening PT in the D, a small personal training studio located in the Julian C. Madison building at 1420 Washington Blvd. The 1,300 square foot facility features equipment ideal for strength training and cardiovascular exercises as well as a private shower. The business officially opens the first week of February.

PT in the D specializes in one-on-one personal training sessions. Training for small groups of two to six people is also available. Gardner isn't looking to expand class size, preferring to keep sessions small and private. The smaller the group, the easier it is for Gardner to tailor each session to clients' needs and goals.

Working in fitness since 2007, Gardner attended Wayne State University, where he received a degree in exercise science. He then worked as a personal trainer at the Boll Family YMCA downtown. It was there where he got the idea to open his own studio. Working downtown, he says, helped him develop a network of clients. And while personal training studios are popular in many American cities, it's a business that hasn't taken off in Detroit -- yet.

"I think it's good to start PT in the D now versus five to six years from now when rent will be higher and maybe there will be more similar businesses," says Gardner. "It's a good opportunity. There's more and more demand for this type of business. People are wanting to get healthier."

With more people moving downtown, Gardner sees the potential for more clients. He estimates that 75 to 80 percent of his client list live either in downtown, Midtown, or Corktown. The rest are commuting to work from the suburbs.

PT in the D offers personal training sessions by appointment only.

Source: Robert Gardner, owner of PT in the D
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Coffee and (___) goes from pop-up to permanent in Jefferson Chalmers

We sure do love our pop-ups in Detroit. And beyond just the novelty of having an experience in a space that you wouldn't otherwise be able to have (a Guns + Butter dinner at Shinola perhaps, or an independent toy store on Woodward just in time for the holidays), pop-ups serve an important purpose: they vet new businesses for long-term sustainability, allow aspiring entrepreneurs to test out different neighborhoods, and activate spaces that would otherwise remain vacant. And sometimes – more and more often now – they lead to permanent businesses opening.
 
Coffee and (______) is the latest Detroit pop-up that is going permanent. After a successful run in West Village last year (which Detroit Vegan Soul was also a part of) and another in Jefferson Chalmers earlier this year, Angela Foster, owner of Coffee and (_____), has decided to make her pop-up space on East Jefferson her permanent home.
 
Coffee and (______) opened in Jefferson Chalmers this past June after Shelborne Development restored several commercial buildings in the area and the American Institute of Architects Urban Priorities Committee added all the finishing touches.
 
After the scheduled pop-up period ended on Jefferson, Foster took some time to travel around and decide what she wanted to do next. She considered working harvest season in northern Michigan wine country, among other things, but the more she thought about being away, the more she missed being here in Detroit and the more she missed her shop. So she called Ritchie Harrison, economic development director of Jefferson East Inc., and asked if she could come back. "No one had shown any interest in the spaces yet so he was thrilled," she says.
 
As a neighborhood still working to define itself, Jefferson Chalmers has a strong community but not necessarily a lot of visibility outside of it. "It's going to take some time to get people excited about (these spaces)," Foster says. But for her it was worth taking the leap. She said she is finally getting commuter traffic and is now trying to go seamlessly from pop-up to permanent. She is still doing all the work herself – that includes all the baking (the selection changes daily) and customer service – but is now getting some help from a Shifting Gears program participant.
 
Coffee and (_____) will continue to operate while Foster finalizes all of the paperwork and licensing to become a full-fledged permanent café. You can visit her 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The business is closed Tuesdays.
 
Source: Angela Foster, owner of Coffee and (______)
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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


Prepare for the holidays with Eastern Market's Thanksgiving Market next Tuesday

The Tuesday markets season in Eastern Market may be over, but next Tuesday will see one last round for the year, just in time for Thanksgiving.
 
From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. next Tuesday, Nov. 26, shoppers can visit Eastern Market farms and artisan food vendors to pick up everything they need for their Thanksgiving dinners. "The idea of a Thanksgiving market came to us last year when the Tuesday before Thanksgiving people were calling us and asking if we were open," says Fiona Ruddy, Alternative Food Program Coordinator for Eastern Market.
 
At the time they had just wrapped up their second season of Tuesday markets and decided to plan a Thanksgiving market for this year. In planning this special holiday market, longtime vendors remembered when there was previously an annual Thanksgiving market when the city used to run Eastern Market and are very excited to see it come back.
 
The market will be held in Shed 5, which is heated. There will be food trucks serving food as well as Michigan wineries serving samples of their wines – an Eastern Market daytime market debut since a law was passed in Michigan earlier this year allowing wineries that produce fewer than five thousand gallons annually to sample and sell wines at farmers markets. (We may see more of this at the market next year.)
 
Randall Fogelman, Eastern Market's vice president of business development, co-authored the newly-released Detroit's Historic Eastern Market with writer Lisa Rush, and both will be on hand for a meet and greet, selling and signing copies. Part of the Images of America series from Arcadia Publishing, this will make a fantastic holiday gift item. Wheelhouse Detroit and Detroit Bikes are also launching a retail residency inside a shipping container in Shed 4 in conjunction with the Thanksgiving Market. Hours will be Friday and Monday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Bicycle rental and drop-off repair service will also be available.
 
There will also be Christmas tree farmers out in the parking lot behind Shed 5, so people can even shop for their holiday decorations as well as the food for their tables. Area businesses like DeVries, Rocky's Peanut Company, Gratiot Central Market, and more will also round out everything you need for a spectacular all-local dinner.
 
Eastern Market, and Shed 5 in particular, has been in the news quite a bit this year with announcements of grants supporting the construction of an outdoor plaza and a community kitchen. While a concrete timetable for the completion of construction has not been announced, interested groups can rent out Shed 5 for private parties ranging anything from kid-friendly family events to white tablecloth CEO dinners.
 
Source: Fiona Ruddy, Alternative Food Program Coordinator for Eastern Market
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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

Anytime Fitness to open downtown Jan. 1, now selling memberships

Downtown Detroit will soon have its own premiere 24/7 fitness facility at 735 Griswold, and memberships are available now.
 
Mike Ferlito of Ferlito Construction, also a partner in Bamboo Detroit, recognized the need for Detroit to have a 24/7 fitness facility with all of the influx of business professionals and people moving downtown. Though there are private membership-based gyms like the YMCA and DAC, there are currently no traditional membership-based, 24/7, in-and-out type gyms. So Ferlito reached out to Anytime Fitness and has licensed the concept for both downtown and Midtown.
 
The downtown location will feature 5,000 square feet of equipment space. They will also have personal trainers on hand, and are currently looking to hire four to six trainers as well as a full-time manager. Interested parties can email here.
 
They just started selling memberships last Friday and are currently running a special for the first 100 people who sign up, who will receive half-off their down payment and be charged only $32 per month. You must sign up for your membership in person 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Sign-ups are in the same building, 735 Griswold, one door north of the soon-to-be Anytime Fitness entrance. Also, if you successfully refer a friend, you will receive one month of membership for free. Membership to the downtown gym also includes 24/7 access to the 2,200 Anytime Fitness locations worldwide.
 
The space is currently under construction, but they plan on a Jan. 1 opening date – just in time for those New Year's resolutions.
 
Source: Mike Ferlito, The Ferlito Group
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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