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Public Policy : Detroit Development News

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Historic building preservation and restoration open house scheduled at Hug Factory in Eastern Market

"I always saw myself as a steward of these historic buildings. But I've found I'm at my best when helping others be stewards."

That's what Amy Swift told Model D in 2016 upon the opening of the Hug Factory, the headquarters for her Building Hugger renovation firm. The company specializes in historic window restoration and repair.

Swift continues her mission with the announcement of the second annual Building Hugger Community Mingle. She's partnered with three local historic preservation organizations for the event, which will offer guests a chance to learn about both restoration techniques as well as public policy issues affecting preservation today.

Brick + Beam Detroit, Preservation Detroit, and Michigan Historic Preservation Network will provide information on current preservation policy issues, including the state of the threatened federal historic tax credit. The organizations will then lead a postcard-writing session to advocate for the endangered tax credit.

Swift will lead a window restoration demonstration while opening up her shop to the public, allowing guests to visit employee work stations for first-hand interactions. Swift plans to open Hugs Hardware in the building, which will sell hard-to-find restoration supplies.

Michigan Women's Foundation and the Build Institute will also be on hand to provide information on their programming for entrepreneurs.

"Informing our community about the preservation policies and best practices that affect property owners in Detroit every day is core to our mission at Building Hugger," says Swift. "We're excited to be able to bring in our partners for a shared advocacy day while also celebrating our achievements and giving thanks to our supporters for helping us through such a big year. It'll be a fun afternoon."

The Building Hugger Community Mingle is free and open to the public. RSVPs are not required but are encouraged, which can be done here. The event is Saturday, Feb. 25 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Building Hugger is located in Eastern Market at 3036 Chene St.

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

Q&A: WSU's Carol Miller on the interplay between green and gray infrastructure

Carol Miller is Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Wayne State University. She's also Director of Healthy Urban Waters, a program that advocates and researches clean water resources in the Huron-Erie Corridor. We asked her a few questions about how green infrastructure in Detroit can help sustain our larger, "gray" infrastructure water systems.

Model D: What is the current state of Detroit's water infrastructure?

Miller: The current situation is in flux; in transition. As we all are well aware, much of the water transmission and distribution infrastructureincluding pipes, pumps, and valveshas served the city for a very long time. In some instances, for 100 years and more. 
 
In addition, the stormwater and sanitary infrastructure have been a significant environmental problem in the past. Many of these issues are much more at the forefront of political, social, and environmental justice discussions these days. This heightened awareness of the critical nature of our water infrastructure has led to some relatively recent and well-deserved attention on this issue.

Model D: How can green infrastructure ease the pressure on water infrastructure in Detroit?

Green infrastructure can ease the pressure on some of the urban flooding issues associated with high flows within the combined storm/sanitary lines. Green infrastructure can hold back some of the storm runoff, allowing it to pass into the piping system after the peak discharge has receded. 
 
Also, green infrastructure can reduce the total runoff that exits a property by allowing more to drain into the soil and be used by plants. Green infrastructure can also, in some cases, improve the quality of the stormwater runoff by allowing particulates to settle out.

Model D: What will it take to create a green infrastructure that improves city water infrastructure?

It will take leadership within the city and within the communities (residential, business, and industrial) of the city. We are seeing some of that leadership come together presently, with DWSD and the Great Lakes Water Authority, as well as citizen leaders in the communities. Wayne State University, through its Healthy Urban Waters program, is also playing a key role; as are SEMCOG, MDEQ, and others.

This is critical because this is an all-encompassing and all-effecting problem, and adequate attention will require leadership from the citizens, government, academic partners, and regulatory community. For green infrastructure, often the most important component is the citizen component.

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

This story is part of a series on measuring on the role of green infrastructure projects in Detroit's redevelopment. Support for this series is provided by the Erb Family Foundation to Greening of Detroit, Model  D, and The Nature Conservancy. Read more articles from the series here.

Small business contest seeks applicants for $50,000 award

It's that time of year again. The budding entrepreneurs of Detroit are being encouraged to enter for their chance to win the Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest. This year's winner will receive a $50,000 cash prize from Comerica Bank, $25,000 worth of branding and logo design from Team Detroit, plus accounting, legal, IT, and public relations consulting. Comerica has pledged an additional $75,000 to help fund other aspects of the contest, as well.

Now in its sixth year, the contest rewards entrepreneurs on the path to opening brick-and-mortar storefronts in either Detroit, Highland Park, or Hamtramck. Previous winners include men's lifestyle store Hugh, the tapas restaurant La Feria, beer-makers Batch Brewing Company, the bakery Sister Pie, and the cycle studio Live Cycle Delight.

Hatch Detroit has made it a point to help out and provide services for the businesses that haven't taken home top prize in the contest. Many of the runners-up have gone on or are going to open their own permanent or pop-up locations throughout the city. Such successful contest alums include Detroit Institute of Bagels, Detroit Vegan Soul, and Busted in Detroit.

"The Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest is a catalyst of business competitions," says Vittoria Katanski, executive director of Hatch Detroit. "Not only does it help the winning businesses establish storefronts, but it introduces us to the area's top entrepreneurs. All contest alumni are continuously encouraged and guided toward opening their doors. The 14 Hatch Alumni who have operating storefronts, and 16 more operating as pop-ups or opening soon, proves this contest is really revitalizing Detroit."

This year, Hatch has targeted four neighborhoods in their revitalization efforts and will host workshops for applicants in each. These include June 2 in Hamtramck, June 16 in Jefferson East, June 29 on the Avenue of Fashion, and July 7 in Grandmont Rosedale. Applications are accepted May 2 through July 15, 2016.

Visit HatchDetroit.com to enter.

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

Motor City Match seeks business and commercial property owners for third round of grants

Detroit entrepreneurs and commercial property owners are once again being encouraged to apply for the city's Motor City Match program. Applications are open for submission March 1-April 1. It's the third round of the program intended to stimulate Detroit's commercial corridors.

There are four major award categories for which business and property owners can apply for a share of $500,000 in grant funding. Each category is designed for business and property owners at different levels of building a business.

The first category is for business plans, which Motor City Match will help entrepreneurs develop. 

The second category seeks to match commercial property owners with business tenants. Buildings must be in good shape and entrepreneurs must have quality business plans or successful track records.

The third category will award architectural design assistance, construction documents, and priority permitting to business and building owners with recently signed leases.

The fourth and final category is for those with signed leases, quality business plans, and bids for building out the space, but who still have to bridge a financial gap. This category awards cash to such applicants.

Motor City Match was launched by Mayor Mike Duggan and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation in 2015. Roderick Miller, CEO of the DEGC, says in a statement, "After two rounds of Motor City Match awardees, it's clear this program is making an impact in Detroit. From restaurants and retail establishments to service companies and even manufacturing, Motor City Match is growing neighborhood small businesses across the city."

According to officials, the Motor City Mach program has invested $1 million in 20 businesses to date, leveraging an additional $6 million in public and private investment. Motor City Match also points out that 70 percent of the 196 businesses and property owners that have received support are minority owned. Furthermore, two-thirds are from Detroit and half are minority woman-owned businesses.

Visit motorcitymatch.com for details on how to apply.

Disclosure: Model D receives support from Motor City Match to tell stories of small business development in the city's neighborhoods.

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

February development news round-up: Breweries, apartments, vacant lots, and more

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.

Granite City opened its latest restaurant and brewery location in the Renaissance Center earlier this month. It's the largest location for the chain eatery and on-site brewery, which first opened in St. Cloud, Minnesota in 1999.

Financing for the Scott, a 199-unit apartment building in the Brush Park neighborhood, was finalized earlier this month. Two weeks after, the Scott announced that pre-leasing had begun. The building is set to open in the beginning of 2017.

In October 2015, Detroit Future City released a guidebook to help residents steward vacant lots in their neighborhood. This month, the DFC Implementation Office announced that it is splitting $65,000 among 15 grassroots organizations and individuals to help facilitate lot transformations as outlined in their guidebook.

A devastating fire wiped out the home of Reclaim Detroit in Highland Park. The fire, which could be seen miles away, decimated the company's operations, destroying much of its irreplaceable stock. Reclaim Detroit, which recovers re-usable materials from vacant buildings in Detroit, is currently holding an online fundraiser to help cushion the blow.

Five hundred and twenty-seven people invested a total of $741,250 in the renovation of Keyworth Stadium in Hamtramck. The new home for the Detroit City Football Club, Keyworth Stadium is 80 years old and in need of many repairs if it's to host DCFC as their home stadium in the years ahead. DCFC officials hoped to raise between $400,000 and $750,000 in their crowdfunding campaign.

The city revealed its Detroit Home Mortgage program this month. The mortgage program is a partnership between the city, the Obama Administration’s Detroit Federal Working Group, Clinton Global Initiative, local banks, foundations, and nonprofits. The program addresses the appraisal gap, a common hindrance to purchasing a home in the city. Now, banks will be able to make loans for the agreed upon selling price of a home and not just the appraisal number, which is often much lower than what a buyer agrees to pay.

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

2016 will be a year of big improvements to Detroit's cycling infrastructure

A new report released by the Detroit Greenways Coalition highlights five bike and trail projects that the bicycle and pedestrian advocacy group is most looking forward to in 2016. According to the DGC, Detroit will see a number of improvements to its cycling infrastructure in 2016, including the official completion of the Dequindre Cut, upgraded biking conditions along Cass Avenue, and the introduction of the much-anticipated public bike share program. The report also hints at an indoor velodrome that could be in Detroit's future.

Detroit Greenways Coalition works with both public and private entities, including city and state governments, and an array of foundations, to improve the quality of non-motorized transportation and recreation in Detroit. Todd Scott is the group's executive director.

Highlights from the DGC report include the following:
 
  • The Link Detroit project will officially be completed in 2016. Link Detroit connects a number of communities, from Hamtramck to Midtown to Eastern Market to the Riverfront, through a series of bike lanes and the Dequindre Cut.
  • Biking from Midtown to downtown should prove easier in 2016 as improved biking conditions along Cass Avenue are completed this year. Upgrades are designed, in part, to discourage bikers from using Woodward Avenue and the accompanying safety concerns of the M-1 Rail.
  • Automated counters will be installed along the Dequindre Cut and Cass to provide the DGC with real-time data as they look to better understand and utilize bicycle and pedestrian trends throughout those corridors. 
  • 2016 could also be the year that a public bike share program is introduced in Detroit. Though nothing is definite, the DGC says the Detroit Downtown Partnership is hopeful that the first phase of the program will open this year.
  • Bike lanes along a four-mile stretch of Livernois Avenue are being installed by the city of Detroit and will run from Grand River Avenue to W. Vernor Highway. Pop-up bike lanes, intended for viability tests, will also be installed along Livernois from McNichols to 8 Mile Road.
More information on the Detroit Greenways Coalition and its top projects for 2016 can be found here.

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

Fighting tax foreclosure, Recovery Park, and more: October development news round-up

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

In just 14 days, a group called Keep Our Homes Detroit successfully raised $108,463 through crowdfunding, well over its goal of $100K. The group worked in partnership with the United Community Housing Coalition with the stated intent of buying foreclosed homes for the people still living in them, homes that were being sold through Wayne County's 2015 tax foreclosure auction. That auction, which ended Oct. 22, has been the subject of much analysis, with people like Jerry Paffendorf of Loveland Technologies offering a number of ideas on how to make the foreclosure auction process better for everyone involved. A potential 60,000 properties could be eligible for auction in 2016, a large majority of them in the city of Detroit.

The Detroit Land Bank has decided to attempt a more citizen-friendly approach in managing its own list of properties, a number of which are owned by the city yet have people living inside of them without the city's permission. Detroit will attempt a pilot program that offers the homes to those living in them at $1,000 each. If purchasing a home, that person will have to pay $100 a month for one year, stay current on their water bill, attend a home buyer counseling course, and maintain their property. If they satisfy those requirements, the deed is theirs. The land bank says the city gains nothing by driving people out of their homes.

The city has also agreed, pending city council approval, to a five-year, $15 million urban agriculture redevelopment plan with the nonprofit RecoveryPark Farms. The urban farms group will lease 35 acres of city land at $105 per acre per year. Officials expect 128 people to be hired as a result of the deal. The farm plots occupy areas between I-94, Forest Avenue, and Chene and St. Aubin streets.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Massive I-94 modernization efforts to limit residential and commercial displacement, officials say

It's not a widening of Interstate 94 so much as it is a right-sizing, Michigan Department of Transportation officials said of their plans to update the aging freeway at a media round table on Monday, June 8, at the agency's Detroit Operations Service Center on Fort Street.

While the 6.7-mile-long modernization project stretching through the heart of Detroit will cause the displacement and demolition of some structures, MDOT officials say that the majority of the construction will occur within the existing footprint of the Interstate. Because I-94 is bounded by sloping mounds of earth, any lane additions will be accommodated by eliminating the landscaped hills in favor of vertical retaining walls similar to ones found along I-696.

Neighborhood residents and various organizations have been vocal in their concerns that efforts to widen I-94 will result in the displacement of residents and businesses. Officials insist that their goal is to minimize any displacement and keep as much of the construction within the Interstate's existing footprint as possible.

"We don't want to turn this into L.A., and we don't want to turn this into Atlanta," says MDOT communications specialist Rob Morosi, referencing the wide, sprawling freeways that characterize those cities.

Still, displacement will occur. According to officials, 16 residential structures and 18 commercial structures will be in the way of construction along the 6.7-mile stretch. One of those buildings is United Sound Systems Recording Studios, historic for its role in Detroit's musical legacy. Talks are currently underway to perhaps move or work around that building, officials say. Also at risk of removal are the Brooklyn Street pedestrian bridge over I-94 and the Canfield pedestrian bridge over the John C. Lodge Expressway.

The I-94 modernization project will span the 6.7 miles between I-96 and Norcross Street, which is just east of Conner Avenue. Planned improvements include the extension and improvement of on-ramps, the elimination of left-lane exits and entrances, and the re-building of a crumbling infrastructure, including overpasses that haven't received significant upgrades since being built as early as 1954. Estimated costs come in at nearly $1.9 billion in today's dollars. Construction of the modernization project's three phases will not be completed until 2036.

MDOT is hosting two open houses to present to and listen to feedback from the community. The first is from 9 to 11 a.m. and 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 14, at Cathedral Church of St. Paul at 4800 Woodward Ave. The second occurs from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 16, at Wayne County Community College Eastern Campus at 5901 Conner Ave.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

New documentary film follows struggle for community benefits agreement in Delray

Photo and audio exhibitionsmurals, and now a documentary film are ways in which people are keeping record of one Detroit neighborhood's fight to secure a community benefits agreement in the construction of an international bridge. "Living with Industry: Detroit, Michigan" tells the story of the people of Delray, a neighborhood on the city's southwest shore that is known as much for pollution and abandonment as it is anything else. It's also the place where the United States and Canada look to place their New International Trade Crossing.

According to Community Development Advocates of Detroit, Delray is a neighborhood that experiences over 10,000 trucks in daily traffic and is host to the largest single-site waste water treatment plant in the United States, an oil refinery, and a steel-making facility. In spite of this, there are still 2,500 or so people that live in the neighborhood. Even with the construction of a bridge that is estimated to displace 700 people, the majority of Delray's residents will remain.

The people in the film who are fighting for a community benefits agreement are fighting for the Detroiters who won't receive buyouts from the government to uproot and leave their homes and community. As Simone Sagovac, project director for the Southwest Detroit Community Benefits Coalition, says in the film, "One of the most important things about this bridge project and what is happening to Delray is that residents are recognized -- that their needs are there just like any other community."

The film itself comes from the Community Development Advocates of Detroit and their community storytelling project. It's a project that is focusing on the neighborhoods outside of downtown Detroit. "Living with Industry: Detroit, Michigan" was produced by filmmaker Logan Stark and CDAD public policy and communications intern Troy Anderson and is available online.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

A leery public joins public officials to question $200M State Fairgrounds redevelopment plans


Despite the release of architectural renderings, issues of transit and accessibility had people buzzing at the latest public forum for the proposed $200 million redevelopment of the old State Fairgrounds in Detroit. Members of neighboring communities, leaders of various transit agencies, and other interested parties gathered Wednesday, March 18 to debate the latest information offered by Redico and Magic Plus, two developers of the site.

The Michigan State Fair, which occupied the site of the Fairgrounds since 1905, ceased operating there in 2009 when it was defunded by the state of Michigan. In 2012, Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill that authorized the transfer of the Fairgrounds to the Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority and opened the door for private redevelopment.

Though nothing has been formally adopted, the latest plan released by the developers is the most detailed to date, offering the public a glimpse into a 157-acre site that includes 650 residential units made up of a mix of one- and two-bedroom townhomes, apartments, studios, and lofts. The plan also calls for senior housing, retail, office space, green space, pocket parks, and transit-oriented development.

Dan Dirks, director of the Detroit Department of Transportation, stood with leaders of the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) and the Regional Transit Authority to urge the developers to not relocate a transit station even further south down Woodward Avenue.

Developers propose moving the transit station to the northeast corner of State Fair Avenue and Woodward. Transit leaders stressed the importance of locating the transfer station as close as possible to the busy intersection of 8 Mile Boulevard and Woodward. "It's not often we all get together and agree on something," says Dirks. The transfer station should eventually service the Bus Rapid Transit line.

Also proposed is an Amtrak train station that would offer connections to Chicago and Flint. Funds from Amtrak have yet to be secured.

A number of community members expressed concern over what they believed to be a poor connection between the proposed housing and the neighboring Gateway Marketplace. Todd Scott, executive director of the Detroit Greenways Coalition, echoed those sentiments, believing that not only was the development poorly connected to the Meijer store next door, but also to surrounding communities like Ferndale.

Others were more critical of the meeting, with some either suggesting or outright accusing that the proceedings were a sham. Frank Hammer, a member of the Fairgrounds Advisory Committee and Greenacres Woodward Civic Association, signed a pamphlet being circulated that called the series of public forums "broken from the beginning." Developers insisted that they were listening to everyone's concerns and that the newly announced plans addressed issues brought forward during previous public meetings.

Craig Willian, vice president of retail development for Redico, characterized the development as the place where city and suburbs meet. "The nice thing about the site is the opportunity to provide a lot of green space," Willian says. "We can afford an urban feel with that suburban green field experience."

It's an enormous space, one that could fit four Partridge Creek Malls, he says. The developers are working with Wayne County Community College to lease an office building facing the town commons. They're working to save at least four of the historic buildings on the site: the fieldhouse, coliseum, dairy cattle building, and poultry building. A local theater operator wants to take the shell of the coliseum and use it to house a modern movie theater, says Willian. Bike and walking trails are also planned.

While developers did receive positive feedback along with the criticisms, many in the crowd expressed doubts that what was being presented is what will be built. Rochelle Lento of nearby Palmer Woods says that though she shops at the Meijer at Gateway Marketplace, that development is a far cry from what was originally presented to the community, a much more suburban-style strip mall development than what was initially announced. It's a common concern for a site with so much potential, value, and reverence.

"The biggest takeaway for me was seeing transit well represented. That's the biggest plus," says Todd Scott. "Still, I feel these are interesting renderings but what will really happen?"

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

Detroit Greenways Coalition leads non-motorized charge into 2015 with bevy of bike-related projects

The nonprofit group Detroit Greenways Coalition has released its Top 5 Detroit bike and trail projects for 2015 and it's looking to be a very good year for Detroiters who enjoy the outdoors. According to the DGC, the city's bicyclists, joggers, and walkers will see miles of new pathways added, current routes improved, and safer road conditions in 2015.

Detroit Greenways Coalition is led by Executive Director Todd Scott. The group works with both public and private entities, including city and state governments and an array of foundations, to improve the quality of non-motorized transportation and recreation in Detroit.

Highlights from the DGC report include the following:
 
  • Bicyclists and pedestrians can expect the Link Detroit project to be finished by summer. Link Detroit extends the Dequindre Cut to Eastern Market and connects Eastern Market to Midtown and Hamtramck with surface street bike lanes.
  • The DGC helped secure $4.5 million in grants which it expects the city of Detroit to use to purchase an 8.3 mile stretch of abandoned railroad this year. That property will then be converted into a bike path and greenway, filling in a significant gap of the Inner Circle Greenway, the DGC's 26 mile-long circular pathway that rolls through Detroit, Hamtramck, Highland Park, and Dearborn.
  • The almost-finished Conner Creek Greenway, which travels northward from the riverfront at Maheras Gentry Park, will see the completion of an extension from Conner Street at E. Outer Drive all the way into Warren, where it merges with Van Dyke Avenue and ends at Stephens Road. The greenway is to be part of Governor Snyder's Showcase Trail, a system of paths, trails, and bike lanes that reaches from Belle Isle to Wisconsin.
  • The first protected bike lanes in the state are set to be installed along six blocks of East Jefferson Avenue between Alter Road and Lakewood Street. Efforts by groups including East Jefferson, Inc. are underway to extend those bike lanes to the Belle Isle entrance.
  • Cass Avenue is to receive bike lanes from W. Grand Boulevard to Lafayette, which will then zig zag to the RiverWalk. Public bike repair stations and air pumps will be installed along the way.
More information on the Detroit Greenways Coalition and its top projects for 2015 can be found here.

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

After a three-year fight, West Village community garden buys land from city

The group behind West Village community garden Shipherd Greens has successfully purchased its land from the city of Detroit. Though the $1,050 price for the land may seem modest, it's a big victory for Shipherd Greens, LLC, which was formed with the purpose of purchasing the lots. Efforts to purchase the land began three years ago and the group's offers have been rejected by the city a number of times since.

Shipherd Greens is located at the corner of Shipherd and Agnes streets in West Village. The all-organic community garden produces a range of produce, including kale, tomatoes, collards, apples, and grapes.

Though the city had no issue with Shipherd Greens operating the two city lots as a community garden through the Adopt-A-Lot program, it took three years of pushing by the group before the city sold them the land. One of the lead organizers of the garden, Rosie Sharp, says they were originally turned down because of zoning issues. After enlisting the help of some local political leaders to pressure the Planning and Development Department and personally calling every other week, Sharp and her community now own the land they've been caring for since Lisa Richter first started the garden in 2006.

The prospect of losing the land was a major driver for Sharp. Having moved to West Village from New York City in 2009, Sharp says the experience of watching her former New York City neighborhood quickly gentrify kept her motivated. While she thinks all of the businesses opening in West Village are great for the neighborhood, Sharp doesn't want to see the community garden get swallowed up by the recent surge in development there.

"Sometimes you worry," says Sharp. "With urban agriculture, it can be tempting for people to reduce it to a monetary value, but the real value is kind of hidden. It's about spending time outside with your community and being connected to the earth."

It's important, she says, that the city recognizes the people who have been caring for their neighborhoods since before the current wave of development. For example, at $1,050 for two lots, the city charged Shipherd Greens nearly twice per lot compared to what Hantz Woodlands paid for a lot, which was around $300 each.

As a result of her experience, Sharp is organizing a series of Land Forum workshops where city residents can learn how to purchase vacant land in Detroit. The third Land Forum Workshop is from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 18 at Repair the World Detroit, 2701 Bagley St. 

Source: Rosie Sharp, a lead organizer of Shipherd Greens
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

$5 million available to urban innovators across 26 cities, including Detroit

Big thinkers, dreamers, and just about anyone else with an idea on how to make cities better are invited to apply for part of $5 million offered by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Dubbed the Knight Cities Challenge, the foundation is granting money to innovators in 26 cities throughout the United States, including Detroit. Applications open Oct. 1 and will be accepted until Nov. 14.

The money is available to an array of urban innovators and doers -- from entrepreneurs to artists, students to educators -- as long as the idea deals with one or all of the key drivers of city success as defined by the foundation.

Ideas must address the issues of talent, opportunity, and/or engagement. According to the foundation, successful ideas will address how Detroit can attract and keep the best and brightest population, how the city can boost economic activity for everyone, and how to better connect and involve citizens in their collective future.

"We are looking for ideas from innovators who will take hold of the future of our cities," says Carol Coletta, Knight Foundation vice president for community and national initiatives, in a statement. "To succeed cities need talented people who can contribute to their growth, new opportunities that are open to all, and ways to engage people to spur connections and civic action."

A community Q&A will be held in each of the foundation's 26 Knight cities, including Detroit, that will help applicants prepare a successful submission. That date is yet to be announced. A virtual information session will be held online from 3 to 4 p.m. EST on Oct. 1.  

Source: Knight Cities Challenge press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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

September development news round-up


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

A groundbreaking was held for the Arena District last week, beginning the very expensive task of building an 18,000-seat hockey and entertainment arena and 45 blocks of mixed-use development mostly from scratch. A mix of public and private money is funding the development just north of downtown. The arena is scheduled to open in 2017.

In other sports-cum-development news, the city of Detroit is weighing proposals for the redevelopment of the historic former site of Tiger Stadium in the city's Corktown neighborhood. The city issued its latest RFP for the site earlier this year and has reportedly narrowed it down to two proposals. Each proposal calls for mixed-use development for the site, which would run along Michigan Avenue and Trumbull Street. The rest of the site will be reserved for the Police Athletic League and its own development plans, which would include maintaining the historic playing field.

The M-1 Rail construction keeps chugging along, with the first tracks being installed along Woodward this week. Crews began working on the 3.3 mile-long light rail development in July 2014.

Last week, a judge ordered Ralph Sachs to secure and maintain a downtown building of his which has become so dilapidated that the city of Detroit is suing for it to be torn down. Preservationists started a petition in response, asking that Sachs be held responsible for maintaining his building, rather than forcing the historic Albert Kahn-designed high rise be torn down.

In beer news, Dexter-based Jolly Pumpkin announced that it will open its third Michigan location in Detroit's Midtown. The brewery and restaurant will open at 441 W. Canfield St. in 2015. Meanwhile, the Michigan-based HopCat, a craft beer bar and restaurant, has delayed its opening, also in Midtown, to mid-December of this year.  

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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