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Avalon Village continues to grow in Highland Park, adds seven properties from Michigan Land Bank

Seven more properties have come into the possession of Avalon Village, this thanks to the Michigan Land Bank, which has deeded the seven properties to the sustainable eco-village in Highland Park.

In total, Avalon Village now owns a mix of 30 houses and parcels of land on its stretch of Avalon Street, between Woodward and Second avenues. The Michigan Land Bank has deeded 11 of those properties.

For Avalon Village CEO Shamayim "Mama Shu" Harris, the seven properties mean even more opportunity to improve the quality of life in her community. She's actively been doing so for about ten years now, inspired by the hit-and-run death of her two-year old son Jakobi Ra in 2007.

In that time, she's gone from simple acts like cleaning up vacant lots to now owning 30 properties. Harris built community gathering space Jakobi Ra Park, as well as the Goddess Marketplace for women entrepreneurs. She's received a lot of attention for her efforts and, in 2016, Harris received a gift from comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres: A pre-fabricated home to serve as the village headquarters.

[Read Model D's article on Highland Park featuring "Mama Shu"]

On-going projects include the Homework House, which will serve as a safe place for area children to study and socialize.The Avalon Village Healing House, the Blue Moon Cafe, and the Avalon Village Community Greenhouse are also planned.

"Partners like the Michigan Land Bank help us continue to strengthen our community," Harris says in a statement. "These seven properties will help us take Avalon Village from blight to beauty faster and more efficiently than we would have been able to do on our own. We are building a sense of pride for the people who live here and are working hard to make this a better, safer place; one property at a time."

Over half of Highland Park's 7,000 parcels are owned by public entities, and they're now ready to offer them to organizations and businesses like Avalon Village. The city, Michigan Land Bank, and Wayne County Land Bank will soon issue a Request for Qualifications to determine and attract qualified developers for nearly 1,000 properties.

Potential developers must submit their qualifications by noon, Feb. 9. 

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

Paralee Boyd Salon opens flagship location in Midtown, plans nationwide expansion

Paralee Boyd, which specializes in providing haircare for women of color with thick and curly hair, sets itself apart from seemingly similar salons by eschewing the traditional appointment-based model and instead only offering its services on a walk-in basis.

And now the unique salon is opening in Detroit, in a high-profile location in Midtown on Woodward Avenue. It's the second location for the salon, and its first in Detroit. Paralee Boyd Salon first opened in Southfield in 2012.

Though newer, Dana White, the owner of Paralee Boyd, considers the Midtown location her flagship studio, and the point from which she'll launch her brand on a national level. White has big plans for Paralee Boyd, and she's prepared herself with a novel approach to haircare and a well-manicured attention to detail.

White says that while living in New York, she found salons that worked on a walk-ins-only approach, something different than what she was used to while growing up in Michigan. And they were cheaper, too. What appointments-based salons offered, however, was more business stability. So White sought to combine the best of both styles.

Before opening her salon in Southfield, White consulted with engineers from members of the Big 3 auto companies. She wanted to take the walk-ins-only process and streamline it, make it more efficient and stable.

White embraced the principles of lean manufacturing, eliminating waste while improving productivity, and it worked. In busy times, White says her Southfield salon services 600 to 700 women a month. She's planning on opening five to ten more salons in the metro Detroit area, and then more throughout the state. She's also exploring opportunities in 200 major markets nationwide.

"I specifically chose metro Detroit to launch my brand because I know what I'm doing is innovative and I wanted to come to the center of innovation," says White. "It's not lost on me that my lean manufacturing practices are the same as those of Henry Ford."

Paralee Boyd Salon opens Thursday, Dec. 21, at 7 a.m. Its hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Paralee Boyd Salon is located at 3939 Woodward Ave. in Detroit.

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

Natural fragrance-maker opens flagship retail shop and cocktail bar in Midtown

A Gothic-Victorian mansion built in the 1880s has been steadily accumulating tenants since full-scale restoration work first started in 2014. Once a hollowed-out shell of its former self, the Midtown building, located at the intersection of Second Avenue and Alexandrine Street, is currently home to three residential units and the Detroit Clothing Circle clothing store. It once hosted the 2016 beer garden, Stadt Garten.

Located in a newly restored garden unit of the building, Sfumato Fragrances, the creator and purveyor of natural fragrances and scent experiences, celebrated the opening of its flagship retail location this past Black Friday. In addition to retail, the Sfumato space will also host Castalia, a craft cocktail bar.

"The garden level below the traffic and city noise is a perfect sanctuary for the senses," says community developer and Sfumato's new landlord, Mark R. Beard. "Sfumato fills that void better than anyone else in Detroit."

The Sfumato line features only natural ingredients extracted from plants, and supplies lists of all ingredients used. For example, Epiphany features Chamomile, Cypress, Frankincense, Galbanum, Grapefruit, Katrafay, Lavender, Petitgrain, Rosemary, Sweet Orange, Vetiver, and Ylang Ylang.

In addition to their signature line of fragrances, Sfumato creates custom fragrances for order, be it for people, businesses, or weddings and other events.

"Not to knock the DDSs in my family, but Sfumato is way less scary than the dental office that was in the same space a century ago," says Beard.

Castalia, the craft cocktail bar, won't operate regular bar hours, but rather ticketed events that pair fragrances with signature cocktails. Such sensory experiences have been a big part of Sfumato since its founding by Kevin Peterson and Jane Larson in 2013, including custom events at a number of bars, restaurants, and other businesses throughout the region.

Sfumato Fragrances is open from noon to 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Expanded hours will occur as the new year begins.

Sfumato Fragrances is located at 3980 Second Ave. in Detroit.

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

North End nonprofit saves low-income family homes from foreclosure

Earlier this year, Forbes ranked Detroit's real estate market as the most undervalued in the nation. The report cited the city's low housing prices and the prospect of increased development as reasons for Detroit's recent real estate boom.

Discussions about Detroit's ripe real estate opportunities are often geared toward affluent outsiders and metro Detroiters who can afford to take on the financial risk of buying and rehabbing a home. But what about the long-time Detroiters who wish to keep their properties in good shape and avoid displacement?

In October, the North End's Vanguard Community Development Corporation, an economic equity and racial justice-focused nonprofit, prevented 24 low-income family homes, collectively called Melrose Square, from going into foreclosure. 

"Vanguard is so very pleased to be able to preserve these homes for low-income families; especially given that the homes are located within the greater Downtown Detroit footprint," says Pamela Martin-Turner, CEO of Vanguard. "It is important for people of modest means to be able to remain in their neighborhoods and to enjoy the benefits of Detroit's new economic boom."

Built in 2006, the Melrose Square homes are just north of Grand Boulevard on Melrose and Cameron streets. Vanguard has been working to secure financial support since 2015 and were able to start making capital improvements with grants of $965,000 from the city of Detroit and $700,000 from IFF.

Rehabilitation efforts which include improvements on the roof, insulation, landscape, exterior appearance, concrete repair, and exterior lighting will continue through July 2018.

Electric Park Tattoo to celebrate Eastern Market grand opening

Though they've been friends for years and share the same profession, Josh Barg and Joe Destefano have never really worked together. That is, until now.

Barg and Destefano have opened their own tattoo shop in Eastern Market. It's been operating under a soft opening for the past couple of weeks and now, this Saturday, Oct. 28, Electric Park Tattoo will celebrate its official grand opening with an open house, $60 flash tattoos, and a $200 gift certificate giveaway.

Both Barg and Destafano have each worked at various area tattoo shops for the past eight years. Electric Park is an opportunity to do things their own way. They call it a street shop, one where you can walk right up and get a tattoo the same day.

The artists specialize in the American Traditional style, though they say they're capable of most others.

"We didn't really feel like there was a shop that we aspired to work at. We didn't want to settle for what was available," says Destefano. "We wanted to create something that we could actually be stoked about."

In opening their dream shop, the duo first looked at locations in Corktown and Midtown, but city ordinances and a lack of vacancies stymied those hopes. So Barg and Destafano took to the streets of Eastern Market, knocking on doors and introducing themselves to local business owners, asking if any spaces were available nearby.

They found the old Palazzolo and Sons produce warehouse and renovated the space, installing framing, drywall, electricity, and plumbing as they built the future home of Electric Park.

"It's cool because the neighborhood is so tight-knit. Everybody knows everybody," says Barg. "We found the place by word of mouth."

"It's an area that's for everybody: City, 'burbs, whatever," says Destefano. "No matter how good or bad the times, people will always come to Eastern Market."

The Electric Park Tattoo grand opening celebration is Saturday, Oct. 28, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

Standard hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Electric Park Tattoo is located at 1350 Adelaide St. in Eastern Market.

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

Now pouring: Eastern Market Brewing Company officially opens in the market

Adventures in renovating old buildings often reveal all sorts of surprises.

In Eastern Market, an old meat packing plant has recently been redeveloped into a brewery. The long German-style wooden tables have legs made out of old ammonia cooling pipes. An old meat scale has been re-purposed. So, too, has the meat rail.

And when Dayne Bartscht, co-founder and co-owner of Eastern Market Brewing Company, was tearing out ceilings, old meat hooks started cascading from above.

They worked those into the interior design, too.

Bartscht and his crew recently celebrated the official opening of Eastern Market Brewing on Friday, Oct. 20.

For Bartscht, it's been important to remain connected to the building's past, as well as the market's. Working old relics into the decor is one thing, but he says he's also committed to celebrating and becoming part of the rich community that is Eastern Market.

"There have been at least nine different breweries in Eastern Market over the past 150 years," says Bartscht. "It stopped when Stroh's left. We're hoping to bring brewing in the market back to life."

Taking advantage of their location, many of the ingredients that go into Eastern Market Brewing's beers come straight from the market itself. The brewery isn't building a kitchen, but instead will have a food truck parked outside the building. And Bartscht says that customers are allowed to bring in meals from any of the surrounding Eastern Market restaurants, be it from Supino Pizzeria, Russell Street Deli, or otherwise.

At any given time, the brewery plans on having ten to twelve beers on tap. It's small batch brewing, so customers can expect the beer selection to change over failry quickly.

While it may be too early to call it their flagship beer, Bartscht considers the Market Day IPA to be their baseline IPA. They'll incorporate different ingredients into the beer each month, depending on what's in season at the market.

A can seamer is on site, so customers can take home beer straight from the tap.

Eastern Market Brewing Company is open Tuesday through Thursday from noon to 10 p.m., Friday from noon to midnight, Saturday from 10 a.m. to midnight, and Sunday from noon to 8 p.m. It is located at 2515 Riopelle St. in Detroit.

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

Co-working space, co-op pre-school, and childcare: Detroit Parent Collective opens in NW Detroit

A new take on a still-growing trend in Detroit has taken root in a northwestern part of the city. It's called the Detroit Parent Collective; part-coworking space, part childcare facility, and part co-op pre-school.

Detroit Parent Collective (DPC) recently celebrated its grand opening in the Live6 district, in a building located across from Marygrove College.

For the past several years, the co-working space has become a favorite among budding entrepreneurs and members of the gig economy. For those without an office or brick-and-mortar business to call their own, the co-working space provides the professional resources and increased networking opportunities not usually available from a person's home office.

At DPC, typical co-working amenities like workspaces and Internet access are provided on a membership-based system. What's different is the fact that DPC offers on-site drop-in childcare as well as lessons, workshops, and additional programming on breastfeeding, wellness, nutrition, yoga, early literacy, and more.

In addition to their co-working and childcare offerings, Detroit Parent Collective has also formed a co-op pre-school complete with a Montessori-like curriculum. Classes are led by a PhD master teacher complemented by a rotating cast of parents.

Detroit Parent Collective was founded by local mom and entrepreneur Krista McClure.

"I was inspired to open the doors to Detroit Parent Collective because I understood three things from three cycles in my own personal life: The at-risk teenage mother. The mother who relied on family. The mother who grew to become a successful figure in Detroit," says McClure.

"As I mentor young women throughout Detroit, I often share with them that their network is their networth. Surrounding yourself by influential people, like-minded people, and positive people is what will help one further grow into becoming who they always were destined to be. DPC is inclusive of all, with the intent to break barriers among socioeconomic class, race, etc."

Detroit Parent Collective is located at 8418 W. McNichols Rd. in Detroit. To learn more about Detroit Parent Collective, visit them online.

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

Following arson, Motown Movement hopes to raise funds necessary to complete green housing project

Undeterred by arson, the Motown Movement continues on in its mission to promote affordable, envrionmentally sustainable housing.

Back in April 2017, there was some celebrating to be had on the city's northwest side. A group of Dutch architecture students successfuly raised $50,000 through a Michigan Economic Development Corporation-sponsored crowdfunding campaign, triggering a $50,000 matching grant courtesy of the MEDC.

The more-than-$100,000 raised was to go toward the Motown Movement, a project that seeks to demonstrate how to make sustainable housing accessible and affordable for everyone. A vacant, blighted house at 1995 Ford St. was to be transformed into a model of green living, as well as a community resource center and garden.

As construction progressed over the summer, the Motown Movement house was on track to receive its first resident by winter. And then something happened. An arsonist set fire to the building on Thursday, Aug. 30; the house only saved by a quick response from city firefighters.

The arson is obviously a major setback for the Motown Movement. Air ducts melted, windows shattered, and beams and joists were charred. So, the group has once again turned to crowdfunding to bring the project back on track. A Patronicity crowdfunding campaign has been started, with the group hoping to raise $35,000 to repair the damage caused by the fire.

"That same night [as the arson], volunteers and neighbors came out to help Jaap (our last remaining full-time team member in Detroit) with getting chip board and boarding the home back up. That showed such a beautiful compassion!" Motown Movement co-founder Ronen Dan writes via email from the Netherlands.

"In the days following we got emails and other messages from neighbors and friends supporting us. It was very motivating and needed for us to know for whom we were doing all of this."

The Motown Movement co-founders, assures Dan, are committed to completing this project, even if it idoes take a little more time, money, and effort.

Click here to view the status of the crowdfunding campaign.

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

From pop-up to permanent, classic arcade bar to celebrate grand opening in downtown Detroit

It was back in October 2014 when Offworld Arcade founder Don Behm told Model D that he was in no rush to open a permanent location for his "arcade gallery" pop-ups. In the nearly three years since, Behm has exhibited a patience that is now being rewarded with the grand opening of the permanent location for Offworld Arcade.

Behm has partnered with the owners of Grand Trunk Pub, Whisky Parlor, Checker Bar, and POP to establish Offworld Arcade's official home in downtown Detroit. POP, a pop-up dining experience located upstairs of the Checker Bar, has recently been renovated and will now share its space with the arcade, seven days a week.

Checker Bar has regularly hosted Offworld pop-ups over the years and now, with the official partnership, the upstairs gets a new name: POP + Offworld. The new venue will carry more than 30 original arcade games, from the 1970s and on throughout the decades. In addition to the classic games, POP + Offworld will feature New York-style pizza, a full bar, and live entertainment.

The renovated decor features 1980s-inspired murals from artist Michelle Tanguay as well as a collage of fashion magazine ads uncovered during remodeling efforts.

A grand opening celebration for POP + Offworld is being held Friday, Sept. 8, from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. In addition to more than 30 arcade games and POP Pizza, the party features a Bell's Brewery tap takeover, classic console raffle, Hello Records DJ sets, and live synthwave from Phaserland.

The event is free and open to all ages until 9 p.m., when it becomes 21+.

"It's really cool to see parents and their sons and daughters come in and the kids just stare at these big games," Behm said in 2014. "You'll see kids come in and be amazed and say to their parents, 'I've never seen anything like this'."

POP + Offworld is located above the Checker Bar at 124 Cadillac Sq. in downtown Detroit.

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

New parks in downtown and Morningside among city's latest outdoor developments

It's summertime in the city. Let's take a look at some of Detroit's latest developments in outdoor recreation.

On Thursday, July 20, Beacon Park will get its chance to shine in the northwest section of downtown Detroit. A four day-long grand opening celebration is being held to commemorate the event, which will feature live musical performances from the likes of Thornetta Davis, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, and Lord Huron, among others. Built by DTE Energy, the park boasts downtown Detroit's largest lawn, as well as year-long programming, light installations, and a brasserie-style restaurant. Beacon Park is located at the intersection of Cass and Grand River avenues.

The City of Detroit was awarded a $2 million grant from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation to fund the design and pre-construction of the remaining uncompleted portions of the Inner Circle Greenway, a proposed 26-mile bike and pedestrian path throughout Detroit. The City of Detroit recently purchased a 7.5 mile stretch of abandoned rail to complete the greenway.

On Saturday, July 22, a dedication of the 12th Street Memorial and Pavilion is being held at the Joseph Walker Williams Recreation Center, located at 8431 Rosa Parks Blvd. The memorial and pavilion marks the 50th anniversary of the summer of 1967. A 5-by-7 foot permanent steel marker lists the 44 people known to have died from the events of that summer, while a small white cedar pavilion serves as a public gathering space and focal point for future community events. Musical performances from The Original Vandellas and The Robinson Singers are scheduled for the dedication, which runs from 2:45 to 6:30 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

Residents of Morningside have the opportunity to design a brand new park in their neighborhood, though the design competition is open to the public at large. Funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the pilot program Give a Park, Get a Park will take a decommissioned park at I-94 and sell it to residents through the city's side lot program. It will then build a bigger, more centralized park for the neighborhood at Three Mile Drive and Munich Street. The deadline for design submissions is Monday, July 31.

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

Fast casual dining spot opens in the old Detroit News Building downtown

In its hundredth year, the Detroit News Building has opened its doors to the public with the addition of the Press Room Cafe, a nod to the building's past as well as a sign of a dining scene that could come to the still relatively quiet southwestern corner of downtown Detroit.

Located at 615 W. Lafayette Blvd. in the old Detroit News Building, the Press Room offers quick but quality dining options to area workers and passersby. Though it first opened in April 2017, a recent grand opening event was held to emphasize the point that the Press Room is open to the public, and not just nearby workers.

Bedrock, the Dan Gilbert real estate firm, owns the property, which counts Quicken Loans and Molina Healthcare among its tenants.

The Press Room is much more than a cafe. A breakfast, bakery, and coffee bar occupy one end, adjacent to a fireplace-lit seating area ideal for meetings. The breakfast spot features Avalon pastries and Intelligentsia coffee. In the center is a market, featuring items one might need to grab on their way home from work, including a number of local products.

It's at the west end of the space wherein lies the main attraction: lunch and dinner items from celebrity chef Fabio Viviani. Eurest, the dining services company behind Press Room Cafe, custom built the kitchen and grill to Viviani's exact needs.

"That stove is made specifically for him. It's kind of like the Ferrari of wood-fired pizza ovens," says Jessica Zucker, division marketing director of Eurest.

"It's all from-scratch pastas and pizzas. Fabio brought in his team and measured the humidity of the room to figure out how to make the right dough, which is made in-house. Everything's made from scratch."

In addition to Viviani's pizzas and pastas, the Press Room includes signature burgers, paninis, and salads among its other offerings.

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

Info sessions announced to help Detroit business owners and landlords apply for matching grants

This Thursday and next, information sessions are being held to assist city businesses through the application process for Detroit's latest small business booster program. Dubbed Motor City Re-Store, the program is designed to help existing businesses and their landlords in rehabilitating and improving the conditions of their buildings' exteriors.

The program offers matching grants for a range of construction projects, including improved facades, landscaping, and parking lots. Matching grants for design and architectural services are also available.

Much like Motor City Match, which city officials consider to be Re-Store's "comparison" program, Re-Store will offer up to $500,000 in matching grants to Detroit businesses and landlords every three months. Unlike Motor City Match, which is designed more to help businesses that are new to having a brick-and-mortar location in the city, Re-Store is designed with pre-existing business owners in mind.

The first information session is Thursday, June 22, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Good Cakes and Bakes, which is located at 19363 Livernois Ave. The second information session is Thursday, June 29, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Matrix Center / Osborn Neighborhood Alliance, which is located at 13560 E. McNichols Rd.

Both are free and open to the public.

"The small neighborhood businesses that have hung in there over the years and have sustained our city are part of Detroit's revitalization. That's why we created Motor City Re-Store," Mayor Duggan said in a statement. "This is how we are going to bring our city back, by supporting our existing businesses and residents as we welcome new ones to our neighborhoods."

The application window for the first round of Motor City Re-Store is open from June 15 through Aug. 1. Applications are available online.

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

First-time entrepreneur opens consignment resale shop on Eastern Market's Service Street block

Miriam Pranschke's passion for re-use is culminating in the opening of her first business, the consignment re-sale store Boro. The clothing and accessories shop is opening its Eastern Market storefront this Saturday, May 20—just in time for Flower Day.

Boro is located in a storefront in the Service Street district, a block-long collection of buildings long associated with artist-occupied lofts and studios. Pranschke lives with her husband there, just three floors above Boro in the historic Atlas Building.

Re-sale is a win-win for Pranschke, helping the environment and her neighbors at the same time. "I'm very interested in keeping things out of landfills," says Pranschke. "And the consignors make 40 percent of the selling price, too."

Items sold at Boro will be hand-selected by Pranschke. She says she'll be focusing on independent, designer, and vintage high-quality clothing and accessories. Items range from clothing to shoes, purses to jewelery, and items for both women and men.

"I grew up going to thrift stores. It's what I've always done and what I've known," says Pranschke. "And then I learned about consignment stores, which are more curated. You spend less time looking through the racks."

While the storefront required some work, Pranschke says she tried to retain much of the building's historic details. High ceilings and original crown moldings remain. Marble from the original facade has been re-purposed as the Boro cash stand.

The look, though, is minimal. Pranschke wants the focus to be on the clothing.

Boro is celebrating its grand opening Saturday, May 20, and will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. A party begins at 5 p.m., with DJs, snacks, refreshments, and adult beverages. It is located at 1440 Gratiot Ave.

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

Check out this Cleveland skyscraper with Detroit connections

In the 1950s, 60s and 70s, downtown Cleveland's department stores competed to be known as the utmost authority on women's fashion trends—holding regular luncheon fashion shows in their auditoriums to exhibit their collections and attract shoppers.

Dixie Lee Davis, who served as fashion director during that period for Halle's department store, and later May Company and Cleveland Saks Fifth Avenue, remembers the era well. "My whole career has been in in retail," she says, adding that the department stores were all on friendly terms with each other back then.
 
While the fashion shows, not to mention many of the major department stores, are a concept of the past, the spaces of these magnificent shopping meccas still exist, and many have been converted to offices and residential units.


 
The 192-foot-tall, 13-story 1931 Higbee Building at 100 Public Square is one such historical edifice. Today it is home to Jack Casino on the lower floors and offices such as Quicken Loans on the fourth and fifth floors.
 
The latter received much acclaim for its move to the space and subsequent remodel back in 2016 when the company brought in Detroit-based design firm dPOP to embrace the historical architecture and design elements of the former department store, while also creating a modern work environment.
 
Now, Terry Coyne, vice chairman for commercial real estate for Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, is hoping the right tenant will follow suit with the 10th floor of the Higbee Building.
 
More than 50,000 square feet on the entire 10th floor—except for the former Silver Grille, which is leased by the Ritz-Carlton hotel—in what used to be used for Higbee's regular fashion shows, is currently available.
 
Long-time locals may remember the impressive space from the three-decade-span when Higbee's would regularly hold fashion shows—complete with luncheons—to tout its newest collections.


 
"When you went down to Higbee's in the 1950s, you went up to the 10th floor," says Coyne. "This is where they had runway shows, and there's a rotunda that goes all the way up to the 11th floor. Women would wear their white gloves."
 
Davis says the auditoriums that housed the shows—several times a year for back-to-school, bridal, seasonal and trunk shows—were the best way for shoppers to view the latest fashion trends.
 
"The fashion shows were very popular and well-attended events," she recalls. "It could be a social event, but people wanted to know what the latest in fashion was. There was lots of fashion activity going on at the time and we were bringing the latest in fashion to Cleveland. All the top designers on both sides of the ocean were represented here."
 
The raw space—52,848 square feet—is wide open and in great shape, Coyne says. "They really kept the integrity of the building," he says of the building owner, an affiliate of JACK Entertainment. "The ceilings are 14 feet, all the way up to 35 feet in the rotunda area."
 
The windows overlook the newly renovated Public Square. "It is a great view on the heartbeat of the city," adds Coyne.


 
Davis remembers the old Higbee auditorium well. "It's a beautiful, large auditorium," she says. "It had a beautiful stage and wonderful lighting with a runway out to the audience."
 
The space, which is going for $18.50 per square foot, is not for just any kind of tenant, notes Coyne. Instead, he hopes the new tenant, perhaps a technology company, will embrace the space in much the same manor that Quicken Loans did, but also perhaps with a nod to the time when ladies in white gloves enjoyed catered luncheons before taking in a fashion show.
 
"We'd like a tenant to embrace what Quicken Loans has done," he says. "It's really neat that they've embraced the era."


 
Some of the vintage décor, signage and Higbee's paraphernalia Coyne may offer to tenants are tucked away in storage on an unused floor of the building.
 
"The perfect tenant is one who can utilize the high ceilings in the interesting potential layout for the space," says Coyne. "This is not going to be space from the 1990s. It is open, high ceilings, with interesting opportunities for design."

March development news round-up: Detroit Riverfront takes center stage

March has been a busy month for the Detroit River and its riverfront. Let's catch up on some of the biggest development news stories from the past several weeks.

The month started with a bang with the March 1st announcement of a new plan for the east riverfront, one that includes more public access and less private development. Officials at the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy, the City of Detroit Planning & Development Department, and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation touted their new plan, including three sites south of Atwater Street that were originally slated for private development and will now be the sites of three new public parks. Streetscape improvements and two new "Dequindre Cut"-style greentways are also part of the plan.

"The riverfront belongs to all Detroiters," Maurice D. Cox, director of the City of Detroit Planning & Development Department, said at the time. "Thanks to the involvement of hundreds of residents, we have principles that frame an international riverfront that can be accessed and enjoyed by all."

While public access will be improved, there are still plenty of opportunities for private development, including nearly 12 acres of riverfront real estate. Syncora, one of the city's biggest bondholders during its municipal bankruptcy, is seeking developers for two major plots of land, an 8.9 acre site at Chene and Atwater streets, and a 2.75 acre site at Rivard and Atwater streets. The Bermuda-based Syncora acquired the land as a result of a bankruptcy-related settlement.

It was also announced this month that the Gordie Howe International Bridge will feature bicycle and pedestrian access, allowing those traveling between the United States and Canada the opportunity to do so by foot or by bike. This is something not available at either the Ambassador Bridge or the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel. Construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge is estimated to be completed in 2022.

For more on the pedestrian access across the International Bridge, read Jon Hartig's column in Model D

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