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Vegetarian and vegan food truck to open restaurant in Hamtramck

Michigan's winter weather poses certain challenges for food trucks—a dent in sales, namely. One local food truck, Nosh Pit, is doing something about it.

The vegetarian and vegan food truck is opening a brick-and-mortar location in the city of Hamtramck. The Nosh Pit will open on Yemans Street, across from Polish Village Cafe, in the latter half of February.

What's already started, however, is a series of ticketed events that allow co-owners and staff the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the new space and even the restaurant business itself, while offering its customers a sneak peek at the new brick-and-mortar location at the same time.

It's been a relatively fast ride for food truck co-owners Karen Kahn Schultz, Eric Schultz, and Stefan Kudek. Having started the food truck just a year and a half ago, the Nosh Pit trio have quickly built a loyal customer base and garnered a fair share of national recognition for their vegetarian and vegan soups, sandwiches, deserts, and more.

Karen got the idea for the Nosh Pit as she was feeling unfulfilled by her former career in waste management. Though she was in the sustainability sector of that industry, Karen was ready to change course.

"You hit 40 and you start to re-evaluate what you want to do in life," Karen says. "I wanted to do something that helped change the world. I wanted something that was hands-on."

In addition to serving a vegetarian- and vegan-only menu, the Nosh Pit limits waste as much as possible, and recycles and composts whatever they can. Karen's husband Eric says that the business composted three tons of materials last year.

One of the Nosh Pit's main goals is to demonstrate better practices for limiting waste, and recycling and composting materials, and to spread that knowledge to other businesses.

The ticketed soft opening events are open and available to the public, and more information can be found on the restaurant's website and Facebook page. Events feature a four-course dinner that includes soup, appetizer, main course, and dessert, as well as a free drink.

The Nosh Pit is located at 2995 Yemans St. in Hamtramck.

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

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.

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.

Detroit's Whitney to receive nearly $1M worth of energy efficiency upgrades

Wayne County has scored its first PACE project and it's a notable one: The landmark Whitney mansion and restaurant on Woodward Avenue. The 123 year old building is set to receive $863,130 worth of energy efficiency upgrades thanks to financing from Petros PACE Finance of Austin, Texas.

PACE, or Property Assessed Clean Energy, is a national program that helps businesses finance energy efficiency and renewable energy projects that save money in the long run but require expensive investment up front.

It allows property owners this ability through a special property tax assessment with local governments. The tax assessment then frees up lenders' ability to provide up to 20-year, low rate, fixed-interest loans.

"It's a great story to have a building with such an incredibly rich history in the PACE program," says Andy Levin, president of Lean & Green Michigan and managing partner of Levin Energy Partners.

"The fixtures in the Whitney mansion were literally installed by Thomas Edison and now, at 123 years old, it's going to become a model building of our low-carbon future."

Of the improvements planned are storm windows designed for each of the building's 200-plus windows, LED lighting throughout the building, including the chandeliers, energy efficient HVAC equipment, energy efficient kitchen equipment, and a building controls system that is operated via smartphone—virtually from anywhere in the world.

According to a Lean & Green Michigan Case Study, the energy efficiency upgrades will provide Whitney owner Bud Liebler an savings of $23,528 annually.

Construction is set to begin this month and could be finished by the end of 2017.

This is the first PACE project for Wayne County, joining Oakland and Macomb in the region and many more throughout the state that have taken advantage of the program.

The Whitney is located at 4421 Woodward Ave. in Detroit.

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

Mini-grants awarded to community groups seeking to transform vacant lots throughout city

Ten community-led projects have been selected by the Detroit Future City Implementation Office as mini-grant recipients. Each group received a $6,500 grant to jump-start their plans for vacant land revitalization projects.

In October 2015, the DFC Implementation Office released "Working with Lots: A Field Guide." The book featured 34 different design suggestions for vacant land use in the city. Rain gardens, native butterfly meadows, and natural ground pollution remediation techniques are just some of the projects found in the 74-page guide.

The Field Guide is available online and print editions can be found at the DFC Implementation Office in New Center.

Ten projects were selected from the more than 30 applicants entered for the mini-grant competition. While it's up to the community groups how to build and spend on their projects, the DFC Implementation Office does stipulate that from the $6,500 awarded, only a maximum of $5,000 can be spent on project implementation and that at least $1,500 must be reserved for maintenance, programming, and education.

The winning groups are GenesisHOPE Community Development Corporation, Mack Avenue Community Church Community Development Corporation, Manistique Block Club 200-300 Block, Southwest Detroit Business Association, Minock Park Block Association, O'Hair Park Community Association, Popps Packing, Wyoming-Kentucky-Indiana-Wisconsin-Ohio Block Club, Motor City Grounds Crew, and Mecca Development Corporation.

"The Southwest Detroit Business Association is going to use the DFC grant to transform a currently vacant lot into an eco-friendly parking lot," says Greg Mangan, Real Estate Advocate at Southwest Detroit Business Association.

Being eco-friendly is definitely a theme. O'Hair Park Community Association, for example, is building the 8 Mile Rain Garden. "The 8 Mile Rain Garden lot design will help to manage stormwater runoff and will be a model for community members to duplicate as we begin to restore nearly 100 vacant side lots with purpose and beauty," says Joyce Daniel, O'Hair Park Community Association Treasurer.

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

Q&A: Dean Hay of The Greening of Detroit talks green infrastructure in the city

Dean Hay is director of Green Infrastructure at The Greening of Detroit, a group dedicated to increasing the amount of trees and green spaces as well as jobs and education opportunities throughout the city of Detroit. As such, we figured him to be an ideal person to talk to for our series on green infrastructure.

Model D: How big of a priority is green infrastructure to the Greening of Detroit?

Hay: Green infrastructure is very important to The Greening of Detroit. We envision GI as a community development tool that improves the quality of life for Detroit residents because of its cost-effective, resilient approach to managing wet weather impacts. Plants and trees not only reduce flooding, but improve air quality and recreational access to nature. Green infrastructure provides the community with a variety of economic, social, and environmental benefits.

Model D: When did it become a priority?

Hay: The Greening of Detroit began implementing community tree plantings 28 years ago in response to the tremendous loss of trees to Dutch Elm Disease in the 1970s and 80s. Trees, as an urban forest network, are a highly effective GI treatment, especially when used with other GI treatments. The Greening of Detroit has always used a multi-faceted approach to green infrastructure.

Model D: What is Greening of Detroit's role in the strengthening of green infrastructure in Detroit?

Hay: The Greening of Detroit continues to be a strong advocate for community-based green infrastructure, as well as treatments that perform well without excessive implementation and maintenance costs. We believe the most effective GI treatments incorporate robust community engagement, education, and design. This helps to ensure that each treatment is understood and accepted by each neighborhood.

Model D: What green infrastructure projects does Greening of Detroit have planned in the future?

Hay: We are developing new prototypes with neighborhood leaders that focus on the establishment of natural ecosystems on vacant land. These prototypes will emphasize education, stormwater infiltration, natural resource career development opportunities, and place-making experiences.

Model D: What would you like to see happen with green infrastructure in Detroit?

Hay: GI treatments don't have to be complex and/or expensive. I would like communities to prioritize according to their needs, partner with organizations like The Greening, and develop GI methods that effectively work in their neighborhoods. This will mandate that more funding and access to vacant land be made available to those leaders and groups that want to bring natural ecosystem solutions and improved quality of life to their residents.

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

Local audio equipment maker to ship products around the world

Detroit Audio Lab is going global. Well, locally manufactured and globally available, to be exact.

The decision, made official November 14, when they company felt it could pass the import/export demands of various countries, including the rigorous sustainability requirements of the European Union, says Detroit Audio Lab founder Mike Bauer.

While each country has its own rules for importing foreign products, Bauer says the fact that Detroit Audio Lab passes the strict WEEE and RoHS regulations of the European Union means that they can ship products just about anywhere. WEEE sets end-of-life waste disposal demands while RoHS bans certain hazardous substances from being used in electrical and electronic products.

"Shipping globally is more than going to the post office," says Bauer. "Products have to be packaged properly, they have to meet certain electrical requirements. Each country is a little different."

Detroit Audio Lab has taken orders from customers in the United Kingdom, Australia, and China, says Bauer.

It's a good start for the premium audio equipment company, which launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign in late October. Detroit Audio Lab products include speakers, amps, and speaker stands, sourced from wood and pipe reclaimed from deconstructed houses throughout Detroit. Its electronics are exclusively sourced from Michigan-based companies, including control boards designed in-house.

Bauer cites two reasons for Detroit Audio Lab's global appeal. It manufactures and sells premium audio equipment, handmade yet technologically advanced. And then there's what Bauer calls the "D Factor." Assembly takes place at a facility on Bellevue Street in Detroit. Reclaimed wood and pipe is purchased from the Architectural Salvage Warehouse of Detroit. The address of the house from where the material was reclaimed is laser engraved on each finished product.

"I thought the buzz would be local, in the state and in the Midwest," says Bauer. "But people all around the world are interested in the story of Detroit's renaissance."

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

Traveling retail event with focus on socially-conscious businesses comes to Eastern Market

The Mercantile is coming to Detroit.

The touring retail event, which began September 25 in Nashville and ends December 4 in Los Angeles, makes the second of three stops at The Eastern events space in Detroit's Eastern Market.

More than just a traditional flea market or arts and crafts fair, The Mercantile celebrates only those businesses that are cause-based makers and retailers, hosting socially-conscious businesses located in Detroit, Nashville, and Los Angeles. Dine Drink Detroit will provide food and drinks and the Nashville-based pop-soul band the Shadowboxers will perform.

More than 25 vendors will be on hand, including 16 brands from Detroit. They include jewelry maker Rebel Nell, which uses repurposed materials to make its products while hiring and educating disadvantaged women; Love Travels Imports, which finds and sells Fair Trade handcrafted art from around the world, emphasizing self-empowerment and sustainability; and LeadHead Glass, which recycles and reuses glass and wood from deconstructed homes in Detroit to construct terrariums and other glassworks.

The Mercantile was thought up by Matthew Ford, a former metro Detroiter who now owns Oaken Anchor, an event production company based in Los Angeles and Nashville. He approached his friend Steve Fortunato, who owns the L.A.-based Hospitality Collaborative catering company, and suggested they do something with more than the bottom line in mind. Fortunato tapped his friend Emily Henderson, a former HGTV lifestyle personality, to help design the event and soon The Mercantile was to debut.

For a lot of socially-conscious businesses, selling themselves may not be their number one priority. Ford thinks an event like The Mercantile can help businesses more concerned with helping others than themselves do both at the same time.

"So often, the term 'commerce' can be the giant elephant in the room with these businesses," says Ford. "But we're unabashed about it. We want people to spend their money on these businesses."

The Mercantile takes place Sunday, October 16 from 2:00 p.m. to 8L00 p.m. at The Eastern, which is located at 3434 Russell St. Tickets are $15 in advance and $22 at the door.

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

Two alley festivals to take place this Saturday in Midtown

Often an afterthought in most neighborhoods, the alley is kind of a special thing in Midtown. There's Dally in the Alley, one of Detroit's longest-running street fairs, which celebrates the Cass Corridor with local music, art, and food vendors lining a neighborhood alley. There are the green alleys, which convert typically dank and uninviting alleys into charming walkways, complete with green methods of storm water management and the reintroduction of native plants. There's even the Garden Bowl, which, at over 100 years old, is the oldest continuously operating bowling alley in the country.

A new micro-festival will debut on Saturday, September 10, the same day as Dally in the Alley. The new event is called The Green Alley Gathering and it takes place in the Green Alley adjacent to Jolly Pumpkin and Third Man Records. Organized by Porterhouse Presents, the Gathering will celebrate the community and promote Midtown Detroit, Inc.'s Green Alley construction projects throughout the neighborhood.

Two music stages will bookend the alley, plus Man & Pan Paella will be serving their traditional meat, seafood, and vegan Spanish paella. A cash bar featuring Jolly Pumpkin, North Peak, and Civilized Spirits adult beverages will be located in Third Man Records.

Booked to play the first Green Alley Gathering is MarchFourth, a genre-mixing party marching band that also features acrobats and stilters, the Craig Brown Band, a local country-rock group recently signed to Third Man Records, and the Silent Disco, a multimedia experience that has listeners wear headphones at the concert. Silent Disco will include sets from DJ Psycho, DJ Prim, and more.

The Green Alley Gathering is Saturday, September 10 and runs from 6:00 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. It is located in the Green Alley between 2nd and Cass Avenues and West Canfield and West Willis Streets.

Dally in the Alley is Saturday, September 10 and runs from 11:00 a.m to 11:00 p.m. between Forest Avenue and Hancock Street and 2nd and 3rd Avenues. The event is free.

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

70 units in 30 days: Forest Arms redevelopment fills up fast in Midtown

Having met Scott Lowell on the grounds of the Forest Arms redevelopment, he has the look of a person nearing the end of a long journey. He's tired, relieved, and grateful. After the better part of a decade, Lowell and his wife Carolyn Howard's rehabilitation of the Forest Arms apartment building in Midtown is going to accept its first tenants since 2008. They opened the building up to the market and, in just 30 days, it reached full capacity. 70 units. No vacancy. Residents begin to move in May 28.

The apartment building, built in 1905, experienced a devastating fire in 2008. One person died and the rest were displaced, many with their belongings destroyed. The roof caved in, leaving the building open to the elements. It was a disaster, one that some in the neighborhood believed would surely result in the razing of the historic building. Lowell and Howard, experienced developers with both residences and restaurants to their credit, decided to take on the project, their biggest to date. After six years of the stop-start nature of nailing down the financing and two years of construction, the Forest Arms is open for business.

Lowell uses words like "intense" and "tiring" to characterize the experience of redeveloping the Forest Arms. He's tired, sure, but definitely happy.

"Is it worth it? Yeah, for me," says Lowell. "The building's still standing. It was destined to be torn down. I grew up in the city and watched the neighborhood I grew up in, the east end of the Davison, just implode and watched house after house get demolished and people move away. To be part of this, to save a building, to create something where people want to move to and see the demand, there's a certain kind of reward in that."

Walking through the courtyard and up to the building, Lowell points out the front doors being installed. The wooden doors are new and fashioned after the originals, those having been ruined by fire axes. Walking up the re-built stairs to the roof, workers buzzed through the hallways, putting the finishing touches on the interior, installing light fixtures and other last-minute details.

There are two ways to take in the views from the roof. A community deck, complete with a public kitchen, is open to all of the residents. There are also five penthouses, built atop the newly-built roof, each with their own private deck. Down below the workers are preparing the sprinkler system in time for new sod, originally torn out to install an expensive geothermal heating system. Rainwater is recycled for many uses throughout the grounds. On the north side of the building are two retail units, one reserved for music instrument store Third Wave Music and a second envisioned as a bar and restaurant, still searching for a tenant.

At one point, Lowell and Howard had a deal with Wayne State University to lease the building. The deal would have ensured a steady flow of tenants for the developers while easing that school's student housing shortage. The deal fell through, however, and they opened the building to the market. Unsure how much interest the building would draw, the dissolution of the deal with Wayne State proved to be a boon for the partners. The building filled up in the span of a month. Lowell says he still receives three to five inquiries a day.

"70 units in 30 days. It's been phenomenal," says Lowell. "I'm just amazed that demand's still here. It's pretty encouraging."

With demand outpacing supply in Midtown, Lowell should be comfortable in the two more buildings they're redeveloping in the area, one with 23 units and the other around 27 units. Those are in the early stages of redevelopment, awaiting the partners' full attention once the Forest Arms project is complete.

Lowell and Howard are also moving a family barn from western Michigan to Detroit, reassembling it as a restaurant and venue in the city that will host live music, weddings, and parties. It's clear Lowell is pretty excited about the project. Though he's not divulging too much information just yet, he did say they've acquired an acre and a half site in Corktown.

Lowell began purchasing properties in Hamtramck in the 1980s and Midtown in the 1990s. Times are different, he says. Back then, people made agreements on beverage napkins at neighborhood bars, handshake deals among neighbors and friends. Today, he regularly fields calls from investors outside of Detroit, promptly turning down offers on his buildings throughout the neighborhood.

With the restoration of the Forest Arms, those phone calls and emails aren't going to slow down any time soon.

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

Corktown Farmers' Market returns this week

Vegetables from North Corktown. Microgreens from the East Side. Handmade vegan soaps from Southwest. Detroit's farmers, growers, and makers are set to see a boost in business this summer as the Corktown Farmers' Market kicks off its second year on May 26. The market, which debuted in 2015, is located in the lot adjacent to the Detroit Institute of Bagels on Michigan Avenue.

Organizers see the return of the market as an assertion of Corktown being the premier local food neighborhood the city. Indeed, the Corktown and North Corktown neighborhoods are represented more than most among the market's 20 vendors.

"One of the great things about the Corktown Farmers' Market is how many vendors come from within our own neighborhood," says Chad Rochkind, executive director of the Corktown Economic Development Corporation. "Local farms are essential to the strength and character of Corktown."

The group of vendors -- which includes urban farms and gardens, neighborhood restaurants, and handmade specialty items -- consists of ACRE, Amour de Quiches, Azz on Fire Salsas & Spices, Brother Nature Produce, Coriander Kitchen and Farm, and many more.

A rotating group of additional vendors will keep things fresh at the market. Plus, restaurants like Brooklyn Street Local, Gold Cash Gold, and the Detroit Institute of Bagels will sell their ready-to-eat dishes.

Corktown Farmers' Market is located at 1236 Michigan Ave., not far from the old Western Market, bulldozed 50 years ago to make way for the Fisher Freeway, and takes place every Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. throughout the summer.

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

Outdoor Education Center transforms vacant land in Osborn neighborhood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two new placemaking projects launched on city's east and west sides

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is once again supporting Detroit placemaking projects through its matching grant program, this time pledging a total of $65,000 if two projects can meet their crowdfunding goals.

On the city's far east side, a group is planning on renovating Skinner Playfield. Located adjacent to Denby High School, the new Skinner Park will receive significant upgrades if organizers are able to raise $50,000 through a Patonicity crowdfunding campaign. If $50,000 is raised by May 10, MEDC will contribute an additional $50,000 to the project.

According to organizers, Skinner Playfield isn't much more than a playscape, walking track, and some scattered apple trees. Among the planned improvements include two basketball courts, a volleyball court, a pickleball court, a football-and-soccer field, urban gardens, and a performance pavilion complete with a water catchment system to irrigate said gardens.

The revitalized park is the vision of Detroit non-profit Life Remodeled and Denby High School students themselves. Says Life Remodeled CEO Chris Lambert, "I only wish I had a park this awesome in my neighborhood, but what excites me even more is the fact that Denby High School students designed it."

On the west side of the city, in Grandmont Rosedale, organizers are hoping to raise funds for a wayfinding path called NeighborWay. By successfully crowdfunding $15,000 by May 20, also through a Patronicity crowdfunding campaign, the MEDC will contribute an additional $15,000 to the project.

NeighborWay will connect points of interest, like parks, gardens, and public art installations, throughout the Grandmont Rosedale neighborhoods. Money will also be used to enhance three existing sites into community hubs.

"Connecting a community in an interactive way gives residents and visitors a renewed appreciation for the area," says MSHDA Executive Director Kevin Elsenheimer.

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

New hotel in Midtown offers sustainable stays and intimate access to the city

A unique hotel opened in Midtown recently, changing overnight options for visitors from both near and far.

The El Moore Lodge is a triple bottom line business, meaning that its been designed to meet social and ecological demands in addition to traditional financial ones. The building itself, built in 1898, was extensively renovated to meet the high sustainability standards of its owners, including a geothermal heating and cooling system and a super-insulated building envelope. The group behind the building, the Brennan family, is also responsible for the nearby Green Garage.

There are eleven hotel rooms and twelve apartment units at the El Moore. The apartments, located on floors two, three, and four, opened in June 2015, and the Lodge opened in January 2016. This staggered opening was by design, says Jason Peet, manager of both the El Moore Lodge and residences. The group wanted to give residents time to establish themselves as a community before taking in travelers.

But intermingling of residents and guests is also by design -- a parlor on the main floor acts as a common room for the whole building, facilitating interactions between long and short-term tenants. Visitors staying at the Lodge will have access to people familiar with the city.

"So many people that are traveling to Detroit right now are coming for the right reasons. They're very interested in what's happening here," says Peet. "So we wanted to provide our guests the opportunity to connect to that right away as opposed to arriving at a hotel, getting checked into the hotel, and saying, okay, now we gotta go find stuff, let's get in our car and find the Heidelberg Project. Here, even when you first set your bag down, you may meet a resident. The second you're here, you're doing what you came for."

Among the eleven hotel rooms are four different types of units. Two hostel-style rooms, one for men and one for women, occupy the garden level of the building. On the main floor are the parkview rooms, a more traditional hotel-style room with individual the, including the Casey Kasem room, named for the famous radio DJ who grew up next door. Also on the main floor is a residential suite, designed for extended stays, its full kitchen complete with baking tins for cupcakes and muffins.

The roof of the El Moore Lodge is a story in itself. Four "urban cabins" have been built on the roof, outfitted with unobstructed views of the city from the private patios. Their designs are unique, using materials reclaimed only from the El Moore renovations. Local designers and builders have provided much of the labor.

The El Moore Lodge is located at 624 W. Alexandrine St. in Detroit.

All photos by Marvin Shaouni.

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

Nonprofit landscape architecture group to debut market garden in Penrose neighborhood this spring

Detroit's Penrose neighborhood is set to see another development in the years-long Penrose Market Garden project. With the help of a 2015 Kresge Innovation Projects: Detroit grant, non-profit landscape architect group GrowTown and the Arab American and Chaldean Council will finish the construction and subsequent planting of a market garden and the establishment of nutrition programming this spring.

The Penrose Market Garden project is multi-layered, one that will operate as a functioning urban farm while also serving to provide project leaders key information about viable urban farming practices in the city of Detroit. Beth Hagenbuch, co-founder of GrowTown, says that for any sort of urban farm or garden project to be successful, it must be designed to be site-specific. Cookie cutter agriculture just wouldn't work.

"The idea of the site-specific concept comes from our landscape architecture backgrounds," says Hagenbuch. "Landscapes might seem almost invisible to some. Every time we step outside we can forget how much the environment affects us. But landscapes affect our bodies, our hearts, our blood pressure, our mental health, and much more."

Hagenbuch, who designed the award-winning Lafayette Greens garden in downtown Detroit, and partner Ken Weikal explain how the Penrose neighborhood is characterized by a sea of 30-foot-by-100-foot lots, providing a different set of opportunities and challenges than the garden downtown. There was a challenge, for instance, in obtaining adjacent lots from different owners. Spread different parts of the farm too far apart and it just might not work.

Once the market is up and running, Weikal says that the team will be analyzing data to determine the metrics for what it takes for an urban farmer to be self-sufficient. They are looking to determine how much space and how many crops are necessary for an urban farm to be economically viable once the grant money goes away.

In addition to the market garden and nutritional programming this spring, the team plan on using apartments above the art house and the farm house to house on-site growers. A community space will host art classes, barbecues, community meetings, and other events.

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