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Detroit Development News

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44 businesses representing more than 30 neighborhoods named first Motor City Re-Store grant winners

Celebrity Carwash in LaSalle Gardens. Louisiana Creole Gumbo in the Bagley neighborhood. Lopez Tire Repair Service in Springwells Village. All these businesses and 41 more have been announced recipients of the city of Detroit's first round of Motor City Re-Store grants.

In total, $330,000 has been awarded to the 44 businesses and another $519,000 has been earmarked for future construction projects. More than 30 neighborhoods are represented in the first ever round of grant recipients.

The Motor City Re-Store grants function as a way to lend a hand to business owners who already call Detroit home. While the city's Motor City Match program exists to encourage entrepreneurs to build in the city, the Re-Store grants aim to help those already here.

The grants are to be used toward the design and construction of upgrades to business facades, landscaping, and other exterior improvements. Matching construction grants are awarded at up to $25,000 per business and design grants are awarded at up to $10,000.

Royalty Dance Studio in the Morningside neighborhood was one such recipient, having been awarded $7,500 to make improvements to their building's exterior.

"Royalty is a real community resource for the neighborhood," says owner Howard Brown. "We are excited to be able to remove old signage and make other improvements that will show off Royalty and the surrounding area on East Warren as a great community."

According to officials from the Motor City Re-Store program, 70 percent of the grant-winning businesses are minority-owned, and 43 percent are women-owned.

While the application window for round two has already closed, the third round opened Dec. 1 and will close Jan. 1, 2018.

Click here to learn more about the Motor City Re-Store application process.

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.

Five businesses win TechTown "Kickstart" money to open brick-and-mortar locations in Detroit

Just weeks removed from having recently celebrated their grand opening in Ferndale, culinary outfitter Provisions is already planning a second location in Detroit. The specialty cheese, chocolate, and charcuterie shop is just one of five businesses that are closer to opening their own brick-and-mortar locations in the city after being named winners of TechTown Detroit's Kickstart Awards.

All graduates of TechTown's 2017 Retail Boot Camp, the five businesses have each been awarded up to $5,000 to be used toward their permanent or pop-up spaces, and inventory and point-of-sale systems. Each should open within the next six to 12 months.

In addition to Provisions, the winners include Voluptuous Bien' Aime Boutique, a women's clothing and accessories boutique; Mature, a men's contemporary casual clothing and modern dress wear store; Chanel's Bling, which offers customized bling designs for shoes, apparel, and accessories; and Urbanum, curators of various provisions and designs for city living.

"It was a really great program and I was proud of earning the award," says Provisions co-owner and cheesemonger Zach Berg. "I thought the program was a great way to take our business from pop-up to being a real establishment. It was also a great opportunity to meet other like-minded entrepreneurs who were dealing with similar challenges as my own."

TechTown's Retail Boot Camp is an eight-week program designed to prepare entrepreneurs in opening their own brick-and-mortar locations in Detroit. According to their website, Retail Boot Camp covers a wide range of topics, including identifying startup costs, understanding pricing and inventory, and how to manage daily cash flow. Eligibility requirements stipulate that applicants must locate their brick-and-mortar location, be it permanent or pop-up, in the city of Detroit.

Notable Retail Boot Camp graduates include Live Cycle Delight, Third Wave Music, and House of Pure Vin, among numerous others throughout the city.

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.

Renovations and expansion planned for African Bead Museum

Unmistakable from both Grand River Avenue and I-96, the reflective exterior of Dabls MBAD African Bead Museum has been the catching eyes of passers-by and drawing in visitors since 1994. Home to the African Bead Gallery, N'kisi House, and African Language Wall, as well as 18 outdoor installations, the African Bead Museum stands to receive significant renovations, this thanks to the announcement of its inclusion in the state's placemaking initiative.

Facing a Dec. 31 deadline, the African Bead Museum must raise at least $50,000 via the Michigan-based crowdfunding platform Patronicity. If successful, the Michigan Economic Development Corportation will contribute a $50,000 matching grant to the project.

The matching grant is made possible by the state's placemaking initiative, Public Spaces Community Places. That program is a collaboration between MEDC, the Michigan Municipal League, and Patronicity.

"One way to do effective placemaking is to build on existing assets," says Dan Gilmartin, CEO and executive director of the Michigan Municipal League. "Dabls' MBAD African Bead Museum is certainly an amazing asset in Detroit. With the public's support, an expanded Dabls will allow it to continue to be a source of community pride for years to come."

The African Bead Museum receives 35,000 visitors each year.

With the money, African Bead Museum founder Olayami Dabls will renovate the buildings that make up the museum campus, which consist of nearly an entire block. A renovated rowhouse will feature free rotating exhibitions of African beads and artifacts, as well as a public gathering place and events space. In partnership with schools and museums, Dabls will also use the renovated space to grow African-based education programs.

Physical improvements will include repairing and refinishing interiors, building new gallery spaces, the installation of an ADA access ramp, and basement storage for his collection.

To view the crowdfunding campaign, visit Patronicity online.

Dabls MBAD African Bead Museum is located at 6559 Grand River Ave. in Detroit.


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

University commercialization programs receive $2.66 million in state funding

A recent funding renewal will allow two University of Michigan (U-M)-administered programs to continue their mission of supporting collaboration among state universities and spinning off technologies developed at universities into startup businesses.

The Michigan Strategic Fundan oversight board for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)approved $1.4 million for the Michigan Corporate Relations Network (MCRN) and $1.26 million for Technology Transfer Talent Network (T3N), funding each program for another year.

 

"The state continues to fund these programs because they show results," says Stella Wixom, executive director of the U-M Business Engagement Center and principal investigator of the MCRN grant.

 

MCRN started in 2011 as a collaboration between six state universities but has since expanded to include all 15 state universities, including Wayne State University. T3N, also created in 2011, was started with help from the MEDC to provide talent programs and resources to support the commercialization of university projects.

Talent resources provided by T3N include a fellowship program, a mentors-in-residence program, university post-doctoral fellowships, and a statewide talent resource network.

 

"These programs touch on three key areas that are integral parts of commercializing technology: business engagement, technology transfer, and research," says Denise Graves, MEDC university relations director. She says the renewed funding will allow both programs to "expand and refine" the work they're doing supporting all 15 public universities across Michigan.

 

While the focus of both programs is on finding commercial channels for university-created technologies, much of the work they do is about "building relationships," Graves says.

 

That relationship-building includes setting up mentorship programs and getting interns into small and medium-sized businesses.

 

Graves says mentors with "deep industry knowledge" are matched with faculty to help them commercialize technology, get first customers and funding, and provide feedback to faculty on what they need to do to make the technologies viable in the marketplace.

 

Wixom says the state is interested in exposing students to small and medium-sized companies that students might otherwise overlook. The grant money will help students get internships in those smaller companies.

 

"A lot of those companies are thrilled with the talent and convert those internships to full-time positions, and the students are more interested in staying after having hands-on experience at those companies," Wixom says.

 

Wixom says it's important to note that the collaborations among state universities to create technology spinoffs is "a really unique offering."

 

"It makes us competitive in the country in terms of companies locating here," Wixom says. "I've talked to folks in Texas and Mississippi who are trying to emulate this model. The partnerships and support from the state make us attractive and friendly to businesses."

Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township.


Pop-up library program celebrates successes with Free Laundry Day at westside laundromat

Laundromats, like libraries, are community hubs. It's no wonder, then, that the two go together so well.

That's what Libraries Without Borders has found both in Detroit and the Bronx, where the international non-profit has introduced their Wash & Learn program. The pilot program brings library amenities to the people, setting up pop-up libraries in laundromats.

Wash & Learn provides a Detroit librarian with books, laptops, Wi-Fi access, and more to each of the participating laundromats.

For John Carr, program officer at Libraries Without Borders, the marriage between library and laundromat has been a perfect fit.

"It takes an average of one and a half to two hours to do a load of laundry. So you have a captive audience," says Carr. "It's a real opportunity for community enrichment."

The program started in summer 2017 at three laundromats across the city of Detroit. Carr says that the goal is to have a library at every laundromat in the city.

Libraries Without Borders has partnered with a number of organizations to make Wash & Learn possible, including the Knight foundation, United Way of South East Michigan, Laundry Cares Foundation, the Detroit Public Library system, Southwest Solutions, the Detroit Mayor's Office, Coin Laundromat Association, Too Small to Fail, and Brilliant Detroit.

Celebrating their program's success, Libraries Without Borders and their partners are throwing a Free Laundry Day event at Coinless Laundromat on the city's west side on Wednesday, Nov. 1, from 3 to 7 p.m.

The festivities will include access to free laundry and refreshments, as well as arts and crafts and face painting for children.

"We hope that these pop-up libraries become integral parts of Detroit neighborhoods," says Carr. "We're inviting the community to come out and see."

Coinless Laundromat is located at 1281 Oakman Blvd. For more information on Wednesday's free event, click here.

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

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.

A new gateway for the Gratiot corridor: Mixed-use development announced for old Joe Muer site

There's an odd-shaped 4.3 acre patch of land that greets those traveling southwest down Gratiot Avenue, toward downtown Detroit. This, the former location of the original Joe Muer seafood restaurant, has been announced as the future site of a new mixed-use development that features retail, commercial, and residential units.

Real-estate firm The Platform is pitching the development as the Gratiot corridor's gateway to downtown Detroit, and they say that they're approaching the project with the sort of reverence that befits a downtown landmark. The site is bounded by the Dequindre Cut, E. Vernor Highway, and Gratiot and St. Aubin avenues.

"We look at the site as one of the most prominent gateways to downtown that remain available," says Dietrich Knoer, co-founder, president, and CEO of The Platform. "We're excited to have it."



Not only is the site located just outside of downtown, but the future development counts both the Dequindre Cut and Eastern Market as its neighbors—two of Detroit's most democratic spaces, says Knoer. The Platform asserts that their development will adhere to the principles of inclusion and equitable development to create a community that serves and welcomes all.

[Read Model D's article about The Platform's inclusive approach to development]

While too far away for specifics, Knoer says that a mix of both bigger and hyper-local commercial and retail tenants could anchor the site. The residential unit count is still a way's away, too, but The Platform knows in which direction they're headed.

"It's hard to put a number [on the amount of units]," says Knoer. "But because of the size of the site and the nature of the site, it's going to require a high-density development to make it worthy of the site and to make the neighborhood proud and excited about it."

Construction could start as soon as October 2018.

Knoer says that The Platform has teamed with a number of firms to ensure that the new development best serves its prominent location and neighboring communities. Gensler Detroit has been tapped as the lead architectural firm, and they've assembled a team of partners that includes LAAVU, Hood Design Studio, Mass Economics, and Sam Schwartz Transportation Consultants.

DVP LLC, the most recent owner of the site, will now co-own the site with The Platform, which is serving as the developer of the project. DVP itself is owned by Charlie Edwards, who is developing the velodrome project at Tolan Playfield.

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

Out of the incubator: First-time entrepreneur rolls out on demand in-home health care app

A Detroit-based company has developed a smart phone app that serves as an online marketplace for on demand respite care.

It's the direction health care is heading, says CarePRN CEO Jason Wolfe, who's also a registered nurse. More and more patients are opting for in-home care, and something like CarePRN helps facilitate that.

While its patients' families that often carry much of the workload during cases of in-home care, CarePRN is designed so customers can dial up a licensed nurse to come over for an hour or two so they can take a well-deserved break from the stress of home health care.

The app also benefits those providing the in-home health care. Nurses choose their own rates, hours, and services provided. They then give 30 percent of their hourly earnings to CarePRN.

The company got its start two years ago, when Wolfe won an award at a Hacking Health competition at TechTown Detroit. He would go on to enter in TechTown's Business Incubation Center, where he learned the finer points of business.

"I didn't come in as a business man. I'm a nurse," says Wolfe. "But TechTown taught me the business acumen that I need to succeed as an entrepreneur."

Wolfe and his team rolled out CarePRN three months ago. They're taking a slow and methodical approach in getting this thing off the ground. Service is currently limited to Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb Counties. As they grow their base, Wolfe will take feedback from CarePRN users and improve the app, before eventually expanding service to the state and then the nation as a whole.

Currently, CarePRN has nearly 50 active home care providers in its system. The company wants another 100 more. All providers must pass a background check, and be licensed.

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.

Hamtramck performance space and bar turns to crowdfunding for key renovations

Public Spaces Community Places, a state-sponsored placemaking initiative operated by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, has set out to raise funds for a Hamtramck-based project. The campaign's focus is Planet Ant Hall, a performance and social complex located across the street from the original Planet Ant Theatre.

Planet Ant and MEDC have launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to help finish and repair Planet Ant Hall. Should the crowdfunding campaign successfully raise $35,000 by Nov. 1, the MEDC will kick in an addtional $35,000 as a matching grant.

The campaign is being hosted on the Michigan-based Patronicity crowdfunding platform.

Though Planet Ant Hall opened earlier this year, organizers say that there is still much work to be done. The group plans on using its crowdfunding and matching grant money, a total of $70,000, toward a new HVAC system, an improved facade, a build out of the back stage area, roof repairs, an upgraded lighting grid, and new techinical equipment.

According to Planet Ant Executive Director Darren Shelton, "Planet Ant Theatre was founded 25 years ago on the core principles of artistic freedom and experimentation, and the belief that these principles are fundamental to the spirit of community, creative fulfillment, and success. The completion of Ant Hall will accelerate the pursuit of this mission by expanding our space and resources and thus, our overall impact."

The original Planet Ant, which is still open today, debuted across the street in 1993. Originally a coffee shop, the storefront became a small black box theater in 1996, and has been putting on scripted and improv productions ever since. Among its famous alums include Keegan-Michael Key, co-creator of Comedy Central's "Key and Peele."

The new Planet Ant Hall includes a 470 capacity performance space and the attached Ghost Light Bar, and features music, comedy, films, karaoke, and more.

Click here to view the status of the crowdfunding campaign.

Planet Ant Hall is located at 2320 Caniff St. in Hamtramck.

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.
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