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Redevelopment : Detroit Development News

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Moosejaw opens downtown pop-up store, hopes to make it permanent

The biggest retail store of the current trend of pop-up retailers has surfaced downtown. Detroit, say hello to Moosejaw.

The offbeat outdoor outfitter has opened a temporary location, commonly known as a pop-up store, at the corner of Woodward and Grand River avenues last week. The 1,800-square-foot space is smaller than the average Moosejaw store but will still carry most of popular and namesake brands. The Madison Heights-based retailer will operate the store during weekends through at least Dec. 22.

"It's probably the most permanent-looking pop-up you will see," says Bryan Lively, vice president of retail for Moosejaw. "The goal is to make it permanent."

He adds that initial traffic from last weekend is encouraging. Moosejaw officials expect to make that decision by early December, which could keep newly created jobs in downtown Detroit. If that happens, Lively expects it could be a sign of bigger retail things to come in the Motor City's center. "We think we can lead the momentum because of our quirkiness and our retail acumen," Lively says.

The trademark Moosejaw quirkiness is definitely there. The downtown Detroit store employs a living habitat in its front store window, such as a man making food while camping. The store also offers shoppers a chance to leave their mark/tag at the back of the shop. "It's the same quirkiness (shoppers would see at our normal store)," Lively says.

Source: Bryan Lively, vice president of retail for Moosejaw
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

First residents begin moving into Broderick Tower, Auburn Apts

The first residents began moving into the Broderick Tower and the Auburn apartment building last weekend, making room for dozens of new residents in the greater downtown Detroit area.

The Broderick Tower is welcoming the most residents. The high-rise renovation at the cover of Woodward Avenue and Witherell Street overlooking Grand Circus Park is fully leased except for one of its units. That means at least 124 new homes will be coming online over the next few weeks. The last available unit is a 1,030-square-foot apartment on the ninth floor with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. The asking price is $1,450 per month.

"It looks down the Woodward corridor," says Eric Novack, a spokesman for Motown Construction Partners. "It's a fantastic unit. It's one of my favorites, personally."

The Broderick Tower opened in 1927 as the Eaton Tower. The 34-story building, designed by Louis Kamper of the Book-Cadillac Hotel fame, became the Broderick Tower in 1944 and spent most of its life as office space for professionals, such as dentists. It went vacant in 1985 and became a signature haunt for urban spelunkers in the 1990s and 2000s. Over the last two years, Motown Construction Partners have been working to rehab the historic building into restaurant and bar spaces on the first two floors, offices on the third, fourth and fifth floors and luxury apartments in the rest of the building.

Contrast that with the Auburn. The 58-unit apartment building is a piece of new construction at the corner of Cass Avenue and Canfield Street in Midtown. The Roxbury Group began construction on the mixed-use structure last year, creating a space for eight small retailers on the ground floor and 54 one bedroom and four studio apartments one the second and third floors. The Auburn replaces a blighted vacant lot and derelict commercial building.

Leasing on the Auburn began a few weeks ago and the building's apartments are now 60 percent leased with only one-bedrooms left. All of the retail spaces are spoken for except one. The developers are hinting that the last space will be occupied by a coffee shop. They add that the Auburn has created 100 construction jobs over the last year and will be the home to another 15 jobs when all of the businesses are opened and the new residents are moved in.

"We will be staggering the move-ins over the next few weeks," says Michael Martorelli, sales and leasing manager for the Auburn.

Architects from downtown Detroit's Kraemer Design Group are engaged on both projects. 

Source: Eric Novack, spokesman for the Broderick Tower and Michael Martorelli, sales and leasing manager for the Auburn
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Work begins on contemporary parking garage/retail space in downtown

Rock Ventures, the real-estate arm of the Quicken Loans family of companies, is breaking ground this week on parking garage/retail development in downtown Detroit on what project organizers are calling the Z Lot.

The parking garage will replace two large surface parking lots on the block surrounded by Broadway and Library streets and East Grand River and Gratiot avenues. The two lots share an alleyway in the middle of the block, creating a Z-shape when combined and viewed from above.

The 9-story structure will measure in at 535,000 square feet. That includes space for 1,300 parking spaces and 33,000-square-feet of retail space on the ground floor.

"No matter what we do we will always do ground-floor retail," says Jim Ketai, managing partner with Bedrock Real Estate Services, which is quarterbacking the project. "We feel it's important to create that sort of urban vitality."

The project will employ a contemporary design that camouflages the parking-deck portion of the building. "It's not just a parking deck," Ketai says. "We challenged out architects."

The parking space will accommodate the growing number of downtown Detroit-based workers for the Quicken Loans family of companies. Many workers are currently being shuttled from other not-so-nearby structures to the Quicken offices in the Compuware, First National, Chase and M@dison buildings. Rock Ventures also has the option to develop the former Hudson Building site nearby, but Ketai says the parking spaces will not be a part of any proposal to develop that site. Work on the parking structure is expected to wrap up by late next year.

Source: Jim Ketai, managing partner with Bedrock Real Estate Services
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Cass Community Social Services begins rehab of Antisdel Apts

Cass Community Social Services broke ground on a $10 million rehab on the city's near west side last week, breathing new life into a classic art deco apartment building.

The Arthur Antisdel Apartments is the latest addition to Cass Community Social Services' campus, which now covers a roughly four block area just west of the Lodge Freeway and several blocks south of the Davidson.

"We're trying to build on what we have started," says Faith Fowler, executive director of Cass Community Social Services.

The $10 million project will turn the 4-story apartment building at 1584 Elmhurst St. into 41 units of permanent supportive housing for homeless people. The project's goal is to provide homeless men and women with safe, secure, attractive and affordable housing that is within easy walking distance of Cass Community Social Services' headquarters and other services, such as educational and 12-step programs.

The project will thoughly rehab the entire building using a number of sustainable practices, such as finding a new use for an existing structure. The Arthur Antisdel Apartments will also incorporate a geothermal heating and cooling system, which is the gold star of green-building practices. The Arthur Antisdel Apartments will be the first homeless housing project in Michigan to utilize a geothermal system, according to Cass Community Social Services.

Construction is expected to begin in earnest in November.

Source: Faith Fowler, executive director of Cass Community Social Services
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe opens in Brush Park

Detroit welcomed another grocery store to its well-established and growing mix of supermarkets last weekend when Ye Olde Butcher Shopped opened its doors in Midtown.

The independent grocery story is the work of Michael and Peter Solaka. The brothers are recreating the famed supermarket experience their father created with his grocery store of the same name in Lafayette Park in the 1970s and '80s. The supermarket will feature both everyday staples and high-end items.

"We're an urban grocery store, so we won't have everything," says Michael Solaka, co-owner of Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe. "We're trying to have a good mix of everyday items and finer items as well. It will have all the stuff you need to cook a great meal."

Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe is opening in the former Zaccaro's Market space at the corner of Woodward Avenue and Watson Street in Brush Park. The reconfigured space aims to better serve customers with things like its "City Basics" department, which has everything from paper and cleaning products, seasonal items, kitchen and cooking gadgets, and other sundries for the growing residential market.

Contrast that with some of its more gourmet options, such as fresh bagels and smoked fish offered with an option of a newspaper like The New York Times on Sundays. There will also be an in-house butcher among the staff of 15 people. The space will also include an outdoor patio on the north side of the building.

Source: Michael Solaka, co-owner of Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Collision Works aims to create shipping container hotel

More construction development for Eastern Market is on the drawing boards now that the Collision Works is moving forward.

Collission Works aims to build a boutique hotel made of used shipping containers on the east side of the Dequindre Cut near Division Street. The 16,000-square-foot structure will include 36 hotels rooms, 3,000 square feet of event space and a large outdoor courtyard.

"It's a boutique hotel and community work space built around storytelling," says Shel Kimen, founder & CEO of Collision Works. "It's a place to let people tell their stories and to give these stories a home. The idea is when people of different perspectives and backgrounds come together interesting things happen."

One of the main places where these sorts of conversations and connections will be happening is in the hotel's co-working space. The communal office space will be big enough to accommodate between 15-20 people.

Kimen worked in digital design and strategy for an advertising agency before taking on this project. She has a degree in architecture and design from Michigan State University and sees Collision Works as a great opportunity to put those skills to use while enhancing the community. She is currently working with the city to acquire the land and alternative lenders to secure financing for the project, which she hopes will break ground midway through next year and be done by spring of 2014.

"We're making headway with the seed funding," Kimen says.

Source: Shel Kimen, founder & CEO of Collision Works
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

What's next for 8,000 properties left over from tax auction?

The second Wayne County Tax Foreclosure auction came and went last week, leaving lots of people with new properties to take care of and a lot of statistics.

Model D tapped Jerry Paffendorf, co-founder of Whydontweownthis, which has been following the auctions closely, for some statistics from this year's auction.

Approximately 22,500 properties in Wayne County went into foreclosure this year for not paying taxes. A vast majority of those properties are inside the city of Detroit. About 2,000 of those were withdrawn from the auction by the county. Normally, properties are withdrawn because the county has worked out a payment plan with the owners or the owners have repaid the overdue taxes.

Of the 20,000-plus properties that went to auction, nearly 12,000 sold. Another 8,686 properties were not bid on during the county's two foreclosure auctions. Bidding in the first auction in September starts at the amount of back taxes and bidding during the second auction in October for properties left over from the first auction starts at $500. Last year, Wayne County re-offered similar leftover properties in a third auction. What happens to those leftover properties that no one wants is unclear.

"It's so confusing, so confusing," Paffendorf says.

The Wayne County Tax Foreclosure Auction netted $49,975,566 in bids this fall. The total sum of overdue taxes in this year's auction stands at $275,521,615. That leaves a tax collection gap of $225,546,049 in unpaid property taxes. The lion's share of those taxes are for properties in Detroit.

Source: Jerry Paffendorf, co-founder of WhyDontWeOwnThis.com
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Spaulding Court rehab brings new residents to North Corktown

Work on the rehab of Spaulding Court is starting to gain traction as more units in the apartment building in North Corktown come online and more people take residence there.

So far five of the complex's 20 units are renovated and occupied. About a dozen people live in what was once such a stereotypical piece of Detroit blight that it shared the stage with the Michigan Central Stadium in an Eminem video. Today those people are creating a grass roots community that is breathing new life into the complex's two structures of stone row houses.

The Friends of Spaulding Court, the organization behind the renovation, is now trying to raise funds to finish the rehab of a few more units this year. "If we can get five done by summertime that would exceed our expectations," says Jon Koller, president of the Friends of Spaulding Court.

The immediate goal is to rehab one vacant and one occupied unit while a third unit waits in the wings. Residential units are the priority but the Friends of Spaulding Court sees potential for small scale commercial or community space in the future.

"We're trying to get it done with rough finishes and have it insulated and warm before Thanksgiving," Koller says.

For information on the project, click here.

Source: Jon Koller, president of the Friends of Spaulding Court
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

The Roxbury Group plans to rehab riverfront's Globe Building

The Roxbury Group is taking on the redevelopment of the Globe Building overlooking Detroit's Riverwalk, a move that will expand the nearby Milliken State Park.

The Globe Building is a large industrial structure at the corner of Atwater Street and the Dequindre Cut, and across the street from the Milliken State Park. Henry Ford once worked in the building before starting Ford Motor Co. It has been vacant and derelict for many years as a few redevelopment proposals have fizzled, including a conversion to condos.

Now The Roxbury Group is partnering with Walbridge (which will handle the construction of the project) and the state of Michigan (which will make it part of Milliken State Park) to shrink and renovate the building.

The Globe Building is actually a hodgepodge of buildings that have been cobbled together over the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It currently stands at about 100,000 square feet but part of it will be demoed to make the building viable for the 21st Century.

"It's going to be a mix of old and new," says David Di Rita, principal of The Roxbury Group. "When it's done it will be 43,000 square feet."

The new space will house room for exhibits about the area's history and natural resources. It will also have spaces for youth education and activities, such as archery ranges. "It's going to be an integral part of Milliken State Park when it's done," Di Rita says. He adds that he hopes to begin work on the project before the year is out.

Source: David Di Rita, principal of The Roxbury Group
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Wayne County Tax Auction attracts thousands of bidders in Detroit

More and more money is pouring into the Wayne County Tax Foreclosure Auction this week.

As of Monday evening, $8.5 million has been bid on 5,694 properties in this week's auction. So far 730 bidders have purchased 2,622 properties in both the current auction and the previous auction in September. This week's auction is offering up just under 20,000 properties that range from single-family homes to apartment buildings to industrial complexes. A vast majority of these properties are located in Detroit.

Jerry Paffendorf is a co-founderer of Loveland Technologies, a Corktown-based software startup that owns WhyDontWeOwnThis.com. The website has been tracking the Wayne County Tax Foreclosure auctions for the last two years, mapping the properties and making the maze of information in the auction easily accessible to everyone. Here are some thoughts about this month's auction so far:

• There's a new biggest buyer, with 137 up near state fairgrounds: Benjamin Brothers;

• It looks like the Power House Project picked up 17 properties.

• It appears that Dennis Kefallinos bought another big building in Corktown. Kefallinos is a both a prominent and controversial developer in Detroit who owns several high-profile properties, including the Russell Industrial Center and Niki's Pizza in Greektown. He bought the Roosevelt Hotel near Slows at the county tax foreclosure auction two years ago

• Paffendorf toured 20 empty homes that are up for auction Monday, meeting maybe 15 neighbors. "None of them had any clue the auction was happening," Paffendorf wrote in an email.

• So far there are still 12,875 properties without bid, so things are roughly on track for 10,000 to be left behind. Tracking them after auction and helping to virtually land bank them will be interesting and important.

Source: Jerry Paffendorf, co-founder of WhyDontWeOwnThis.com
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Midtown Lending Solutions takes aim at condo lending logjam

Midtown Detroit Inc is joining a small-but-growing group of Michigan-based community-development-oriented nonprofits to help make financing for renovations and sales more accessible.

Four of these eight non-profits (Midtown Detroit Inc, Southwest Solutions, Vanguard Community Development Corp and Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp) are from Detroit and make up the bulk of the Michigan Lending Solutions consortium. The group helps homeowners prevent foreclosure, find mortgages for home sales and locate financing for building renovations.

The Midtown branch of the Michigan Lending Solutions, Midtown Lending Solutions, is based in Midtown Detroit Inc's Co-Lab space on Woodward. One of Midtown Lending Solutions is helping locate financing for condo sales.

"At least 85 percent of all of the condos in Detroit are non-warrantable," says David LeClerc, manager of lending operations of Michigan Lending Solutions. He adds that non-warrantable means banks won't extend mortgages in those condo buildings because there aren't enough pre-sales or the condo association doesn't have enough cash reserves or to many units in the building are rentals, among a bevy of other disqualifiers.

Midtown Lending Solutions is looking to secure a $15 million loan fund that would be able to provide the financing for local condos sales. If enough condo sales are approved through this fund, that should help release pressure on the market and make it more attractive to traditional lenders. LeClerk believes the fund will be able to close 200 mortgage deals for local condos within the next two years.

"We believe we will be able to free up all of these condominiums within two years so they can leverage traditional financing," LeClerc says.

The Michigan Lending Solutions will also be able to help other homeowners and small developers find financing. That could be as complicated as nailing down a $140,000 loan to renovate a derelict building to financing a $5,000 loan so a homeowner can improve their house with minimal hassle and frustration.

Source: David LeClerc, manager of lending operations with Michigan Lending Solutions
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Midtown's Sherbrooke Apts renovation lands key state funds

The Sherbrooke Apartments project in Midtown recently received a key piece of funding that will allow the renovation to continue to move forward.

The $2.4 million project recently received a nearly $600,000 Community Revitalization Program grant from the State of Michigan. The performance-based grant is the replacement for the historic tax credit program that was phased out when the state overhauled and simplified its business tax code. The City of Detroit is also expected to approved a 12-year tax abatement for the project worth $842,413.

"It (the Community Revitalization Program grant) is absolutely crucial," says Lis Knibbe, developer of the Sherwood Apartments project. "Without that subsidy, you can't do this. The numbers just don't work."

The Sherbrooke Apartments opened in 1913 geared toward providing larger, luxury units. It was later chopped into several smaller units before going vacant in recent years. Knibbe, who is also a principal at Quinn Evans Architects, and her partners began renovating the building at the corner of Second Avenue and West Hancock Street earlier this year.

Knibbe and her team are turning the apartment building into six 1-bedroom and eight 2-bedroom units with the potential of combining some of the 1- and 2-bedroom units into a large 3-bedroom apartment. The project will restore the original woodwork in the building, along with a number of smaller original details. It will add a geothermal heating system, restore the building's original windows and provide a balcony or private outdoor space for each unit that is above ground. Rents will range between $850 and $1,500 per month and the project looks to service students and professionals at the nearby Wayne State University. Work is expected to wrap up by the end of this year.

Source: Lis Knibbe, developer of the Sherwood Apartments
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Whitney Building renovation steps into the construction starting blocks

The David Whitney building is crouched and ready to begin the long construction run toward a total renovation.

The Roxbury Group expects construction will begin within the coming weeks as it races to finish the last of the paperwork details for the renovation of the downtown Detroit skyscraper.

"We are very close to completing our financing on the project," says David Di Rita, principal of The Roxbury Group. "All of the financial resources have been identified. It's our intent to get construction underway before the end of this year."

The David Whitney building opened in 1915. The 19-story skyscraper overlooking Grand Circus Park was designed by Daniel Burnham, who also designed New York's Flatiron building and Union Station. Then it was occupied by retailers on the first few floors and offices for doctors and dentists and other professionals on the upper floors. It's signature is a majestic atrium in the center of the building.

The building has been vacant for years but is now being redeveloped into a mix of space for retailers, a boutique hotel and apartments on the top floors. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide plans to open one of its Aloft hotels in the building. The hotel will feature 136 rooms in a loft-style design.

Source: David Di Rita, principal of The Roxbury Group
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

PNC Bank nears completion of Midtown branch rehab

The finishing touches are going on the newly renovated PNC Bank branch in Midtown, which is part of a larger expansion into the Detroit market by the multi-national bank.

For years PNC Bank had a drab little branch at the corner of Woodward Avenue and West Alexandrine Street. That began to change earlier this year when the surrounding neighborhood hit a tipping point development wise. The Detroit Medical Center began its expansion across Woodward. Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Co opened across West Alexandrine. Now there are rumblings of the redevelopment of the big vacant apartment building behind the branch.

"We have to make certain we were a part of (the rebirth of the neighborhood)," says Mike Bickers, executive vice president of retail banking for PNC Bank. "The first part is the interior, which has been totally revamped. The next step is the outside."

He adds the renovation of the 3,000-square-foot building is "basically done" with a few remaining loose ends being tied up this month. The revamped branch joins PNC Bank's 10 other branches in Detroit and Hamtramck. The newest one is a community branch at 7 Mile and Evergreen roads on the city's West Side, which opened last week.

"That branch is about low-to-moderate-income, community-based banking," Bickers says. He explains that the branch will focus a lot on financial education that helps people establish bank accounts and a credit history rather than taking paychecks to check-cashing places.

PNC Bank is also looking to open a full-service branch at 8 Mile Road and Woodward Avenue next summer. The branch will consist of ATMs, drive-thru lanes and other regular banking amenities. It will be part of the Gateway Marketplace development, which is set to be anchored by stores from Meijer and Marshalls.

Source: Mike Bickers, executive vice president of retail banking for PNC Bank
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Local attorney brings more Brush Park apts online with The Edmund

Deciding whether or not to save a classic Victorian mansion in Brush Park is pretty easy for Michael VanOverbeke.

The attorney established his practice (VanOverbeke, Michaud & Timmony) in a restored Brush Park mansion at 79 Alfred St. and played a key role in the redevelopment of 48 Edmund Place into a Victorian-house-turned-apartment-building. So finishing the redevelopment of 104 Edmund Place after it fell victim to the housing market collapse was a no-brainer.

"I was concerned about it falling by the wayside," VanOverbeke says. "I wanted to save it and complete it."

The original redevelopment of the huge Victorian mansion and accompanying carriage houses called for turning them into for-sale condos. VanOverbeke and his partners changed course, creating high-end apartments and rebranding the development The Edmund.

"We decided in this market it's better to go rentals," VanOverbeke says.

The Edmund now consists of nine apartments. The main building, which dates back to the 1870s,  measures in at 11,000 square feet. It has six apartments, including the three-bedroom, 2.5-bath penthouse. The two carriage houses (both new construction) consist of three apartments between them. Prices range from $1,000 per month for a one-bedroom to $2,250 per month for the penthouse.

The Edmund is currently taking reservations for its rentals and expects to begin moving in the first residents by late November. For information, call 313-623-2461.

Source: Michael VanOverbeke, managing member of The Edmund
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.
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