16 Sweet Developments in Detroit

In the Big Dance of Detroit development, we've picked 16 of the sweetest projects going on right now.

Ask 10 random people to name the best new development in Detroit and I'd wager that seven would name-check the RiverWalk. In a short time, it has become Detroit's everything: a gathering place, exercise facility, romantic rendezvous spot, playground and of course, showpiece. News of funding for the next couple of segments is encouraging, as are suggestions that its programming will continue to be enhanced.

Dequindre Cut
On that tip, ask what future development those 10 Detroiters are most looking forward to, and that same seven would probably call out the Dequindre Cut or, as I like to call it, the Anti-High Line. It's so underground that it is literally underground and, instead of connecting high-ticket development to high-ticket development, it connects a river to a farmer's market. Plus, the powers-that-be are preserving its existing graffiti and encouraging painters to keep throwing up work -- viewing it as an ever-evolving outdoor gallery. It's at this point that words fail me.

Hatch HQ
Hamtramck, the little city that could, continues to broadcast its progressiveness loud and clear -- this time by donating its former police building to an arts organization, Hatch. How cool is that?

Rosa Parks Transit Center
I know not everyone loves tensile structures as much as I do and yes, there is a danger of them getting played out, but I can't wait for the big one to be erected at the Rosa Parks Transit Center. It's a transformative project for the late-blooming west side of downtown and it will enable Capitol Park to emerge from the shadow that the temporary transit center has placed over its head.

Eastern Market evolution
The Eastern Market Corp.'s new head honcho is a visionary guy from out of town ready to implement the area's new master plan that calls for more. More days a week, more organic offerings, more residences and businesses...more of what will brighten up the gem that Eastern Market already is.

GRDC offices
Grandmont Rosedale Dev. Corp. is about to get much more visible in its new offices on Grand River Ave. As the organization matures, it only makes sense that it would set up shop on its main drag, which is looking better and better every year.

Design Shop Trifecta
For a town with impeccable design credentials, it certainly has not been a place to buy well-designed objects. But it's getting prettier -- now there are three lovelies within our borders: The Bureau of Urban Living, Mezzanine and Design 99 are all fabulous places to spend the money you probably don't have. Affordable highlights: Bureau's simple necessities, i.e., hand towels and shower curtains; Mezzanine's stainless steel barware and Andy Kem's 3-D cork tiles at Design 99. 
Art Overhaul
The excitement about the re-opening of the DIA hasn't simmered down since its Thanksgiving debut. And MOCAD events are regularly the hottest tickets in town. What is going on here? Is Detroit, gasp, getting just a tad more sophisticated than its rust belt roots would imply? While the jury might still be out on that possibility, this much is true: Detroit hearts these two institutions dearly.

Tiger Stadium
The efforts of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. and the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy to save a good chunk of the old ballpark and, most importantly, its hallowed field, continue to progress. If they pull it off, Detroit will be the only city in the country to have ever preserved any significant portion of a beloved sports stadium. Looks like the Next Detroit might be here sooner than we thought.

CAID expansion
For 25 years, CAID existed without its own gallery space. They finally went physical at the former Detroit Contemporary a few years ago, and apparently, that just whetted the organization's appetite: they opened two more last year, the Carriage House Gallery in Woodbridge and the Ladybug Gallery in Hubbard Farms. While the Carriage House is small and quirky, the Ladybug is part of an ambitious partnership with Southwest Housing that pairs affordable artist housing with classroom and gallery space. It's worth noting that the rehab removed a notorious drug lair from a beautiful block and replaced it with a building full of life and art. Sweet swap.

Zaccaro's Market
There's a reason why Opening Day April 7 is almost as exciting as Opening Day March 31: it's the scheduled opening of Zaccaro's Market in Midtown. The city has been desperate for an upscale gourmet grocer for so long -- Remember the "Trader Joe's at Lafayette Park" rumor that sparked a frenzy of interweb speculation a few years back? Simply put, Zaccaro's can't open soon enough.

Open City
A zeitgeist is in the air at monthly Open City meetings. The format is thus: stalwart Detroit boosters Claire Nelson of the Bureau of Urban Living and Liz Blondy of Canine to Five gather would-be and existing Detroit business owners at Cliff Bell's and bring in experts that proceed to educate them. The energy in the room is palpable and the information presented -- about need-to-know topics like real estate, start-up financing and marketing -- has been informative and useful. Look for a handful of Open City-ite businesses to start popping up around town later this year.

Woodbridge Pub
Typically, a singular pub would not be that exciting, but in Woodbridge, it's all anyone can talk about. Finally, the neighborhood's very own eating and drinking establishment! It's long overdue. Word on the street is that the interior is looking amazing and the menu is shaping up nicely.

Chow choices just keep getting better and better around here. Relative newbies -- and already local faves -- D'Mongo's, Mudgie's and El Barzon are soon to be joined by the Mercury Cafe in Corktown, Shield's and Angelina's downtown and, reportedly, two new restaurants in Eastern Market. Yum.

South University Village
The new retail and residential project that fronts Woodward between Canfield and Forest may not be architecturally-inspiring, but the impact that such an influx of tenants and businesses will have on Midtown cannot be overstated.

Hotels & Casinos
Despite the fact that gambling is the only vice to which I do not subscribe, I'm glad the permanent casinos are here. It's nice to hear an Ann Arborite say, "We were coming down for a CCHA game at the Joe, so we decided to stay the whole weekend." Call me a softy, but that makes me happy. And it's only going to get better when the Book-Cadillac Westin, Fort-Shelby Doubletree and Greektown Casino Hotel come on line.

Kelli B. Kavanaugh is Development News editor for Model D. E-mail her your tips here: kellibkav@issuemediagroup.com


Southbound Woodward Ave into "Foxtown"

Rosa Parks Transit Center - rendering courtesy of Detroit Department of Transportation

Tiger Stadium Box Office

The much anticipated Woodbridge Pub

Photographs by Marvin Shaouni
Marvin Shaouni is the managing photographer for Metromode & Model D.

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