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Punch Bowl Social, a boozy adult playground, opens on Broadway


There's nothing subtle about Dan Gilbert's Z Lot, a massive, zig-zagging parking structure built to wrap around existing historic structures and fit a uniquely-shaped downtown Detroit parcel. So it seems that the massive adult playground that is Punch Bowl Social is the perfect fit for the ground-floor retail component of the Z Lot along Broadway.
 
"When you're on Broadway in any city, it should be like this," says Punch Bowl Detroit's event sales manager Jason Dritsan.
 
A massive crowd that turned out for the grand opening of Punch Bowl last night seems to agree. It appears that Detroit is ready for the 24,000 square feet of games (including bowling, darts, and arcade classics), drinks, and food that Punch Bowl is offering.
 
The Punch Bowl concept was launched at the company's flagship location in Denver. Detroit is the fourth Punch Bowl location, following the likes of Portland, Ore. and Austin, Texas. Representatives of the Quicken Family of Companies helped recruit Punch Bowl to Detroit.
 
"We spent three hours with them before we were ready to do the deal," says Punch Bowl founder and CEO Robert Thompson. "There's a great culture here that we wanted to be a part of. There's a tremendous amount of economic upside. We officially drank the Kool Aid."
 
For those who couldn't make it out to Wednesday's grand opening, here are a few things to look forward to on your first trip to Punch Bowl Detroit:
 
- A classic style diner featuring "adult milkshakes" (that means with booze, folks) and classic American-style fare.
- A 360-degree bar at the center of the ground floor, featuring a unique drink menu including delicious punch concoctions.
- Two levels of games, including bowling, darts, ping pong, shuffleboard, and classic arcade machines.
- Detroit's first private karaoke rooms.
- A year-round "Holiday Lodge" room featuring fireplaces and chill sofas.
- DJs on weekends (Full disclosure: Model D's managing editor Matthew Lewis will be spinning records at Punchbowl's Sunday brunch on Dec. 14).
 
It's going to be a fun holiday season.
 
---
Photo by Matthew Lewis.

Explore the impact of the New Deal on Detroit

Between 1933 to 1943, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal had a monumental impact on cities and communities across America. "A constellation of federally sponsored programs put millions of jobless Americans back to work and helped to revive a moribund economy. The result was a rich landscape of public works across the nation, often of outstanding beauty, utility and craftsmanship," notes the Living New Deal project hosted by the Department of Geography at the University of California, Berkeley.

Of course, Detroit, the "Arsenal of Democracy," was no exception.

Today, the Living New Deal "is building a national database of thousands of documents, photographs, and personal stories about public works made possible by the New Deal." Check out this amazing map of New Deal projects across the country and in U.S. territories.

Currently, the Living New Deal lists only four projects within the city of Detroit, though it's likely many more exist.

Those projects are:The Living New Deal project acknowledges its incompleteness and urges users to contribute to its database. If you know of other New Deal projects in Detroit, you can submit them to the Living New Deal project by completing this form.

Detroit man claims he's the high bidder on $3M bundle of 6,350 properties in county auction

As the Wayne County Treasurer's annual auction of tax-foreclosed properties winds down -- or up, depending on who you ask -- information has emerged on what might become the largest purchase of tax-forclosed property in the history of the auction.

According to the Detroit News, Herb Strather of Detroit is claiming to be the leader of a group of investors who bid over $3 million on a bundle of 6,350 of properties in the city. The bundle represents over one third (and the most dilapidated, at that) of the over 18,000 properties available in this year's auction, the largest of its kind in the world.

According to The News:
 
"Wayne County Treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz, in collaboration with Mayor Mike Duggan, bundled the properties in hopes of discouraging tax deadbeats. If no buyer came forward, the Detroit Land Bank was expected to take the homes, demolish the rundown ones and auction those that are salvageable to qualified bidders."

The minimum bid for the bundle of properties was set at $3.175 million. Currently a single bid of $3,183,500 has been placed. While the county will not reveal the identity of the high bidder until after the auction, Strather has claimed to be the person who placed the bid.

The News writes:

"About 2,000 of the properties in the bundle are vacant lots and 3,000 need to be razed, said Chief Deputy Treasurer David Szymanski. Another 1,000 are considered salvageable homes."

For more information, visit the Detroit News.

Study questions inclusivity of revitalization efforts in Detroit


The revitalization of Detroit -- or at least certain parts of the city -- makes big headlines these days. But local data analyst and blogger Alex Hill argues that African Americans are largely left out of such narratives in part because they are under-represented in programs focused on the city's revitalization -- despite the fact that the city's population is almost 83 percent black.

According to Hill, "Detroit’s revitalization is completely one-sided. The surge in investment in this majority black city is not going to black residents."

Hill analyzed participation rates of different racial and ethnic groups in nine revitalization-oriented programs in Detroit (Disclosure: Urban Innovation Exchange, a project of Model D's parent company Issue Media Group, was included in his study). He concluded that "across all of the programs, 69.2 percent of individuals were classified as White and only 23.7 percent as Black (1.6 percent Latino, 4.8 percent Asian, 0.7 percent Arab)" and that "it is clear that there is a serious imbalance of both opportunity and outcomes in Detroit."

While Hill admits his calculations are based on his own "assumptions and perceptions of race" (his numbers were determined by examining "headshots from individual biographies posted publicly on fellowship programs, academic profiles, and many 'About' pages" on the websites of different revitalization-oriented organizations), his study may be the first attempt to quantify the representation of different races in Detroit's revitalization efforts.

Hill concludes his blog post about his study by asking a provocative question: "Mayor Duggan has said that every neighborhood has a future, but does every neighbor have a future in Detroit?"

Visit Alex Hill's website to read more about his study.

Berliners want to invest in Detroit, but you already knew that because you read Model D


Berliners want to invest money in Detroit. Big news, right? The Wall Street Journal thinks so. They recently ran a story about how Dimitri Hegemann, owner of Berlin electronic music label and club Tresor, is in love with the idea of opening a techno club in Detroit's long-abandoned Fisher Body 21 plant.

As quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Hegemann had this to say: “Fisher Body is my first real love.”

Of course, if you read Model D, this isn't really news to you at all. Walter Wasacz, Model D's former managing editor and a frequent contributor, worked with Hegemann to put on "The Detroit-Berlin Connection," a forum that happened in conjunction with the Movement Electronic Music Festival on Memorial Day weekend. (Check out Wasacz's recap of the forum.) Wasacz recently traveled to Berlin to partake in the Atonal Festival, of which Hegemann is the founder, and wrote this reflection on what Detroit can learn from Berlin.

Also, in case you missed it, be sure to check out our Q&A with Dimitri Hegemann from back in May.

Model D will continue to follow developments in this story.

How Detroit grew around Hamtramck and Highland Park


If you have studied a political map of Detroit, you've probably wondered how the city ended up with two separate cities inside of it. Thankfully, WDET has explained how the cities of Hamtramck and Highland park came to be surrounded by the city of Detroit.

According to WDET:
 
As Detroit’s population grew, so did its landmass thanks to annexation. Surrounding townships didn’t have a local government and only existed for election and property tax purposes. So cities could easily swallow up them up. By 1891, Detroit had annexed its way to the modern day southern borders of Hamtramck and Highland Park. 

An encroaching Detroit spurred the areas to take action. And to strengthen local government, Highland Park incorporated as a village in 1889 and Hamtramck two years later.

 
When the state of Michigan passed the Home Rule Cities Act in 1908, Hamtramck and Highland Park were able to incorporate themselves as cities, thus protecting the economic interests that had grown within their borders.
 
By the time the Home Rule Cities Act was introduced, Henry Ford had already purchased land in Highland Park to build his Model T complex. The Dodge Brothers were two years away from opening the Dodge Main in Hamtramck. And as 1915 rolls around, Detroit started moving north again, annexing more and more of Greenfield and Hamtramck townships. Within a year, Detroit had completely surrounded the villages. 
 
At around the same time, the two villages exploded in population, thanks to the auto industry. This growth was enticing to Detroit. There had been formal attempts by Detroit to annex Highland Park and Hamtramck after 1908 but they failed to even make it to a vote. Why? Lupher says the answer is simple. Corporate power.
 
Read more about the origins of Hamtramck and Highland Park at WDET.org.

Senior housing at risk in revitalization of downtown and Midtown Detroit

Downtown and Midtown Detroit are in full-tilt development mode as rental occupancy hovers just below 100 percent and rent prices near the magical $2-per-square-foot over which housing developers and landlords drool.

While these numbers are welcome news to many, they come at a cost to some of the most vulnerable residents of downtown and Midtown Detroit: senior citizens. According to a story by MLive Detroit's David Muller, senior housing complexes in those neighborhoods are threatened by the desire of developers to convert them into market rate apartments.

A group of Metro Detroit housing experts called the Senior Housing Displacement-Preservation Coalition recently issued a report saying, among other things, that "at least a dozen senior apartment buildings in Detroit's Midtown and downtown areas could convert to market rate apartments in the next 10 years, forcing thousands of seniors to find new homes."

The coalition formed in response to the of the death of a senior in his apartment at 1214 Griswold after he and other tenants received eviction notices so that construction could begin to convert the building from senior housing to market rate apartments. 1214 Griswold's developers, Broder & Sachse Real Estate Services, Inc., are renaming the building "The Albert" and marketing its redeveloped apartments towards young professionals who want to live in downtown Detroit.

The MLive story (a part of Aging Together, a collaborative effort of MLive Detroit, WDET FM, and Model D that examines issues around aging in metro Detroit) raises questions about what measures can be taken to ensure the inclusion of seniors and other vulnerable residents in visions for a revitalizing greater downtown Detroit.

Read more on MLive Detroit.

M-1 Rail update: First shipment of rails arrives in Detroit (with pictures!)

After years of planning, debates, meetings, and reconfigurations, construction finally began on M-1 Rail earlier this summer. When completed, M-1 will be the first streetcar operating in Detroit since 1956. Lane closures and construction trenches in Woodward Avenue signal what was once almost unbelievable: M-1 Rail is actually happening.

This week, things got even more real as the first shipments of steel rails (atop which the streetcars will run) have begun to arrive in Detroit on flatbed trucks. The shipment consists of dozens of 80-foot-long pieces of rail from Indiana weighing over 3,000 pounds each. Approximately one third of the rail needed for the 3.3-mile-long project will arrive in Detroit over the course of this week and next, while the rest will be shipped next year.

We will continue to update you on the progress of M-1 Rail's construction until the project is completed.

To see remnants of old Department of Street Railways streetcar rails, simply walk into the middle of Michigan Avenue in Corktown, where the steel rails are re-emerging as the asphalt pavement covering the center lane deteriorates.

Re-examining the $500 house: You get what you pay for

Good Magazine makes a compelling argument with which many who have bought "cheap" homes in Detroit might agee: When it comes to the $500 house, you often get what you pay for. In fact, these houses often carry a negative value.

"Here’s why very cheap can mean very big trouble," writes Good's Angie Schmit. "Houses, in addition to the land they occupy, are the sum of their parts. That key threshold where "affordability" turns into market collapse is when housing becomes so cheap that the cost to repair the structure is more than someone is willing to pay for the house. Just because houses might sell for peanuts in Detroit, doesn’t make, say, roofing materials or lumber any less costly. In other words, if your home is worth less than it costs to fix the roof, there’s strong incentive to walk away. And that’s what thousands of people have done in cities like Detroit, Youngstown, Ohio, and Buffalo, New York."

In other words, cheap houses generally require large investments of time and money, which Good Magazine's Angie Schmitt argues is a big problem, especially for the working poor who inhabit cities where this is the case. She suggests that the solution to this problem is actually the addition of more expensive housing to weak markets like Detroit, as well as an overall a reduction of the supply of housing.

Source: Good Magazine

Explaining an old trend: Anti-urbanism in America

Ever wonder why 20th century American history is chock-full of bi-partisan anti-urban rhetoric? Steven Conn, a historian at Ohio State University, recently published a book on exactly that subject called "Americans Against the City: Anti-Urbanism in the Twentieth Century."

In his interview with The Boston Globe, Conn defines anti-urbanism thusly: "On the one hand, it's the deep, deep fear of the messiness of urban life, and particularly the social messiness...And the other piece...is this deep suspicion of the role of government, and the idea that city life, especially starting at the turn of the 20th century, depends on government action and government intervention."

Conn sheds light on the challenges and changes cities like Detroit experienced during the postwar period, saying, "Starting in the 1950s but particularly in the 1960s, urban questions and racial questions became virtually synonymous, at least in the popular imagination...Cities became increasingly black and they became increasingly poor. So by the 1970s you have this really unholy mix of racial tensions and economic crisis...1975 to about 1985 was a real low-water mark for American cities. New York went bankrupt...Detroit’s economy really began to crumble in earnest...cities were saddled with the costs of poverty."

In response to recent trends in which Americans have become more in favor of urban living, Conn predicts the continued urbanization of formerly un-dense suburbs: "Even those places, whose very existence was predicated on the idea that we were going to leave the city, are recognizing the advantages of urban life, and one of those advantages is the social mixing. Even those places now are becoming socially more diverse. And in the long run, that is going to reshape our political ideas."

Source: The Boston Globe

Video: The case for historic preservation, not just demolition, in Detroit's war on blight

Last week, Mayor Mike Duggan and other dignitaries celebrated the city's efforts to remediate blight in conjunction with the demolition of a 19th century warehouse building on Fort Street. The building was demolished at the expense of its owner, the powerful Detroit International Bridge Co., which is controlled by the Moroun family.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Mayor Duggan praised the Bridge Co., saying, "If you’ve got a vacant commercial building in this town and you don’t have the ability to reuse it, we need you to step up and knock it down...We are going to need the business community to do what the Moroun family is doing here."

Yet the decision to tear down this structure was met by the skepticism of some who felt the building's historical and architectural significance and potential for redevelopment warranted its preservation. 

Blight and vacancy -- of land and buildings -- are two of Detroiters' greatest concerns when it comes to the livability of their neighborhoods. It's undeniable that Detroit has myriad structures that require demolition; yet demolition is not the only solution to Detroit's blight and vacancy problems.

In this video, the Michigan Historic Preservation Network argues that historic preservation and adaptive reuse are key elements to redevelopment efforts in the city.

In the words of Jerry Esters, preservation advocate and owner of the repurposed auto shop that Practice-Space calls home, "I can take you and show you buildings that have been refurbished and they're much nicer than seeing a vacant field."

Source: Michigan Historic Preservation Network

DesignLAB Detroit to host mobile conference on the People Mover

On Friday, June 13, a group of Detroit designers and architects will board downtown's elevated monorail, the People Mover, and present a 30-minute mini-conference to the public about the future of architecture in Detroit. The presentations will last for two circuits around the People Mover's 2.9 mile loop.

Presenters will include:

Shel Kimen, Collision Works 
Shel left a career as senior vice president with Saatchi & Saatchi advertising in NYC to develop Collision Works in Detroit. The community development project– focused on sustainable design, community growth, and storytelling while providing collaborative work space and mentoring programs– is in the planning stages of designing a 46-room hotel development in Eastern Market made of recycled shipping containers. www.detroitcollisionworks.com

Brian Hurttienne, Villages CDC
Brian Hurttienne is a community architect with a long resume of important Detroit redevelopment projects in Detroit including the Kales Building, Slows BBQ, The Carlton and Grinnell buildings. As the ED of the Villages CDC, Brian is helping to accelerate economic development through community advocacy, urban design, and planning. http://thevillagesofdetroit.com

Amy Swift, Building Hugger
Amy swift is an architectural writer, professor, preservationist, and designer. As the principal at Building Hugger L3C, Amy focuses on finding reinvigorated purposes for underutilized structures in Detroit’s downtown neighborhoods, that help add intangible value to the community in ways that are financially, environmentally, and socially sustainable. www.buildinghugger.org

Justin Mast, Practice Space
As the founder of Practice Space, Justin helps to incubate new business enterprise while providing event space, residency programs, and community-centered co-working opportunities in Detroit’s North Corktown neighborhood. Justin mixes architecture and development with a team of creatives to cultivate emerging business and grow a new community of practitioners in Detroit. www.practicespace.org

Victoria Byrd Olivier, Detroit Future City
Victoria Olivier is a Detroit Revitalization Fellow serving as program manager for the Detroit Future City (DFC) Implementation Office. She works on city systems, neighborhood, and civic capacity initiatives with a focus on creative placemaking, community arts and culture initiatives, and historic preservation. www.detroitfuturecity.com

Frank Arvan, FX Architecture
Frank Arvan is the principal of FX Architecture working as an architect on residential, office, institutional, and urban design. He is an avid supporter of the Detroit creative community as an architectural writer, board member for the Detroit Creative Corridor Center, past president and Executive Committee member of AIA Detroit, curator with D’lectricity, and exhibit designer at the Detroit Institute of Arts. www.fxarchitecture.com

More information is available at http://designlabdetroit.tumblr.com/

Attendees must register in advance of the event on Eventbrite.

Freep: Check out updated map of M-1 Rail line

OK, here it, the latest graphic for the M-1 route, set to break ground this spring. The Freep published a map. Check it out.

An excerpt:

Naming rights for the urban rail line -- like in Cleveland and other cities -- could bring $1 million or more to help pay for the line, slated to run 3 miles along Woodward from Jefferson Avenue downtown to Grand Boulevard in New Center.

More here.

City seeks proposals for Brush Park developments

In a story penned by the Freep's John Gallagher, the question "just what's happening in Brush Park?" is close to being answered. We're happy to keep the discussion going. An excerpt:

Austin Black II, a real estate broker active in the greater downtown area, said the project is important because it promises to deliver much-needed new residential units to the market. There’s a shortage not just of rental apartments but of for-sale condominiums and townhouses, too.

Developers have until Feb. 5 to submit their proposals to the city. The request for proposals can be found on the city’s website here by clicking on "departments," then on the Planning & Development Department page, and then clicking on for request for proposals.

The city’s request said a decision will be made later in February.

Read on here.

Freep's Gallagher: New Detroit developments expected in 2014

It's alway good to look ahead to projects that are about to go forward or are getting into position to make a spalsh in the near future.

In the Detroit Free Press, John Gallagher updates several projects that are close to breaking ground in the new year.

An excerpt: 

St. Louis-based McCormack Baron Salazar has won approval for a $60-million complex east of the Renaissance Center featuring three- to four-story townhouses and apartment buildings. Detroit native Richard Baron, the group’s chairman and CEO, heads the project.

Baron has a significant record doing projects like this elsewhere. Detroit’s vacant waterfront parcels almost certainly will see expensive housing lining the RiverWalk one day just as it lines the waterfronts in so many other cities. Whether it starts to happen in Detroit this year or later will be something to watch.

Read more here.
140 Development Articles | Page: | Show All
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