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Small businesses multiply, crime declines along Jefferson Avenue corridor

A recent article in Crain's Detroit Business details the rapid growth of five neighborhoods extending along Jefferson Avenue, stretching all the way to the Grosse Pointe border.

A number of new businesses have opened up along the Jefferson Avenue corridor recently. "Beautiful Bridal, along with a new Caribbean restaurant, a Christian yoga center, women's clothing boutiques, a casual branded clothing store, a used record store, and a coffee shop and bakery, are a few of the more recent businesses that have planted roots along the eight miles between downtown Detroit and Grosse Pointe Park," writes Marti Benedetti.

Some significant numbers accompany these developments. The most salient is the approximately $1 billion in new investment since 2009.

Also notable, writes Benedetti, "Since 2014, crime along the Jefferson corridor declined more than 31 percent. In 2015, there was a 38 percent drop in auto theft and a 22 percent reduction in robberies, according to JEI's 'Safe Jefferson' program."

In addition to new businesses, several apartment and housing developments are finished or underway. Lakewood Century Apartments, for example, is a $7 million, 35-unit project at Lakewood and Jefferson—no opening date was mentioned.

There's also the Jefferson streetscaping, which will include the first protected bike lanes in the city.

Josh Elling, Executive director of the economic development organization Jefferson East, Inc., credits economic development in Detroit's greater downtown area, as well as "business-supporting" institutions, for the economic spillover taking place in the Jefferson corridor.

U.S. cities, Detroit included, are rethinking the alley

An article in The Atlantic's City Lab begins on a poetic note:

"The alley is dark no longer.

"In the United States, these almost-accidental spaces between buildings have existed in a sort of limbo: not quite streets, but still thoroughfares; not private, but not public enough to feel protected; backdrops to crime, or filled with trash heaps."

The article continues by detailing the way cities, including Detroit, are creatively rethinking use of these "almost accidental" spaces. For years, writes Eillie Anzilotti, "[alleys] were a place to conduct activities considered unfit for the main street," like big deliveries or trash collection.

But urban planners are beginning to recognize how much untapped space exists in alleys. One of these new approaches was adopted by Detroit's own Tom and Peggy Brennan. The Green Alley, adjacent to their business-incubator and coworking space the Green Garage (profiled in Model D), is a prototype for the green alley movement being adopted by many U.S. cities.

The Green Alley, writes Anzilotti, "incorporates permeable surfaces and gardening space, and has transformed a space once filled with mattresses and hypodermic needles into a community gathering place."

There's many other interesting cases mentioned in the article, and one wonders which alleys in Detroit would make for promising redevelopment opportunities. 

Next High Growth Happy Hour focuses on real estate

Detroit's rapidly fluctuating real estate market has no shortage of entrepreneurs breaking into it. There's an opportunity to hear from two fast growing local startups at the next High Growth Happy Hour, August 3rd from 6 to 8 p.m., in Detroit’s North End neighborhood.

The speakers will be David Alade of Century Partners, a real estate development company with a holistic revitalization and innovative funding approach, and Max Nussenbaum, CEO & co-founder of property management startup Castle (read Model D's profile on Castle and their rapid growth). David and Max will share insights into Detroit's real estate market, including how they have broken in and created a new model for their businesses.

Agenda

6:00 - 6:30: Networking & Drinks

6:30 - 7:30: Casual chat and Q&A with attendees

7:30 - 8:00: Networking

RSVP here to attend. Space is limited for this free special event. Drinks and light appetizers will be served, and you’ll also get to be the first to see a brand new space Century Partners is redeveloping into a restaurant at 9425 John R Rd., Detroit.

Learn more about the High Growth Happy Hour series, which connects entrepreneurs and inspires them to scale in Metro Detroit.

Subscribe to our sister publication Southeast Michigan Startup to follow more companies scaling in Detroit.

Hatch Art launches fundraiser to save Hamtramck Disneyland

The Hamtramck art collective Hatch Art, using the local crowdfunding platform Patronicity, has launched a fundraiser to help save Hamtramck Disneyland, the famous folk-art site started in the backyard of Ukrainian immigrant Dmytro Szylak.

Syzlak immigrated from Ukraine to Hamtramck with his wife in the 1950s. For the last 30 years of his life, he constructed and renovated the whimsical, vivid artwork that contains tributes to his new and past home countries.

Syzlak passed away last year, and his estate sold the artwork to Hatch Art in May 2016.

If they reach their goal of $50,000, Hatch Art will, according to the fundraiser, "repair and maintain the outdoor, site-specific folk art installation as well as establish an artist's residency program and gallery space."

The installation hasn't been properly cared for in some time and is indeed in need of numerous upgrades. "The garages that support the art suffer from rotten roofs and sagging structures," reads the fundraiser. "Much of the art is weathered, falling apart and in need of immediate attention to be saved."

The "Save Hamtramck Disneyland" fundraiser ends August 20. 

Article explores overlooked beauty of east riverfront housing

Former Model D managing editor Matthew Lewis wrote an article for Hour Detroit about the attractive, and relatively overlooked housing on the Detroit River. Titled "Strait Outta Downtown," the article profiles apartments and houses in The Jeffersonian, "a 30-story, 410-unit midcentury masterpiece," and the Joseph Berry Subdivision, "a small neighborhood consisting of just four streets and fewer than 90 homes."

"But the beauty of its residences—and the influence of its residents—are outsized," writes Lewis.

The article notes that the East Riverfront is a potential growth spot given the skyrocketing real-estate values in downtown and midtown, and its location along Detroit's most distinctive natural feature.

The Jeffersonian, Lewis writes, "features views of cityscapes that are uniquely Detroit—the downtown skyline, blocks of the near east side that are lush with greenery and sparse of houses, Chrysler's sprawling Jefferson North assembly plant, Waterworks Park, and the tidy Berry sub immediately below."

The article then profiles the 5,200 square foot Georgian Colonial located in the Joseph Berry Subdivision and owned by the Linn family since 1983. The houses in the subdivision Lewis writes, "rarely go on the market. A non-waterfront, 5,200-square-foot Tudor described as a 'renovation opportunity' sold last year for $220,000. The Linns' newest neighbor, Kid Rock, moved in two years ago to a house on the west end of Dwight Street."

The article also lists other housing options along the riverfront and is accompanied by attractive photographs of housing, owners, and views of the river and city. 

Forward Cities nominee discusses scholarship for "mapping the world"

Forward Cities nominated Detroiter Jerry Paffendorf of Loveland Technologies to receive a scholarship to the Aspen Institute's Ideas Festival earlier this month.

In addition to be able to attend the event for free, Paffendorf was invited to pitch his idea of mapping the world, which he discusses here with The Lift on Aspen 82.

The Lift | Jerry Paffendorf from The Lift on Vimeo.

 

Developers take lead installing public art in downtown Detroit

Public art is becoming an increasingly common sight as developers both big and small (including Model D's startup editor Jon Zemke) integrate murals and sculptures into their redevelopment projects in the greater downtown Detroit area.

The Detroit News profiled Midtown-based artist Nicole Macdonald's work creating murals of the Motor City's great leaders, including her largest work to date, a billboard-sized tribute to Mary Ellen Riordan on the side of a duplex in North Corktown.

"A group of students were walking by and they stopped and asked, 'Who's that?' and I had the opportunity to tell them," Nicole MacDonald is quoted in the article. "That's what public art is all about. It's empowerment."

Model D broke the story about the mural of the legendary former president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers earlier this year.

Group seeks to make two streets temporarily car-free

An article in the Detroit News reports that an organization called Open Streets is applying for permits to convert stretches of Michigan Avenue and Vernor Highway into exclusively pedestrian and bike streets.

"If the city and state gives permission, the two major thoroughfares would be shut for several hours, from noon to 5 p.m., on two consecutive Sundays, organizers said. The planned dates are Sept. 25 and Oct. 2," writes Louis Aguilar for the Detroit News.

While it's only for a matter of hours, twice, on parts of each road, this is a big deal. The car-free zones could demonstrate new planning possibilities for Detroit, which has been heavily reliant on automobile transportation for decades.

Also noted in the article, Detroit is late to the game in offering pedestrian roads. Other cities offer an example of what might take place on those Sundays.

"They inspire local businesses to set up sidewalk booths," writes Aguilar. "Musicians play. Yoga and other exercise classes are held on the street along with other family-friendly activities. A street-fair atmosphere takes root, with the actual street and the community it supports as the focus."

Cleveland's bus rapid transit system could be a model for Detroit

Next fall, residents of Southeast Michigan will have an opportunity to vote on a property tax millage to fund a new regional public transportation system. One of the components of that system is bus rapid transit, or BRT. Since we've never had a system like that in place, it's understandable to wonder what it might look like.

But Cleveland's BRT HealthLine has been around since 2008. And for those wondering, The Detroit Free Press recently published an article with the title, "Curious about bus rapid transit? Check out Cleveland."

There are many benefits and services of HealthLine. "Buses generally arrive at each station every 5-7 minutes during busier times of day," writes Eric Lawrence. "They travel on separate lanes for about 80 percent of the route and get traffic signal preference that is controlled by GPS. Service also runs all day. Level platform boarding makes getting on and off easier. Stations are covered and have seating and message boards, and riders purchase passes ahead of time."

That dedicated lane and traffic signal preference means commutes have been shortened considerably, which has resulted in a 60 percent increase in ridership. This does contribute to a complaint, expressed by rider James Hunt: "He said the 'only downside' to the HealthLine is 'how full it'll get.'"

BRT has had measurable effects on Cleveland's economy as well: "$6.3 billion in economic development," according to experts. HealthLine has been so successful, that it's the only BRT line in the United States to receive a "silver" rating by the New York-based Institute for Transportation and Development Policy.

If Cleveland is any indicator, it would behoove Southeast Michigan to approve the millage next election.

Stroh's to once again be brewed in Detroit

It's been over 30 years since Stroh's beer was brewed in Detroit, the city in which it was founded. But that's about to change, according to a Crain's Detroit Business article.

Brew Detroit, a brewery and tasting room located on Abbott Street in Corktown that makes a number of beers for Michigan brands, got label approval to brew Stroh's Bohemian-Style Pilsner on June 8. 

Though the exact date Detroit-brewed Stroh's will be available is unknown, Crain's Dustin Walsh writes that beers typically appear on the market "within weeks or months of receiving label approval from the federal regulatory body."

Stroh's Brewing Company was founded in Detroit in 1850 by German immigrant Bernhard Stroh. The company stayed in the family for generations, though it stopped brewing in Detroit in 1985 and "razed its 1 million-square-foot brewery, bottling and warehouse buildings on Gratiot Avenue at I-75," writes Walsh.

Stroh's was eventually acquired by Pabst Brewing Company in 1999. So while the Stroh's that will be brewed again in Detroit bears little resemble to the 31-million barrel a year company when it was last here, it's still exciting news for lovers of beer and Detroit history. 

Emerging leaders convene to talk #solutionsjournalism

As humans, we learn best through stories. So what better way to grapple with the complex history, policy and movements in our region than through great reporting and storytelling?

That's why Metromode, Model D and Metro Matters are thrilled to announce the first convening of our Emerging Leaders Advisory Board. Over the next year, this group of local leaders will meet quarterly and online to advise our solutions journalism coverage of metro Detroit's most pressing issues. The project is made possible with support from the Southeast Michigan Community Foundation.

We received over 50 applications from talented and bright leaders in a broad range of fields from across southeast Michigan. It was a difficult task to select only 19 to serve on the board.

These talented folks came together in early June at the Urban Consulate in Midtown to brainstorm and prioritize the regional issues and solutions that we'll be writing about in the coming months.

They are a group driven by love, passion and pride for metro Detroit.

"I love Detroit and want to contribute as much as I can to the revival of a great city," says board member Jonathan So of Huntington Woods. "Every time someone sees that I'm from Detroit they want to talk about the city and where it is going. We are all ambassadors."

They also want to get involved and make a difference.

"I applied to the board to help shape the future of my city and region," says board member Kate Cherry of Hamtramck. "I hope the project results in greater awareness of urban issues and knowledge of regional growth strategies among people in our area."

They're looking for an opportunity to connect with one another and expand their knowledge.

"I hope that serving on the board will be an opportunity to connect with professionals in the area from a variety of disciplines to hear new takes on regional issues," says board member Sonja Karnovsky of Ann Arbor. "By harnessing our collective abilities and experiences, we can find ways to leverage resources in southeast Michigan."

They even want to help foster leadership among younger residents.

"I want to inspire other millennials to enter politics," says board member, millennial and Madison Heights mayor Brian Hartwell. He's also interested in keeping the area attractive to residents. "Another goal is to retain homegrown talent by giving emerging leaders an opportunity to make a difference here in Michigan. This program will slow the export of new thinkers."

Our first conversation ran the gamut from race and immigration to land use and sprawl to infrastructure, digital justice, civic engagement and more.

Board member Sean Kammer of Pontiac sees political fragmentation as the region's greatest hurdle.

"Political fragmentation has reinforced segregation of the population by race and income more so than it would be if we had stronger regional authorities and more services that are regionally provided," he says. "This fragmentation has led to disparities in public service provision and real estate values that have made some cities more vulnerable to economic recessions than others."

Karnovsky echoes that sentiment.

"This disconnect leads to a lack of resources in parts of the region that need them most," she says. "Money, ideas, and resources don't get shared equitably between parts of the region and this leads to inequality. "

Arquette Palermo sees water as an important regional challenge. 
 
"The impacts of climate change, especially on our water resources,  is a looming issue. This can impact quality of life, disease, economics and so much more, and I think the average citizen does not realize this."

Hartwell sees infrastructure as the top issue facing the region.

"The tragedy unfolding before our eyes is the continued disinvestment of infrastructure in our urban core and inner-ring suburbs for the benefit of far-flung exurbs," he says. 

We'll be digging in to help you understand how these issues affect our daily lives in metro Detroit. We'll also take a careful look at how government, business and citizens are proposing (or already implementing) solutions to address them.

Below is a list of our Emerging Leaders Advisory Board members, as well as a form you can fill out to let us know about solutions to the issues. We want to hear from you!

2016 Solutions Journalism Advisory Board Members

Zubeyda Ahmed, Highland Park
Michele Arquette-Palermo, Orion Township
Mohamed Ayoub, Dearborn
Lauren
Bealore, Southfield
Kate Cherry, Hamtramck
Ghida Dagher, Dearborn Heights
Jon Dones, Detroit
Gillian Gainsley, Ypsilanti
Garlin Gilchrist II, Detroit
Lesley Hairston, Detroit
Melissa Halpin , Northville
Brian Hartwell, Madison Heights
Sean Kammer, Pontiac
Sonja, Karnovsky, Ann Arbor
Ash Nowak, Detroit
Michael Radtke Jr., Sterling Heights
Gabriela Santiago-Romero, Detroit
Jonathan So, Huntington Woods
Jeremiah Wheeler, Detroit

 
Photos by Nick Hagen.

Demand still far outstripping supply in Detroit's greater downtown rental market

In an analysis of greater downtown Detroit's rental market, the Detroit Free Press estimates that for 2016, 700 new units are set to open by the end of the summer. And the ones that have already opened are at or near 100 percent capacity. 

"It is also giving landlords reason to continue raising rents, although the size of the year-to-year jumps could subside as more new apartments hit the market," writes JC Reindl.

The article cites several recently-opened apartment buildings in the area that have already leased out their units. One case, profiled by Model D, is the Forest Arms Apartments. Rehabbed after a devastating fire in 2008, the Forest Arms rented out all 70 of its units the first month they became available, with rents for one-bedroom units going for around $1,000 per month.

The very high end units and those reserved for low-income tenants aren't going at quite the same rate. The Waters Edge at Harbortown, also profiled by Model D, whose two-bedrooms rent for about $1,700 per month, still has 42 of its 134 units unleased. 

The Strathmore in Midtown has leased out all of its market-rate apartments, but only a handful of its lower-income ones. In the article, the building's property manager, Derrell Jackson, explains that the reason for the difference is due to the difficulty in proving one's income. 

Who are these renters? "Those filling the new Detroit apartments are typically young professionals as well as some empty nesters, leasing agents say," writes Reindl.

These cases suggest that demand is far outstripping supply. The market is obviously still adjusting, so renters should expect fairly dramatic increases in rental rates (10 to 20 percent) in the near future. 

Summer program at downtown YMCA teaches teens about media arts

Y Arts, which does arts programming for the downtown Boll YMCA, is offering a summer program for teens interested in the media arts. The Y Media Works Summer Institute gives campers the opportunity to learn from local media talent and "produce their own film ideas, photography projects, stop motion animation, and digital music compositions," according to promotional materials.

The program, now in its 9th year, is run by Y Arts executive director Margaret Edwartowski, who's had a lengthy career in theater as a writer, director, actor, and improvisor. The team, which is rounded out by other artists with expertise in media, will provide daily instruction and take the campers on field trips to production houses, museums, and studios.

The camp runs from Monday, July 11 to Thursday, August 11, with camp days being Mondays through Thursdays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Every campers' final film will be shown on Saturday, August 20 at the YMCA's Marlene Boll Theatre. 

"We hope that our campers gain experience in photography, digital film production, and visual storytelling working alongside local artists," said Edwartowski by email. "But most of all we seek to provide a fun and creative experience where youth explore and celebrate downtown Detroit."

The camp costs $500, but full and partial scholarships are offered. 

The Y Media Works Summer Institute begins July 11. To apply or learn more, contact Margaret Edwartowski at medwartowski@ymca.org.

City of Detroit to offer municipal IDs by end of 2017

Whether it's because they lack documentation, can't afford the fee, or fail a diver's test, many in Detroit don't have a driver's license. At minimum, it's an enormous inconvenience. People without a license can't access basic services like opening a bank account, getting a library card, or becoming a member of their local recreation center.

Fortunately, the city of Detroit will soon alleviate some of the challenges associated with not having a driver's license by offering municipal identification cards. These IDs, while not a replacement for a driver's license, are an important step to improving access to all of Detroit's residents. 

"This card will help the homeless, undocumented, returning citizens and senior citizens obtain access to services and is a step forward to enabling integration for all of these communities," said Office of Immigrant Affairs director Fayrouz Saad by email. Saad will also administer the program. "All too often do these communities face challenges in day to day activities simply because they don't have an ID."

The legislation was introduced by council member Castañeda-López and passed by the city council with a vote of 7 to 0. 

The city hopes to begin issuing IDs in late summer and have it fully operational by 2017, according to Saad. Residents will have many options for proving their identity, from veteran cards to lease agreements, and more. The IDs will be valid for two years and cost no more than $25. 

The city also hopes to obtain support from "community partners, foundations, banks, museums, City departments, law enforcement and other institutions to ensure the card is widely accepted and offers different benefits."

Unique program offers grants for "narrative shifting" Detroit video projects

These days, many filmmakers bootstrap their video projects. And while films can be produced cheaper than ever before, it's still a relatively expensive art form. 

For those interested in telling video-based stories about Detroit, a unique funding opportunity put out a call for applicants this month. It's called the Detroit Narrative Agency, or DNA, and it will be offering up to 12 grants from $5,000 to $10,000 for "moving image projects...in and of Detroit." 

The grants, sponsored by Allied Media Projects (AMP), are unique because they prioritize Detroiters with "narrative shifting" projects, or stories that "advance the narratives of justice and liberation." The grant advisors' mission is based on the idea that Detroiters can best tell their own story, and that it should not be shaped by people less familiar with the city. Examples of "tired narratives" about Detroit include: "Detroit schools are bad," "Fetishizing Detroit," and "Detroit is a blank slate."

At least one member of a potential project must live in Detroit, Hamtramck, or Highland Park. 

The advisors, comprised mostly of Detroit artists, are also sensitive to issues of access, so AMP is offering use of their computer lab to fill out the online application. They held an informational workshop at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History earlier in the month. Also, grantees will participate in a "capacity building program" from August 2016 to March 2017.

Application deadline for Detroit Narrative Agency grants is June 24 at midnight. For more information, go to https://www.alliedmedia.org/dna.
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