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Packard Plant developer outlines grand plans for Detroit

Peruvian developer Fernando Palazuelo made big headlines in 2013 when he purchased the long-abandoned Packard Plant on Detroit's east side. The property, which consists of 47 buildings and spans 40 acres, is perhaps the most daunting re-development project in all of the city of Detroit, which is saying a lot. Nonetheless, Palazuelo appears to be moving forward with plans for the massive ruin. According to Crain's Detroit Business, he has retained an architecture firm (Albert Kahn Associates) and a general contractor (O'Brien Construction Co.) to begin work on the rehab of a 150,000-sq-ft administrative building on the Packard property.

According to the same Crain's piece, however, those plans represent only a fraction of Palazuelo's Detroit ambitions:

"[Palazuelo] said in an interview with Crain's last week that he plans to make offers to buy five of greater downtown's most storied buildings: the 255,000-square-foot Book Tower and adjoining 260,000-square-foot Book Building; the 996,000-square-foot Penobscot Building; and the Albert Kahn Building and Fisher Building in the New Center Area, which total 925,000 square feet."

The Peruvian developer claims that he has the backing of a Lima-based private equity firm with over $500 million in assets.

Read more about Palazuelo's Detroit plans in Crain's Detroit Business.

Detroit gets several massive new murals

Last month, it appeared as if the city of Detroit was declaring war on mural art. On Oct. 15, the Motor City Muckraker reported that city officials had issued tickets to building owners along the Grand River Creative Corridor, declaring large-scale murals on their buildings' walls to be "graffiti," despite the fact that all works had been commissioned. Significant public outcry followed on social media, and Mayor Duggan's office responded quickly by rescinding the tickets.

Since then, public muralists have forged ahead with new large-scale works on prominent buildings around the city. Here's a quick roundup of three recent projects:

Albert Kahn mural, Russell Industrial Center, 1600 Clay St.

Detroit artist Kyle Danley recently completed a mural celebrating Albert Kahn, one of Detroit's most famous architects, on the side of the Russell Industrial Center, a Kahn-designed building. The Metro Times recently highlighted Danley and his mural in this feature. The Kahn mural, which is located on the northwest side of Building 2 of the Russell Industrial Center, joins the iconic "Chimera" mural by artist Kobie Solomon that is located on the building's west side and is visible from I-75. A mural reveal is planned for the Russell's Fall Open House happening Saturday, Nov. 15 at 1600 Clay St. Find event details here.

"Rise Up" mural in Milwaukee Junction

Curbed Detroit recently highlighted the emergence of a new mural on a vacant industrial building just blocks away from the Russell Industrial Center in the Milwaukee Junction neighborhood. Entitled " "Rising Up, Back on the Street," the massive 6,000-square-foot mural of a roaring tiger is the work of Los Angeles-based Australian artist David "Meggs" Hooke.

HopCat Detroit murals

The Grand River Creative Corridor and the "4731 Group" are curating five murals by Detroit artists Fel3000ftElmerMaltMelo and Kobie Solomon on the exterior walls of HopCat Detroit's new location on Woodward Avenue at Canfield in Midtown. The murals are currently in-progress, so go check out the artists at work. For more details on the HopCat project, check out this piece by Motor City Muckraker's Steve Neavling.

Flower mural in West Village

On Agnes Street between Parker and Van Dyke -- across the street from the new Red Hook Detroit coffee shop and new-ish restaurants Detroit Vegan Soul and Craft Work -- a large-scale mural is being painted. The mural appears to be the work of artist Ouizi, who has a similarly flower-themed painting on the back wall inside Corktown's Astro Coffee.  

Photo via Grand River Creative Corridor's Facebook page.

New Packard owner joins Freep Film Fest panel

Great to hear Fernando Palazuelo, who bought the Packard Plant in last year's foreclosure auction is in town and talking publicly about his massive redevelopment project.

Curbed Detroit reports that at last week's premier of the doc Packard: The Last Shift he told the audience that he will have a redevelopment plan for the site within three to four months. Sounds mighty good to us.

Read on here.

Is Packard plant going down? Maybe, maybe not

Finances appear to be an issue for Cristini, who did not return several calls from the Free Press on Friday. He told the Environmental Protection Agency last year that he didn't have the resources to pay $35,000 for cleanup costs at the plant. His company, Bioresource, owes $760,000 in back city and county property taxes. The city has a separate lien against the owner for $400,000 in unpaid taxes, a spokeswoman said.


Video stars: DetroitUnspun tunes into Data Driven Detroit

The pictures say it all. Well, no: Data Driven Detroit's Kurt Metzger and his charts say it all during episode 11 of DetroitUnspunTV. Plan to spend a good half hour getting an education on proper council re-districting that manages to keep the integrity of neighborhoods intact. Metzger knows his stuff.

Watch the video, commercial free, here.

Upstart Boat Magazine creates Detroit issue

It was a lazy month for London ad agency owners Davey and Erin Spens. The pair, fascinated by magazines and travel, took an unusual vacation -- renting an office in Sarajevo, bringing their two coworkers along to pen a magazine offering readers a true glimpse of the formerly war-torn city.

After some help from writer Dave Eggers, who introduced the first issue of Boat Magazine with one of his short stories, the pair are at it again. They came to Detroit to produce their second issue -- a $12 "antidote to lazy journalism," printed on beautiful matte paper, with an article from Jeffrey Eugenides and interviews with Ben Wallace, Alex Winston and Jessica Hernandez.

We found one excerpt, a photo essay on Detroit food, in The Guardian:

We headed down there on a Saturday morning to find a bustling area filled with vegetable stalls, and thousands of people from all over Detroit and the surrounding states shopping for produce for home or business. The must-haves are the ribs from Berts, but we were as taken by the market across the freeway, with its walls painted in murals of meat, fish and cheese, which are sold inside.

Buy it here

The business of art, and Heidelberg Street

While art and commerce can be uneasy bedfellows (how to put a price on creativity; and whether it should be judged in those terms), a new study from the Center for Creative Community Development at Williams College proves one Detroit attraction satisfies both spheres.

Tyree Guyton's Heidelberg Project is more than an indoor-outdoor art exhibition -- it's a serious revenue-builder for the city. The study found that the project attracts $3.4 million in economic activity to Wayne County every year. That's partly because 70 percent of the more than 50,000 visitors who make their way to Heidelberg Street every year are from outside the county. Guyton's vision has also created 40 jobs in the region.


"The Detroit and wider Detroit region faces a wide array of challenges," Sheppard said. "I don't think it's correct to say that art and cultural organizations and projects alone can completely turn around the economy of Detroit ... but I think arts and culture projects like the HP are (part of that)."

Connect the dots here.

Revisiting the legacy of Belle Isle landscape artist Frederick Olmsted

As the nation's founding father of public parks, Frederick Olmsted is most celebrated for his East Coast creations, like New York's Central Park and Prospect Park. Canny locals know his imaginative green thumb extended to the Midwest, including our own most famous city green space, Belle Isle.

While Belle Isle's appearance has strayed from Olmsted's original intent, his sinuous, weaving canals tracing through the island park are virtually untouched.


I took a boat tour of the canals, accompanied by Keith Flournoy, Belle Isle's ever-resourceful park manager. (We were in a small, motorized launch, but you could get pretty much the same experience by renting a paddleboat.) We glided past weeping willows and under a series of wonderfully varied footbridges. "This is how Olmsted meant this park to be seen," Mr. Flournoy said.

Find out about Olmsted's other Mid-American works here.

PBS examines city's urban garden and sustainability issues

Journalist Desiree Cooper asks the tough questions about urban farming and Detroit's future on the DPTV series Sustainable Detroit, which aired its second episode Sunday nationally on PBS. She talks of the next wave of fortune-seekers to the city -- not property-flippers, but hoe-wielding gardeners who see promoting urban agriculture as a necessary next step for repairing, as Cooper says, the city's social fabric.


"If you're a caring person and you're surrounded by what seems to be just nothingness, it's a heavy, heavy burden," said Myrtle, adding that the gardens are a visible sign that someone on the block values the land, themselves and others. "When property is neglected, it says, 'We don't care, we can get away with dumping, and we can get away with vile behavior because nobody is watching.'" What they are really planting, said Myrtle, is a revolution in values.

Check out Cooper's blog, and cllick here to watch the video.

Art, bikes and a beautiful day at Anna Scripps Park

To celebrate its first year of work, the dynamo arts organization Forward Arts added a new event to its repertoire -- the donation-based Art Ride, which took 100 patrons to lesser-ventured city creations like Hamtramck Disneyland, Heidelberg satellite project Street Folk 2 and Power House Productions.

The bike ride culminated at Woodbridge's Anna Scripps Park, where Access Arts hosted seven installations and a number of workshops and showcases from its students. As the Knight Arts blog reports, over 15 organizations and stakeholders came together to put on the show.


This is a clear example of why art improves the quality of our lives. On a sunny day, kids built forts with their family and neighbors, and a diverse crowd admired the art pieces, while mingling in the park and snaking on delicious treats from the Pink FlaminGO! food truck. It created a positive energy that people were attracted to, and everyone walked away with a little bit of culture, whether (sic) they expected to or not.

Photographs and more available here.

One dream, many voices: the battle to redesign Detroit

The Christian Science Monitor made Detroit the subject of an exhaustive cover story on the struggle between the city's power players -- union heads, city officials, neighborhood leaders, and more -- to create a plan for right-sizing both the city's landscape and services it provides to citizens. This article digs beyond the cliches to provide a balanced look at the varied interests and stakeholders involved in Detroit's immediate plans for renewal, from the Mayor's office to the one-acre urban farm.


Evidence of that small-town environment is the escalation of urban farms in Detroit that are repurposing empty lots. There are 875 urban farms and community gardens operating throughout the city, a network of which is providing affordable, pesticide-free food at neighborhood farmers' markets, restaurants and retail outlets, according to Detroit Works Project data. Green growth is everywhere – from small tomato plantings in a patch of a corner lot on a residential street to large orchard tracts planned by John Hantz, a local businessman who plans to build "the world's largest urban farm" in Detroit.Read the rest of the story here.

Conner Creek to host Detroit River kayaking tours

Hey, East Side Model D readers -- we've got the lead on a summer outing just for you. Residents of these East Side zip codes -- 48205, 48207, 48211, 48213, 48214, 48215, 48224, and 48234 -- are eligible to participate in a day of kayaking along the Detroit River. The kayak adventure is presented by the Conner Creek Greenway, a project put on by the Detroit Eastside Community Collaborative. For only $5 a head, paddlers will explore both the Detroit Rive, the Fisher Mansion and the numerous canals along the waterfront.

Two tours will embark on Aug. 13 from Maheras Gentry Park where Conner meets the river at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. We can't think of a better way to enjoy the city's natural splendor (while keeping cool!). Click here for more information and contact Libby or Caitlin at 313-571-2800 ext. 1159 to register for either expedition.

Go (Mid)west, young man -- Detroit, the new frontier

A century and a half ago, adventurers, dreamers and gamblers alike headed west to seek freedom and fortune. A new article in YES! Magazine hails Detroit as the new American frontier for the modern-day visionary. Urban agriculture, cheap land, yes -- Detroit has these things, and more. But, author Aaron M. Renn notes, the city's relatively lax attitude avoids a pattern of interference, which often hampers development in stronger cities. And that's birthed a community of "self-determinants," working together to create something closer to utopia out of the ruins.


Whether this trend really pumps life back into Detroit remains to be seen. But it has done one essential thing: it has created an aspirational narrative of success in Detroit that other Americans might imagine themselves being a part of. If that starts to attract people in sufficient numbers to reverse core city population decline, Detroit could be at the start of the long road back.

Say yes. Read more here.

Grace Lee Boggs: How a Detroit Summer plants the seeds of revolution

When longtime Detroit activist Grace Lee Boggs started the Detroit Summer program in 1992, her vision was of a multi-generational collective sharing ideas and efforts to rebuild the community. She knew the work would be slow -- one empty lot, one potluck, one garden at a time.

But in a passage from her new book, The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the 21st Century, Boggs says she rejected the more typical (and large-scale) frameworks of a left-wing organization or sizable nonprofit, noting, "the system continues to function because neither carries the potential to transform society."


" ... our hope was that Detroit Summer would bring about a new vision and model of community activism -- one that was particularly responsive to the new challenges posed by the conditions of life and struggle in the postindustrial city. We did not feel this could be accomplished if control of our activities was ceded to the dictates of government or the private sector, even though this meant that we would be working on a small scale. However, by working on this scale, we could pay much closer and greater attention to the relationships we were building among ourselves and with communities in Detroit and beyond.

Read more here.

Juxtapoz artists make permanent home in Detroit

Detroit News columnist Donna Terek says she wasn't thrilled with last year's Juxtapoz art project, in which the California-based mag turned six national artists loose in an East Side Detroit neighborhood to work their magic on a street of abandoned homes. But two of those "fly-by-night" creatives are making a permanent nest in Detroit, and brought five more with them.

Artist Ryan Doyle, along with his family, will continue working on the three-story art installation he calls the "Treasure's Nest" while running an informal artists' hostel and planting an urban garden. And Doyle already sounds like a resident: "I don't know why everyone doesn't want to move to Detroit," he says.


In a way, what they're doing seems a hipster cliche by now: move to Detroit, buy a cheap house, plant an urban garden. But so what? Cliches develop because they are methods that work. Detroit could use more like these.

In fact, it can use a lot more. In a city bleeding population, can we afford to look askance at a transfusion of creative plasma like these enthusiastic Detroit-ophiles? We need as many of them as are willing to come. And, while I was skeptical about the magazine's helicopter artist drop, this is exactly the kind of thing that creates buzz about Detroit on the coasts where the majority of cultural opinion makers resides and publishes.

Check out the rest of the story here.

Crain's 20-somethings reshape the D's possibilities

One could call the 2011 class of Crain's "20 in their 20s" list up-and-comers, but we here at Model D would argue that they're already here. The list celebrates Metro Detroiters who may not have made a mint, but are giving this region something back through their hard work, dedication and entrepreneurial spirit. A special shout-out goes to our Crain's award winners with bigtime Detroit proper connections; among them Hostel Detroit's Emily Doerr, the Imagination Station's Jerry Paffendorf (who's quoted below), Amy Ruby of the Detroit Derby Girls and Jason Malone, who founded the Midnight Golf Program.


"I think people want opportunities to engage with the city, and they're not offered them," he said. "I think people respond to something like that. ... One of the things we realized with our work, there are many, many things you can do in the world and it's very difficult to get people excited about them. ... You've got to present these things in such a way that they're fun and inviting; not to make light of problems, but there's a way to present things and be open for business that doesn't just focus on the dark parts."

Check the list out here.

Urbanophile takes a Heidelberg detour

One of our favorite collections of urban tales and travels, the Urbanophile blog recently began posting a series of stories published by contributor Brendan Crain from 2007 to 2010. Crain writes like a poet, as exampled by his Heidelberg Project essay, which remains one of the most thoughtful narratives to invoke artist Tyree Guyton's vision that we've seen. Read, and enjoy.


The Heidelberg Project is a very concrete visual manifestation of this ballet. It teaches the disenfranchised and the isolated how to shape the world around them into something beautiful. In a way, it is the most public kind of public place: the kind where the planned social infrastructure failed, and the people moved in, did what they do, and created something really useful.

Read the post here.

Detroit Ice House shows up in Art in America

It's almost spring and the Detroit Ice House is behind us. The next step to the project is deconstruction. However, the pure art of the project still lingers not only in our minds here in Detroit but also through the media. Art in America is an international art mag, concentrating on the contemporary. And the Detroit Ice House is in it.

Excerpt from Art in America:

Neighborhood residents flocked to have their photos taken in front of the house. The architectural installation morphed into a destination, an informal gathering spot for a cup of hot chocolate and conversations. It is easy for exhibitions in blighted areas to feel condescending, and this one took great risks by looking like the outsider art intallations-cum-tourist attractions that dot the Midwest. But Holm and Radune ingratiated themselves early by opened lines of dialogue and funding a food and clothing drive for those in need. Consummate hosts, neighbors responded by serving as community liaisons, quick with an account of the districts heydays and a verbal tour of the surroundings.

Using Kickstarter, an online fundraising incubator for creative initiatives, Radune and Holm raised $11,000, primarily from private donations. That sum went toward acquiring the proper permits from a local organization devoted to redevelopment [Ed. note: See correction below], and paying a hefty water bill (an estimated 20,000 gallons). 

Read the entire article here.

Fast Company asks: Could an inch save Detroit?

There are a lot of bottom-up things happening around town these days. Whether is urban ag or Toby Barlow writing something in the New York Times, Detroit has a lot going on. None probably more interesting than selling the city to people inch by inch.

Excerpt from Fast Company:

What to do? Well, you could farm it, like John Hantz is proposing. But as Greg Lindsay pointed out here, that might not be the best idea: "With 95% of its remaining buildings still inhabitable, inner-city Detroit should at least be an urban Petri dish."

It should be, it can be, and it is. Design99 and Motor City boosters like Toby Barlow are advocating saving those houses--and the city--by buying them up cheap (super cheap) and fixing them into homes for artists, locals, or transplants.

Then there's Loveland, Jerry Paffendorf's "wild social network of people, literally built out of the dirt." Paffendorf bought a vacant lot for $500 and sold it, an inch at a time for $1 per inch, to almost 600 "inchvestors" around the world. It's called Plymouth (pictured above).

Now, Loveland is in phase 2. Paffendorf doesn't have a new lot to sell, so he's selling so-called "ghost inches" in order to raise money to fund any number of as-yet unspecified, but sure to be... uh... interesting projects on-line and throughout the city. You can inchvest through kickstarter here.

Read the entire article here.

The Detroit girl's guide to graffiti

Detroit Girls About Town, a web site that's aimed at keeping Detroit girls in the know, had a great idea: a guide to graffiti. So, the enlisted artist Shades to list some of the best spots in the city to peep some damn good graffiti. The list, taking you from the Dequindre Cut to MCS, could make a nice little afternoon tour on a lazy sunday.

Excerpt from Detroit Girls About Town:

1) Dequindre Cut.
The best place in the city to see graffiti and get into the feeling of what we [graffiti artists] experience would be the Dequindre Cut. It's an old, shut down train line that ran south to the warehouses on the river and north towards the major lines that would lead the trains out for industry. The two-mile area is now, for your pleasure, a bike/jogging trail from the river to eastern market.

Read the entire article here.

Grading Time Inc.'s 'Assignment Detroit'

Time Inc. has descended onto Detroit either like a thunderstorm or as liberators, depending on who you talk to. There has been a blitz of blog posts, features stories, and videos from its self anointed "D Shack" portraying the Detroit they've seen so far.

Videos include an interview with K-9 to Five's Liz Blondy, a piece on 85 cent hamburgers, asking Detroiters why they love and hate the city, and another piece about how Detroiters "survive."

Stories have covered entrepreneurs, housing costs, Detroit's decline, and Ernie Harwell.

So, what's your take? How would you grade their assignment so far? Is it the same ol' same ol'? Or is it something different?

Our own media outlets and bloggers have been discussing the coverage as well. Read a piece by Crain's Detroit business here.

Listen to an interview with Daniel Okrent -- writer of Time's Detroit cover story -- on WDET's "Detroit Today" here.

And, last but not least, Dyspathy's "Assignment Detroit: The Drinking Game" will keep you reminded of the Detroit cliche's as well as keep you totally sauced when reading through Time's project.

Let us know what you think about the Time blitz on our Facebook page here.

Check out the Time Inc. coverage here.

Time: The Detroit Blog - A speical Time Inc. project

Time Inc.'s interest in Detroit has been well documented so far. But, in case you missed it, the big media machine has bought a house in East English Village and will set up shop there for a year to cover Detroit and all that it brings - both negative and positive.

In this week's In The News we have a piece up written by the New York Times, as well as a mention in the Tweet of the Week.

However, is a direct link to the Time Inc.'s Detroit blog. Track their work as they track ours.

See the blog here.

Tweet of the Week: Do what your mother says

So vacation is behind us and we're back with the Tweet of the Week. So, what do you have to say?

You should listen to your mother @miel_dulce, always listen to your mother.

@miel_dulce: my mom said to stay in detroit, im totally thinking about it...

We don't know where you are, but we wish you were still in Detroit, too. You can always come back.

@Bizemisty: I wish I was still in Detroit. I hate this place.

Congratulations Earthworks Urban Farm. Keep up the good work. And thanks @AshleySFlintoff for the heads up.

@AshleySFlintoff: Congrats to Earthworks Urban Farm - Detroit's 1st Certified Organic Farm! Check out their work at www.cskdetroit.org/earthworks

Exactly @dlexus2001, don't forget about us, whoever you are.

@dlexus2001: dont' forget bout detroit

And finally, the winner, for our first week back from vacation Tweet of the Week is:

@flamingowojack: Just got back from John K. King Used Bookstore in downtown Detroit. I'm there every week, but I find "new" stuff every time I go there...

True that, @flamingowojack. True that.

Keep reading. Keep tweeting. And see you next week.

Follow us on Twitter here.

Listen up: WDET's 'Home Is More Than Our House' series continues through July

WDET 101.9 FM reporters Rob St. Mary and Zak Rosen continue their coverage this week in their "Home is More Than Our House" series on how Detroiters are facing and fighting the foreclosure crisis.

Listen to Detroit Today on WDET this week for their stories. The program airs from 1-3 p.m. weekdays on 101.9 FM.

This week, Zak will be talking about the collaborate effort to stabilize Boston-Edison with median-income families, which in turn stabilizes the surrounding areas. Also, check out the great piece he did on Habitat for Hamtramck here.

Rob St. Mary offers a story on finding help for the Jewish community in Metro Detroit.

For more on the series, check out their blog: wdetmortgagecrisis.com

fDi Magazine names Detroit a city of the future

fDi Magazine, an investment mag produced by the Financial Times, released their cities of the future list and Detroit fell in at No. 10 for the largest cities of the future.


fDi Magazine’s North American Cities of the Future 2009/10 shortlists, which took more than six months to research and involved the data collection of nearly 400 North American cities, ranks San Francisco, California, as the top large city of the future, followed closely by Austin, Texas. Of the large cities surveyed, San Luis Potosí in Mexico ranks top for cost effectiveness, while Charlotte, North Carolina, ranks top for FDI strategy according to the judging panel.

Read the entire article here.

Tweet of the Week: Boats and dinosaurs... sorta

We'll start our list of the week's best Detroit-centric tweet with first-place winner @onslowlovesme, who wowed us with this awesome little cryptic bit: "Detroitosaurus wrecks"

Not sure exactly what you meant, but something about it sounds just right.

On to the runners up:

@JViniece: In recovery mode. Relay for Life detroit was a success. Over $71,000 raised. I stayed up the entire night. It was really great!

We're hard pressed to find a better reason to stay up all night than to raise $71,000 to fight cancer. Congratulations and thanks to all Detroiters who participated in this wonderful charity event.

@JMoneyRed: Detroiters : we have hella fresh lettuce grown @ TheYesFarm on E Farnsworth St 2 give-away ASAP! Hit me!

Free veggies! We can't argue with that.

@cassetto: First row of the season at the DETROIT boat club! A-ma-zing!

That's awesome! Was T-Pain there? Any chance we can get ON A BOAT with you?

@Newwaycorktown: extremely excited about the Roosevelt Park revitalization. This was one of our first targets upon moving to Corktown!!!

We're excited about this too, and looking forward to hearing more about all of the ways Detroiter's are making the city's summer more beautiful. Keep us posted!

Keep reading. Keep tweeting. And follow us on Twitter here.

The bottom-up process is the key to renewal, revival, Richard Florida says

Richard Florida is that creative class guy. Some agree with him, some don't. Wherever you fall on Florida, he does make some good points in his piece in the Atlantic that Detroit should pay attention to.


The most successful shrinking strategies, like Pittsburgh's, are not top-down affairs driven by all-knowing governments, but organic, bottom-up, community-based efforts. While Pittsburgh government and business leadership pressed for large-scale urban renewal - stadium-building, convention centers, and more far-fetched schemes for local mag-lev trains - its real  turnaround was driven by organic, bottom-up initiatives. Community groups, local foundations, and non-profits - not city hall or business-led economic development groups -  were the driving forces behind neighborhood stabilization and redevelopment, university-based economic development, water-front revitalization, park improvements, and green building among others.  This kind of bottom-up process takes considerable time and perseverance. In Pittsburgh's case, it took the better part of a generation to achieve stability and the potential for longer-term revival.

All of which brings us back to a big question: What about people versus place strategies? I agree with Glaeser: people must be the priority. Especially in tough economic times, public investment should flow toward people. Early childhood investments, as James Heckman has shown, are the most important, longest-running and highest-paying investments we make.

Read the entire article here.

Council by Districts initiative is vital to Detroit, Francis Grunow says in Freep

The Council by Districts initiative is vital to Detroit writes Detroit resident, WSU law student, and occasional Model D writer Francis Grunow in the Detroit Free Press.


Which leads me back to the beginning -- we must also take the next clear step to help ensure that districts become reality. A coalition of groups known as Detroiters for City Council by Districts is pushing an important ballot initiative to place this question before voters in November.

Passing this initiative is vital. It would serve as an insurance policy for the citizens of Detroit. There is no guarantee that the charter review process will result in council by districts. In fact, when the council-by-districts question was last considered as part of a charter review in 1993, it was turned down. A successful initiative will mean that the charter debate won't be about whether we need council districts, but how best to implement council districts.

Read the entire article here.

Tweet of the Week: Safety first, Detroit Zoo, and the happy feet skaters triumph

I'm not sure if you've heard but the Red Wings lost the Stanley Cup to the Pittsburgh Penguins. And though we here at Model D love Pittsburgh, especially our sister pub Pop City, we hate the taste of humble pie. We'd much rather have a Coney.

Anyway, let's put the ice behind us and get on with the water. It is summer, after all. Let's also drop in on the Detroit tweeters. And find out what's up.

Here are this weeks memorable tweets:

@ClariceTinsley: Hello Twittizens...70 & sunny in Detroit. FOX 2 is showing the Red Bull Air Races over the Detroit River. Great action & gorgeous sight.

Twittizens? That's funny... So, even if you didn't get a chance to see the air races in person, you probably heard them. Whether its downtown, or around town, we love a good excuse to get out and enjoy the city, as long as it doesn't have you running for cover.

@heathermarie356: is at the Detroit Zoo with my BFF & 2 nieces! Beautiful day!

It seemed like the whole city was basking in the gorgeous weather we've had this past week...

Including this next tweeter, who was getting ready for what sounds like some serious porch-sitting:

@ChrisJMiller: Just finished rebuilding the porch on this house in Detroit. No one will fall off it now, railings are good.

Good work, Chris. Safety first!

And special props to this weeks all-star tweeter, for keeping a winning attitude even after the Wings' bummer of a loss last weekend.  Believe it or not, Detroiters can dish out complements as well as we take them...

@ktpupp: Oh BTW, good morning Detroit! Met some really cool Penguin fans last night. They praised the Wings & look forward to a rematch next year!

Still... It would have been nice to beat them to a pulp. In terms of hockey. Don't take the literally Pittsburgh... we're not that aggressive and weird here in Detroit.

Follow Model D on Twitter here.

Keep readin'. Keep tweetin'. And see you next week.

Song, video celebrates all Detroit has to offer

A couple put together a video celebrating the city's gems. It has a country twang, but we're not talking about John Rich's "Shuttin' Detroit Down." That's for the birds.

Check the video out here.

'Home Is More Than Our House': WDET's coverage of facing Detroit's mortgage crisis

Public radio station WDET FM and Model D have partnered to focus on Detroit's foreclosure crisis and different ways people and neighborhoods are dealing with the issue.

This week, WDET reporter Zak Rosen will have a piece on the citizens of the North End of Detroit, who are teaming up with the Greening of Detroit to reclaim 134 abandoned lots.

Rob St. Mary will have a piece on the Motor City Blight Busters and how foreclosures have affected their work.

Look for his work on the WDET "Home is More Than Our House" blog here. And listen to 101.9 FM during the Detroit Today show for more.

Detroit tweetin': Detroit's tweet of the week

Well, why not, right? It's a social media world and people have a lot to say - especially about our beloved city. So how about a Tweet of the Week?

This week, the big inaugural winner of our Tweet of the Week (can we call it a Tweek - get it!?) goes to @BrownSugarFX with this little gem that made us smile: Detroit smells delightfully of spring-time flowers.

This tweet showed up on a Thursday, in the afternoon. It was a nice little pick-me-up after a little bit of rain. And a nice reminder to stop and smell the flowers.

So, @BrownSugarFx, congratulations! You win a year's subscription to Model D. Keep smelling Detroit! Er, wait, keep smelling Detroit's flowers.

Here are a few runners up from the last week:

@eatsntreatsdet: Mon Treat: Taste Pizza Bar dwntwn Detroit +$5 MOJITOS ALL DAY +Best Pizza in the City +chic & urban vibe

'Cause everyone needs a Monday treat so why not with pizza and mojitos.

@AbraKhadaver: algo tiene "Put your hands up for Detroit" que hace que me guste

Not exactly sure what this means but I think it's positive. Asked a friend to translate over the internet. It was no help. Feel free to tweet us the translation here: @modeld.

@JamesDDickson: I have such a love-hate relationship with Detroit.

It's true, we all do. But, if you think about it, love gets boring after a while. Sometimes you need a little adversity to realize the love. Am I wrong?

Model D is looking for an intern or two for the summer

Model D is looking for an intern to help out on the editorial side of things. This position is unpaid except for any feature stories published. We're looking for one, maybe two, lucky candidates to work 15-20 hours a week. Interns will help out with various projects and events, update listings, write stories and get us coffee. No, just kidding, we get our own coffee.

A journalism background is a plus. Knowing the city is an even bigger plus. Knowing a little about online media is a bonus.

If interested please send a cover letter and resume to terry@modeldmedia.com.

Here's one more reminder: Model D is now on Twitter

It's been great so far, the tweeting. Though we'd just drop in one more reminder. So, everyone, keep tweeting. Can we call it a Model D Tweet Shop?

Follow us at Model D Twitter feed. Talk to us. Give us feedback. And stay engaged. Also, join our group on the other social media giant Facebook for updates.

On top of that, we'll be out covering Detroit's nightlife during the NCAA's Final Four. There are sponsored events by the NCAA but there are also a lot of un-sponsored events... If you know what we're sayin'. So, let us know where you'll be and what you'll be doing and we'll do the same for you.

See you out and about. www.twitter.com/modeld

Detroit's border shouldn't end at Eight Mile

The Detroit city council, as of late, could probably have its own VH1 reality show with all the drama, controversy, and, some would say, flat out ignorance it has portrayed. Lately, the question of division has cropped up and what is and isn't a Detroiter? Division is only productive when it comes to math and recycling. Yet, it seems as if some on the city council haven't figured that out yet, according to Detnews columnist Nolan Finley.


Why on earth would a city in such desperate straits build a wall between itself and its best potential allies?

A smarter marketing strategy would be to encourage more people to boast that they are citizens of Detroit, in spirit if not by address.

If more suburbanites identified themselves internally as Detroiters, it might put an end to our infernal turf wars.

And we'd have more folks who gave a damn that Detroit is rotting away, that it's under siege by the worst forces of urban life, that it's been neglected and abandoned and nobody outside our small corner of the world cares.

Instead, the council is advocating the very black-white, city-suburban divides that are responsible for Detroit's decline.

Read the entire article here.

Another piece from the Metro Times about being a Detroiter can be found here.

Want a little more Model D? Then follow us on Twitter

We're there. We've done it. We're on Twitter now. We have a Facebook group, might as well have a Twitter feed, too.

Our hope is to offer a little more insight into what we're doing and when we're doing it. We don't want it to just be another RSS feed.

So follow us. Talk to us. Give us feedback. And do it all right here: Model D Twitter feed

New initiative ensures Detroit's Near East Siders healthcare services

A new initiative on Detroit's Near East Side aims to bring healthcare services to its thousands of residents.


"This initiative is indicative of what we can achieve when the health care community comes together to solve a problem. The synergy of these efforts doesn't just solve a problem, it creates a model of health care delivery that is replicable elsewhere," said Chris Allen, Executive Director and CEO of the Health Authority. "We are pleased with the leadership of St. John Health and the many community organizations that have made this initiative possible."

"The collaborative effort undertaken on Detroit's East Side can be a model for development of the medical home for families in the area," explained Adam Jablonowski, Executive Director of the Wayne County Medical Society. Jablonowski also serves as Chair of the Health Authority's Provider Advisory Committee. "Now, we must move forward with the training of more primary care physicians to meet the challenge of delivering the care."

Read the entire article here.

Film development Web site says, 'Send them to Detroit'

CHUD.com (Cinematic Happenings Under Development) says Detroit's on it's way to more and more filming projects with it's 40 percent tax incentive for film makers.

In fact, just last week, the Detroit Free Press reported 13 new projects were signed.


Detroit is the new Shreveport.

Actually, "another Shreveport" is more accurate, as Michigan is just the latest state to offer up generous tax credits for feature film productions (New Mexico is another attractive suitor, which is why movie stars are now spotted roaming the dusty, windswept streets of Albuquerque). Though my Hollywood neighbors won't dig this too much, a part of me is happy to see Detroit getting some love on the big screen - even if they're mostly going to use it as another stand in for New York City.

Read the entire article here.

Check by check, MLK band getting closer to China trip

The Martin Luther King, Jr. marching band is nearing the $240,000 they must raise to play in the opening ceremony for the Olympics in Beijing.

On Wednesday, Detroit Lion Edwin Mulitalo will present a $10,000 check from his Big Ed's Band Foundation, putting their total at just over $200,000.


The band is the only one in Michigan invited by Music Celebrations International, an organization that promotes musicianship around the globe, to perform at the event. The organization invited one band from each state to play in China July 1-7.

The $75,000 gift from The Skillman Foundation, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and the Kresge Foundation will help send more than 75 students to China.

Read the entire article here.

Grad student debates options for Detroit's redevelopment

A University of Michigan graduate student in urban planning, Joseph Ciadella, crafts a cogent op-ed piece about Detroit corporate development strategy as opposed to smaller, organic strategies.


"Sustainability, local economy, and community are three pillars of the path not-yet taken in Detroit. A path that moves beyond downtown development, beyond 'cool cities.' The Imagination Economy can be an authentic expression of who we are," writes Jackie Victor, co-founder of Avalon Bakery, highlighting not only her business model, but also broader themes of local reliance and self-determination. These themes are not present on the same level in city redevelopment policies, given the uneven focus on downtown, which, much like suburban sprawl, ignores, displaces, and perpetuates racial and class divisions in society that have been a part of Detroit’s (and other cities) history for years.

Read the entire piece here.

MSHDA funds to target blight in Hamtramck, Detroit and Highland Park

The cities of Detroit, Highland Park and Hamtramck may be receiving funds from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority targeted at specific blighted properties.


Detroit’s targeted share is $2 million for 729 properties, while Highland Park and Pontiac each could receive $400,000 for 100 properties in each of their cities. Hamtramck’s targeted share is $52,000 for 13 properties.

In a news release, Gov. Jennifer Granholm said that “by providing resources to eliminate blight, we will help make neighborhoods safer for citizens and more inviting for businesses and economic investments."

Read the entire article here.

Design*Sponge offers savvy, comprehensive guide to Detroit design

Design*Sponge invited local blogger Sweet Juniper to write an entry on Detroit for its city design guide series. The result is super-thorough and manages to be egalitarian while separating the wheat from the chaff.


The importance of the automobile in Detroit’s history and decline cannot be understated, and it plays an equally important role in the area’s tradition of design. Automobile design is often ignored by mid-century enthusiasts who might prefer a Saarinen womb chair to a sweet 1957 Lincoln Premiere Two-Door Hardtop, though the origins of both can be traced here to the Detroit area. Not only is Detroit home to a large population of artists attracted to the affordable standard of living, available space, and inspirational post-industrial cityscape, but also many professional designers who work primarily in the automotive field.

Read the entire post here.

Mayor to unveil economic stimulus plan

In a speech to the Detroit Economic Club, Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick announced that he will unveil an economic stimulus plan that will include investments in new police and fire facilities, public works and neighborhood preservation among others.


He said the city had more to do to complete its revitalization and couldn't rely on anyone else.

"We are the cavalry," he said.

Read the entire article here.

$5.2M program aims to increase home ownership

The National Faith Home Buyers and Blight Busters have launched "Now's the Time to Buy Detroit," a $5.2 million fund intended to encourage home ownership in the city.


National Development Services Inc., a Detroit-based investment firm, has pledged $3.1 million while the Brewer Group, another investment firm based in New York, has pledged $2.1 million to the project. Movie actor Morris Chestnut, who has starred in dozens of movies including "Boyz n the Hood," "G.I. Jane," and "The Best Man," flew in to help promote the program and pledge an undisclosed amount of money.

"This is a phenomenal opportunity to give back to the people who have given so much to me," he said. "You’re not just placing people in homes, but educating people to help them stay in the homes."

Read the entire article here.

Neighborhood success stories to be shared at Skillman Kids Matter Here Summit

The Skillman Foundation will share success stories from its Good Neighborhoods program at a Kids Matter Here Summit Jan. 26 at the Detroit Science Center.

Attendees will hear from Detroiters in the Brightmoor, Chadsey/Condon, Cody/Rouge, Northend, Osborn, and Vernor neighborhoods who have been involved in the program. There will also be other community workshops and opportunities to learn about health, education and safety initiatives.

The keynote speaker will be John F. Barros, executive director of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, a nonprofit community-based planning and organizing entity rooted in the Roxbury/North Dorchester neighborhoods of Boston.

The event is from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Jan. 26 and offers free breakfast and lunch, child care and parking. For more information or to sign up go to: www.skillman.org

Detroit residential sales continue uptick

Detroit residential home sales in November showed a four percent increase in comparison with 2006's numbers. This is significant considering the decrease in sales everywhere else in Metro Detroit.


The increase is attributable to a combination of demand from young, urban pioneers and out-of-town investors, said Darralyn Bowers, president of Southfield-based ERA Bowers and Associates, which does a majority of its sales in Detroit.

She said data indicates a high level of cash buyers, meaning a lot of the sales are by people investing in residential real estate.

"We may not appreciate what an opportunity Detroit property is right now, but some people are," she said. "When this passes, we’ll see tremendous fortunes made."

Read the entire article here.

Detroit ranks 64 on list of world's most livable cities

Using data from 39 quality-of-life issues from 215 cities around the world, an international consulting company has ranked Detroit 64 on its list of the 100 most livable cities.

Detroit topped Prague (74), Dubai (80) and Shanghai (100).

Read the entire list here.

Wayne County's TURBO program spurs $40M in development

Wayne County's TURBO (Transforming Underdeveloped Residential and Business Opportunities) is being used to catalyze challenging developments -- $40 million in just its first year of operation.


Developers may get a 100 percent tax rebate for the first year of construction and an amount equal to 50 percent of their taxes in cash rebates over the next five years for new construction or total rehabilitation projects. Partial rehabilitation and projects involving brownfield development can also get cash rebates under the program.

TURBO incentives have been used to jump-start several developments, creating about 700 permanent and construction jobs, Ficano said. These include retail projects in Highland Park and Detroit.

Read the entire article here.

Crain's house party draws 900

Crain's Detroit Business' second annual Ultimate House Party drew 900 people. After visiting individual houses across the city, revelers converged at the Ren Cen.


Jerome Raska and Robbin Yelverton, co-owners of Detroit-based florist Blumz ... by JR Designs, opened their University District home to House Party guests both this year and last. About 20 partiers mingled inside of the historic home, which was built in 1926, and the backyard, which features a number of lush plants and floral arrangements.

Raska said he and Yelverton participated in the House Party because they wanted to showcase the historic homes in their neighborhood and the home they've lived in since 1997.

"We're very proud to be Detroit residents," Raska said.

Read the entire article here.

Crain's to host second Ultimate House Party

Crain's Detroit Business is hosting its second annual Ultimate House Party on Sept. 20, when people will get a chance to learn about living in Detroit by hanging out in a private residence. Then all guests head over to the Ren Cen for a big after-bash.

Find out more and register here.

Tons of fun on the agenda for this weekend

If you thought summer fun was over -- well, not quite yet. This weekend is jam-packed with a bike ride, art opening, art festival, music festival, pub crawl and a clean-up of Cass Park.

Check out:

The People's Art Festival at Russell Industrial Center: Art. Music. Art. Free.

The 6th Annual Tour de Troit bike ride: A two-wheeled tour of the Motor City.

The St. Albertus Music Festival: Cool bands + historic church + Polish food = good time.

The Detroit Synergy 5th Anniversary Pub Crawl: Nine downtown bars. 'Nuff said.

Black & Black Art Show at the UFO Gallery: All black artwork by 12 artists from Detroit, New York and Rotterdam.

Cass Park clean-up: A fitness track will be built at the park in addition to the clean-up. Men's Health Magazine will be covering the event. To register, email volunteer@recycledetroit.com or call 313-770-1571.

LISC community development awards to be given Sept. 20

Detroit Local Initiatives Support Corporation, better known as LISC Detroit, will celebrate the success of the city's community development corporations at its annual awards luncheon on Sept. 20.

The luncheon is at noon at the Antheneum Hotel in Greektown. For ticket information contact Detroit LISC at 313-596-8222.

Forbes names Detroit 21st best city for singles

In its annual rankings of how well singles cities fare in 40 metropolises, Detroit came out twenty-first.

Read about Detroit's ranking here and the magazine's intro to the feature here.

Tour de Troit will roll again Sept. 15

The Sixth Annual Tour de Troit will roll again on September 15. The 40-mile bike ride will take in the sites of Detroit's eastside, including Eastern Market, Lafayette Park, Indian Village and Belle Isle.

Find out more and register here.

TheDetroiter.com tells what came before the galleries

Nick Sousanis has done the city a service by compiling short histories of some of Detroit's art galleries. Fascinating read.


While “loft” living has become trendy now – they’re creating such things from scratch in Royal Oak and even in Detroit (which seems such a betrayal of the definition of such spaces), this embrace of reuse of spaces has long been championed by arts. It is in keeping with the vision of preservationists, and certainly environmentalists – it’s reduce, reuse, recycle all in one act. It just makes sense on a lot of levels.

Read the entire article here.

Crain's special issue showcases living in the D

Crain's Detroit Business has published an extremely comprehensive guide to living and investing in the D, including a slide show, views into two days of five households' lives, information on tax credits and much, much more.

The theme is definitely clear: some people living here actually like it.

The special section's gateway page is here.

Lasalle Bank commits start-up funds to DEGC to help eliminate "food desert"

Lasalle Bank has committed $15,000 to help the Detroit Economic Development Corporation establish a fund that would target areas of Detroit in need of fresher food options.


The DEGC could complete an agreement with a consultant for setting up the fund soon, said Olga Savic, the DEGC's director of strategy and external affairs.

The fund will be patterned after a one in Pennsylvania called the Fresh Food Financing Initiative. The 3-year-old fund, which started with $38 million, has financed 26 grocery stores to date with $23 million in financing, Savic said.

The financing fund ties into the DEGC's work with Social Compact, a national nonprofit it contracted with to identify market strengths and needs in Detroit.

"We were already planning to look at this issue of grocery stores and to be able to have a data-driven strategy around choosing sites for grocery stores," Savic said.

Read the entire article here.

Detroit Renaissance unveils regional revival strategies

Details of Detroit Renaissance's "Road to Renaissance" plan have been unveiled. The three-year plan is expected to cost $75-80 million, $50 million of which will go towards business accelerators -- including TechTown and NextEnergy.

Two of the 11 strategies include:

  • Establishing a “Creative Corridor” on Woodward Avenue that attracts and retains creative talent, inspires output from the creative community and increases the creative industries locally.

  • Starting a “Creative Business Accelerator” in the corridor to foster start-ups and accelerate the growth of existing creative businesses.
Read the entire here.

TONIGHT: TRU's quarterly meeting to discuss DDOT efforts to bring rapid transit to Detroit

Transportation Riders United will host its quarterly meeting April 17. The meeting will discuss DDOT's Detroit Transit Options for  Growth Study as well as TRU's latest projects.

The meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. at the Guardian Building.

10-year plan to end homelessness announced

A multi-faceted plan intended to end homelessness in Detroit, Highland Park and Hamtramck has been developed by the Homeless Action Network. It targets five key areas: prevention, housing, supportive services, community engagement and collaboration.


The plan, created over the past two years, includes input from numerous stakeholder and community partners in the three cities, including the Homeless Action Network,, City Connect, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and Cynthia Pasky, CEO and President of Strategic Business Solutions.

Read the entire article here.

AT&T donates $1.2M for youth technology access

The AT&T Foundation has made a $1.2 million grant to the Detroit Youth Foundation to provide Detroit youth with access to technology.


"The AT&T grant will allow Detroit youth the opportunity to have practical, hands-on experience using technology," said Gerald K. Smith, DYF president and CEO. "Access to technology is vital in today’s world. This funding will provide our youth with the experience they need in order to succeed in the future."

Read the entire article here.

Community Foundation to allocate $15M to Riverfront-adjacent neighborhoods

Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan has pledged $15 million to the near east-side neighborhoods that extend north of the Detroit River and the Riverfront Conservancy's investment along its edge.


"There's a lot of investment on the riverfront, and that's great," said Community Foundation President Mariam Noland. "But the expectation has always been that there would be a broader positive impact on the city and the region; this fund is helping to make that happen. What's interesting to Ford, Kellogg and us is that both the new and the old neighborhoods benefit from what is happening within them and around them."

Read the entire article here.

Ford Foundation commits $25M to Detroit, $75M more possible

Ford Foundation has pledged $25 million to an economic development fund that the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan is quietly assembling -- and may reach $100 million when complete.


William Hanson, director of communications and technology, declined to comment on the economic development fund the Community Foundation is pulling together but said, “Michigan philanthropy can bring significant resources — both financial and intellectual — to the table, so it makes a lot of sense for foundations to consider collaborating on critical issues.”

Read the entire article here.
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