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Retail-design executive says look to Detroit for future of retail

The future of retail will be in Detroit, said Ken Nisch, chairman of JGA Inc., during a presentation at the National Retail Federation's Big Show in Manhattan. According to an article in the Detroit News, the large crowd included major international retail executives and experts who wanted to understand how to best integrate online shopping with brick-and-mortar stores. 

Despite the fact that upscale shopping has not been central to Detroit for 40 years, few national vendors opened stores in the city, and shopping malls have never had a place here, Detroit is well positioned in retail. Shopping malls are beginning to die out, after all, and Nisch thinks Detroit is well-positioned to thrive.

Todd Sachse, vice president of Broder & Sachse Real Estate, agrees with Nisch. He says that about $5.2 billion has went towards development projects downtown Detroit, and that more retail will follow. 

Louis Aguilar writes, "Detroit's emerging scene of DIY retailers is full of unique customer experiences, Nisch contends. They include Detroit is the New Black, an apparel and accessories shop focusing on local designers; and the Peacock Room, a women's apparel and accessories store with a vintage bent. And it's attracting more unique retailers such as City Bakery, a New York cafe and bakery with locations in Manhattan, Tokyo and now, the Fisher Building in New Center."

Nisch thinks it's possible national chains like Target might locate in Detroit in the coming years, but the stores would be smaller and offer products that coincide with the city and its people.

Have thoughts about downtown Detroit? The Downtown Detroit Partnership wants to know them

Do you go to downtown Detroit often? Do you live, work, play there? And if you don't, why not?

No matter your level of engagement with downtown, The Downtown Detroit Partnership (DDP) and the Downtown Detroit Business Improvement Zone (BIZ) want your input. And your thoughts will help shape, and hopefully improve, services and future planning downtown.

DDP and BIZ have put together a survey, which takes about 15 minutes to complete, that includes questions about the activities you engage in downtown, whether you think there's a good mix of retail, if it's easy to access, and more. Your answers are completely confidential. 

By providing feedback, you're eligible to win one of four prizes: two tickets to the Tigers 2018 Home Opener, a MoGo Detroit's bike share Annual Pass, People Mover Annual Pass, and QLINE Annual Pass.

Take the Downtown Detroit Perception Survey here

DC3 and Urban Manufacturing Alliance release report on Detroit's manufacturing potential

As we detailed in an article in December 2017 about whether Detroit can become a textile manufacturing hub, a study was in the works to help answer that very question. The Detroit Creative Corridor Center (DC3) has been partnering with the Urban Manufacturing Alliance (UMA) to analyze manufacturing needs, assets, gaps, and opportunities in Detroit and five other similarly-sized cities. 

"It was important to us Detroit be included in this national study because designing and manufacturing is in our community's DNA," Olga Stella, executive director of DC3, said in a statement. "With the Detroit City of Design initiative and other efforts underway, now is the right time to focus on this sector."

That 40-page study, "The State of Urban Manufacturing," has been released to the public, and details five key findings:
  1. Small-scale manufacturers want to grow, but are having trouble finding technical support
  2. There is ample land in Detroit, but few options for manufacturers who want to expand their capacity
  3. More capital is needed
  4. Businesses are having trouble retaining and training skilled labor
  5. While there is a rich network of industrial suppliers in Southeast Michigan, little information is available about how to access them
The report also offers some recommendations. Much like Detroit Future City, UMA believes that, "An appropriate stakeholder agency might undertake a market study to help private sector developers to warm up to the opportunity to create clean, flexible, move-in-ready space for makers—and to identify any subsidy that might be needed."

To help in this effort, the partnership also created a Detroit manufacturing ecosystem map. 

There's clearly a lot to do, but this study helps provide a roadmap for how to create longterm, sustainable manufacturing in Detroit. 

Read the full report here

New online publication to highlight Southeast Michigan's mobility assets

Driven, a new online publication devoted to telling the story of Southeast Michigan's mobility economy, has launched in partnership with the Detroit Regional Chamber, and local economic development organizations and businesses.

"Realizing the next-generation mobility story and our leadership in the industry was not one that was actively being told in a singular place, we came together collectively to highlight our strengths as a region," says Justin Robinson, vice president of business attraction at the Detroit Regional Chamber. "We are working together to engage our local partners and the region's mobility leaders to advance the narrative through the lens of how metro Detroit is leading the global race towards next-generation mobility."


With Issue Media Group (IMG) as the editorial partner, the Detroit Regional Chamber, along with its automotive initiative MICHauto, and a network of regional stakeholders have come together to identify and capture the story of companies, talent, investment, innovation, and emerging assets that are shaping the region's mobility future. Stakeholders are engaged to uncover, capture and promote stories relating to mobility-led economic transformation in the Detroit region.
The site will also curate national and global news that add to the narrative of Detroit's continued leadership in the space of connected, autonomous, shared, and electric vehicles.


More than a century ago, the Detroit region put the world on wheels and changed the transportation landscape forever. Our community built the modern automotive industry and in this process evolved into the densest cluster of automotive assets on the planet. Today, this world-class ecosystem of automakers, suppliers, and innovators are not sitting on the sidelines as the industry evolves towards a connected, shared, electric and autonomous future. In fact, it is leading this revolution.
Driven is the story of how the Detroit region and our world class companies and institutions will shape the way people, goods, and services move for the next 100 years.


"Driven is meant to be a collaborative representation of the region," says Brian Boyle, CEO of Issue Media Group. "We are encouraging those who are interested in sharing their mobility stories with the editor—whether it be of talent, economic development, or innovation—to be a part of this bigger narrative."


The first full issue of Driven was published on Jan. 9 with new issues to be published monthly. The website will be updated weekly with curated stories from across the media. The publication will feature the work of local writers, journalists and photographers. Stories will also appear in Issue Media Group's Southeast Michigan publications, including Model D, Concentrate (Ann Arbor), and Metromode (Metro Detroit).

Detroit City FC to open indoor sports facility in 2018

Whether it's donating proceeds from ticket sales to a charity or giving fans the opportunity to invest in the club, Detroit City FC, the city's popular amateur soccer team, has continually found ways to engage the community. And it will continue doing so with a new development project.

In September 2018, the Detroit City Fieldhouse will open its doors, taking the place of the former practice arena of the Detroit Red Wings. 

The 75,000 sq. ft. space will consist of two fields, one open and one boarded, to host more than one game at a time. Both recreational and professional soccer will be allowed in the facility.

[Read Model D's article on how Detroit City FC is exploring becoming a pro club]

Detroit City FC has signed a five-year lease, according to Crain's Detroit Business

The club has been extremely popular with its fans, attracted up to 5,000 attendees to games. With this new facility, they hope to create lifelong fans of the sport and team. Adults and children will be able to use the facility to hold leagues and practices. Flag football and lacrosse can also be played.  

DCFC owners plan to keep prices to rent or play affordable. 

There will be spaces for sports-related small businesses to open, allowing people to purchase what they need at the facility. There will be a kitchen and bar as well, so that people can eat during their activities.

The facility will also use energy-efficient lighting and new additions to beautify the former Red Wings ice rink.

The Detroit City Fieldhouse will be located at 3401 E. Lafayette St.

Northeast Detroit residents showcase early results in efforts to restore District 3

Spanning Woodward Avenue to Kelley Road along Eight Mile, District 3 is undergoing a project to present the region in a new light.

Restore Northeast Detroit (Restore NED) and Allied Media Projects have collaborated for the past 18 months through a project named Create Northeast Detroit (Create NED) where residents have taken it upon themselves to renovate the under-resourced areas of District 3.

ArtPlace America, a nationwide organization that helps plan communities, gave a $500,000 grant to the project. From this larger grant, 20 smaller ones were distributed to various projects. 

There has been an effort to restore vacant parcels into greenspace. Computer classes will be offered. In the warmer months, festivals, mural paintings, and farmers markets will be organized in the new and improved green areas. With the help of residents, a newspaper was created, a website, and a logo to publicize their projects and keep the city updated on these positive developments.

[Read our feature on the efforts of Restore NED]

To give people the chance to see the positive side of Detroit, a bus tour was led to not only show area's history, but to let people see how it has been beautified.

According to the project, these are just initial steps. The work of Restore NED will likely continue for years to come. 

Watch the video below for more information on the project. 

Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation to launch center for nonprofit support

Because of its breadth and complexity, it's difficult for ordinary citizens to understand the nonprofit ecosystem in Southeast Michigan. Even those within the nonprofit sector have challenges coordinating their efforts and preventing too much overlap of services. 

That's one reason why the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is opening a yet-to-be-named Center at the corner of Woodward Avenue and East Grand Boulevard. According to the foundation, the space will be a hub "for nonprofit leaders and practitioners to gather and have access to a connected and well-informed network of resources aimed at accelerating solutions around the mission-related and sector-based issues they face."

"It's our vision that the Center will build greater capacity and enhance capabilities within the organizations that we work with," said David Egner, President & CEO, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, in a press release. "Over time, we also plan to add innovative problem-solving practices in the Center to assist nonprofits and social innovators in developing new approaches and delivery systems to address challenges in our region."

The foundation decided to open the center after internal research and conversations with other local nonprofits lead it to the conclusion that there wasn't enough coordination or opportunities for dialogue. 

The center will be managed by TechTown Detroit through a three-year $4,750,000 grant. After a build-out beginning next year, the foundation expects to have some operations running by mid to late 2018.

Other partners in the effort include the Michigan Nonprofit Association and Community Wealth Network. 

Detroit Sip in Live6 to celebrate long-awaited opening

When a brick and mortar business opens, it's always a cause for celebration. But in the case of Detroit Sip, a coffee shop on McNichols Road in the Live6 area, it's really a cause for celebration.

On Saturday, Nov. 18, Detroit Sip will celebrate its grand opening after a lengthy saga of trying to open its doors. Renovations have been completed for months, community and other events have been held there, and owner Jevona Watson has been working diligently to open. But red tape and other issues have held delayed that from happening until now. 

Watson even spoke to Model D back in February this year for a video (see above) on the coffee shop and its potential importance to the neighborhood. 

[Read more articles from our On the Ground series in Live6 and the North End]

With the recent groundbreaking of the nearby Ella Fitzgerald Park and construction underway next door at the new Live6 Alliance HQ, HomeBase, the coffee shop couldn't be opening at a better time. 

The grand opening of Detroit Sip will take place Nov. 18 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Check out the Facebook event page for more details. 

Kresge Foundation to provide $1M in grants to Detroit community development organizations

We've been covering neighborhood development news a lot lately, as all parts of the city have gotten more notice for development potential. Some developers have also taken a more nuanced approach to the practice, trying to minimize displacement while creating wealth for Detroiters. 

One way to do that is by support local assets. And that's exactly what the Kresge Foundation is doing with the announcement that it will be providing $1 million dollars in grants to 21 community organizations throughout Detroit. 

"Groups on the front lines of the city's revitalization told us that operating support for their day-to-day operations is the most important contribution we can make to support their work," says Wendy Lewis Jackson, managing director of Kresge's Detroit Program, in a press release.

Organizations like the Southwest Detroit Business Association and the Osborn Neighborhood Alliance will receive between $30,000 and $60,000 annually. 

GenesisHOPE, a community development arm of the Genesis Lutheran Church on the east side that does a lot of work with food security, is one of the smaller organizations on the list, having only two full-time staff members. The grant will allow GenesisHOPE to retain staff and devote more time and resources to engaging the community, says the group's executive director, Jeanine Hatcher.

"There's no one strategy that necessarily works across the city, but these groups are adept at figuring out which ones are worth pursuing on their home turfs," says Hatcher, in a press release. "We are proud to support them, and we'll also be working to bring them together to give them chance to learn from each other."

Stephen Ross, Ford Foundation to invest millions in Detroit neighborhood housing projects

Earlier this year, we covered The Platform, a development firm that's investing millions of dollars outside the 7.2 square miles of greater downtown, and trying to be inclusive at the same time. 

Two major backers have clearly been encouraged by the work, and are inventing huge sums of money in the project. According to Crain's Detroit Business, billionaire Stephen Ross and the Ford Foundation have pledged $7.5 million and $10 million respectively towards The Platform Neighborhood Initiative. The Platform itself has pledged an additional $10 million, bringing the total to $27.5 million. 

"Each of the three investors bring something," write Kirk Pinho and Sherri Welch. "The Platform with the neighborhood development plan, the Ford Foundation with its mission-related investment and broader strategy to support equitable revitalization in Detroit, and Ross with a connection to his hometown and the ability to influence future investment."

Echoing statements made by The Platform executives about equitable development, Xav Briggs, vice president of economic opportunity for the Ford Foundation, said that "investments that displace people from a place they call home are anything but positive."

The Platform has development projects in the works throughout the city. While its most notable purchase was the Fisher Building in New Center, The Platform also does work in Islandview, North End, Live6, and more. They're also one of the development leads, along with Century Partners, on The Fitzgerald Revitalization Project, a massive housing project in northwest Detroit. 

Read the full Crain's article here

$12 million development on site of 1967 rebellion in the works

The corner where the 1967 Detroit rebellion began, 12th and Clairmont, has been largely abandoned for decades. But an estimated $12 million development deal might change that. 

According to a Detroit News article, Karasi Development Group is working with the city of Detroit to construct three new mixed-use buildings to the area with ground-floor retail and 45 residential units. 

"The first phase is underway on Atkinson," writes Louis Aguilar, "just around the corner from Rosa Parks, with the overhaul of a dilapidated house that will become the Karasi Education & Cultural Center. The group is in talks with the Motown Museum and the Rosa Parks Institute for potential partnerships at the center."

One of the developers, Katrina Lockhart, was a resident of the neighborhood at the time of the rebellion, and says that, "Most everything was gone (after the five days in July), the stores were burned and most never opened again." 

The last building was razed less than two years ago. 

The article goes on to detail other developers in the Atkinson area, Century Partners, who was profiled in a Model D article on the North End neighborhood.

Read the full Detroit News article here

Unique community of quonset huts near Woodbridge ready for residents

Of all the distinct new housing being built in the city—tiny homes, shipping containers—perhaps none is more distinct than the quonset hut. A number of these horizontal, cylindrical structures made of corrugated steel have been built in a neighborhood near Grand River and 16th that's being called True North.
A recent Curbed Detroit article provided details and took some photography of these minimalist huts that are 620 to 1,700 sq. ft.
"Some of the spaces will be dynamic and activated, while most will simply be residences," writes Robin Runyan. "They've planted 30 trees and more wild grass and a clay court is yet to come. Of the residences, all seven are occupied or will be rented shortly. One of the huts will be rented out as an Airbnb, while the largest one (the tall one with the ladder) will have a gallery space and an apartment above it."
Another notable feature is that each hut is distinct in size and arrangement. According to True North's website, "each unit was designed with a specific trade in mind." All except one of the structures are two stories. 

84-unit, mixed-use development coming to Sugar Hill district in Midtown

Another day, another announcement about new construction in Detroit. 
On Friday, June 9 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit, Mayor Mike Duggan and a team of developers and designers announced a big development project to be built right around the corner in the Sugar Hill district of Midtown. 
The Sugar Hill Mixed-use development will contain 84 apartment units, 25 percent of which will be set aside for low-income residents, along with 7,000 sq. ft. of commercial space, a 300-car parking garage, and green alleyways. The development, sitting on nearly one acre of vacant land, will cost an estimated $32 million and is expected to break ground in September 2018. 
The development and design teams contains an impressive collection of talent and experience. The head designer will be Phil Freelon, an architect of international renown who designed the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Freelon will work with the Detroit-based firm McIntosh Poris Associates.
Develop Detroit and Preservation of Affordable Housing Inc., two organizations committed to low-income housing, will lead the development. 
"Plans for this project go beyond building high-quality, mixed income housing options for Detroiters," said Sonya Mays, CEO of Develop Detroit, in a press release. "We will work hand-in-hand with residents and stakeholders within the existing community to ensure the development is an equitable one; one that creates a walkable environment anchored by commercial and retail spaces, pedestrian streets and alleyways, all of which are accessible to all and ensure continued investment in the arts and culture, education and wellness assets that already call the Sugar Hill district home."

Detroit Future City lays out framework for dealing with city's abandoned manufacturing sites

The next great challenge the city of Detroit might face? What to do with all its abandoned manufacturing sites. 
According to an article in the Detroit Free Press, that's what the Detroit Future City (DFC) Implementation Office will focus on in a new report. 
"The numbers alone can stagger," writes John Gallagher. "Detroit contains nearly 900 vacant and mostly abandoned manufacturing sites. They include behemoths such as the old Packard Plant, now in line for a multi-year, multi-million-dollar remake. But more than two-thirds of the vacant factory sites measure less than 10,000 square feet—small tool-and-die shops mostly scattered through the city's neighborhoods."
The report, released June 2, notes that, "Many of these buildings abut residential neighborhoods in some of the city's most disadvantaged areas. Without a strategic approach to repurposing these properties, they will remain fallow for years to come, posing threats to public health and safety, and undermining Detroit's recovery."
While many challenges remain, the report also notes many successes in repurposing industrial buildings, both local and international. "One example of a recent success was the groundbreaking for automotive parts manufacturer Flex-N-Gate’s 350,000-square-foot, $95-million-dollar plant on 30-acres of vacant land on Detroit’s east side. The new facility will generate up to 750 new jobs, 51 percent of which are guaranteed to go to city residents."
Read the Detroit Free Press article here. Read the DFC Implementation Office report here

Developers buy four New Center buildings for $3.1M

Optima Aegidius Group, a German-based development group, just purchased four buildings in New Center near TechTown Detroit for $3.1 million, according to a Crain's Detroit Business article.

The four buildings, writes Kirk Pinho, "total just more than 71,000 square feet. The company anticipates building additional space on top, totaling 21,000 square feet to accommodate the planned 60 units. As planned, the project would also have 29,000 square feet of retail space. Construction is expected to begin next year after financing and city approvals are received."

The group has contracted local developer Scott Lowell to carry out the project.

Read the full Crain's article here.
156 Development Articles | Page: | Show All
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