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Feds give final approval to 3.3-mile M-1 rail

On Monday, the 3.3-mile circulating streetcar along Woodward Avenue received clearance to proceed from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). Also, M-1 Rail President and CEO Matthew P. Cullen welcomed eight new members to the nonprofit’s board of directors and introduced Jeni Norman as Chief Financial Officer.
The FTA has completed the environmental clearance for the Woodward Avenue Streetcar Project. With the issuance of the Amended Record of Decision (ROD), the project is allowed to move forward to the next phases of design, right of way acquisition and construction. This is the last approval step under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. 

Now that the process for approval of the Amended ROD has been completed, the M-1 Rail organization continues to strengthen its team with the hiring of a chief financial officer and by electing eight new members to its board of directors. These announcements come about two weeks after hiring a chief administrative officer and director of governmental & community affairs.

Deadline for Knight Arts Challenge is April 22

The Knight Arts Challenge Detroit, a $9 million initiative to draw the best and most innovative ideas out of local organizations and individuals, wants you to engage and enrich the community through the arts.  

No idea is too large or too small, as long as it follows three basic rules:

• Your idea is about the arts.
• Your project takes place in or benefits Detroit.
• You find other funding to match Knight Foundation’s grant.

The Knight Arts Challenge Detroit has a simple, 150-word application process. All you need to know is here.

NYT goes deep into Gilbert's private reclamation of downtown

Not one page, not two, not three "People my age, we would hear from our parents and grandparents who were raised in Detroit about how great this city was, from 1900 to the 60s," Mr. Gilbert said. "But none of us had any memory of that. And it wasn’t until my late 20s and early 30s, when I started traveling for business, to places like New York City and Los Angeles, that I realized how much we were missing. As I started visiting these great American cities, it hit me -- man, how did we blow this so badly?"

Yes, the Mr. Gilbert talking is downtown Detroit redevelopment specialist Dan Gilbert. There is a lot in this New York Times profile you already know, and some things you probably did not.

Read more here.

HuffPost Detroit: WSU looking for Midtown mixed use proposals

Huffington Post editor Ashley Woods reports in a recent edition of the online mag that Wayne State University has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for new mixed-use residential and retail apartment buildings in Midtown, as part of its second phase of the South University Village District. 

An excerpt:

Much like the Auburn, Wayne State is calling for a development that boasts energy-efficient features, bike storage and common spaces for resident in a pedestrian-friendly setting. It must also provide some parking for residents, with additional spaces made available by a WSU parking facility on Forest Avenue.

Much more here.

Fast Company: How social entrepreneurship is rebuilding Detroit

Fast Company jumps into the early 21st century Detroit narrative, complex and ever-changing as it is to us here on the ground, in this feature published this week.

An excerpt: 

But the city's depression -- and the depressed real estate prices that came with it -- created opportunities. And opportunity lures entrepreneurs. The startup types, like Paffendorf. And the ones with lots of money, like Dan Gilbert, the founder and chairman of Quicken Loans, the third-largest mortgage provider in the country; he moved 1,700 employees downtown in 2010, giving him 7,000 employees there and making him Detroit's third-largest landowner (trailing only the city and General Motors). With slicked-back hair and a perpetual poker face, Gilbert has just gotten started on his plan to transform the area.

More to dig into here.

Can't take the Detroit music out of Ben Blackwell

Cousin to Jack White, drummer for the Dirtbombs, boy-musical-wonder Ben Blackwell says he moved to Nashville for music biz reasons (editor's rant: another reason we need to build a sustainable music industry here) but left his heart in Detroit.

Dust and Grooves caught up with Ben, and his records, in the mid-south for this great Q&A with some fab pics. An excerpt: 

Q: Tell me more how your passion for vinyl has affected your life.

A: For years touring with the Dirtbombs most of the money I made was just spent on records. I was living with my mom and I had nothing else to really worry about finance-wise. I was extremely lucky. My wife Malissa is very similar to me in her appreciation for vinyl and often says the only difference between our record collections is that she’s listened to all of her records! I’ve been very lucky (or discerning?) that almost all of my jobs have been tangentially connected to vinyl…working at Car City Records (store) in St. Clair Shores, Archer Record Pressing (plant) in Detroit or Third Man or Cass (labels).

More cool Detroit music talk here.

Freep's Gallagher: Nonprofit oversight leads to Detroit improvements

In his new book, Revolution Detroit: Strategies for Urban Reinvention, John Gallagher goes into detail how cities are entering into partnerships with conservancies, foundations and nonprofits to offer better services for the public.

He writes about it in this piece in the Detroit Free Press. An excerpt: 

As emergency manager Kevyn Orr begins his work in Detroit, he may find one of the best ways to reshape city government is a practice already under way.

That practice is the spinning off of pieces of municipal governance to a series of quasi-public conservancies, public authorities and similar nonprofit bodies that are professionally managed. 

Read on here.

See our Q&A with Gallagher in today's Model D.

Ride It Sculpture Skate Park gets $30K from Tony Hawk

More love, all of it deserved, for Gina Reichert and Mitch Cope's Power House project, which includes a skate park at the corner of Davison and Klinger St. 

Now the world’s most famous skateboarder, Tony Hawk, is supporting this unique Ride It Sculpture Park, a non-profit and community-based skate-boarding project. It is receiving a $30-thousand dollar grant from the Tony Hawk Foundation. Well done.

Pete Whitley is the foundation’s programs director. He says Ride It is unlike any skate park he’s ever seen. Listen up: he tells WDET's Travis Wright how Tony Hawk went from kink flips to philanthropy.

UK mag FACT tips Detroit dance producer 'brilliant up-and-comer'

In more Detroit music news (keep making it, kids, and we'll keep finding it and reporting on it), a new electronic producer is getting some props from overseas.

An excerpt from the UK mag, FACT:

Manuel 'MGUN' Gonzalez hasn’t exactly sprung out of nowhere -- he collaborated with Wild Oats boss Kyle Hall as NSNT PRJCT back in 2010, released the fine The Upstairs Apt EP on Semtek’s great Don’t Be Afraid label, and returned to Wild Oats for the Harmnear 12. His real critical payday, though, came with this year’s genuinely exceptional The Near Future EP for The Trilogy Tapes -- a motley collection of bruised trance, brooding L.I.E.S-ready techno and looped psych in the vein of early Gaslamp Killer.

Yeah, man, that's what we're talking about. Read on here.  

MOCAD hires new director with local roots

Elysia Borowy-Reeder, 39, is the new executive director of Detroit’s Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, better known as MOCAD. She’ll take over the job, vacant since November 2011 when former director Luis Croquer left to take a job in Seattle, next week.

An excerpt:

Borowy-Reeder, who grew up in metro Detroit and East Lansing, has a bachelor’s degree in visual arts from Antioch College and master’s degrees in art education and art history from Michigan State University.

She recalls how childhood visits to the Detroit Institute of Arts helped inspire her love for her chosen field. “You’d be on the floor of the Diego Rivera mural room drawing. ... That’s what got me hooked on museums,” she says.

Read more here.

Feature film projects come to Detroit, Hamtramck

The Michigan Film Office says How to Catch a Monster, a feature film that marks actor Ryan Gosling’s writing and directing debut, was awarded an incentive of $1,750,909 on $6,238,922 of projected in-state expenditures. The project is expected to hire 104 Michigan workers with a full time equivalent of 30 jobs.

The film will shoot in Detroit and other metro locations and features Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), Saoirse Ronan (Atonement), Eva Mendes (The Place Beyond the Pines) and Matt Smith (Doctor Who). 

Also approved for a state film encentive is Landlordwhich shoots in Hamtramck, and follows the tale of Elvis Martini, a widowed landlord dealing with spiritual conflict and the abduction of his daughter.

Follow news from the Michigan Film Office here.

Register here for Pure Michigan Entrepreneurship Challenge

Individuals and teams will have until April 10 -- next Wednesday -- to submit an initial application as a New Idea or Emerging Company for the Pure Michigan Entrepreneurship Challenge.

Applicants will then get access to coaches and special events to support the preparation of their final submission before a deadline of May 20.

All you need to get started is right here.

Opportunity Detroit behind downtown retail plan

For a roundup of all the exciting downtown redevelopment and retail growth news that was announced last week, see Nicole Rupersburg's Dev News piece here.

For a closer look at Dan Gilbert's Opportunity Detroit initiative, including Papa Joe's opening in the First National Building, check out Ashley Woods' story in HuffPost Detroit.

An excerpt:

Sidewalk cafes and basketball courts. Free wi-fi in Campus Martius Park. Food trucks and outdoor art installations. Parking garages emblazoned with the work of world-famous graffiti sprayers. An accessible waterfront and surf lounge (even Dan Gilbert himself was befuddled by that idea). Opportunity Detroit's brand of populist city placemaking creates interlocking activities, distractions and opportunities for lingering, daydreaming and visiting. It's a chance to make Detroit's downtown itself the star attraction, luring residents and visitors alike.

Very nice. Read more here.

Motown's fab Funk Brothers get star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

This is the kind of news Detroit music fans, at home and around the world, want to hear. We were happy to catch up to it this weekend.

An excerpt:

Thirteen members of the Motown studio band -- all but three of them deceased -- were named as official star honorees by Hollywood Chamber of Commerce President Leron Gubler.

"The Funk Brothers were a closed club -- we suffered together, we laughed together, we argued together, and we made hit records together," percussionist Ashford said during a brief speech. "We didn’t make hit records for white people. We didn’t make hit records for black people. We made hit records for everybody on the planet, and that’s the excellence we strived for."

Willis choked up as he remembered his fellow players.

Read the rest of the story here.

Curbed: Gilbert group to develop two residential towers on Hudson's site?

It's hard not to get excited when the words "two residential towers" and "downtown Detroit" are used in the same sentence. This may or may not happen the way it appears in this little piece in Curbed Detroit, but it sounds incredibly reasonable and possible.

An excerpt:

Bedrock head honcho Jim Ketai dropped the name Grand Circuit Park in a reference to Gilbert's real estate "target area" along Woodward...sorry,Webward Avenue. That wasn't the only interesting tidbit: Ketai also mentions plans for the Hudson's site involving two residential towers.

Go here to read on.
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