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New Center targets infrastructure near Argonaut with $656,600 earmark

New Center just landed itself a $656,600 federal earmark that will be used to improve infrastructure in the area near the Argonaut Building, which is being developed to house the College for Creative Studies' graduate programs as well as student housing.

New Center Council had initially envisioned $3 million worth of infrastructure improvements, but scaled the plans back according to the funding received to date. "With CCS announcing their expansion to New Center we decided the best use of the funds would be to augment the areas that would support the new development," says Karen Gage, NCC's vice president.

The railroad viaducts at Woodward, Second and Cass will be cleaned up and lit. Art installations, with support from CCS and Summer in the City, also will be added. "Our hope is that we can finally clean up this dividing line between New Center and Wayne State University, and open the flow of pedestrian traffic between these areas," says Gage.

The earmark will also fund the construction of a 120-vehicle parking lot behind the White Castle on Woodward at E. Baltimore. "This is a retail parking lot that, hopefully, will spur development in the retail strip along Woodward," says Gage. The lots will be richly-landscaped and enclosed with a wrought iron fence. "We would like to make this lot a model -- set the bar for other lots in the area."

The remaining money will fund a traffic study looking at what's needed to restore two-way traffic to Second and Third Avenues between Grand Boulevard and Palmer. At the same time, bike lanes for Second Avenue will be designed.

New Center will hire a firm to produce the plans this winter. Read more about the future of the Argonaut here.

Source: Karen Gage, New Center Council
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh
Photo by Marvin Shaouni

T-PLEX celebrates 100 years of the Model T, unveils new facade

The historic Ford Piquette Avenue Plant has a completely renewed facade. The facelift was unveiled Sept. 27, on the 100th Anniversary of the Model T, appropriate because the first 12,000 Model Ts were assembled at the Ford Piquette site.

The front facade has undergone extensive work to return it to its original 1904 appearance, including window and masonry repair and replacement and the restoration of the original arched entryway that had been replaced by a garage door.

The restoration efforts were handled by architects Quinn Evans of Ann Arbor and contractor Grunwell-Cashero of Detroit. Work went on throughout the summer, and was funded by a $250,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation.

The anniversary was commemorated by a parade of 50 Model T's that also proceeded to Ford World headquarters, Edsel & Eleanor Ford House, The Henry Ford Estate - Fair Lane and The Henry Ford.

Source: Pat Liebler, Liebler Group and Marcia Pilliciotti, T-Plex
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh
Photo by Marvin Shaouni

Hit the town by bike during upcoming Tour de Troit event and Wheelhouse tours

There are some great opportunities coming up to see Detroit from the luxury of your own, or a rented, bike. The best part of these tours is that they take you into the city's neighborhoods at a pace that affords participants the chance to admire the architecture and get a real feel for the places.

The annual Tour de Troit is Saturday, Sept. 20. Take in 40 miles of the city at a leisure pace with several hundred of your closest friends. It's a police escorted ride through Downtown, Eastern Market, Brush Park, Boston Edison, University District, Palmer Park, Old Redford and Grandmont-Rosedale.

Last year 600 people participated. Advance registration is strongly encouraged to guarantee a T-Shirt. Register by Sept. 13 to ensure you'll get one. Advance Registration is $25, $15 for students. Day-of-ride registration is $35 from 8:30-9:30 a.m.

But wait, there's more. Wheelhouse Detroit, the city's newest bike rental and repair shop, is also offering weekly tours of Detroit's neighborhoods. Each week, they feature a different portion of the city, and most rides are around 15-25 miles. Upcoming tours include Southwest Detroit (9/13), The Villages (9/27), Boston Edison (9/28), Creekside (10/04) and the Conner Creek Greenway (10/5). Wheelhouse also offers weekly tours of Downtown and the Woodward corridor, offered in conjunction with Inside Detroit. For more information and pricing, check their web site.

Sources: Wheelhouse Detroit, Tour de Troit
Writer: Clare Pfeiffer Ramsey

South Beach Pizza Bar brings gourmet 'za and nightclub to Fisher Building in New Center

Frank Taylor has revamped his New Center space. The former Motown Soul Food Cafe is now the South Beach Pizza Bar, located inside New Center's iconic Fisher Building.

As would be expected by the name, the restaurant includes an element of clubbiness in its decor and focus, making it more than just a pizzeria.

To wit, there are three VIP rooms; one is dubbed the white room for its color scheme and offers bottle service. There's also a cigar room and an elevated DJ booth swathed in LED lights and wrapped with plasma screen televisions.

As for the pizza, there is an open kitchen with a brick pizza oven. Thin crust, regular crust and deep dish are all available and custom pies include margherita, BBQ chicken, Grecian and Tuscan vegetarian.

Taylor also owns several Detroit hotspots, including Seldom Blues and the Detroit Breakfast House and Grill downtown.

South Beach is open Monday through Thursday 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Source: Omar Mitchell, South Beach Pizza Bar
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

D-Biz: Westcott Displays stays creative in New Center for almost 90 years

Greg Campbell's grandfather Allan, who founded Westcott Paper Products in 1920 with partner Fred Westcott, would likely be proud that the company was still thriving in a lukewarm economy.

But then again, he knows a little something about tough times: he bought out Westcott during the throes of the Great Depression and grew the company by pioneering point-of-purchase advertising using steel diecut advertising displays.

Westcott Displays, at it is now known, is headquartered in a 100,000-square-foot facility in New Center on Amsterdam and also operates a packing and storage facility on W. McNichols. The company employs 55 as well as 20 to 100 temps on any given day.

Campbell says the company has managed to keep its head well above water by diversifying its client base geographically. "We’ve had to go out and bring in business by nationally expanding our sales base," he says. Locally, Westcott works with advertising agencies like Campbell-Ewald and Team Detroit and printers like Tepel Bros.

The New Center area has been Westcott's home since 1940, and Campbell likes the direction in which the neighborhood is heading. "They've done a good job of blending new residential areas with established industry, too," he says. "And we feel really safe here, really secure – we feel like it’s the best neighborhood in all of Detroit."

Westcott is at 450 Amsterdam and can be reached at 313-872-1200.

Source: Greg Campbell, Westcott Displays
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Wayne County land bank to release 7,000 properties

Today, the Wayne County Land Bank will release a list of their inventory of 7,000 tax-reverted parcels. Qualifying non-profit organizations and adjacent residential landowners will be able to purchase property for a nominal fee as long as they adhere to certain criteria that includes maintaining and/or rehabilitating the property.

Properties will be disposed of on a first-come, first-served basis to qualifying entities. 

The Land Bank is a collaborative effort between County Executive Robert Ficano and Treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz. The process begins today at 3 p.m.
with an informational session for qualified non-profits. Further information is available at the Land Bank website.

Source: Jill Ferrarri,
Executive Project Manager, Wayne County
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Recycle Here! expands reach throughout city, adds drop-off locations

Recycle Here! is expanding its reach, making it easier for residents from various neighborhoods to drop-off their goods. New drop-off sites are located in Southwest Detroit, East English Village and Palmer Park.

In its first 18 months of operation, the program has reached more than 20,000 participants and has collected more that 1.3 million pounds of recyclables.

Its main facility, at 1331 Holden, is open every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The  full schedule of rotating drops sites is as follows:

1st Saturday of every month:
Eastern Market, Wilkins and Russell, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
2nd Saturday of every month:
Corktown, Roosevelt Park, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
East English Village, E. Warren Ave. and Farmbrook, 8 a.m. to noon
3rd Saturday of every month:
Palmer Park, swimming pool lot, from 8 a.m. to noon
Rosedale Park, Christ The King Church, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

4th Saturday of every month:
Southwest Detroit, Clark Park, 8 a.m. to noon
Creekside, Jefferson and Chalmers, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Source: Matt Naimi, Recycle Here!
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

CCS firms up plans for Argonaut, to include student housing, retail and artsy middle and high school

A $145,000,000 investment will transform the Argonaut Building into a second campus for the College for Creative Studies. The building will house undergraduate and graduate programs in design, community outreach activities, student housing, research and professional activities in the design fields, and an art- and design- oriented charter middle school and high school. It will open in fall 2009.

The significant development will impact the college, the New Center neighborhood and the city as a whole. "This is going to transform CCS, operating on two sites with double the square footage. We're going to be operating a graduate program and operating a middle and high school," says president Richard Rogers. "It's a new educational model that we're pursuing, and I think it's going to enhance the college's stature in arts and design education and it's going to enable us to have a much more significant impact on the well-being of the city."

CCS will occupy approximately 70 percent of the 11-story Albert Kahn-designed Argonaut Building. Its design-based majors -- Transportation, Product, Interior, Graphic and Advertising --  and its Master of Fine Arts degree programs in Design and in Transportation Design, which will launch in 2009, will be housed in the facility.

The New Center site will also be home to CCS’s Community Arts Partnerships program, its Continuing Education department, 300 beds of student housing, a conference center with a 400-seat auditorium and a 360-seat dining hall.

CCS is partnering with the Thompson Educational Foundation and Henry Ford Learning Institute to operate the middle and high school. "Creativity will be built into the curricula of the schools along with the standard curricula," says Rogers. "The college and the school are going to interact in a number of ways." For example, CCS art education students will be able to do their student teaching in the lower schools.

The Argonaut will also be home to Detroit Renaissance’s new creative economy initiative which is intended to provide rental space and support services to fledgling creative businesses.

Rogers sees the college's use of the Argonaut as a fitting one. Originally built as a research facility by General Motors, it became home to the automotive industry's first design department. "The activities that the building originally contained are very close to the ones that CCS teaches," he says. "It's really great that a building that's this old can be repurposed in a way that will essentially make it brand new and just as useful as if we'd started from scratch and built a brand new building."

Rogers says the 760,000-square-foot building is in wonderful structural shape and that its loft-like design is well-suited to CCS's needs. The design architect on the project is, fittingly, Albert Kahn Associates.

Source: Richard Rogers, CCS
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Round-up: Lefty's is pouring, New Center nets Firewater, changes in store at Riverfront 4...and more

Some news from around town:

Lefty's Lounge on Cass, inside the Belcrest Apartments, is now open. There are 15 large screen TVs, food -- 1/2-pound burgers, pizza, chicken wraps and salads -- and 15 beers on tap. Read more about Lefty's here.

• Speaking of food and drink, the East Side's Firewater Bar & Grill has opened a second location on Milwaukee in the New Center area. Full bar, dine in and carry-out with a menu dabbling in fish, pork and lamb chops as well as a myriad of sandwiches and salads.

Firewater is at 107 E. Milwaukee St. just south of E. Grand Blvd. Hours are 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week, although they usually open a bit later on the weekends. Call 313-872-0812.

• Birmingham's Palladium cinema let the cat out of the bag on their web site: They are now operating the Riverfront 4 Theatres at the Ren Cen. For now, everything has pretty much stayed the same, but expect some changes. Model D will let you know when they are confirmed.

Gourmets take notice:  Zaccarro's Market on Woodward has some new offerings: cooking classes, which start July 8, and Sunday brunch, starting July 13. Molly Motor will be the chef for brunches; expect strata, quiche and frittatas ranging from $7.95 to $12.95 served from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. On-line registration is open for the first class, which will teach summertime Tuscan four-course meals. Future classes will include sauces, appetizers, Tapas, healthy desserts and children's cooking. Classes will range in price from $40 to $55.

• The Detroit Institute of Arts dedicated the Alexander Calder sculpture, "Young Woman and her Suitors," on June 23. The distinctive piece stood for more than 30 years at Michigan and Cass. It recently underwent a move,  total restoration and was installed on the DIA's lawn.

• Finally, Wayne State University's Police Department celebrated the grand opening of its new head-quarters. The department's 54 police officers and 44 civilian employees have relocated to the building located at Cass and Burroughs. There is a new high-tech dispatch center, an electronics repair shop, K9 indoor/outdoor quarters, holding cells and a gymnasium. Read more about the renovations to the historic Kahn building here.

Email tips to kellibkav@issuemediagroup.com.

Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

D-Biz: Pure Detroit celebrates 10 years, launches organic line, relocates inside Ren Cen

Can you believe that Pure Detroit is 10 years old? Yup, and the company, that is perhaps the most "D-Biz" of them all, is launching a special line of tees and totes to commemorate it.

Pure has grown its Detroit boosterism into a viable business, which is an accomplishment in and of itself. Along the way, it has inspired new business owners, supported local artists and events and become an instantly recognizable brand.

The three Pure Detroit locations occupy a trio of landmark Detroit structures: the Fisher Building, the Renaissance Center and Guardian Building. Pure is wrapping up a move from the Ren Cen's Wintergarden into Tower 400, which co-owner Kevin Borsay characterizes as "a great location, highly visible."

Other news includes the launch of an organic line of tees and totes.

Model D would like to wish Pure Detroit a very happy birthday. Thanks for all the great stuff you do for our fair city.

Source: Kevin Borsay, Pure Detroit
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Southwest Solutions to develop 150 units of housing for vets in New Center

On June 2, ground will be broken on Piquette Square, a 150-unit four-story mixed-use development in Milwaukee-Junction, east of Woodward and south of E. Grand Blvd. The $20 million development includes 6,000 square feet of common area -- space that will house supportive services such as job training -- and 5,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space.

"Piquette Square is an important piece of a major collaborative commitment to address the growing problem of homeless veterans in metropolitan Detroit," Tim Thorland, executive director of Southwest Housing Solutions, which developed the project and will own and manage it, said in a statement.
There were 3,596 homeless veterans in the Detroit area in 2005, according to the city’s Ten-Year Plan To End Homelessness. Homeless advocates now estimate that number to be more than 4,000. One of every three homeless men in Detroit and nationally is a veteran.

Piquette Square is situated on the site of the historic Studebaker factory that was destroyed by fire in 2005. The project is being financed through a combination of tax credits, bond funding, MSHDA chronic homeless funds and various grants. The project is expected to be completed and operational in the spring of 2009.

Source: Steve Palackdharry, Southwest Solutions
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Detroit preservation group releases list of 10 endangered buildings, announces name change

In an effort to instigate a citywide dialogue about historic buildings that are in danger of demolition, Preservation Wayne — now called Preservation Detroit — has released a list entitled Endangered Buildings List 2008. It includes iconic structures like the Michigan Central Station, Lee Plaza Apartments, Forest Arms and the Vanity Ballroom.

The list also draws attention to several broader categories such as religious buildings no longer in use, retired schools and foreclosed single family houses.

"These are widespread issues that will require widespread solutions," says the organization's executive director Francis Grunow. "A wholesale approach is a better approach."

Conversation about endangered buildings was a focal point of the group's annual membership meeting that was held on Thursday, May 22 at the Detroit Boat Club on Belle Isle -- another structure on the list.

At the event, which was attended by 150, Grunow also made the announcement that the organization was changing its name to Preservation Detroit. "It's exciting and very long overdue," he says.

Preservation Detroit host an awards ceremony on September 25 at the Colony Club on Park Avenue and are inviting nominations, which are due on June 13 and can be downloaded here: http://www.preservationwayne.org/docs/Awards_Nomination_2008.pdf.

Source: Francis Grunow, Preservation Detroit
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Second University Prep elementary school to open this fall in TechTown

University Preparatory Academy will open its fourth school this coming fall. The 50,000 square foot elementary school, located on Antoinette just west of Cass, will house 384 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. In TechTown, it joins a high on Antoinette between Second and Third and another elementary school on Holden at Fourth. UPA's middle school is located on St. Antoine, near the intersection of Warren and I-75.

The school system draws students from across the city and inner ring suburbs who are selected in a blind lottery. Its focus is strong basic learning skills with an eye towards graduation rates that are comparable with those seen in affluent suburbs.

So far, they are on track: last year, more than 90 percent of the UPA high school's first graduating class went on to a institution of higher learning. Doug Ross, the superintendent expects to hit that goal again with the class of 2008.

He attributes some of UPA's success to its heavy presence in TechTown. "We want to give the students real world experience in business and professional settings," Ross says. "All of our students, beginning in middle school, spend a great deal of time doing unpaid internships."
Ross observes that TechTown is home to numerous "interesting" businesses including start-ups at TechOne, Henry Ford Health Systems, NextEnergy, Dalgleish Cadillac and Wayne State University. "New Center is packed with businesses of all kinds," he says.

New Urban Learning, the non-profit parent of UPA, will launch a second school system this fall focused on science, math and technology. Ross will step into the role of CEO in July.

Read more about the University Preparatory Academy Science and Math Middle School here.

Source: Doug Ross, UPA
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

New Detroit greenways coordinator will boost efforts to create city trails

Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance has created a new position dedicated to furthering a network of trails in Detroit.

The new Detroit greenways coordinator, Todd Scott, will coordinate maintenance, fundraising, security, programming, promotions and development for the eight greenways under various stages of planning and development within the city.

Scott comes to the position with a great deal of experience in cycling advocacy. He is the former director of the Michigan Mountain Biking Association and has been involved with numerous other initiatives, including the citizen’s committee for Michigan State Parks, MDOT Metro Region Nonmotorized Advisory Committee, City of Ferndale Bicycle Committee and the League of Michigan Bicyclists.

"Todd’s skilled advocacy, wealth of knowledge about nonmotorized transportation and recreation, and understanding of and enthusiasm for the revitalization of Detroit are key ingredients that he brings to this project," stated Nancy Krupiarz, Executive Director of MTGA.

Scott is currently acclimating himself to the various greenways projects on the table, including the Midtown Loop, Corktown-Mexicantown Greenlink and Connor Creek Greenway. "The greenways in Detroit have so much variety in terms of where groups are at," says Scott. "I'm finding that there are similar challenges and different challenges."

Finding affordable liability insurance for the nonprofits sponsoring the various greenways was Scott's first task. He also hopes to work on integrating Detroit's burgeoning trails network with the larger regional one and has some ideas about encouraging on-road cycling. "One thing that I really bring to the table because I ride so much is that I know how to get around," he says. "We can make connections between these trail networks."

Source: Todd Scott, MTGA
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

48 units of senior housing to break ground in North End

Cameron Court Senior Village, a 48-unit, senior housing complex, will break ground on April 25 at the corner of Cameron and Alger in Detroit's North End. The project is being developed by Vanguard Community Development Corp. and is located just blocks from the organization's Melrose Square Homes.

Eighteen of the units are 655-square-foot, one-bedrooms and 30 are 855-square-foot two-bedrooms. Amenities include computer, exercise, community and fellowship rooms. The building itself is three stories and is vinyl-sided with brick elements on the facade. It is L-shaped and includes a porch wrapped around the rear.

The project is being funded with MSHDA tax credits syndicated by the National Equity Fund, a Charter One construction loan and a bridge loan from LISC. The apartments will be rented to seniors over the age of 55 that earn 30 to 60% of the area's Average Median Income.

The ceremony is scheduled for 11 a.m. Please RSVP your attendance to 313-872-7831 or SADavis@VanguardCDC.org by Wednesday, April 23.

Source: Scott Alan Davis, Vanguard CDC
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

209 New Center Articles | Page: | Show All
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