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Shipping-container apts set to break ground in Woodbridge, Corktown

Detroit's first shipping container building is about to break ground in Corktown.

Three Squared (formerly Exceptional Green Living) plans to begin building a couple model units of the larger multi-family project destined for Woodbridge in early 2013. The two live-work units will be made of old shipping containers. The units will go up on Michigan Avenue next to the Grinnell Place Lofts.

"We will have this entire model center framed in four hours," says Leslie Horn, CEO of Three Squared.

Three Squared, and the six people working to make it happen, plans to build out two areas of multi-family shipping container developments in Corktown and Woodbridge. The Woodbridge development will go up on the southeast corner of Warren Avenue and Rosa Parks Boulevard. It will consist of 20 units ranging in size between 853 and 1,920 square feet.

The second development will consist of 6-12 units at Michigan Avenue in Corktown. The units will first be marketed as for-sale condos that Horn describes as "extremely competitive with market-rate sales." If condo sales don't work, Horn is ready to go forward with construction of the projects and marketing the developments as rentals.

Shipping container construction is considered one of the greenest forms of construction because it reuses so much material. Such construction has been proven not only viable across the U.S. and around the world but popular.

"We know they will be LEED certifiable, gold or maybe platinum," Horn says. "But we won't go for certification until we have our first units up. We want to prove our concept as soon as possible."

Source: Leslie Horn, CEO of Three Squared
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Woodward rapid transit pushes forward with RTA, community meetings

The options for traveling up and down Woodward Avenue are about to grow significantly.

The Michigan State Senate recently passed a series of bills that would establish a regional transit authority that would oversee the construction and operation of a light rail line on Woodward between Jefferson Avenue and Grand Boulevard. It would also oversee the construction and operation of a bus rapid transit systems along the rest of Woodward and across the region. The State House of Representatives is reportedly expected to take up the bills within the coming days.

Working in parallel in those efforts are series of community meetings envisioning what rapid transit along Woodward Avenue could look like and what local residents want to see happen. The meetings are being hosted by the Michigan Suburbs Alliance, Woodward Avenue Action Association and SEMCOG, which is creating a Woodward rapid transit alternatives analysis that will work in parallel with the proposed regional transit authority.

"This is an attempt to create a rapid transit system on Woodward Avenue," says Richard Murphy, programs director of the Michigan Suburbs Alliance. "We're looking at the entire length from Jefferson Avenue to Pontiac."

Among the issues that will be discussed are which mode of transit works best for the Woodward corridor (light rail or bus rapid transit), how such a system should be funded and whether it should have dedicated lanes or mixed in with traffic.

The meetings will be be held along the Woodward corridor. The Detroit meetings will be held today (Tuesday, Dec. 4) at SEMCOG offices in downtown Detroit (535 Griswold St, Suite 300) from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and at the Detroit Police Dept's Central District (7310 Woodward) from 4-6 p.m. Another one will be held on Dec. 11 at the Detroit Police Dept's Palmer Park Station (12th Precinct, 1441 W. 7 Mile Road).

Source: Richard Murphy, programs director of the Michigan Suburbs Alliance
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Avalon expands into East Side, Midtown and New Center

Avalon International Breads has long been a staple of the Cass Corridor but it's now becoming a staple in other Detroit neighborhoods.

The artisanal bakery launched in 1997 and steadily built itself into the anchor business near the corner of Cass Avenue and West Willis Street in Midtown. It has since garnered national attention for its breads and goodies made of organic and sometimes vegan-friendly ingredients. Its small storefront at 422 W. Willis is routinely packed with customers and employees making food 24 hours a day to meet demand.

That success prompted Avalon to begin searching for a new space to facilitate its expansion a few years ago. It has now opened a retail outlet at Henry Ford Hospital in New Center, is looking to expand its Midtown presence and is in the process of opening a much bigger production facility on the Near East Side not far from the Packard Plant.

"We have been over capacity for quite some time, at least since 2008," says Ann Perrault, co-owner & CEO of Avalon.

The new production facility is Avalon City Ovens, a $2.2 million project turning a dilapidated industrial building into a state-of-the-art bakery. Avalon bought the old warehouse at 6555 E. Forrest Ave. (near Bellevue Street) at the 2010 Wayne County Tax Foreclosure Auction. The 50,000-square-foot building is a major upgrade from its 3,000 square-foot-storefront in Midtown. Perrault expects to open the new facility in January.

That project comes not long after Avalon opened its second retail location last summer in the West Grand Boulevard building of Henry Ford Hospital. That space offers all of the foods Avalon is known for and employs six workers. Avalon now employs 55 people after hiring 14 since February.

Avalon is also looking at expanding its Midtown presence in 2013. Perrault says her firm is looking at moving its storefront from its existing space on Willis to a newer space on West Canfield Street next to Traffic Jam & Snug. That move is set to move forward next spring after the Avalon City Ovens project is complete. The new space will be consistent with Avalon's longstanding pledge to remaining a part of the Cass Corridor/Midtown community.

"This is definitely important to us," Perrault says.

Source: Ann Perrault, co-owner & CEO of Avalon International Breads
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Rehab moves forward at 1444 Michigan Ave. in Corktown

The renovation of 1444 Michigan Ave. is moving forward in earnest, helping activate another storefront in Corktown.

The century-old storefront near the corner of Michigan and Trumbull avenues has been undergoing a slow renovation in recent years as its owner, Anthony O'Donnell, used his own resources to put on a new roof and make other structural improvements. He has now secured a six-figure loan from the Detroit Development Fund along with some other state and national tax credits, allowing him to completely rehab the structure.

O'Donnell lives on the second floor and small set-back third floor of the building. He plans to turn the ground floor into a eatery and is in talks with a local microbrewer, Batch Brewing Co, to open up a nano-brewery in the ground floor.

"We have been talking about that for a few months now," O'Donnell says.

The plan is to complete the facade restoration of the building before the end of the year and white-box the first-floor commercial space by mid-2013. O'Donnell plans to renovate the entire building and the garage behind it, which comes to about 14,000 square feet of space.

Source:Anthony O'Donnell, owner of 1444 Michigan Avenue
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Renovation work set to begin at Dossin Great Lakes Museum

Now that work is finished at the Detroit Historical Museum, construction is about to begin at the Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle.

The Detroit Historic Society, which manages both museums, plans to begin renovations at Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Dec. 9. The project will preserve the popular aspects of the museum, such as the Gothic Room at the museum's entrance, and add a few new exhibits that focus on the Detroit River and how it and the city connect to the Great Lakes.

"There will be much more interactivity," says Bob Bury, executive director of Detroit Historical Society. "There will be an exhibit about what it was like to pilot a freighter on the Great Lakes."

The Detroit Historical Society recently finished a renovation of is principal attraction, the Detroit Historical Museum, opening it to the public last weekend. The newly-redone space attracted 15,000 visitors in three days, shattering its attendance record.

The Detroit Historical Museum, located at the corner of Woodward Avenue and Ferry Street in Midtown, has added a Sander's store and a number of new exhibits, including the Kid Rock Music Lab (which traces Detroit's music history) and Gallery of Innovation, which features the works of local innovators both old (Henry Ford) and new (Josh Linkner). The museum has also refreshed some of its popular existing exhibits, like its Streets of Detroit exhibit.

"They can take a deep dive to see what life was like in the 1850s," Bury says.

Both museums will be open to the public for free. The work on the Dossin Great Lakes Museum is expected to be finished on May 17.

Source: Bob Bury, executive director of Detroit Historical Society
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Highland Park installs first solar streetlight, aims for 200 more

Public lighting has consistently been a problem in Highland Park for years. Struggles to keep the streetlights lit and paying the electric bill for those lights was followed by DTE Energy removing several hundred streetlights from the inner-city suburb last year.

That problem gave birth to a new solution. Souladarity, a grass-roots group of local stakeholders, installed the city's first solar-powered streetlight last week and is making plans to bring another 200 to the city within the next five years.

"In the back of a lot of people's minds is what are we going to do about the streetlights around here," says A.J. O'Neil, one of the organizers of Souladarity.

The Souladarity streetlight was installed at 150 Victor Street, between John R and Oakland, and is shining down on the street now. The Michigan-made product utilizes super-energy-efficient LED lights which last longer than traditional streetlights. It also has a solar panel on top of the pole and its batteries are only a few feet below it, making the streetlight self-sufficient.

"It's completely self-contained," O'Neil says. "It's very theft proof because the batteries are locked away up high."

Souladarity is raising $6,000 to acquire and install the lights through a crowd-funding campaign. A little more than $5,000 of that has been raised as of Monday afternoon. For information on Highland Park's solar-powered-streetlight initiative, click here.

Source: A.J. O'Neil, one of the organizers of Souladarity
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Hamtramck Recycling Center preps for early 2013 opening

The Hamtramck Recycling & Transfer Center is getting close to opening and expects to create a few dozen jobs when it begins operations in 2013.

The green business is refurbishing an old waste-transfer building at the corner of Hamtramck Drive and Denton Street. The 32,000-square-foot building will pick out a number of recyclable materials from industrial waste, such as metal, cardboard, paper and plastics. The idea is to profit off of the wasted commodities that too often end up in the garbage.

"There is not really anybody who specializes in industrial waste," says Seth Kruger, president of Hamtramck Recycling & Transfer Center. "A lot of manufacturers are looking for ways to find less of their material end up in a landfill."

The Hamtramck Recycling & Transfer Center is a family owned business that has been in the works for the last year. It currently employs 11 people and expects to employ as many as 42 when its going full steam. The company hopes to begin operations in early 2013 and is looking to hire primarily local residents. So far about 50 percent of the firm's current workforce calls Hamtramck home.

"We're ramping up our employment to operate our system," Kruger says. "We will be hiring as the intake of material increases."

The project received $470,000 in brownfield tax credits last year from the state of Michigan. When the project began, the building had been vacant for several years and had fallen into significant disrepair.

Source: Seth Kruger, president Hamtramck Recycling & Transfer Center
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Minature golf course becomes latest addition to Imagination Station

The Imagination Station continues to grow in the shadow of the Michigan Central Station, adding a miniature golf course last weekend.

A sculpture class from Lawrence Technological University spear-headed the project, creating what's being billed as an "Urban Put Put : Detroit Mini Golf" course on the corner of 14th and Dalzelle streets overlooking Roosevelt Park. The Imagination Station is a public-art project taking place in two blighted houses turned into art between the miniature golf course and the Roosevelt Hotel.

"We were thinking in terms of functional sculptures," says Steve Coy, assistant professor of art & design at Lawrence Technological University who helped organize the project. "It's fun to have and fun to play on."

The Lawrence Tech class started a Kickstarter campaign to raise $2,000 to build the miniature golf course. It has raised $2,725 as of Monday afternoon and there are still two weeks left to collect donations. Coy expects to need those extra days to finish covering the costs of the project.

"We're definitely going to need more money," Coy says. "We're hoping the Kickstarter will continue to grow."

For information on the project, click here.

Source: Steve Coy, assistant professor of art & design at Lawrence Technological University
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Somerset's CityLoft returns to Hudson block in downtown Detroit

Pop-up retailers have become "the new black" for holiday shopping in downtown Detroit, and more retail is on the way.

CityLoft, an assortment of more than 40 stores from The Somerset Collection in Troy, will open up a string of pop-up stores on Woodward just north of Campus Martius. It will join a number of other temporary retailers on the entire 1200 block of Woodward, which is the line of storefronts across from the site of the old Hudson Department Store.

"We want to engage and create a great retail destination in downtown Detroit," says Dan Mullen, director of real-estate development for Bedrock Real Estate Services, which is spearheading the effort to bring more retailers to the Motor City's Central Business District. "Because of Somerset's CityLoft success (from brief stints earlier this year and last year) we were able to attract Moosejaw to come to downtown Detroit."

Among the other pop-up retailers in the lower Woodward corridor this holiday season are, The Detroit Shoppe (a store with all Detroit merchandise), Santa’s Wonderland (a shop where kids can buy inexpensive gifts for the family), Detroit Art Shoppe (a market featuring original work from Detroit artists), Spinergy (a fitness studio with stationary bikes), and Papa Joe's Snack Rack (a mini-market with a sampling of products from Papa Joe's).

These stores are the latest in an effort by Bedrock Real Estate Services, the real-estate arm of the Quicken Loans family of companies, to create a retail destination in downtown Detroit. The idea is to create a unique retail experience through a combination of national retailers and boutique shops and restaurants.

The people behind these efforts are not only looking at filling vacant storefronts on Woodward but turning alleyways into dynamic spaces for pedestrians.

"Part of our plan is to take these alleys and create a very cool place where you can enter the building with great art and cafe tables," Mullen says. "It's all about street activity."

Source: Dan Mullen, director of real-estate development for Bedrock Real Estate Services
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Moosejaw opens downtown pop-up store, hopes to make it permanent

The biggest retail store of the current trend of pop-up retailers has surfaced downtown. Detroit, say hello to Moosejaw.

The offbeat outdoor outfitter has opened a temporary location, commonly known as a pop-up store, at the corner of Woodward and Grand River avenues last week. The 1,800-square-foot space is smaller than the average Moosejaw store but will still carry most of popular and namesake brands. The Madison Heights-based retailer will operate the store during weekends through at least Dec. 22.

"It's probably the most permanent-looking pop-up you will see," says Bryan Lively, vice president of retail for Moosejaw. "The goal is to make it permanent."

He adds that initial traffic from last weekend is encouraging. Moosejaw officials expect to make that decision by early December, which could keep newly created jobs in downtown Detroit. If that happens, Lively expects it could be a sign of bigger retail things to come in the Motor City's center. "We think we can lead the momentum because of our quirkiness and our retail acumen," Lively says.

The trademark Moosejaw quirkiness is definitely there. The downtown Detroit store employs a living habitat in its front store window, such as a man making food while camping. The store also offers shoppers a chance to leave their mark/tag at the back of the shop. "It's the same quirkiness (shoppers would see at our normal store)," Lively says.

Source: Bryan Lively, vice president of retail for Moosejaw
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

First residents begin moving into Broderick Tower, Auburn Apts

The first residents began moving into the Broderick Tower and the Auburn apartment building last weekend, making room for dozens of new residents in the greater downtown Detroit area.

The Broderick Tower is welcoming the most residents. The high-rise renovation at the cover of Woodward Avenue and Witherell Street overlooking Grand Circus Park is fully leased except for one of its units. That means at least 124 new homes will be coming online over the next few weeks. The last available unit is a 1,030-square-foot apartment on the ninth floor with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. The asking price is $1,450 per month.

"It looks down the Woodward corridor," says Eric Novack, a spokesman for Motown Construction Partners. "It's a fantastic unit. It's one of my favorites, personally."

The Broderick Tower opened in 1927 as the Eaton Tower. The 34-story building, designed by Louis Kamper of the Book-Cadillac Hotel fame, became the Broderick Tower in 1944 and spent most of its life as office space for professionals, such as dentists. It went vacant in 1985 and became a signature haunt for urban spelunkers in the 1990s and 2000s. Over the last two years, Motown Construction Partners have been working to rehab the historic building into restaurant and bar spaces on the first two floors, offices on the third, fourth and fifth floors and luxury apartments in the rest of the building.

Contrast that with the Auburn. The 58-unit apartment building is a piece of new construction at the corner of Cass Avenue and Canfield Street in Midtown. The Roxbury Group began construction on the mixed-use structure last year, creating a space for eight small retailers on the ground floor and 54 one bedroom and four studio apartments one the second and third floors. The Auburn replaces a blighted vacant lot and derelict commercial building.

Leasing on the Auburn began a few weeks ago and the building's apartments are now 60 percent leased with only one-bedrooms left. All of the retail spaces are spoken for except one. The developers are hinting that the last space will be occupied by a coffee shop. They add that the Auburn has created 100 construction jobs over the last year and will be the home to another 15 jobs when all of the businesses are opened and the new residents are moved in.

"We will be staggering the move-ins over the next few weeks," says Michael Martorelli, sales and leasing manager for the Auburn.

Architects from downtown Detroit's Kraemer Design Group are engaged on both projects. 

Source: Eric Novack, spokesman for the Broderick Tower and Michael Martorelli, sales and leasing manager for the Auburn
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Work begins on contemporary parking garage/retail space in downtown

Rock Ventures, the real-estate arm of the Quicken Loans family of companies, is breaking ground this week on parking garage/retail development in downtown Detroit on what project organizers are calling the Z Lot.

The parking garage will replace two large surface parking lots on the block surrounded by Broadway and Library streets and East Grand River and Gratiot avenues. The two lots share an alleyway in the middle of the block, creating a Z-shape when combined and viewed from above.

The 9-story structure will measure in at 535,000 square feet. That includes space for 1,300 parking spaces and 33,000-square-feet of retail space on the ground floor.

"No matter what we do we will always do ground-floor retail," says Jim Ketai, managing partner with Bedrock Real Estate Services, which is quarterbacking the project. "We feel it's important to create that sort of urban vitality."

The project will employ a contemporary design that camouflages the parking-deck portion of the building. "It's not just a parking deck," Ketai says. "We challenged out architects."

The parking space will accommodate the growing number of downtown Detroit-based workers for the Quicken Loans family of companies. Many workers are currently being shuttled from other not-so-nearby structures to the Quicken offices in the Compuware, First National, Chase and M@dison buildings. Rock Ventures also has the option to develop the former Hudson Building site nearby, but Ketai says the parking spaces will not be a part of any proposal to develop that site. Work on the parking structure is expected to wrap up by late next year.

Source: Jim Ketai, managing partner with Bedrock Real Estate Services
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Cass Community Social Services begins rehab of Antisdel Apts

Cass Community Social Services broke ground on a $10 million rehab on the city's near west side last week, breathing new life into a classic art deco apartment building.

The Arthur Antisdel Apartments is the latest addition to Cass Community Social Services' campus, which now covers a roughly four block area just west of the Lodge Freeway and several blocks south of the Davidson.

"We're trying to build on what we have started," says Faith Fowler, executive director of Cass Community Social Services.

The $10 million project will turn the 4-story apartment building at 1584 Elmhurst St. into 41 units of permanent supportive housing for homeless people. The project's goal is to provide homeless men and women with safe, secure, attractive and affordable housing that is within easy walking distance of Cass Community Social Services' headquarters and other services, such as educational and 12-step programs.

The project will thoughly rehab the entire building using a number of sustainable practices, such as finding a new use for an existing structure. The Arthur Antisdel Apartments will also incorporate a geothermal heating and cooling system, which is the gold star of green-building practices. The Arthur Antisdel Apartments will be the first homeless housing project in Michigan to utilize a geothermal system, according to Cass Community Social Services.

Construction is expected to begin in earnest in November.

Source: Faith Fowler, executive director of Cass Community Social Services
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe opens in Brush Park

Detroit welcomed another grocery store to its well-established and growing mix of supermarkets last weekend when Ye Olde Butcher Shopped opened its doors in Midtown.

The independent grocery story is the work of Michael and Peter Solaka. The brothers are recreating the famed supermarket experience their father created with his grocery store of the same name in Lafayette Park in the 1970s and '80s. The supermarket will feature both everyday staples and high-end items.

"We're an urban grocery store, so we won't have everything," says Michael Solaka, co-owner of Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe. "We're trying to have a good mix of everyday items and finer items as well. It will have all the stuff you need to cook a great meal."

Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe is opening in the former Zaccaro's Market space at the corner of Woodward Avenue and Watson Street in Brush Park. The reconfigured space aims to better serve customers with things like its "City Basics" department, which has everything from paper and cleaning products, seasonal items, kitchen and cooking gadgets, and other sundries for the growing residential market.

Contrast that with some of its more gourmet options, such as fresh bagels and smoked fish offered with an option of a newspaper like The New York Times on Sundays. There will also be an in-house butcher among the staff of 15 people. The space will also include an outdoor patio on the north side of the building.

Source: Michael Solaka, co-owner of Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Collision Works aims to create shipping container hotel

More construction development for Eastern Market is on the drawing boards now that the Collision Works is moving forward.

Collission Works aims to build a boutique hotel made of used shipping containers on the east side of the Dequindre Cut near Division Street. The 16,000-square-foot structure will include 36 hotels rooms, 3,000 square feet of event space and a large outdoor courtyard.

"It's a boutique hotel and community work space built around storytelling," says Shel Kimen, founder & CEO of Collision Works. "It's a place to let people tell their stories and to give these stories a home. The idea is when people of different perspectives and backgrounds come together interesting things happen."

One of the main places where these sorts of conversations and connections will be happening is in the hotel's co-working space. The communal office space will be big enough to accommodate between 15-20 people.

Kimen worked in digital design and strategy for an advertising agency before taking on this project. She has a degree in architecture and design from Michigan State University and sees Collision Works as a great opportunity to put those skills to use while enhancing the community. She is currently working with the city to acquire the land and alternative lenders to secure financing for the project, which she hopes will break ground midway through next year and be done by spring of 2014.

"We're making headway with the seed funding," Kimen says.

Source: Shel Kimen, founder & CEO of Collision Works
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.
402 Redevelopment Articles | Page: | Show All
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