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The Robot Garage, an educational fun spot for kids, to open third location in Grosse Pointe Park

Grosse Pointe Park has a new business coming to town in The Robot Garage.

The location will be the third for the four-year-old, Birmingham-based business that uses Legos and building toys to stoke children's creativity and interest in math, science, and engineering. The facility will host summer camps and serve as an alternative birthday party venue. It will also be a place where kids can play freely.

The newest store is expected to open by July at 15201 Kercheval Ave. in Grosse Pointe Park's business district, which is experiencing a restaurant and retail revival.

Robot Garage owners Sarah and Jonathan Jacobs decided to open the first Robot Garage in Birmingham's Rail District after seeing a shortage of fun science- and math-minded activities available to their daughters, who were regularly attending princess and sports parties. The Jacobs later expanded to a second location in Rochester Hills.

The Grosse Pointe Park store is in a 4,500-square-foot space that will have areas for walk-in building time, camps, and birthday parties. The Robot Garage also staffs math, science, and engineering teachers to guide field trips and competitions.

Source: The Robot Garage
Writer: Kim North Shine

Proposed Royal Oak 'Smart Park' needs funders

The city of Royal Oak is looking to the public to help fund what's being called a "smart park." The plans include an environmentally-friendly gathering space for kids, a center promoting local businesses through information kiosks, a Wi-Fi-connected outdoor work space with charging stations, an event space, a public art area, and more.

But first the city must raise $60,000 from the public through a crowdfunding campaign. The city has until June 16 to raise the money in order for the Michigan Economic Development Corp. to award a matching grant from the Public Spaces Community Places program, which is also supported by the Michigan Municipal League and Patroncity, a crowdfunding site that opens municipal projects up to local residents to support.

The proposed smart park would be located on Center Street in downtown Royal Oak. Check out the funding situation here.

"We are thrilled to move forward on such an incredibly ambitious project—one that will connect Royal Oak in smart new ways," says Jim Ellison, mayor of Royal Oak. "We have done our homework, talking to a variety of experts from 'green' planners to local technology gurus. We believe our smart park concept has potential on so many fronts."

"The Royal Oak Smart Park really exemplifies what Public Spaces Community Places is all about—the community banding together to transform an underutilized plaza into an unique and engaging destination,” says Katherine Czarnecki, community development director at the MEDC.
 
Source: City of Royal Oak
Writer: Kim North Shine

Tattoo lifestyle brand Ink Addict opens store in downtown Ferndale

Ink Addict, an apparel brand that celebrates tattoos and tattoo artistry, has expanded by opening its own retail store in downtown Ferndale.

The new store at 22007 Woodward Ave. opened April 25 and sells Ink Addict's original designs for clothing and accessories in a space that also showcases local art -- also for sale -- and features rotating guest tattoo artists.

Ink Addict, which was started in 2007 by then-college students Nathan Martin and Jim Doyon from a basement in Royal Oak, has become a globally-recognized tattoo lifestyle brand available online and in more than 400 stores in the U.S. and in 25 countries.

The owners moved their production facility to Ferndale in 2013 and decided to renovate the front portion of the 10,000-square-foot space into what the owners are calling Ink Addict's flagship store and home base for connecting tattoo enthusiasts.

“We wanted to make a difference in a struggling economy,” co-owner Jim Doyon says of their decision to start Ink Addict. “For the first couple years, we put everything we made back into the company. We didn't get financial help. We just worked our asses off and believed that one day it would pay off. We surrounded ourselves with some amazing people and are so thankful for all the individuals who have become our family in this journey."

Source: Ferndale Area Chamber of Commerce
Writer: Kim North Shine

Women's boutique opens in downtown Farmington

A women's clothing and accessories boutique from Commerce has relocated to downtown Farmington.

POSH by Tori Boutique opened in mid-April at 33411 Grand River Ave.

Owner Tori Thompson is hoping to attract a new customer base while still serving the clients who have kept her boutique in business for four years.

POSH by Tori sells trendy fashions and fashion classics at affordable prices, offers later operating hours that allow working customers to shop, and hosts special events as ways to open the boutique to more shoppers.

Source: Farmington Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Birmingham builds reputation as home store destination

The opening of a new home furnishing store in downtown Birmingham brings to the city a mix of national and international retailers and local home decor veterans.

The latest arrival is Roche Bobois, a fixture at the Michigan Design Center that is relocating to 394 South Old Woodward. The store brings local shoppers home decor in the style of the Hagopian family, a prominent metro Detroit family that operates a major rug cleaning business and carpet showrooms that have made them experts in rugs and furnishings and connected them with the Detroit Institute of Arts, where they have worked on textile exhibits and collections.

Around the corner from Roche Bobois is West Elm, a national retailer that opened its first Michigan store at 215 W. Maple and had found a brisk business.

Boconcept, a European-based retailer contemporary home furnishings and design services, opened in 2013 and rounds out the three newest additions to downtown Birmingham. "[Roche Bobois] really enhances Birmingham as a home furnishing destination," says John Heiney, executive director of the Principal Shopping District in downtown Birmingham.

In total, downtown Birmingham has 14 home furnishings stores and more than a dozen shops and galleries specializing in accessories, gifts, and antiques for the home, he says.

Source: John Heiney, executive director, Birmingham Principal Shopping District
Writer: Kim North Shine


 

Bark Avenue Play & Stay adds second location

Bark Avenue Stay & Play, a pet day care and boarding business that has developed a loyal following at its Utica location, is expanding to a second location in Roseville, opening May 18.

A grand opening celebration is planned for May 17 at the new Bark Avenue at 15075 East 11 Mile Rd. Husband-and-wife owners Michael and Marnie Scroggs, animal lovers who opened the Utica store in 2013, have built a loyal clientele, and clients who live or work closer to Roseville or have friends or family in the area want their animals to stay at Bark Avenue.

“We are very excited that our second location will be closer to home for some of our current customers and we’ll also be able to reach new families as well,” says Marnie Scroggs. “It’s a great building that will be an easy stop for commuters on their way to or from work.”

The new Bark Avenue Play & Stay is 10,000 square feet of indoor space and 5,000 square feet of outdoor space. The building is located near I-696, I-94 and I-75. The Roseville location will offer services like boarding and bathing for dogs and cats and have extended play times during daycare.

Source: Marnie Scroggs, co-owner, Bark Avenue Play & Stay
Writer: Kim North Shine

The Office Coffee Shop in Royal Oak updates co-working concept

Michael and Brooke Keith plan to open The Office Coffee Shop, a different kind of co-working space, in downtown Royal Oak in May.

Construction on the space at Fourth and Lafayette started in February, with Michael using his engineering design background to lay out a floorplan that will serve a variety of temporary office needs, from desks in a shared common space to private offices to conference and training rooms -- all rentable by the hour or by the month. The space is Wi-Fi-connected and AV wired. A printing center and mailing services are also available to users.

While those amenities aren't unusual for co-working spaces, the Keiths' concept marries business with philanthropy. A cafe serving Michigan-made coffee and eats will be located on premises, which Michael Keith says will support the community and charities by sharing proceeds with nonprofits and by offering community education and networking opportunities.

The Keiths see The Office Coffee Shop becoming a place to hang out, meet people, network, and support important causes.

"We've partnered with some of our favorite Michigan vendors such as Water Street Coffee Roaster in Kalamazoo, New York Bagel in Ferndale, Holy Cannoli's in Rochester, and Just Delicious scones in Roseville," says Brooke Keith. "We want to make sure we not only offer delicious, fresh foods, but we're also going to be looking for organic and preservative-free options from our vendors."

The Keiths will promote charitable and community support among office users and renters. They currently are supporting Forgotten Harvest, Wigs For Kids, Water.org, and Team Joseph.

"So many people will be a part of our community here," says Brooke Keith. "We know that people will not only conduct their business here, they'll socialize here and network here…We figured if we were going to reduce their business overhead, we can also expose them to some of our favorite charities."

Source: Michael and Brooke Keith, founders, The Office Coffee Shop
Writer: Kim North Shine

 

Dearborn's City Hall Artspace Lofts heading into final stages of construction

Construction on Dearborn City Hall Artspace Lofts, a residential, retail and community gathering space for artists, their families, and lovers of the arts, is heating up now that winter has ended.

The residential portion of the project, 53 affordable live-work spaces for artists, is expected to be completed by January 2016, says Becky Carlson St. Clair, project manager and property developer for Minneapolis-based nonprofit, Artspace. Applications for residency will be accepted 90-120 days prior to completion.

The 20,000-square-foot commercial portion of the project is still in the investment phase and will take about five months to complete once funding is rounded up and tenants are found. The target opening is April or May 2016, Carlson St. Clair says.

The organizers are in talks with the ACCESS Growth Center, which would run an incubator space, and the East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority, which is interested in relocating to the space.

"We are also talking with many artists regarding studio space," Carlson St. Clair says.

City Hall Artspace Lofts will spread across a city block at Michigan Avenue and Schaefer Road where Dearborn City Hall once operated. The city complex filled the block with three buildings and landscaped grounds. City officials moved to a different building in another part of the city to save money and sold its more historic home, which was built in 1922.

Once complete, the Dearborn Artspace will feature work studios, co-working space for entrepreneurs and artists, and a live-work unit for an artist-in-residency program in addition to the incubator and residences. There will also be galleries, performance spaces, and community gathering areas inside and outside.

The $16.5-million project is seen as a way to improve the local -- if not regional -- economy by tapping into the arts and creative professionals. The mixed-use arts campus will "build upon Southeast Michigan's heritage as a center of innovation by creating a new anchor institution for the region's creative economy," says Artspace organizers.

The project is a partnership between Artspace, which has opened dozens of artist live-work communities around the country,  the city of Dearborn, and the East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority.

Source: Becky Carlson St. Clair, project manager/property development Artspace; and East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Total Health Foods takes over long-vacant space in downtown Wyandotte

The owners of Total Health Foods in downtown Wyandotte are expanding their business into a larger space and taking on the role of full grocers.

Total Health Foods has a following of customers who come for the vitamins, supplements, organic products, and gluten-free and other specialty foods. The business also offers massage, acupuncture, and nutrition services.

Responding to supporters as well as the lack of all-natural grocers downriver, Total Health Foods is adding space that will grow its footprint to 11,000-square feet in the former Gail's Office Supply complex.

The new location is just down the street from Total Health Foods' current store at 2938 Biddle Ave. No opening date has been set. Renovations are expected to begin in coming weeks.

Source: Wyandotte Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Luxury movie theater, The Riviera, to open in Farmington Hills

In February, Metromode reported on the start of construction of a luxury movie theater in Farmington Hills. The Riviera Cinema is scheduled to open April 30 at 9 Mile Road west of Middlebelt Road, an updated and high-end version of the theater that once was there.

A Hollywood-style, red carpet cocktail party opening is scheduled for May 6 and will raise money for four charities: Jay's Juniors, National Council of Jewish Women, Oakland Early College, and Sweet Dreamzzz. Tickets are $100 and include a strolling supper, signature cocktail, a live band, popcorn, snacks, and movies. Click here for tickets.

The Riviera will have nine auditoriums with wall-to-wall screens, the latest in film projection and sound technology, and new style theater seating with high-backed rockers and VIP recliners.

One auditorium will be for rent as a private screening room and a party and corporate event space.

The lobby, which was designed by Birmingham-based Ron and Roman with elegance as the guiding principal, will have a cocktail lounge and restaurant-like menu in addition to concession food.

The Riviera Cinema was developed in a partnership between Bloomfield Hills-based Cloud Nine Theater Partners and New York-headquartered DipsonTheatres. Cloud Nine operates 12 screens in metro Detroit, the others being at The Maple Theater. Dispon owns eight cinemas in New York, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.

Source: Ruth Daniels, spokesperson, Cloud Nine Theater Partners
Writer: Kim North Shine


 

Savvy Chic Boutique adds to Kercheval options in GPP

A re-emerging section of Grosse Pointe Park is adding a new business to the mix with the opening of Savvy Chic Boutique on April 16.

The store will be located at 15005 Kercheval Ave. and sell contemporary women's fashions found in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago.

Prices will be affordable and the shop will fill a vacant spot along the stretch of road that has become home to several new businesses in the last few years, Cornwall Bakery and Atwater Brewery among them.

The neighborhood is known as The Park and is heavy on restaurant and bakeries.

Savvy Chic adds another retail option in addition to Skye Boutique, which is a mix of hair and nail salon and women's clothing and accessories.

A grand opening celebration for Savvy Chic is planned for April 16.

Source: Grosse Pointe Chamber of Commerce
Writer: Kim North Shine

New restaurant, the Triple Nickel, opens in downtown Birmingham's 555 building

A new restaurant has opened in the south end of downtown Birmingham, expanding dining options to another part of that city's central business district.

Triple Nickel opened April 9 in a renovated two-level storefront in the 555 Building at 555 Old South Woodward. It is co-owned by Marc & Petrina Blancke and business partners.

Marc Blancke is owner of Sindbad's restaurant and marina, an institution on Detroit's riverfront. Sindbad's head chef, John Fleming, is the menu creator and head of the kitchen at Triple Nickel, which will turn out regional favorites from around the country such as Maryland crab cakes and Boston bibb salad.

The Triple Nickel is billed as an American-themed tavern and meant to be a more affordable and casual option in Birmingham's restaurant scene.

The restaurant fills a two-story, 6,500-square-foot space inside the 555 office and retail development, and will feature outdoor patios with fireplaces and decks. TVs are part of the updated casual take on early American decor. The main dining room's windows also open up to give the restaurant an outdoor feel.

Source: Birmingham Principal Shopping District
Writer: Kim North Shine

Lost Lake Distillery in the works in downtown Wyandotte

A former nightclub in downtown Wyandotte may become a distillery, tasting room, and lounge.

Alex Bohl of Grosse Ile is in the early stags of developing the Lost Lake Distillery at 142 Maple, previously known as Studio 142.

Phase 1 of the project, according to the Wyandotte Downtown Development Authority, will open in 6 to 9 months. It will focus on research and development, selling spirits to go and giving customers a role in tasting and testing the products. There will also be a local history bent to the operation as a way to add to the customer experience.

The timeline for Phase 2, a much broader and more ambitious project, is unknown, but Bohl plans to transform the top two floors of the building into a 14,000-square-foot facility consisting of the still operation, tasting bars, lounges, lofts, and decks.

The DDA has awarded the project a $5,000 exterior facade grant.

Source: Natalie Rankine, director, Wyandotte Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine


 

Dearborn's Arab American National Museum to celebrate 10th anniversary with expansion

The Arab American National Museum has added a new wing that will act as a performance hall and a gathering space for artists. It will also host special collaborations with local and national cultural groups and institutions.

The opening of the 4,700-square-foot annex on March 27 coincided with news that the museum is sending its exhibit, "Little Syria," to New York. "Little Syria" documents life in a once-vibrant Lower Manhattan Arab neighborhood, one of the earliest Arab American settlements in the U.S. The exhibit will be on display at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum from Oct. 1, 2016 to Jan. 9, 2017.

The Arab American National Museum opened on Michigan Avenue in Dearborn 10 years ago this May. In that time, the museum has built itself into a reputable institution with the purpose of exploring and explaining Arab American culture and history. It is the only southeast Michigan affiliate of the Smithsonian, which is helping organize the transporting of "Little Syria" to New York.

The expansion opportunity arose when two neighboring businesses on Michigan Avenue became vacant. The Annex features a moveable stage and light and sound systems for live performances.

"TEN:The Exhibition" will celebrate the museum's decade of existence with a collection of works by 10 leading Arab American artists.

Source: Arab American National Museum and East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Mini custard empire swirls across metro Detroit with third location

Erma's Original Frozen Custard, a 73-year-old, family-owned custard business, is swirling up enough success with its fresh-made custards and specialty parfaits that it's adding a third location.

The latest Erma's Original Frozen Custard opened at 28840 Harper Ave. in St. Clair Shores April 1. Its other two stands, one on 14 Mile Rd. in Warren that was opened six years ago, and the original 1942 location at 6451 Auburn Rd. in Shelby Township, opened for the season on the same day.

Jason Eagle, Erma's manager and director of marketing, says the St. Clair Shores location fulfilled a plan to expand further east.

"We've had a lot of fans over the years say they wanted a location on this side of town," Eagle says.

Erma's moved into what was a Dairy Boy after the owner decided to sell.

"We were happy to talk to him," Eagle says.

Erma's makes fresh custards each week: a vanilla, a chocolate, and a bonus flavor that typically contains fruit, nuts, or candy. Pistachio and Italian ice are also on the menu, as are 25 parfait varieties advertised on Erma's signature hand-painted signs.

Erma's opened in 1942 and was sold in the 1980s to a family that was part of the business. That family is now in its third generation of operating Erma's.

Source: Jason Eagle, manager and director of marketing, Erma's Original Frozen Custard
Writer: Kim North Shine
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