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Bike loop, fix-it stations, and more coming to Pontiac

As a slew of economic changes come to Pontiac, officials are turning to quality-of-life improvements for the seat of Oakland County government, which had fallen on hard times for decades and now has the makings of a revival.

Several bike-friendly initiatives are the latest effort to make Pontiac more livable, likeable and economically viable.
New bicycle loops, fix-it stations and way-finding signs were recently installed in downtown Pontiac. They will give cyclists safer and easier paths to the public library, downtown businesses and city parks from the Clinton River Trail. The Friends of Clinton River Trail, Healthy Pontiac, We Can! Coalition, and Oakland County are among supporters and sponsors of the changes.
A special event celebrating the improvements took place on Oct. 21 and featured a ribbon cutting at one of the new fix-it stations. Cyclists from Pontiac Light Riders tried out the new features of the trail.
Source: Bill Mullan, spokesman, Oakland County
Writer: Kim North Shine

Craft beer, home cooking, and family come together at forthcoming HomeGrown Brewing Co. in Oxford

John Powers learned the art of home brewing from his son a decade ago. He and his wife, Marie, love to entertain in their home. And throughout their family a mix of talents and skills are coming together with the couple's love of hosting and brewing as they prepare to open HomeGrown Brewing Co. in Oxford.

Their plans will turn the iconic Veterans Memorial Civic Center at 28 N. Washington St. into a beer garden, dining room, sitting room, and eventually an event space upstairs. There will be room for about 100 customers, and up to 20 full- and part-time jobs will come with the opening that's expected in 2016.

Fireplaces, games and dart boards will offer gathering spots for customers. Brewing tanks will contribute to the decor.

The brewpub will serve the Powers family's flagship beers and experiment with seasonal brews along with house-made, fresh food.

The feel will be homey and family-centered with John as head brewer and Marie the culinary manager. Eldest son Joe will return from Australia to be assistant brewer. His wife Kate will work as media liaison, and son Jeff Powers will head up sales, marketing, and the front of the house. Youngest daughter, Katie Powers, will be the social media manager.

"Between engineers, cooks, artists, managers, and journalists, we feel very lucky to have so much collective knowledge in the family. And we look forward to seeing that transform into a great business," Marie Powers says in a statement announcing the business.

Source: John & Marie Powers, proprietors, Home Grown Brew Co.
Writer: Kim North Shine

Carhartt to expand Dearborn headquarters, create 215 jobs

At 126 years old, workwear maker Carhartt has seen the popular appeal of its clothing grow beyond the work site, which is why the company is now expanding its headquarters in Dearborn.

The expansion will allow the company to grow its product line -- the go-to attire for so many jobs and trades -- and invest in research and development that will enhance its offerings and find untapped uses for its jackets, coats, overalls, coveralls and other clothing and accessories printed with the increasingly-recognizable Carhartt logo.

The nearly $18.6-million expansion of Carhartt's property on Mercury Drive in Dearborn will create 215 jobs and extend the company's reach. Founded in 1889 in Detroit, Carhartt recently opened a flagship retail store on Cass Avenue in the city's Midtown neighborhood. The company has opened retail outlets in several others states in recent months.

The headquarters expansion has financial support from the state of Michigan and city of Dearborn. The Michigan Strategic Fund, a program of the Michigan Economic Development Corp., awarded a $1.3-million Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant to the Carhartt HQ expansion in an effort to keep the company from opting to open a work site on the east and west coasts, where garment-industry talented is easier for employers to find, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

In addition, the city of Dearborn is keeping the company local by offering a tax abatement that will discount its taxes for eight years.

Source: Kathy Achtenberg, spokesperson, Michigan Economic Development Corp.
Writer: Kim North Shine

Hyatt Hotel, apartments, retail, office planned for vacant Royal Oak car dealership

Plans to turn a vacant car dealership on Main Street in Royal Oak into a Hyatt hotel with connected residential, retail, and office space are moving ahead following the approval of incentives from the state.

The $48-million development will stand atop 3.5-acre property currently containing a car dealership that closed in 2008. The site will include a 120-room, 5-story Hyatt Hotel, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

The hotel will be a part of a contemporary-style building expected to be built at 400 N. Main St. It will also have space for 56 apartments, a parking deck, and retailers.

Besides generating $12 million in property tax revenue for the city and creating 144 new jobs, it may breathe new life into the north part of Royal Oak's downtown district.

The MEDC is granting the developers a $4.5-million Michigan Community Revitalization Program loan, and the city of Royal Oak is supporting the project by providing $3 million in tax increment financing reimbursement.

Source: Nate Pilon, Michigan Economic Development Corp.
Writer: Kim North Shine

Baba's brings belly dancing, kibbeh to downtown Wyandotte

A new Lebanese bar & grill is adding variety to downtown Wyandotte's restaurant scene - and entertainment options.

Baba's Lebanese Bar & Grill opened in mid July at 134 Maple St., across from the downtown clock tower.

Besides serving traditional Lebanese fare, it is building its business with belly dancing and not-at-all Lebanese salsa dance and bar nights with European-inspired cocktails.

Owner Mike Mazloum previously added some spice to Wyandotte's food options with the opening of his Sushi Bar next door to Baba's.

Source: Wyandotte Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Oakland U's new dorm a study in energy efficiency

Oakland University's year-old student housing complex is a study in environmentally-conscious design and operation.

The university's achievements in preventing waste and lowering impact on the environment resulted in the $30-million Oak View Hall being awarded gold certification status in LEED - or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The U.S. Green Building Council certifies projects based on categories such as sustainability, energy and atmosphere, indoor environmental quality, and others.

The nearly 165,000-square-foot, 500-bed residence was built to drastically lower the amount of waste typically generated during construction. Ninety-five percent of the construction waste was recoiled and 15 perencet of construction materials came from recycled products. In addition 20 percent of construction materials were made regionally, eliminating environmental damage from transportation.

The operation of the dorm includes dual-flush toilets, low-flow bathroom fixtures and shower heads, and 18-percent less energy use than typical dorm buildings.

Bike racks, preferred parking for low-emission vehicles, and shielded light fixtures helped the project secure gold LEED status.

Source: Eric Reikowski, spokesperson, Oakland University
Writer: Kim North Shine

Children's boutique brings gear, garments, and guidance to downtown Plymouth

After nearly a decade of selling baby gear and children's clothing, Ann Arbor's Kerrytown retailer Elephant Ears has moved to downtown Plymouth, expanding its reach into metro Detroit.

The family-owned boutique sells baby seats, carriers, packs, cribs, and other gear and employs staff that advises and educates customers looking to make purchases crucial to caring for babies and children and keeping them safe.

The products it sells -- from shampoo and lotion to toys and decor -- are selected based on safety and quality. Elephant Ears specializes in fair trade products that are free of harmful chemicals and toxins.

After nearly a month of renovations, the new store opened July 21 at 436 South Main St. in downtown Plymouth.

Source: Plymouth Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Transit-oriented plan for west Dearborn wins $10K PlacePlan grant

A transit-oriented development in west downtown Dearborn is getting a $10,000 show of support from the Michigan Municipal League, which selected five projects statewide for their promise of completing developments that create a sense of place and, in turn, economic vitality.

The project, known as TOD, has been in the planning and design stages since 2012. It would serve as a focal point for the community, be a multi-modal connector for local and regional commuter needs, and also a link between local attractions and points of interest. The design calls for a pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use, livable district adjacent to several key sites in Dearborn, chief among them the John D. Dingell Transit Center, which opened in December 2014.

In addition to being a transportation facilitator, the development will support a complementary downtown redevelopment project.

The site boundaries include Michigan Avenue to the north; the Rouge River, Norfolk Southern Railroad, and The Henry Ford to the east; Ford Motor Company to the south; and Oakwood Avenue to the west.

The $10,000 PlacePlan grant will give the city funding to help design an extension of West Village Drive into the TOD area as a “living street,” which uniquely accommodates pedestrian movement and vehicle circulation.

The project also carries out a much larger vision locally, regionally, and beyond.

"Upon its creation, the TOD site will be used by Dearborn as a space for both planned and spontaneous year-round activities. It will connect multiple assets and make them accessible by foot, bicycle, or transit, therein reducing transportation expenses and making the region more affordable and sustainable," says a statement from the Michigan Municipal League. "The creation of a transit-oriented development in this significantly auto-centric community could be a best-practice model for future development of livable, sustainable neighborhoods elsewhere around the state and nation."

Source: Michigan Municipal League
Writer: Kim North Shine

Ford House renovations to restore historical elements, enhance visitor experience

Numerous renovations are underway at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores in accordance with the Ford family's wishes to care for the environment.

Changes to the estate include major electrical upgrades and a new stormwater management system. The upgrades are the start of a series of improvements that will ensure the estate's historical integrity and enhance the visitor experience.

The family estate-turned-attraction offers public tours of the Albert Kahn-designed home and its grounds. It also serves as a venue for concerts and other special events.

The addition of a bridge to Bird Island, a peninsula created by the Fords and landscape architect Jens Jensen, is the only upgrade to the estate that will be visible to visitors. A piece of land was removed to to allow the water between the cove and the lake to move freely.

The bridge will let visitors step into the seclusion of the island and also learn about the surrounding bioswale.

The public is invited to visit the bridge at a free preview on July 8.

“We invite people to enjoy the estate just as the Fords did,” said Kathleen Mullins, president and CEO of the Ford House. “For our visitors, and for the future of the estate, we are enriching their opportunity to be part of the natural environment when they visit. And, we want to use the work we are doing as a means for understanding and learning about good stewardship. As they see the flow of water that is being naturally cleaned before entering the Cove they will understand how initiatives like this contribute to the health of our waterways. We invite our visitors to explore and discover this extraordinary estate, to spend time, to ask questions, and to take away ideas for how they might become involved with environmental initiatives in southeast Michigan.”

Source: Joe Ferlito, Franco Public Relations Group
Writer: Kim North Shine

New $12M ballpark could be home run for Macomb County

A 4,000-seat ballpark is under construction in the city of Utica in Macomb County.

The field will be home to the United Shore Professional Baseball League's three professional teams, which will be made up of "overlooked young players, mostly with college experience, who haven't made it into the major league farm system," says Andrew Appleby, chairman and CEO of General Sports and Entertainment, the ballpark's developer.

"It will be a highly competitive and entertaining style of baseball," he says.

For Utica and Macomb County, the $12-million ballpark, which is located at the northeast corner of Auburn Road and Moscona Drive and will be named Jimmy John's Field, could be an economic home run.

"For the city of Utica, this ballpark will prove to be transformative. For the county of Macomb, it is an economic, quality-of-life, and recreational asset," says Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel. "For the region it will prove to be a destination location."

Besides seating for 4,000 spectators, the field will have a grandstand, five dugout suites, five penthouse suites, 12 private patio siutes, a grass berm, and four picnic areas.

The Utica Downtown Development Authority is leasing the land, a former household waste disposal site and brownfield redevelopment project.

In addition to baseball games, the field will host concerts, movie night, community events, and college and high school sporting events.

Construction is expected to take 12 months from this week's groundbreaking and be complete in time for opening day in June 2016.

Source: John Cwikla, spokesperson, Macomb County
Writer: Kim North Shine

Scott Shuptrine Interiors moves into new Grosse Pointe location

A large, long-vacant spot in Grosse Pointe will soon be occupied by Scott Shuptrine Interiors.

The luxury home goods store is opening this week at 17145 Kercheval Ave. in Grosse Pointe's Village shopping district.

The space was previously a Borders bookstore that has now been divided into several new businesses.

Scott Shuptrine is the only home goods store in the Village other than a bed and bath store and a gift shop. At the opposite end of the block is a Calico fabric and upholstery store.

In addition to high-end furniture and accessories, the store will host weekly design classes.

Source: Scott Shuprtine Interiors
Writer: Kim North Shine

A second city-owned movie theater opens in Grosse Pointe Park

The city of Grosse Pointe Park has opened a second movie theater, this one offering more variety to residents who have packed the original theater, which shows mostly family movies, since it opened 12 years ago.

The 70-seat, $750,000 Carol C. Schaap Theater was built next door to the current Okulski Family Theater and was paid for by donations from the local Schaap family and the nonprofit Grosse Pointe Park Foundation to the city.

The movie theaters are opened to residents of all of the Grosse Pointes.

The theaters are located inside Windmill Pointe Park and show a changing selection of first-run or near first-run movies week to week.

In addition to parks that come with pools, marinas, an ice rink, a splash pad, a putting green, workout facilities, gyms, and views of Lake St. Clair, Grosse Pointe Park plans to build an art center. It's all part of moves to attract and retain residents and businesses. A year-old trolley funded by the city and local businesses expanded this year.

Source: City of Grosse Pointe Park
Writer: Kim North Shine

Wok Asian Bistro opens in downtown Northville

Wok Asian Bistro, a new restaurant featuring exhibition cooking, opened this week in downtown Northville.

The restaurant at 144 Mary Alexander Ct. serves create-your-own, wok-cooked meals or specialties such as Thai peanut noodles and edamame lo mein.

The owners want to set the restaurant apart by cooking with premium and organic beef, chicken, Thai-imported shrimp, locally- and house-made Asian sauces, and the top selling soy sauce from Japan prepared by a wok master.

Source: Northville Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Durr Group sets up North American HQ in Southfield

The Durr Group, a global mechanical and plant engineering firm with a majority of its business in the auto industry, is relocating its North American headquarters to Southfield.

The operation will move its offices into a renovated former DTE Energy facility located on 14 acres on Northwestern Highway. A nearly 100,000-square-foot newly constructed building will include testing, training, and valuation centers.

The redevelopment, which is located in a brownfield-designated area, will bring an investment of about $40 million to the city along with nearly 500 jobs.

The project comes with tax abatements and will include a re-use that incorporates innovative, cost-effective energy saving technologies,

"The resulting campus will enable increased collaboration, communication, and creativity, benefiting employees and customers alike," says Rochelle Freeman, the city's business development manager.

Source: City of Southfield
Writer: Kim North Shine

MOD Pizza coming to metro Detroit

MOD Pizza (short for Made on Demand) is opening in Livonia June 22.

A second location for the Seattle-based chain known for "super fast" artisanal-style pizza made with organic ingredients in exactly the way customers wish is expected to open in Northville later this summer.

Livonia-based TEAM Schostak Family Restaurants plans to bring 25 MOD Pizza franchises to southeast Michigan in the next five years.

The Livonia location will be located in a 2,600-square-foot space on Middlebelt Road south of I-96.

The Northville store will open in the sprawling Park Place redevelopment at Seven Mile and Haggerty roads.

Besides build-your-own pizzas made from a choice of 30 ingredients and baked in an 800-degree oven in less than three minutes, MODs serve draft beer and handmade milkshakes.

Source: TEAM Schostak Family Restaurants
Writer: Kim North Shine
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