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Saginaw Green pocket park planned for downtown Pontiac

A plan to transform a vacant lot in downtown Pontiac into a pocket park that will serve as a gathering spot for visitors is gaining momentum with the help of a recently launched crowdfunding campaign.

Fundraising for the the Saginaw Green project began last week. The proposed park is seen by organizers of the crowdfunding campaign as a complement to the development that is happening throughout Pontiac, especially on and around Saginaw, the city's main street.

The Downtown Pontiac Business Association is working the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and the Michigan Land Bank to develop the green space that will include a gazebo, a movie screen among winding paths and landscaping. Before the lot can be transformed $12,500 must be raised.

It comes as downtown is seeing new development and business, possibly as much as $70 million in the next few years.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Pontiac Downtown Business Association

 

Advantage Health Centers opens behavioral medicine space in Warren

Advantage Health Centers of Detroit and Blue Cross Blue Shield have built a new heatlh care facility on the border of Warren and Detroit, part of a larger plan to treat substance abuse and mental illness among the uninsured and to improve the overall quality of life for the community.

The new Behavioral Health Space is located at 4669 East 8 Mile Road in Warren and with new staff and more room it expects to reach 30 percent more patients needing treatment for depression, substance abuse and other mental and behavioral health needs.

The development was supported with a $100,000 safety net grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Advantage Health Centers is a federally funded health care system that provides services to the uninsured and underinsured, including many homeless patients and military veterans.

It operates seven clinics, including dental care practices, in Detroit and in Warren. About 20,000 patients receive care for ailments that would go untreated or eventually waste emergency room time and space. Helping low-income people stay healthy gives them  the ability to work and be productive, says executive director Joseph Ferguson, and benefits metro Detroit and Michigan as a whole.

Source: Daniel Zemke, Maria DaSilva and Joseph Ferguson, Advantage Health Centers
Writer: Kim North Shine

Lincoln Park Lofts ready for downtown residents and retailers

A former movie theater and adult club on Lincoln Park's main street are gone and in their place is a new residential loft and retail development.

The grand opening of Lincoln Park Lofts on Fort Street at O'Connor is being celebrated Jan. 15.

The project headed by the Wayne Metro Community Action Agency is a mix of historic rehab and new construction and is meant to offer affordable housing and retail space in place of the historic vacant Park Theater, which was a family draw before closing in the 70s. In the 80s it became the Hustler adult club until closing in 2008.

The facade and marquee of the theater were saved and incorporated into the new development. The marquee is expected to be restored and re-lit eventually. Inside the former theater construction is nearing completion on 12 residential lofts. On the ground floor are two 1,200-square-foot retail spaces. Behind the former theater is a new building that houses 24 condos with ground level parking. The condos are fully occupied.

"We are thrilled to have the Lincoln park lofts opening in our downtown. This is a project that has been a long time coming," says Madhu Oberoi, executive director of the city's downtown development authority.

The project has been in development since at least 2009, when developer Louis Piszker, CEO of Wayne Metro Community Action Agency, told metromode, "It will stand out as an exciting entry point to downtown Lincoln Park. "We're looking at this project as a seed or catalyst to revitalize the downtown of the city."

Today, Oberoi says his prediction holds true even as local preservationists fight plans to demolish a 1920s-era dime store just down the street from the lofts. The Neisner dime store would be replaced with a Save A Lot grocer.

"This will provide a 24/7 resident population in the downtown which is extremely important for downtowns to survive," says Oberoi. "This is expected to generate walkable activity and need for support services to serve the downtown...Hopefully this project will provide a catalyst for other retail type businesses to locate in the downtown."

Source: Madhu Oberoi, executive director, Lincoln Park Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine


 

Riley Park ice rink opens in downtown Farmington

The Riley Park Ice Rink in downtown Farmington is seen as keeping winter from putting a freeze on business and keeping the heart of the city pumping when temps plunge.

Barring too-warm temps, the 4,800-square-foot, refrigerated rink opens this weekend as a fundraising campaign to maintain and market the volunteer-run rink.

During warmer months, Riley Park hosts the Farmington Farmers & Artisans Market, Rhythmz in Riley Park and the Harvest Moon Celebration.

As the rink opens for its second year the hope is to keep Riley Park and the businesses that surround it thriving all year long and to foster the feeling of a quaint, downtown park and ice rink as a place to have fun before or after dinner, a coffee, or shopping. Annette Knowles, executive director of the city's downtown development authority, describes the vibe of the park and downtown in winter as "Currier and Ives-like."

"The Riley Park Ice Rink creates a winter destination in downtown Farmington. Until the rink came, the programming in the park was for three seasons, not four," says Knowles. "Now, we have a cool, fun place for families to connect and play.  And the rink is surrounded by restaurants where skaters can warm up and get a snack or inviting boutiques and stores to purchase accessories to keep you warm on the ice."

The ice rink opened in 2013 thanks to a major contribution of $100,000 from the Riley Foundation. Local businesses such as Wright Beamer, Dagwood’s Deli, S3 Architecture, John Cowley and Sons Irish Pub, and OHM Advisors contributed to the project as did the community, with Farmington residents chipping in $10,000.

Source: Annette Knowles, executive director, Farmington Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Royal Oak formulates downtown retail development plan

A national retail consultant has looked at the city of Royal Oak and what's wrong and right with its retail situation as the city works to "confirm its position as a retail and entertainment destination."

The city hired The Retail Coach out of Mississippi in September. The company has worked with dozens of local governments, chambers of commerce and economic development corporations in more than 250 cities, guiding them through development and redevelopment of their retail offerings.

The assessment for Royal Oak was expected to be presented to the City Council this week. The assessment will gauge consumer demand and analyze retail trade areas and retail gaps and opportunities. The analysis will target 52 retail categories that are weak or underperforming in Royal Oak.

“Royal Oak has always enjoyed a reputation as one of Michigan’s most exciting cities with several award-winning boutiques and galleries, and a bustling nightlife,” Royal Oak Economic Development Manager Todd  Fenton says in a statement from The Retail Coach.

“By bringing The Retail Coach on board to assist with our retail business attraction efforts, Royal Oak aims to be a showcase of distinct retailers that provide an unparalleled shopping experience...People and businesses are increasingly relocating to walkable urban environments, and Royal Oak boasts one of Michigan’s most dynamic and desirable downtowns," Fenton says. "As foot traffic continues to increase during the day with the addition of new residents and office users, the time is right for a coordinated retail attraction initiative to attract retailers who fit into our unique city.”

Source: The Retail Coach
Writer: Kim North Shine

Michigan & Eastpointe partner on redevelopment & investment strategy

Eastpointe is the third Michigan city to enter a partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corp. in an effort to promote cities that are easy for businesses and developers to work with.

By being designated as a Redevelopment Ready Community -- the first two in Michigan were nearby Roseville and Allegan -- Eastpointe is provided with guidance and advice on best practices on how to remove hurdles to development and assist small and large businesses that want to move into the aging inner-ring suburb. The advice includes identifying and preparing developable sites, marketing and recruiting potential users for the sites, assisting in city, county and state requirements and informing the public of what the buildings and land will be used for -- and, overall, bringing in companies that meet the needs of the public and the vision of city leaders.

“We are pleased to be part of our region and state and to partner with public service agencies such as MEDC focusing on community economic health with transparency and accountability," says Eastpointe City Manager Steve Duchane.

The Macomb County city has a population of about 32,000 and quick access to I-94 and I-696 There are more than 800 commercial, industrial and service businesses and 60-some major companies within its five square miles, which includes the major thoroughfare of Gratiot Avenue.

The city is marketing property and is prepared to offer incentives and streamline its approvals process so that redevelopment of unused property can move along quickly.

Source: City of Eastpointe
Writer: Kim North Shine

Hampton Inn hotel & retail planned for Michigan Ave in Dearborn

A vacant fitness center on Michigan Avenue in Dearborn will be demolished and replaced by a hotel and retail spaces.

The project of Hallmark Ventures LLC will include a 5-story, 96-room Hampton Inn and four retail spaces totaling 1,500 square feet at 22324 Michigan Avenue.

The state has approved a $1 million, performance-based grant for the project, and the city of Dearborn's Brownfield Redevelopment Authority is capturing $943,700 in local and school taxes for demolition and asbestos abatement.

The development will create 52 full-time jobs and cost about $8.6 million to complete, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

Source: Michigan Economic Development Corp.
Writer: Kim North Shine

Lincoln Park plans public space, pavilion downtown

Vacant land in downtown Lincoln Park, the subject of debate and discussion now for at least five years, may become a public event space and pavilion.

The Lincoln Park Downtown Development Authority plans to hire a consultant to draw up a blueprint for a re-use of the spot on Fort Street. The location is seen as a prime one for attracting visitors to downtown for fun, eating and shopping.

The DDA owns the vacant land, part of it occupied by the Dorsey Building at 1673 Fort Street. The building is in disrepair and needs to be demolished. The vacant lots next the building are also owned by the DDA, which had that land cleared when the historic Mellus Newspapers Building could not be saved. The other building has also been demolished.

This long process has paved the way for a park and public gathering space. The DDA's executive director, Madhu Oberoi, says a meeting held this week to discuss a public use plan for the property was well attended by residents and business owners.

"We got great responses. The consensus was that the public space was a great idea and the covered pavilion/gazebo is definitely needed downtown for events," she says. "It was felt this would be a catalyst for new development. The level of excitement was definitely there."

Source: Madhu Oberoi, executive director, Lincoln Park Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Ferndale to add bike lanes on Livernois Road

A one-mile stretch of Livernois Road in Ferndale is shrinking in size as part of a "road diet" that will reduce the street to two lanes and make room for bicycle travel.

A $118,092 Transportation Alternatives Grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation  is helping cover the cost of the project that stretches from 8 to 9 Mile Road.

Lanes will be repainted, buffered bike lanes constructed, bike racks added and a mid-block crosswalk built.

The rebuild of the road also includes the addition of on-street parking.

Altogether, city officials see changes as building on Ferndale's efforts to promote all forms of transportation and to design roads that promote businesses by making it easier for customers to reach them.

Source: Ferndale Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Brass Aluminum Forging embarks on $8.6M rehab of Ferndale brownfield

A vacant industrial site in Ferndale will be cleaned up and returned to the tax rolls after a growing local business renovates the property and brings new jobs to the site.

Brass Aluminum Forging's plan to re-use the building at 965 Wanda will come with an $8.6-million investment. The project got the go-ahead this week when the Michigan Economic Development Corp. approved a local and school tax capture of nearly $718,000, money that will help cover the cost of renovations.

The building will be shared by Brass Aluminum Forging and other tenants that lease space.

The company, which makes valve bodies, weapon components, air and hydraulic fittings, and architectural details and provides items that can be forged as well as other processes and products, expects to hire 50 new employees to work at the new site. Building tenants are expected to hire another 50 employees.

The city of Ferndale's Brownfield Development Authority requested the 965 Wanda site be a recipient of the the MEDC's Michigan Strategic Fund's economic development and community revitalization projects.

Source: Kathy Fagan, spokesperson, MEDC
Writer: Kim North Shine

Roundabouts planned for Orchard Lake Road in Farmington Hills

The city of Farmington Hills is planning to redesign a mile-long stretch of Orchard Lake Road into a series of roundabouts and boulevards as a way to improve traffic safety, promote economic development and encourage bicycle and pedestrian travelers.

The reconstruction could start in the spring on the the busy stretch between 13 and 14 Mile roads. The five-lane Orchard Lake Road is a major entry into the city, and part of the larger Northwestern Connector Project of the Road Commission for Oakland County and the Michigan Department of Transportation. The purposes are to improve traffic safety, including reducing severity of traffic crashes by slowing traffic, to stimulate economic development and to promote ease of use for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Details of the plan will be presented at an April 23 meeting at Farmington Hills City Hall.

Source: City of Farmington Hills Engineering Division
Writer: Kim North Shine

Dearborn builds splash pad as family amenity

The city of Dearborn is installing a splash pad and spray park on the east side of the city, giving current residents a free and fun activity and potential residents an amenity that might make Dearborn a good place to call home.

Construction on the splash pad at Hemlock Park is expected to begin this spring and opening day will come this summer, no later than the Fourth of July.

The splash pad will have two dozen shooting, squirting and spraying water features from colorful shapes. A 20-foot umbrella will stand near the splash pad as will six park benches. A decorative iron fence will surround it all.

Vortex Midwest out of Williamston, MI will build the splash pad. The city plans to add a splash pad to west Dearborn in the future as planners look for ways to add aquatic recreation to city amenities.

"We’re pleased to add the splash pad to our recreational options," says in a statement announcing the splash pad construction, " and know that families, especially those with young children, will find it a perfect way to spend a summer afternoon."

Source: city of Dearborn
Writer: Kim North Shine

Grosse Pointe Park to build second city-run movie theater

The city of Grosse Pointe Park, in cooperation with a nonprofit community foundation, will build a second movie theater at the city park.

This theater will be added to the existing movie theater, which shows first-run films and is a draw for all five communities in the Pointes. Construction on the second screen, which will seat 60-65 people,  will begin this spring.

It is seen as one more way to satisfy locals used to two resident-only city parks that include a free ice rink and warming house, a splash pad and pool, fitness center, gyms and putting green -- amenities not often often found in other cities.

The Grosse Pointe Park Community Foundation is raising about $300,000 of the $450,000 cost to enlarge the theater.

Tax dollars will cover $75,000 and profits from the theater, which charges less than commercial theaters, will cover the rest.

Source: City of Grosse Pointe Park and Grosse Pointe Park Community Foundation
Writer: Kim North Shine

State backs Dearborn Artspace artists' community

Plans for City Hall Artspace Lofts in Dearborn, a community where all kinds of artists could live, work, learn, and sell, took a significant step forward with the approval of housing tax credits from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.

The proposal, which is a collaboration between the city of Dearborn, the East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority and a Minneapolis-based nonprofit real estate developer, Artspace, would renovate Dearborn's historic City Hall, now Plans for City Hall Artspace Lofts in Dearborn, a community where all kinds of artists could live, work, learn, and sell, took a significant step forward with the approval of housing tax credits from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.

The proposal, which is a collaboration between the city of Dearborn, the East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority and a Minneapolis-based nonprofit real estate developer, Artspace, would renovate Dearborn's historic City Hall into 46 affordable housing units for artists and their families. City Hall Artspace Lofts at 13615 Michigan Avenue would also have room for a cafe, working studios, incubator space, galleries and creative businesses.

The project encompasses City Hall, which includes the adjacent West Annex and the concourse. Altogether, it would also provide Dearborn with a community gathering and performance space indoors and out. City Hall was sold to Artspace in August, and city offices will move to a municipal complex west of the current City Hall.

The project comes with a $16 million price tag, and the tax credits from MSHDA, which amount to $7.6 million in upfront equity, are a significant step in chipping away at the capital campaign required to bring a Dearborn Artspace to reality.

With support from the state, the final phase of fundraising can begin with a target date of summer 2014 for construction on a project that Artspace calls one of the most unique of the 33 it's completed around the country in the last 30 years.

Artspace President Kelley Lindquist cited the City Hall Artspace Lofts project as unique in the organization’s portfolio.
“Artspace has a long history of saving and repurposing historic buildings from warehouses to schools to hospitals, but this is our first opportunity to renovate a city hall,” Artspace president Kelley Lindquist said. “I’m thrilled we can help Dearborn preserve this important building, and grateful to the very active and engaged community leaders and artists who are helping make this possible.”

Source: Melissa Kania, executive assistant, East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority; and Melodie Bahan, spokesperosn, Artspace
Writer: Kim North Shine

New diner steps in for closed one in downtown Clawson

RJ's Diner is soon to open in the downtown Clawson spot long occupied by Grumpy's.

RJ's will be a 50's era diner and serve comfort foods like meat loaf and mac & cheese, according to the Clawson Downtown Development Authority.

Opening day at the new restaurant at 230 S. Main Street is expected before winter, after recipes are perfected, renovations are complete and employees are hired.

It's "always sad to see one business leave but so nice when another relocates and finds their new home here," says Joan Horton, executive director of the Clawson DDA.

Source: Joan Horton, Clawson Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine
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