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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

Atlas Copco expands U.S. headquarters in Auburn Hills

Swedish-based Atlas Copco's upward trajectory of sales and growth is benefiting Auburn Hills, which will be home to the company's expanded U.S. headquarters.

Demand for the products provided by the U.S. arm of the company, Atlas Copco Tools & Assembly Systems in Auburn Hills, led to a decision to double its facility by building a $15-million, 120,000-square-foot headquarters in the Oakland Technology Park. It's where the company will supply other businesses with handheld electric and pneumatic tools, assembly systems, software and heavy industrial vehicles.

Atlas, which is a multi-national with offices around the country and the world, also supplies construction and mining equipment, compressed air and gas and other industrial and manufacturing products.

The new Auburn Hills facility will initially employ about 225 people. Ground was broken last month and the construction should be completed summer of 2014.

Source: Shawn Keenan, city of Auburn Hills
Writer: Kim North Shine

Closed metro Detroit Caribou Coffees come back as Peet's Coffee & Tea

Six closed metro Detroit Caribou coffee shops are re-opening this week and next week as Peet's Coffee & Tea.

After months of renovations and employee training, Peet's Coffee & Teas opened Nov. 11 in Royal Oak, Novi, Shelby and Commerce townships and Rochester Hills.

A shop in Grosse Pointe's Village business district is opening Nov. 18, as is a store in Ann Arbor.

The new Peet's are retaining and retraining many Caribou employees and also hiring new ones as well as investing in upgrades and decor at the new shops.

The Emeryville, Calif.-based company began selling the rarity of small-batch, high-quality roasted and brewed coffee from its first store in Berkeley, Calif. in 1966. The company is in the midst of an eastward expansion. It recently opened 18 stores in Ohio and four in the Pittsburgh area.

Many of its new stores are just doors away from Starbucks, which opened in 1971, five years after Peet's first shop. Friends of Alfred Peet, the founder of Peet's Coffee & Tea, opened Starbucks after being taught by Peet, a Dutch immigrant who, as the story goes, was appalled by the coffee Americans drank. He wanted to enlighten them and teach them how to find the best beans and make a better cup.

Starbucks initially sold only roasted beans, not brewed coffee, but has since far surpassed Peet's in size.

Source: Peet's Coffee & Tea
Writer: Kim North Shine

Tasty health food stirs up interest in Berkley's new Republica restaurant

The owners of the new Republica in downtown Berkley are calling their endeavor a food and drink revolution.

The menu is designed for meat lovers, vegetarians, and gluten-free eaters. The idea people behind the menu are a family with a history in restaurants from metro Detroit to Chicago.

The idea is to serve rich, memorable meals that don't leave your stomach feeling rich and fatty afterward and to serve food and drinks grown or made locally, from Michigan farms to nearby bakeries and to focus on healthy, natural food, not processed, not fried.

Craft cocktails and Michigan beers are served from a bar that was one of many major, stylish renovations to the restaurant that was formerly the Berkley Bistro & Cafe. It's located at 1999 Coolidge.

Comments and reviews on Twitter, Facebook and Yelp are showing locals are loving the fresh food like the urban farm sandwich and fresh fruit cocktail drinks from the bar.

Source: City of Berkley
Writer: Kim North Shine

Dynasty Media Network opens office in downtown Ferndale

Dynasty Media Network has turned a closed storefront located in downtown Ferndale into an office, sound stage, production area and all-around workspace for digital designers, marketers and technological engineers to design all manner of promotions and communications.

Owner and Founder Michael Rott has a long list of well-known clients and promising start-ups and plans to add to it from the new space and with staff that builds websites, develops apps, produces videos, TV commercials and digital business presentations.

DMN plans to add six full-time positions in 2014 and is also partnering with the College for Creative Studies to offer paid internship opportunities that can nuture a future generation of digital designers.

DMN also offers technology consulting, business strategy, audio visual systems, motion graphics and 3D animation, live streaming, corporate webinars, social media management and Apple computer education as a certified member of the Apple Consultants Network. Rott previously served as one of Michigan's lead creatives for Apple Inc. for several years prior to forming Dynasty Media Network.

"My passion for business, special event production and cutting-edge technology has led me to this point in my career," Rott said when he announced plans to open the new office for Dynasty Media Network last year. "At DMN we support individuals and businesses through creative design, effective marketing strategies and innovative technology solutions."

Source: Michael Rott, owner and founder, Dynasty Media Network
Writer: Kim North Shine

Stayin Alive Novi revives nightclub scene

After months of renovations that involved a gigantic disco ball, '70s and '80s era decor, lava lamp tables and a massive LED dance floor, Stayin Alive Novi's owners are looking to be filled with dancers and fun-seekers on weekends and event planners and private parties other nights of the week.

The vision for Stayin Alive, which opened last week in the Fountain Walk of Novi at 44325 Twelve Mile Road, is to bring back disco -- and '80s and '90s music -- in a big, memorable space for all sorts of get-togethers.

The dance club, which also has a patio and serves signature disco ball drinks, the Saturday Night Fever and Super Freak, from a 50-foot-long bar with iconic '70s and '80s logos on the walls and TV screens, will seek out corporate planners, party hosts, bachelorettes and even divorcees looking for a loud and crazy night out.

Events are already booking, including time in the VIP Shag Room, and last week's opening weekend was packed.

Vladimir Mirkovich, J. Kyle Hagerty and Brian DJ Godfather Jeffries, all metro Detroiters, are teaming up on the venture with Lucky Strike Entertainment.

Source: Vladimir Mirkovich, managing member, Stayin Alive Novi LLC
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

Treat Dreams ice creamery expands into specially-flavored donuts

Treat Dreams, the Ferndale ice creamery that opened three years ago and expanded its space earlier this year, is diving into another sweet endeavor: donuts.
Wicked Donuts will open inside the Treat Dreams store at 22965 Woodward Avenue on Nov. 16. Diners can wash down the creatively flavored dough with Detroit-based Great Lakes Coffee.

Like the ice cream, the donuts will come in unusual flavors -- at least 12 to start with -- and some classics.

Initially customers will have 12 flavors to choose from: Kooky Monster, Chocolate Covered Coffee Bean, Classic Chocolate Frosted, Pumpkin Bourbon Gingersnap, Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip. German Chocolate, Chocolate Candy Pieces, Boston Cream Pie, Peanut Butter Cup, Coconut Lemon Curd, Creme Brulee, Maple Bacon and Pumpkin Pie.

Owner Scott Moloney, who calls himself the chief dreamologist, says the donuts have been in the research phase for awhile.

"We have wanted to bring unique donuts to the Detroit market for quite some time, and with our recent expansion and the beginning of fall this seems like the perfect time," Moloney says in announcement of the launch of Wicked Donuts. "Along with the addition of Great Lakes Coffee and espresso drinks, free WiFi and ample guest seating, we hope that Treat Dreams becomes a destination for remote offices and off-site business meetings."

Source: Scott Moloney, owner, Treat Dreams and Wicked Donuts
Writer: Kim North Shine

Ferndale gets new streetscape with extra bells and whistles

A six-month-long rebuild of West 9 Mile Road in downtown Ferndale is complete and showing off what it has to offer to people who drive, walk or bike the stretch of road that was redone in an effort to unify and promote the business district, create public art and gathering spaces, and update and maintain the city infrastructure.

The $1.8-million project paid for the replacement of 2,600 feet of outdated water main and also remade the roadway and sidewalks from Livernois to Pinecrest with a new streetscape.

The project, dubbed How the West was One, was paid for by the city of Ferndale, the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Ferndale Downtown Development Authority, which has long wanted the west part of 9 Mile to be more connected to the east side across Woodward Avenue.

You'll know the new western half by the bright yellow park benches, recycling bins, bike parking loops, new street lighting, plants, trees and shrubbery. In addition, the road was narrowed and designed with on-street parking, better crosswalks and bike lane arrows that give cyclists a designated, ideally safer place to ride.

In addition, the new Kenton Pocket Park was carved out of the project and while the construction was disruptive, a new business opened, as did a new public art gallery.

Source: Chris Hughes, spokesperson, Ferndale Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Throwback barber shop in Wyandotte cuts traditional and urban 'dos

The generous 1950s era barber chairs, antique-styled signs and jars, hot lather shaves, pompadours and other old-school styles speak to Cream Barber and Shop's love for the barber shop of yesterday.

But the hair designs -- shaving and cutting hair close enough to the scalp to leave shapes and pictures -- reveal the modern talents at the new downtown Wyandotte business that opened several weeks ago at 537 Eureka. The opening was celebrated Oct. 10 with a ribbon cutting with dignitaries and a gigantic pair of shears.

Owner Wesley Napier, AKA West, thinks the two worlds can combine for success and he hopes Cream will become a local favorite for regular cuts and a destination for what he calls urban designs.

"Barber shops in the last 20 years have lost their true meaning," he says. "We are setting the standard for metro Detroit of what true barbering should be."

The "shop" in the name refers to merchandise like hair products, clothing and retro Nike Air Jordans.

Source: Wesley Napier, owner Cream Barber & Shop
Writer: Kim North Shine

Former NFL'ers son inspires sporty Kute Kids Boutique

Kute Kids Boutique
, an online store that customizes sports-themed clothes and accessories for kids -- and even dogs -- is carving out an online niche of customers, from Detroit Lions and Detroit Pistons players to the everyday sports fan watching teams at home.

"Lions' players' wives have ordered things," says co-owner and marketer Sherrie Handrinos, who is also the president of Boost One Marketing. "Pistons staff cleared out our gear in like 10 minutes."

Michigan and Michigan State fans are plentiful, as are orders for teams from out-of-state.

The mother-daughter-run online store went live several weeks ago and quickly got a following of people wanting to dress up their kids on game days -- or any day.

Handrinos, a Royal Oak resident, and her mom, Mary Anne Pacheco, a seamstress from Plymouth, have worked together since Handrinos was 19 and "we work together so well," she says. They also collaborate on Boost One Marketing, a marketing and public relations business.

"When I was little my mom would make my clothes…She's the one who knows how to do that stuff," says Handrinos. "I'm the creative one. I come up with the crazy ideas and make it happen…It's not really our main business, it's just something we love so much."

Kute Kids was inspired by Handrinos's godson, Kingston Williams, son of Derrick Williams, a third-round draft pick from Penn State who played for the Detroit Lions before moving to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"Over the past two years I would call my mom and say could you make Kingston this…every time he'd change his jersey number…We'd make bibs, blankets, outfits to match."

Kingston is now two and his dad has left football, but the clothes and other kids' stuff he inspired carry on.

Kute Kids will add detail -- names, numbers, etc. -- to items made by Pacheco and to other products: blankets, diaper covers, onesies, bibs, etc.

Social media, especially Instagram, has been a sales driver. After Handrinos posted a photo of her and Pacheco's Maltese dogs dressed as footballs, inquiries from pet owners wanting outfits for their animals "were coming in within five minutes," says Handrinos.

"I can't say enough about the power of social media," she says. "We may some day want a store or to put our merchandise in a store, but for now with people being so comfortable with online shopping...the online store is working out great."

Source: Sherrie Handrinos, co-owner Kute Kids Boutique and president Boost One Marketing
Writer: Kim North Shine

Build your own pie at Royal Oak's Blaze Pizza

A California pizza chain known for its quick-fired, watch your pizza being made concept opened its first Michigan location in Royal Oak last week.

Blaze Pizza, a fast casual restaurant concept that's in heated expansion mode, franchised a 3,900-square-foot, 80-seat store with an outside patio at 112 Main Street. The eatery introduced locals to its concept of an assembly-line system that lets customers choose from more than 40 toppings -- many gourmet or unusual -- and watch as a ball of dough made from scratch and left to ferment and develop flavor for 24 hours is pressed and topped before going into a high-heat oven that bakes the thin-crust pizzas in 120 seconds.

The franchise is owned by Blaze Midwest out of Houghton Lake, which plans to open 10 Blaze Pizzas in Michigan.

Source: Blaze Pizza
Writer: Kim North Shine

Age-friendly, plug-in ready neighborhood planned for Auburn Hills

A residential development in Auburn Hills is planned to be much more than another new subdivision.

The Parkways, a project of The Moceri Companies, is meant to create public use spaces, become an entry into the city's emerging downtown district, promote alternative electric vehicle usage and offer specially-designed multi-generational housing in one neighborhood.

City officials say the mix of housing styles and design of the neighborhood keep in mind the city's goals of offering more "age-friendly" and senior living options and promoting the inclusion of alternative energy technology in new construction.

The Parkways is also believed to be the largest residential development in Michigan to wire all property with electric vehicle plug-ins.

"This project was intentionally designed to meet Auburn Hills’ formal commitment to become an Age-Friendly Community with a variety of housing opportunities, parks, sidewalks and complete street considerations,” says Steven Cohen, director of community development for the city of Auburn Hills. “This private investment by The Moceri Companies to build a multi-generational development is a huge victory for the city.  It’s a game changer for Downtown Auburn Hills.”

As for electric vehicle wiring, Cohen says, "If considered when a project is first built, preparing for electric vehicles is very easy and inexpensive.  By prepping these garages with proper wiring, new residents within this development will only need to add a charging station on the wall if they buy or lease an electric vehicle.  It’s like adding a garage door opener and the costs are now very similar.  Having proper infrastructure in place will help this technology succeed. It just takes forward thinking.”

The Parkways will be made up of 76 townhouse, 72 stacked, flat units and a three-story 160-unit senior care complex.

The market value of The Parkways, which will be built on 21.5 acres of property west of Adams road and north of the Clinton River Trail, is expected to be $75 million. Previous plans for a major housing development by another company foundered during the recession, and the property went into foreclosure and then back into the city's hands.

A partnership with the city and Moceri means part of the land will become a two-acre public park and the major road through the property will be designed as a boulevard an eastern gateway into downtown Auburn Hills, where major projects such as student housing, will be completed soon.

Construction on the first of five phases is scheduled to being in the spring of 2014 and be completed by the end of 2017.

Source: City of Auburn Hills
Writer: Kim North Shine

Veterans' housing foundation opens HQ in downtown Mount Clemens

An organization formed to prevent homelessness among veterans has opened an office in downtown Mount Clemens as it makes plans to become a Midwest advocate for military men, women and families

VCCF, Veterans Construction Communities Foundation,
offers housing assistance, whether it's building, remodeling or financial assistance, job training and lacemtn and other services that help veterans of all wars and their families not only assimilate post war but thrive and have a high quality of life, says Mark Diaz, VCCF founder and president. Diaz is also a  Marine and veteran of Vietnam and Desert Storm, a former Detroit Police Department detective and founder and executive vice president of Liberty Home Loans.

Diaz founded VCCF with Mary Beth Ryan, who has a background as a sales and marketing executive in radio and TV and is a fundraiser for some of metro Detroit's well-known events. Their connections and experience put them in a place to network with people and companies who can help veterans.

The foundation's new office opens Oct. 24 at 15 North Walnut, not far from the Macomb County Courthouse. The founders say they want to share with the Veterans Administration the overwhelming burden of needs of veterans trying to return to normalcy. Some 1.5 million veterans are at imminent risk of homelessness, says VCCF's founders.

Besides offering general assistance to veterans and their families, VCCF is project-based. Money will be raised, volunteers gathered and expertise and connections tapped for specific veterans.

The current project is the rehabilitation of the Mount Clemens home of an U.S. Army sergeant whose bank account was emptied and who had the ownership of his homes illegally transferred while he was on his third tour of duty in Iraq.

The goal of VCCF with its motto, One Soldier, One Home, One At A Time, is to "be a significant force in eradicating and prevention of veteran homelessness. The funds we raise through the foundation will supply housing options for veterans and their families," Diaz says. “Our vision is to also become the Midwest resource and advocacy center for the veteran population.”

Source: Mark Diaz and Mary Beth Ryan, founders, Veterans Constructing Communities Foundation
Writer: Kim North Shine

Lark & Co. revives the old general store in new Birmingham spot

The vision for Michael Collins and David Zawicki's new Lark & Co. in downtown Birmingham is modern day general store.

The pair who previously ran Oliver's Trendz, a women's accessories store, in the same storefront at 138 N. Maple.  After shutting down for renovations, they reopened nearly two weeks ago and have stocked the 1,100-square-foot space with products inspired by a 1940s general store.

Variety is the name of the game: handmade candy, furniture, foodstuffs, lighting, purses, speciality soaps, rugs, books.

Collins and Zawicki have lived in Birmingham 17 years and see a general store as a way to round out downtown Birmingham's retail offerings, a way to keep locals from leaving town to shop.

Next door to Lark & Co. is Suhm-thing, a gift store that is also owned and operated by Collins and Zawicki and has a a selection of Michigan goods and unusual items from artists and designers around the world.

Part of the their business plan is also to convey how much good supporting a local merchant can do for the economy and to set them themselves apart by providing a level of service that's harder to find at chains, malls and big box stores, Collins says.

Source: Ed Nakfoor, Birmingham PSD, and Michael Collins, owner, Lark&Co.
Writer: Kim North Shine
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