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Construction to start this fall on Dearborn's City Hall Artspace Lofts

With most, if not all, approvals, funding sources and other demands squared away, construction on the City Hall Artspace Lofts in Dearborn can begin in the fall. Hopes are, when complete, a live-work-display-sell-perform campus will host an artists' community that has the potential to paint a rosy economic picture for the city -- if not the Metro Detroit region.

The project, which will renovate historic Dearborn City Hall into living spaces, workspaces, retail spaces, galleries and more, recently won a $500,000 grant from the Ford Foundation's Supporting Diverse Art Spaces initiative. City Hall operations will move down the street near other city offices in September or October, says Melissa Kania, of the East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority.

The East Dearborn DDA and the city of Dearborn are working with Minnesota-based Artspace to renovate the old city offices into an arts campus that could be an economic stimulant for the city and the region and build on Metro Detroit's history of invention and innovation.

The plan calls for 46 affordable live/work spaces for artists and their families, work studios, co-working spaces for entrepreneurs and artists, a live/work unit for an artist-in-residency program, and galleries spread out on the city hall campus off Michigan Avenue.

In similar partnerships around the country, Artspace has developed 35 affordable artists' communities, and another 12 are in mid-development. The projects add up to about $600,000 in investment in local communities. The Dearborn development is estimated to cost $15.7 million.

Neumann/Smith Architecture and Ghafari Associates have drawn up design plans for Dearborn City Hall Artspace Lofts. They feature high ceilings, tall windows and open floor plans that play off the historic style of the building.

A public meeting to learn more about the Artspace Lofts is planned for Wednesday, June 18, in Dearborn City Council chambers.

Source: East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Grosse Pointe Park Market Square plants seed for Kercheval Ave re-do

The demolition of a liquor store in Grosse Pointe Park has made way for what will become a more permanent space for a market that attracts crowds looking for farm and hand-made goods each spring, summer and fall.

The West Park Farmers Market that comes seasonally each year to Kercheval Avenue is a success on its own, says market manager Jennifer Meldrum, but the new Market Square, which is being built about two blocks away at Kercheval and Wayburn, will give favorite vendors more permanent spots to do business.

"Our hope is to, along with the popular Saturday Market, have market items available during the week for everyone’s shopping convenience," says Meldrum.

The city's Department of Public Works has begun construction on market stalls that will line the street. Plans call for the widening of Kercheval, new landscaping and the addition of an island in the roadway that will create a roundabout for car and pedestrian traffic.

The demolition of Art's Party Store made room for additional parking in a part of the city that's experiencing a commercial renaissance as new restaurants such as Atwater Brewery and Cabbage Patch Cafe join neighborhood staples such as Belding Cleaners, Sprout House and Pointe Hardware & Lumber Hardware.

"Along with fruit and vegetable stalls, the market will feature organic produce, flower vendors and specialty items including meats, cheeses, flavored olive oils and barbecue dinners made to order," Meldrum says. "While many of our vendors will be using the new market stalls, we still plan on having the market umbrellas set up along Kercheval for gifts and seasonal items."

Market Square is the latest piece in a plan in large part driven by the philanthropic and civic-minded Cotton family to turn Kercheval Avenue at the Detroit border into a walkable promenade and magnet for locals to find quality food and shopping and public gathering spaces.

The 2014 market season runs May 24-Dec. 6.

Source: Jennifer Meldrum, market manager, Grosse Pointe Park
Writer: Kim North Shine

 

M-Brew gives customers a ride through Michigan's food, drink, vibe

An old VFW hall in downtown Ferndale is on its way to becoming home to a catering biz, event space and storefront and cafe centered around Michigan made goods, from to-go growlers of craft beer to food and drink from dozens of cities around the state.

M-Brew, the brainchild of Dean Bach, owner of Ferndale icon Dino's Lounge, will likely open in early July inside the renovated hall that is part bungalow-style house with a building added to the back.

It's located at 177 Vester Street, next door to nightlife designation and award-winning spirit maker Valentine Distilling. Valentine was started by a like-minded entrepreneur who left New York for a return to Michigan with the dream of building a craft business that could lift up the local economy.

Bach bought the VFW hall two years ago and in that time has come up with a multifaceted business plan that he hopes will fill the Michigan-influenced renovated house.

The building behind the house is a 2,000-square-foot kitchen and home base to Bach's Dino's Catering and Mindful Catering. The latter offers healthy foods to school lunch programs.

The basement of the house will be known simply as The Basement, Bach says, and it's where parties and special events can be held. Dart boards, paneling and all-around basement decor that came with the house will be the party backdrop.

The house is where much of the woodwork and craftsmanship is on display. It will be a "little Michigan market," Bach says. Michigan-made coffee will be brewed and 30 Michigan craft beers will be on draught for takeaway in growlers. There will also be locally- and Michigan-made products -- salsa, chips, pickles, etc. -- for sale, and cold and hot prepared foods will be made in the kitchen or purchased from Michigan entrepreneurs for takeaway or eat-in.

The house was gutted and replaced with pine walls and ceilings, wood floors, a new fireplace and repurposed Douglas fir countertops and tabletops, says Bach.

"The concept is geared around craft beer carryout," Bach says.

However, a large wraparound porch that's been added to the front of the house and gives off a Mackinac Island vibe is the "perfect place to stay and enjoy a pint or a cup of coffee."

Bach expects opening day to come around the Fourth of July. A Ferndale Downtown Development Authority event is planned for June 19.

Bach's head is churning with ideas and things to come at M-Brew, even before opening day. A big one, he says, is former Red Wing Darren McCarty's private-label root beer that will be released at an event.

"This is such an exciting time," Bach says. "It's tiring and so much work, but it's so exciting for me and and my wife."

Source: Dean Bach, owner, Dino's Lounge and M-Brew
Writer: Kim North Shine

Plymouth Yoga Room expands into loft studio

After five years in the business based on "Namaste," the Plymouth Yoga Room is expanding into a loft studio above the yoga room that has run out of space.

Owners Brent and Sheri Rieli have developed a loyal yoga community that packed the studio at 474 Forest. The expansion doubles the space of Plymouth Yoga Room and lets the Rielis hold multiple classes at once and add to class offerings.

"Our new room is more spacious to accommodate more students, considering our yoga community is constantly growing," says Jen Brown, an instructor at Plymouth Yoga Room.

Source: Jen Brown, Plymouth Yoga Room
Writer: Kim North Shine

Salon & Spa at Macomb Place comes to downtown Mt. Clemens

Downtown Mount Clemens has a new salon and spa that wants to welcome the usual clientele for hair, body and nail treatments but also be a place for parties and group outings.

Salon & Spa at Macomb Place opened last month at 65 Macomb Place, Studio C, and celebrated with a grand opening this week.

The owners and stylists see their specialty as party hostesses and want Salon & Spa to be a destination for bachelorette parties, princess parties, birthday parties, even company outings.

Source: Salon & Spa at Macomb Place
Writer: Kim North Shine

Nature's Playhouse opens playspace and wellness center in Ferndale

Two moms have created what they see as a dream place for their own children and the community at large to come and play and learn.

Michelle McEvoy and Lisa Ball describe their recently opened Nature's Playhouse in downtown Ferndale as "an all-natural family enrichment center." Both know the craving to find a redeeming place to take their children, and what they wanted to build was a place that's good for children and their families.

Nature's Playhouse is located at 318 W. Nine Mile Road. The pair previously ran a smaller Nature' s Playhouse in the Hunter Community Center in Clawson.

Their mom-driven entrepreneurship grew out of desire to provide the entire family with enriching experiences in environmentally safe, conscious surroundings.

And while playhouse is in the business name, it's not just about kids running around having fun. Nature's Playhouse is a wellness center, a classroom, yoga studio and more.

Open playtime is a part of Nature's Playhouse. Families can drop in or buy a membership. And besides the play area of yesteryear, they will find toys made of wood and cloth and by hand. One rule: no phones. The idea is to be involved with the kids, and the surroundings are meant to be peaceful and calming.

Nature's Playhouse also has aligned itself with likeminded teachers, artists and crafters who will lead workshops and classes.  Classes in natural child-birth, prenatal, family and therapeutic yoga, workshops in belly painting, puppet making and much, more are on the menu.

Nature's Playhouse will also be home to several free support groups for breastfeeding, postpartum care, and baby-weaning, and host workshops and special events emphasizing family wellness. Handcrafted items made by Michigan families will be for sale.

Ball and McEvoy will teach as will other instructors, experts and specialists. McEvoy, a certified schoolteacher in Michigan and California, will be the lead instructor.

"One of the things I love the most about Nature's Playhouse is that the environment and the class offerings provide the opportunity for our kids to observe and participate with us while we do some things to take care of ourselves," says McEvoy, a University of Michigan graduate who has traveled the world and taught Kindergarten and fifth grade before becoming a mom.

Ball, a veteran entrepreneur and owner of Joseph K Publications, director of Clawson's Arts & Authors Festival, project coordinator for The Formation of Motherhood Project, and founder of the My Glass is Full consultancy, says the emphasis is actually on keeping moms in shape emotionally and physically so they can be the best they can be.

‘Women are still the heart of families today, which is why our programs focus on family wellness through physical health, enriching classes to help bond with your child and free support groups to help women on their new journey through motherhood.”

Source: Lisa Ball & Michelle McEvoy, owners, Nature's Playhouse
Writer: Kim North Shine

Giuseppe's International Oils & Vinegars opens Grosse Pointe store

Stainless steel dispensers, ceramic decanters, and glass bottles make up much of the decor of Giuseppe's International Oils & Vinegars, but it's what's inside the containers that is the lifeblood of the business that has opened a second location in metro Detroit.

The first store, at Partridge Creek Mall in Clinton Township, has found enough success selling olive oils, aged vinegars and accessories that the owners decided to open a store in Grosse Pointe this week.

The newest Giuseppe's is located in the Village business district at 16841 Kercheval Avenue, on the second floor of the Dawood Building. The second floor retail location is a rarity for the Village, but may become more common as rules on building uses ease up and become more welcoming to businesses.

Besides its olive oils in flavored, regional, organic and specialty varieties dispensed from stainless steel canisters, and its vinegars imported from Modena, Italy that come in dark and white balsamic and wine varieties, Giuseppe's sells herbs and spices, olive oil skin products, handmade ceramic decanters and dishes, and other home products.

Giuseppe's also works with chefs who visit the store to share food and recipes that use oils, vinegars and other spices, including many that focus on health benefits.

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

Peace Pedalers offers pedi-cab rides in downtown Plymouth

There's a new way to get around downtown Plymouth. Peace Pedalars, a pedicab business started by Diane and Andy Webster, is the latest and most energy efficient way to get to and fro.

The first rides in the white and black tricycle cabs that come with convertible covers started on St. Patrick's Day weekend. In recent weeks as weather has started to warm, families are taking rides around the square, late night crowds are getting from restaurant to bar or to their cars with a ride on the leather seat of the pedicab.

Besides providing a taxi service, Peace Pedalers is also an advertising service. The Websters, who completed a special drivers' training and expect other pedicab drivers to do the same, want it to be a regular part of the downtown Plymouth scene, and get to know locals as they show them around town.

Source: Plymouth Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Birmingham Wine retailer opens in downtown Birmingham

Parking, the puzzler for so many downtowns, has sent one Ferndale business owner to downtown Birmingham to run his wine business.

Ed Bosse, the owner of the now-closed Winezilla in downtown Ferndale, has reopened as Birmingham Wine in a downtown he sees as barrier-free when it comes to parking for his customers.

"I feel the meter stations are a great disservice to retailers, landlords and in the end the citizens," Bosse says. "I wasn't fully aware of how quickly and drastically it had affected our business until I looked at sales figures," he says. Winezilla was in business about 18 months.

Bosse's wine business is focused on making wine accessible to all by offering affordable, quality wines and a free wine education to his customers. He prides himself on stocking an eclectic mix of wines and seeks out chemical-free, organic and rare finds. He also sells higher-priced wines for those looking for rare varietals.

Birmingham Wine is located in the city's Market area at 588 North Old Woodward and offers plentiful, easy-to-use parking. He says he hopes Ferndale will rethink the system before other retailers follows in his footsteps.

Source: Ed Bosse, owner, Birmingham Wine
Writer: Kim North Shine

The Rendezvous With Tea opens in Grosse Pointe Woods

Jars and jars of tea leaves and all sorts of tea accoutrements make up the aromatic and colorful decor and merchandise at The Rendezvous With Tea in Grosse Pointe Woods.

The store opened several weeks ago on busy Mack Avenue near Vernier (8 Mile  Raod) and is seeing locals and destination shoppers looking for a taste of teas from around the world and closer to home.

The tea-loving owner, Naszreen Gibson, sells nearly 200 varieties of loose teas mostly from Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Indonesia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and the Far East and more then 50 flavors of tea bags in sachets, pyramids and cloth bags. Tea pots and tea ware made of porcelain, cast iron, stainless steal and ceramic are also available.

One thing not for sale is the owner's signed copy of the New Tea Lovers' Treasury. Author and tea authority James Norwood Pratt visited The Rendezvous With Tea recently and says the shop is "a dream come true brought to Grosse Pointe Woods by a tea visionary to challenge and inspire any seeker of excellence. Be wise and stay healthy: Let Naszreen make you love tea too."

Source: Naszreen Gibson, owner, The Rendezvous With Tea
Writer: Kim North Shine

Kercheval Dance studio to open in Grosse Pointe's Village



East siders will have a new dance studio to add to their repertoire when Kercheval Dance opens in Grosse Pointe's Village business district this summer.

Tracy Halso Gap and her husband, Adam Gap, will own and operate the business, which is being renovated inside a space in the block-long building that previously housed a Borders bookstore and an Ace Hardware. Their 3,500-square-foot space will come with two studios -- one with a stage, high ceilings (The husband-wife dance partners know the pitfalls of dance spaces with low ones). The studio will also be built with special shock-absorbing, bone-protecting sprung floors like the ones used on Dancing With the Stars, professional lighting and sound systems, and a large lobby.

Kercheval Dance will be next door to the offices of St. John Health System, which leased the space for the studio and has plans to bring in other tenants. The studio faces a public parking lot behind the building, which fronts Kercheval Avenue. Its entrance is on the alley for easy drop-off and pick-up, and, if needed, convenient access to nearby businesses, says Tracy Halso Gap.

The couple bring with them years of experience in performance dance, dance instruction and competition dance coaching. They've lived and worked in cities around the country.

After graduating from Oklahoma City University, which specializes in dance and musical theater majors, Gap, a Grosse Pointe native and University Liggett graduate, "bounced around like a gypsy," including years spent in New York studying dance and auditioning. That was followed by work as a dancer at theme parks in Virginia, where she and her husband were dance partners, and in Pennsylvania and at Disney World before moving to Boston. There they led a master's program and directed a competition dance team. Adam Gap also danced for Royal Caribbean International, the Bellagio in Las Vegas and the American Spirit Dance Company. During their time in Boston, he received his business degree.

"After living in so many places we really found out what we wanted to do. It really gave us a taste of what's out there. And we both knew we have a mutual love for children and dance," she says.

They also have a love for Grosse Pointe, she says, and after they moved back from Boston last summer, they started looking for a studio location.

"There were a lot of times we contemplated starting a dance school out there. It could be great. Boston is a big supporter of the arts,"  she says. "But the feel of the community in Grosse Pointe is so special and unique… Parents really research what their kids are involved in, and they want high quality. We hope we produce a high quality dance education and a fun place to study for children and the parents as well."

The Gaps will lead classes in ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop, lyrical and contemporary dance to students as young as age two. Adults will be offered the same courses plus fitness fusion, a workout for dancers or non-dancers, and ballroom dance. Advanced ballerinas will find pointe classes, and there will be special classes in tumbling and stretching and leaps and turns to build on gymnastics' influence on dance.

Initially, the Gaps will teach all classes. As enrollment builds they will hire other instructors and expand courses. She says their dance school will be set apart by the quality of the studio construction and its performance space as well as its syllabus-guided instruction that lets students and parents track progress, milestones, set goals, etc.

"We want children to develop and learn and grow with us," she says. "We are just so excited to be here, in the Village and to be a part of bringing back this part of the Village that has been open and empty for so long. We are so grateful for this opportunity."

Check out this video of O'Mara Sprung Floors, the Flint company that's building the studio floors, and this one of the Gaps dancing.

Source: Tracy Halso Gap
Writer: Kim North Shine
 

Clawson Business Resource Center to open in library downtown

During the cold depths of winter, business was heating up in downtown Clawson.

In that time seven new businesses opened, and now that spring has sprung the city's downtown development authority is coming out to celebrate with a mass ribbon cutting.

The DDA and the Clawson Chamber of Commerce are hoping to stoke the economic flames by opening a business resource center where prospective and current small business owners can come for information and support.

The Clawson Business Resource Center is located in the Blair Memorial Library and "provides easy access to materials and expertise. Although open to everyone, the program targets entrepreneurs and small businesses whether their status is pre-startup, startup or growth and expansion," says Joan Horton, executive director of the Clawson DDA.

The library and the Oakland County Small Business Center are partners as well, and the resource center is opening this week.

The resource center will be stocked with computers, business-related books, magazines, periodicals and other hard copy resources as well as internet-based resources. Business counseling and business seminars will also be offered. Twice a month on Wednesdays, members of SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) and Michigan Works will offer their expertise and advice. The center will be open day and evening hours.

Source: Joan Horton, executive director, Clawson 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

Yates Cider Mill opening new location in Orion Twp

Yates Cider Mill, a top metro Detroit destination for cider, donuts, jams, other small-batch foods, and the entertainment experience of watching the cider-making process, is taking the family tradition to a new location in Orion Township.

It's not uncommon to see long lines and crowds at the Rochester Hills mill.The new location is expected to follow suit, building on the business based on Michigan apples.

It will be located at Canterbury Village and is expected to open by the fall, the high season for the cider mill outings.

Owner Mike Titus is also expanding the Rochester Hills operation, opening for the first time for a spring pressing. Opening day is April 15.

And by the first of May Yates will open the Ice Cream Shoppe and sell chocolate and vanilla custards.

Yates, a grist mill that dates back to 1863, is said to be one of the longest continuously operating businesses in the state, and the popularity of the mills, which merge agriculture and economics, is at a high.

Source: Mike Titus, owner, Yates Cider Mill
Writer: Kim North Shine

Troy-based Autobike partners with Grand Rapids TerraTrike

Autobike, the young company from Troy that's reworked and refined automatic shifting technology for bicycles, is going into business with TerraTrike, a Grand Rapids manufacturer of recumbent trikes.

The partnership gives Autobike a whole new market for its technology that appeals to both techies who love gadgets and cyclists who just want an easy ride.

Techies get a ride that's constantly being analyzed for when to shift by a tiny little electronic brain along with a smartphone app and bluetooth synching. Easy riders get a ride without ever having to shift a gear themselves.

TerraTrike's product combined with Autobike's technology adds up to the world's first smart trike, the companies say. The new high-tech model, part of the TerraTrike's Rover line, debuts within weeks.

TerraTrike and Autobike, which builds and sells its own bikes with its automatic shifters, have customers around the country, and they  expect sales to increase after the release of the smart trike.

Source: Autobike
Writer: Kim North Shine
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