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Revolver restaurant in Hamtramck thrives on revolving chef concept

The owners of revolver saw promise in melding the concept of table d'hôte -- a set, pre-selected menu at a fixed price - with up-and-coming chefs, a belief in using locally sourced food and a desire to build a community around it all. And in just under six months, they are seeing their vision catch on.

Tunde Wey, who with Peter Dalinowski opened revolver at 9737 Joseph Campau in Hamtramck in September, says revolver will be adding to its list of revolving chefs and opening more days for its reservation-only seatings.

Instead of serving dinner only on Fridays and every other Saturday, revolver will also be open every Saturday and some Sundays.

"We want to grow with demand naturally as opposed to trying to force it,"  says Wey, who describes revolver and the chefs he and Dalinowski select to prepare the day's meal as "artisanal fare, handmade, farm-to-table with attention to detail. Typically the food is new American, he says, but guest chefs have also served Japanese sushi and Indonesian food.

"We're open to all kinds of food genres. But we want food that's approachable and comfortable," says Wey, who like Dalinowski is a self-taught chef and entrepreneur.

The pair wanted to go into the restaurant business and do it in a way that it spoke to things they care about: nurturing the cooking community, bringing people who love different food experiences together and operating in a socially responsible way.

"We've gotten tons of requests from chefs recently and we sell out our dinners," Wey says. "There are so many talented chefs and caterers here waiting to be discovered, and so many people out there who want to try their food first."

The restaurant has room for 36 guests per seating, but can go up to 40. Tables -- the four six-tops and one 12-top -- are seated so that guests often make new acquaintances in their dining companions.

"We have people making friends, getting phone numbers," says Wey. "We're hoping to facilitate a marriage one day."

Want to hear more thoughts from Wey on revolver? Check out his November 2013 blog post on Metromode's sister publication, Model D.

Source: Tunde Wey, revolver
Writer: Kim North Shine

Getting Michigan cities redevelopment ready

Just over 35 cities and townships in Michigan are joining a new state program that teaches them how to prepare their communities for redevelopment and attract the kind of development they want.

Of the cities accepted into the first round of training and certification in the Michigan Economic Development Corporation's Redevelopment Ready Communities program, eight are in metro Detroit. Ann Arbor is also on the list.

It, along with Lathrup Village and Novi, will receive a formal Redevelopment Ready Communities evaluation that could lead to certification as a Redevelopment Ready Community. This means they either have outlined or have plans to outline their redevelopment strategies and draw development to fit their community. This designation could also make them eligible for redevelopment grants.

Dearborn, Clawson, Farmington Hills, Hamtramck, Wixom, and White Lake Township will receive best practice training and assistance and could move onto the certification process later.

They all will learn how to creatively re-use space, support and attract economic innovation, and devise devise plans that bring in redevelopment investment and in turn rebuild thriving communities for employees, residents and recreation.

The program was originally launched by the Michigan Suburbs Alliance in 2003, and its success led to the state program.

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

Regional mass transit effort expands to include all of Woodward Ave.

An effort to further study and coordinate mass transit options for the Woodward Avenue corridor from Detroit to Birmingham has expanded to include all of Woodward from the Detroit River to Pontiac.

Originally, the four-month-old group effort that includes the Oakland County Woodward-area suburbs of Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge, Huntington Woods, Royal Oak, Berkley and Birmingham focused on extending a mass transit line that would end at Woodward and 8 Mile to Birmingham. But a $2 million federal transportation grant, a change in design of the Woodward light rail line in Detroit, as well as a push by state and federal officials to create a truly regional rapid mass transit system for southeast Michigan broadened the focus area to include the entire 27-mile stretch of Woodward.

The Michigan Suburbs Alliance, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments and the Woodward Avenue Action Association are working with the original steering committee and inviting all other communities along the route to join in. There will also be opportunity for public input as the planning process moves along.

The grant comes from the Federal Transportation Administration and pays for what's known as an Alternative Analysis, a required part of any mass transit development. It comes after the state legislature passed a bill to create an RTA, a Regional Transportation Authority that would cover Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, and Washtenaw counties and coordinate local bus systems and oversee creation of a rapid transit network. SEMCOG will manage the grant and work to ensure that any plans to come out of the broader effort coordinate with all other work underway in the region.

The larger focus comes as mass transit planners and proponents in Detroit have changed plans for a Woodward light rail line to a downtown circulator system.

Heather Carmona, executive director of the Woodward Avenue Action Association, says the effort goes beyond transit. “We’re working with the cities to make Woodward work for everyone who travels along it, and at connecting all transportation modes to economic development opportunities.”

Richard Murphy, transportation director at the Michigan Suburbs Alliance, says in a statement announcing the new, broader approach: “Detroit and the Oakland County suburbs recognize that better transit on Woodward will spur economic development both north and south of Eight Mile—but they need a regional transit authority to build and run the system. Governor (Rick) Snyder has proposed that the RTA work towards a rapid transit network including Woodward Avenue, and this alternatives analysis will let them move quickly towards that goal."

Source: Carmine Palombo, director of transportation planning, Southeast Michigan Council of Governments and Lori Elia Miller, marketing and communications manager, Woodward Avenue Action Association
Writer: Kim North Shine

Pontiac receives $463K energy efficient retrofit grant

The Clean Energy Coalition will be funneling $4.4 million in grant money to seven distressed Michigan cities for clean energy programs, including Pontiac, Hamtramck, and Highland Park.

The cities will be receiving funds through the Michigan Public Service Commission's Cities of Promise program. Each city will receive $463,000 for installation of renewable energy technology and establishment of a revolving energy fund to pay for the energy management support and future investments.

Joshua Brugeman, a division manager with the CEC, says the initial money helps distressed cities overcome two key hurdles: lack of capital for the investments, and no budget to pay a staff person to manage them. "We provide them with that initial seed capital to improve their buildings from an energy perspective, establishing an ongoing program and revolving energy fund, to turn that initial seed capital into future investments," he says.

The city of Pontiac is at the stage of conducting energy audits, focusing on the city hall and Phoenix Center parking garage. "They present a lot of energy savings potential, and a lot of monetary savings potential as well," he says. "Those are attractive to us because we can build a stronger and more robust revolving energy fund."

Although the chosen cities are distressed, it's still important to invest in energy because of the savings and jobs created long-term, says Jenny Oorbeck, also a CEC division manager. And the funded staff person is also important: "You need someone who knows what they're looking at," she says. "We feel like we're doing the right thing for them, helping them put their arms around the data they need to understand and set up a program going forward."

The CEC is still working out the details of what the final projects will be. Also, some cities, including Pontiac and Hamtramck, received federal stimulus money, so the coalition can co-invest with that funding to create a more robust program.

The CEC, a non-profit organization that works with both public and private partners for smart energy strategies, has also subcontracted with Planet Footprint to keep tabs on the energy usage and savings for the cities, which will help them make informed decisions about their energy projects.

Other cities receiving funds are Benton Harbor, Flint, Muskegon Heights, and Saginaw. All seven cities are part of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority's Cities of Promise program, a program created in 2006 to help redevelopment in distressed urban cities.

Source: Jenny Oorbeck and Joshua Brugeman, division managers for the Clean Energy Coalition
Writer: Kristin Lukowski

University of Michigan's Five Fellows turn house into public art

Opportunity leads to art in Detroit. In this case, it's a combination of University of Michigan students and Hamtramck's Design99 studio.

Excerpt:

Five University of Michigan architecture fellows, through the help of Design99, purchased the house at 13178 Moran from the city's foreclosure auction for $500 and have turned it into their architectural canvas and a piece of public art for the neighborhood.

Inside you'll find a Q-Bert-esque staircase, a space called the "Tingle Room," another staircase leading up to a skylight, a removable nook in the back, and the garage drilled with 1,000 holes and jammed with 1,000 glass tubes. Each would require more than 1,000 words for explanation.

"We've collaborated but we have five different projects throughout the house," says Ellie Abrons, one of the fellows.

Read the rest of the story here.

Popps Packing live-work-gallery space lands in Hamtramck

More creativity continues to sprout from Hamtramck.

Excerpt:

Artists Faina Lerman and Graem Whyte purchased a former packing plant on the north end of Hamtramck. They have renovated it into their home and studio space as well as an occasional gallery. This past Saturday, as part of Art Detroit Now, Popps Packing held its grand opening with a showcase of several Hamtramck artists.

Whyte launched This Week in Art at Motor City Brewing Works in 2004. He said the couple, while not exactly dreaming of opening a gallery one day, saw an opportunity and ran with it. "We're going to play it by ear," he says. "We'll probably host quarterly open houses and see what happens."

Read the rest of the story here.

Hamtramck seeks developer to rehab 30 for-sale homes

Hamtramck is turning the negative of its vacant, foreclosed, and sometimes blighted homes into a positive by pushing for their rehabilitation as the most efficient and cost-effective way of dealing with the problem.

Excerpt:

The City of Hamtramck is seeking a qualified developer to rehabilitate 30 homes in the city that will then be sold to qualified buyers. These 30 units will be applied to the requirements of the lawsuit Garret, et al vs. City of Hamtramck, which came about when the development of I-75 displaced residents, primarily African-Americans, from Hamtramck. The case was settled in 1981; of the original 153 housing units called for, just 39 remain after this batch of 30.

The city is currently reviewing responses to the request for proposals recently issued for 35 units of rental housing. Thirteen foreclosed homes with 20 units of housing have recently been acquired from Wayne County. The rental project will have first dibs on these houses, says Jason Friedmann, Hamtramck's community and economic development director, but any remaining could be considered for this development. Otherwise, the developer will be responsible for site identification, although research on many of the city's foreclosed and vacant properties is available.

Rehab, rather than new construction, is being pursued to fulfill the terms of the lawsuit for one reason: cost. "We were building new homes and it was costing too much," says Freidmann. "We can offer a much more affordable home this way."

Read the rest of the story here.

Wayne County racks up $26M in neighborhood stabilization funds

The words green demolition would seem mutually exclusive at first glance, but Wayne County will take a stab at making them a reality this year.

It is preparing to start a pilot program that calls for the deconstruction and recycling of abandoned homes instead of the normal process of bulldozing them and dumping what's left into a landfill or the Detroit incinerator. The new program trains people how to deconstruct these homes to their foundations, recycling the details, metal, and wood everywhere from scrap yards to architectural warehouses. The foundations will then be dug up and recycled.

"We hope to hit the ground running within 60 days," says Jill Ferrari, senior executive project manager for Wayne County, who is overseeing the program and supervising its use of federal neighborhood stabilization funds.

The county has been awarded $25.9 million to buy, rehab and demolish foreclosed structures. It recently received the first $3.9 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Source: Jill Ferrari, senior executive project manager for Wayne County
Writer: Jon Zemke

New energy infuses Hamtramck Trail with new life

The end of Detroit's Dequindre Cut is about to become the Hamtramck Trail.

Excerpt:

There is renewed life in the creation of the Hamtramck Trail, which will eventually connect the Dequindre Cut to downtown Hamtramck, Veteran's Memorial Park, and up Gallagher beyond the city limits.

The non-profit Preserve Our Parks received $96,000 from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan's Greenways Initiative back in 2006 to spearhead the development of bike and pedestrian amenities in Hamtramck. The funds were used to plan a trail network and develop construction drawings. The group lost a bit of steam in the last couple of years, but now, new members are working with existing ones to reinvigorate efforts and raise money for construction.

Read the rest of the story here.

People's Community Services adds library to Hamtramck community center

People's Community Services has built a library at its Hamtramck community center aimed at keeping kids busy while their parents are waiting for various service appointments at the facility. The library is patterned after a similar amenity the organization built a few years back at its Delray center in Southwest Detroit.

While the first library was funded by Daimler Chrysler, this one was funded by Aramark, the international food service corporation. They first held a book drive and then, with City Year as a partner, painted the entire community center and stained, assembled and installed shelves and organized the 3,000 books. Approximately 170 total volunteers contributed time to the project.

PCS executive director Tom Cervenak estimates that the value of the work and the books at more than $20,000 and says that the library is already extremely popular with his clients.

PCS' Hamtramck site is located at 8625 Jos. Campau and is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Source: Tom Cervenak, PCS
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

New world coffeehouse adds to Hamtramck's main drag

A new "world coffeehouse" has opened on Joseph Campau in Hamtramck, bringing art, music, tapas and an extensive wine list to the city.

Excerpt:

Jeremy Richter, THC's general manager, says that Duby has worked to create "a really exquisite place for local Detroit artists." Coffee, teas, a Spanish tapas menu, numerous tap beers, an in-house martini menu and a premium wine selection are among the offerings.

Music will range from local DJs to jazz to blues, art will be on display. Richter says the sound system is "quite ridiculously good -- it's really sharp."

THC's style is elegant, with rich-toned mahogany wood, low lights and upscale service. "We're 100% custom," says [general manager Jeremy] Richter. "A lot of people come in here and we get a 'wow factor' through the roof."

Read the entire article here.

New greenways coordinator to boost Detroit's trail efforts

With eight trail networks under development across the city, Detroit cyclists and pedestrians have just netted an advocate in Todd Scott, the new Detroit greenways coordinator at the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance.

Excerpt:

"Todd’s skilled advocacy, wealth of knowledge about non-motorized transportation and recreation, and understanding of and enthusiasm for the revitalization of Detroit are key ingredients that he brings to this project," stated Nancy Krupiarz, executive director of MTGA.

Scott is currently acclimating himself to the various greenways projects on the table, including the Midtown Loop, Corktown-Mexicantown Greenlink and Connor Creek Greenway. "The greenways in Detroit have so much variety in terms of where groups are at," says Scott. "I'm finding that there are similar challenges and different challenges."

Read the entire article here.


Detroit attracts unique small businesses

Retail is lacking in many ways in Detroit, but the Model D series D-Biz aims to showcase the unique independent businesses that make the city the unique place that it is.

Excerpt:

Part of the reason we wanted to start this series was to highlight businesses that are not new but still deliver important services to Detroiters. The city's small businesses are a big part of what make Detroit's neighborhoods liveable, but they don't often get media attention.

Read the entire article here.


Meetings set for development of regional transit plan

Improving regional transit, it's one of those phrases everyone likes to say but few seem to want to put the hard work into doing.

Until recently. Maybe it's those $4 a gallon gasoline projections.

Within the last few years regional leaders have worked to streamline and integrate rival transit authorities, establish commuter rail lines and propose light rail lines. But putting all of these pieces of the transit puzzle together is arguably the most important aspect of improving overall regional transit, which is exactly what Metro Detroit's Regional Transportation Coordinating Council (what's left of DARTA) is trying to do.

The council, led by transit czar John Hertel, will host regional transit planning open houses in the tri-county area in early April. Hertel's group is developing a regional transit plan for Metro Detroit as a basis for applying for federal funds (the mother's milk of mass transit initiatives) and is hosting the meetings to get public input on developing this vision.

The first meeting will be held on April 8 in downtown Detroit at the SEMCOG Conference Room in the Buhl Building, 535 Griswold. That will be followed by meetings in Oakland County (April 9) and Macomb County (April 10).

The Oakland County meeting will be held in the Oakland County Board of Commissioners Auditorium, 1200 North Telegraph Road, in Pontiac. The Macomb County meeting will be at 15 Main in Mt. Clemens.

For information, contact the Regional Transportation Coordinating Council at drmt2006@sbcglobal.net or at (313) 393-3333.

Source: Megan Owens, executive director of the Transportation Riders United and John Swatosh, deputy director of the Regional Transportation Coordinating Council
Writer: Jon Zemke


Check out 16 of Detroit's sweetest developments

Model D takes a full-court press on Detroit's 16 most exciting developments.

From the Detroit RiverWalk to Hamtramck's new home for the Hatch arts collaborative to galleries and housing and retail, take a swoop over what's happening in Detroit.

Read the article here.

Hamtramck arts collective gets permanent home

The City of Hamtramck has deeded its former police station to Hatch: A Hamtramck Arts Collective; the group will use it for exhibition, studio and classroom space.

The collective was incubated with the idea that arts can be an economic stimulus to a city. As proof of its commitment to this lofty concept, the city has agreed to transfer the deed of its former police station on Evaline St. to the organization for $1 -- so long as Hatch raises an estimated $150,000 in renovation costs within a one-year timeframe.

"We're ready now," says Hatch president Christopher Schneider. "We're mature enough as a group to take on such a big responsibility."

Read the entire article here.

Hamtramck releases business guide and map

The Hamtramck Downtown Development Authority has published a colorful downtown district guide that showcases its diverse service, restaurant and retail offerings.

Excerpt:

The vibrancy was intentional, according to Gina Reichert of Design 99, a contemporary design store located in a Jos. Campau storefront. "The colors show the diversity of the shops, what the district has to offer," she says. "What makes up the character of Hamtramck are these small, locally-run businesses.

Read the entire article here.

SMART planning to make improvements to streamline service

Catching the SMART bus is about to become much easier, at least if Hayes Jones has anything to say about it.

The newly hired general manager of the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation is looking at a couple of ways to use new technology to make traveling on the authority's buses easier and faster.

Among the innovations that could be in place before the end of the year is using a MapQuest-like feature on the authority's web site to plan out trips. The tool would not only tell patrons which buses to take but when they stop at their destinations or transfer to other buses.

Another possibility is putting the buses routes into real time. That would allow patrons with smart phones or laptops to check when their bus is on time or not.

The idea behind the two innovations is to eliminate waiting time for passengers and streamline their bus-riding experience. Jones also said at a recent meeting for Transportation Riders United that he and his staff are looking for ways to be more customer-service oriented by getting rid of small inconveniences and adding new services.

Source: Hayes Jones, general manager of the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation

Writer: Jon Zemke


Detroit-Ann Arbor commuter rail line studies look to wrap up in April

As sloth-like as it seems at times, the commuter rail project connecting Detroit, Ann Arbor and Metro Airport is not on a slow boat to China. But then again, it's not using Maglev technology either.

Regardless, officials close to the project expect infrastructure capacity and fare-box studies to wrap up by April, giving the project a big boost toward becoming a reality.

"That's key because we're trying to nail down the cost of the project," Saundra Nelson, director of special projects for Wayne County, said in a speech to Transportation Riders United earlier this week.

Nelson pointed out that finishing these studies will get the project closer to concluding the second stage of a largely three-step assessment. The first two (what it is and what it takes) will be done, leaving the third (what it costs) left to be determined. Nelson was quite optimistic that the proposal will become a reality sooner rather than later.

The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, which is spearheading the project, is negotiating logistics and improvements with the railroads that control the tracks and Amtrak for providing the trains. Organizers behind the proposal are looking at picking stops, arranging a shuttle service between the Metro Airport stop at Merriman Road and the airport's terminals and making sure delays are kept to a bare minimum.

Carmine Palombo, director of transportation for SEMCOG, gave a prognosis last year of establishing service by late 2009 or early 2010 while SEMCOG and the railroads sort out logistical issues.

The commuter rail line would utilize existing tracks with stops at Metro Airport, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Dearborn. It’s possible it could also be expanded to connect Royal Oak, Ferndale, Troy/Birmingham and Pontiac.

Source: Saundra Nelson, director of special projects for Wayne County
Writer: Jon Zemke


MDOT looking for input on state's five-year transportation plan

State officials are looking for regular Joe's (or Josephine's) to give their opinion on where state transportation should go and how they want it to get there. The solicitation is part of the annual comment period for the Michigan Department of Transportation's Five Year Plan.

The plan covers how Michigan intends to spends its resources on transportation issues, such as road construction and mass transit, in the next five years. In the past this has mainly focused on road construction, but this year the emergence of the Detroit to Ann Arbor commuter rail project, Ann Arbor to Howell commuter rail project, Detroit Transit Options for Growth Study (aka Woodward mass transit line) and a host of local greenway initiatives are giving locals a variety of subjects to pontificate on.

You can make your opinion known where it counts here. The deadline for public comments is Dec. 21.

Source: Michigan Department of Transportation
Writer: Jon Zemke


Feds honor Metro Detroit's 100-mile network of greenways

It's not always a bad thing when the feds are paying attention to you. Such is the case when the Federal Highway Administration recognized the Michigan Department of Transportation with an award for "exceptional environmental stewardship" of its 100-mile network of trails and greenways in southeast Michigan.

"This award reflects our commitment to making non-motorized trails available as a transportation mode," says Kirk T. Steudle, director of MDOT. "Trails are a part of the transportation mix that is essential to protecting the health and well being of Michigan residents, and greenways contribute to enhancing quality of life."

The award largely recognizes the efforts of the Southeastern Michigan GreenWays Initiative. The public and private partnership has helped organize efforts to finance and develop a 100-mile network of greenways across Metro Detroit since 2001. The regional effort involves more than 75 municipalities in Warren, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe Washtenaw, St. Clair and Livingston counties.

Greenways provide recreation, transportation, conservation, tourism and economic benefits by creating non-motorized trails in developed areas that nurture and preserve green space. The GreenWays Initiative has worked to expand and enhance local greenways, helping leverage more than $82 million in investments in greenways from public and private sources. Although great progress has been made in recent years, Metro Detroit's greenways system is still behind leaders like Indianapolis, leaving plenty of work for southeast Michigan's leaders.

Source: Michigan Department of Transportation
Writer: Jon Zemke


3 rapid transit alignments in running for Detroit, Hamtramck & Dearborn

The Detroit Department of Transportation is hosting a series of public meetings to receive input on three potential alignments for rapid transit in the four cities it services: Dearborn, Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park.

Excerpt:

The options, all of which include a three-mile stretch of Woodward between downtown and New Center, are:
  • Woodward to Eight Mile;
  • Michigan Avenue to Dearborn, near Fairlane Mall and University of Michigan-Dearborn; and
  • Gratiot to Eight Mile.
These three alignments were deemed worthy of further study for several reasons, including public support at an earlier round of public hearings, population, housing and employment density, major destinations, traffic volume, bus ridership, and concentration of car-less households. Modes being evaluated include bus rapid transit, light rail and upgraded traditional bus service.

Read the entire article here.

Farbman's Michigan Now! program offers free office space to growing companies

Taking a page from the "Only we can solve our problems" playbook, Southfield-based Farbman Group is starting the Michigan Now! program to attract, retain and grow new businesses in Metro Detroit.

The program is offering office and commercial space at greatly reduced rates, or even free in some cases, to businesses and entrepreneurs in growth industries both in and out of state.

"Now is the time for businesses to play a role in moving our state forward. We cannot sit by idly and place the burden solely on the shoulders of government," David Farbman, co-president of Farbman Group, says in a statement. "The old way of doing business is no longer working for Michigan and business owners have the power to make a positive impact. The state is its own greatest resource. We have creative and well educated individuals, tremendous real estate spaces and a wealth of natural resources that simply need to be connected."

The idea is that by defraying the rental costs will free up capital in start-ups, allowing them to focus their resources on improving their business. It also hopes that the reduced rates will be big enough incentives to attract out-of-state businesses to Michigan. Farbman Group hopes growing businesses like this at the grassroots level will help boost the state’s sagging economy in the short and long term.

The program will also offer to match up these companies with local banks, consulting firms and attorneys to help them grow their business. So far about a dozen such organizations have signed up to take part in the program.

Applications for the program are due by July 31. More information can be found online at michigannow.net or by calling 866-NewMich (642-4639).  

Source: Farbman Group
Writer: Jon Zemke


Rail service could bring $719 million in investment to Michigan

A study by the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative states upgrading passenger rail service across the Midwest could provide up to $719 million in investment, $3.5 billion in user benefits to Michigan, 6,970 new jobs, more transportation choices and a significant reduction in pollution.

Nine states from across the Midwest, including Michigan, are part of the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative, which is pushing for the creation of a 3,000-mile Midwest Regional Rail System, similar to systems on the east coast. Trains running out of a hub in Chicago would travel to nine Midwest states at speeds up to 110 mph, making travel times competitive with driving.

The proposed system would have three routes in Michigan that would connect Chicago to Metro Detroit, Port Huron and Grand Rapids. The study estimates the system would generate $23.1 in user benefits, such as time savings, and $4.9 billion in investment in the Midwest during the project's first 40 years. Of that, Metro Detroit could see as much as $315 million in user benefits.

Passenger rail service, provided by Amtrak, ridership in Michigan has increased steadily wince 2002 from 447,000 passengers to 673,000 passengers in 2006. The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments is also moving forward with plans to create a commuter rail line connecting Detroit, Dearborn, Metro Airport, Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor by the end of this year. 

For information on the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative study, visit michigan.gov/mdot/0,1607,7-151-11056---,00.html

Source: Michigan Department of Transportation


Hamtramck's main street targeted for facade improvements

Hamtramck's Downtown Development Authority has rolled out a facade matching grant program for Jos. Campau buildings.

Excerpt:

Property and business owners are encouraged to apply for a grant that will match their qualified exterior improvement expenses dollar-to-dollar reimbursement of up to $10,000. The DDA has $144,000 to work with, and executive director Marcia Gebarowski says that when that funding runs out in two to three years, they will seek out more. "We want to keep this program funded, keep it going for as long as we get good responses from businesses that want it."

Read the entire article here.

Greenways network taking shape for entire region

$89.5 million in funding will eventually result in a network of bike and pedestrian paths through the entire 7-county region. $15.3 million of that total stems from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan's Greenways Initiative.

Excerpt:

The project's scope could be huge. A Rails-to-Trails Conservancy study reported the potential for 2,400 miles of trails in southeast Michigan. "That's the big vision," says Anne Weekley, vice president of the community foundation. The GreenWays Initiative-funded projects will total about 100 miles — double the existing routes — when completed.

Read the entire article here.

Tiger sculptures appear in Metro Detroit this spring

Large sculptures of tigers will begin appearing across Metro Detroit en masse after opening day.

The fiberglass Tigers are a fundraiser and public-art project for the Children’s Charities Coalition, which is made up of four Oakland County-based charities. At least 80 tigers will appear throughout Metro Detroit, although most of them will be in Birmingham and Bloomfield. The tigers are approximately 4 feet tall and 100 pounds and will be displayed in front of businesses between April and June.

“Our inspiration was the Detroit Tigers, but we have all sorts of tigers,” said Gigi Nichols, public relations director for The Community House, which is part of the Children’s Charities Coalition. “They’re not necessarily tigers that have something to do with baseball, although some of them do.”

Money raised from the sculptures will go toward the four charities that make up the Children’s Charities Coalition: Child Abuse and Neglect Council of Oakland County, The Community House, Orchards Children’s Services and Variety The Children’s Charity.

For information, call (248) 594-6403.

Source: Gigi Nichols, public relations director for The Community House


Mass transit ridership jumps in southeast Michigan

More and more people are catching rides on Metro Detroit’s mass transit systems, which saw significant jumps in ridership in 2006.
 
The Detroit Department of Transportation, Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation, The People Mover and the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority all saw ridership increases between 5 to 50 percent.

The number of people riding the People Mover jumped 50 percent, while SMART and DDOT each registered 10.5-percent and 5-percent increases, respectively. AATA ridership jumped 13 percent.

DDOT                  2005 = 34,724,028           2006 = 36,488,952  (+5%)
SMART                 2005 = 10,176,391           2006 = 11,251,836 (+10.5%)
People Mover      2005 = 1,558,646             2006 = 2,340,511   (+50%)
AATA                    2005 = 4,856,895             2006 = 5,488,317   (+13%)

"They’re all fairly significant climbs," said Janet Foran, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Transportation.
 
Overall, people riding mass transit in Michigan jumped 8.4 percent in 2006 to 93.1 million rides. The state’s seven urban transportation systems accounted for 78 million rides. DDOT and SMART provided slightly more than half of the total number of rides in the state, or 47.9 million. 
 
"Public transportation is a critical factor in providing mobility to Michigan residents," says Kirk T. Steudle, the state’s transportation director. "We attribute the rising numbers to several factors, including the ever-present issue of higher (and fluctuating) gas prices and effective local marketing efforts in larger, urban areas such as Detroit, Lansing, Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor."
 
Southeast Michigan, long dependent solely on buses for mass transit, is also working on two projects to diversify mass transit options by the end of the year. The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments is planning to establish a commuter train line connecting Detroit, Dearborn, Metro Airport, Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor by the end of year. Ann Arbor-area leaders are also working to get another commuter rail line up and running north from the city into Livingston County along the U.S. 23 corridor by June.
 
Source: Janet Foran, spokeswoman for MDOT

TRU holding contest: what will mass transit look like in the future?

Transportation Riders United, a Metro Detroit non-profit mass transit advocacy group, is holding a design contest on what the future of mass transit in Metro Detroit could look like in 2025.
 
"Detroit in Transit: Visions of a Region on the Move" is looking for drawings and designs of what Detroit’s future transit and transit-oriented neighborhoods would look like with convenient, high-quality rapid transit.
 
"What we’re really hoping to do is launch a public conversation about what rapid transit can do to revitalize a city like Detroit," says Megan Owens, executive director of TRU.
 
TRU is looking for artists, designers, urban planners, architects, students and others to submit designs and drawings. The contest has three categories. The first is to design transit vehicles on a streetscape. The second is looking for architectural designs of transit stations incorporated into a streetscape. The third is for designing vibrant neighborhoods and intersections around transit stops.
 
Submissions are due by April 30. Finalists will be revealed and displayed during a gala event during National Transportation Week, between May 13 and 18. For information on the contest, visit detroittransit.org/design-contest.php or call (313) 963-8872.
 
Source: Megan Owens, executive director of Transportation Riders United

Michigan Suburbs Alliance to host annual Regional Redevelopment Summit Mar. 23

Michigan Suburbs Alliance will host its annual Regional Redevelopment Summit on March 23 at the Fairlane Club in Dearborn. The keynote speaker will be Paul Schutt, Issue Media Group's publisher and co-founder.

Excerpt:

In southeast Michigan’s current real estate market, many cities are struggling to get the word out about their viable redevelopment opportunities.  They need new, innovative strategies for communicating to potential investors.  At the 2007 Regional Redevelopment Summit, cities, developers, realtors and communications professionals will come together to explore innovative solutions to this region-wide barrier to redevelopment.

Find out more here.



Michigan Suburbs Alliance to host annual Regional Redevelopment Summit Mar. 23

How do we create demand for cities and regions? 

Michigan Suburbs Alliance
will host its annual Regional Redevelopment Summit on March 23 at the Fairlane Club in Dearborn. The keynote speaker will be Paul Schutt, co-founder and co-CEO of Issue Media Group (IMG).

In Paul Schutt's presentation, he will discuss how media is providing "alternative narratives" for neighborhoods, cities and metropolitan areas. The discussion will focus on models that support a virtuous cycle by focusing on growth, investment, sense of place and thought leaders for the new economy.


Excerpt:

In southeast Michigan’s current real estate market, many cities are struggling to get the word out about their viable redevelopment opportunities.  They need new, innovative strategies for communicating to potential investors.  At the 2007 Regional Redevelopment Summit, cities, developers, realtors and communications professionals will come together to explore innovative solutions to this region-wide barrier to redevelopment.

Find out more here.



*IMG is a Detroit-based media company has created online magazines such as ModelD and metromode in Detroit, Pop City in Pittsburgh and Rapid Growth in Grand Rapids.


Get your paczki on in Hamtramck today!

Hamtramck will be ready for the hungry hordes that line its streets for delicious Paczki on Fat Tuesday.

Excerpt:

On Tuesday, people will party and celebrate the day before Lent begins. In Hamtramck, that day is also time to gorge on paczki.

Lent begins Wednesday, a day when many Christians give up sweets or other things for the 40 days leading up to Easter. In Metro Detroit, paczki are a tradition, especially ones from Hamtramck.

Read the entire article here.

153 homes under construction in Hamtramck

A total of 153 single family homes are being built in Hamtramck to fulfill the obligations of a housing lawsuit that was settled back in 1981. Hamtramck’s director of community and economic development, Erick Tungate says the development is about “bringing justice to the plaintiff class [as well as] putting the city as a whole in the position of solid footing.”

Click here for the full story.

And read Model D each Tuesday for more Development News from Hamtramck and Detroit.
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