| Follow Us:

Development News

2500 Articles | Page: | Show All

Near North development prepares for construction in Ann Arbor

Near North is nearly there when it comes to nailing down its financing so it can break ground on the north side of downtown Ann Arbor. The affordable-housing project just received another $250,000 grant from the federal government.


Financing is starting to fall into place for the Near North development on the northern edge of Ann Arbor's downtown area. The affordable-housing development recently nailed down $250,000 more in funding from the feds and expects to hear on the rest by mid May.

"We're hoping to break ground in August or September," says Bill Godfrey, developer of Near North.

But first Three Oaks and Avalon Housing, the two organizations behind the development, are waiting to hear if the development qualifies for the $10 million in state brownfield and affordable housing tax credits. The Michigan State Housing Development Authority is expected to pass judgment by mid May on the $11-million project.

Read the rest of the story here.

Ann Arbor green lights LED streetlight pilot project

Energy-efficient LED streetlights are multiplying throughout Ann Arbor, thanks to a new partnership between the city and DTE Energy.


LED street lights are starting to spread from downtown Ann Arbor into the city's neighborhoods.

The city has recently partnered with DTE Energy to perform a pilot project for neighborhood LED streetlights. The two institutions will split the $44,800 bill to install 58 cobrahead LED streetlights in the student-housing-dominated neighborhood just south of the University of Michigan.

"Some students had previously raised concerns about the quality of streetlighting," says Andrew Brix, energy programs manager for the city of Ann Arbor. "We had been looking for an opportunity to try out LEDs in an area where DTE owned the lights. This worked out perfect."

Read the rest of the story here.

Oakland U goes green with $2.7M geothermal project

Oakland University is getting ready to break ground on its greenest building yet, thanks to a multi-million dollar grant.

The $2.7 million federal grant will pay for a geothermal heating system for the new $63 million Human Health Building. The project also includes a huge solar water heating system.

"That is one of the largest, if not the largest, solar water heating systems in the Midwest," says Jim Liedel, energy manager for the facilities management department at Oakland University.

Both of those systems are big-ticket items in green building and go a long ways toward achieving gold-level LEED certification. Geothermal uses a well to draw upon the earth's constant temperature before the frost line. Solar heating systems pipe water through tubes in solar panels to heat them to near room temperature, thereby requiring less energy to provide hot water, for instance.

The geothermal heat pump and roof-mounted, solar thermal hot water array will provide the 160,000-square-foot facility with summer dehumidification of ventilation air, as well as cooling, heating, and domestic hot water.

Construction should start this summer and wrap up in 2012. The building will go on a vacant parcel of land on the northwest corner of the university's campus. It will house the School of Nursing and the School of Health Sciences.

Source: Jim Liedel, energy manager for the facilities management department at Oakland University
Writer: Jon Zemke

Karmanos and Crittenton open new cancer center

Karmanos Cancer Center and Crittenton Hospital Medical Center have opened a new shared facility in Rochester Hills that boasts a bevy of green features.

The new $16 million building features 30,000 square feet of state-of-the-art cancer treatment space. Patients will be able to receive advanced radiation treatment, chemotherapy, diagnostic imaging, and on-site laboratory testing. Seventeen employees staff the facility and that number is expected to grow later this year.

The center also has a number of sustainable features such as a white roof, occupancy sensors, and energy-efficient lights. All of these features were designed by Albert Kahn Associates and installed by Barton Malow, including the daylight harvesting system.

"The lobby has a lot of glass so you get a lot of natural light," says Larry Dziedzic, senior project manager for Barton Malow. "As the day gets brighter the daylight harvesting system shuts down the lights you don't need."

Source: Larry Dziedzic, senior project manager for Barton Malow
Writer: Jon Zemke

Birmingham installs LED lights in parking garage

Birmingham plans to launch its first LED light project this year when it installs the ultra-efficient bulbs in the Pierce Street Parking Garage.

The city plans to spend $350,000 switching out the old high-pressure sodium bulbs with LEDs, starting late this summer and finishing before the winter arrives. The parking garage has 227 light fixtures that were installed in 1986.

"They're pretty close to the end of their useful life," says Brendan Cousino, assistant city engineer for Birmingham.

LED lights use a fraction of the electricity of normal light bulbs because 95 percent of the energy they use creates light the human eye can see. In comparison, only 50 to 60 percent of energy used by regular bulbs makes visible light. LEDs also last several years longer than normal street lights.

The city of Birmingham expects to save $18,000 in electricity annually, plus thousands more dollars in maintenance costs. Other Metro Detroit cities are already enjoying similar benefits from their LED projects, including Pontiac and Auburn Hills. Ann Arbor is close to being finished with replacing all of its street lights with LEDs.

Bids for the project are expected to go out midway through the summer. About $125,000 in federal stimulus funds are helping to pay for the project.

Source: Brendan Cousino, assistant city engineer for Birmingham
Writer: Jon Zemke

Public art boosts downtown Lincoln Park

Lincoln Park is beautifying its downtown through the help of public art created by a local artist.

Kelly Galley moved to Lincoln Park in 2004 when her husband Todd set up Todd Galley Family Chiropractic on Fort Street, the Downriver suburb's main drag. Not long after that, she began painting rocks at the local Farmer's Market. The self-taught artist's work proved to be a local hit, breathing a little more life into a struggling downtown.

"We got down here and saw it needed some life and identity," Galley says. She liked rock painting "because each one provided a different canvas."

That caught the attention of leaders, who then hired her to paint a mural on the Downtown Development Authority's truck and holiday art in the windows of vacant buildings. Galley describes her art as folkish with bright colors.

"We have a lot of empty spots and buildings that just sit there," Galley says. "I want to paint them and hopefully encourage people to do something with them."

Source: Kelly Galley, downtown Lincoln Park artist
Writer: Jon Zemke

Macomb County Courthouse offers free Wi-Fi

Jury duty might not exactly be considered fun, but it's getting easier at the newly Wi-Fi-friendly Macomb County Courthouse. It's just one more benefit for downtown Mt. Clemens.

Macomb County Clerk Carmella Sabaugh launched the free wireless Internet program at the courthouse this week. The new service allows patrons to surf the web and do things such as look up case status, confirm which judge is hearing a case, and use the Sheriff's online inmate locator. The County Clerk's office is also working to enable online payment of court costs and services.

"We're looking at things that make our services more accessible to the public," Sambaugh says.

The county paid AT&T $15,458 to make the building Wi-Fi friendly and less than $2 a day for the service. It first provided wireless Internet for jurors in 2006 in what turned out to be a string of small amenities that have enhanced the downtown business environment.

Jurors receive pagers so they can shop nearby while waiting to be called to court and can
arrange books from the Mt. Clemens Public Library to be delivered to them at the jury counter. They are also eligible to receive free SMART bus tickets to and from Mt. Clemens.

"It's true," Sambaugh says. "The little things add up."

Carmella Sabaugh, clerk of Macomb County
Writer: Jon Zemke

Water Disclosure Project saves Ford water, money

Ford is sticking yet another sustainability feather in its driving hat by becoming the first automaker to join the Water Disclosure Project.
A spin-off of the Carbon Disclosure Project, the idea is to manage the shrinking water supply by setting up a clearing house for the world's largest firms to gather information on water usage, management, and risks.

The Carbon Disclosure Project does the same thing with greenhouse gas emissions. Ford is a member of that effort and has cut its energy use
and CO2 emissions by 34 and 44 percent, respectively. Ford's new goal is to reduce new-vehicle greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. and Europe 30 percent by 2020.

"Reducing water use means that plants use less energy pumping and treating water, which would reduce carbon footprint," Susan Rokosz, senior environmental engineer for Ford, said in a prepared statement. "Ford is also pursuing new technologies in which reductions in water use go hand-in-hand with reductions in energy use, such as Minimum Quantity Lubrication (MQL).  MQL lubricates cutting tools with a fine spray of oil.  Conventional wet machining, by contrast, requires pumping millions of gallons of a mixture of metal-working fluids and water to cool and lubricate the cutting tools."

The Dearborn-based automaker has also been hard at work on water conservation. Between 2000 and 2008, Ford reduced its global H2O usage by 56 percent, or 9.5 billion gallons. It accomplished this by tracking and minimizing consumption during plant downtimes, optimizing cooling tower operations, and investing in advanced technologies.

Susan Rokosz, senior environmental engineer for Ford
Writer: Jon Zemke

Wrecking ball warms up for historic Mellus

The Mellus Newspaper building could come down as soon as tomorrow, now that the city has green lighted the demolition and local utilities have made the appropriate disconnections.

At the same time, the Lincoln Park Preservation Alliance has issued a last-ditch call for development proposals to save the historic building.

"It will be demolished in a matter of weeks unless a guardian angel, a buyer, comes forward to purchase the historic building," says Leslie Lynch-Wilson, president of the Lincoln Park Preservation Alliance.

City officials have already turned down other redevelopment proposals, including one that would have created dozens of jobs. The city's Downtown Development Authority and mayor seem to be the only people who believe the Mellus needs to come down after a number of groups and prominent individuals have publicly called for its preservation, including Wayne State University Urban Studies and Planning professor Robin Boyle and the Michigan Historic Preservation Office, which wrote a strong letter condemning the demolition order.

The 1940s-era building at 1661 Fort St. served as the home to Lincoln Park's local newspaper, then owned by William Mellus, for generations. The Mellus still has its original porcelain enameled Moderne commercial exterior, while the adjacent Pollak (named after Pollak Jewelers and also up for demolition) retains its terrazzo entrance sidewalk.

The buildings had been vacant for several years before the DDA purchased them last year. Some officials call them blight, but the Lincoln Park Preservation Alliance argues that their salvation is an important step toward preserving the downtown's heritage and encouraging business and job creation.

Anyone interested in submitting a proposal for the Mellus should contact Lynch-Wilson at
(313) 598-3137 or lalynch@wideopenwest.com.

Source: Leslie Lynch-Wilson, president of the Lincoln Park Preservation Alliance
Writer: Jon Zemke

$8M Midtown Loop greenway project to break ground April 15

Transportation options are multiplying in Detroit's Midtown neighborhood now that construction on the Midtown Loop greenway has begun, allowing the emerging community to establish itself as the Motor City's most dynamic neighborhood.


After seven long years developing plans, raising funds and negotiating easements, University Cultural Center Association (UCCA) is poised to break ground on the Midtown Loop greenway on April 15. The first phase, which runs .85 miles along Kirby between Cass and John R and then south along John R to Canfield, will be complete by October of this year. This fall, a short stretch of the mixed-use path that runs along Canfield between John R and Cass will begin construction and finally, the "loop" will be completed heading north along Cass back to Kirby in the summer of 2011.

Sue Mosey, president of UCCA, says the first phase links together several institutions, which will help generate users right off the bat. The path will link Wayne State University, Detroit Public Library Main Branch, Detroit Historical Society, Detroit Institute of Arts, College for Creative Studies, Detroit Science Center and Detroit Medical Center. "There are enough attractions, enough going on, for people to have an experience, which will encourage people to use it," she says.

Read the rest of the story here.

New plans surface for Chelsea's historic livery buildings

Local residents are rallying around the historic-yet-endangered Chelsea Livery buildings, developing some innovative adaptive reuse plans that call for a diverse set of mixed uses.


A new plan for renovating the historic livery buildings in downtown Chelsea has surfaced, thanks to the friends group working to preserve the vacant structures.

Downtown Chelsea-based Dangerous Architects has put forward a plan that would turn the livery's three buildings into a mixed-use development complete with space for retail, restaurants, and residential. It was the only submission for the the city's request for proposals for the building. The Chelsea Downtown Development Authority, which had once planned to raze the livery, will entertain the proposal on Thursday.

"The three main buildings are historic," says Scott McElrath, president of Dangerous Architects. "The structures and their foundations are strong. There is no reason to take them down."

Read the rest of the story here.

Downtown Ann Arbor's Sudworth Building fills up

Well, that didn't take long. By that we mean leasing out the newly renovated Sudworth Building in downtown Ann Arbor, and, by long we mean a few months.


One of the few, mostly vacant old buildings in downtown Ann Arbor is now one of the many full, renovated structures. The Sudworth Building has signed another tenant.

The development team called 2mission Design and Development started renovating the 3-story building at 205 E Washington two years ago. It spent $3 million to turn the old home of a mostly vacant Buddhist Temple to into a mixed-use structure housing a microbrewery and a couple of new economy-oriented start-ups.  

"We were pleased with how quickly we were able to fill it up," says Greg Lobdell, a partner with 2mission Design and Development.

Read the rest of the story here.

Urban farm now part of State Fairgrounds plan

The latest twist in the "Save the State Fairgrounds" drama is all about urban farming.

Hantz Farms is proposing to take over 40 acres and turn it into Detroit's first major urban commercial farm. The deal is contingent on the Huron Clinton Metro Parks Authority taking over control of the 135-acre parcel at the southeast corner of Woodward Avenue and 8 Mile Road.

"At this point we don't have any final plans for it right now," says Patty Russ, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Dept of Technology, Management & Budget. She adds that a decision will be made within the next month.

The Huron-Clinton Metro Parks is considering a takeover of the State Fairgrounds, which is owned by the state of Michigan. Part of the proposed deal would include the agency taking over the annual Michigan State Fair for $1 per year, while creating a year-round Metro Park, the first in the city of Detroit. The park could include amenities such as a fishing area, cross country skiing, and athletic fields.

One of the major complaints Detroit and the inner-ring suburbs have had is that they pay taxes for Metro Parks, but most of that land is at the outer fringes of the region. Turning the State Fair into a Metro Park would go a long way toward remedying that complaint.

Source: Patty Russ, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Dept of Technology, Management & Budget
Writer: Jon Zemke

Weekly newspaper moves to purchase Red River Artist Center

The Telegram is in negotiations to purchase the Red River Artist Center in downtown River Rouge.

The move would fill the building with staff from the weekly newspaper that focuses on the Downriver area. It would also maintain some smaller studio spaces for artists and small businesses.

"This condenses our three-year time frame to eight months (for filling up the building)," says Rick Manore, coordinator and founder of Red River Artist Center.

Manore started working on the Russell Industrial Center-style organization last year with city officials to turn the vacant, former home of U.S. Steel Information Systems, 10750 W Jefferson Ave., into a low-cost incubator for small businesses and artists. The idea is to breathe some new life into the city's central business district. Think of the rebirth of Royal Oak, Ferndale, and Detroit's Midtown neighborhood.

Artists and creatives started taking up residence in the two-story, 1960s-era building last summer. The structure's 25,000 square feet of office space features more than a dozen 15-by-15-foot spaces that go for as little as $155 a month. The Telegram is the main tenant, bringing in a number of full-time employees.

Source: Rick Manore, coordinator and founder of Red River Artist Center
Writer: Jon Zemke

Metro Airport gets $8M for noise enclosure

Metro Airport has received an $8 million federal grant to fund the construction of a Ground Run-Up Enclosure to mitigate noise from the region's major airport.

The enclosure is a big, boxed-in area where crews can test engines without waking the neighbors. Aircraft need to have their engines tested after repairs but before going back into service, a process that can take anywhere from a few minutes to nearly an hour.

"Mostly what it does is reflect the noise straight into the air," says Michael Conway, director of public affairs for Metro Airport.

To do this effectively, the project's price tag clocks in at $10.34 million. This pays for the lights, water connections, a 43-inch cement slab, and high concrete walls that are formed specifically to muffle noise before it wakes the neighbors.

Currently those tests are performed in open areas near the runways. The structure will measure 350 feet by 300 feet and be located just north of taxiway A-5. It will absorb, deflect, and muffle most of the noise from the testing, enough so that it can be done at night.

Other airports with similar noise enclosures include Oakland/Pontiac, Chicago O'Hare, and Memphis.

Work is set to begin later this year.

Source: Michael Conway, director of public affairs for Metro Airport
Writer: Jon Zemke
2500 Articles | Page: | Show All
Share this page
Signup for Email Alerts