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« Murph on Metro Mode
» 40 years ago today

Detroit News Roundup for Saturday and Sunday July 21-22, 2007

Michigan features a growing number of breweries

Michigan microbreweries and brewpubs are producing more beer than ever.

While out-of-state distribution is increasing annually, a large portion of the 6.6 million barrels produced last year ended up being poured into the mugs of Michigan residents and out-of-state residents who visit the Wolverine state’s 75 breweries.

This is Michigan’s chance to grow an industry before other more currently conservative states and start competing. Ideally, Michigan’s microbreweries would attract most of their income from out of the state and bring visitors who will be spending their dollars in the state. Already there is a burgeoning wine tourism industry and there’s no reason why this can be big in Detroit as another pillar of its tourist attractions.
[via MLive.com]

Work together and build world-class Cobo

Cobo Hall was 6 years old in 1967. It has been expanded once, but not enough to accommodate today’s major events. It’s no longer adequate for the North American International Auto Show, a marquis event that brings the world to Detroit every year.

And yet, this region has been unable for 20 years to come together on a plan to modernize its premier meeting place — in part because of where it is, in part because of who would pay for it, in part because of who would control it, in part because of who might get credit for making it happen.

The suburbs — personified in this squabble by Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson’s glowering about paying for a Cobo expansion without getting a fair amount of control over it — have got to stop assuming that anything run by the city will be a failure. The truth is that Cobo is in an ideal spot for a convention center, and that spot happens to be within city limits. It would make no sense at all to marginalize the city’s leadership of a new, improved Cobo.

The point is, the entire region loses if the premier auto show decamps. Imagine trying to explain that to our children.

A Detroit Free Press editorial on yet another reason why the region needs to cooperate rather than fight amongst each other like children. The region’s premier convention center belongs in downtown Detroit. Why are we still arguing over this? How much more evidence needs to be shown before L. Brooks Patterson can no longer publicly deny that conventions in downtown Detroit are a windfall for Oakland County.
[via Detroit Free Press]

Barriers to mobility have to come down

Transportation and mass transit are about more than moving people from Point A to Point B. They’re about how, or whether, we think of ourselves as one region, or as neighboring but unrelated and divided communities. In southeast Michigan, the latter view has prevailed — both before and after 1967.

History has repeated itself. In 1976, the region lost $600 million in federal aid to build a light-rail system because Detroit and the suburbs couldn’t agree on a plan. Instead of moving forward together, everyone loses.

Local leaders should push to change the state law that lets communities opt out. At the very least, they cannot allow opt-outs in any future regional transportation system. Transit is about movement, not detours. But southeast Michigan won’t get a regional transportation system until its leaders and people think of themselves as a region.

Again, we have hundreds of millions of federal dollars on the line to build regional transit, in this case from Ann Arbor to Detroit. Still, politicians in places like Novi wants to stop it from happening, like a neighbor trying to stop you from installing a solar water heater in your own home.
[via Detroit Free Press]

Rebuild Detroit with immigrants

Warren Mayor Mark Steenbergh says he doesn’t want a flood of new Iraqi immigrants overwhelming his city. His loss. Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick should stand up and shout, “I’ll take ‘em all!”

A massive influx of immigrants looking to build new lives and willing to help rebuild an old city would fit right into Kilpatrick’s plans to revive Detroit’s neighborhoods.

Immigrants are already proving they can make a difference in Detroit. Drive out Vernor Highway from the near west side to Dearborn, first through the Hispanic neighborhoods and transitioning to the Arab community, and you’ll see once abandoned storefronts filled with small businesses — bakeries, markets, dry cleaners, auto shops — serving their new customers.

Or go to the growing ethnic enclave around the State Fairgrounds for a look at the ability of Iraqi newcomers to make something out of nothing.

Detroit should be actively recruiting these Iraqi immigrants, and others from around the world, offering relocation and acculturation assistance. The city should put together a package of enticements to make sure they land here instead of somewhere else.

For example, the large inventory of city-owned abandoned homes could serve as bait to lure immigrants. Give them the keys to a house and tell them to fix it up and return it to the tax rolls within three years and it’s theirs to keep — free. That’s a better option than continuing to roll bulldozers through Detroit’s blighted neighborhoods.

Immigration could be a growth industry for Detroit. But becoming America’s new immigrant capital will require the city’s leaders, specifically some members of the City Council, to get over their Afrocentric vision of Detroit and recognize that diversity is a route to revival.

These are good ideas and hopefully they won’t be completely ignored.
[via DetNews.com]

Sharing world of art

If you have a heart for art, check out volunteer opportunities at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA).

The DIA is looking for art-to-schools and museum docents, or guides.

Sue Troia, program manager of docent development at the DIA, says applications will be accepted through the end of this month. The application and interview processes will close next month.

While construction is ongoing there is still stuff going on at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
[via Detroit Free Press]

Google chief says Michigan operation “doing very well”

ACME, Mich . — The chief of Google says the Internet company’s Ann Arbor business is “doing very well” and is growing “as fast as we can train people.”

Google is also finding that they’re able to fill all their positions locally rather than having to bring in people from the coasts.
[via DetNews.com]

Detroit: Casino hotel building boom

Next time you’re in Motor City, why not skip the boring chain and convention hotels and hide out at a casino instead? Last week, the Detroit News had some good tips about brand-spanking new casino hotels opening later this year.

Deal: In downtown Detroit, the MotorCity Casino hotel will have a swanky retro design and rooms with plasma TVs, iPod docking stations, a portable room phone that guests can take with them around the casino, and high-thread-count bed and bath linens, including a pillow library for ultimate sleeping comfort.

If you can’t find a place you want to stay in downtown Detroit it doesn’t mean you have to stay out in the suburbs.
[via Los Angeles Times]

Landlord offers to drop county’s rent if it stays

Days after Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano announced that the county plans to buy the Guardian Building in downtown Detroit as its possible new home, a new lease proposal was offered by the owners of the Old Wayne County Building in an effort to keep the government from leaving.

The proposal would save the county about $1 million a year and calls for extending the current lease — which expires Oct. 31 — by 10 years. Ficano has called the current lease of $5 million per year excessive.

Preservationists have worried about the future of the Old Wayne County Building, built in 1897, if the county moves out.

It seems like the Wayne County government wins no matter which path they choose.
[via Detroit Free Press]

Area preps for Iraqi refugees

A network of community and social service agencies is mobilizing to help resettle 150 to 200 refugees from the war in Iraq, who are expected to arrive in Metro Detroit in the coming months after clearing newly enhanced security screenings.

“Since this is federal refugee assistance, almost everything is covered other than if there are a large number of families eligible for the Family Independence Program. We don’t know how big of an impact that will be on the (state) budget.”

Among the federally funded initiatives in place in Metro Detroit for refugees: preventive health screenings, health care, education, language skills, cultural-adjustment services, supplemental income, employment support and training, translation and transportation services, rental assistance and more. The federal assistance to refugees does not cover additional local costs for school enrollments.

Refugees may help economy

Overall, many officials and economists say the refugees eventually will benefit Michigan’s flagging economy.

See the above editorial.
[via DetNews.com]

$1.8 million renovation proposed for Ypsilanti parks

The Ypsilanti Depot Town Association is proposing a $1.8 million renovation to the Riverside and Frog Island parks to bring more people and events to the city.

The association formed a community development corporation last year and the new body will apply for grants and work with the city, Eastern Michigan University and local businesses and organizations to carry out the project, said Truman Hudson, a Detroit consultant.

The plan, which includes marketing the area to become a destination, has no cost to the city, Hudson said during a presentation to the City Council earlier this week.

[via Ann Arbor News]

Racing back to downtown Detroit

The island covers 983 acres, making it America’s largest city park. Once on the island, you can get around by car or take a leisurely walk
along the many miles of trails, paths and roadways that connect all of
Belle Isle’s points of interest. The island is situated on America’s
busiest inland waterway and provides spectacular views of Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, and freight traffic crossing the Detroit River on the huge Ambassador Bridge. The bridge links the two cities steeped in automotive history.

A few quick facts and history about Detroit’s Belle Isle.
[via ThatsRacin.com]

Red Cross offers Detroit-area donors chance to win a car

YPSILANTI, Mich. (AP) — Blood donors typically get juice, a cookie and a thank you, but the local Red Cross has parked a new car outside a hospital to entice more people to help ease a blood shortage.

The pearl white 2007 Lincoln MKX crossover vehicle has a sign that reads: “Win this car. Give Blood.” As of Wednesday, there was no type O blood supply, and other blood types were critically low, The Detroit News reported.

[via MLive.com]

Retailer gold rush in metro Detroit

More than 30 retail developments representing more than $1 billion in investment are in the works in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.

The list of budding developments, expansions and redevelopment projects was released Thursday at the 2007 Michigan Idea Exchange in Novi. The event was hosted by the International Council of Shopping Centers.

“Detroit is the only top-10 market getting two new Nordstroms. The people at Nordstrom are very smart and they look long-term. To make that kind of investment just screams about our trade area,” said Dave Long, senior associate at CB Richard Ellis, a commercial real estate services firm in Southfield.

Despite what you may have heard Detroit is here to stay.
[via Detroit Free Press]

200th birthday party begins for Woodward

Metro Detroit community leaders kicked of Woodward Avenue’s 200th birthday on Thursday at the Detroit Historical Museum.

Several activities also were launched at the event, including the Gleaners Food Drive, which runs until Aug. 19; Hands Along Woodward, an event that expects 45,000 people to line up along Woodward to form a 27-mile human chain that will stretch from Detroit to Pontiac on Aug 19; and Shop Woodward, which runs Aug. 27-Sept. 3 and provides shoppers with discount cards to be used at participating businesses along Woodward.

For more information about Woodward events, visit www.woodwardavenue.org.

[via Crain’s Detroit Business]

Ann Arbor named a Solar America City by US Dept of Energy

Ann Arbor has been named as one of the lucky 13 cities from across the country to serve as a Solar America City by the U.S. Dept of Energy.

Ann Arbor, which routinely promotes alternative energy sources such as solar, was selected to serve as a model for integrating solar energy in the community. The city will receive $200,000 in federal funds to implement a $432,000 community-wide program to promote solar energy.

[via Metromode Media]

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