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« Detroit News Roundup for Tuesday-Friday, September 18-21, 2007
» Ignite Your Senses video

September Metro Mode Development News

There’s a lot development news I missed from Metro Mode summarized here. Read the articles further for more details and pictures and plans of developments. There’s a lot below the line:

Birmingham approves Triangle District; first project prepares to move forward

Within two days of Birmingham approving its Triangle District, a developer resubmitted plans to take advantage of the city’s new zoning rules. Plans for the $25-million development, The Regency at Elm, allow for an increase to four stories and 100 condos.

The Triangle District is a master plan for development in an area just east of downtown bordered by Woodward Avenue, Adams Road and Maple Road. The area, which is in the shape of a triangle, is experiencing development pressure, yet has lacked a clear vision and framework for growth.

Not adjacent to but not too far from Birmingham’s downtown, this area already has a few hip businesses. There is the potential to transform Maple Rd into a dense, transit corridor someday. And of course the reason for the shape is the rail line that goes along one edge, which could be used to get from one urban area to others (Royal Oak, Detroit, Pontiac) with a transit system.

Royal Oak considers redevelopment of Center Street parking garage

The Royal Oak Downtown Development Authority is pushing for the redevelopment of the Center Street parking garage and adjacent surface lot, an effort that has stalled but is still very much alive.

“We would like to see a mixed-use redevelopment of that area,” says Kevin Kalczynski, chair of the Royal Oak DDA.

Simple parking garages rob urban areas of vitality.

Woodward Avenue Action Association hands out façade grants

Five communities along the Woodward Avenue corridor will receive $57,000 in grants from the Woodward Avenue Action Association to improve the aesthetics along Michigan’s oldest highway.

These grants, funded by $60,000 from the federal National Scenic Byway, will help create a number of enhancements along the corridor, ranging from new gateway signs to creating a Woodward Tour School. Woodward earned its designation as National Scenic Byway in 2002.

Highland Park and Preservation Wayne were both grant receivers. Federal grants to Michigan are always nice to get.

Royal Oak takes stand for a dense, mixed-use development at Gateway Plaza

Royal Oak officials have made it clear: Sprawling exurban-style development, featuring acres of surface parking lots surrounding a single business are not welcome in its downtown area.

Schostak Brothers & Company is recipient of this message now that the Royal Oak Downtown Development Authority is pushing for the city to buy back the Gateway Plaza parcel at Woodward Avenue and I-696 on the southern edge of downtown.

Schostak presented plans to the city earlier this summer to construct a single-story building for LA Fitness surrounded by surface parking lots. Those plans, stereotypical of past development in Metro Detroit, were quickly rejected. The original development agreement calls for a mixed-use, multi-story retail/residential/office/hotel development.

Anybody can build surburban-style developments anytime anywhere. Officials in cities like Detroit, Royal Oak, and Birmingham must realize the benefits of now succumbing to cheap, low-intensity developments, which create little tax income, and don’t make surrounding areas more valuable.

Ferndale’s Porch Light Partnership to sell first rehabbed house

The goal of the Porch Light Partnership is to improve Ferndale’s neighborhoods one house at a time. Meet the first house, 1371 Camden St.

The little bungalow a few blocks east of Woodward Avenue and north of 8 Mile Road, a stone’s throw from the Grand Trunk Western Railroad tracks, has received more TLC this summer than it has since its construction in the early 1950s. All in preparation for a first-time homebuyer who will take the keys for it later this month.


Once deemed dangerous, downtown Royal Oak building to begin life anew

The two-story building at the corner of Main and West University Avenue, a block north of the Main Art Theatre, has been on a weird journey in recent years. It was built as a one-story storefront in the 1920s. Four years ago a developer added a second floor intending to build four luxury condos. That project stalled, stopping construction and allowing the building to crumble.

A number of different proposals for it were floated but none of them took root until the city started the process to condemn the building. New private developers now plan to renovate the structure into office space by next April. Construction workers have already started some interior demolition and plan to begin working in earnest by the end of the month.


First phase of Old Woodward construction finishes up in downtown Birmingham

Construction on North Old Woodward Avenue in downtown Birmingham is one step away from completion now that city workers have finished paving it and opened it back up to traffic.

The $2.5-million project is rebuilding the thoroughfare between Oak Street and Ring Road on the north side of downtown. Among the improvements are new sewer and water lines, road medians, sidewalks, crosswalks and a complete repaving of the road.


Lofts on the 9 in downtown Ferndale begin construction soon

The site is prepped and the old building is ready to fall… so Lofts on the 9 can rise in downtown Ferndale before winter. With construction expected to finish next summer, Lofts on the 9’s 32 units (10 of which have sold and another three have been reserved) will be the latest addition to Ferndale’s expanding downtown.

The inner-ring suburb’s central business district has experienced quite a bit of renewal in recent years as a number of renovations have reinvogorated its city center and even helped spawn some new construction, such as the Affirmations and ID Woodward buildings.

The four-story building will go up at the intersection of East 9 Mile Road and Bermuda Street just behind Ferndale’s legendary Como’s restaurant. It is also across the street from the Ferndale Public Library and the new offices of Foley Mansfield.

Development moving to the east side of Woodward Ave in Ferndale. How long before there is a Hilton District around the train tracks and 9 Mild Rd?

Royal Oak’s Center Street Lofts wrap up construction

Construction workers have finished work on the Center Street Lofts project as sales of the downtown Royal Oak mid-rise start to wrap up.

Six of the development’s 19 lofts have sold and new owners have moved into the finished units. Center Street is the second of a two-building project between Center and Main streets, opposite Memphis Smoke on 11 Mile Road. The Main Street Lofts project at the corner of 11 Mile and Main sold out two years ago.

The five-story Center Street building now bookends the block, helping create a streetwall on 11 Mile.


Merrill Lynch opens office in Wyandotte, bull arrives Friday

The bull will be on parade Friday in downtown Wyandotte as Merrill Lynch celebrates the grand opening of its new offices.

The financial services firm restored a 127-year-old building at the corner of Biddle Avenue and Oak Street for its new office space. To celebrate the move, the firm will move the large bull statue from its old office at 3217 Biddle to its new one as part of a parade that includes local officials and the high school band.

It’s not just the Woodward Corridor burbs getting attention in their urban districts. Wyandotte is arguably downriver’s finest downtown.

Developer turning old factory on edge of downtown Royal Oak into mega loft

When people think of 4,000 square feet of home, images of stately mansions with long driveways, expansive yards and neatly trimmed hedges usually come to mind.

That’s not how they roll in Royal Oak where developer Michael Chetcuti is turning an old industrial building on the edge of downtown into a 4,000-square-foot mega loft.

The small factory building, 827 Fourth St., has gone through several incarnations since its construction in the 1930s. Its latest life was as a heating and cooling duct fabricator. Chetcuti’s crew is starting to turn it into a palatial living space –the last building on the block to be switched to residential zoning. Work is expected to be finished by Christmas.

Detroit and its suburbs, where mega-lofts are not only possible and available, but affordable.

Ferndale’s Garden Fresh expands space and staff as business grows

The makers of the salsa in the nachos for sale at Comerica Park are reaping the rewards of good business, expanding its Ferndale operations and expecting to add more positions in the near future.

“We’re a growing company,” says Dave Zilko, vice chairman of Garden Fresh Salsa.

The largest maker of all-natural salsa in the U.S. is consolidating its operations in its Ferndale production facility at 9 Mile Road and Bonner Street by moving its administrative offices there. The company expects to make the move the end of the year.


American-Arab Center for Civil and Human Rights going up in Dearborn

The name of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee’s new building in Dearborn might read the “American-Arab Center for Civil and Human Rights” but its leaders hope it will reach beyond that.

Construction on the 10,000-square-foot building at Ford and Chase roads is set to begin within the next month and finish up by the end of next summer. The two-story structure will feature office space, a reception area, an auditorium and meeting space for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. It will feature design elements rich in Arabian history.

The $5 million project was made possible by $1.5 million in gifts from prominent leaders in Qatar.

Another great gift from outsiders to Metro Detroit.

T.S. Quatro building green roof, brownstones in downtown Ypsilanti

T.S. Quatro, the design-and-build contracting firm, plans to renovate its headquarters at 201 North Park St., by adding an expansive green roof and then building a handful of brownstones behind it. The $1 million-plus project will begin on the headquarters in October and finish up by the end of November. Once complete, construction of the brownstones will start with the entire project wrapping up by next spring.

Good news just east of downtown Ypsilanti near Depot Town and near any development that happens on the city-assembled land around there by the river. If only every development-related firm in the area was so progressive.

Ladybug Gallery flies into Southwest Detroit along with 32 units of artist housing

Southwest Housing Solutions and the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit have teamed up to develop 32 units of artist housing, a gallery and and art education facilities at the Whitdell Building in Southwest Detroit.

This was also featured on WDET awhile back with interviews of the people behind it (I forgot all about it until now). CAID is working to keep artists in the community and attract more, guaranteeing affordable housing once the area goes through gentrification.

Royal Oak clears lot near Gateway Plaza, gets ready for development

The Royal Oak Downtown Development Authority now owns and has cleared most of the parcels on the block bordered by Woodward, Kenilworth and Washington avenues. The plans call for a mixed-use development up to 10 stories tall.

“We have a developer who is doing due diligence there right now,” says Kevin Kalczynski, chair of the Royal Oak DDA.

The development would consist of both office and retail space in a largely triangular building, Kalczynski adds. The developer already has some office and retail space commitments in hand and is working to fill the rest. Kalczynski expects due diligence and commitments to be wrapped up by end of the fall.

Highrises on Woodward like in Birmingham would be nice all around and people really shouldn’t complain if they are built there, on a highway.

8 Mile Road Association awards four more façade grants

Four more 8 Mile Road businesses are getting a facelift as part of this year’s façade- improvement grant program courtesy of the 8 Mile Boulevard Association.

The association has handed out five grants so far this year to businesses along the 8 Mile corridor between John R Street and Ryan Road. Each has been worth thousands of dollars.

Improvements will begin later this fall on Golden Greek Lounge, 1800 E 8 Mile in Detroit, the Fish King, 20351 Conant Street in Detroit, and Babes Barber – Salon, 20359 Conant in Detroit.


Redford Medical Building redevelopment ready for Botsford move in

What was once a line of vacant, blighted properties in Redford Township is about to become home to a new $3.1 million medical care facility for Botsford Hospital this fall.

The Redford Township Medical Building is expected to be finished and occupied by November, helping revitalize Redford’s downtown district at Beech Daly and 5 Mile roads.


William Street Station in downtown Ann Arbor to start construction in new year

Ann Arbor has long been known as a pioneer of urban development and the city will have one more notch in its belt of innovations when construction starts on the William Street Station in downtown in January.

HDC companies will raze the old YMCA building between William, Fourth and Fifth streets and build a 14-story skyscraper in its place. It will feature space for a high-end hotel, retail, affordable housing, office space and the new downtown hub for the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority.


Sav-On Drugs plans to build new location on Woodward in Birmingham

Plans are in the works to reinvigorate a small stretch of Woodward Avenue just south of downtown Birmingham.

Sav-On Drugs plans to tear down the old Birmingham Drugs storefront at 33877 Woodward and build a new pharmacy there. The new building, on the west side of Woodward at Ruffner Street, would be one story tall with a 40-foot tower.

It is adjacent to the southern tip of Birmingham’s Triangle District, an area just east of downtown bordered by Woodward, Adams Road and Maple Road. The area, which is in the shape of a triangle, is experiencing development pressure.

City leaders came up with the Triangle District to spur development on surface parking lots and underutilized properties, which dominate the landscape, to create a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use district similar to downtown.


McKinley Towne Centre moves forward with expansion plans in downtown Ann Arbor

Downtown Ann Arbor’s town-gown connection is becoming a little more uniform now that McKinley Inc is moving forward with an expansion of the McKinley Towne Centre on Liberty Street.

The expansion will extend the new two-story storefronts adjacent to the towne centre east on Liberty until it bumps up against the Michigan Theater. If these plans are approved by the city this fall, McKinley hopes to start construction as soon as January and finish within a year.


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« Detroit News Roundup for Tuesday-Friday, September 18-21, 2007
» Ignite Your Senses video