Development News

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Ann Arbor native revives Blue Front with craft beer focus

The life of a longtime Ann Arbor establishment is getting extended and refreshed with the reopening of the Blue Front on Packard under new ownership and a new look. Ann Arbor native Adam Gottschalk opened his completely renovated version of the beer store last week after receiving a hot tip about the business opportunity just five months ago from his father. 

"It's been kind of a weird and very quick journey," says Gottschalk, whose parents manage the residential units above the store. "My dad said, 'Blue Front closed, why don't you move back and open up your own store? You have to decide by Monday.'"

Gottschalk was already following his passion for beer working for a beer retailer in Chicago, so it didn't take much for he and his wife to make the decision to take the leap. Since then, the approximately 1,500 square foot building has been totally renovated, including new floors, walls, ceilings, coolers and more. 

"People are always saying, 'I used to come in there all the time,'" Gottschalk says. "We want it to be that again. We're trying to bring back that neighborhood feel."

Along with that cozy aesthetic, the new Blue Front offers about 600 different beers and 150 wines. Gottschalk hopes to eventually expand his wine selection more, as well as offer weekly beer tastings in the shop. He recently hired his first employee, and expects to hire one to two additional staff members in the future. 

Source: Adam Gottschalk, Blue Front
Writer: Natalie Burg

Rock Paper Scissors keeps retail on Main Street with new Bed & Butter shop

Lisa Roberts loves being a part of the retail scene on Main Street with her shop Rock Paper Scissors — so much so, that she'll soon open her second venture on street, Bed & Butter

"As we've grown, we've listened to our customers, and we've heard they'd love to have a place to get a great wedding gift or get a great baby gift," says Roberts. "We thought it was a natural progression for us to offer great gifts for people."

Though the opportunity to take over the space soon to be vacated by La Belle Maison only came about recently, Roberts says the idea to create a store around home goods, kitchen, baby items and gifts has been in the works for years. The focus of Bed & Butter, she says, will be to sell items that are as beautiful as they are useful. 

Key to Roberts's decision to open her new store on Main was her desire to keep retail an important piece of the downtown business mix. 

"We love being a part of Main Street in Ann Arbor," she says. "We're so excited to have the opportunity to provide people with a place to shop locally. As Main Street continues to change, one thing we hope to contribute to a great mix of retail and restaurants."

The 333 S. Main store is approximately the same size as Rock Paper Scissors, and Roberts hopes to open by the Wolverine's first home football game in late August. A store manager has already been hired, and Roberts estimates four to six additional employees will join the team. Roberts also plans to eventually add classes to Bed & Butter's offerings, such as calligraphy and cocktails. 

Source: Lisa Roberts, Bed & Butter
Writer: Natalie Burg

Grillcheezerie brings fancy cheese, artisan bread and new jobs to Packard

It's hard to imagine anything better than a grilled cheese sandwich made with gourmet cheese and artisan bread, but Nick Costos has one idea: having that toasty, gooey sandwich delivered right to your door. Grilled cheese delivery, as well as dine-in eating, is coming to Packard St. in August with Grillcheezerie Sandwich Shoppe

"We're so used to American cheese and Wonder Bread," says Costos, who previously owned Mr. Greek's Coney Island. "We're going to use artisan bread and different types of cheddars, munsters, goudas, provolones and other specialty cheeses, and then coming up with different signature sandwiches." 

Those could include pizza-style grilled cheeses with pepperoni or wild mushroom with pesto, parsley and goat cheese. Costos came up with the idea after living in Montreal for the past eight years and being inspired by the small cheese shops and bakeries there.

"I've always wanted to get back into the business," he says. "And I love this town. I don't think you can get this vibe in too many places." 

The 1,500 square foot Packard St. space is now under renovation, which Costos hopes to complete by the end of the month. He plans to open Grillcheezerie the first or second week of August. The restaurant will initially employ a staff of about four, and will offer dine-in seating for 12 to 15 diners, as well as delivery.

Source: Nick Costos, Grillcheezerie Sandwich Shoppe
Writer: Natalie Burg

New Real Estate One office offers Ypsi pride and expertise

When it comes to the area real estate market, Ann Arbor gets most of the time and attention. Thanks to a new office in Ypsilanti, staffed with local agents, homebuyers looking to purchase there can get the attention they're looking for. 

"There was a need," says Dennis O'Hare, associate broker and manager of the new Ypsi office. "We just had an awful lot of people ask when are we going to open an office in Ypsilanti. Now we have agents who know Ypsilanti, believe in Ypsilanti and support Ypsilanti."

The 1,675 square foot office opened on June 4 on S. Huron. O'Hare says the central location was chosen for its easy access to the highway, as well as high visibility. The office currently employs seven agents and one administrative staff, but that's just the beginning. 

"Our goal here is to have get up to 20 agents," says O'Hare. "As we continue to grow, we'll keep adding staff as well. I'm recruiting constantly for new agents, as well as experienced agents."

The new Real Estate One office will celebrate a grand opening on July 17. 

Source: Dennis O'Hare, Real Estate One
Writer: Natalie Burg

Renovated to reopen as Miya with new foods and larger staff closed its doors on June 4, but fans of the restaurant need not worry. It's soon to return as Miya, a Japanese and Korean food restaurant with a new look, new staff and new foods... as well as most of the old favorites. 

"We did the renovation for the whole restaurant," says owner Don Kim. "Everything is changed to a modern, Japanese style. We're building a whole new restaurant."

Kim says the menu will largely be the same but with the addition of some new appetizers and a wider selection of Korean foods than were offered previously. He decided on the name Miya, as that is how most Americans pronounce his wife's name, and it also translates in Japanese to "palace."

One thing that will definitely stay the same, says Kim, is his commitment to quality, healthy food.

"We are try to make everything fresh," he says. "It's clean and fresh and high quality food. Everyone knows Korean and Japanese food is healthy, and healthy is our main concern." 

The total renovation of the space began a few months ago, and Kim expect work to be completed and the restaurant open within about a week. The 1,300 square foot space will seat about 55 diners. Kim is now hiring two to three additional employees to staff Miya. A new website for the restaurant is forthcoming. 
Source: Don Kim, Miya
Writer: Natalie Burg

Jersey Mike's brings East Coast taste and 20 jobs to Ann Arbor

When Peter Shipman and Mike Wagner opened their first Jersey Mike's Subs on Carpenter Rd. in 2012, it was also the first of its kind in Michigan. The franchise now has 11 locations in the state and the Ann Arbor natives have opened their third, in Westgate shopping center. 

"We're just looking to expand as quickly as we can, but also taking our time to choose a good area," says Wagner, who is an operating partner with franchisee Shipman. "It was the right time in terms having space available in Westgate."

The Huron and Pioneer High School graduates blend the authentically East Coast sub style of fresh baked New Jersey bread, hand-sliced meats and cheeses and a vinegar and oil blend with Ann Arbor sensibilities of getting fresh produce from local supplier Frog Holler. Getting friendly with local customers is also a part of their store culture.

"We make our subs in front of the customers, and we like to get to know them," Wagner says. "We encourage banter back and forth. We like to think we give friendly service."

The new Jersey Mike's in Westgate opened last weeks after six to eight weeks of renovation work to the former pet shop space. The restaurant seats about 30 diners and employs a staff of about 20. Wagner and Shipman also own a location in Canton and plan to continue to expand their business.

Source: Mike Wagner, Jersey Mike's
Writer: Natalie Burg

Lucky's Market to bring value-oriented natural food to S. Industrial

There's no doubt that the Ann Arbor has a demand for healthy, natural foods. But with so many upscale grocers catering to that market, Boulder, CO-based Lucky's Market saw an opportunity to offer something that different: a natural foods at a lower price. 

"Ann Arbor also shares our love of quality, local foods and products—but also in bettering the community through doing good, which benefits all of us," says Lucky's Market founder Bo Sharon. "Moreover, there are no value oriented natural supermarkets in Ann Arbor, so we felt we would be a positive addition.

Lucky's Market is slated to open in the 32,000s square foot space on S. Industrial formerly occupied by Kroger. A complete remodel of the space will include the addition of a juice bar, scratch bakery, butcher shop, produce section with roll-up garage doors and more.

"Lucky’s is a special kind of store," Sharon says. "It’s a place people tell us they enjoy shopping. It’s fun. It’s helpful…It’s a true community experience."

The new store is slated to open in the first quarter of next year with about 150 employees. According to Sharon, the store demonstrates its commitment to employees as well as the community with employee benefits and paid community volunteer hours. The store will also feature tours, classes and food events with live music.

Source: Bo Sharon, Lucky's Market
Writer: Natalie Burg

Beer Grotto plans second tasting and retail location in downtown Ann Arbor

As the first Beer Grotto prepares to open in Dexter next week, owner Sam Short is already working to open the craft beer and wine retail and tasting concept's second location on S. Ashley in downtown Ann Arbor. 

"It's an ideal location, right across the street from Grange, and all of these other wonderful businesses," says Short. "And more importantly, the building is just so unique. We don't usually have a patio arrangement, but we're changing our concept slightly so we can serve out on the patio." 

The 1,500 square foot space won't be seeing too much renovation on the exterior, as preserving on the building's historic integrity is an important factor for Short. On the inside, however, decades of former renovation work will be peeled back to take the interior back to some of its original features. 

"We want to maintain some of the spectacular historic elements of building," Short says.

Similar to the Dexter location, the Beer Grotto will offer beer and wine for purchase as well as tastings, with seating for enjoying a beverage at the store, including the patio, which will be unique to the Ann Arbor store. Wine and 48 beers will be on draft for customers to take home in growlers. 

Short intents for renovations to begin in the next two to three weeks with the hope of opening by mid-September. He plans to hire 10 to 15 employees to operate the Ann Arbor Beer Grotto, and will open at least one more Michigan location this year in Lansing. 

Source: Sam Short, Beer Grotto
Writer: Natalie Burg

Chelsea Retirement Community to open new, 52,000 sq ft. commons

Renovations and a new facility are coming to the Chelsea Retirement Community, and the $13 million project will both enhance the living experience for current residents and make room for more. A new, 52,000 square foot assisted living building called Glazier Commons will add larger living spaces, a cafe, new dining areas, two libraries, play areas for visiting children, a medical clinic, therapy area, juice bar and outdoor gardens to the United Methodist Retirement Communities's facility.

"The Glazier Commons project came together to address improving accommodations for our residents and increasing the number of people we serve," says 
Glazier Commons is expected to open in late September and will allow the organization to take on about six new residents and hire the same number of new staffers. The project is just one example of the UMRC's efforts to upgrade their Chelsea facilities. A new restaurant was added last year, and independent living apartments are being renovated this year. 

"In addition, we are developing additional housing and services in other communities in Michigan," says. "In September, in partnership with Presbyterian Villages of Michigan, UMRC will open a new low-income senior apartment building in Detroit called Rivertown Senior Apartments. This is the second partnership for UMRC at Rivertown Neighborhood – an innovative community." 

In addition to the Chelsea Retirement Community, UMRC serves older adults in five other locations and plans to add at least two locations within the next two years.

Source: John Thorhauer, United Methodist Retirement Communities, Inc.
Writer: Natalie Burg

Young Buckaroo's opens below longtime Chelsea boot shop for 'lil cowfolk

Chelsea's Mule Skinner Boot Shop has been in operation for more than 40 years. When owners Bill and Pam Conn hired marketing student Ellen Dewey to help out at the shop, she brought with her all sorts of ideas — including one that has become a full time job. 

"I said I thought they were missing out on something because children's boots are big," Dewey says. "I've always wanted to open my own business, and Bill and Pam have been nice enough to help me do that."

Young Buckaroo's is Dewey's new venture below Mule Skinner offering boots, accessories and apparel in sizes from toddler to teen. The space was formerly used as storage, but with a little paint and elbow grease, it's is now a full showroom. In addition to running the new children's store, Dewey plans to continue helping out upstairs as well. 

"I'm just going to continue to grow and learn from Bill who has been in business for 40 years," she says. "Sometimes hands-on is much more substantial than book learning. And I'm teaching him things as well."

Young Buckaroo's has been open for about three weeks. In addition to boots, Dewey carries handcrafted belts, toy guns and holsters, hats and more.

Source: Ellen Dewey, Young Buckaroo's
Writer: Natalie Burg

National Hudson Motor Car Company Museum to open in Depot Town

After searching for the perfect place to house a Hudson car museum, the Hudson Essex Terraplane Historical Society has finally found it: Depot Town. Thanks to a partnership with the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum (YAHM), the Ypsilanti building will soon be the home of the National Hudson Motor Car Company Museum. 

"It was a Hudson dealership and was known as the last operating Hudson dealership," says Bill Nickels, YAHM secretary. "And they'll bring in the history of Hudson from the teens, twenties and thirties, and we don't have much exhibited from those decades."

The partnership is also a financial one, which will benefit the local organization and give visitors even more Hudson automotive history to enjoy in a uniquely appropriate setting.

"Hudson was what they term an independent," says Nickels. "It wasn't General Motor, Ford or Chrysler. It was a struggle for independents, but Hudson was an innovator. They did have features in their cars that were first, and were eventually adopted by the industry."

The National Hudson Motor Car Company Museum will operate in a 10,000 square foot exhibit that will make up about a third of the YAHM. The exhibit will be designed to look like an operating Hudson dealership during a particular decade from the early 1900s to the 1950s, and the era will change over time. Construction is now underway, though most of the YAHM will remain open throughout.  

The grand opening of the National Hudson Motor Car Company Museum will take place on the weekend of Sept. 21 in conjunction with the YAHM's Orphan Car Show in Riverside Park.

Source: Bill Nickels, Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum
Writer: Natalie Burg

New U-M apparel and gifts coming to State St. with The Victors Collection

For some time now, the owners of M Den have had their eyes on some pretty cool new merchandise they've been wanting to offer customers — they just didn't have the room for them. After coming to an agreement with their State St. neighbor, All About Blue, they'll now be expanding into the 3,000 square foot space with a new M Den shop called The Victors Collection.

"We'll be able to bring a collection of women's fashions that people have never seen before," says M Den co-owner Scott Hirth. "It's just going to knock people's socks off. That's our goal, to do a bette job for Michigan ladies." 

Though the shop will begin at about 70 percent men's apparel and 30 percent women's, Hirth says that breakdown will eventually move to 60 percent female and 40 percent male. In addition to fashion forward apparel, customers will find crystal glassware, Swiss watches, genuine pearls and in blue and yellow, as well as other fine goods. 

"There will be a little bit more of a business causal feel for both men and women," says Hirth of The Victors Collection merchandise. "Brooks Brothers will be a big partner at the store."

Renovation is now underway at The Victors Collection space, with a goal of being open by the time students arrive in August. Hirth expects to hire one or two full-time and 10 to 20 part time staff to operate the new store. The Victors Collection will be the sixth M Den location. 

Source: Scott Hirth, M Den
Writer: Natalie Burg

Peachy Fitness opens on Huron Pkwy with Zumba, yoga and more

As an adult, Zaini Lateef has learned a lot about fitness and nutrition, but she doesn't want her kids — or any others, for that matter — to wait that long to get healthy. That's why she started Peachy Fitness, a fitness business offering Zumba, yoga, dance and more to both kids and adults. 

"We have teen yoga class, kids' Zumba, kids' yoga, mother-daughter classes, and in the fall I will have more," says Lateef. "My goal and my passion is to have more kids classes, and brining some nutrition classes in as well."

After hosting classes in various locations around town for two years, Leteef recently opened a permanent space on S. Huron Pkwy. for better visibility and to grow her business. 

"For people coming from Ann Arbor, and even from Saline, it's a pretty central location," she says.

Lateef began adult classes in the approximately 1,100 square foot space last week, and will kick off children's programming with an open house on Saturday. In addition to regular classes, summer camps for children will be offered throughout the summer. 

Peachy Fitness offers many classes and special events for adults as well, including Zumba fundraising events, corporate fitness classes and Zumba bachelorette parties. Lateef employs about seven different instructors to teach her various classes and events.

Source: Zaini Lateef, Peachy Fitness
Writer: Natalie Burg

Chelsea's St. Louis Center celebrates $2M expansion of adult residence hall

The St. Louis Center in Chelsea opened more than 60 years ago as school for developmentally disabled boys, and has grown and changed ever since. Now, with 52 residents that include men of all ages and women, the center is celebrating a $2 million renovation to their Fr. Guanella Hall for Assisted Living, which adds 2,500 square feet to the 10,065 square foot residence hall. 

"As time has gone on, our population has been aging," says Joe Yekulis, PR director for St. Louis Center. "In 2000, for our 50th anniversary, we said, 'It's great that we've made it for 50 years, but where do we go from here?'"

The decision led to a long-term, $10 million plan the St. Louis Center calls the Three U's: Upgrade, Update and Uplift to renovate the facility to meet the needs of their growing and aging population. Previously, the organization has built a new administration center and a new special needs playground. The expansion of the Fr. Guanella Hall is their most ambitious project to date. 

"I think the impact will be extremely positive," says Yekulis. "It's all about creating a great quality of life for the residents here."

Work on the project broke ground in October and is now about 90 percent complete. The St. Louis Center will celebrate the project with a dedication ceremony on June 8. Most Reverend Bishop Earl Boyea, Bishop of Lansing, as well as other religious leaders and state senators are expected to attend the ceremony, which will include a mass, blessing and ribbon cutting ceremony. The public is welcome to attend.

All funds for the center were raised by the St. Louis Center through donations. The next phase of their Three U's plan is to build an assisted living village on their property for more independent residents.

Source: Joe Yekulis, St. Louis Center
Writer: Natalie Burg

Michigan wines, ciders and education to be served up at Vin Bar on Liberty

Michigan wine is booming business. As far as Traverse City tasting rooms and wineries go, however, it's also a seasonal one. That's why, about two years ago, Good Harbor Vineyards, Black Star Farms and L. Mawby started talking about partnering to open an off-site wine bar and tasting room in a city with year-round traffic. 

"Ann Arbor is definitely busy in the winter months, and the demographics in Ann Arbor are fantastic," says Taylor Simpson, sales, distribution and marketing manager for Good Harbor Vineyards. "And there just seems to be a lot of support for all things local in Ann Arbor."

Vin Bar, a wine bar, tasting room and wine retail store will open this summer in the former location of the Skin Bar on W. Liberty. In addition to wine, the bar will serve ciders, limited food items and cocktails featuring wine and cider. Wine tasting will be available during the day. A Michigan wines education will offered at all hours. 

"We're hoping to provide an educational experience about wine, but more specifically about Michigan wine, to show people what is going on in the industry," Simpson says. "We are three wineries that have a long history of making wine in Michigan, and we're hoping to bring a lot of that knowledge with us."

While no opening date has been set, the Vin Bar is slated to potentially open in July. The 1,100 square foot space is now under renovation, though because of the building's historic character, Simpson says that they don't have too much to do to create their unique space. She expects the bar will hire around five employees to staff the business.

Source: Taylor Simpson, Good Harbor Vinyard
Writer: Natalie Burg
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