Development News

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Ballet Chelsea moves into new, 8,000 sq ft. studio

Ballet Chelsea has a brand new home and with it will come new classes and offerings for people of all ages. The non-profit, which began as the performance arm of Dance Arts of Chelsea in 1995 has grown into quite the entity in and of itself - which eventually led to the need for its own space. 

"We were expanding our ideas of programs we wanted to add and other things we wanted to do, and we felt we needed more space," says Ballet Chelsea manager Brenda Stevens. "We didn't want to take advantage of the other organization, so we decided to strike out on our own." 

The non-profit found just the right place to do so on S. Main St. in Chelsea. The 8,000 square foot studio allows Ballet Chelsea space for three dance studios, the largest of which is the size of their performance stage. 

"It has done is allowed us to have more control over the training of our dancers, and we can establish the class offerings ourselves," Stevens says. " It's allowed us to open up different types of dance to the community. We're offering Scottish Highland step, and we're going to have ballroom dancing, yoga and Pilates." 

Ballet Chelsea opened in their new space three weeks ago after first locating the space in February. As the space was a white box at that time, the organization built their studio from the ground up with the financial assistance of many local supporters. 

The non-profit currently serves about 50 to 60 dancers during their summer programming, but Stevens expects that number to climb to more than 300 people weekly in the fall. The increase in class offerings has spurred the hire of two new instructors, brining their total to 14. 

Source: Brenda Stevens, Ballet Chelsea
Writer: Natalie Burg

Authentic Greek street food coming to S. University

Dimitri and Aphrodite Roumanis have grown up around Greek food, visiting Greece every year with their family. Now, the brother and sister team, along with their father, will bring the cuisine to N. University with Mezes Greek Grill

"What we eat there is what we wanted to bring here and introduce people to authentic Greek street food," says Dimitri Roumanis. "The amount of foot traffic and student traffic that is here every day is perfect. People will come in between classes, and there are a lot of faculty that come to the around for lunch."

Included on the menu will be gyro meat served on a stick, a recent trend Roumanis has experienced in Greece, egg lemon soup, as well as a salad made from dried bread, tomatoes and olive oil - and, of course, the traditional chicken, beef and lamb gyros. 

"Our food is not typical to what that location has," says Roumanis. "There's Greek food around here, but you have to sit down and order. We're trying to add the quickness of street food."

Roumanis plans to open Mezes Greek Grill next week with a staff of about eight after more than three months of renovations. The restaurant will be located in the former location, and will sit between 50 and 60 diners. 

Source: Dimitri Roumanis, Mezes Greek Grill
Writer: Natalie Burg

Ypsilanti Running Company eyes Labor Day for opening in downtown Ypsi

A longtime running and ten-year veteran of Ann Arbor's Tortoise and Hare, Mike Nix has known for some time that his ultimate goal was to open a running store of his own. Come Labor Day weekend, that plan will be fulfilled with the opening of Ypsilanti Running Company in downtown Ypsi. 

"I've got a bunch of  friends who live in Ypsi, and I thought, 'Why not Ypsilanti?'" says Nix. "There's a strong sense of identity here. People in Ypsilanti have been coming to Ann Arbor for things like this, and I thought if we put something like this in Ypsilanti, they'd be proud of it and they'd come to it." 

The 1,600 square foot store front will not only feature running shoes, apparel and accessories, but will also host circuit training-type fitness classes. As he prepare to open, he says the business community around Ypsilanti Running Company couldn't be more supportive. 

"Everybody in downtown Ypsilanti is great with one another," he says. "All those retailers downtown here have been really nice and welcoming." 

Nix plans to open Ypsilanti Running Company with his wife, sister-, brother- and mother-in-law, and hopes to add and employee in beginning of next year. 

Source: Mike Nix, Ypsilanti Running Company
Writer: Natalie Burg

North Star Reach breaks ground on 105-acre camp for children with health challenges

Children with serious health challenges must often spend a lot of time thinking about their limitations. Thanks to a new, 105-acre camp that just broke ground in Pinckney this week, about 1,500 of those kids will get a chance to focus on what they can do — including how much fun they can have. 

"They're so used to hearing 'you can't do that because of your illness.' At camp it's always, 'you can do that,'" says North Star Reach Marketing and Communications Specialist Marji Wisniewski. "They make friends and meet kids just like them. And that's important. They are being cured of their illness at their hospitals, but it's at camp where they heal."

Beginning in the fall of 2015, North Star Reach will host fall and spring weekend camps and weeklong summer camps for children with children with cancer, heart disease, ventilator dependency, organ transplants, sickle cell disease. Many will be referred from their healthcare providers, as North Star Reach has partnered with 13 hospitals for the project. 

So far, $21,000,000 of the $26,000,000 needed to construct the many buildings of North Star Reach and to maintain operations for the first two years. 

"We're going to have a complete medical center on site, a beautiful dining hall and rustic cabins," says Wisniewski. "Everything is 'state of the art rustic,' meaning it has everything these children with special needs need to have, but they won't have to think about it. For them, they're just going to camp." 

The Pinckney camp is a provisional member of SeriousFun Children’s Network, which was founded in 1988 by Paul Newman. North Star Reach will be the ninth such camp in the U.S.

In addition to 20 to 25 staffers, North Star Reach will rely on a number of volunteers to complete their programming. More than 100 volunteer opportunities will be available each week. For more information on volunteering or taking part in the capital campaign, people may visit

Source: Marji Wisniewski, North Star Reach
Writer: Natalie Burg

Sixth area clinic in store for Probility on Plymouth Rd.

When patients need to go to physical therapy, it often means multiple trips per week for multiple weeks on end. That means a convenient location is important. Now opening its sixth area location, Probility Physical Therapy is convenient from just about anywhere in town. 

"We have offices in and around Ann Arbor, but it's tough traveling across town, so people really appreciate people having an office nearby," says owner Brandon Lorenz. "We've kind of positioned our company to cater to every area in the region geographically for our patients."

The newest Probility office will open in the Courtyard Shops on Plymouth Rd. Lorenz is aiming for an Aug. 18 opening. Like all of his existing offices, he'll begin the new location with a staff of three and will grow from there. Also like all other Probility locations, every physical therapist will be trained in manual therapy. 

"We have a more emphasis on manual therapy," says Lorenz. "Usually, if you go to a physical therapy organization, there might be one person in the company who is the manual therapy guy. Our entire company has been trained in that higher level of physical therapy."

The 2,000 square foot location is now under a total renovation. Existing Probility offices are located in Ann Arbor on S. State St. and Westgate Shopping center, in Saline, Ypsilanti and in Clinton. 

Source: Brandon Lorenz, Probility
Writer: Natalie Burg

Dexter Internal Medicine and Pediatrics doubles its size with new location

Until recently, St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea's Dexter Internal Medicine and Pediatrics office was bursting at the seams. But running out of space gave the clinic the opportunity to address a few other issues with their downtown Dexter location.

"We were on the second floor and parking wasn't the greatest," says Chris Ray, office manager for Dexter Internal Medicine and Pediatrics. "We didn't have the greatest signage to let people know where we were. The conversation started with our providers about looking for a different space within the community."

They found it in the Dexter Crossing shopping center on Dexter-Ann Arbor Rd. The 4,500 square foot space nearly doubled their original size, allowing for their growing staff and patient population to operate with a lot more elbow room. All that space, however, won't change the office's quality of care.

"Regardless of the space of how big it looks, we're still providing the same great patient care we were before," says Ray. "We want to provide more opportunities to our patients and better access." 

Dexter Internal Medicine and Pediatrics made their move from one clinic to the next in about five highly orchestrated hours on July 15. As the provides and staff become more acquainted with their additional space, says Ray, they'll begin considering what new those new opportunities they hope to provide to their patients may be. 

Source: Chris Ray, Dexter Internal Medicine and Pediatrics
Writer: Nataie Burg

Kiwanis Thrift Store plans to purchase larger Scio Twp facility for warehouse

A new home could be in the future for one of two Kiwanis Thrift Sale locations. The Kiwanis Club of Ann Arbor is under contract to purchase a 121,651 square foot Scio Twp building that was once the location of Sheridan Books.

"We are in an agreement that says at any point, within 90 days, we could lose our location by Costco," says John Dahl, president of the Kiwanis Club. "That's why we've been looking at this for the last year. We've looked at possible sites in the Ann Arbor area."

Operations at the Kiwanis Thrift Sale downtown will continue as normal, but the new location will give the organization's warehouse facility, which has primarily focused on furniture sales, to make better use of its space. 

While part of the building is occupied by renters, Dahl says about 45,000 square feet of space is available for Kiwanis's use and to lease to additional renters. He expects the store will use about 20,000 square feet of that space, up from the 15,000 square feet utilized at their current warehouse. 

"From our customers' standpoint, what this will do is allow us to spread things out better than what we're currently doing right now," says Dahl. "Especially in our downtown location, we'ed like to make better use of our space, and this allows us to do a better job in terms of displaying our merchandise. 

Should the transaction move forward according to plan, Dahl hopes to close on the new facility in late October or early November and begin the transition from their current warehouse. He anticipates the organization would use sales to clear out excess inventory rather than transport it all from one place to the other. 

Source: John Dahl, Kiwanis Club
Writer: Natalie Burg

10,000 sq ft Ypsilanti Town Center renovated for success

A long vacant Ypsilanti Twp. property will soon be getting a makeover, and, should all go according to plans, new tenants. 

"We are going to name it the Ypsilanti Town Center," says Steve Campeau, a partner in the property's redevelopment with Beal Properties. "We want to make it the premier location for office suites in town. We're committed to fixing it up, making it look nice and continuing to add value to the community."

The 9,960-square foot building is divided into 14 suites that Campeau says can be combined or renovated to suit the tenants' needs. The partners are asking $9 per square foot for the commercial space. Formerly a medical building, Campeau says the facility is ideally suited for similar uses, but are available for other uses as well. 

"The township really wants to get this building occupied," Campeau says. "They are working with us to get any kind of business in there." 

Campeau believes the property has been vacant for about seven years. Exterior work is underway on the building now, but the partners plan to wait until tenants have been secured to renovate the interior, so each suite can be built to suit the business's needs. 

Source: Steve Campeau, Beal Properties
Writer: Natalie Burg

Excel Dental brings patient focus, four jobs to Traver Village Shopping Center

In most dental offices, patients are used to the same routine during their first visit. They fill out a long form with lots of questions. At the new Excel Dental on Plymouth Rd. in Ann Arbor, however, they do things a little differently. 

"We go out of our way and take the patients in the back and do a patient interview. It gives us a chance to get to know our patients," says Excel Dental Patient Coordinator Laura Reeves. "Dr. Sandra strives toward patient care and patient courtesy." 

A family atmosphere is the aim of Dr. Sandra Shrimankar's Excel Dental. According to Reeves, Shrimankar decided to open her own office after working in different clinics in the area and wanting to be closer to her home and two children. She accomplished that by finding a space in Traver Village Shopping Center, near Kroger.

"We are in the the best spot," says Reeves. "We have all the Kroger traffic, but we also have all of the senior complexes behind us. We've seen kids as young as three so far up to the 90s."

Excel Dental opened in April after a total renovation that began in February. The clinic currently employs a staff of four, and Reeves says she expects the staff will grow along with the clinic. They business is currently looking to hire one associate dentist. 

Source: Laura Reeves, Excel Dental 
Writer: Natalie Burg

Wolverine State Brewing Co expands operations in Ann Arbor

Wolverine State Brewing Co grew its kitchen last year and is planning on expanding the rest of its business this year.

The Ann Arbor-based brewery specializes in producing, which means it requires more time and resources to produce its brews. The 8-year-old craft brewery opened up its own tap room on West Stadium Boulevard in the old Big George's space in 2010. Last December it added a kitchen, which meant it needed to hire another six people to serve as kitchen staff. It now employs 18 people.

"It's like two totally different businesses," says Josh Evans, house manager for Wolverine State Brewing Co. "In terms of the way it runs, the way it looks, it's just so much more polished."

He adds that the expansion prompted Wolverine State Brewing Co to become more professional in its appearance and operations. That is setting the table for an even bigger expansion for the brewery later this year. The firm currently produces 2,200 barrels of beer a year, a number Evans expects to go up significantly next year.

"We plan on ratcheting that up substantially in 2015," Evans says. "We're expanding everything but the retail space. Basically everything you don’t see."

Source: Josh Evans, house manager for Wolverine State Brewing Co
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at

Growing Hatch Stamping opens new Chelsea sales office

With two industrial facilities in Chelsea, plants in Fowlerville, Howell and Mexico, and new plant coming to Tennessee next year, Hatch Stamping Company is definitely growing. So much so, that the Chelsea-based company has opened a new local sales office to accommodate their growth.

"We are bringing in new customers, and we are growing the customer that we do have," says Steve Emmert, director of sales for Hatch Stamping. "Also, the economy in the auto world is doing better."

After running out of room in the Chelsea location that once held their sales staff, Hatch located a pair of office suites on Middle St. to dedicate to sales. Sixteen sales staff will work out of the 4,500 square foot office, of the 245 workers the business employes in Chelsea. Company-wide, Hatch Stamping employs 680 employees. 

Though the company's growth extends beyond state and even national borders, Emmert says Chelsea remains the best home base for Hatch Stamping. 

"The company has been here since 1952, and we have no plans of moving our our operations out of the Chelsea area," Emmert says. "It's a good place to pull workers from."

Hatch Stamping moved into their new sales office in mid June and celebrated a grand opening on July 10. 

Source: Steve Emmert, Hatch Stamping Company
Writer: Natalie Burg 

Great Lakes Cycling moves to new, permanent location on Stadium

What was once a building that serviced cars is now the new home of Great Lakes Cycling and Fitness - a transition owner Oscar Bustos finds appropriate, given how many Ann Arborites are choosing cycling over driving. For him, the new Stadium Blvd. location was an opportunity to find a permanent home for his business, something he'd been pursuing for some time.

"We'd been trying to buy our previous building, but the owner was unable to sell it," Bustos says. "We wanted to purchase a building, and this was a good fit. Our basic model is a shell, a big open environment, so it worked out well. We just gutted it."

After months of renovations, Great Lakes Cycling and Fitness opened in the 8,000 square foot building in early June. With the change in location, Bustos has also taken on some new brands. For the most part, however, he says the service and staff people have come to expect from his former location are the same in the business's new home. 

So far, the reaction has been positive.

"Things have been going great," says Bustos. "Our traffic count is a lot higher on this side of town, so our visibility is improved. We're very happy with it."

Great Lakes Cycling and Fitness is open seven days a week, from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm on weekdays, 10:00am to 6:00pm on Saturdays and noon to 6:00 pm on Sundays. 

Source: Oscar Bustos, Great Lakes Cycling
Writer: Natalie Burg

Motawi Tileworks to expand into downtown retail at Ann Arbor Art Center

Retail is nothing new for Motawi Tileworks. The art tile company has been selling their tiles online at at their Enterprise Dr. location in Ann Arbor for some time, in addition to their wholesale work. But owner Nawal Motawi decided it was time to investigate retail in a more visible location. 

"Every once in a while it dawns on me how hard to find our place on Enterprise really is," Motawi says. "But looking at the parts of our business that are most successful, our retail has been quite successful." 

Opening a dedicated retail location in downtown Ann Arbor can be expensive, however, so Motawi is partnering with the Ann Arbor Art Center to ease into the downtown retail game. Beginning in late August, about 500 square feet of the Center will be dedicated to Motawi Tileworks, which will be merchandized by the tile company. 

Though the tile will be sold on consignment like any other art sold at the center, Motawi will share the cost of staffing with the Ann Arbor Art Center and the dedicated space and control over their inventory will help Motawi experiment with downtown retail location. 

"They're feeling really great about it because it's a different way of helping a local artist, so it's still true to their mission," Motawi says. "And really, I want to learn by doing. It would be a great thing to see it grow into own space, and to see if the concept is strong, and if it can be started in other locales."

Motawi Tileworks enthusiasts will find extra incentive to visit the downtown location, as Motawi says she'll market test new tiles there, as well as host periodic events during which visitors can watch tiles being created. 

Motawi hopes to begin operations in the Ann Arbor Art Center space on Aug. 20 and celebrate a grand opening Sept. 5. 

Source: Nawal Motawi, Motawi Tileworks
Writer: Natalie Burg

Ann Arbor Running Company to open in Oak Valley Shopping Center

Ian Forsyth and Nick Stanko met as cross country runners at the University of Michigan, and they've been friends ever since. They've also both stayed connected to running through their careers, and those ties will become even deeper as the now business partners prepare to open their first venture: Ann Arbor Running Company

"We think we have a lot to offer," says Forsyth. "We can give advice on any kind of training. No tricks, no gimmicks, just a nice place to go and get advice and get shoes, and a comfortable place to be."

That place will be located in the Oak Valley Shopping Center. Forsyth says they chose the location because it's one side of town without a running store currently, and because they expect growth in the area will bring more traffic to the store. 

"We looked around a bunch of different places, including different cities. I heard from numerous people that Jackson was a good place to go, but Nick was very passionate about Ann Arbor," Forsyth says. "Running is a huge thing in Ann Arbor these days."

The 3,200 square foot Ann Arbor Running Company will feature handmade racks and furnishings. Renovations on the space are underway, and Forsyth hopes to open the shop by early August. Though he and Stanko will initially run the store themselves, he anticipates hiring three full-time employees and a few part-time employees during their first year. 

Source: Ian Forsyth, Ann Arbor Running Company
Writer: Natalie Burg
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