Development News

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Placemaking success in Mount Clemens as Clinton River project reaches crowdfunding goal

Thanks to a successful crowdfunding campaign and a corresponding $50,000 grant from state agencies, the Clinton River Watershed Council now has the funds to build a universally accessible canoe and kayak launch at MacArthur Park, as well as some improvements to the park itself.

In total, MacArthur Park: Clinton River Project is set to receive $110,760 to complete construction. The project was first announced at the end of November 2016, a result of being named as part of the state's ongoing Public Spaces Community Places placemaking initiative. Because the project successfully raised $60,000 by Jan. 28, 2017, state agencies Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Michigan State Housing Development Authority have contributed a $50,000 grant toward its completion.

In addition to the canoe and kayak launch, also planned are universally accessible restrooms and a universally accessible picnic table with a charging station. Other enhancements include kayak storage and lockers, enhanced pedestrian connections to the existing boardwalk, way finding and interpretive signage, local art murals, and improved parking facilities. Expect improvements by this spring and summer.

"Adding a universally accessible kayak launch at MacArthur Park will allow users of all abilities the opportunity to experience all that Mt. Clemens and the Clinton River have to offer," Mt. Clemens Mayor Barbara Dempsey said in a statement originally released at the announcement of the project. "The Clinton River is one of the unique environmental and recreational assets of the region and Mount Clemens, and we look forward to finding more ways to utilize this asset as an economic development tool while continuing to protect its natural beauty."

The importance of protecting the Clinton River has been especially relevant lately, the result of a sinkhole and collapsed sewer line in the nearby city of Fraser.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Macomb County recognizes local business leaders with Valentine's Day breakfast awards ceremony

This most recent Valentine's Day, Macomb County threw a big party to show affection for its business leaders.

The 5th Annual Macomb Business Awards breakfast was held Tuesday, Feb. 14, honoring the county's business community with awards in six categories. A keynote speaker and local officials and celebrities also highlighted the event.

From 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at Palazzo Grande in Shelby Township, Fox 2 Detroit's Huel Perkins and Charlie Langton emceed an awards ceremony that included a keynote speech from Menlo Innovations founder and CEO Richard Sheridan. 53 organizations were nominated for the six categories, which were then voted on by a panel of judges made up of local officials and business executives.

Macomb County Executive Mark A. Hackel and Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development Director John Paul Rea were on hand to recognize the winners. 
 
Said Hackel, “Strong businesses are essential to the quality of life we enjoy here in Macomb County. Their efforts to build a strong foundation for success make them good job providers and neighbors for us all."

Winners of the six awards were R&E Automated Systems of Macomb Township, Champion of Workforce Development; Binson's Medical Equipment and Supplies of Center Line, Corporate Citizen; Baker Industries of Macomb Township, Diversification Leader; JEM Tech Group of Clinton Township, Efficiency Expert; Arts Academy in the Woods High School of Fraser, Model of OneMacomb; and United Shore Professional Baseball League of Utica, Startup Business to Watch.

Rea, who recognized Macomb/St. Clair Michigan Works! as the Economic Development Partner of the Year, said, "The creativity and passion on display in this year’s group of nominees is inspiring. The Macomb Business Awards provide us with a great opportunity to showcase how our private sector partners are helping us move this community forward."

Dr. Jim Jacobs, president of Macomb Community College, was also recognized with the Beacon of Economic Development award.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Oak Park and Detroit firms shine in personalized web videos, just in time for Valentine's Day

A number of area marketing, advertising, and media production firms have banded together to create a customizable way for people to share their affection for one another this Valentine's Day. And it just so happens that it involves being serenaded by a famous teddy bear.

Though it may sound odd, the charming and certainly amusing videos created by advertising agency Cambell Ewald and multi-media production studios RingSide Creative and Cutters Studios allow users to send personalized videos of the fabric softener mascot Snuggle Bear singing one of two songs, either Lovin' You or (I've Had) The Time of My Life.

Users log into a mobile-friendly site, upload photos of the intended recipient, and let Snuggle Bear do the wooing. A video is sent featuring Snuggle Bear amidst a dreamy backdrop, acting out famous music video scenes as it sings either song. Names and photos uploaded cycle through the videos, creating that personalized touch.

Eschewing the computer-animated trends of today, the production team took to a live-action approach in making the videos. This was a nod to Snuggle Bear's origins. The bear was created by Jim Henson's Creature Shop, famous for The Muppets and Sesame Street puppets, among many others.

"Snuggle was literally born in the 80's, so to me, this was an incredibly fun opportunity to playfully nod to that time with visuals and expressions from the glory days of MTV," says Director and Creative Director Jason Cook in a statement. "I knew this approach would let me tell the story in a simple way without having to rely on a ton of green screen post work."

Collaboration between the different firms spanned the continent, with work being done in Los Angeles, New York City, Detroit, and suburban Oak Park.

Visit the Snuggle Serenades website to create a personalized video.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Dearborn Restaurant Week set to make debut, shine light on city dining scene

Visitors to Dearborn can get a taste of what the city has to offer at the inaugural Dearborn Restaurant Week, which takes place Feb. 13 - 19. It's the first of what organizers plan to be a yearly event. More than 30 restaurants have signed on so far.

During the promotion, restaurants will feature special dishes exclusive to the event, though regular menus will remain available. Each restaurant will offer a prix-fixe 3-course meal priced at $10, $20, or $30 for lunch and/or dinner. The items will be available for one or two people.

"We want to bring to the forefront Dearborn’s diverse tapestry of people, places, and flavors," says Cristina Sheppard-Decius, Downtown Dearborn Executive Director. "Dearborn Restaurant Week will guide Metro Detroiters to discover the variety, quality, personal service, and hometown experience that Dearborn delivers."

The current list of participating restaurants includes Edison's, Giulio & Sons, Tria, P.F. Chang's, Big Fish, Brome Burgers & Shakes, Downtown Deli, Bar Louie, Famous Hamburger, La Fork, BD's Mongolian Grill, Zaza's Italian & Mediterranean Cuisine, Yogurtopia, La Shish, Baba's Grill, Sheeba Restaurant, Good Burger, Habib's Cuisine, Mocha Bistro, Brera Pizza & Salad Co., Al Ameer, The Butcher's Grille, La Pita, Roman Village, Caesars Coney and Grill, Al Nawras, Tropical Smoothie Cafe, Shatila Bakery, Al-Saha, Shawarma Bash, and Xushi Ko. You can view their menus here.

Organizers hope the event will draw new restaurant-goers to town as well as offer up something new to those who regularly dine in the city. The slate of participants includes the city's well-established favorites as well as its freshest newcomer restaurants. Menus will offer items unique to the event, will staying true to each venue's spirit.

No tickets are required for Dearborn Restaurant Week.

"Menus will include new dishes that represent the restaurants' style of cooking or a medley of the existing plates," says Downtown Dearborn’s Promotions Committee Chairperson Sam Abbas, owner of Brome Burger & Shakes and Yogurtopia.

For more on Sam Abbas and his thoughts on downtown Dearborn and good business, click here.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Dearborn mayor to go social with State of the City address

The State of the City address in Dearborn is moving into the digital age.

Rather than host a formal ceremony this year, Dearborn Mayor John B. O’Reilly Jr. will try something more in keeping with how people absorb their news these days—he'll deliver his report to the public in bite-sized chunks on social media.

Five short video segments will be released on the City of Dearborn’s Facebook page and on CDTV, the government access cable channel. The segments can also be viewed at www.cityofdearborn.org. Each segment will begin at 7 p.m. each night starting on Sunday, February 12, and will conclude on Thursday, Feb. 16.

The mayor is making the change to reach people where they are.

“As usual, so many great things are happening in Dearborn, and we want people to learn about all of them,” Mayor O’Reilly says in a statement. “But I felt in the past that the formality of a State of the City presentation was a bit of an obstacle for some people, and not convenient for people to get the information they were looking for."

“To me, the messages are more important than a ceremonial event, so I want to make it as easy as possible for residents to tune into what interests them. Our new approach seems a better way to do that.”

Each 10-minute topic reflects the top areas of interest to residents, and where the most city resources are directed to: the Fire Department (Feb. 12), Police Department (Feb. 13), Economic Development (Feb. 14), Neighborhoods (Feb. 15) and the Vision for Positioning the City for a Bright Future (Feb. 16).

The City of Dearborn’s Facebook page is a public page, and viewers do not need to be signed up for Facebook to watch the State of the City segments.  

For those who prefer a traditional TV experience, CDTV is channel 12 on Comcast Cable and channel 10 on WOW.

A detailed printed report on Dearborn’s progress in 2016 also can be found at www.cityofdearborn.org

4 things to know about the state of Oakland County


Oakland County's "best accomplishments lay before us."

That's according to L.Brooks Patterson, who delivered his annual State of the County Address on Wednesday, September 8 at the Auburn Hills Marriott Pontiac at Centerpoint in  Pontiac. Patterson, who has served as county executive since 1992, outlined a bevy of ongoing projects and new initiatives in an effort to continue to "raise the bar higher and higher" for county government.

Here are four things to know about the state of Oakland County:

Advanced vehicle technology: Oakland County is keen on developing a talent pipeline for the advanced vehicle technology field. Patterson points to recent announcements by Uber and Google to locate R&D and testing facilities within the county as evidence of the county's early success in this area.  He noted that Oakland County spearheads an Oakland County Connected Vehicle Task Force to "work with companies in our automotive technology corridor and other stakeholders to create a business model for investing in connected vehicle technology and connected vehicle infrastructure." The county is also working to identify gaps in that talent pipeline. A skills needs assessment in connected mobility conducted by the Department of Economic Development & Community Affairs revealed a lack of training in integrated, systems-approach thinking.

Millennials: The Oakland County Business Roundtable's "Oakland Next" committee launched just over a year ago with the mission of identifying ways to attract and retain young talent to the county, with members all younger than 40. So far, the group has recommended a multimedia campaign to highlight county assets that appeal to the younger generation

Pontiac: Patterson reports a litany of new developments in Pontiac, including the newly reopened Flagstar Strand Theater, Pete Karmanos' Lenderful (an online mortgage company that is investing $1.75 million in downtown Pontiac and creating 52 jobs), 100+-year old construction management firm Auch’s new 20,000 square-foot corporate headquarters going up on on University Drive near Woodward in downtown Pontiac, the M1 Concourse "car condo" development, the purchase and repurposing of Wisner School, Wisner Stadium, and the former Pontiac Central High School by city booster and businessman Ed Lee, and new life for the infamous Bloomfield Park development, now re-christened "Bloomfield Village."

Bringing back shop class: Not everyone is college material, Patterson says, referencing his late son Brooksie as an example of the kind of kid who was better at starting a business than going to college. He calls on Oakland Schools to "return to the basics such as shop class where ultimately the jobs are plentiful, good-paying, and you graduate without a college debt." The county-launched MITradeSchool.org will be emulated by the State of Michigan, and 50 Oakland County companies received more than $1.2 million from the state’s Skilled Trades Training Fund with the help of Oakland County Workforce Development Division last year.

Comic book and zine workshops to be held at Arab American National Museum in Dearborn

Comic book, graphic novel, and zine fans have even more reason to visit downtown east Dearborn with the announcement of two comic book-themed talks and interactive experiences. Each event takes place at the Arab American National Museum, where the exhibition Drawing in the Diaspora: Comic Art & Graphic Novels by Leila Abdelrazaq is currently on display.

The first event is the Design in Comics Talk with Aya Krisht, which takes place at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25. The event is free, though an online RSVP is required.

Aya Krisht is the media designer at the Arab American National Museum and a graphic designer and illustrator. She will be presenting how design conveys mood, meaning, and message in comic books and graphic novels.

"Hopefully attendees can come away from this talk with a deeper understanding of how design elements like style, color, composition and typography come together in comics to tell a story and be inspired to explore the endless possibilities through comics of their own," says Krisht.

The second event is the Comic and Zine-making Workshop with Leila Abdelrazaq, which takes place from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 4. Like the first, the event is free, though an online RSVP is required.

Leila Abdelrazaq is the artist responsible for the current Drawing in the Diaspora exhibition at the museum. The artist will host a conversational walk through her exhibit. Following the tour, attendees will be invited to make their own comics and zines with Abdelrazaq providing prompts, guides, and tips.

"Creating zines has long been a method of subverting traditional or mainstream media sources," says Abdelrazaq. "This workshop will give young people the tools to create their own zines and self-published short comics, driving home the fact that you don’t need to wait for someone else to publish your work or validate your ideas--you can go ahead and do it yourself!"

Check out our profile of Dearborn-based Green Brain Comics to learn more about the Dearborn comic book community.

The Arab American National Museum is located at 13624 Michigan Ave. in Dearborn.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Revival Eatery to open in Waterford this March

A revival is coming to Waterford this March.

Revival Eatery, to be exact. It's a new restaurant concept from Dan Nestorovski, the owner of Pizzeria Dolce in Clarkston. 
 
Revival Eatery will serve a twist on new American and fusion fare, including hamburgers, hot dogs, and tacos with unusual ingredients and toppings -- though the menu has yet to be finalized. There will also be gluten-free and vegan options.

"It'll be kind of like what you're seeing in downtown Detroit these days, but up here," says Nestorovski. "Not everyone can go down there to eat all the time."

In a town with its fare share of Coney Island restaurants and diners, Nestorovski believes it's the perfect time and place to open a more contemporary restaurant concept. He says the response in the community has already been overwhelming -- and Revival isn't even open yet. Once work started on the building last September, Nestorovski says he's received all sorts of people sending him messages and knocking on the building's doors, asking when the restaurant will open.

The building is an old Big Apple Restaurant -- though people probably won't recognize it inside. Nestorovski has completely gutted the building, replacing the old-fashioned interior with a much more modern aesthetic. He characterizes it as "funky hipster," with its reclaimed wood, metal walls, and bright colors.

Live music, craft beers, and wine will also be part of the Revival Eatery experience.

Nestorovski first opened Pizzeria Dolce nearly six years ago, though he's been in the restaurant business much longer than that, including having owned a Little Caesars Pizzeria store. He sees Revival Eatery as a new start.

"The name means a couple of things," says Nestorovski. "I'm reviving an old restaurant but also my life. I've been in the pizza business a long time. It's time to do something different."

Nestorovski will hire about 30 new employees to staff the restaurant. Applications are currently accepted online.

Revival Eatery is located at 4750 W. Walton Blvd. in Waterford.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Six Rivers Land Conservancy celebrates conservation wins, looks to future in SE Michigan

Six Rivers Land Conservancy is working to protect southeastern Michigan's natural land and resources -- and they want you to know about it.

That's a challenge, says Six Rivers Executive Director Chris Bunch, who characterizes the organization as a well-kept secret. But he's working to change that status. A trio of conservation wins at the end of 2016 are helping to increase the conservancy's profile, which is headquartered in Rochester but focuses on the whole region.

"The bottom line is that we know there are some fabulous natural resources here in southeastern Michigan. But people don't think about them enough. Most people think that nature starts 'Up North'," says Bunch. "There's great stuff down here worth protecting."

The conservancy, which makes it its mission to preserve land in its natural state for conservation and recreational purposes, ended the year with three big conservation wins for southeastern Michigan. In 2016, Six Rivers:
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  • purchased frontage on the Pine River and sold it to St. Clair County Parks, which then added it to increase the size of Goodells Park;
  • purchased frontage on the Belle River and sold it to St. Clair County Parks, which will then build a park with a kayak launch in Casco Township;
  • secured a conservation easement for a piece of land in Bloomfield Township, which will protect a pond and vernal pools from any future development.
The organization also celebrated received funds from Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan and a partnership in a $1.8 million Federal RCPP award to protect water quality.

Because of the nature of acquiring land, it's a lot of hard work that the public doesn't get to see until the work is already over, according to Bunch. He likens the business of securing land for conservation purposes to any other real estate deal; you don't announce a deal until a deal is done. But instead of development for profit's sake, it's procurement for protection.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Dearborn museums join forces to host personal photo digitization events

The Arab American National Museum and the Dearborn Historical Museum are bringing historical preservation techniques to the people. The joint effort is to serve the Many Stories, One City: Dearborn Community History Series, a partnered project between the two museums.

City residents, both past and present, are encouraged to bring photographs depicting life in Dearborn to two different digitization events at the Dearborn Public Library – Henry Ford Centennial Branch. There, staff of both the Arab American National Museum and the Dearborn Historical Museum will scan the photos for potential use in the Many Stories, One City project. Residents will then be returned their original photos as well as receive digital copies on a USB flash drive.

"This particular project warms my heart when I see two of Dearborn’s great preservers of the area’s history come together in order to add to each other’s knowledge and preserve the stories associated with our great past," says Jack Tate, DHM director. "It has long been one of the goals of the DHM to collaborate with other area institutions on projects that will help in preserving the history of Dearborn. I hope that this is only the beginning."

Residents will be allowed to scan up to ten photographs. They will be presented with a coupon for one free admission to the Arab American National Museum as thanks for participation in the project.

The Many Stories, One City project is made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Common Heritage program, which is funding similar projects all across the United States. Its goal is to preserve items found in American homes, and not just those found in museums.

The digitization events for Many Stories, One City take place in Room 30 of the Dearborn Public Library – Henry Ford Centennial Branch at 16301 Michigan Ave. in Dearborn. They occur from 1 to 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4.

The events are free and open to the public.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Learn home restoration techniques from the experts restoring Henry Ford's historic Fair Lane estate

Fans of Henry Ford, historic home restorations, and history, in general, have a reason to pay attention to what's going on at the historic Fair Lane estate in Dearborn. 
 
And new workshop series will offer old building buffs a sneak peek into the restoration work going on at the famous Henry and Clara Ford estate.

Artisans working on the home will offer classes and hands-on demonstrations in home restoration techniques while museum staff will offer tours.

"The estate has been closed for a number of years while we've been working to restore it," says Ann Loshaw, Vice President of Education & Visitor Experience at The Historic Ford Estates. "This gives folks a sneak peak at what's been going on but also some take-away skills."

The first, a class on stonework restoration and tuck-pointing skills, takes place at the Fair Lane estate Saturday, Jan. 28 from 1 to 4 p.m. The remaining classes teach paint and plaster skills on Feb. 25, wood floor refinishing on March 25, how to clean and protect metals on April 29, and how to remove, repair, re-glaze, and re-install wood windows on May 20.

The museum may start a second series depending on initial demand for the first. Participants may also have their own questions about home restoration techniques, which may inspire ideas for new courses, Loshaw says.

There were several factors that inspired the workshops.

"As museum professionals, we found the process of restoration fascinating. And then working with donors and museum studies students and seeing their interest," says Loshaw. "Plus with the popularity of home restoration TV shows, it's a perfect pairing. This is a great opportunity to meet with the experts."

Henry and Clara Ford moved into Fair Lane in 1915. It is one of the first historic sites to be designated a National Historic Landmark. It is on track for a 2020 re-opening following several years of restoration work.

Tickets for each class is $45/person and are available online.

Henry Ford Estate-Fair Lane is located at 4901 Evergreen Rd. in Dearborn.

More Henry Ford in the news: The museum at The Henry Ford campus in Dearborn is being re-branded as the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation. Officials say the name change better reflects the museum's main focus.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Think spring! Macomb County to offer community and children's gardening programming

Those stuck in the doldrums of January might be best served to start daydreaming about and plotting out their spring gardens. Macomb County is offering two classes to do just that.

Both classes are being offered through Macomb County's Michigan State University Extension program.

The first is a free program with limited capacity, so the county is encouraging potential students to register now. The class is called Community Gardening- The Basics, teaching attendees both the benefits and practicalities of setting up a community garden.

The class will demonstrate how to set up a community garden, how to participate in a community garden, and also explain the different types of community gardens.

The community gardening class takes place from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 7 at the Max Thompson Family Resource Center at 11370 Hupp Ave. in Warren. A second class will be offered from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 7 at the Macomb MSU Extension VerKuilen Building at 21885 Dunham Rd. in Clinton Township.

The deadline to register is Friday, Feb. 3.

Elementary teachers, home-schooling parents, and anyone else with children's interests at heart may want to enroll in another gardening program offered by Macomb County's MSU Extension.

Children's Gardens and Learning Activities will expound upon the different types of children's gardens while also demonstrating how to work with children in the garden. Mary Gerstenberger, consumer horticulture coordinator, and Anne Crotser, Master Gardener, teach the course.

The children gardening course is on Thursday, Feb. 9, from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Macomb MSU Extension VerKuilen Building at 21885 Dunham Rd. in Clinton Township.

The class costs $5 -- payable at the door -- with resource materials provided. There is a Feb. 5 deadline for registration.

To register for any of the gardening courses, call (586) 469-6440.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Farmers market to offer winter produce cooking demonstrations and recipes

A series of cooking demonstrations featuring fresh and local produce will launch at the Oakland County Farmers Market this Saturday, Jan. 14, and continue every other Saturday through the end of March.

The demonstrations occur from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the market, each featuring a different guest chef. Danny Martinez of the Alley Cat Cafe in Pontiac will be the first to host, with chefs from Townhouse in Birmingham, High 5 Salts With Benefits, C.A.Y.A. Smokehouse Grill in Wolverine Lake, Cacao Tree Cafe in Royal Oak, and the Dorsey Schools Culinary Academy to follow. The demonstrations are free to attend.

Oakland County Farmers Market Manager Jeremy Brown says winter produce demonstrations have been a hit since first starting two years ago, providing visitors with valuable and useful information.

"I hope the cooking demonstration series inspires people to incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables in their meals during the winter, when finding fresh items can be challenging," he says. "I think some people may be surprised as to how many items are available at the market during the winter."

Items like root vegetables, mushrooms, honey, garlic, onions, and apples are all available fresh from local vendors during the winter months and will be utilized by the guest chefs. Following the cooking demonstration free samples of the prepared dishes will be available and Lake Orion's White Pine Coffee will be providing free coffee samples, as well.

Recipes of the prepared dishes will be available for those who wish to try them out at home and the ingredients will be available from Oakland County Farmers Market vendors. These vendors include VanHoutte Farms in Armada, Penzien Produce in Imlay City, Hockey Haven Farm in Lapeer, Give & Grow Mushroom in Chesterfield, Sweetz Sugaring in Imlay City, and Brookwood Fruit Farm in Almont.

The Oakland County Farmers Market is located at 2350 Pontiac Lake Rd. in Waterford. Winter hours are 7 a.m.-1:30 p.m. every Saturday.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Dearborn sells city side lots to increase property values

The City of Dearborn is selling land back to its east side residents, one side lot at a time.

The city launched the program fifteen years ago in efforts to make real estate in the city more attractive and valuable. Since the election of Mayor John B. O'Reilly, Jr. in 2007, the program has ramped up.

It's a focus of the mayor's, who wants to see Dearborn's home values rise. A proactive blight removal and abandoned home demolition program opens up opportunities for re-selling lots back to neighbors whose homes would otherwise be affected by blighted buildings next door.

The side lot program, focused on the city's older east side, allows Dearborn homeowners the ability to purchase vacant land next to their properties and transform the lots into attractive, usable spaces, suitable for gardens, garages, driveways, house additions, and more. Vacant lots can even be jointly purchased and split between two neighbors.

Buildable lots are also for sale, encouraging new construction in older neighborhoods.

"A lot of the older properties on the east side are not aligned with modern standards," says Mayor O'Reilly. "But people are tearing down houses and building the house that they want. It's a good sign because it shows that people want to live here."

The program generated 29 side yard lot sales in 2016, a significant increase from the 13 sold the year before. Those 29 side yards generated the city $93,177 in revenue and returned properties to tax rolls. And residents gain the benefit of larger lot sizes, which is especially a premium for homeowners of smaller parcels in the older eastside neighborhoods of the city.

Buildable lot sales were also up in 2016, increasing from nine properties sold in 2015 to 22 properties sold for the purpose of new construction. This generated the city $415,562 in revenue and returned properties to tax rolls.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Eastpointe transforms city park into 'Winter Wonderland'

Flash back just two years ago, and you'd be hard-pressed to find many people outside and enjoying Spindler Park in the cold weather months of winter. Since then, a flurry of local ingenuity and charity has transformed the 25-acre park situated along Stephens Road in Eastpointe into what city officials are calling a "winter wonderland."

While the park had plenty of draws in the summer, including the likes of soccer fields and horseshoe pits, Spindler Park had little to offer in the winter. Last year, the construction of a sledding hill changed all that. Estimated at 100 yards from top to bottom, the hill at Spindler Park offers sledders "pretty good speed," according to City of Eastpointe Public Information Assistant Bill Driskell. Safety hay bales and fencing were added this year, and the city hopes to install lights for nighttime sledding this February.

New walking paths, constructed this past summer, have also proven popular this winter, says Driskell.

Driskell credits DPW Supervisor Tony Pry with the sledding hill success. Pry came up with the concept, working with the excavation company ML Chartier, which had a crew working on a nearby road, to donate soil from a previous job plus equipment and labor to construct the hill -- $50,000 worth of donated product and work, says Driskell.

Even more is planned for Spindler Park. Pry and his crew are currently constructing two ice rinks in the park, one for family skaters and one for ice hockey games. Driskell also hopes that a disc golf course will be constructed in the spring.

"This is a big deal for Eastpointe," says Driskell. "We're a fully developed city with not a lot of open space left to develop. To take our parks and re-invent them at relatively low cost has been huge."

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.
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