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Automotive group to build new headquarters and tech center in Auburn Hills

The state of Michigan and the City of Auburn Hills beat out South Carolina in a bid for the FEV Group and its 750 jobs. 
The German powertrain and vehicle design engineering company will build a new North American headquarters in Auburn Hills. Currently already located in Auburn Hills, the company considered a move to South Carolina before a combination of a grant by Michigan and property tax abatement by Auburn Hills helped to convince FEV Group to build its new state-of-the-art facilities in the city in which it currently resides.

The company employs approximately 500 people at its current Auburn Hills facility. FEV Group will hire an additional 250 employees once the new headquarters is built. The promise of 250 new jobs led the state of Michigan to award the company a $1.2 million Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant.

The new building itself will serve not only as a headquarters but also as a tech center and engineering services facility. More than $27 million will be invested in the development.

The FEV Group is just one of several businesses to recently receive incentives from the Michigan Strategic Fund,  which was announced Tuesday, June 28. In total, the businesses receiving incentives are expected to create approximately 878 jobs and $85 million in private capital investments, says the state.

"The commitment by these companies to grow and create jobs in Michigan will strengthen our communities and fuel more and better jobs for our talented workforce," Gov. Rick Snyder says in a statement. "Today’s investments in Michigan and its people show that our efforts are making our state a desirable location for businesses to locate, grow and thrive."

FEV Group was founded in Germany in 1978. The company founded FEV North America in California in 1985 before moving that headquarters to Michigan in 1988.

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

Regional development news round-up for June

It's been another busy month for development news in metropolitan Detroit. Let's catch up on some more development stories from the past four weeks.

Small for-profit businesses in the city of Pontiac are being encouraged to apply for Pitch 'N Pontiac, a small business competition that awards cash prizes and pro bono business consulting services. Seven finalists will be selected for a Pitch event on Aug. 31 where the $5,000 grand prize will be awarded as well as $3,000 for second place and $2,000 for third. The deadline to apply is Friday, July 29 at 5 p.m. Non-profits and franchises are not eligible for the contest.

Ten Oakland County communities were recognized for their vibrant downtown areas, each receiving perfect "10 out of 10" scores from the National Main Street Center in Chicago. The towns were rated on a range of criteria that included community support and historic preservation. Receiving perfect scores were Clawson, Farmington, Ferndale, Franklin, Highland, Holly, Lake Orion, Ortonville, Oxford, and Rochester.

In Wixom, a new facility is being built by TREMEC Corporation, creating 133 jobs and $54 million in total investment. The manufacturer of high-performance vehicle transmissions is receiving a $731,500 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant and the city of Wixom is offering property tax abatement.

Also receiving a Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant is Karma Automotive, which is being awarded $450,000 from the state for establishing an automotive engineering and purchasing hub in Troy. The company, which designs and manufactures luxury hybrid vehicles, will create up to 150 jobs and a $3.6 million investment. The city of Troy is providing the company marketing and promotional assistance as part of the deal.

A Peregrine Falcon chick hatched on the 11th floor of the Old Macomb County Building. Macomb County Executive Mark A. Hackel named the bird Grace, after his first-grade teacher and as a nod to all educators.

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

Public art competition in Rochester's Lake Norcentra Park opens polls to the public

Local officials, take note. If you want to stir up the passions of the populace, hold a public art competition. That's what BT Irwin is proving in the community of Rochester.

In their efforts to activate Lake Norcentra Park, a 14-acre park located on the Rochester College campus and along the Clinton River Trail, a panel of local artists and city officials have whittled down submissions for a 1,600 sq. ft. mural along the trail to just three finalists. Now, it's up to a public vote to determine which of the murals will be put in place.

BT Irwin, project manager for the Lake Norcentra Park redevelopment, is pleased with the process so far. He says the public art competition has gotten the community involved in reimagining the park, something he expected when first coming up with the idea. Good art will do that, says Irwin.

Community members haven't been shy about approaching Irwin to let him know which mural deserves to be selected for installation. It's out of his hands now, however, and up to the community and the public vote. Over 3,000 votes have been placed since online polls opened just one week ago. For Irwin, it's a can't-lose situation. No matter which piece is selected, Lake Norcentra Park and its surrounding communities benefit.

"What's happening in Lake Norcentra Park is an effort to transform 14 acres of land that's been largely unused for decades," says Irwin. "We want people to claim ownership of the space and make it their own. One way you can do that is through public art."

Lake Norcentra Park is 14 acres and includes bluffs, wetlands, and woodlands throughout its landscape. Rochester College recently partnered with Chief Financial Credit Union to improve the park, which is open to the public. It is located at 800 W. Avon Rd. in Rochester Hills.

Voting is open and available through July 8 at

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

Leon & Lulu nears completion of expansion into historic Clawson Theater

The wife-and-husband team of Mary Liz Curtin and Stephen Scannell, co-owners of Leon & Lulu in downtown Clawson, have nearly completed their redevelopment of the historic Clawson Theater. 
They are converting the historic theater, which itself was converted from a theater to light industrial uses in the early 1960s, into a cafe, custom framing shop, and furniture showroom. Curtin expects to open in two to three months.

The redevelopment is a natural extension for Leon & Lulu, the popular furniture, clothing, gifts, and more shop that opened in the old Ambassador Roller Rink building in 2005. 
It's been a big redevelopment, too. Curtin says the old Clawson Theater building needed just about everything one might imagine, including new plumbing, electricity, HVAC system, roof, and more.

The theater floor was flattened long ago after it closed in the 1960s. But Curtin and Scannell are restoring a bit of history with a refurbished theater marquee to hearken back to the days of the old Clawson entertainment district. Both the roller rink and theater buildings, separated only by a shared parking lot, were built in 1941.

According to Curtin, Clawson residents used to call the theater "the Show," so the new building will be called "The Show at Leon & Lulu." 
The back will contain additional showroom space for furniture from the main shop as well as a custom framing workshop. Up front will be Three Cats Cafe, a place for shoppers to come take a load off after they've finished shopping at Leon & Lulu.

"We think it will complete the shopping experience," says Curtin. "It will be a place for a little sustenance, maybe some live music and a glass of wine. There will be pastries, cookies, and espresso in the morning, salads and quiches at lunch, hors d'oeuvres at night. It will be like the old days where there was a fabulous restaurant inside a department store."

For Curtin, The Show at Lulu & Leon completes the story, providing a center for the community. She says they've never wanted to franchise the Leon & Lulu brand. But they do want to improve the location in downtown Clawson. It's about more than the merchandise, she says. It's an experience.

"What we really sell is happiness and fun."

Leon & Lulu is located at 96 W. 14 Mile Rd. in Clawson.

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

New Ferndale veterinary clinic off to a busy start, to celebrate with an open house

By opening her first veterinary clinic in Ferndale, Dr. Betsy Schnur is bucking a trend. Her single-doctor Hilton Veterinary practice is unique in an era of veterinary practice consolidation. The practice opened in April and is hosting an open house this Friday, June 10, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Hilton Vet is a general practice clinic, specializing in wellness and prevention healthcare for the area's cats and dogs. And according to Dr. Schnur, it was something needed by Ferndale pet owners. Many clinics around Ferndale were turning away new customers, says Dr. Schnur, and in the two months since opening, Hilton Vet has already serviced 200 pets. Business has been much busier than she expected.

Though multiple-doctor clinics are the norm these days, Dr. Schnur says that for cats and dogs with recurring issues, it's important for pets to see the same doctor on each visit, for pets to have continuity in their healthcare. Ferndale is a very pet-friendly place, she says, a place where pets are part of people's families. At age 36, the young doctor is excited about growing up alongside them.

"I'm looking forward to growing and learning more and acquiring even more skills," says Dr. Schnur. "I've lived in Ferndale for the past two years and know the area well. I wanted to work in the community where I live."

Dr. Schnur graduated in 2010 from Iowa State University and went on to work in emergency care. Coming back to Michigan, the doctor worked at a specialty hospital, gaining experience as a general practitioner. It's the general practice side of veterinary work that she finds the most rewarding.

Hilton Veterinary Clinic of Ferndale is hosting an open house Friday, June 10, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. It is open to the public. Events include raffles and takeaways for the humans and treats, games, and a kiddie pool for the pets. The doctor stresses that vaccinated and friendly pets are welcome.

Hilton Veterinary Clinic of Ferndale is located at 3250 Hilton Rd.

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

Detroit pie maker expands downriver with Wyandotte restaurant and River Rouge bakery

Dangerously Delicious Pies, the Detroit rock and roll pie shop, has expanded downriver with a new restaurant in Wyandotte and a bakery in River Rouge. 
The Wyandotte restaurant launched with a soft opening in late May, serving sweet and savory pies during a limited-hour run between 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Starting Monday, June 13, the restaurant will be open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.

It's been a whirlwind opening for co-owner Don Duprie and crew. Duprie, who's also an accomplished songwriter and musician when not running the shop, says the Wyandotte location has been scrambling to keep up with demand.

"We thought it would be more of a relaxed thing with the soft opening, but it's been kind of crazy, just going non-stop," says Duprie. "We were caught a little off guard by the demand, but that's a good thing."

Wyandotte customers can expect the same style of savory and sweet pies found at the Detroit location, ranging from pulled pork dinner pies to salted maple dessert pies. 
The biggest difference, says Duprie, is the freedom of owning his own space. Dangerously Delicious Pies currently rents the kitchen and operates out of the back of Third Street Bar in Detroit.  Duprie says he is leaving that location at the end of June. There will be a new Detroit location, though he's not ready to divulge where it will be.

The Wyandotte restaurant seats about 20 customers, including bar, booth, and outdoor seating. The shop plans on hosting music events at some point, too. The River Rouge bakery will function as just that for now, though Duprie hints at the possibility of restaurant space opening at that location further down the line.

Fans of Dangerously Delicious Pies can also expect a food truck. Already purchased and currently undergoing repairs, the food truck will be on the streets by mid-summer. 
"This is new territory for us," says Duprie. "But we're gonna figure it out."
Dangerously Delicious Pies is located at 2909 Biddle Ave. in Wyandotte.

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

5 things to know about the new regional transit plan

The Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority unveiled its draft master regional transit plan this morning in a public event at Lawrence Technological University, where hundreds of transit advocates, professionals, public officials and interested citizens were invited to get a first glimpse of the proposed plan and provide comment.

Megan Owens, executive director of transit advocacy group Transit Riders United says the plan reflects the needs of people in the region.

"People say we need to be able to connect to jobs, and so this plan connects to places like Novi and Livonia and Rochester that don't currently have transit, yet have a lot of jobs," says Owens.

Renard Monczunski, transit organizer with the social justice advocacy organization Detroit People's Platform, organizes bus riders in the city of Detroit and engages them in learning about the regional transit system.

"My interest is in seeing how this regional transit master plan will affect Detroiters, who comprise 85 percent of the bus riders in the region," he says. "We are looking for improved services… and to see if this plan is equitable for the majority African American, low-income population that has significant challenges using the system today."

Here are five things to know about the draft regional transit plan:

1. What will the plan cost?

To implement the plan, the RTA will ask voters in Oakland, Wayne, Washtenaw and Macomb counties to approve a 1.2-mill property tax over 20 years on Nov. 8, 2016. The millage equates to $7.92 per month for the average southeast Michigan household and is expected to generate $2.9 billion in funds over its term. Additional funding in the form of state and federal grants are expected to bring total funding to $4.6 billion. There will be no option for cities, villages or townships to opt-out of the millage.

2. What does the plan include?

The plan includes eight main elements:
  • Bus rapid transit on Woodward, Gratiot and Michigan Avenues connecting downtown Detroit with the suburbs. The service would run continuously without transfers and feature Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant level boarding and prepaid ticketing. The service would have dedicated lanes, signal priority and limited stops.
  • Cross-county connector bus service on major east-west corridors crossing county boundaries including 15 Mile, 12 Mile, 9 Mile, 8 Mile, Jefferson, Van Dyke, Grand River, Plymouth Rd. and Eureka. Cross-county connector buses mix with traffic and would provide service more frequently than local bus service.
  • New local bus service will include service in locations which currently do not have bus service.
  • Commuter express bus service including weekday, rush-hour service between employment centers; for example, along I-75 and M-59
  • Airport express service connecting Detroit Metropolitan Airport to regional centers including Mt. Clemens, Detroit, Birmingham and Ann Arbor.
  • Paratransit, demand response and mobility management for qualifying passengers with special needs.
  • QLine streetcar along Woodward between New Center and downtown Detroit.
  • Regional commuter rail connecting Detroit and Ann Arbor.
3. How will the plan be adopted?

The plan is now open for a four-week public comment period. Multiple presentations will take place in each of the four affected counties.  Based on public comment, the plan will be refined if necessary and then voted on by the RTA's 10-member board, who will also approve the budget and ballot language.

Residents will then be asked to approve a 20-year, 1.2-mill property tax on Nov. 8, 2016 to fund implementation.
4. When will the plan be implemented?

The plan will be carried out in stages, starting with express bus service along Gratiot and Woodward, paratransit and mobility management and airport express service in 2017. Bus rapid transit on Michigan and Washtenaw Avenues is planned for 2026.

See the full implementation schedule here.

5. How can I learn more?

Read the plan here or attend one of the upcoming workshops in your county.

State placemaking campaign puts spotlight on Marine City Public Beach

The state's placemaking initiative, Public Spaces Community Places, is turning its attention to the St. Clair River community of Marine City.

The initiative, a partnership between the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, will award a $10,000 matching grant to fund improvements to the city's public beach if organizers are able to successfully raise $10,000 through a crowdfunding campaign.

The Marine City Public Beach is located in downtown Marine City, on the shores of the St. Clair River. The crowdfunding campaign is being held on the Michigan-based website Patronicity. Organizers have until June 20 to raise $10,000. If successfully reached, the total jumps to $20,000.

The money raised will be used for a number of improvements that include restroom renovations, additional beach sand, privacy fence, signage, buoys, security, playground equipment and supplies. It will be deposited into an earmarked account in the Marine City Parks and Recreation Department and used only for beach improvements. Any money left unused this year will be used next year.

"Marine City Public Beach is one-of-a-kind in this area," says Marine City Mayor Raymond Skotarczyk. :It is a wonderful source of fun and recreation for thousands of people each year. Up to now it has been maintained and made available at no charge to the public. This fundraiser will help make some much-needed improvements while keeping the access free to the public. I know that it will be a great success especially when people realize that Patronicity will match their donation dollars. I’d like to thank Gary Kohs and Laura Scaccia (of the Mariner Theater) for organizing this and encourage everyone to donate generously."

The crowdfunding campaign is an all-or-nothing campaign, meaning that if $10,000 is not raised by June 20, no funds will be awarded to the Marine City Public Beach improvement efforts.

The status of the fundraiser can be viewed on Patronicity.

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

Regional development news round-up for May

It's been another busy month for development news in metropolitan Detroit. Let's catch up on some more development stories from the past four weeks.

A Planners Gathering is being held in the settlement of Lakeville in Addison Township, which is located in northeast Oakland County. The event will focus on the civic benefits of historic preservation. Bruce Pearson, Addison Township Supervisor, will show how preservation techniques have improved life in the township while Todd Elder, owner of the Lakeville Mill, will demonstrate his own restoration methods that saved the mill. The event is being held at the Celtic Knot in Leonard on Friday, June 3. Tickets are available online.

Michigan's Main Streets are set to see a boost as the state readjusts its historic downtown and commercial district revitalization efforts. The newly rebranded Main Street America, formerly Main Street Network, will adopt a more preservation-focused philosophy in its attempts to reinvigorate downtown areas across southeastern Michigan and throughout the state.

Cosworth, the high-performance automotive engineering and manufacturing company based in Northampton, UK, is setting up shop in Shelby Township. At least 50 jobs will be created as Cosworth establishes its U.S. presence, producing high-performance cylinder heads for an automotive original equipment manufacturer (OEM). Michigan raced past Indiana in winning the company over, offering a $2.1 million Michigan Business Development Program performance-based loan in the process. If Cosworth reaches certain job creation milestones, the loan becomes a grant.

The Townsend Hotel has begun the last phase of its multi-year overhaul with the closing of the Corner. The 2,000 sq. ft. bar is being redeveloped as a private dining and meeting space. Since renovations began in 2012, the well-renowned Birmingham hotel has refreshed all of its 150 guest rooms, meeting facilities, public areas, and the Rugby Grille restaurant.

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

Rochester company deconstructs, not demolishes, old homes

As is often the case for successful entrepreneurs, one business begets another. That's certainly true for Robert Bloomingdale, whose recently established Rochester Salvage & Supply most likely wouldn't have happened had it not been for his other booming business, Bloomingdale Construction.

Rochester Salvage & Supply specializes in reclaiming, repurposing, and reusing materials from deconstructed older houses. Bloomingdale Construction builds a lot of its houses in downtown Rochester, a town with plenty of old houses and virtually no empty lots, says Bloomingdale. That's where he got the idea for Rochester Salvage & Supply.

"We demolish a lot of older homes in the process of building new ones," says Bloomingdale. "I always felt bad about sending old, vintage materials to landfills. Now, we save what we can."

Rather than demolish the old houses, Rochester Salvage & Supply now methodically deconstructs them. Materials like shingles and siding are sent to be recycleda cost the company pays out of its pocket. Others, like salvaged lumber, are repurposed into furniture, and other items that can either be sold individually or built into the new homes constructed by Bloomingdale.

Bloomingdale contends that deconstructing a house costs more than twice as much as demolishing one. And paying for materials to be recycled isn't making him any money. But the reclaimed materials trend is a hot one right nowsomething Bloomingdale credits to HGTV shows and other media as having fosteredand he has been astonished by the feedback and interest he has received since announcing the formation of Rochester Salvage & Supply this past April.

For now, Bloomingdale says his goal is "to not lose money." It's a month into the new business and he's learning as he goesafter all, his business has been building homes, not deconstructing them. But he already has plans to expand Rochester Salvage & Supply from its base in Rochester to begin deconstructing homes in Pontiac. The business has had prior involvement in that community, donating materials to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore there and working with the Power Company Kids Club.

Rochester Salvage and Supply operates out of a warehouse on South Street in Rochester, though Bloomingdale prefers customers interested in reclaimed materials make inquiries via email. Reach him at

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

Walsh College celebrates $15 million expansion

Walsh College is celebrating the grand opening of a $15 million, 55,000 sq. ft. addition to its main campus in Troy this Friday, May 20. 
A two-story Success Center is the academic focus of the investment made by the business college. Renovations to existing facilities are also among the improvements. They include more classroom spaces and improved electrical access for smartphones, tablets, and laptops.

The addition is designed to enhance students' business communication skills, including written communication, public speaking, and executive presence. On the second floor, a modern open office-style area with collaborative spaces and meeting rooms will be available.

The new features are many. There is a Mother's Room for nursing students and staff, a Veteran's Room for active duty and veteran students, and ten new student study rooms. There's a new space for Student Services, an Alumni Room, and a Student Organizations Room. A 40-seat auditorium, Cyber Lab, and Testing Center have also been added. The new Fireside Student Lounge and a cafe offer students places to unwind.

"Students and employers expect high quality from our programs. These outstanding facilities reflect that quality," Stephanie Bergeron, president and CEO Walsh College, says in a statement. "We look forward to building our legacy for excellence well into our second century."

The improvements occurred on Walsh College's main campus in Troy, in which it occupies 30 acres at the intersection of Livernois and E. Wattles roads. The business college was founded by accountant Mervyn Walsh in Detroit in 1922, where it operated out of the Capitol Theatre Building—which is now the home of the Detroit Opera House. Walsh College left Detroit for Troy in 1970, where it has been located ever since. The school now has additional locations in Novi, Clinton Township, and Port Huron.

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

Effort to green up urban Macomb County takes root

Macomb County residents with an affinity for trees, shade and the outdoors have reason to celebrate as officials announce a new program designed to increase tree canopy coverage south of the Clinton River.

The program, Green Macomb Urban Forestry Partnership, is an initiative of the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development and is made possible through a grant from the U.S. Forestry Service and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Forestry Division.  ITC Holdings provided matching money to secure the grant.

According to officials, the initiative focuses on communities south of the Clinton River because they have the highest population density in the county while simultaneously having the lowest tree canopy coverage. Warren, Sterling Heights, and Clinton Township, some of Michigan's largest cities, are locatedat least in partsouth of the Clinton River. The targeted area also has some of the county's oldest infrastructure and its sub-watersheds are heavily impacted by urbanization.

Plans for the affected area include the systematic implementation of a coordinated green infrastructure strategy to improve economic vitality, quality of life and ecological integrity in the affected areas. Green infrastructure uses plants and soil to help filter and purify stormwater runoff while creating habitat and greenspace.

Meanwhile, the city of Utica, itself nestled along the Clinton River, is hoping to invigorate its commercial and industrial districts through the creation of a five-year master plan. Area business owners are invited to attend a public input workshop from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 12 at the Utica Public Library.

Proposals include extending downtown, zoning ordinance reviews and continued focus on recreation and water assets.  Says John Paul Rea, director of the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development, "Public input is essential for developing a realistic and achievable plan for the future of one of Macomb County's most historic and vibrant cities."

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

Vacant land fair to be held in Pontiac

A vacant land fair titled "Lots of Possibilities" is being held in the city of Pontiac Saturday, May 7. More than 900 vacant parcels are for sale and will be on display at Wisner Memorial Stadium beginning at 11:00 a.m. The city lots measure approximately 50 by 100 feet and are priced at $250 or less per parcel.

The vacant land fair will have an urban farming flair, and city officials are expecting a big turnout. The city has partnered with, a national advocacy group dedicated to the proliferation of urban farms. That organization, along with goat farmers, honey bee keepers, and a number of sponsors, will be on hand to help prospective buyers give vision to the vacant lots.

Dayne Thomas, Chair of the Pontiac Planning Commission, says the purpose of the vacant land fair is to eradicate blight. The planning commission wants to see the land utilized. He says any proposal will be considered and, if deemed viable, will most likely be approved. An application and questionnaire process will help weed out speculators and others seeking to purchase lots and not do anything with them.

"We have the questionnaires because we don't want people who will take the lots and sit on them with no plans to clean them up," says Thomas. "It's not perfect, but it's a sort of checks and balances to provide accountability to the system."

The first vacant land fair was held last summer, without the urban farming theme. That experience led Thomas to realize that the land fairs couldn't be one-and-done events. He says the city will hold the fairs each spring, summer, and fall until they're no longer deemed necessary.

Lots of Possibilities starts at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 7. Wisner Memorial Stadium is located at 441 Cesar Chavez Ave. in Pontiac.

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

Artist opens Atom Art gallery in Ferndale

Atom Art, the new gallery that just opened in Ferndale, has quite the origin tale. And for an art gallery in Ferndale, that's as it should be. Atom Kaiser -- his real name bestowed on him by a hippie mother, he says -- moved around a lot as a kid, spending time in places like Jamaica and Michigan. It wouldn't be the last time he returned to Michigan.

As a younger man, Kaiser was interested in neurology and planned to pursue studies in the field. But a head injury altered his path -- and perhaps the way his brain worked, he theorizes. Kaiser says that the injury made him think in a more visual way and, after struggling with the side effects of his prescribed medications, found himself drawn to painting.

After two degrees in the visual arts, Kaiser moved to Barcelona, establishing himself in the art world there before a stay in Mexico City was cut short by his dad falling ill, which drew Kaiser back to Michigan. That's when he decided to open Atom Art in Ferndale.

Kaiser wants Atom Art to be different than the higher-end art galleries around metro Detroit. He wants to be more inclusive, offering more group shows and opportunities for less-established artists. He says he plans to keep the space sparse, leaving room for classes and whatever else artists may need.

"I'm an artist that has an art gallery, not a gallery owner collecting pieces," says Kaiser. "There's a difference."

Following a soft opening on February 6, Atom Art officially opened its doors April 16. Kaiser says he's been flattered by the warm reception he's received, from the artist community to the Ferndale Chamber of Commerce.

Atom Art is located at 522 E. Nine Mile Rd. in Ferndale, sharing the building with Go Comedy! Improv. It's generally open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., but hours change for special events.

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

Rochester College park project seeks artist submissions

Area artists are being encouraged to submit their proposals for a 900-sq. ft. mural to be included in a public space redevelopment project on the campus of Rochester College. The winning artist will receive a cash prize of $2,500 in addition to the opportunity to create the mural.

The mural will be painted within Lake Norcentra Park on the north side of the Rochester College campus. The college is currently revamping the park located at an intersection of the Clinton River and Clinton River Trail. In addition to the mural, which will encompass two walls facing the trail, improvements to the park include bike parking and a bike repair station, boat and fishing access and improved public space and programming.

"Thousands of people will pass by the mural every day during the warm weather months, and this is our way of welcoming them in and inviting the public to make Lake Norcentra Park their own," BT Irwin, director of the Lake Norcentra Park Project, says in a statement. "It's a meeting place for the entire Rochester community to enjoy and reconnect."

Mural submissions are open from April 18 to May 27 and are accepted at A 13-person jury will choose three finalists in June. The winner of the mural contest will then be decided by a public vote. The mural is set to debut in September 2016.

Organizers say that the mural should represent the Rochester region. They're also looking for vibrant and colorful designs that will catch the eyes of passersby.

Lake Norcentra Park is 14 acres and includes bluffs, wetlands, and woodlands throughout its landscape. Rochester College recently partnered with Chief Financial Credit Union to improve the park, which is open to the public. It is located at 800 W. Avon Rd. in Rochester Hills.

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