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DROUGHT juice opens Ann Arbor location after years of planning

The founders of DROUGHT, a Royal Oak-based cold-pressed raw juice company, always meant to open a location in Ann Arbor, but it wasn't until this July that they finally felt the time was right.

 

"We've always been quite interested in the Ann Arbor market," says Julie James, one of four sisters who founded DROUGHT a little over five years ago. "It's always been on our radar because the Ann Arbor crowd really embraces wellness."

 

The juice company now has two locations in Royal Oak, one in Plymouth, one in Detroit, one in Bloomfield Hills, and now a sixth location at 204 E. Washington in Ann Arbor, which opened for business July 14.

 

Ann Arbor's Wednesday night farmers market was one of the first places the sisters tried out their juices before launching into full-scale production.

 

DROUGHT's first retail location was in Plymouth, and the James sisters expected to expand into Ann Arbor next. However, because they decided to use a space in Ferndale for production, James says it made more sense to expand into the Detroit suburbs first, especially since the sisters were initially transporting juices using cooler packs.

 

"Since we got refrigerator trucks, it's now easier to expand further away from our production space," James says.

 

In addition to cold, bottled juices now available at the Ann Arbor store, this autumn the sisters will add a line of curated wellness products, such as supplements and hand and body lotions, James says.

 

James says she expects DROUGHT to catch on quickly in Ann Arbor, because Ann Arbor area residents are "already very educated about the benefits of raw juicing."

 

James says the co-founders do little formal advertising and tend to thrive on word of mouth.

 

"True customer testimonials are our best resource," she says. "It can be an emotional purchase to spend that much on yourself, $10 for a bottle of juice, but that's because it takes three to five pounds of organic produce to make one bottle. We're not out there trying to convince anyone, but they'll often hear about it from a friend who recommends us."

 

James says DROUGHT is currently in the process of building out a 15,000-square-foot production facility in Berkley, which will allow the company to expand both its retail operations and its wholesale market. About 30 markets around the Midwest carry DROUGHT juices, but James says the company will be able to expand into many more markets when the production facility remodel is done.


Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township. You may reach her at sarahrigg1@gmail.com.
Photos courtesy of DROUGHT.

Dearborn prepares for 38th annual Homecoming Festival, new events added to old favorites

The City of Dearborn is readying to welcome residents past and present, as well as its neighbors, with the city's 38th annual Homecoming Festival. Several new events and features have been added to this year's event, complementing decades worth of old favorites.

Between 125,000 to 150,000 people are expected to attend this year's event, which takes place Aug. 4th through the 6th at Ford Field Park.

Homecoming began as a way to entice former residents back to their hometown. While the festival offers something for residents and non-residents alike, it also retains its original intentions. The city expects graduating classes from Dearborn high schools dating as far back as the 1940s and '50s to hold class reunion picnics at Homecoming.

"Homecoming is a tradition in Dearborn," says Mary Laundroche, Director of the city's Department of Public Information and a co-chair person for the festival. "People look forward to this all summer. People from all over the world and the country come back for it, and plan vacations around it."

"Everyone knows that the first full weekend of August is Homecoming."

This year's features are many, and the traditional festival mainstays remain. There will be two dozen carnival rides and an abundance of food options. Fireworks begin at 10 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.

This year, two old standbys, the Italian American and Polish American Shelters, are joined for the first time by the Arab American Tent. The new tent will feature music, food, and other programming unique to those communities.

It's the second year that Healthy Dearborn will be involved in the festivities. A family bike ride, 5K run, and a Cornhole tournament are among the planned activities.

Popular cover bands Fifty Amp Fuse and Square Pegz top the list of live entertainment acts. Headlining this year's event is former STYX singer Dennis DeYoung, who will be performing as Dennis DeYoung and the Music of STYX.

Homecoming runs from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. each of its three days. Entrance to Homecoming is free. Full-day wristbands for the carnival cost $22, though they can be purchased at a discount online for $15 plus a one dollar service fee. That special runs through 11:55 p.m. on Aug. 3.

For wristbands and a full list of events and activities, visit the Dearborn Homecoming Festival online.

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

Jolly Pumpkin partners with Bastone for a new brewery in downtown Royal Oak

An exciting collaboration of the foamy variety is taking place in downtown Royal Oak this August. Two Michigan breweries, Bastone Brewery and Jolly Pumpkin, are teaming up to share the former's building at the northeast corner of W. Fifth and Main streets. 
 
To mark the partnership, the brewmasters of those two breweries have created Co-Operation Ale, a fusion of Bastone's Nectar des Deux and Jolly Pumpkin's La Roja beers.

Bastone is leaving its Main Street space, which it has occupied since 2004, for the old Monk Beer Abbey space in the same building, but on the W. Fifth Street side. Jolly Pumpkin will then take over the old Bastone and Vinotecca Wine Bar storefronts.

This is the fifth location for Jolly Pumpkin, which also has a Dexter tap room and brewing facility, an Ann Arbor cafe and brewery, a Traverse City brewery, and a Detroit pizzeria and brewery. A Chicago location is planned for later this year.

For its new location, Bastone will refocus its food menu. Belgian specialties, including mussels, pomme frites, and a Belgian blue burger are among its planned offerings. The brewery also plans on bottling and distributing its beers.

The Jolly Pumpkin menu will incorporate popular items from its other locations, including artisan pizzas and truffle fries. It will also serve a hamburger that the brewery is touting as President Barack Obama's favorite. The 44th president visited and dined at Jolly Pumpkin's Detroit location on a trip to Detroit on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016.

Tony Grant, CEO of Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, says that fans of the old Bastone and Vinotecca spaces will be able to buy Bastone beers and find a great selection of wines at the new Jolly Pumpkin. The bar will feature Jolly Pumpkin, Bastone, and North Peak beers on tap--all Michigan brewed beers--as well as Nomad ciders. Belgian bottled beers, wines, and domestic and imported spirits are also featured.

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

Dearborn Dog Park nears opening date, now accepting sponsors

After addressing issues of flooding and grass seed growth, the once-delayed Dearborn Dog Park is now nearing its grand opening.

On Saturday, Aug. 19, an 11 a.m. grand opening celebration will be held for Dearborn Dog Park. Located behind the Henry Ford Centennial Library, the dog park is two parks in one. A one-acre sized facility is located adjacent to a 0.25-acre facility, giving Dearborn dog owners and their pets options for recreation.

Among its amenities include drinking fountains, pet waste stations, fire hydrants, benches, and security cameras. The Oakwood Group donated $15,000 to Dearborn Dog Park, and that money was used to purchase agility equipment for both the large and small parks.

With a passion for animals, Mayor John O'Reilly was behind the push for the dog parks, says Michael Shooshanian, Recreation Supervisor of Dearborn Recreation Parks & Sports.

"There's a big social aspect to a dog park. It gives residents a place to get together with their dogs, have coffee, and meet new people," says Shooshanian. "It's a space where dogs can run off-leash, which is important for our residents who live in apartments or have small yards."

Following this year's Aug. 19 opening, the official dog park season will run from April 15 to Nov. 15 each year.

Dearborn Dog Park is open only to Dearborn residents and tags can be purchased at the City Clerk's office in the Dearborn Administrative Center. Tags purchased this year will also be valid for the 2018 season.

There are also sponsorship opportunities at the park. Businesses and organizations can help sponsor the park, which will place their banners and signs on fencing and plaques on the drinking fountains. Like the tags, sponsorships purchased this year will remain throughout the next year, as well.

For sponsorship inquiries, email Michael Shooshanian at mshooshanian2@ci.dearborn.mi.us.

Dearborn Dog Park is located at 16301 Michigan Ave. in Dearborn.

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

Bike lanes, pedestrian improvements, a pavilion and more coming to downtown Roseville

One of many older metro Detroit suburbs without a traditional, walkable downtown, Roseville has been taking steps to change that fact.

The city has targeted the stretch of Utica Road between Gratiot Avenue and Twelve Mile Road as its future downtown. In 2015, a Downtown Development Authority was formed to help build that community.

This Saturday, July 22, at 1 p.m., a groundbreaking is being held at the former site of the Tip Top Bar to celebrate the Reinventing Downtown Roseville grants the DDA received from the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments. The money comes as part of SEMCOG's Transportation Alternatives Program, or TAP. Funds received will be used toward bike lanes and pedestrian improvements along Utica Road.

The old Tip Top Bar site is an important one, says Jennifer Colombo, a chairperson on the Roseville DDA. It's there where the DDA plans to anchor the growing downtown with a new public park and pavilion. While the funds still have to be raised for the park and pavilion, she says that they should be built in about two years

Colombo also owns businesses within the DDA zone, Royal Treat Tea Room and Just Delicious Scones.

"I'm lucky that the tea room is a destination buisiness and people come from all over to visit," says Colombo. "But the pavilion will provide a downtown center to attract people. You have to start with something and spread out from there."

The pavilion was the subject of an international design contest, with the winning submission coming from an entrant in Egypt.

This Saturday's groundbreaking ceremony coincides with the Jammin' in the Junction car show. Held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the car show will feature music and children's activities, in addition to the classic automobiles. Colombo says that walk-up vehicles are always accepted at a $20 fee, with cash prizes awarded at the end of the day.

The car show is put together and hosted by Eric Lafata of Lafata Auto Body, which is located at 28760 Utica Rd. in downtown Roseville.

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

Vidlings and Tapeheads festival brings alternative, unconventional indie films to Hamtramck

Father and son horses, a transgender woman’s journey of adjusting to her new identity, humans wearing animal heads as everyday wear, and a sexualized robot.

 

No topic was off limits at the Vidlings and Tapeheads Film Festival, which was held at Ant Hall July 7 and 8 in Hamtramck. Kicking off its inaugural year, the film festival presented short films from around the world, with an emphasis on experimental and unconventional narratives. The screenings were divided into four categories: Made in Michigan, documentary, animation, and fiction. In between programs, attendees could buy a drink and listen to local acts in the adjoining Ghost Light Bar, or peruse original artwork that was just as odd as the films being shown.

 

No one was busy that Saturday afternoon like Jerry White. Along with introducing each block, the VTFF director raced around the medium-sized venue in between programs, checking on lighting and sound.

 

Organizing a film festival is nothing new for White. He has been a programmer for the Slamdance Film Festival and FilmQuest in Salt Lake City and served as a juror for the Oak Cliff Film Festival in Dallas. When White was a teenager growing up in Rochester, he often hosted movie screenings at the Planet Art Theater, which is located across the street from Ant Hall.

 

“I fell in love with sharing movies with other filmmakers, the connections you meet, the friendships you make, and potential future collaborators,” White says. “I was living in LA for about nine years, and LA and NYC have no shortage of film festivals. Michigan has a bunch of great ones, too, but I feel like there’s still a lot of room here to explore different types of projects, so I wanted to do something in my home state.”

 

Planning the festival took about six months. He began accepting entries in January through the submission platform, FilmFreeway. Attracting high interest, White received over 200 short films. The movies were initially screened by two programmers. If the films were approved by him, then other programmers would watch them and deliberate on which titles should be shown in the festival.

 

One of White’s favorite shorts that eventually made its way onto this year’s festival lineup was the animated film, “Hold Me (Ca Caw Ca Caw).” The animated film shows the toxic relationship between a human and a large bird. Trapped inside their own house, the couple can't seem to terminate their relationship, despite their unhappiness.

 

“Hold Me (Ca Caw Ca Caw) is gross sometimes, but it’s so masterfully done. It challenges you, and that artist is really saying something, and even if it’s a little difficult to get through, I think it’s worth it. It really shows a marriage, and a wife being used. I thought it was interesting to show that in an unconventional way.”

 

Festival attendee Justin Kavoussi came for the animation films. A film editor originally from New York City, he has edited the independent films, Applesauce and Born Guilty. Applesauce premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2015, while Born Guilty premiered at the Sarasota Film Festival in Sarasota, Florida earlier this year.

 

Kavoussi said what he enjoys the most about experimental animation and independent films overall, is that they are usually personal, and seem like a “unique, creative vision” of the filmmaker.

 

“It seems more like someone writing a poem or a novel, “ he said. And you can experiment, you can go off in ways that might not be financially viable.”

 

Amy Ingalls enjoyed the animation program as well, calling it her favorite block. She found about VTFF when she met White through her position as production coordinator at Community Media Network TV, a public access channel in Troy.

 

“Every time I see one [a film], there’s something emotional or story-like that I can find myself in,” Ingalls says. “Every time I think I have a favorite, there’s another one that’s just as exciting. I could actually see each block by itself at a venue.”

 

Moviegoer Bri Petlock was interested in the documentary block. A film that stood out to her was “Back to Abstraction,” an autobiographical narrative about Los Angeles artist and writer, Stacy Elaine Dacheux. The film reflects on Dacheux’s days as a teenager to her time as a hospice worker in her 20s.

 

Petlock was not only attending the festival because she is a movie lover, but she also came to support White, who is a longtime friend, and Andy Menko, the media coordinator for VTFF.

 

“I know it means a lot to them, and they put a lot of work into this,” she said.

 

White plans to bring back the Vidlings and Tapeheads Film Festival next year and hopefully, for years to come. Changes he would like to make to improve the festival include flying in filmmakers whose work appears in the festival, and host panels and workshops. One of White’s panel ideas is to have filmmakers discuss how they reached success in their field in metro Detroit.

 

White is also contemplating on showing feature-length films at future festivals, but said he enjoys the experimental aspect of shorter films. He feels that short films take more risks, and that they challenge the audience more.

 

“I’m really happy the way it's gone,” White said. “I’m not trying to take over the world with this film festival, and I’m not trying to compete with Sundance. I like that we’re a niche festival, and I want to keep it that way.”

 

Q&A with Ferndale's food truck park and boozery, Detroit Fleat

On Friday, July 7, a new restaurant and bar concept debuted in metro Detroit. Dubbed Detroit Fleat, the self-described food truck park and boozery bridges the gap between traditional restaurants and food trucks. 
 
An indoor bar and dining area offer craft beers on tap and ample seating, as well as a more traditional day-in-day-out menu. An outdoor patio features a rotating cast of food trucks, each with their own specialties like falafel wraps, mac-and-cheese varieties, coffees, and much more. The food trucks rotate throughout the season, ensuring no lack of variety as the summer months wear on.

We asked co-founder Aaron Tye, himself an owner of the Delectabowl food truck, a few questions about his latest dining venture, Detroit Fleat.

If you were on vacation in a foreign land, how would you describe Detroit Fleat to a stranger at the bar?

Comfortable setting to dine with family and friends. We offer many different types of cuisine, which appeals to a large party. Our large bar selection will appeal to any crowd--young or seasoned.

How'd you get the idea for Detroit Fleat?

We own Delectabowl food truck and knew that to grow our own food truck business, we needed to find a permanent location. These food truck pods are very popular on the east coast, and we knew that this business idea would be welcomed in a supportive community like Ferndale.

Why food trucks?

Offers a variety of options.

What about the location attracted you to the area?

Again, the Ferndale community has been welcoming of food trucks. With Delectabowl we have built many relationships with the city and knew that we would have support. The location in metro Detroit is ideal as well--close to the freeway and a little bit off the beaten path of downtown, which allows free parking. We hope to be the neighborhood stop for our residents.

What makes Detroit Fleat special? How is it different from a parking lot full of food trucks?

We offer indoor and outdoor seating. A full bar which will highlight Michigan-made products, from breweries and distilleries, Faygo, Better made, and, on occasion, live music.

Detroit Fleat is located at 1820 E. Nine Mile Rd. in Ferndale.

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

Ford's Garage nears opening date

Training sessions are ramping up at Dearborn's newest restaurant, Ford's Garage in an effort to ensure that the sizable staff is properly prepared for the bar and restaurant's July 5th grand opening.

Ford's focuses on craft beers and prime burgers, with comfort foods and other specialties, are also found throughout the menu. An emphasis on local products is abundant, including Detroit craft beers from brewers like Atwater and classic soft drinks like Vernors.

Training sessions have servers serving servers a week before the restaurant's opening, with the restaurant doing all it can to ensure that its opening goes off without a hitch. And that's no small task. Approximately 160 employees have been hired to staff Ford's Garage.

Making sure that the restaurant runs smoothly from the start is a priority for its owner, restaurateur Billy Downs, and customer service is a big component of its mission. Downs, the former owner and co-founder of BD's Mongolian Grill, has returned to running a restaurant after several years away consulting. Ford's Garage, which started in Florida, is an official licensee of the Ford Motor Company, and Downs's Dearborn location is the first in Michigan.

"I love the fact that this restaurant concept is energetic, fun, and timeless," says Downs. "It celebrates the unique heritage of the Ford Motor Company and how Henry Ford changed the world."

Not only does Ford's Garage celebrate the heritage of both Ford automobiles and the man himself, but the bar and restaurant goes above and beyond in celebrating car culture, history, and Americana in general. The facade of the building is a nod to 1920s service stations, from the color scheme down to the era-specific gas pumps out front. As cars pull up, a hose triggers a service bell, just as they did nearly 100 years ago.

Several Model As and Model Ts from the 1920s and '30s are on site, not only parked out front but also towering above the two bars inside the building. A 1930 Model A is situated above the main bar. The second bar features a 1923 Model T, an automobile the restaurant discovered was built 20 years to the day after Ford Motor Company was born.

The experience continues inside, with rare photographs courtesy of The Henry Ford and classic signs adorning the walls. Service stations of the 1920s were often fashioned out of old barns, so lighting has been rigged to shine through wooden slats to mimic a barn effect. The staff wear service station-inspired uniforms.

Built from the ground-up on what was a former parking lot on Michigan Avenue, Ford's Garage is made up of several components. The building itself is 14,000 sq. ft. of various rooms and distinct areas, including a patio, dining area, and two bars. In total, Ford's seats over 250 people. A separate banquet room can seat over 60 and will be open by the end of the summer. The banquet room is outfitted with multimedia capabilities and doors big enough to drive show cars through. Even the bathrooms are done up with sinks made out of tires, gas pump faucets, and similar details throughout.

The bars offer what's being billed as the F-150: 40 beers on tap and an additional 110 beers by the bottle. The majority of beers offered are Michigan-based craft beers/

An adjoining coffee shop is also being built, which is expected to be completed by late summer or early fall.

On Wednesday, July 5, Ford's Garage will officially open to the public.

Ford's Garage is located at 21367 Michigan Ave. in Dearborn.

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

Start-up update: Ferndale's Logicdrop announces new platform success

Ferndale-based technology startup LogicDrop has announced that its partnership with automotive technology company Novation Analytics has resulted in a groundbreaking new vehicle simulation software platform.

The Ferndale company's Logicdrop Studio is a business rules platform that allows users to customize data analysis. The platform cuts weeks of computing time down to minutes, saving customers money and time while also allowing for a more customizable experience.

Novation Analytics provides physics-based automotive performance and fuel economy simulation technology to automotive makers, who then use that technology to analyze performance and efficiency metrics. Their ENERGY software is used by government agencies for vehicle emissions regulations and validation purposes. Novation recently partnered with Logicdrop to apply Logicdrop Studio to their ENERGY software.

According to Greg Pannone, President of Novation Analytics, the partnership with Logicdrop has given his company a significant edge over its competitors. Pannone says that Novation can now run simulations on thousands of vehicles at once, something that no other company can do. Before its implementation of the Logicdrop software, it would take weeks or months to run simulations on 60,000 vehicles. Now, through their partnership with Logicdrop, Novation can run those same simulations in just three minutes.

"Novation Analytics has taken advantage of every major capability in the Logicdrop Studio platform," KimJohn Quinn, co-founder of Logicdrop, says in a statement. "From incorporating rapidly changing scientific models to executing numerous complex computations on dynamic data, we are transforming a complex, error-prone process into a manageable, streamlined system. We are excited to see where the platform will take the industry next."

It's great news for Logicdrop, a company that Metromode profiled in September 2016. While in September the company was still gearing up for the release of Logicdrop Studio, it's not even a year later and they can already announce a major success.

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

Confectionary sets up shop in downtown Wyandotte

The confections and desserts shop Michele Bezue Confections is coming to downtown Wyandotte. While an official grand opening celebration is being planned to coincide with the popular Wyandotte Street Art Fair, which runs from July 12th to the 15th, a soft opening is expected the weekend of June 30th.

Bezue, who also owns Detroit Marshmallow Company, is excited to join the downtown Wyandotte community, a vibrant downtown that has a hard-working downtown development authority working behind it, she says.

Bezue Confections was originally located on Mack Avenue in Grosse Pointe Park, but Bezue believes that the busier downtown of Wyandotte will only help business. It will not only be a nice location for operations, but also a place from where she can branch out.

"When you make sweets, you really need walk-in traffic. We're not a restaurant," says Bezue. "Our new storefront in Wyandotte is an amazing location with tons of foot traffic and a really supportive downtown board."

Bezue has a lot of plans for the confectionary. While there will be tables, it will be less of a cafe than it will be a retail storefront. She'll sell both Bezue Confections and Detroit Marshmallow Company products.

There will be an event space, open for birthdays, showers, and other parties. Bezue also offers "dessert dinners," several course meals of nothing but desserts and confections.

A kitchen is being built, and Bezue intends on offering classes on how to make confections and desserts, including her marshmallows and truffles.

Another big part of Bezue's business is catering, which she'll continue to offer.

"I was outside working on the storefront and people are already asking me about catering."

Michele Bezue Confections is located at 110 Sycamore St. in Wyandotte.

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

New pocket park in Pontiac to feature playground equipment, picnic area, fruit orchard

A group of Pontiac high school and college students have banded together to raise over $30,000 for the purpose of building a pocket park on that city's Home Street. Because of the successful crowdfunding campaign, three lots will now be transformed from vacant parcels into community assets.

Construction is underway on the first two lots on Home Street. The lots will include educational programming, a playground, a picnic area complete with a grill and tables, and a working fruit orchard, including pear and peach trees. A third lot will be completed within the next year, designed with the intent of creating economic opportunities for the community, though that specific programming has yet to be officially announced.

The Home Street pocket park will celebrate its grand opening on Saturday, Aug. 5.

As members of the non-profit organization The Leaders of the Future, the students not only helped organize the crowdfunding campaign but also engaged with the Home Street community to help design the park.

"For these students to think up the project, come up with the plans, and follow through on the execution, it's so much more than life-changing. It's community-changing," says Anders Engnell, CEO of The Leaders of the Future.

According to Engnell, there are 36 children, ranging in ages four to 12, that live on Home Street. It's a street without a park, making the pocket park an important addition to a neighborhood made up largely of renters, providing them something in which to take ownership.

The project has also taught the members of The Leaders of the Future skills in planning, budgeting, and design, as well as being a catalyst for high school and college students to wake up early on a Saturday morning and volunteer, says Engnell.

The Home Street pocket park crowdfunding campaign was part of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation's Public Spaces Community Places program. Because they successfully met their $15,000 crowdfunding goal, MEDC contributed a $15,000 matching grant to the project.

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

Southfield seeks to build Red Pole Park along Northwestern Highway Pathway and Greenway

In their continued efforts to entice and keep top talent, the city of Southfield is once more turning toward placemaking to make their city more attractive. And this time, they've partnered with Michigan Economic Development Corporation to help make it happen.

As part of the MEDC Public Spaces Community Places initiative, the city of Southfield is seeking to raise $50,000 through a crowdfunding campaign. Should they prove successful by August 4, the MEDC will offer a $50,000 matching grant.

Southfield is raising funds for Red Pole Park, a public art installation to be situated along the new Northwestern Highway Pathway and Greenway. Terry Croad, Director of Planning for the City of Southfield, describes Red Pole Park as a sort of grove of trees re-imagined as abstract art. Tall poles, painted red, will be installed into the ground along the greenway.

Red Pole Park was designed by architectural firm Harley Ellis Devereaux.

"The intent is to create a series of outdoor rooms," says Croad. "We don't want the Greenway to be a passthrough but instead a destination in and of itself."

This is just the first of many upgrades to the Northwestern Highway Pathway and Greenway Croad hopes to enact this year. Also planned is a second installation, or room, rain gardens, public art murals, and improved landscaping.

As detailed in Metromode this past April, Croad and his team have been hard at work transforming Southfield from a city built for cars into a city built for people. An RFP was issued to take 8.15 acres in the city center and turn it into a more traditional downtown, with tighter, pedestrian-friendly infrastructure and streetwalls filled with cafes and retail on the first floor and residential units on the floors above. That RFP was due April 21.

A bike share program is set to debut this July.

The Red Pole Park crowdfunding campaign is being hosted on the Michigan-based Patronicity crowdfunding platform.

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

Offering free exercise classes in the park, Transformation Tuesdays take off in Dearborn

No matter your mode of transportation, be it by foot, Dearborn's new bike share program, or automobile, if you're passing City Hall Park on a Tuesday evening, you're going to see a whole bunch of people working out in the sun. That's because Tuesdays in Dearborn are now Transformation Tuesdays.

From now until August 6, the public is invited to join professional trainers for a series of workout sessions. Each session starts at 5:30 p.m., goes for 30 to 40 minutes, is followed by a ten to fifteen minute break, and then a second session begins at 6:30 p.m.

The classes are free and open to the public, Dearborn residents or otherwise. Registration is available online or beginning at 4:30 p.m. at City Hall Park every Tuesday.

Like the organizations that are sponsoring the free events, it's a mix of workout styles that make up Transformation Tuesdays. Classes include Zumba, PiYo, kickboxing, Piloxing, bootcamp-style workouts, and more. Beaumont Health System, Fairlane Towncenter, Healthy Dearborn, the City of Dearborn, and First Responders For Fitness are sponsoring the series.

While the rest of the summer uses City Hall Park as its location, the kick-off event was held at Fairane Towncenter. DeJuan McTaw, a student intern at Beaumont who helped plan the events, says the spectacle of people exercising in the middle of the mall drew a lot of onlookers.

"People were watching from the upper levels, leaving work to watch," he says. "It was piquing lots of interest."

McTaw says that the first two events have already attracted 175 participants in total.

"Transformation Tuesdays are great because they're free. If people aren't already in the swing of things, this might help them start exercising or pick it back up," says McTaw.

"It could really get people inspired."

A full schedule of classes can be found here. Register for Transformation Tuesdays online.

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

Bike share program kicks off in Dearborn

The city of Dearborn is rolling out its bike share program on Tuesday, June 13. A 10 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony and 2-mile bike ride will celebrate the launch of the program, which includes 50 bikes at 10 stations that span the east and west sides of the city.

The bike share program is symbolic of Dearborn's desire to move from a car-based culture to a multi-modal one, a transportation system that includes automobiles but also one that is more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly. City officials believe that the key to future growth includes diversified mobility options for Dearborn residents and visitors alike.

"We're going to see an increase in economic prosperity, cultural attractions, and quality of work life and residential life," says West Dearborn Downtown Development Authority executive director Cristina Sheppard-Decius.

"It's going to make activities easier to access and easier to enjoy."

The bike share program has been in the works for at least a year and a half, says Sheppard-Decius, and it's been a combination of city stakeholders, including the Healthy Dearborn Team, Ford Motor Company, and city business leaders, that helped make it happen. Beaumont Hospital helped bring the program to fruition and the Kosch Family, the owners of Dearborn Sausage Co., sponsored the bike stations.

Bike rental stations will be located at Bryant Branch Library, West Village Commons, John D. Dingell Transit Center, Arab American National Museum, City Hall Artspace Lofts, Commandant's Quarters, behind Buffalo Wild Wings on Howard Street, and the intersections of Oakwood Boulevard and Michigan Avenue, Military Street and Michigan Avenue, and Schlaff Street and Michigan Avenue.

Sheppard-Decius says that the program will grow to include more bikes, bike stations, and bike lanes throughout the years.

Bike rental rates are $2 an hour, though unlimited rides can be had by registering as a member at www.zagster.com/dearborn for $20 per year. Register early for a membership with promo code bikedearborn and receive 50 percent off the yearly rate.

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

Downriver communities celebrate greenway funding success

Downriver Linked Greenways is announcing approximately $1 million in upgrades to the network of trails and greenways it represents across southern Wayne County. Construction is already underway on some of the projects, and DLGI expects them to completed in total by October 2018.

Trails in Trenton, which are connected to the statewide Iron Belle Trail, are set to debut their first bike racks and new signage. Wayne County's Elizabeth Park, an island park located on the Detroit River in Trenton, is receiving more than $500,000 in construction upgrades and work is underway.

In Wyandotte, the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge will receive more than $400,000 in construction upgrades. That project is scheduled to go out to bid.

DLGI has also secured grants to perform community outreach on behalf of the downriver communities and their network of non-motorized pathways. Additional improvements are planned for the number of greenways throughout the region.

"We want downriver residents to know what a gem they have in their own backyard," says Anita Twardesky, co-chair of the Downriver Linked Greenways Initiative.

Downriver's outdoor assets, from its system of greenways to its coastline along the Detroit River, and attractions that include the Wildlife Refuge and the River Raisin National Battlefield Park, are significant economic drivers for the region, says Twardesky.

"A lot of new businesses have started because of destination-based tourism of these water and bike trails," she adds.

They also make it easier for businesses to recruit employees to work downriver, she says.

The $1 million in improvements consists of a web of eight funding sources, including grants and in kind funding from the various communities. Each project will start and be completed at different times between now and October 2018, per the terms and requirements of the different funding sources.

At 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 8, a celebration is being held at Trenton City Hall for an announcement of the updates, the ribbon-cutting of the new bike racks, and the first bike ride along the new bike path there. Bicycles or walking shoes are encouraged.

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