Development News

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Orion Township auto plant ranked eighth in nation for renewable energy usage

Workers at the General Motors Orion Assembly plant are readying the Chevrolet Bolt EV for its debut, and they're doing so in one of the nation's top facilities for renewable energy usage.
 
Orion Assembly was recently ranked eighth among users of renewable energy generated onsite among a group formed by the U.S. EPA, the Green Power Partners. It's news that fits for the Bolt EV, GM's new all-electric vehicle.

According to the company, 54 percent of the General Motors Orion Assembly plant is powered by clean energy. GM accomplishes this by capturing and using the methane gas emitted from a nearby landfill, turning the decomposing garbage into energy. Renewable energy accounts for $1 million in savings a year for the plant in Orion Township.

In addition to utilizing methane gas from a nearby landfill, Orion Assembly also sends energy back to the grid with its 350-kilowatt solar array. While it has a goal of promoting using 125 megawatts of renewable energy by 2020, the company says it will have already exceeded that goal before the end of 2016.

The plant also cuts down energy costs through its three-wet process, where three layers of paint are applied before running the Bolt EV for just one trip through the drying oven, rather than three. 

"EPA applauds Orion Assembly for its innovation in generating green power from an onsite landfill gas energy system and for taking a leadership position on the environment," says James Critchfield, manager of the Green Power Partnership.

The Green Power Partnership is a program launched by the EPA in 2001, encouraging companies to embrace renewable electricity through technical assistance and recognition. According to the EPA, green power is that of the highest environmental benefit.

In 2013, Orion Assembly met the EPA’s ENERGY STAR Challenge for Industry when it lowered its energy intensity by 67 percent, avoiding 42,758 tons of CO2 emissions.

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

Public input sought for downtown Farmington master plan

An update to the Farmington's Downtown Master Plan is imminent. It's the first update since 2009 and the Downtown Master Plan 2016 Steering Team is asking for public input as they seek to improve and grow downtown Farmington.

An online survey requests the opinions of citizens and other stakeholders on a range of topics, from pedestrian safety to business growth, art installations, and public parking. The online survey closes Wednesday, Aug. 10.

For those preferring an informative in-person session, a community gathering and open house will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Mike Greer Photography space at 33316 Grand River Ave. on Tuesday, Aug. 9. It's an opportunity for interested parties to get a preview of current design concepts.

Annette Knowles, Farmington's Downtown Development Authority Executive Director, says that the public input stage is important, giving stakeholders and citizens both better understanding and ownership of the process.

Mayor William Galvin, also a member of the Farmington DDA, says that the most recent master plan resulted in real progress. 
 
"Ordinances were updated. Streetscapes were installed. Studies were completed. Now, it’s time to coalesce those resources in a plan that will grow the downtown economy and tax base," he says.

The City of Farmington and the Farmington DDA retained OHM Advisors to complete the master plan. The Livonia-based architecture, engineering, and planning firm has worked on projects throughout the region, state, and country. Recent projects include the redeveloped city hall in nearby Westland and a redesigned freeway interchange at M-52 and 26 Mile Rd.

A 15-member committee of city officials and local stakeholders is supervising the project.

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

Regional development news round-up for July

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.

The former Save-A-Lot site in downtown Ferndale will be demolished, and the Ferndale Haus Lofts will be built in its place. The mixed-use development will include approximately 90 market-rate apartments and 10,800 sq. ft. of office/retail space. The Michigan Strategic Fund approved $2,241,384 in local and school tax capture for the project. According to a release by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the mixed-use development will generate $17.9 million in local investment and create 14 full-time jobs.

Macomb County experienced a 30 percent drop in tax-foreclosures since last year. 318 parcels were foreclosed for non-payment of taxes for 2013 and the years prior, a drop from last year's total of 449 parcels. The county launched a Keep Macomb Your Home campaign in early March, and Macomb officials say there was a sharp increase in taxpayers contacting the treasurer office upon its release.

The 125-acre Detroit House of Corrections site in Plymouth is closer to being demolished and eventually redeveloped, with the Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority awarding a contract to ATC Group of Novi for preliminary environmental analysis of the property. The building has been vacant since 2004 and is largely characterized as an eyesore. Demolition could begin before the end of 2016.

The Ferndale restaurant Pop's for Italian is expanding, taking over part of a neighboring restaurant the Daily Dinette. Both restaurants are owned by Kramer Restaurant Group. Owner Brian Kramer says expanding Pop's is required because of a new brunch service, demand for large party seating, and the need to prepare fresh pasta and pizza dough daily.

Voting for Michigan Community Excellence Awards comes to a close July 30. The program celebrates placemaking projects throughout the state. Past winners include the Westland City Hall Retrofit, Ironwood Railroad Depot Park, and Cops & Doughnuts Bakery in Clare. Vote online today.

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

Oxford brewery on track to open this fall

Everything is falling into place for HomeGrown Brewing Company, a brewery we first wrote about in Oct. 2015. The downtown Oxford brewery has announced that it is on its way to a fall opening. Construction is currently underway on the building, the former Veterans Memorial Civic Center on Washington Street.

The brewery has also released its inaugural beer menu including a Cream Ale, Belgian Wheat, Australian-hopped IPA, Brown Ale, and a Stout.
 
The sixth and final beer style on the permanent beer menu is a combination between an Amber- and a Wheat-style beer. John Powers, head brewer and owner of HomeGrown, calls the hybrid beer a Whamber Ale. Its inclusion on the menu is a result of an online poll the company had, asking their fans and Facebook followers which beer should make the permanent menu. The Whamber Ale won.

Powers says the poll was designed to make the craft beer world less exclusive.

"We will absolutely be offering creative experimental seasonal brews, like a chocolate coffee porter in winter and a spiced pumpkin ale in the fall, but our flagship beers will really concentrate on the fundamentals of brewing a solid pint," John says in a statement.

As for the building itself, renovation work on the old Veterans Memorial Civic Center has revealed some historic details hidden away years ago. Original brickwork, wood flooring, and an arched window were all revealed during demolition. Powers says the brewery is working to feature the historic details into their design.

A food menu is also planned, complementing a large dining area, sitting room, and beer garden. An event hall will be upstairs.

HomeGrown Brewing Company is located at 28 N. Washington St. in Oxford.

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

Ferndale vegan restaurant expands hours, offers lunch and carry out

The restaurant business is healthy in downtown Ferndale and that's certainly true for GreenSpace Cafe. The plant-based vegan restaurant, which opened its doors for cocktail and dinner service in December of 2015, is now featuring a lunch menu every Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The restaurant is co-owned by Dr. Joel Kahn and his son Daniel, who are focused on offering fresh, non-GMO, and organic ingredients in their plant-based vegan dishes. Even the juices and signature cocktails feature fresh ingredients. Dr. Joel Kahn is a cardiologist and long-time vegan who often performs public speaking engagements, extolling the benefits of healthy eating.

The new GreenSpace lunch menu features some dinner favorites like the house-made nut cheese board and the superfood salad, which includes quinoa, radish sprouts, hemp hearts, and more. Also available for lunch is the farro lentil burger and tomatillo gazpacho and masoor dahl soups.

"The menu will offer the vibrant vegan fare our customers love, including new items along with some of our greatest hits, but more casual, and in lunch-sized portions," says Dr. Joel Kahn.

The GreenSpace menu changes with the seasons. This is because the Kahns shop at local farmers markets for many of their ingredients, shaping the menu around which fresh foods are in season. Cooks avoid excessive amounts of salts, oils, and sugars and don't use kitchen equipment like fryers and microwaves to prepare the dishes. No animal products are used at GreenSpace Cafe. Cocktails are made as healthy as possible, using fruits, botanicals, and raw juices to make the drinks.

GreenSpace Cafe is located at 215 W. Nine Mile Rd. in downtown Ferndale.

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

Winning mural chosen for new park in Rochester Hills

After almost three months and nearly 16,000 votes, a winner has been selected in the Chief Financial Credit Union Rochester Community Mural contest. Christine Gibson is the winning artist, beating out two other finalists in a public vote. Her piece will soon be installed along the Clinton River Trail in the new Lake Norcentra Park at Rochester College.

At 7,496 votes, Gibson's mural garnered nearly half of all those cast. The simple but evocative image displays a day along the trail in a style that makes sense for Gibson, who works as a children's book illustrator. Gibson, a mother of 5, lives in Rochester Hills.

"One of my very favorite things to do is bicycle the Clinton River Trail with my family," Gibson says in a statement. "I set a goal to log 1,000 cumulative miles each summer, stopping at the Rochester Hills Public Library, Red Knapps, or Dairy Queen along the way. The trail is never the same from one week to the nextchanging in color, fragrances and wildlife, always friendly faces along the way, always spotlessly clean and safe, and is a true treasure in our community."

Gibson's mural will cover 1,600 sq. ft. along the trail. She also wins a $2,000 cash prize.

BT Irwin is project manager of Lake Norcentra Park. In an interview conducted in June, Irwin said that the community was passionate about the project and vocal about which mural was best for the park. "It's satisfying to see people take notice and react," he said.

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.

Coffee, books, music, movies, and more: New and used retailer to open in Utica

The specialty retailer 2nd & Charles is expanding its presence in Michigan with a new store in Utica. The location will be its second, complementing an Auburn Hills store which opened in 2013.

In addition to the more than 300,000 items the store boasts in daily inventory, the national chain has announced that the Utica location will be the very first of its nearly 30 locations to host an on-site coffee bar. Whole-bean coffee, full-leaf tea, snacks, and more will be on offer at the first of its kind, ChuckStop.

2nd & Charles has stores in 15 states, from Michigan to Texas, Delaware to Colorado.

The store offers a wide range of products; both used and new. Among its inventory are books, vinyl records, CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray, video games, video game systems, comic books, electronics, toys, collectibles, and more. 2nd & Charles also buys items from customers in exchange for either cash or store credit.

"2nd & Charles offers a very different kind of shopping and trading experience," Scott Kappler, vice president of marketing for 2nd & Charles, says in a statement. "Utica’s dynamic energy makes it the perfect place to further expand our presence in Michigan, and we look forward to sharing all the personal and profound treasures that 2nd & Charles has to offer with the community."

According to store representatives, 2nd & Charles replenishes stock daily, creating a new experience on each customer's visit. The store's items take up over three miles of shelf space. More than 50 employees will be hired to staff the Utica location.

2nd & Charles is located at 45290 Utica Park Blvd. in the Utica Park Place shopping center. Expect an opening in late July.

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

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 www.rochestermural.org.

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.
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