With the upcoming openings of a slew of restaurants and businesses - many with connections to successful endeavors in Birmingham and Detroit – coupled with constantly emerging development and revitalization plans, the Grosse Pointes may soon be positioned as metro Detroit's next hot inner ring suburb, on par with Birmingham, Royal Oak or Ferndale.
The changes are happening all along Kercheval Avenue, the spine that runs through three business districts: The Hill in Grosse Pointe Farms, The Park in Grosse Pointe Park and The Village in the City of Grosse Pointe. We first wrote about these changes a little over a year ago in our story Grosse Pointe 2.0
. Since then things have only accelerated.
Big development plans, along with investment by local families with the will, passion and dollars to show outsiders what's great about the Pointes, could combine to make the east side communities a local destination for shopping and nightlife, not to mention young professionals looking to be close to Motown.
Royal Oak East?
"Absolutely! Grosse Pointe will be the destination, offering a wide variety of restaurants, shopping, entertainment, art, medical and professional services which also offer employment opportunities," Jennifer Boettcher, president of the Grosse Pointe Chamber of Commerce, says confidently.
It's her job to say as much, but there's some proof to support the shout-out.
In the busiest Pointe, the Park:
•The Red Crown, serving burgers and barbecue from a favored local icon, a renovated Standard Oil service station, opens this month.
•Bona Fide Bakery will serve a master artisan baker’s goods along side top-notch coffee within weeks.
•Tallulah East, the GP version of the successful Tallulah Wine Bar in Birmingham, is slated to open later this year.
•Atwater Brewery. The deal isn’t official but is expected to be signed within two weeks.
•A yoga and fitness studio will open in March.
Others businesses are in the planning stages, as is a larger development and revitalization plan to make the Park a residential and commercial destination for younger residents and visitors.
"We believe the improvements will be a very positive step in creating a destination for east siders, where currently many of our residents commute to the Royal Oak area for the atmosphere we are in the process of establishing," says Grosse Pointe Park City Manager, Dale Krajniak.
In The Village in Grosse Pointe City:
•City Kitchen is expanding its bar area to complement its restaurant.
•High-end electronics retailer, Technical Living, has opened.
In the Farms on The Hill:
•Luxe Bar & Grill is bringing its cool vibe bar and comfort food to the former Lucy’s Tavern.
•An interior design firm, Francis & Hammel, is taking over the former Bambu restaurant.
•The recent opening of high-end shoe and leather goods store, Capricious
A walk through The Hill also reveals rennovations in more than a few buildings. What they will become will no doubt be revealed in the coming year.
Shane Reeside, Grosse Pointe Farms city manager, says the business district knows it's possible to attract visitors from outside the Pointes.
"We already are drawing in guests, visitors. I think if you drive down Kercheval in the evening, you will see that it's hard time to find a parking spot on the street. The people that are coming, are coming for restaurants. The Hill, The Dirty Dog (a premier jazz club), these are prior restaurants of the year. Another, Jump's, is a staple. And Cafe Nini, of Da Eduardo, these are restaurants with great reputations and they are a draw."
The Park’s new eateries will do even more to pump up Kercheval Avenue – and the Pointes, he says.
"The conventional thinking was if another restaurant opens that's competition for a small customer base. But actually there's some synergy when you have more restaurants and you have more variety. It does bring more people in," Reeside says.
Grosse Pointe Park will indeed find out in the next few months if its parking spots will fill up as those on The Hill do.
Mindy Lopus, who lives in Grosse Pointe and owns Tallulah Wine Bar and Bella Piati in Birmingham, is opening Red Crown, Bona Fide Bakery and eventually a Tallulah East.
Her Red Crown might be the most talked about business coming to the Pointes in decades. It is expected to open later this month. See Metromode's story on Lopus
, her Silver Pig Restaurant Group and other new restaurateurs.
Grosse Pointe Patrons
Much of this development was spurred by the Cotton family of Grosse Pointe, says city manager Dale Krajniak. The Cottons are residents of the Pointes and owners of Meridian Health Plan.
"They love Grosse Pointe and want to see it do well," Krajniak says. "This is very rewarding for them," buying up the property and handpicking users - such as Lopus - who they think fit a development plan that will make The Park busy, fun, walkable and successful, he says. Property acquisition, which has included a church and larger storefronts, is one part of a plan to revive the section of Grosse Pointe Park that borders Detroit.
Another part of the plan - though very preliminary - would close off Kercheval at Alter Road in Detroit to cars, permitting only foot traffic. Further goals involve the Grosse Pointe Housing Foundation buying and renovating rental property near The Park business district and also subsidizing landlords who rent to college students. The original target of 50 landlords has reached 150 and nearly $200,000 in rental awards has been paid out.
Like the Park, the success on The Hill in the Farms is due in part to investment by a local resident who’s rooting for her hometown.
Gretchen Valade, heiress to the Carhartt clothing company, a jazz aficionado who owns The Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe on Kercheval as well as jazz label, Mack Avenue Records, is a philanthropic force of nature, known for helping with a variety of charities, including saving the Jazz Festival in downtown Detroit.
"She's obviously been a real positive force on The Hill," Reeside says. "Not only has she invested in The Hill, she's put her heart and soul into it. It's been a labor of love for her. The Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe speaks to that passion."
Valade also opened Morning Glory, a bakery, coffee shop and after-dinner drink and dessert spot, on The Hill in 2010. In October, she opened Capricious, the shoe store, across the street in October.
"I think what's good for the City or for Grosse Pointe Park is good for all the Grosse Pointes," Reeside says. "I think we want to attract guests and residents into the community…I think we're doing that."
Kim North Shine is a freelance writer and Development News Editor for Metromode.
All Photography by David Lewinski Photography