Sven Gustafson – Daily Detroit What To Know And Where To Go In Metro Detroit Wed, 20 Jun 2018 16:43:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Bike Ride Fundraiser This Weekend For Joe Louis Greenway Rail-To-Trail Loop Wed, 20 Jun 2018 14:36:28 +0000

The Detroit Greenways Coalition will hold a group bike ride Sunday to create awareness and raise money to build a 26-mile rail-to-trail greenway loop in the city.

The Joe Louis Greenway is a proposed pedestrian loop through Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park.

Previously known as the Inner Circle, it’s currently a network of abandoned rail lines and local streets. But the Joe Louis Greenway would also incorporate the Dequindre Cut, Detroit RiverWalk, and other existing greenways.

The Detroit Greenways Coalition has been working with the city of Detroit to acquire an 8-mile section of abandoned rail line as one of the final pieces. It’s hoped that design work can begin next year, with construction starting in 2020.

Sunday’s inaugural fundraiser ride will go for 28 miles with a stop at the Oloman Cafe in Hamtramck and SAG support from Wheelhouse Detroit.

Registration is $30. You can find more information at the Detroit Greenways Coalition website.

Hours: 8:30 a.m. 12:00 p.m.

The ride will begin at 2826 Bagley Street in Detroit.

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Oprah Names Ferndale Author Michael Zadoorian’s ‘Beautiful Music’ A Top Summer Read Sat, 09 Jun 2018 17:28:59 +0000

Oprah Winfrey has named “Beautiful Music,” the new novel from Ferndale-based writer Michael Zadoorian, a recent guest on the Daily Detroit Happy Hour podcast, to her Top Books of Summer list for 2018.

On the Happy Hour, Zadoorian spoke about his previous novel, “The Leisure Seeker,” which was turned into a feature-length movie starring Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland. He also spoke about “Beautiful Music” ahead of its official May 1 release from Akashic Books.

The book takes place in early 1970s Detroit and focuses on a teenager named Danny Yzemski.

“He’s just this timid loner kid and the suddenly, he’s kind of thrust into this high school where there’s a lot of racial turbulence,” Zadoorian says. “It’s just a few years after the summer of ’67, all the unrest. Stuff is happening, things are still percolating in Detroit… his high school’s changing, his neighborhood is changing, he physically is changing and at the same time, his home life kind of implodes, too. It’s very much about music, how it becomes his sanctuary and how it becomes a safe place for him to live.”

Here’s how describes the book:

“Danny Yzemski tunes out a dysfunctional family with Frank Zappa and Iggy Pop, shaking his countercultural fist at The Man in this eight-track flashback of a novel set in 1970s Detroit.”

Beautiful Music” is available now. You can listen to our interview with him on the Daily Detroit Happy Hour podcast in the player above or on Apple Podcasts.

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LISTEN: Economic Development Manager Todd Fenton Discusses Rethink Royal Oak Project Wed, 06 Jun 2018 23:29:23 +0000

If you’ve been to downtown Royal Oak recently, you’ve probably noticed lots of construction, as the city grows upward, with several mixed-use, mid-rise buildings under way. One of the newer projects, located just east of Main Street, is actually being steered mostly by the city government itself.

Rethink Royal Oak is the name of a project that encompasses several individual projects:

  • A privately owned 140,000 square-foot Class A office building
  • A 581-spot parking structure
  • New buildings for both the City Hall and police station headquarters
  • And a 2-acre public park in the city’s downtown

We went down to the current city hall — a building that very much looks and feels like the 1950s structure it is — to speak with Todd Fenton, Royal Oak’s economic development manager. He spoke with me about the Rethink Royal Oak project, how it fits with the city’s urbanist vision for downtown, and how the city is seeing more demand for office space than it can supply.

Fenton says the city wants to create more office space in part to give a boost to the downtown during the sluggish daytime business hours. Where city officials once targeted a goal of bringing on 180,000 square feet of office space by 2020, it’s now on track to create more than 300,000 square feet.

“Certainly the market has reacted positively,” Fenton says. “We’re not going to confuse ourselves with being a Troy or Southfield. It’s actually adding a use that wasn’t here, and we believe it will drive daytime traffic, which will in turn bring more retail opportunities into the city.”

Fenton says he’s had to turn away many companies that want to locate in Royal Oak due to a lack of available office space.

“There’s a lot of pent up demand coming into the city. I’ve certainly met with a lot of tenant that would raise some eyebrows,” he said, adding “the announcements will be coming.”

Give a listen to the interview in the player above.

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Albert Kahn Building In Detroit’s New Center To Be Converted To Residential Tue, 05 Jun 2018 16:54:23 +0000

The historic Albert Kahn Building in Detroit’s New Center has a new owner.

The new owners are Adam Lutz, of Lutz Real Estate Investments and Matthew Sosin of Northern Equities Group. They plan to convert it into more than 200 apartments. They purchased the building from a joint venture including Detroit-based The Platform, which is redeveloping a number of nearby New Center properties. The purchase price was not disclosed.

Plans are still being formulated, but the new owners say they also plan to include about 60-thousand square feet of retail and office space on the first floor and lower level. Redevelopment will also result in more than 300 parking spaces and other amenities.

Detroit-based Kraemer Design will head up the design while Cunningham Limp is the general contractor.

The 11-story building opened in 1931.

This story first appeared on the Daily Detroit News Byte Podcast. 

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LISTEN: Democrat Shri Thanedar On His Proposals For Michigan, Answers Questions About Research Animals Thu, 31 May 2018 20:35:38 +0000

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Shri Thanedar stopped by the Daily Detroit table during the Mackinac Policy Conference to talk about his campaign, his progressive views and respond to allegations that he left hundreds of research animals to die after his pharmaceutical company went bust in 2010.

Thanedar has become arguably the most colorful character on either side of the political aisle in the race for governor this year. He’s an immigrant from India who came to the United States 39 years ago, earned a PhD in chemistry from the University of Akron and formed a career as an entrepreneur.

The Ann Arbor businessman recently filed his 2015 and 2016 tax returns, which show he has assets worth nearly $30 million, according to Bridge Magazine. Like his fellow Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Abdul El-Sayed, he’s refusing to accept corporate donations, but unlike his competitor, he’s plowing $6 million on his own fortune into his campaign.

He’s touting his rags-to-riches story, but his business history has proved controversial, with a lawsuit against him alleging fraud and reports that a pharmaceutical firm he owned in New Jersey that went bankrupt abandoned hundreds of research animals that had to be rescued by animal-welfare workers. He has denied responsibility in both cases.

“A lot of this is hype and smear,” he tells Daily Detroit, saying the animals were watched after and fed by the bank that took possession of the company. (Bridge’s Truth Squad finds his efforts to deflect blame to be false.)

Meanwhile, some polls have shown him ahead of front-runner Gretchen Whitmer, and former Detroit health director El-Sayed, who we interviewed yesterday.

On the campaign trail, Thanedar is touting fixes to health care and infrastructure, saying he wants to restructure taxes to help fund universal childcare and pre-K education, plus invest $1 billion in preparing residents for skilled trades.

“I understand how Michiganders suffer,” he says. “Twenty-some percent of our citizens are living below poverty. Forty percent of african-american children live at or below poverty. I know I have lived that life. I have gone to bed hungry. I’m the only gubernatorial candidate that can say what it feels lie, knows what it feels like to go to bed hungry.”

Have a listen to the interview in the player above.

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Detroit Loses MLS Bid To FC Cincinnati Thu, 31 May 2018 15:00:13 +0000
Detroit’s bid to win a Major League Soccer franchise suffered a setback when bidders settled on Ford Field as a venue.

That’s the view of MLS commissioner Don Garber who said Detroit was a front-runner to get a new franchise until backers Dan Gilbert and Tom Gores abandoned plans for a soccer-specific stadium on the site of the stalled Wayne County Jail. Gilbert and Gores in November announced they were partnering with the Ford family and would instead retrofit Ford Field for soccer.

Barber and the MLS announced FC Cincinnati yesterday as the 26th and newest expansion franchise.

Detroit was one of four finalists to get a franchise license, along with Cincinnati, Sacramento, and Nashville, which won a franchise in December.

Detroit remains in the running for two expansion spots for the 2022 season.

MLS has said all along that it prefers open-air, soccer-specific stadiums for new expansion teams. But Atlanta United FC, which is now playing its second season in the league, has set attendance records in an indoor stadium.

This story aired on our Daily Detroit News Byte Podcast.

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Work Continues On The Rethinking Royal Oak Development Thu, 31 May 2018 14:59:16 +0000 Workers will soon begin construction on a 581-space parking garage in downtown Royal Oak.

It’s part of a larger development project dubbed Rethinking Royal Oak. It includes a new public park, police station, city hall, and a six-story office building. The project kicked off earlier this month with the groundbreaking for the six-story Royal Oak City Center in front of the current city hall.

Officials say the north side of the Williams Street parking lot, near the city’s public library, will close on Tuesday of next week to start construction on the new parking deck.

The changes are meant to modernize outdated civic buildings that date back 60 years and add walkable green space on the site of what’s now the city hall and police station. The city has seen demand spike for parking as development of mid-rise buildings continues to draw new residents and office workers, adding to the city’s traditional draw as a nightlife hotspot.

A few miles to the south, Ferndale is expecting to break ground soon on its own parking deck a mixed-use structure with nearly 400 spaces called “The Dot” this spring.

This story aired on our Daily Detroit News Byte podcast.


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Detroit Residential Development Round Up Wed, 30 May 2018 17:14:24 +0000 A long-vacant building that hulks over I-375 in downtown Detroit is set to be demolished so developers can build housing in its place.

It’s part of a number of developments Crain’s reports are coming to the city’s near east side.

The Lafayette West project envisions two buildings; one being twelve story and the other being five stories. It will be on the site of the former Wayne State University Shapero Hall. The site would become more than 300 apartments and 60 for-sale condominiums.

Elsewhere, a joint venture that includes Broder & Sachse Real Estate Services is hoping to turn the former Friends School site in Elmwood Park near the Dequindre Cut into 248 residential units called Pullman Parc.

Detroit-based developers The Platform want to build as many as 180 residential units on the former Joe Muer restaurant site at Gratiot and Vernor.

In Eastern Market, a developer wants to build a 253-unit mixed-use project near Gratiot and Russell Street. It would include retail and residential units.

And finally, developers are expected to break ground in October on the city’s third Meijer store on East Jefferson near Rivard. That project would incorporate residential units into a smaller urban-concept Meijer that offers only groceries.

This story aired on our Daily Detroit News Byte podcast.

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Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel Torpedoes RTA Plan Prior to Mackinac Policy Conference Wed, 30 May 2018 17:01:50 +0000

Regional transit is one of the big issues overshadowing this year’s Mackinac Policy Conference, with a panel discussion slated for Thursday and the issue atop the wish list of many business and civic leaders in attendance. Wayne County Executive Warren Evans on Tuesday posted a video he made about the difficulties in using a bus to go from downtown Detroit to Novi. Evans is a key transit proponent and is scheduled to speak at the conference on Wednesday.

But getting a Regional Transit Authority tax proposal on the November ballot is going to be impossible without the support of Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel and Oakland County executive L. Brooks Patterson. And it looks like Hackel will have to deflect what’s expected to be withering heat and criticism on Mackinac alone.

Patterson isn’t coming to this year’s conference. And Hackel tells Detroit News columnist Nolan Finley the RTA issue is dead to him forever.

Hackel says he wants to instead focus on SMART, the suburban bus system and helping pass a millage renewal in August. He says SMART is meeting Macomb County’s needs and is the answer for the region’s rapid-transit shortcomings.

Supporters are pushing to put an RTA tax proposal on the November ballot. An earlier RTA proposal was detected in 2016, thanks largely to overwhelming opposition from voters in Macomb County.

Daily Detroit has extensively covered transit and will be following the issue throughout the week on Mackinac. Most recently, we scrutinized Hackel’s claims that transit had nothing to do with Amazon’s decision to bypass Detroit for its HQ2 project and discussed what the opposition of Patterson and Hackel mean for the region’s economy.

This story originally appeared on our Daily Detroit News Byte podcast.

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PODCAST: Meet The Man Chronicling All Of Detroit’s Beautiful Street Murals, Viranel Clerard Fri, 25 May 2018 15:39:17 +0000

Detroit is becoming a mecca for murals. Our guest on the Daily Detroit Happy Hour today is aiming to catalog it all.

Viranel Clerard is the man behind the Detroit Mural Project, which you can find on the Internet machine at

The site organizes murals by neighborhood and includes a description of the artist and who it was commissioned by, when known, a link to the artist’s Instagram page, and location of the mural.

Viranel Clerard in studio.

He saves his commentary about the murals mostly for his Instagram account, Detroit Murals.

Clerard talks about how the project got started, how he’s drawn the attention of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, how the city’s art scene is still mostly white and the role of art in building community.

He also is a big fan of the new KAWS statue in downtown Detroit and talks about what it means to him.


Love the show? Don’t miss another episode. Subscribe to the podcast free in iTunes/Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast or wherever fine podcasts are found.

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