Development – Daily Detroit What To Know And Where To Go In Metro Detroit Thu, 23 Nov 2017 18:54:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 New Renderings Of The Shinola Hotel Are Here Along With A New Website Tue, 21 Nov 2017 22:28:50 +0000 Detroit’s hotel scene is hopping. The once struggling sector has been seeing better occupancy rates and travelers seem to be looking for more boutique experiences.

As of December 2016, the occupancy rate in Detroit was 65.7%, in line with the national average of 65.5% at the same time.

One of those luxury, boutique experiences is going to be the 130+ room Shinola Hotel, being built by Bedrock.

A view of the construction of the new Shinola Hotel as of today

They’re reconfiguring some old buildings (including Rayl’s department store from 1915), replacing one and building new on a surface parking lot to make the project happen.

The renderings also show more of the new building one block off Woodward that will be connected over the alley.

The look in general feels like a series of terraces, which in the summer could be spectacular.

It’ll be managed by NoHo Hospitality that focuses on boutique hotels mostly in New York City.

The new website (which doesn’t have booking information or prices on the rooms yet) can be found here. The hotel plans to start taking reservations in the summer of 2018.

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Google Moves Sales Office From Birmingham To Downtown Detroit Mon, 20 Nov 2017 20:23:38 +0000 Google is moving more than 100 jobs to downtown Detroit. They’ve signed a lease for nearly 30,000 square feet in the new District Detroit as part of Little Caesars Arena.

The office, at 52 Henry Street, will open in 2018.

The workers coming down will be mostly sales and customer service folks. Not to mention, they will have very visible sign frontage on the recently completed arena that is home to the Detroit Red Wings, the Detroit Pistons, and numerous concerts.

“The city of Detroit has a rich history of culture and innovation, and we’re excited to be a part of its world class talent and world class companies. Our new space will not only provide room for future growth, but will also give us the opportunity to contribute to the dynamic economic and community activity happening in Detroit,” said Danielle Russell and Guy Schueller, Co-Site Leads for Google Birmingham.

In a follow up with Daily Detroit, we were told that as far as Google goes, no tax incentives from the city were involved and Google did not ask for any.

Elsewhere in Michigan, Google has a large Ann Arbor presence. That is where most of their technology work happens in the state with more than 450 employees. They just expanded their footprint there in September.

PR, Revenue Win: This is more of a public relations and revenue win for the city of Detroit than a win for the region as this is just a shift between localities in the same area. Having a big “Google” sign downtown is an attractive thing to most.

On the revenue side, the tax rate for non-residents is 1.2% and many of these jobs are high paying, so at $90,000 or so a year with bonuses with 100 employees, the city could be pocketing an extra $100,000 annually (or more, depending on number of city residents who pay double that rate, etc.) in additional income taxes.

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15 Photos Of The Work To Restore Belle Isle’s Lake Okonoka, Connect It To Detroit River Sat, 18 Nov 2017 22:26:35 +0000 You might not have made it over to Belle Isle State Park since the fall season has started, but if you do, you’ll see that a ton of work is happening over by Lake Okonoka.

A $5 million restoration project is well underway that will restore the long stagnant lake near the Belle Isle United States Coast Guard Station.

When you actually get out there to see the work, it’s breathtaking to see a lake you’ve seen for years completely drained.

If you’ve been on a canoe or kayak trip through the canals before, you can see the unrealized potential that connecting the island canal system to the Detroit River (via the Blue Heron Lagoon) in a proper way has.

According to DNR information, the project will when it is complete in the Fall of 2018 connect the canal system to the river through a direct connection that you’ll be able to paddle through as it will be 45 feet wide.

The pumping station by the Culvert near Blue Heron Lagoon. The station will remain.

More importantly, fish will be able to enter the lake to spawn as well as water will circulate better through the system.

Eventually there’s going to be a bridge here instead of this dinky culvert (a.k.a. big pipe under the road).

So yes, there’s currently a small connection, but not one that is meaningful.

Back by Lake Okonoka, a “stop log structure” and pedestrian crossing is also going in.

You can see work on this spot above where the interior canal hits the lake. This will allow for flow and water level control.

And of course, the berm holding the water of the canals back is pretty neat to check out.

One side water, the other not.

And some dry bed under the bridge.

Woodside Drive is going to be split in two, with green space in between the two.

The project is being funded through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) through their Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is ponying up $70,000 in matching funds.

There’s a year of work ahead, but it’s a big development for the beloved island.

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The Popular Park Bar Has Been Sold, Space Will Temporarily Close Thu, 16 Nov 2017 20:41:52 +0000 Detroit’s losing one of its more well-known watering holes. The Park Bar, opened in 2006, has been sold and will close at the end of the year according to a Facebook post passed on to us by a Daily Detroit tipster.

The post outlines an event called “Last Call at the Park Bar” on December 2 featuring Don Duprie & The Inside Outlaws, Alison Lewis & The String of Ponies, Pat V & The Detroit 3, Ty Stone, Matt Dmits and Tino Gross.

The Park Bar has been one of those “legendary” bars in my mind.

There aren’t too many circular bars in town — they’re much better for meeting and talking to people. And the help was always on point.

Back when Bucharest Grill was slinging shawarma out the back door it was a go-to spot in so many ways.

In more than a decade I’ve had parties there, said goodbye to old friends and said hello to new loves.

It’s a good sign that, according to Eater (more details here), it’s been bought by the owner of Cliff Bell’s. They do a great job there and also own part of Queen’s and The Bronx Bar.

A tip of the hat to you guys. Eleven years is a heck of a run. Thank you for the memories, Jerry Balenger and the space you created. It’ll be interesting to see what happens there next.

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Average Rents In City Of Detroit Skyrocket 30% In Just Three Years Thu, 16 Nov 2017 19:35:58 +0000 It’s something that a lot of Detroiters have been feeling but the data hasn’t been there to back it up — until now.

A new report from SmartAsset utilizing U.S. Census Data shows that rent is rising very quickly in the City of Detroit. So fast that when compared to income, it’s the fifth fastest rising rental market as far as percentage of household income.

Taking top spot on the list was New Orleans, who saw their rents rise as a percentage of their income 10.5%. Then Cleveland, 9.2%; Chicago, 6.7%; Philadelphia at 6%. Detroit came in fifth at 5.5%.

As far as hard costs go, Detroit residents have seen the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment rise 30% from $765 in 2013 to $995 in 2016, according to U.S. Census Community Survey data and information from RentJungle.

Now, there is some good news. Median household incomes are up 13% for city residents in the same period, and the unemployment rate in Detroit continues to decline month after month, but that isn’t keeping pace with increasing costs.

It’s also not clear yet with the data available if that income increase is due to new residents or fortunes are getting better across the board.

Detroiters are now paying 43% of their income in rent. That’s far above the standard for housing affordability at 30%.

“Households in Detroit have seen their incomes grow, but not as quickly as rents are rising. From 2013 to 2016, average rents in Detroit went up a whopping 30% while the median household income grew just 13%,” AJ Smith, the VP of Financial Education at SmartAsset told Daily Detroit. “As a result, the average household must now spend almost 43% of their income on the average fair market rent. That far surpasses the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 30% threshold for housing affordability.”

For their part, the city has been pushing affordable housing as part of any new project that gets tax or other incentives from the city, and that’s basically all of them.

The idea being that 20% of the development would be set aside. This is often in developments where the market rate would push the price of the units into the luxury space, especially in comparison to the rest of the Detroit metro area.

The complete chart is below.

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Detroit Tiny House Community Breaking Ground On 5 New Homes Next Week Thu, 02 Nov 2017 23:55:34 +0000 Cass Community Social Services has been incredibly busy building the Tiny Homes Detroit community on the west side of Detroit.

The neighborhood has continued to grow since last September when the first home was completed. In May we reported that there were six more tiny homes completed.

Next week on Monday, November 6 the non-profit organization will be breaking ground on the next five tiny homes.

When those five homes are complete it will bring the total number of tiny homes to twelve. The plan is to eventually have 25 tiny homes built in that community.

Two of the new homes will be funded by General Motors as part of the Cass Community Social Services Women in Motion program.

The Women in Motion program will give women an opportunity of economic mobility by offering affordable and supportive housing.

The remaining three homes will be funded by Ruth Littleton, St. Kenneth’s Catholic Church and Farmington Orchard UMC.

These homes will help formerly homeless men and women, students, and seniors get into a home that is affordable for them.

The rent is decided by the square footage of the the home, so a 500 square foot home will cost $500 a month to rent.

The only other bill that residents have is electricity. The organization estimates that the electric bill will be around $30 a month.

There is an extensive background check (including criminal history), applicants must meet HUD guidelines, be U.S. Citizens, and they also have an interview.

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No New Soccer Stadium Will Be Built, MLS Team Would Play At Ford Field Instead Thu, 02 Nov 2017 20:50:20 +0000 When it comes to Detroit’s bid for a Major League Soccer team, the ownership team of Tom Gores and Dan Gilbert have decided to change pitches.

Instead of building one at the “fail jail” site at Gratiot and I-75, the new plan according to an announcement today is to move the team into Ford Field, a venue that has hosted soccer for one-off events in the past.

According to press materials, benefits of Ford Field include:

  • Ford Field’s seating produces a fan sightline slope of 17 degrees in the lower level
  • Ford Field’s location inside the central business district and downtown setting bolsters the game-day experience with walkable entertainment and gathering spaces
  • Different seating configurations can support crowd sizes ranging from 26,000 to 64,000
  • Soccer-specific design will maximize usage of premium suite inventory and high-visibility sponsorship activation
  • Ford Field has hosted four USA Soccer international matches (2008, 2011, 2012, 2015)

With this move, the Ford family who owns the Detroit Lions could also take an ownership stake in the new venture down the line.

Detroit doesn’t have an MLS team yet, and is still in the bid process. The stipulations beyond the $150 million fee also prefer a soccer-specific stadium.

So what will happen to the proposed jail site? There has been a lot of controversy, especially in the Arts Center neighborhood (a part of Midtown), about a jail opening across the freeway from an area of the city that’s among the most stable residentially.

To recap, the idea as it stands now would be that the new Wayne County Jail would go at Warren and I-75 where the current bus terminal is. Wayne County has already agreed to swap land with the city for the deal. And then Gilbert’s team would develop both the jail and the new mixed-use development by Greektown.

According to Matt Cullen, Principal at Rock Ventures, plans will move forward to do a swap deal at I-75 and Gratiot.

“From the time we started working on the Gratiot site, we have always been focused on the importance of a great mixed-use development at the gateway to downtown Detroit, soccer was just a potential component of our vision,” said Cullen. “But once we better understood Ford Field’s unique attributes, including the recent renovations and a bowl design that is perfectly suited for soccer, we decided to change course. We have made clear to the County that we are still fully committed to moving forward with our proposal to build out a new criminal justice complex on Warren and I-75.  We are also fully committed to a mixed-use development on the Gratiot site that will be an economic driver for our community.”

For his part, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is supportive of the plan.

“This partnership allows us to bring major league soccer to a first-class facility inside our growing sports and entertainment district and eliminates the potential request for Detroit tax dollars to construct another new stadium,” said Duggan in a statement. “I wholeheartedly support this proposal and thank Tom Gores, Dan Gilbert, and the Ford family for working together to make this happen.”

Quick Take: Let’s be honest. When it comes to billionaires and hundreds of millions of dollars changing hands, it’s amazing how specifications can magically change on a bid or project. If Gilbert and Gores are confident that this doesn’t hurt their bid, they probably have their reasons. Also, a soccer-specific stadium probably would have had a public financing component (they all do nowadays at one point or another).

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OPINION: Banning Billboards In Downtown Detroit Is Ridiculous And The Law Should Change Wed, 01 Nov 2017 20:17:50 +0000 Active, vibrant cities the world over have billboards and advertisements. But in Detroit, almost all the ones you’ve seen pop up over the last few years? Turns out they’re illegal, according to city code.

And that’s especially ridiculous in Detroit’s core business district.

If you didn’t know, there’s a prohibition in the city of Detroit against large advertising signs, billboards and painted wall graphics basically anywhere from Grand Boulevard to the Detroit River.

Opponents of these big ads talk about them being “a big money business” that “somebody should stop.” In this case, that’s a disturbing point of view.

The signs can bring in revenue, according to folks we talked to, between $5,000 and $11,000 per month, similar to what has been reported elsewhere. That can be a significant source of revenue for building owners, many of remember when nobody wanted to be part of anything Detroit.

Rules like this show that although the city of Detroit has become more business-friendly, it still has a long way to go before resembling a normal environment.

What’s the harm in a giant Andre Drummond being visible on what is otherwise a blank wall? Or a Comcast ad that helps support the work of the Detroit Opera House on a wall that would otherwise be empty?

It’s still not easy to make it financially in Detroit, especially for smaller players.

Not to mention, in the last couple of decades we’ve had a demolition derby where we hit the destruct button on buildings that represent a century’s worth of history. It’s part of why we have a bunch of blank walls that used to be concealed by other buildings.

And now the city government is going to make sure we and our visitors stare at those failures, day after day.

We should put in common sense provisions like a license fee and approval process to make sure guidelines of decency and taste are met. No one is arguing it should be the wild west.

But tasteful signs add to the vibe that this is a bustling downtown and help fill out the streetscape. They help keep the economic engine humming.

The city is supposed to begin enforcing the ban at the end of this year. The city council and the mayor should do fast-track reforms before that happens.

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10 Things To Know About The New Meijer Development In Detroit Thu, 26 Oct 2017 17:44:46 +0000 A new Meijer in Lafayette Park, near downtown Detroit, is going to be a thing. But the development is going to be more than just a grocery store.

After heading out to the official announcement at a prime piece of real estate on East Jefferson Avenue between Rivard and Riopelle, here’s what you need to know.

1. It Will Be A Fresh Grocery Market

Although there are grocery store options nearby (Harbortown and Lafayette Foods come to mind), this store, operated by Meijer is going to be focused on groceries. At the announcement, city council member Mary Sheffield talked about how much Detroiters wanted a chain store in the city.

2. It’ll Be A “Small Format” Grocery Store, But Bigger Than Whole Foods

Coming in at 42,339 square feet, it’s going to be a little less than double the size of the Whole Foods in Midtown (that’s 21,600 square feet).

2. It’s A $60 Million Project

In total, we’re looking at 220,000 square feet of development, and aims to open in 2019.

3. There Will Be 213 apartments

20% of the apartments will be affordable, and 80% market rate. There will be studios, one bedrooms and two bedrooms. There is no word on what the units will cost.

Sidebar: We need to remember that in general right now in the city of Detroit, not just with this development, “affordable” means targeted at middle-class and lower-middle class folks as defined by the Detroit region’s median income. Not “low income.” That is the status is most of the households of the city of Detroit. “Affordable” doesn’t look to be a program for basic housing needs, but a program intended to make sure that not all the units end up being occupied by high-end or luxury tenants.

4. There’s A Familiar Name Behind The Deal

The son of former mayor Dennis Archer, Dennis Archer Jr., is the principal of the development group, East Jefferson Development Co., LLC.

5. Jobs

100 Construction jobs, and about 70 ongoing jobs at the new grocery store.

6. Transit And Parking

They mention in their press materials about a possible QLINE extension — more tea leaves that we’re going to see an expansion of the streetcar, and possibly soon — and they also mention 120 retail parking spaces to go with 221 underground spaces for the residential units. At 221 spaces, that’s one car per unit.

7. Walkability, Bikeability

That last number leads into another theme of the presentation. Mayor Mike Duggan’s 20 minute neighborhoods. The Motor City is quickly moving away from car-focused development, putting in more bike lanes, and trying to design neighborhoods that everything is walkable or bikeable in 20 minutes. Bold for a city that is hostage the car, but a high percentage of the residents don’t actually own one.

8. Park Improvements

There’s going to be an investment made into the neighboring “Greening of Detroit” park. Renderings of that weren’t made available.

9. Here Is Where It Is Located

10. Much More May Be Coming

According to development officials there, and press materials, the combined Rivertown/Lafayette Park area has a current unmet demand of 10,000 housing units. This is 213. So, quick math, they’re saying there’s demand for more than 45 of these sized residential projects.

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REPORT: Meijer To Open Near Downtown Detroit Wed, 25 Oct 2017 17:56:40 +0000 When it comes to retail, downtown and the immediate surrounding area has been gaining a lot of options.

Although there are more full-service grocery stores than people think (Lafayette Foods is walking distance of this location, Harbortown Market, and Whole Foods among others are all in short driving distance), most of the non-food shopping options in and near downtown Detroit are niche, and often luxury or speciality.

That may be about to change. It looks like the city of Detroit is about to get a third Meijer store, although smaller in footprint than their traditional stores.

According to a report in Crain’s, their ace development guy has learned that as part of a project on East Jefferson between Rivard and Riopelle Streets that will also include apartments.

Daily Detroit created map of the location, via Open Street Maps.

It’s interesting to note that the area is now nestled between some of the highest income census tracts in the city, as we’ve illustrated in the map below.

The open date is slated for 2019. It’s important to note that the news has not been confirmed as of this writing by Meijer corporate. More details, including a rendering, are here. 

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