Hey, it’s Jer! Hello from my porch in the North End. Been awhile since I’ve written to you all, so figured we’d catch up.

How are you? I’ve seen a lot of our podcast studio and bonfire the last few months. I’ve also seen my neighbors come together in some pretty awesome ways.

One of the elders down the street spent a month in the hospital with COVID-19. What’s amazing about my neighborhood is how everyone comes together and pitches in to make sure the yard is just the way she likes it.

It reminds us that the bonds that matter aren’t the ones we buy from brands but the ones we have with people. After all, being a Detroiter is a verb.

So here’s some stuff to know about.

A New Mural

Replacing the damaged “rainbow” mural over on East Grand Boulevard, The Platform has commissioned artist Sydney G. James to create a new, striking multi-story piece. the photo above is a rendering, but she’ll be installing it over the coming days on this building on East Grand Boulevard.

The development is called “Chroma,” and it’s by The Platform. It’s on a block that’s seeing a lot of investment, from older businesses like the Detroit Nipple Works (I’m serious, that’s their name, they do flanges) to newer things like Keisling, a bar, and Milwaukee Caffe, a walk up window. Also going in is a pair of new restaurant concepts by Sandy Levine, Freya & Dragonfly. This is along with some new apartments.

Anyway, the mural will be striking so I chatted with Sydney on the podcast. Have a listen at about the 10 minute mark for her inspiration and how the project came together.

Mail-In Voting Misinformation

I know some of you will groan that I talk about this. But I really don’t care.

Voter disenfranchisement is pretty morally bankrupt to me. If you can’t win on your ideas and it’s about stopping others from voting, that’s gross. And it’s part of being a citizen that we make sure all of our people can vote and don’t feel intimidated.

So a far-right conspiracy organization, Project 1599, is allegedly targeting Detroiters with robocalls full of lies.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is sending the warnings out after her office got wind of the racially charged automated phone call, aimed at deterring people from voting by mail.

The call falsely - and I’ll repeat, falsely - says that if you vote by mail, your personal information will be part of a public database that will be used to track down old warrants, and that the information can be used to collect old credit card debts.

It also makes the false claim that the CDC is planning to track people for mandatory vaccines with mail-in voting.

The call recording (here’s a link to it) claims that it’s Project 1599, and if it was, that group that claims it is a civil rights organization was founded by conspiracy theorists Jacob Wohl and GOP lobbyist Jack Burkman.

Here’s some backstory. The 22-year-old Wohl in 2017 had to pay more than $32,000 in fines to the state of Arizona for securities fraud. He’s currently awaiting settlement negotiations after the state of California issued a felony warrant for an allegedly illicit stock sale.

Wohl has been party to multiple attempts to frame public figures for sexual assaults and affairs, and is a vehement supporter of President Donald J. Trump.

Secretary of State Benson said that Attorney General Dana Nessel will use, quote, “every tool to seek justice.”

Officials are asking people to report questionable or intimidating calls to elections@michigan.gov.

Three Detroit Developments

First up is a $36 million dollar-plus project in Detroit’s Sugar Hill Arts District that broke ground this week, one of the last project by the late and noted Black architect Phil Freelon.

It’s at the northwest corner of John R. and Garfield, across from the VA medical center.

With 68 apartments, nearly 12,000 square feet of retail and 164 parking spaces, it’s sizable and will include outdoor green space that connects with the green alley plans of Midtown Detroit.

Fourteen of the apartments will be set aside as affordable housing for those making between 30 and 60 percent of the average median income in the region.

The project is a collaboration of the City of Detroit’s Housing and Revitalization Department, Preservation of Affordable Housing and Develop Detroit. It required at least 10 funding sources according to press materials.

Develop Detroit is a Detroit-based, black-owned firm.

Put together by people involved with the Lincoln Street Art Park and Recycle Here! - Matt Naimi and filmmaker Oren Goldberg - “Life is a Dreamtroit” will redevelop nearly 4 acres with a nearly $20 million investment.

There will be shops, art studios, venue space and 81 residential units.

The rental housing will be affordable and a focus on recycling and sustainability with the close partnerships with Recycle Here! - a well-loved recycling center that has served the city for years - and the nonprofit Green Living Science.

It’s located in the Elijah McCoy Neighborhood, just south of Henry Ford Hospital.

Funding comes in part through Michigan Community Revitalization Program loans, and the city of Detroit Brownfield Redevelopment Authority received approval of nearly $1.3 million to help with the remediation of the site.

And to round out the trifecta, the former Park Avenue House apartments are now becoming a 172 room Tapestry Hilton hotel.

It’s a $50 million or so deal that got about two and a half million in brownfield tax incentives. The building was low income housing.

Last year, the city of Detroit helped with the relocation of tenants before the previous owner sold with 30 days warning to residents at a cost of $400,000 to the city.

That’s pretty concerning as that’s pretty much what gentrification is. Having to displace people - and then the government picking up the slack - instead of doing things in a bunch of better ways.

The new owner is Downtown Hospitality Detroit LLC and Detroit-based Kraemer Design Group is the architect.

The soon to be Tapestry Hilton will be at 2035 Park Avenue - that’s near the stadiums - and the boutique hotel is expected to be complete in 2023.

The Garden Will Begin To Grow

There’s an update with the much-anticipated Piet Oudolf Garden on Belle Isle.

Between COVID and flooding issues that meant a redesign of the garden to raise up the site, the schedule has been knocked back.

But we received word today that nearly 26,000 plants will go into the ground from now through next Friday, with a day off on Monday for the planned Detroit Coronavirus memorial on August 31.

Next year the rain garden will be planted and there will be an official opening of this historic garden. So something to look forward to in 2021. Maybe we might go out there next week and do something on our Facebook page or the podcast.

Previewing Coming Attractions

Fletcher Sharpe is joining us on tomorrow’s podcast to talk about Detroit City FC joining the mass athletic general strike and shutdown to draw attention to police brutality and injustice.

Plus, we’re inevitably going to hit 100,000 COVID-19 cases in Michigan Friday. Dr. Paul Thomas from Plum Health will put the dizzying numbers in context.

Plus, in upcoming episodes: I talked to Jeremy Yagoda, the proprietor of Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum, about his GoFundMe to keep the regional institution of fun alive.

Sven and Engineer Randy did a charcuterie tasting with Monger’s Provisions. It’s always good to support local businesses when you can.

And Sven did a dive into a local group that encourages you to make food, not waste.

Finally, remember to become a member. It’s how we keep Daily Detroit going. Click here to join our Patreon.

Now that we have a new thing to do these, I’m pretty sure we’ll write more. We’ve been spending a lot of effort on the podcast — we’re at nearly 600 episodes! But we’re getting a handle on it.

Thanks to Sven Gustafson for helping me with some of these stories.

Take care of each other we’ll talk soon.


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