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Ypsilanti : Development News

134 Ypsilanti Articles | Page: | Show All

Wurst Bar Ypsi taking its gastro and craft goodness to Livonia

The recipe for success for The Wurst Bar in Ypsilanti is creative brats and burgers and craft beer and whiskey to go with them, and after seeing so many customers drive quite a distance for the fun-generating, taste-bud-tantalizing, community-engaging establishment, owners Jesse Kranyak and Jim Seba have decided to open a second location in Livonia.

The Wurst Bar Livonia is expected to open its second gastropub this fall at 28121 Plymouth Road in the former Penalty Box. When it opens it will likely be a draw for its metro Detroit fans who can't get to Ypsi as often as they'd like. And just like The Wurst Bar Ypsi, which opened in January 2011, The Wurst Bar Livonia will wave its flag of devotion to locally sourced foods. There will be one menu difference: the addition of adult milkshakes.

The new location in the more staid suburb of Livonia will also be a change in feel from the Ypsi location with its small, eclectic downtown bar across from Eastern Michigan University. It pulls in a mix of college students, hipsters and locals who come for Wurst's specialties and 24 regularly rotating taps. The spirit of The Wurst Bar's operators with their food challenges, tap takeovers and out of the box events and nightly specials will carry over to Livonia.

The Livonia location is expected to be the first of at least three other metro Detroit Wurst Bars, if all goes well for the gastropub that has been in the running for top burger in metro Detroit numerous times.

Source: Jesse Kranyak, co-owner, The Wurst Bar
Writer: Kim North Shine


Detroit Regional Aerotropolis takes off again with new name and new leader

Goodbye, Detroit Regional Aerotropolis. Hello, VantagePort.

The economic development effort to attract transportation-centered companies and industries to developable land between Detroit Metropolitan and Willow Run airports is taking off with the naming of its first CEO and the launches of a new rebranding strategy and marketing plan.

The new name, VantagePort, and the new CEO, Tim Keyes, will carry on the work -- and successes -- of what was the Detroit Regional Aerotropolis, which formed in 2006 and in the nearly seven years since claims to have facilitated nearly 2,500 new jobs and more than $300,000 million in investment by small and large businesses.  While economic development has materialized, much of the work by the Aerotropolis board, including Wayne and Washtenaw County and state officials, has focused on information gathering, planning and preparation to achieve the goal of creating as many as 60,000 jobs and $10 billion in investment in 25 years. 

The goal is to shape 100,000-plus acres of land in, around and between the two airports into a global logistics hub by spreading the word about the area's convenient, potentially money-saving access to air, water, rail and highway and to make clear the benefits that might be reaped by companies needing these things to move their products, people and information all over the world.

Keyes,the new CEO and former director of economic development for the city of Romulus, has been a part of Detroit Regional Aerotropolis since the beginning and is charged with executing a new strategic and marketing plan that was written by Greyhill Advisors, a global site selection and and economic development consultant from New York, and the rebranding that was the work of Applied Storytelling, which has offices in Detroit and Oakland, Calif.

Metromode took a look at the plans and the concept of airport-centered economic development, in this 2011 story.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Kelly Chesney, Business Leaders for Michigan

Charter air service makes $5.8M investment in the Aerotropolis

A charter jet company is expanding at the Detroit Aerotropolis.

Kalitta Charters' $5.8 million investment will pay to move part of its operation from Willow Run to a new facility in Ypsilanti Township and also for an expansion of two of its buildings at Willow Run Airport. About 80 jobs will be created, most of them in Ypsilanti Township, Wayne County spokesperson Brooke Blackwell says.

Kalitta, which also has an operation in Tennessee, considered moving either there or to California but was enticed to expand in Michigan with incentives offered by Wayne's County's Economic Development Growth Engine, or EDGE. EDGE cut some of the improvement costs to Kalitta, a company founded in 2002. At that time, Kalitta had 81 employees. Currently it employs 210 people and provides corporate charters, air ambulance, cargo transportation and other air services.

EDGE is part of a plan to create a Detroit Region Aerotropolis for transportation related businesses to locate near each other in the Aerotropolis boundaries that stretch across Wayne and Washtenaw counties and include Detroit Metro and Willow Run airports.

"We're excited both by Kalitta's decision to stay and by the fact that this investment signifies the future growth in the Aerotropolis," Turkia Awada-Mulllin, EDGE's chief development officer, says in a statement.

Source: Brooke Blackwell, Wayne County spokesperson
Writer: Kim North Shine

Chug no more: $150 million for regional high-speed rail

Michigan will be receiving $150 million to help develop a high-speed rail corridor between Kalamazoo and Dearborn.

News came out Monday that the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Grant Program will be awarding the money, along with a $3.2 million planning grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Michigan has the existing rail lines from Chicago to Detroit, but is lacking the upgrades to get the trains up to a higher speed.

Although it won't be announced until today as to how the $150 million will be allocated, Carmine Palombo, transportation director for the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, says the announcement was great news overall. "Being able to make that sort of investment in that high-speed rail corridor is great," he says.

Among the beneficiaries will be Amtrak and freight rail, but also everyone trying to establish a commuter rail service between Detroit and Ann Arbor, too. One project that was identified as necessary was the connection west of Detroit, where there is consistently a bottleneck between usage of the track by freight and passenger services. Fixing that alone would take about 5-7 minutes off the time between Detroit and Ann Arbor, Palombo says.

"That's a pretty good chunk of time that would be saved as a result of this project," he says.

It was also announced in January that Michigan will be receiving $40 million for train station development.

Source: Carmine Palombo, transportation director for SEMCOG
Writer: Kristin Lukowski

Pontiac, Detroit to make mini-parks out of parking spots

Parking spot enjoyment has taken off in Grand Rapids and other big cities across the nation and world, and now Sean Mann wants to get people loving parking in southeast Michigan.

Parking should be appreciated not just because you grab the space right in front of the coffee shop, either. Park(ing) Day encourages people to make a mini-park out of a metered spot for one day -- Sept. 17 this year -- to celebrate public spaces with friends.

Sean Mann, founder and program coordinator of Let's Save Michigan, a project of the Michigan Municipal League, says a few communities in southeast Michigan, including Pontiac, Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Ypsilanti, and also in Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Traverse City, will likely be participating in this quirky day of awareness. There's still plenty of time to sign up, and parking spots don't need an elaborate makeover. A couple of lawn chairs and a potted plant will do.

With graduates fleeing the state, oftentimes what they're looking for is a better quality of life above jobs -- and that includes public places. "It's a fun way to highlight bringing people together to show they can create those places," Mann mentions. "Our whole campaign is about moving Michigan forward."

The end-of-summer event also allows for one last (hopefully) warm-weather celebration before the mitten state gets cold and dark.

Click here to learn more or to sign up.

Source: Sean Mann, Let's Save Michigan, founder and program coordinator
Writer: Kristin Lukowski

Inkster, Ypsilanti, Detroit, I-275 trail score pedestrian grants

It's all about the infrastructure. Not only will Inkster build a streetscape project and Detroit a walk/bike path, but because of state and federal grant money, portions of the I-275 Metro Trail will be also be reconstructed. Ypsi even got a slice of the community improvement pie.

The Michigan Department of Transportation announced the federal Transportation Enhancement grants Tuesday, for which Inkster will receive almost $600,000 in state and federal funding for a planned streetscape project. The intersection of Michigan Avenue (US-12) and Inkster Road will be improved about a block in all four directions, with decorative brick pillars, fencing, benches, decorate stamped concrete, and landscaping.

Kimberly Faison, special projects manager for the city of Inkster, says the project will help to define the city’s downtown, at that intersection, with an emphasis on trees, shrubs and perennials. And with traffic whizzing by on Michigan Avenue, "Sometimes our downtown gets missed, especially with the speed," she says. "Our residents have a lot of pride in the community."

The city has also acquired three easements in that area, which will be made into a green space, which will include seating areas.

Improvements done last year, including ramps and cross lights at pedestrian intersections, make the area more walkable, she says, while the streetscape is also expected to help calm traffic. Bus shelters are also a part of the expanded project, and the city hopes to receive future funding for a greenways project down the line.

Faison says Inkster's residents know the city has businesses worth visiting and space worthy of being rehabilitated and reoccupied, and this will help put them on the map. "The project really is exciting for us," she says. "We see this as a shot in the arm."

Elsewhere in the metro area, Detroit will get funding for a nearly 1-mile portion of the Connor Creek Greenway, to include a bike/walk path, seating areas and trees. Eighty percent of the $358,376 will be covered by federal funds, with the rest made up by a match from the city.

Portions of the I-275 Metro Trail, in Canton Township, Van Buren Township, and Romulus, will also be rehabilitated, including the addition of a boardwalk over wetlands and signage. That project is nearly $4 million, covered by federal and state funding.

Finally, Ypsilanti also received a grant for streetscape projects.

Statewide, a total of $10 million was awarded to 11 counties for non-motorized trail improvements, roadway streetscape, parks and water quality.

Source: Kimberly Faison, special projects manager, city of Inkster; Michigan Department of Transportation
Writer: Kristin Lukowski

Proto Manufacturing plans to rehab Taylor site, create 46 jobs

Proto Manufacturing plans to renovate an 18,800-square-foot building as part of its plan to move its operations to Taylor.

The Ypsilanti-based firm plans to invest $5.25 million into renovating and expanding the structure. The project includes installing a new roof, interior infrastructure improvements, and upgrades to its office and showroom spaces. The new space will allow the company to move from its temporary location to the new facility in Taylor.

"It needs some work," says Robert Drake, sales manager for
Proto Manufacturing. "It's an older building."

There are plans to install new machinery and equipment at the facility, which will also include in-house laboratory services that provide residual stress measurement, stress mapping, and related services in a controlled environment.

The company focuses on the development and application of non-destructive evaluation technology measures and maps residual stresses for customers in the aerospace, alternative energy, medical device technology, defense, power-generation, nuclear, and automotive industries. It also designs, develops, and manufactures its own line of x-ray tubes.

Proto Manufacturing also considered alternative sites in South Carolina, Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee. The state agreed to a
$586,814 tax abatement over seven years. The city of Taylor is also offering a tax abatement.

Robert Drake, sales manager for Proto Manufacturing
Writer: Jon Zemke

EMU begins work on Pray Harrold renovation project

One of Eastern Michigan University's major construction projects is getting underway now that work crews are beginning a renovation of the inside of the Pray Harrold building.


Construction crews are starting to warm up for work on Eastern Michigan University's Pray Harrold building, but they probably won't be immediately visible.

The home to the university's College of Arts & Sciences is showing all of the signs of construction, such as being fenced off, along with the obvious absence of students and faculty. However, a majority of the work for the $42 million project will take place in the interior. The exterior work isn't set to begin until the end of the construction timeline in mid-2011.

"It's an internal bones-oriented project to turn the second floor into prime student space," says Geoff Larcom, a spokesman for Eastern Michigan University.

Read the rest of the story here.

New Thompson Block plan includes bar, microbrewery

Battle plan for Ypsilanti's Thompson Block redevelopment project, take three. This time, plans for a performance venue and microbrewery promises to be the charm for the controversial project in Depot Town.


Developer Stewart Beal has two businesses lined up, consuming a lot of space in the Thompson Block project.  He hopes to initiate a three-phase plan for the redevelopment of the historic structure in Ypsilanti.

The 3-story building at the eastern edge of Depot Town suffered heavy fire damage last fall and is now supported with elaborate scaffolding that extends into the street in some places. Beal plans to complete the first phase, retreating from the street, by November. The second would include building out the undamaged section of the building and then the burnt part for the third phase.

Read the rest of the story here.

Maurer family takes on 3 more rehabs in downtown Ypsilanti

The dynamic historic preservation duo of Eric and Karen Maurer are at it again in Ypsilanti. This time the couple has bought three more foreclosed and neglected downtown storefronts with grand plans for revitalizing them into mixed-use structures filled with people, businesses, and jobs.


The Maurer family empire is now three more addresses strong after buying 120, 122 and 124 W Michigan Avenue in downtown Ypsilanti.

Eric and Karen Maurer are two of Ypsilanti's biggest landlords, buying and rehabbing a number of historic structures into apartments and retail space. This latest purchase of three foreclosed commercial buildings expands the couple's holdings to seven downtown storefronts, including the Mack & Mack and Kresge buildings that now house the Ann Arbor SPARK East incubator and J Neil's Mongolian Grille, respectively.

The Maurers plan to rehab their latest acquisitions into loft apartments on the second and third floors, ground floor retail space and some basement office space. That will mean a dozen new loft apartments and room for three separate storefronts.

Read the rest of the story here.

Ypsilanti Freighthouse construction gears up for summer

The redevelopment of the Ypsilanti Freighthouse is asserting itself in Depot Town now that construction crews are stabilizing the structure.


Construction workers will be able to do some heavy lifting on the Ypsilanti Freighthouse this summer now that they're literally laying the foundation for it this spring.

Workers are currently laboring away on the first phase of the $500,000 redevelopment project. That phase includes restoring foundation stone and pouring concrete piers to support new steel beams that will serve as the building's rib cage.

"That will stabilize the building," says Ed Penet, chair of the building committee for the Friends of Ypsilanti Freighthouse.

Read the rest of the story here.

An Ann Arbor campus for Washtenaw Comm College?

Washtenaw Community College is expanding its horizons beyond the suburban campus outside of Ypsilanti all the way to a downtown Ann Arbor outpost.


Washtenaw Community College is looking at opening a new satellite campus, and downtown Ann Arbor is at the head of its list.

The college's leadership seriously considered signing a lease for 30,000 square feet in the Talley Hall Building (behind Border's downtown location) but backed away when budget constraints pushed the option onto the back burner. McKinley offered the space at $10.50 a square foot and offered a build-out.

"The price was very, very attractive," says Larry Whitworth, president of Washtenaw Community College. "We almost struck a deal with them."

Read the rest of the story here.

Ypsilanti City Hall solar panels flip switch on electricity

A small group of people are making a bigger and bigger impact on alternative energy in Ypsilanti, one solar panel at a time.


The meters are spinning in the right direction at Ypsilanti's City Hall, now that the new solar panels on the south side of the building are generating electricity. Local officials and volunteers who made the project happen flipped the switch last weekend.

That not only turned on the 12 solar panels that adorn the downtown building, but concluded an ambitious grass roots project, Solar Ypsi, that continues to spread its roots throughout Ypsilanti.

Read the rest of the story here.

New concert venue opens in downtown Ypsilanti

Downtown Ypsilanti is really asserting itself these days, and the opening of a new mid-sized concert venue called Savoy is only helping make that assertion.


A new mid-size live music venue is taking the stage this weekend in downtown Ypsilanti when Savoy opens its doors in the space that was once Club Divine.

The new two floor, two stage venue can accommodate up to 700 people in a space so large even the organizers behind the bar struggle to define its size. It joins The Ark, Michigan Theater, and the Blind Pig (all located in downtown Ann Arbor) for mid-size venues in Washtenaw County.

"It's really filling a void in Washtenaw County for a mid-market venue," says Don Scheneder, talent buyer for Savoy. He adds that Savoy is more in line with the Blind Pig, which can only seat 400 people. It will also have a smaller second floor stage that will host events such as comedy performances.

Read the rest of the story here.

Washtenaw County invests $3M in trail network expansion

Some of the most prized recreation options aren't destinations but what gets you there. It's why Washtenaw County is investing millions of dollars in its growing trail system.


Washtenaw County plans to invest $3 million in expanding the county's trails, pathways and other pedestrian/bicycling routes. The Connecting Communities program plans to give out $600,000 worth of grants each of those five years.

"Trails are the most popular thing we do," says Coy Vaughn, superintendent of park planning for Washtenaw County. "When we do a survey of things we should spend our money on, trails are always on the top of our list."

Read the rest of the story here.
134 Ypsilanti Articles | Page: | Show All
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