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Dearborn's first microbrewery on schedule for May opening

Dearborn is a few months away from having a microbrewery of its own.

Dearborn Brewing could open by May, says John Rucinski, who along with his wife Sheila Rucinski is renovating a 2,500-square-foot space at 21390 Michigan Ave. in downtown west Dearborn.

Three brewing kettles will be on display in the brewery's storefront windows, visible to passersby. They will be part of a system that includes four fermenters and has the capacity to brew four styles of beer at a time. Six varieties will be on tap.

Beer lover Rucinski began home brewing about 15 years ago. Like so many craft beer brewers, he heard repeatedly from friends and family that he should sell his suds. After years of resisting, he decided Dearborn was the right market.

"There are a couple of jokes going around about why I decided to do it," Rucinski says. "My friends say I got tired of waiting for one to open in Dearborn. My common defense is temporary insanity."

In truth, however, the decision made good business sense. "We looked around saw that this is the right market," says Rucinski, an analyst and project manager for Nissan North America.

Construction and licensing is taking longer than hoped, but Rucinski is patient. "It's coming along," he says. The plan calls for a short bar and open area with 26 seats. If the demand is there, the space has room for a much longer bar on an adjacent wall and capacity for 79 seats.

Dearborn Brewing won't have a kitchen but will offer light snacks and encourage ordering takeout or delivery from nearby restaurants, including one right next door.

The interior design will be a take on a black and tan -- half stout, half lager -- swirling the length of the bar.

Source: John Rucinski, founder Dearborn Brewing
Writer: Kim North Shine

Historic downtown Plymouth post office could be reborn as Westborn Market


The 1930s-era post office in downtown Plymouth, sold in 2013, could become the next location for metro Detroit-based Westborn Market.

The project hinges on whether city officials approve a request to add parking spaces and grant other variances for the property adjoining the post office, an 11,000-square-foot structure that would be renovated with most historical details intact.

Downtown merchants and local preservationists see the project as a meeting of economic progress and historic rehabilitation.

Westborn Market, a 50-year-old family-owned business known for its fresh produce, is seen as a gourmet alternative to mainstream grocers. The company currently has locations in Livonia, Berkley, and Dearborn. The former Pursell Station at 760 Penniman St. in Plymouth would be renovated to become Westborn's fourth market.

The Malcolm family of Plymouth, known for their passion for historic preservation and downtown revitalization, purchased the post office and bargained a lease agreement with Westborn's owners, the Anusbigian family. The city will decide whether to grant the project's special requests at a meeting on March 5. Without approval, the project, which will create jobs and become a day and night traffic generator for downtown, would not be viable.

In their application to be reviewed at the meeting, the Malcolms say, "In addition to providing excellent new products and services for our community, Westborn is expected to provide a significant economic multiplier value and benefit for the general downtown area in the form of attracting customers throughout the day."

Source: city of Plymouth
Writer: Kim North Shine

B. Nektar Meadery to open a new tasting room in Ferndale

B. Nektar Meadery in Ferndale is expanding its tasting room, adding a whole new location in a second building not far from its production facility.

The meadery, which was founded in 2006 by friends and home brewers Brad Dahlhofer and Paul Zimmerman and Brad's wife Kerri, opened its doors for business in 2008. Demand for its mead, cider, and beer has increased yearly, and its tasting room, which is basically a tight space squeezed into the production area and its unfinished surroundings, has become popular with customers who want to have a mead together on site.

Construction is underway on the new and proper tap room, a 1,760-square-feet space that is expected to open in July. The new tasting room will have a hand-built 10-seat bar made of reclaimed and up-cycled barrel and pallet wood, as well as a kitchen to serve food.

When it opens, the production facility will be dedicated to brewing as the owners continue to expand their award-winning brews to other outlets and states.

Source: Brad Dahlhofer, co-founder B. Nektar Meadery
Writer: Kim North Shine

Saginaw Green pocket park planned for downtown Pontiac

A plan to transform a vacant lot in downtown Pontiac into a pocket park that will serve as a gathering spot for visitors is gaining momentum with the help of a recently launched crowdfunding campaign.

Fundraising for the the Saginaw Green project began last week. The proposed park is seen by organizers of the crowdfunding campaign as a complement to the development that is happening throughout Pontiac, especially on and around Saginaw, the city's main street.

The Downtown Pontiac Business Association is working the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and the Michigan Land Bank to develop the green space that will include a gazebo, a movie screen among winding paths and landscaping. Before the lot can be transformed $12,500 must be raised.

It comes as downtown is seeing new development and business, possibly as much as $70 million in the next few years.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Pontiac Downtown Business Association

 

Metro Detroit-owned ZIM's Vodka headed to out of state shelves

ZIM's Vodka, an award-winning potato vodka, created in metro Detroit and made in Poland, is expanding sales outside of Michigan.

As of January ZIM's, a gluten-free vodka made with Polish-grown potatoes in a 250-year-old Polish distillery using a recipe based on research conducted there, went on sell in Pennsylvania. In March, it goes on shelves in Illinois. Several other states are expected to follow.

The 2-year-old company founded by Grosse Pointer Terry Olson and run from offices in Warren is sold in more than 600 outlets across Michigan, top restaurants among them.

Throughout its existence the vodkas, an 81 proof and a 59 proof, have won awards and accolades around the world. Olson says ZIM's success shows it is more than a craft liquor "flash in the pan."

"We are really a Michigan owned and based spirits import company called The Rebel Spirits Group, LLC that makes traditional vodka products in Poland, the motherland of vodka," says Olson. "Unlike most, we import our own products back into the United States. We do not chase trends or fads which is why we never planned to deliver flavored vodkas, which are crashing and burning. We don’t do browns - whiskey, rye, bourbon, which is the latest trend. Even some brown makers are moving into flavors. Be careful and learn from the vodka flavor dotcom collapse."

Olson seems intent on skipping the gimmicks that currently accompany the craft distillery movement, choosing instead to let the product speak for itself.

"We don’t have a bar, restaurant or tasting room. We have six -pack cases of our internationally award winning vodkas. We continue to stick to our knitting by delivering a vodka that is coined the smoothest vodka on the planet." 

Source: Terry Olson, founder, ZIM's vodka
Writer: Kim North Shine

 

Advantage Health Centers opens behavioral medicine space in Warren

Advantage Health Centers of Detroit and Blue Cross Blue Shield have built a new heatlh care facility on the border of Warren and Detroit, part of a larger plan to treat substance abuse and mental illness among the uninsured and to improve the overall quality of life for the community.

The new Behavioral Health Space is located at 4669 East 8 Mile Road in Warren and with new staff and more room it expects to reach 30 percent more patients needing treatment for depression, substance abuse and other mental and behavioral health needs.

The development was supported with a $100,000 safety net grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Advantage Health Centers is a federally funded health care system that provides services to the uninsured and underinsured, including many homeless patients and military veterans.

It operates seven clinics, including dental care practices, in Detroit and in Warren. About 20,000 patients receive care for ailments that would go untreated or eventually waste emergency room time and space. Helping low-income people stay healthy gives them  the ability to work and be productive, says executive director Joseph Ferguson, and benefits metro Detroit and Michigan as a whole.

Source: Daniel Zemke, Maria DaSilva and Joseph Ferguson, Advantage Health Centers
Writer: Kim North Shine

Former Northville psych hospital to become massive commercial/public use space

After years of sitting dark and quiet, wasting way, the former psychiatric hospital in Northville Township is undergoing changes that will lead to a lively economic redevelopment that turns the 400-acre site into a walkable, shoppable, eatable, hang-outable, job-creatable project.

Part of the project at 7 Mile and Haggerty roads, known as Northville Park Place, covers about 82 acres, and is being developed by Livonia-based Schostak and its Team Schostak Family Restaurants. A large portion is a public park, walking trails and other amenities that will give visitors a variety of things to do and also connect some locals to their neighborhoods via a trail system. The main hospital and other buildings have yet to be demolished, but the development is proceeding.

As the retail and commercial portion of the project enters phase 2, several restaurants and retailers have signed leases to open. They include Tom + Chee, a specialty grilled cheese restaurant; Mediterranean eatery, Red Olive, North Dakota-based Granite City, Seattle-based MOD Pizza, BurgerFi, Chipotle, Jimmy John's are signed leases previously.

Several stores are also signed on. Phase 1 was the 100,000-square-foot University of Michigan Northville Health Center.

The final phase will be the public space that will also feature water falls, a pond, bike trails and outdoor seating.

The re-use of the land was a source of debate for years in the township as several plans and promises were made and broken and red tape for the former state-owned property dragged out a re-use of the prominent piece of land.

Source: Jennifer Frey, director of community development, Northville Township
Writer: Kim North Shine

Cardiologist, successful chef and author behind GreenSpace Cafe in Ferndale

Construction and hiring are underway for a downtown Ferndale restaurant that plans to offer a menu that pleases the palate without hindering good health.

GreenSpace Cafe is expected to open in March at 215 W. 9 Mile Road.

The cafe is the brainchild of restaurateur Daniel Kahn, cardiologist and heart health author, Dr. Joel Kahn. George Vutetakis, chef, healthy eating author and former proprietor of the long successful Inn Season vegetarian restaurant in Royal Oak is developing the menu, which will be plant based and oil free. He is known as the Vegetarian Guy and is director of product research and development at Ferndale-based Garden Fresh Gourmet. Dr. Kahn is a vegan and author of books about the benefits and implementation of plant-based eating.

The 1,700-square-foot restaurant will seat about 60 inside and about 40 on an expanded patio. The renovations are transforming the space that was Maria's Fine Italian Dining into a relaxed, rustic style eatery in the heart of downtown.

Daniel Kahn hopes not only to attract vegetarians and vegans who don't limited quality options for dining out in metro Detroit as well as meat eaters who may be looking to improve the way they eat and discover a plant-based diet does not equal deprivation.

Source: Daniel Kahn, owner, GreenSpace Cafe
Writer: Kim North Shine

Sea Life Aquarium ups metro Detroit's tourist draw

More than 5,000 sea creatures, from sharks and stingrays to octopi and jellyfish, have settled in to their new home inside a Auburn Hills shopping mall as opening day for the Sea Life Aquarium arrives.
 
Sea Life Michigan, which is owned by United Kingdom-based Merlin Entertainments, opens today inside a massively overhauled space that was previously a Gameworks.

The attraction at Great Lakes Crossing is expected to draw tourists from across the region and become a new thing to do for families and lover of ocean life, who will find an interactive touchpool, animal feedings, presentations from ocean life experts and more than 30 other tanks. Freshwater fish are part of Sea Life Michigan and will be a part of a Great Lakes education component.

Sea Life is also expected to be a destination for school field trips and other educational endeavors. With its combination of fun, education and conservation/rescue it is expected to be a boon for the mall as a whole and for nearby hotels.

Sea Life Michigan is one of eight U.S. locations and dozens more worldwide.

Source: Steve Berlow, general manager, Great Lakes Crossing
Writer: Kim North Shine
 
 

Pet spa and boutique caters to pet lovers in downtown Plymouth

A new pet spa and boutique celebrated its grand opening in downtown Plymouth

Britt's Bow Wow Boutique & Spa at 550 Forest Ave. also provides doggie day care, and since it's official opening a few months the furry clientele has continued to build.

The new business moved into a closed yarn shop after major renovations were completed to add tubs, showers, grooming areas and retail space.

It is located in the Westchester Square shopping and office development and is next door, ideally, to Three Dog Bakery.

Source: Plymouth Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Juice Bar business added to fitness studio in downtown Ferndale

The owners of two health-and-fitness focused businesses are operating under one roof in downtown Ferndale as a way to tap into one another's clients by offering them more products and services.

The grand opening of Pure Juice Bar & Cafe is being celebrated this Friday. It shares its space at 23440 Woodward Ave. with TV Fitness, a workout studio that offers personal training and trainer-assisted workouts with popular TV and DVD exercise routines.

Pure Juice Bar & Cafe serves fresh juices, smoothies, fruits, vegetables and light meals in the cafe or for takeaway. It also is a source for drinks and education for clients on cleanses.

Its counter with bar stools and a small seating area with tables and chairs take up part of the lobby at TV Fitness, which has a gym and workout space behind glass partition off the lobby.

TV Fitness owners and brothers Ryan and Earl Carruthers see the two businesses as natural complements.Friday's grand opening will double as a health expo with TV Fitness hosting an open house while Pure Juice cuts the ribbon on its business opening.

Source: Ryan and Earl Carruthers
Writer: Kim North Shine

M1 MRI Center brings latest tech to $700K facility in Berkley

The M1 Imaging Center, which operates from a $700,000 facility in Berkley, is the only MRI center in the state to hold a license for a weight-bearing imaging device that was developed by NASA and is used to treat chronic back, neck, leg and knee pain.

The owners of M1, one a radiologist, the other a health care administrator, combined their expertise to open the MRI center inside a 75-year-old, 3,000-square-foot former Henderson Glass at 27501 Woodward Ave.

The center offers several forms of MRI, and the latest, the DynaWell L-Spine, is non-invasive and allows patients to stand and bear weight during MRI in for more accurate diagnoses, and potentially, more effective treatment plans.

It is one of several services and technologically-advanced tools offered by M1 to patients and doctors in southeast Michigan, some of them available only at M1.

“By simulating gravity on the lumbar spine through the compression device, we can make a more comprehensive diagnosis than an MRI that does not offer weight-bearing images,” says Joshua Katke, the health care administrator who owns M1 with muscoskeletal neuroradiologist, Dr. Chintan Desai.“What we see may be the difference between conservative treatment and surgery. Weight-bearing MRI will not create a false positive or worse condition of spinal stenosis when there isn’t one but rather will be the first to detect a previously under-diagnosed condition.”

Source: Lynne Golodner, Your People LLC
Writer: Kim North Shine

Indie film destination Maple Theater renovates, adds second location

The Maple Theater in Bloomfield Hills is undergoing a second round of renovations and bringing on a partner theater, The Riviera, which is scheduled to open in Farmington Hills in May.

The Maple, which was built in 1977 and eventually made the best of being too small to show most large run commercial films by featuring independent films, will have a larger lobby and lounge to add to the comfort of patrons. The renovations are expected to be completed by April.

The theater, which is operated by Cloud Nine Partners LLC, was renovated to add a coffee bar and cafe in 2012, when Cloud Nine bought the three-screen theater from Landmark Theaters. The theater will remain fully operational during renovations.

In the meantime, construction will begin Feb. 1 on The Riviera at 9 Mile Road west of Middlebelt in Farmington Hills.

"We're very excited about this," says Ruth Daniels of Cloud Nine. "Michigan is a wonderful state for movie-going. It actually has more independent theaters than most states. And let's face it who doesn't love something new and updated."

The Riviera, which is owned in partnership by Cloud 9 and Dipson Theaters, an operator eight movie theaters in Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania, will have nine screens and a screening room for private parties and corporate events.
Dipson operates the theater that will be replaced by The Riviera. The existing theater closes at the end of the month.

Birmingham design firm, Ron and Roman, will design the new theater, which will reelect a luxury feel, a cocktail lounge, specialty food menu and premium comfort, convenience and technology. Ron & Roman is also redesigning the Maple Theater.

"It will be a very drastic change," Daniels says of the changes happening at the movie theater that will become The Riviera. "A movie is all about the experience and we want to give the best possible movie-going experience. I go across the country and see some of the amazing things people are doing with theaters," she says. " This is going to be amazing."

Source: Ruth Daniels, Cloud Nine Partners LLC
Writer: Kim North Shine
 

Lincoln Park Lofts ready for downtown residents and retailers

A former movie theater and adult club on Lincoln Park's main street are gone and in their place is a new residential loft and retail development.

The grand opening of Lincoln Park Lofts on Fort Street at O'Connor is being celebrated Jan. 15.

The project headed by the Wayne Metro Community Action Agency is a mix of historic rehab and new construction and is meant to offer affordable housing and retail space in place of the historic vacant Park Theater, which was a family draw before closing in the 70s. In the 80s it became the Hustler adult club until closing in 2008.

The facade and marquee of the theater were saved and incorporated into the new development. The marquee is expected to be restored and re-lit eventually. Inside the former theater construction is nearing completion on 12 residential lofts. On the ground floor are two 1,200-square-foot retail spaces. Behind the former theater is a new building that houses 24 condos with ground level parking. The condos are fully occupied.

"We are thrilled to have the Lincoln park lofts opening in our downtown. This is a project that has been a long time coming," says Madhu Oberoi, executive director of the city's downtown development authority.

The project has been in development since at least 2009, when developer Louis Piszker, CEO of Wayne Metro Community Action Agency, told metromode, "It will stand out as an exciting entry point to downtown Lincoln Park. "We're looking at this project as a seed or catalyst to revitalize the downtown of the city."

Today, Oberoi says his prediction holds true even as local preservationists fight plans to demolish a 1920s-era dime store just down the street from the lofts. The Neisner dime store would be replaced with a Save A Lot grocer.

"This will provide a 24/7 resident population in the downtown which is extremely important for downtowns to survive," says Oberoi. "This is expected to generate walkable activity and need for support services to serve the downtown...Hopefully this project will provide a catalyst for other retail type businesses to locate in the downtown."

Source: Madhu Oberoi, executive director, Lincoln Park Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine


 

Vodka, gin distillery, tastng room planned for Royal Oak

Royal Oak may soon be home to small distillery and tasting room. Five Lakes Distillery received a small distiller license from the city commission this week, paving the way for owners Craig Schlicht and Keith Reid to make vodka, initially, and then, eventually, gin from a small space at 4320 Rochester Road.

The plan is to produce vodka on site, 90 percent of it for distribution, 10 percent on site for the weekend-only tasting room, which will take up 190 square feet of the 855-square-foot facility.

The owners have a permit to produce up to 60,000 gallons of spirits per year, says Todd Fenton, the city's manager of economic development, but as of now they expect to produce closer to 6,000 gallons.

No opening date has been set as other city permits are still required. If successful, Five Lakes could join metro-Detroit-made spirits success stories such as Valentine Vodka in Ferndale, Hard Luck Candy Vodka in St. Clair Shores, Griffin Claw Brewing Co. in Birmingham and Zim's Vodka based in Warren.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Todd Fenton, economic development manager, city of Royal Oak

 
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