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Grosse Pointe trolley organizers want riders to heart GP

A new trolley is criss-crossing the Grosse Pointes, taking customers to and from local businesses on weekends.

Last week, the first week of operation, showed interest was high with 115 riders hopping the train Friday night and 550 riding Saturday during its 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. service.

The Grosse Pointe Chamber of Commerce and two nonprofits, the Richard and Jane Manoogian Foundation and Paul and Carol Schaap's Urban Renewal Initiative Foundation, are behind a trial run of the trolley that would go through the end of the year.

The old-fashioned trolley runs up and down Kercheval Avenue between Maryland and Moross. It stops in Grosse Pointe Park, where an old business district is seeing several new business openings, goes through the Village in the city of Grosse Pointe's downtown area, and up to The Hill business district in Grosse Pointe Farms. If the trolley is a success it could expand to much busier Mack Avenue.

The free service is part of the larger "I heart GP" initiative, says Grosse Pointe Chamber president Jennifer Boettcher.

"The philosophy behind the trolley service, K-Line, coincides with another chamber initiative called “I heart GP” that's encouraging residents to put their money where their hearts are - Grosse Pointe," she says.

Soon, she says, "I heart GP" banners will hang from light posts throughout the business communities and on Vernier and Lake Shore roads "as a reminder to the residents to think local first."

Promoting business isn't all the trolley service is about.

"The best part was the camaraderie," says Boettcher, who rode the trolley on its maiden voyage weekend. "Everyone was laughing and talking like one big family."

Source: Jennifer Boettcher, president Grosse Pointe Chamber of Commerce, executive director, Grosse Pointe Foundation
Writer: Kim North Shine

 

Cooley Law School's building ranks as one of world's most impressive

A rainwater harvesting system, a green roof, low flow plumbing and other eco-focused features has landed Cooley Law School in Auburn Hills on the list of the most impressive law school buildings in the world.

Best Choice Schools' independent ranking put Cooley, which has undergone major renovation and a 64,000-square-foot addition, at #35 out of 50 law schools. Architects and engineers from Rockford Construction and SHW Group designed the building.

Cooley's building on its Auburn Hills campus at 2630 Featherstone Road is a LEED silver certified facility that was constructed with sustainability at the fore. "Building architects sought to maximize light and air flow throughout the structure with large windows and open spaces," according to Best Choice Schools.

Cooley is the fourth law school in the U.S. to be LEED certified.

Source: Tyler Lecceadone, spokesperson, Cooley Law School, Auburn Hills
Writer: Kim North Shine

 

Farmington Road next big downtown development project

A rebuild of Farmington Road is the next big project to make downtown Farmington into an inviting place for businesses and customers alike.

Annette Knowles, executive director of the Farmington Downtown Development Authority, says the new Farmington Road streetscape will spruce up the the city's main thoroughfare, make it easier to travel and reach businesses, whether by car of foot and, ideally, help local businesses grow and attract new clientele.

One goal of the rebuild is to give restaurants more sidewalk space for outdoor seating.

"We've got our work cut out for us," Knowles says, "but next year we hope to be starting construction."

The project is largely funded by federal grants through the state and will require local, state and federal approvals of the construction plan, which is being drawn up by OHM Advisors and Grissim Metz Andriese Associates.

The Farmington Road streetscape comes on the heels of of the rebuild of Groves Street, a major makeover of a tired shopping center there and the redesign of Riley Park, a downtown gathering spot.

"We're not resting on our laurels or closing the book," Knowles says. "There's always something that needs attention. That's kind of challenge for any community.

"We are providing all of these investments into the downtown to keep us positioned to businesses that need to grow or are looking for attractiveness for relocation."

Source: Annette Knowles, executive director, Farmington Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Stray Cat Lounge gets second life in Clinton Twp.

After a 12-year-run in Grosse Pointe Woods, Robusto's Martini Lounge has reopened as the Stray Cat Lounge in Clinton Township.

The Stray Cat Lounge still serves martinis and sells cigars and features local bands, but is bigger and redesigned with an emphasis on modern and swanky.

The move to 40813 Garfield Road puts the business in a more central location and lets it offer private party space and catering.

The new business, bigger with a refocused beer and drink menu, carries on the owners' love of local music, cigars and luxury.
There are still humidors and cigar lockers, specialty cocktails, big screen TVs and a stage for changing local music and the addition of more Michigan-made beers and liquors.

Source: Stray Cat Lounge
Writer: Kim North Shine

$22 million Neuroscience Center opens at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak

The first freestanding building to go up on the campus of Beaumont Hospital's Royal Oak campus in more than a decade opened this week.

The three-story, 80,000-square-foot, $22-million Neuroscience Center will give pediatric and adult patients one point of access for the diagnosis and treatment of neurological conditions.

The center was built in anticipation of a growing population of patients 65 and older. The number is expected to double to 72.1 million by 2030. Pediatric patients will also be a focus of the center.

The Neuroscience Center will offer high-tech conference rooms that allow physicians and clinicians to collaborate on patient care, advanced equipment for diagnosis and treatment, rooms designed for comfort and privacy, and more.

There are 11 clinics within the center, including the Ian Jackson Craniofacial Clinic, a pediatric and adult epilepsy clinic, clinics for stroke, spinal, and brain tumors, neuro-oncology, concussion, aneurysm, Parkinson's Disease and others.

The center was developed by Royal Oak-based T.H. Marsh Construction and designed by HKS Architects of Northville.

Source: Angela Blazevski, spokesperson, Beaumont Hospital Royal Oak
Writer: Kim North Shine

Farmington Brewing Co. builds downtown house of suds

Renovations are underway for a brewery that's coming to Grand River Avenue in downtown Farmington.

Farmington Brewing Co. will open, possibly in September, at 33336 Grand River in a space previously occupied by a coffee shop. The renovations of the 1,600-square-foot space will make room for beer-making barrels and a bar that runs the length of half the space.

Four, five-barrel fermenters (a barrel is equal to two kegs) will be just behind be the bar and be the focal point of the room.

"Our equipment will be directly behind our bar. We think it adds to the ambiance of the space to have all the equipment there. We will not be brewing during serving hours, but customers will see where we do the work," says Jason Hendricks, partner in Farmington Brewing Co. with Jason Schlaff and his father Gary Schlaff.

Hendricks and Jason Schlaff started home-brewing beer about five years ago, says Hendricks.

The two are environmental scientists and chemists, while Gary Schlaff works in marketing for a TV station.

"We started out as home brewers and began experimenting more and more and developing the recipes of beer we like to drink," Hendricks says. "As friends and family started to enjoy it along with us we decided to expand our horizons."

"It's something we love to do," he says. "We figure if you do what you love you never work a day in your life."

Farmington Brewing Co. will not serve food. It will instead partner with local restaurants to deliver food to its guests who want a meal to go with their beer. Nearby restaurant menus will be kept on hand and delivery will be made quick and easy by Farmington Brewing Co. employees.

Opening day hinges on regulatory approvals, mostly, says Hendricks, but the target date is mid-September.

The opening is much anticipated by locals, says Annette Knowles, executive director of the Farmington Downtown Development Authority. She hopes the brewers can be a part of the city's annual Harvest Moon Festival.

Facebook posters regularly ask when it's coming and say they can't wait.

It is located across the street from the Grove Street redevelopment that is remaking a tired strip mall into a more attractive retail district for new businesses.

Source: Jason Hendricks, co owner, Farmington Brewing Co.
Writer: Kim North Shine

Advantage Health Centers unveils mural at newest clinic in Warren

A community healthcare practice that treats low-income, uninsured, underinsured and homeless patients is brightening up its clinic in Warren with a mural that tells the story of what community health care means to people with little or no access to doctors, dentists or mental health treatment.

The mural at Advantage Family Health in Warren -- the newest of the federally-funded practices operated by Advantage Health Centers -- is being unveiled this week during a presentation that includes video interviews with patients and employees. The interviews were compiled in January and February, about a month after Advantage moved one of its Detroit clinics into a renovated warehouse in Warren. The interviews with patients -- new ones and old ones who followed the clinic from Detroit -- were interpreted by a storyteller and then made into the mural by an artist, says Joseph Ferguson, executive director of Advantage Health Centers.

"The mural depicts the community's feelings about our role in their lives," says Ferguson, adding that community health clinics such as his and others that serve some 170,000 patients in greater Wayne County are preventing the over and unnecessary use of emergency rooms and are also giving care that leads patients to be healthy enough to work: "to be productive again."

The mural decorates the lobby of the clinic on 8 Mile Road, and the artwork will also appear in patient education materials. It was made possible by a $35,000 grant from the Kresge Foundation through its Health and Arts & Culture Healing Spaces initiative.

A mural that already decorates the clinic's community room was paid for by the Kellogg Foundation.

Advantage Health Centers operates seven practices, Warren being the newest. Its other clinics are located in Detroit and are seeing increases in patient numbers. AHC is hiring, and has added several employees to its staff in recent months as it works to complete community outreach and provide education in neighborhoods used to relying on the emergency room as their primary form of medical care. Dental care and behavioral health care are also offered to adult and pediatric patients through Advantage Health's clinics and practices. Outreach workers are also teaching patients how to use the Affordable Health Care Act and the Healthy Michigan program to find appropriate and affordable health care rather than using hospitals they can't pay or forgoing medical care until treatment becomes more costly and taken on by hospitals.

Since 2008, Ferguson says, the number of patients has increased from about 8,000 to more than 20,000. By the end of the year, that number will be up to 25,000 or 26,000, he says.

The Health Centers originally started in 1986 and targeted the homeless and veterans due to the high number of homeless vets. Eventually it grew to also serve uninsured, underinsured and neighborhoods with little or no access to doctors.

Source: Joseph Ferguson, executive director, Advantage Health Centers
Writer: Kim North Shine

Rockefeller's to bring oysters and music back to Grosse Pointe Park

The former Tom's Oyster Bar in Grosse Pointe Park is re-opening under new owners as Rockefeller's and bringing back the oysters and music that once made the spot a local favorite.

The owners of Rockefeller's are renovating and hiring as they prepare for opening day. An opening day announcement is pending, says co-owner Rhapsody Dearing.

The corner location at 15042 Mack Avenue has Grosse Pointe Park on one side and Detroit on the other. The interior features a large bar with room for a piano and dining rooms that can seat up to 100.

Source: Rhapsody Dearing, owner, Rockefeller's
Writer: Kim North Shine

Wine-inspired art studio opens in Clarkston

After a career as an accountant, new entrepreneur Leanna Haun decided to let her inner artist out and start a painting party business. Earlier this month she opened Picasso's Grapevine in downtown Clarkston.

Since opening at 12 S. Main St. dozens of customers have walked out with artwork they never thought they'd create.

“My biggest challenge is convincing people they can create beautiful artwork. At the end of the session our guests are really impressed with themselves,” says Haun, who has seen repeat business.

While making art is the focus, there is an emphasis on BYOB as a way to stimulate the fun and get the creative juices flowing. It's not a new concept, but it's a first for Clarkston. Originally the city council rejected the business.

Her staff of artists teach students individually, and they can also host parties in public places and private locations. Picasso's Grapevine (a play on the Spanish artist plus wine grapes) also hosts nonprofits as a way for them to raise funds. Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.

Haun, a 1996 Walsh College Business grad, got the push to start her own business after receiving a postcard from her alma mater just about the time she was thinking of swapping in her accountant's job for self-employment.

Walsh's Blackstone LaunchPad  gave business advice, guided her through business model essentials, space location and leasing, copyrights, search engine optimization and more. It also helped her avoid opening her business in a downtown where three similar businesses were operating or were soon to open.

Source: Leanna Haun, owner, Picasso's Grapevine
Writer: Kim North Shine

Re-do of Riley Park improves downtown Farmington gathering spot

Riley Park in downtown Farmington is in the final stages of a redesign that will make it more useful and better equipped to handle the crowds and traffic it pulls for downtown events.

The redesign brings in more sidewalks, paved pathways and a decorative and practical paved compass rose and will also save money on the replacement of grass after busy spring and summer events such as concerts, artists markets and storytimes.

The improvements to Riley Park, which was designed about 10 years ago as more of a passive park than an active one, were brought on by the addition of an ice skating rink last winter. The redesign will allow for an easy transfer from winter use to summer use.

"We had to provide some improvements so the park could accept the ice rink every year," says Annette Knowles, executive director of the Farmington Downtown Development Authority. "We always looked at it as an opportunity to re-examine our uses for the park throughout the year."

"Ten years ago, since the park was designed, the uses have changed and are much more intense than what the park was designed for."

Source: Annette Knowles, executive director, Farmington DDA
Writer: Kim North Shine

 

La Sultana dishes out Mexican treats in Lincoln Park

A Mexican ice cream, slushy, popsicle and fast food stand has opened in Lincoln Park, the latest of the Mexican-influenced food businesses in the city.

La Sultana Paleteria y Neveria sells traditional Mexican aguas frescas in flavors such as horchata, lemon, strawberry, and melon as well as classics such as stuffed pineapple, mango, strawberries with cream and other Mexican favorites.

While cold and frozen treats are the focus, La Sultana also sells quick foods such as elote en vaso (corn in a cup), and tostilocos, a bag of corn or tortilla chips sliced open and filled with jicama, salsa and other toppings.

The owners opened the small dining room and takeout spot at 1635 Fort Street  earlier this month.

Source: La Sultana Paleteria y Neveria
Writer: Kim North Shine

M-1 Brew in Ferndale is all Michigan, all the time

Longtime Ferndale business owner and activist Dean Bach has turned a vacant VFW hall into a new business he hopes will appeal to lovers and supporters of Michigan-made and grown food, drink and products.

Bach, the owner of Ferndale mainstay Dino's Lounge, renovated the space into his vision of an Up North cottage.

His new M-Brew at 177 Vester St. in downtown Ferndale is cottage on the outside with a wraparound porch and clapboard siding and Up North gas station on the inside, where "guests can stop by for one thing and leave with much more when they discover an array of Michigan-made product to eat, wear or display at home."

The focus of M-Brew is the M, as in Michigan, and on offering only food, drink and products made across the state.

“We live in a great state with great assets and lots of quality products,” says Bach, who is host of the Rib Burn Off fundraiser for the Blues Festival and chairman of the board for the Ferndale Downtown Development Authority.

“From the beginning we decided that M-Brew was going to be entirely Michigan-based -- from the beer that we pour to the food that we serve.” He adds, “With the stuff our state grows and produces, it was kind of a no-brainer.”

M-Brew will serve at least two kinds of brew, its own privately labeled coffee and root beer, and beers from Michigan breweries such as Shorts, Atwater, Founders, MI, Perrin and Liberty Street. Up to 30 craft beer taps are a part of the cozy feel of M-Brew, which has knotty pine paneling and a stone-clad fireplace. To-go beer growlers are a special feature of M-Brew as is stay-in fun in the basement, where there are pinball machines, video games and shuffleboard.

On the food front, M-Brew will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner from a grab & go display to entrees and snacks for eating in or carrying out. Pinconning Pizza, Bruce Crossing Pasties, Garden Fresh Salsa and chips, Smokin' Butts BBQ, Sanders hot fudge, chips and snacks from Traverse City, and dried cherries represent food made in cities across Michigan.

A still-to-come outdoor fire pit will give off the kick-up-your-feet Up North vibe.

The official opening day is Aug. 1, but a soft opening began about two weeks ago.

"Michigan has great products year round, whether it is something to eat or something cool to own. We will be bringing in more carefully selected items as we get up and running,” Bach says. “Beyond that, supporting Michigan-made means your dollars stay in Michigan and help support our comeback economy. We’ve supported local all along, but as the economy gets better -- especially as it gets better -- we can’t lose sight of continuing to support local. It needs to be what we do.”

Source: Dean Bach, owner M-Brew and Dino's Lounge
Writer: Kim North Shine

More parks and recreation coming to Novi

The city of Novi will receive $50,000 a year for five years to develop city parks and recreation programs and take steps toward building Oakland County's first system of greenways trails connecting parks.

The $250,000 comes from Novi-based ITC Holdings, which has previously committed other funds to enhance services in the city where its world headquarters are located. ITC, International Transmission Company, is the nation's largest independent electricity transmission provider.

The donation to the city and the Novi Parks Foundation also comes with an approval to extend ITC's naming rights to the ITC Community Sports Park until 2018.

With the latest $250,000 commitment, ITC's commitments to the city add up to $750,000.

Part of the donation will cover signage at the sports park and at a trailhead that will follow ITC's transmission corridor, which will become open to the public.

In addition, the donation may help cover the cost of a dog park, spray park, playgrounds, sports turf and other projects as well as carry out the foundation's vision to become the first Oakland County community to connect all of its parks to a system of trails.

Source: David Landry, Novi Parks Foundation
Writer: Kim North Shine


 

Karma Yoga stretches into second studio in W. Bloomfield

When Katherine Austin founded Karma Yoga 11 years ago in Bloomfield Hills, yoga hadn't taken off in metro Detroit.

In the intervening years, as other studios opened and national chains came to town, she built hers into a spiritual-based and customized practice that now has 3,200 clients coming through each month. About 25 teachers lead a variety of yoga, meditation and other classes that start at 4 a.m. A staff of 11 help run the desk and administrative parts of the business.

Austin has done it all from the fairly tight confines of a 1,500-square-foot space on Maple Road and Lahser. The size of the studio was something some clients never let her forget.

"People kept saying, 'You need a bigger space. You need a bigger space,'" she says, laughing.

Those who implored her to go bigger can now say namaste.

Austin is expanding into a second studio on Orchard Lake Road in West Bloomfield. At 3,600 square feet, it's more than twice the size of the original studio and will allow Karma to grow its more specialized client base such as veterans and breast cancer survivors.  It is expected to open in January at 6710 Orchard Lake Road, if all goes well, she says. There will be a formal grand opening in April.

The space will also have room for its regular yoga, which includes bodywork, Ayurvedic and meditation, and will host community events such as concerts, workshops and retreats.

"We will finally have room to do everything we want to do at the same time," says Austin, who's taught yoga for more than 20 years and weaves her knowledge into client field trips to India.

She says the new location, which she had been searching for for two to three years, really is karmic. Finding a place wasn't easy, mainly because her business is "parking intensive" and building managers and owners weren't fond of that. Or places she was offered didn't have the "light and energy" she needed for a yoga studio.

"It all fell into place very auspiciously," she says. "Where we ended up was really where we were meant to be."

For one, the studio is the same one where she and some of her teachers attended and taught. The experience was "like going home," she says.

And when she began visiting and getting to know neighboring business owners, she says, "They were amazing."

One, the owner of Be Free, a yoga and activewear boutique, will open her store, starting in September, to Karma Yoga's pop-up classes until the permanent studio is ready for business. Another, a new Indian grocer and carryout, is "just the kind of place we all want to go."

Most importantly, she says, she is touched by the chance to counsel more people in leading healthy and positive lives.

"This looks like a yoga class. What I'm really doing is training light leaders. What we want to teach people is when you go home to your family, to your job, we want you to elevate the people you're around, to be the light," she says. "This is not stretch class. We're doing a lot more there than you think."

Austin blogged about "Why Yoga Is Flourishing in Metro Detroit" a few years back. Read it here.

Source: Katherine Austin, owner, Karma Yoga
Writer: Kim North Shine

Cornwall Bakery ready to fire up ovens in Grosse Pointe Park

A Grosse Pointe Park bakery that never opened, its beautiful facade and luxe wing back chairs inside beckoning customers it would never serve, is a few weeks away from firing up the ovens and turning on the mixers now that a new owner has taken over.

The opening of chef and baker Freeman Gunnell's vision, Cornwall Bakery, will add to the growing food scene in this lakeside community.

Cornwall is a bakery and restaurant that will bake breads and pastries, serve breakfast, coffee, sandwiches and salads, and an assortment of sweet takeaways. Eventually it will offer packaged to-go dinners and changing dishes as customers dictate.

It is expected to open in three to four weeks, Gunnell says. It's located at 15215 Kercheval Avenue, in the spot that was close to opening about a year ago as Bona Fide Bakery but never did. Bona Fide was the brainchild of restaurateur Mindy Lopus of Tallulah in Birmingham and Red Crown in Grosse Pointe. Lopus, who wanted Bona Fide to be a fine bread baker for Red Crown and other restaurants and stores, as well as a coffee shop, no longer runs the establishments.

Cornwall also expects to build a strong business in cake orders; it is in product development, i.e. taste-testing, at the moment.

Lopus's departure left a shell of a bakery that chef and baker Gunnell inherited after striking a deal with building owners and Grosse Pointe boosters the Cotton family, which is responsible for creating or funding several new businesses and projects to improve Grosse Pointe Park's commercial stretch on Kercheval Avenue near the border of Detroit. They also are working to improve the surrounding neighborhood, and Gunnell says they made becoming the proprietor of Cornwall much easier.

"They're really willing to help us do it," he says. "I'm not saying other landlords haven't been good to deal with, but with the Cottons there are obviously more resources to help." For example, they painted the facade a dark, naval-inspired shade of blue that fits with the Cornwall theme. The name comes from the English town on the water, and it's Gunnell's ancestral homeland.

Gunnell and his wife, who moved from Royal Oak to Grosse Pointe Park to be near the business and support the Cottons' vision of building up The Park business district, are in the process of hiring, renovating and adding equipment to the kitchen to take it beyond a bakery.

Gunnell, a longtime chef who honed his trade at establishments such as Da Eduardo in Grosse Pointe, the Rattlesnake Club in Detroit, Holiday Market in Royal Oak, Chamberlain Bakery and Whole Foods, where he baked bread, has carved out a side career in cooking classes and catering, and as time went on demand for his cakes grew and grew.

The interest in cakes is why the new Cornwall will have a window on the cake decorating room. "You can watch the decorating while it's being done. It adds a bit of theatrics to the bakery, something interesting,"  says Gunnell, who also teaches cooking at the Birmingham Community Center.

He had planned to open a bakery in Birmingham's booming rail district, but the deal fell through, and then Gunnell's equipment provider told him about a great vacant spot in the Park.

Gunnell is also bringing in a display case and has talked with Red Crown about working together. He would also like to partner with the recently opened Atwater Brewery and biergarten across the street.

He believes the bakery will be a nice fit for the community, starting with the British-influenced name that fits in with the Park's street names. He chose the name to honor his heritage and because the seaside theme suited a town known for its love of things nautical.

"My wife and I are so excited to be here," says Gunnell, who has just interviewed a prospective employee for one of several positions he needs filled. "We want to live here and be close to the action."

Source: Freeman Gunnell, owner, Cornwall Bakery
Writer: Kim North Shine
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