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Birmingham Wine retailer opens in downtown Birmingham

Parking, the puzzler for so many downtowns, has sent one Ferndale business owner to downtown Birmingham to run his wine business.

Ed Bosse, the owner of the now-closed Winezilla in downtown Ferndale, has reopened as Birmingham Wine in a downtown he sees as barrier-free when it comes to parking for his customers.

"I feel the meter stations are a great disservice to retailers, landlords and in the end the citizens," Bosse says. "I wasn't fully aware of how quickly and drastically it had affected our business until I looked at sales figures," he says. Winezilla was in business about 18 months.

Bosse's wine business is focused on making wine accessible to all by offering affordable, quality wines and a free wine education to his customers. He prides himself on stocking an eclectic mix of wines and seeks out chemical-free, organic and rare finds. He also sells higher-priced wines for those looking for rare varietals.

Birmingham Wine is located in the city's Market area at 588 North Old Woodward and offers plentiful, easy-to-use parking. He says he hopes Ferndale will rethink the system before other retailers follows in his footsteps.

Source: Ed Bosse, owner, Birmingham Wine
Writer: Kim North Shine

Downtown Birmingham attracts national retailer West Elm

West Elm, the national furniture retailer based in Brooklyn, New York, is opening its first Michigan store in Birmingham in the fall of 2014.

At the same time, the nearly 12-year-old company that's owned by Williams Sonoma and is a sister to Pottery Barn will open its first European store in London.

West Elm's move to a prominent 10,000-square-foot spot on Maple in Birmingham is another score for the city's Principal Shopping District and its recruiters who are looking for the sweet spot mix of big nationals and small business to fill out downtown.

The new store will replace the space that years ago was Harmony House, then the men's store, Structure, and most recently, upscale women's boutique Lexi Drew.

West Elm, known for modern and natural furnishings and home decor at  mid-line price points, has about 60 stores in the U.S., Canada and Australia.

West Elm's move into Birmingham would bring the downtown's retail occupancy to 98 percent, says John Heiney, executive director of the Principal Shopping District.

Source: Principal Shopping District
Writer: Kim North Shine

Arab-American youth focus of Oakland U nursing school grant

A grant awarded to Oakland University's School of Nursing will test the effectiveness of community health education of Arab-American youth.

A nearly $80,000 grant from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation will pay for a program that will pair Arab-American students from Dearborn with teen mentors who guide them through healthy eating and lifestyles. The students' responses, lifestyle changes and health will be compared to the effects of similar lessons given to them by teachers in a classroom setting. The effect of parental involvement will also be measured.

The grant is part of BCBS Foundation's program called Improving Health Behaviors in Arab American Youth.

“This project has a special emphasis on obesity prevention and is targeted at reducing the number of chronic illnesses for young Arab Americans,” says Dr. Suha Kridli, the grant’s principal investigator. “We are going to offer specific guidance and provide practical tools that can improve students' overall health while lowering health care costs."

Dr. Kridl says Type 2 diabetes and obesity in Arab-American youth is increasing, while preventive programs are not.

The program begins this month in Dearborn, where the largest concentration of Arab-Americans in the U.S. live, and will be administered in partnership with Wayne State University, Dearborn Public Schools and the Dearborn Board of Education.

Sources: Brian Bierley and Suha Kridli, Oakland University
Writer: Kim North Shine

The Rendezvous With Tea opens in Grosse Pointe Woods

Jars and jars of tea leaves and all sorts of tea accoutrements make up the aromatic and colorful decor and merchandise at The Rendezvous With Tea in Grosse Pointe Woods.

The store opened several weeks ago on busy Mack Avenue near Vernier (8 Mile  Raod) and is seeing locals and destination shoppers looking for a taste of teas from around the world and closer to home.

The tea-loving owner, Naszreen Gibson, sells nearly 200 varieties of loose teas mostly from Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Indonesia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and the Far East and more then 50 flavors of tea bags in sachets, pyramids and cloth bags. Tea pots and tea ware made of porcelain, cast iron, stainless steal and ceramic are also available.

One thing not for sale is the owner's signed copy of the New Tea Lovers' Treasury. Author and tea authority James Norwood Pratt visited The Rendezvous With Tea recently and says the shop is "a dream come true brought to Grosse Pointe Woods by a tea visionary to challenge and inspire any seeker of excellence. Be wise and stay healthy: Let Naszreen make you love tea too."

Source: Naszreen Gibson, owner, The Rendezvous With Tea
Writer: Kim North Shine

Lincoln Park plans public space, pavilion downtown

Vacant land in downtown Lincoln Park, the subject of debate and discussion now for at least five years, may become a public event space and pavilion.

The Lincoln Park Downtown Development Authority plans to hire a consultant to draw up a blueprint for a re-use of the spot on Fort Street. The location is seen as a prime one for attracting visitors to downtown for fun, eating and shopping.

The DDA owns the vacant land, part of it occupied by the Dorsey Building at 1673 Fort Street. The building is in disrepair and needs to be demolished. The vacant lots next the building are also owned by the DDA, which had that land cleared when the historic Mellus Newspapers Building could not be saved. The other building has also been demolished.

This long process has paved the way for a park and public gathering space. The DDA's executive director, Madhu Oberoi, says a meeting held this week to discuss a public use plan for the property was well attended by residents and business owners.

"We got great responses. The consensus was that the public space was a great idea and the covered pavilion/gazebo is definitely needed downtown for events," she says. "It was felt this would be a catalyst for new development. The level of excitement was definitely there."

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

Kercheval Dance studio to open in Grosse Pointe's Village



East siders will have a new dance studio to add to their repertoire when Kercheval Dance opens in Grosse Pointe's Village business district this summer.

Tracy Halso Gap and her husband, Adam Gap, will own and operate the business, which is being renovated inside a space in the block-long building that previously housed a Borders bookstore and an Ace Hardware. Their 3,500-square-foot space will come with two studios -- one with a stage, high ceilings (The husband-wife dance partners know the pitfalls of dance spaces with low ones). The studio will also be built with special shock-absorbing, bone-protecting sprung floors like the ones used on Dancing With the Stars, professional lighting and sound systems, and a large lobby.

Kercheval Dance will be next door to the offices of St. John Health System, which leased the space for the studio and has plans to bring in other tenants. The studio faces a public parking lot behind the building, which fronts Kercheval Avenue. Its entrance is on the alley for easy drop-off and pick-up, and, if needed, convenient access to nearby businesses, says Tracy Halso Gap.

The couple bring with them years of experience in performance dance, dance instruction and competition dance coaching. They've lived and worked in cities around the country.

After graduating from Oklahoma City University, which specializes in dance and musical theater majors, Gap, a Grosse Pointe native and University Liggett graduate, "bounced around like a gypsy," including years spent in New York studying dance and auditioning. That was followed by work as a dancer at theme parks in Virginia, where she and her husband were dance partners, and in Pennsylvania and at Disney World before moving to Boston. There they led a master's program and directed a competition dance team. Adam Gap also danced for Royal Caribbean International, the Bellagio in Las Vegas and the American Spirit Dance Company. During their time in Boston, he received his business degree.

"After living in so many places we really found out what we wanted to do. It really gave us a taste of what's out there. And we both knew we have a mutual love for children and dance," she says.

They also have a love for Grosse Pointe, she says, and after they moved back from Boston last summer, they started looking for a studio location.

"There were a lot of times we contemplated starting a dance school out there. It could be great. Boston is a big supporter of the arts,"  she says. "But the feel of the community in Grosse Pointe is so special and unique… Parents really research what their kids are involved in, and they want high quality. We hope we produce a high quality dance education and a fun place to study for children and the parents as well."

The Gaps will lead classes in ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop, lyrical and contemporary dance to students as young as age two. Adults will be offered the same courses plus fitness fusion, a workout for dancers or non-dancers, and ballroom dance. Advanced ballerinas will find pointe classes, and there will be special classes in tumbling and stretching and leaps and turns to build on gymnastics' influence on dance.

Initially, the Gaps will teach all classes. As enrollment builds they will hire other instructors and expand courses. She says their dance school will be set apart by the quality of the studio construction and its performance space as well as its syllabus-guided instruction that lets students and parents track progress, milestones, set goals, etc.

"We want children to develop and learn and grow with us," she says. "We are just so excited to be here, in the Village and to be a part of bringing back this part of the Village that has been open and empty for so long. We are so grateful for this opportunity."

Check out this video of O'Mara Sprung Floors, the Flint company that's building the studio floors, and this one of the Gaps dancing.

Source: Tracy Halso Gap
Writer: Kim North Shine
 

Clawson Business Resource Center to open in library downtown

During the cold depths of winter, business was heating up in downtown Clawson.

In that time seven new businesses opened, and now that spring has sprung the city's downtown development authority is coming out to celebrate with a mass ribbon cutting.

The DDA and the Clawson Chamber of Commerce are hoping to stoke the economic flames by opening a business resource center where prospective and current small business owners can come for information and support.

The Clawson Business Resource Center is located in the Blair Memorial Library and "provides easy access to materials and expertise. Although open to everyone, the program targets entrepreneurs and small businesses whether their status is pre-startup, startup or growth and expansion," says Joan Horton, executive director of the Clawson DDA.

The library and the Oakland County Small Business Center are partners as well, and the resource center is opening this week.

The resource center will be stocked with computers, business-related books, magazines, periodicals and other hard copy resources as well as internet-based resources. Business counseling and business seminars will also be offered. Twice a month on Wednesdays, members of SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) and Michigan Works will offer their expertise and advice. The center will be open day and evening hours.

Source: Joan Horton, executive director, Clawson Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Detroit Dogs serves specialty hot dogs in Royal Oak

Detroit Dogs, a new hot dog restaurant in downtown Royal Oak, pays homage to the Motor City while tipping a hat to other locales with its Virginia Dog, Chicago Dog, American Dog, Russian Dog and several other specially topped and sauced dogs.

Detroit Dogs opened in March at 200 W. Fifth Avenue and is hiring to keep up with the demand for its specialties and more straightforward classics.

The Detroit emphasis is tied to the owners' decision to sell Detroit-made products from the dogs down to chips and drinks, all from a simple menu that's drawing families for lunch and dinner and late-night post-bar and restaurant crowds.

Source: Detroit Dogs
Writer: Kim North Shine

Ferndale to add bike lanes on Livernois Road

A one-mile stretch of Livernois Road in Ferndale is shrinking in size as part of a "road diet" that will reduce the street to two lanes and make room for bicycle travel.

A $118,092 Transportation Alternatives Grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation  is helping cover the cost of the project that stretches from 8 to 9 Mile Road.

Lanes will be repainted, buffered bike lanes constructed, bike racks added and a mid-block crosswalk built.

The rebuild of the road also includes the addition of on-street parking.

Altogether, city officials see changes as building on Ferndale's efforts to promote all forms of transportation and to design roads that promote businesses by making it easier for customers to reach them.

Source: Ferndale Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Brass Aluminum Forging embarks on $8.6M rehab of Ferndale brownfield

A vacant industrial site in Ferndale will be cleaned up and returned to the tax rolls after a growing local business renovates the property and brings new jobs to the site.

Brass Aluminum Forging's plan to re-use the building at 965 Wanda will come with an $8.6-million investment. The project got the go-ahead this week when the Michigan Economic Development Corp. approved a local and school tax capture of nearly $718,000, money that will help cover the cost of renovations.

The building will be shared by Brass Aluminum Forging and other tenants that lease space.

The company, which makes valve bodies, weapon components, air and hydraulic fittings, and architectural details and provides items that can be forged as well as other processes and products, expects to hire 50 new employees to work at the new site. Building tenants are expected to hire another 50 employees.

The city of Ferndale's Brownfield Development Authority requested the 965 Wanda site be a recipient of the the MEDC's Michigan Strategic Fund's economic development and community revitalization projects.

Source: Kathy Fagan, spokesperson, MEDC
Writer: Kim North Shine

Lawrence Tech breaks ground on residence hall at Southfield campus

An $11.6-million residence hall with room for 160 Lawrence Technological University students is expected to be ready for move-in by fall of 2015.

An April 7 groundbreaking marks the start of construction on a 47,545-square-foot, two-story building near the university's largest parking lot along the Northwestern Highway Service Drive.

The dorm will increase on-campus residential capacity by about one-third. Currently there are about 600 students living on campus. As the school's athletic programs and student activities grow, so too does the demand for housing on campus.

The new residence hall will be designed in a pod-style of five pods that sleep 32 students in 16 double-occupancy units. Each pod will have its own common lounge with fireplace and kitchen. All pods will share a cafe and retail space, laundry room, game room, multi-purpose and meeting rooms on the first floor.

“The building is designed to encourage students to be out of their rooms with plenty of space for interaction and collaboration," says LTU President Virinder Moudgil. "One of the goals is to get new students involved in campus life by fostering collegiality."

Source: Eric Pope, spokesperson, Lawrence Technological University
Writer: Kim North Shine

Roundabouts planned for Orchard Lake Road in Farmington Hills

The city of Farmington Hills is planning to redesign a mile-long stretch of Orchard Lake Road into a series of roundabouts and boulevards as a way to improve traffic safety, promote economic development and encourage bicycle and pedestrian travelers.

The reconstruction could start in the spring on the the busy stretch between 13 and 14 Mile roads. The five-lane Orchard Lake Road is a major entry into the city, and part of the larger Northwestern Connector Project of the Road Commission for Oakland County and the Michigan Department of Transportation. The purposes are to improve traffic safety, including reducing severity of traffic crashes by slowing traffic, to stimulate economic development and to promote ease of use for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Details of the plan will be presented at an April 23 meeting at Farmington Hills City Hall.

Source: City of Farmington Hills Engineering Division
Writer: Kim North Shine

Yates Cider Mill opening new location in Orion Twp

Yates Cider Mill, a top metro Detroit destination for cider, donuts, jams, other small-batch foods, and the entertainment experience of watching the cider-making process, is taking the family tradition to a new location in Orion Township.

It's not uncommon to see long lines and crowds at the Rochester Hills mill.The new location is expected to follow suit, building on the business based on Michigan apples.

It will be located at Canterbury Village and is expected to open by the fall, the high season for the cider mill outings.

Owner Mike Titus is also expanding the Rochester Hills operation, opening for the first time for a spring pressing. Opening day is April 15.

And by the first of May Yates will open the Ice Cream Shoppe and sell chocolate and vanilla custards.

Yates, a grist mill that dates back to 1863, is said to be one of the longest continuously operating businesses in the state, and the popularity of the mills, which merge agriculture and economics, is at a high.

Source: Mike Titus, owner, Yates Cider Mill
Writer: Kim North Shine

Troy-based Autobike partners with Grand Rapids TerraTrike

Autobike, the young company from Troy that's reworked and refined automatic shifting technology for bicycles, is going into business with TerraTrike, a Grand Rapids manufacturer of recumbent trikes.

The partnership gives Autobike a whole new market for its technology that appeals to both techies who love gadgets and cyclists who just want an easy ride.

Techies get a ride that's constantly being analyzed for when to shift by a tiny little electronic brain along with a smartphone app and bluetooth synching. Easy riders get a ride without ever having to shift a gear themselves.

TerraTrike's product combined with Autobike's technology adds up to the world's first smart trike, the companies say. The new high-tech model, part of the TerraTrike's Rover line, debuts within weeks.

TerraTrike and Autobike, which builds and sells its own bikes with its automatic shifters, have customers around the country, and they  expect sales to increase after the release of the smart trike.

Source: Autobike
Writer: Kim North Shine

Ferndale's Go Comedy! improv artists take stage as workplace consultants

Go Comedy! Improv Theater in Ferndale has found another stage for its performers' quick wits, teamwork, and senses of humor in workplace workshops.

It's a sideline to its main business of nightly, rotating shows and one of several ways that the theater's improv artists have added to their repertoire. The workshops, which can last an hour or two or a full day, can "train your group to function as a well-oiled machine," says Go! Comedy Improv Theater's Andy French.

The workshops can go to the workplace or the workers can come to the workshop at the Go! Comedy Improv Theater at 261 E. 9 Mile in downtown Ferndale.

“We use hilarious improv games to teach people how to be a crucial part of the team. Learn to cooperate and create together and have a great time doing it,” French says.

Skills to be learned through comedy, quick thinking, and performing include team building, listening and communication, and leadership skills. French says improvisation teaches listening, agreement, cooperation, supporting the ideas of others, give and take, and conflict resolution.

“We use hilarious improv games to teach people how to be a crucial part of the team, learn to cooperate and create together, and have a great time doing it."

Go Comedy! also teaches improv and other classes related to improvisational skills at its studio and rents its space for weddings and special events.

The team, which consists of 25 improvisers and writers, can also be hired to perform at special events. This week the team headlined the Ferndale Downtown Development Authority's monthly B2B Networking Meeting.

"The Go! experts know that the tenets of improv often parallel the ingredients of being solid in business," says the DDA's Chris Hughes. "By using what they teach to developing improvisers, the Go! team helps businesses owners and employers learn how to be better listeners, cooperate with each other, feel more comfortable on the sales floor and succeed, with a bonus of enjoying life."

Source: Ferndale Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine
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