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Farmington DDA readies for downtown residential living

The Farmington Downtown Development Authority is taking on the role of property redeveloper with the goal of increasing residential living options  downtown.

The DDA is seeking a private developer via a request for proposal to build a second phase of condominiums at The Orchards condos on Slocum Drive just off downtown's main thoroughfare, Grand River, and Farmington Road.

The first phase of the mixed-residential project was completed in 2006, but after the housing market collapsed the second phase was never completed, says Annette Knowles, executive director of the Farmington DDA.

When the market began to bounce back, the DDA board decided to purchase the property to retain control over what would happen with it, she says. The DDA purchased the property for $95,000 in October.

“Introducing more development that is appealing to those seeking to reside in a downtown environment will help create a more robust economic base to support the business community," she says. "All signs indicate that development of this nature will again meet market demand."

The RFPs are due by March 7 and two inspections for prospective bidders are set for Jan. 13 and 15.

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

Crittenton Hospital adds high-tech tower to Rochester campus

Crittenton Hospital has expanded its hospital campus in Rochester Hills by adding a six-story tower where patient care will come with the latest in medical technology, treatment and education wrapped in a building that took a non-traditional, money-saving approach to construction.

The 165,000-square-foot South Tower on University Drive near Oakland University opened Wednesday, Jan. 8. It has 87 private patient rooms outfitted with smart beds that monitor patients' vital signs and activity without being hooked to electrodes.

The pharmacy in the new tower is operated by an automation system with bar code technologies that can help eliminate prescription errors.

The tower houses a cardiac center for medicine, where Crittenton doctors work in an open heart program partnership with the University of Michigan. Other floors are dedicated to family and primary care medicine as well as orthopaedic, joint and spine medicine and musculoskeletal disorders and injuries.

Education is incorporated in the new tower with innovative nursing stations that support training and clinical instruction to nursing students. Crittenton South Tower is also a learning center for Wayne State University School of Medicine's graduate residents.

A sanctuary for all religions and an outdoor garden meant to support emotional and spiritual well-being round out the new facility.

The $65-million tower also comes with an energy-efficient design that includes recycled materials. The construction project used an approach called Integrated Project Delivery. Hospital leaders and construction company reps from Barton Malow Company and Frank Rewold & Son say the approach, which re-evaluates and reworks traditional, costly construction not only saves health care costs but should be a model for other construction projects. They also say it is the largest such IDP project in Michigan.

Source: Brian Birney, director of marketing and communications, Crittenton Hospital and Adela Piper, Push22
Writer: Kim North Shine

Oakland U tapping Chevron Energy Services for cheap, clean energy

Oakland University and Chevron Energy Solutions are partnering on the construction and operation of a clean, cost-saving energy source for electricity and hot water.

The Combined Heat & Power, or CHP, is an emerging and growing way to provide energy to large facilities. A natural gas turbine provides the energy rather than traditional electricity.

The university will lease and operate the system, and Chevron Energy Solutions, a division of Chevron Oil & Gas, will build the system at the campus' central heating plant.

Overall, says Siraj Khan, the director of engineering for OU Facilities Management, the new system will save money on energy costs, reduce OU's carbon footprint and also become a teaching tool for students.

"CHP is a proven technology, and is becoming more and more popular in the wake of sustainability culture on higher education campuses all around United States to reduce carbon footprint and to produce clean energy," Khan says. "The operation of the CHP, real-time energy monitoring, data for energy savings and reduction of emissions will be a learning tool for students and a valuable educational experience."

Source: Siraj Khan, director of engineering for OU Facilities Management
Writer: Kim North Shine

Stay Pure Juicery imports Cali juicing savvy to Ferndale



After two months in business, Stay Pure Juicery in Ferndale is moving from a pick-up and delivery operation to a retail and juice bar.

Juicery founders Kimberly and Eric Bruneau learned about the benefits of juicing while living in California for 13 years, and after deciding to move back to Michigan to be near family they continued their juicing and acted on a thirst for knowledge about the health benefits, especially after Eric's father died of cancer.

The Bruneaus officially launched in October after months of juicing for friends and family. They outfitted a production facility at 22020 Woodward Avenue in Ferndale with two-ton and four-ton presses and other equipment "to make the most nutritious juice we possibly could," says Eric. The juice can be ordered for pick-up at the production facility or for delivery.

Sales have convinced the couple that the business is ripe for a retail storefront, and in March a juice bar and store will open on 9 Mile in downtown Ferndale. Cleanses are also big sellers, and the Bruneaus are preparing for a major upswing in orders in the new year.

Their Stay Pure Juicery is an entrepreneurial endeavor based in personal beliefs rooted in a family history of cancer, a hockey player son's need for sugarless replenishment, and in revelations about how suspected damage from processed foods and environmental chemicals might be undone by coconut and wheat grass and other drinkable fruits, veggies, plants and spices.

The Bruneaus say their juice is different and better because it's cold-pressed, saving nutrients. It's also not pasteurized, another nutrient-saver, and bottled based on sound research and personal experience. It has a shelf life of only three days, while mainstream juices are pasteurized and can last for many weeks.

They're spreading their message and their product through shows such as the Health & Fitness Expo at the Detroit Marathon, through partnerships with fitness and yoga studios and at lunch-and- learn educational sessions at local business.

"We're all about education and that's the key for people to understand," Eric Bruneau says. "We're not saying we're doctors. What we're saying is all the studies have shown there are the health benefits, that this is what we need to be putting into our bodies."

"We believe any juicing is better than no juicing," he says. But their knowledge of how to make the juice -- cold, instead of typical blenders that can heat and remove nutrients, for one thing -- does make a more beneficial product.

Eric, who has worked for Sony Pictures and Dreamworks in visual effects and also headed studios in Michigan, is dedicating himself full-time to the business he says can make people feel better, have more energy, and perhaps prevent disease. Kimberly is working to perfect a cookie recipe that's protein-packed and tasty and can be sold at the new store.

The couple see this as a way to take care of themselves, people they love  and others and to make a living doing something meaningful.

"There are many facets to why we chose, many life-changing experiences that brought us here," he says. "We just want to do a small part to educate and help, if we can."

Source: Eric & Kimberly Bruneau, founders, Stay Pure Juicery
Writer: Kim North Shine

Plymouth's Mattress 4 U brings organic to the bedroom

In the 1980s, Mattress 4 U was into the waterbed craze and since then it's followed trends in sleeping, the latest being organic mattresses and a desire by consumers to know what's inside their mattress and what chemicals have been used to treat it.

The store started in Greenville in western Michigan and expanded to Plymouth in the summer of 2013, opening a store at 44717 5 Mile Road. It serves mostly Northville and Plymouth and calls itself Michigan's only certified organic mattress retailers.

Shoppers can find mattresses made from 100-percent organic cotton, natural rubber latex, renewable products, cruelty-free Eco Wool and with no chemicals.

It's a growing business, and unlike waterbeds of the 1980s, may be here to stay, says owner Billy Pennington.

Source: Billy Pennington, owner, Mattress 4U
Writer: Kim North Shine



Hear the sweet sound of success at Expressions Music Academy

The three-year-old Expressions Music Academy in Novi is taking its show to another road, this one a new studio and music lab in Troy.

The music school opened in 2010 and has built an enrollment of about 500 students in all sorts of music lessons, including show choir and and band. Growth happened so fast, with students from 6 to 66 coming for group and private lessons in voice and about a dozen instruments as well as other musical programs that owner Jessica Schatz expanded the Novi location into adjoining space after just two years. A year after that expansion there's such a demand from students across metro Detroit and Ann Arbor that she's adding the Troy location.

The new Expressions Music Academy will open in January at 4000 Livernois Road in Troy. The Novi academy is located at 43370 W. 10 Mile Road. The music lab is equipped with iPads and keyboards for music education programs.

"Our mission is to provide all students with the opportunity to enjoy a complete music education. While private lessons are the central focus of our educational approach, we also expose students to the big picture of music through additional programs such as Studio Class, early-childhood music classes, choral groups, an interactive music lab featuring iPads loaded with educational apps, access to our music library, a music appreciation program, and opportunities to participate in our mixed instrumental and vocal concerts and recitals," says Schatz, a pianist who once taught 30 students from a home school.

"Our students are inspired to master their own choice of instrument while we nurture in them a lifelong love for music in general. We truly believe in the power of a holistic approach to music education. We do not have a storefront or sell books or instruments. We are dedicated 100% to music education, and we are good at it."

Source: Jessica Schatz, founder and owner, Expressions Music Academy
Writer: Kim North Shine

Great Lakes Culinary Center opens in Southfield

The Great Lakes Culinary Center opened last month in Southfield and has already become a draw for chefs, food business entrepreneurs and party planners.

The 20,000-square-foot culinary center was designed to be a treat for the eyes -- and mouth and nose -- with its massive stainless steel kitchens surrounded by marble, natural wood, chic industrial light fixtures, all of it surrounding chefs and students that come here to hone their craft and test the latest in kitchen equipment and restaurant supplies.

The Great Lakes Culinary Center is on 9 Mile Road and connected to Great Lakes Supply Company, a provider to the restaurant and hospitality industry.

The idea is to be a launching pad for food business entrepreneurs as well as a spot for cooking classes for pros and non-pros. The center can also be rented for parties and events, and if founder Marc Israel's vision is successful it will lift up metro Detroit and Michigan's food and hospitality businesses.

Successful metro Detroit chefs are on board, creating a menu of classes for everyday folks and culinary students and connecting with the chefs and others food business entrepreneurs to connect them with the latest in kitchen design, supplies, resources, cooking methods and much more.

Source: Rachel Wolff, event coordinator, Great Lakes Culinary Center
Writer: Kim North Shine




Woodward Ave. transformation revealed

Plans to redesign Woodward Avenue between Detroit and Pontiac into a thoroughfare that will be prepared for mass transit as well as welcoming to bikers and walkers are being aired on public access cable channels in Oakland County.

Some of the organizations behind the plan, the Woodward Avenue Action Association, Southeast Michigan Council of Governments and the municipalities that line the avenue, are looking for public feedback as local, county and state officials get behind the Complete Streets plan.

Steven Huber, a spokesperson for Oakland County, says the plan could transform Woodward into a scenic thoroughfare in ways to promote business and usability.

Engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff came up with a redesign of the 27-mile stretch of road in a master plan that's believed to be one of the largest of its kind in the nation.

The planning and public feedback are moving at a faster pace as Oakland County and several municipalities work to prepare for the arrival of light rail on Woodward Avenue in Detroit.

The idea is to unite metro Detroit through a major corridor that's easy to travel, to stimulate transit-oriented development, and to create jobs.

Source: Steve Huber, marketing and communications officer, Oakland County
Writer: Kim North Shine

Eco-minded cleaning co. in Plymouth expands

When Nicole Mezel-Bernath got into the organic cleaning business in 1996, organic was not nearly so mainstream.

As time went on and her customers wanted clean homes without the chemicals, her business, Nicole's TLC Cleaning, grew.

Nearly 20 years after expanding to five cities near her company's home base of Plymouth, she's now adding a South Lyon`office as her two-person cleaning teams take on more residential accounts. The office in downtown South Lyon opened in early November.

"There is a need out here," Mezel-Bernath says.

She says it's a desire to keep chemicals out of the home that's driving the business and creating jobs for her employees.

Instead of using toxic chemical products, Nicole's TLC Cleaning cleans with substances such as tea tree oil, citrus solvents and essential oils.

"We think simple choices in cleaning products can make a big difference in your family's health and our communities," she says.

Source: Nicole Mezel-Bernath, founder and president, Nicole's TLC Cleaning
Writer: Kim North Shine

Super heroes & Santa part of downtown Ferndale ice festival

Businesses in downtown Ferndale are celebrating the holidays and hoping to put some muscle in their sales by throwing an ice festival that showcases super heroes.

More than 50 ice sculptures will be on display outside of businesses throughout downtown for The Holiday Ice Festival Saturday, Dec. 14, and visitors can go to the North Pole at Schiffer Park on W. 9 Mile and meet reindeer, have hot chocolate, write letters to soldiers and more.

Santa will start the festival at 10 a.m. with an appearance on a fire engine and have lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings. A heated trolley will ferry riders to and from shops and restaurants throughout the day. There will ice carving demonstrations, carolers, pictures with Santa, and running at the same time as the festival will be the Saucy Social & Food Truck Rally on Vester Street.

Besides giving visitors a fun holiday outing, the festival is meant to stoke business activity by pulling in customers with holiday shopping lists, says Cristina Sheppard-Decius, executive director of the Ferndale Downtown Development Authority.

Source: Chris Hughes, Ferndale Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Pierogi Gals' pierogi take off in Metro Detroit stores

Pierogi Gals, a fledgling business based in Grosse Pointe Woods, got its start like so many food businesses do: from a family recipe.

For many years the pierogi-making fell to the family matriarch. When she became terminally ill her daughters, Karen Andrews, Victoria Les and daughter-in-law Helen Les, realized they should learn from the master before she was gone.

Eventually they were giving away dozens and dozens of pierogis until they finally heeded repeated advice that they should sell their family's version of Polish dumplings.

"People would ask for them and we'd say sure. We'd give them as gifts. Our list kept getting a lot longer and longer. Since people kept saying,, 'These are so good you should sell these,' we thought what the heck. I was getting close to retirement, my sister was getting close to retirement.

"That was 2011…it took us a couple of years before that to figure out how to start a businesses, what licenses we needed, what did we have to do. We'd never done anything like this."

The trio -- two of them teachers, the other a computer tech -- initially sold pierogi online and by phone orders. It didn't take long before they were in the freezer case of the first store, Oxford Beverages in Grosse Pointe Woods. They got major help from Michigan State University's Product Center and also from MSU packaging students who helped them correct their original, less-than-ideal container.

Once the business was going and they were selling pierogi at farmers markets and such, more stores came calling: three Randazzo's markets in Macomb County and more recently Holiday Market in Canton.

Now suddenly, sort of, the commercial kitchen and mixer where they make several varieties -- their family's favorite farmer's cheese, sauerkraut and mushroom; potato cheddar; redskin truffle; spicy potato cheddar; and seasonal apple and blueberry -- are no longer large enough and they're looking for more space, more supplies and help.

"We're just amazed at how it's gone, and we don't know how far it will go," she says," but it's been a wonderful experience so far."

Source: Karen Andrews, co-founder, Pierogi Gals
Writer: Kim North Shine

"Spiritual revolution" stokes Boston Tea Room expansion

When the Navarre sisters and their mother decided to open a second spiritual services store in 2009 in downtown Ferndale, friends and acquaintances told them they were crazy, that there was nothing good in the cards for such a specialized business during such a stall in the economy.

They were wrong about the Boston Tea Room, which has a yoga studio in Wyandotte, a meditation practice in Ferndale and many other services, including  tarot card, tea leaf and other readings, and its future.

"Within two years our Ferndale store was matching the sales of our Wyandotte store without pulling any business from there," says Heathleigh Navarre, one sister in a sister-sister-mother team that runs Boston Tea Room. 

Just short of its five year anniversary in Ferndale, the Boston Tea Room in Ferndale  is proving the naysayers wrong by moving into a 3,000-square-foot space -- more than double its previous spot -- to keep up with demand.

"We're a destination spot," says Navarre. "People drive from Holly, Saginaw, Kalamazoo."

She is a certified meditation specialist, a tarot card and mediumship reader. Her sister, Vanessa Navarre, is a yoga instructor, and their mom, Carole Navarre, who took over the family business in Wyandotte about 18 years ago, is the one who makes sure the customers and staff are happy. Each shop has 8-10 readers on staff.

"We've grown organically by responding  to customer demands and feedback" says  Heatherleigh Navarre. "When we decided to add a second location I don't f anyone was thinking about the future. We were growing pretty quickly. This was not one of those entrepreneurial five-year plans. We were just naturally responding to the market."

And even with the economy in a downturn, she says, the number of people looking for spiritual healing, self-discovery, and internal analysis kept increasing.

"It's part of a spiritual revolution," she says. "People still want products, but they want a product with meaning, something that goes beyond a gadget."

Source: Heatherleigh Navarre, co-owner, Boston Tea Room
Writer: Kim North Shine

Downtown Royal Oak going to the gourmet dogs

The new year will welcome at least one new restaurant to downtown Royal Oak.

Detroit Dogs will serve gourmet hot dogs made with Dearborn franks and buns made in a Hamtramck bakery alongside other Detroit-bred products: Better Made chips and Faygo drinks among them.

Hiring and renovations on the space at 200 W. Fifth Avenue are underway and expected to be completed in early January.

The owners bring with them extensive restaurant experience in Monroe County and were asked by local investors to roll out the gourmet dog concept in metro Detroit.

Source: City of Royal Oak
Writer: Kim North Shine

Abundant Living art gallery adds to downtown Wyandotte's biz line-up

Wyandotte, with its annual art fair that draws thousands, is becoming an art-lovers destination all year long with yet another downtown gallery opening.

Abundant Living Gallery opened last month at 113 Elm Street. It's a place for collectors, gift-givers and home decorators. Owner Pam Riley sells paintings and sculpture in wood, metal and concrete from a West Michigan artists along with photos, jewerly and other creations by local artists and artists in other parts of the world.  All are handmade and have a story to tell, says Riley. One of the best parts of being a gallery owner, besides meeting customers, she says, is getting to know the artists.

"Every chance I get, I go to where they create their work, their studio or their home," she says. I'm don't want to make a pest of myself, but I want to pass on their stories to the people who come to the gallery. I think the story behind the art is what makes it meaningful."

Riley sees downtown Wyandotte, known for its annual art fair that attracts thousands of metro Detroiters, as an ideal place to show and sell works of art.

"I think Wyandotte's is the second largest art fair in the state," she says. "There's a lot of interest here in art and a lot of word of mouth going out."

Hers is at least the fourth gallery in downtown Wyandotte, something she sees as a good for business and the city. Before her came River's Edge, Glowfish Studios and Firehouse.

"The nice thing is there's room for all of us. I don't feel like we compete. I think we complement each other," Riley says. There are so many niches in art, and I'm careful not to sell the same things as they sell. What it does, having all of us here, is make Wyandotte more of a destination."

Source: Pam Riley, owner, Abundant Living Gallery
Writer: Kim North Shine

Blumz growing Ferndale-based flower biz with new Ann Arbor store

Blumz by JRDesigns is expanding its floral and event planning services to Ann Arbor.

The owners, Jerome Raska and Robbin Yelverton, have established the business by becoming known for a knack for locating exotic blooms and for a fun attitude. After cementing sales and a following in downtown Detroit and Ferndale they felt the obvious move was to extend its reach to Ann Arbor.

The new store is located at 540 Avis Drive, and if like the other stores, it will connect it to major university and community events as well as become a go-to for weddings, funerals and special occasions. Blumz is a staple on the charity party scene and is connected to major events in Detroit and Ferndale.

Its Ferndale space is rentable and the floral design studio in Ann Arbor will also be a place for students to learn from the owners who are certified floral educators.

Source: Jerome Raska, co-owner, Blumz by JRDesigns
Writer: Kim North Shine

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