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DFCU Financial breaks ground on Plymouth branch

DFCU Financial, Michigan's largest credit union, is opening a new branch in Plymouth.

Ground was broken in late August on a 4,583-square-foot facility that will open in the first quarter of 2015 at Ann Arbor Road and Main Street.

The branch will be the 25th for the credit union that formed in 1950, started by seven Ford Motor Co. engineering employees. President and CEO Mark Shobe says the Plymouth location will serve more than 4,000 families.

The branch, which will sit on about one acre of land, will have two drive-through teller lanes, a drive up ATM and full services inside.

DFCU currently has branches in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Lansing.

Source: Peggy Richard, spokesperson, DFCU Financial
Writer: Kim North Shine


Plymouth Yoga Room expands into loft studio

After five years in the business based on "Namaste," the Plymouth Yoga Room is expanding into a loft studio above the yoga room that has run out of space.

Owners Brent and Sheri Rieli have developed a loyal yoga community that packed the studio at 474 Forest. The expansion doubles the space of Plymouth Yoga Room and lets the Rielis hold multiple classes at once and add to class offerings.

"Our new room is more spacious to accommodate more students, considering our yoga community is constantly growing," says Jen Brown, an instructor at Plymouth Yoga Room.

Source: Jen Brown, Plymouth Yoga Room
Writer: Kim North Shine

Peace Pedalers offers pedi-cab rides in downtown Plymouth

There's a new way to get around downtown Plymouth. Peace Pedalars, a pedicab business started by Diane and Andy Webster, is the latest and most energy efficient way to get to and fro.

The first rides in the white and black tricycle cabs that come with convertible covers started on St. Patrick's Day weekend. In recent weeks as weather has started to warm, families are taking rides around the square, late night crowds are getting from restaurant to bar or to their cars with a ride on the leather seat of the pedicab.

Besides providing a taxi service, Peace Pedalers is also an advertising service. The Websters, who completed a special drivers' training and expect other pedicab drivers to do the same, want it to be a regular part of the downtown Plymouth scene, and get to know locals as they show them around town.

Source: Plymouth Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Alpine Chocolat Haus sets up shop in downtown Plymouth

For years customers, whether northern Michigan residents or travelers, have been sweet on Alpine Chocolat Haus, making it an institution. After nearly 20 years in business, the chocolate-maker is opening a store downstate in downtown Plymouth.

The candy and ice cream store owned and founded by "der Chocolatmeister" Bruce Brown is known for handmade truffles, chocolate potato chips, caramel corn and apples and more. Brown's fourth store, and first in metro Detroit, opened last month at 322 S. Main Street on the city square, across from Kellogg Park.

Alpine Chocolat Hauses are also located in Gaylord, where the first store opened in 1985, and in Boyne City and Sault Ste. Marie.

The Plymouth store is designed and furnished to encourage customers to linger there and to be a part of the city planners' intention to stroll and stay downtown by giving them shops, a park, and events such as the Plymouth Ice Festival.

Source: Michael Fernandez, managing member, Alpine Chocolat Haus, and Plymouth Downtown Development Authority
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



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

Michigan Dog Trainer ready to tame pooches from new Plymouth digs



Michael Burkey, a former K9 police officer, federal officer, social worker and canine expert, has opened a dog training center in downtown Plymouth.

Burkey, who also is an expert witness in court cases involving dogs, has hired five trainers and a customer service rep into a 7,000 square-foot space at 1031 Cherry St. to staff Michigan Dog Trainer.

Inside MDT's building are two large training rooms and "Michigan's only 20 1/2-inch long Nose Work wall," says Burkey. He is also a competitive handler and volunteer behaviorist for the Humane Society of Huron Valley, the location of his first training center.

The Nose Work wall is fitted with 13 scent detection tubes for training police dogs and and such to sniff for narcotics, explosives and other illegal substances. Birch oil is also one of the scents and is used to train dogs in the sport of nose work, a sport that will soon be sanctioned by the American Kennel Club, Burkey says.

The space, a former photography studio, also has a professional white photo wall for dog pictures and videos and four offices. MDT opened July 20 and held a grand opening celebration with dogs and people on Aug. 1. It might be the only business able to claim a blind Dachshund, which performed a Nose Work demo, as part of the festivities.

Burkey says he'll use Kellogg Park and nearby "dog friendly" stores as well as Maybury Park and Proud Lake Recreational Area as an extension of the training center. While the dogs are the focus, “many times," he says, "it is also the people that need help in understanding the dog and its behavior. Families are often split on how best to train the dog and that’s where my social work background becomes very helpful.  I am very effective at helping families work together for the best interest of their dog, as well as adjusting my teaching style for the individual client for optimum learning.”

Michigan Dog Trainer will offer two or four-week K9 camps, training day camps, private and group classes that include Puppy Socialization, Basic Manners, Remote Manners, Circus Class, Canine Good Citizen and Feisty Fido.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Dog Behaviorist and President Michigan Dog Training LLC

Yoga + Therapy = Zen business plan in Plymouth

Balance Yoga Therapy, a business that combines the physical and mental effects of yoga with emotional well-being through counseling, is moving into a larger space in downtown Plymouth to keep up with a growing number of clients and services.

Owner Patricia Kozlowski, a licensed professional counselor and certified yoga therapist, is a believer in the positive effects of yoga and physical fitness on relationships and mental health. She designed her business around that connection.

After 20-plus years as a counselor and six years as a yoga therapist at various studios and fitness facilities and for youth hockey teams and health system employees, she has also seen how yoga therapy can end chronic pain. It was yoga that finally cured her severe back pain following a car accident. Through yoga she began to see the parallels between yoga and physical and mental health.

"I started realizing that the things I had learned in medical school I was learning in yoga," she says.

After several years of counseling and teaching yoga around Southeast Michigan, she decided to open her own studio and counseling center in February 2012. She still counsels at a separate center in Northville, but was not able to incorporate yoga therapy so she decided to open Balance Yoga Therapy in February 2012.

In just over two years she outgrew the 12-mat, 500-square-foot space in downtown Plymouth. On Aug. 1 she moves into a much larger spot with room for 60 yoga mats, a separate pilates studio, and counseling rooms.

The interior will be calming, painted in colors of the sea, decorated with Spanish tile and bamboo and come with "revolutionary, state of the art flooring that you can't find within a five-state area from here," Kozlowski says.

The new, larger studio opens at 589 South Main Street a few few blocks from the original location at 292 South Main. Kozlowski will celebrate the opening with a day of free yoga on Aug. 10. Go to Balance Therapy Yoga to register.

The success of her practice, she says, is "the authenticity of the message I send to people. I genuinely live what I speak…It's absolutely addictive…never yelling..always encouraging, loving them through the process…very physically demanding…And it's so rewarding to work with a family with a child who no longer wants to commit suicide or to get a person through anxiety that's keeping them in bed all day and missing life. I feel so fortunate to meet and work with so many amazing people, and even though the days are long it never feels like work."

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Patricia Kozlowski, owner, Balance Yoga Therapy

The Clem joins other Metro Detroit cities for summer festival season

With metro Detroit downtowns seeing economic opportunity in festivals, concerts, art shows and other special summer events, a calendar can fill up fast in no time with places to go all summer long.

There aren't many cities without a show to put on.

Mount Clemens is capitalizing on its success as a big party host with the All American Jam this weekend.

The county seat of Macomb County draws thousands to its festivals, carnivals, music shows and fireworks each year, bringing customers to downtown businesses and fun to the streets. The All American Jam, hosted by Powers Distributing, the Mount Clemens Downtown Development Authority and Watts Up, Inc - is a massive combination of them all.

It starts Thursday, June 20, and runs through Sunday, June 23, with a carnival, live music, food, beer, art and special exhibits, including a demonstration by the roller derby team, Bath City Roller Girls, fitness instructors and Cinderella, all with Main Street and Macomb Place in the center of downtown as the main drag. A fireworks show over the river happens on Friday.

There will be stages with live entertainment, musical and other artists. The event is billed as a family-friendly festival and will run from late afternoon to 11 p.m. each day.

Downtown Rochester packs in the crowds all year long with festivals and shows celebrating every season. This summers there's Music in the Park on Thursdays, the Big Bright Ball Aug. 4 and Movies in the Moonlight on Friday nights.

In Grosse Pointe Village district there's Thursday is the day for Music on the Plaza, and on July 26 the annual Sidewalk Sale and Street Festival pulls in deal-seekers and wanderers for the sales, music and food.

Royal Oak has a summer concert series on the lawn of the library every Thursday in July 11-Aug. 15. Each concert features multiple performers, either musicians or other artists. The city's Ford Arts, Beats & Eats is a metro-wide draw, taking over Main Street.

Dearborn’s Homecoming is 33-year-old, three-day festival that runs Aug. 2-4 and ends with fireworks and attracts about 150,000 visitors to the carnival, shows, picnics and other events.

Art fairs in Wyandotte and Plymouth are so popular that downtown Trenton moved the date of its 38-year-old annual summer festival to June 28, 29, 30.

The Wyandotte Street Art Fair is July 10-13. Art in the Park in downtown Plymouth is the July 12-14.

Writer: Kim North Shine

Lake Trust Credit Union to build $30 million HQ in Brighton

A Lansing-based credit union is expanding into southeast Michigan, first building a $30-million headquarters near Brighton and later investing in Plymouth.

Lake Trust Credit Union will invest more than $40 million in extending its network in Michigan over the next five years, says Lori Anderson, spokesperson for the credit union.

The headquarters near Brighton is on 17 acres near US 23 and I-96 and will give employees a campus with a pond, walking trails, picnic areas and a 100,000 sq. ft. workspace that brings together employees from Lansing and Plymouth.

Lake Trust formed from a 2010 merger between NuUnion Credit Union and Detroit Edison Credit Union.

Construction on the new headquarters, which is expected to cost $30 million, is scheduled for completion by 2015. At least another $10 million will go into other improvements, such as those in Plymouth and Lansing.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Lori Anderson, spokesperson, Lake Trust Credit Union

Natural Food Express to add second location in Dearborn Heights

A growing market and interest in locally-sourced food, organic food and knowing where your food comes from has Garry Kuneman expanding his business, adding a new location and bringing new products to customers.

Kuneman, who worked the farmer's market circuit for 10 years, opened his Natural Food Local Express in Plymouth in July 2010. It didn't take him long to see that demand would lead to a second location.

The new store will open Dec. 1 at 6870 Telegraph Road. The company will take on a new name, Pure Pastures, with one location becoming Pure Pastures East and the other Pure Pastures West.

The name change is more of a reflection of the core business, says Kuneman. That is to sell meat, eggs and other products from Michigan farmers.

Except for air-chilled chicken, a European style of chicken preparation that's become popular since an endorsement from Dr. Mehmet Oz, and a portion of buffalo, another popular product, everything comes from Michigan. Local eggs that come from chickens that aren't caged and eat no soy or GMOs are a top seller. Kuneman will add more national products when he brings in more organic and gluten-free foods, he says.

Kuneman's start with farmers' markets and home deliveries are still a part of the operations. He plans to expand home delivery and product offerings and hire 3-4 new employees when the new store opens. Currently, there are four employees.

"The farmers markets helped me get a handle on the kind of products I wanted to carry. And it helped me build a customer base," he says. "There are several segments of the population we pull from: special diets, people who want to know what's in their food and some are concerned about the humane treatment of animals. It's a little pricier, but people are willing to pay to know what they're getting, to support Michigan."

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Garry Kuneman, owner, Natural Food Local Express, the future Pure Pastures


LolaRyan and its "pure" fashion comes to downtown Plymouth

The owner of Lola Ryan, a new home, accessories and women's clothing boutique in downtown Plymouth, is offering what she calls "pure fashion" to her customers.

Rachel Kus, a pharmaceutical rep who's long dreamed of dipping her to in the pond of retail fashion , wants to run a business that sells American products by American designers. Her husband Ryan Kus is part owner.

Rachel Kus' mother, the store manager, says it can be challenging to keep the All-American promise when American designers sell some things that are American made and others that are not, for example, but  they are working hard to stick to the philosophy, which also includes selling "affordable fashion" and offering personal shoppers and private showings for the "precocious teen to groovy matriarch" Lola Ryan seeks.

Lola Ryan opened about a month ago at 550 Forest Avenue. On its racks are designers such as Rachel Pally. Lola Ryan is the only place in Michigan to buy Pally's things. Hudson Jeans, typically found at Nordstrom, are on the racks too. James Pearse is another popular brand found at Lola Ryan.

Rachel Kus brought her fashion knowledge and dream of opening a boutique back from the East Coast after living there several years. A friend ran a boutique, and Kus learned how to get the skinny on fashion lines and retail by attending fashion shows in places such as New York. She chose Plymouth, her hometown, to start the business "because we just love it here, and there is a lot of support here," her mother says.

Source: Manager, Lola Ryan boutique, Plymouth
Writer: Kim North Shine

Plymouth bakery grows, opens its own downtown shop

Kurt M. Lienhard is another example of job loss leading to entrepreneurism. His Perfectly Sweet Cakes & Desserts in downtown Plymouth has continuously grown since opening nine months ago in a shared space with Boule Artisan Bread .

But as Perfectly Sweet's business grew it became clear it needed its own space. So in May Lienhard moved into his own shop at 470 Forest, next to the Cozy Cafe.

"The day after Mother's Day, as promised, my friends and family and I were literally pushing freezers, everything down the street," Lienhard says.

Initially the former pharmaceutical sales rep (who was lost his job in late 2008) went into business with a friend and baker in another downtown Plymouth spot. "With a wife and three kids to take care of, I had to reinvent myself," he says.

He thought about what to do next. "My colleagues and I used to spend a lot of money at one of our favorite bakeries to entertain our customers, doctors,whatever," Lienhard says. "The  owner and I befriended each other and decided to go into business together. It went off unbelievably successful for two years, but we later decided to part ways."

After their Sweets 21closed, Lienhard opened Perfect Sweets, which became his full-time job and the full-time jobs of four others.

"Our whole premise for being in downtown was being near all the events that are going on here," he says.

Source: Kurt M. Lienhard, owner, Perfectly Sweet Cakes & Desserts
Writer: Kim North Shine

Plymouth adds a vintage designer boutique to downtown

The streets of downtown Plymouth take Daniela Kokalevski back to her homeland of Macedonia.

For Kokalevski, who has a background in banking and a love of fashion, it was those features that made her decide the downtown, known for its charm and foot traffic, was the perfect place to open a boutique.

Dazzling Daniela has a vintage bent and offers dresses, from casual to formal, most if not all the styles picked up on buying trips to Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York.

Besides selling head-to-toe fashion, Kokalevski and her staff will fit all their customers.

"We're getting great word of mouth, and social media is bringing people in," says Daniela, whose shop had a ribbon cutting with the Plymouth Community Chamber of Commerce earlier this month.  "I love doing it in a place that makes me feel like I'm in Macedonia."

Source: Daniela Kokalevski, owner Dazzling Daniela
Writer: Kim North Shine

Creativibe goes for downtown vibe with new office in Plymouth

When Brett Wilson decided on a location for the offices of his company, Creativibe, he chose it based on place, rather than being nearest his biggest client or close to company peers.

The place, a downtown Plymouth spot, overlooking Kellogg Park and within walking distance from his home, fit with what his company does for clients such as Henry Ford and University of Michigan health systems, Service Brands International, State of Michigan and Credit Suisse and others.

"For me it's not the foot traffic that important to the business. It's a good physical presence," he says. "It's centrally located in the heart of downtown Plymouth and in a beautiful historic building."

The building at 338 Main St. was built in the 1890s, "had a nice floor plan" and is located above the martini bar, 336 Main.

Creativibe started in 2006 and provides clients with web design services, identity branding and marketing strategies.

"We're here partly for the presence and also for the branding…People see the logo. There are a lot of business people here in Plymouth and in the surrounding area, people from big business," Wilson says. "They're here with their families. They're out walking around. They may develop that brand recognition."

Source: Brett Wilson, principal, Creativibe
Writer: Kim North Shine

How metro Detroit municipalities tried to create the downtown experience

The word downtown was tossed around a lot in 2011. Everybody has one or is working on creating one as they pursue the newfound love of things urban. Downtown Development Authorities, Chambers of Commerce, Main Street programs had Main Streets - and their equivalents - throughout metro Detroit putting money into makeovers and facelifts in 2011 as city leaders saw promise in creating places that preserve history, have varied businesses and invite walking, biking, strolling.

The changes were big and small. Together should convey: You want to come here. Decorative, energy-efficient street lights, attractive, theme-appropriate benches, trash-receptacles, pedestrian-safe sidewalks and crosswalks, art installations, benches, historic preservation projects, special events, facade grants, kiosks to direct visitors, even phone apps to get them around town - all wrapped in business recruitment and PR.

Cities with the most real downtowns: Rochester, Ferndale, Royal Oak, Mount Clemens, Dearborn, Plymouth, Northville. The up-and-comers: Auburn Hills, Clarkston, Berkley, Novi, Wyandotte.

Downtown Rochester $1 million streetscape re-do is on
http://www.metromodemedia.com/devnews/0818rochesterredo0221.aspx

Downtown Lake Orion gets $2 million streetscape, new microbrewery
http://www.metromodemedia.com/devnews/0922lakeorion0225.aspx

Mount Clemens invests more than $250K in way-finding signs
http://www.metromodemedia.com/devnews/0915wayfinders0224.aspx

Wyandotte DDA's business improvement grants paying off
http://www.metromodemedia.com/devnews/0526plymouthnightlife0211.aspx

Nightlife builds in downtown Plymouth
http://www.metromodemedia.com/devnews/0526plymouthnightlife0211.aspx

Ice rink cometh to Auburn Hills heating up plans for downtown
http://www.metromodemedia.com/devnews/icerink0192.aspx

Graduate housing, downtown parking and retail complex coming to Auburn Hills
http://www.metromodemedia.com/devnews/1201ahhousing0234.aspx

Main Street Oakland recognizes top downtown projects
http://www.metromodemedia.com/devnews/0310mainstreetoakawards0200.aspx


By Kim North Shine

Streets for all. Designing cities that welcome all forms of transportation

Streets for everyone. The Michigan Complete Streets initiative gained momentum in 2011 in metro Detroit and around the state as cities enacted changes or made plans to design roads and sidewalks that take pedestrians, cyclists and drivers into account. The Michigan's Complete Streets movement got props for being a role model nationwide. Separately from Complete Streets, cities and various nonprofits worked on the same goal: streets that accommodate all. It's been a process playing out for a few years now so expect to see more bike lanes, new style crosswalks and other changes coming to a town near you.

Michigan is national leaders in street design that serves cars, bikes and pedestrians
http://www.metromodemedia.com/devnews/0317micompletestreets0201.aspx

Streetscape grants from Royal Oak's WA3 help unify Woodward Corridor
http://www.metromodemedia.com/devnews/woodwardcorrgrants0194.aspx

Royal Oak's non-motorized transportation plan is out for public feedback
http://www.metromodemedia.com/devnews/1110royaloakwalkride0232.aspx

Walkers, cyclists may like changes coming to Grosse Pointe, Dearborn
http://www.metromodemedia.com/devnews/0901fedtransgrants0223.aspx

By Kim North Shine

Hungry? Tense? Downtown Plymouth's new eateries and spa can revive you

If eating is on the agenda, then downtown Plymouth has an expanding menu.

Panache, an upscale restaurant, is opening on Forest in place of the 1999 Tavern, which closed late last year, Plymouth Downtown Development Director Tony Bruscato says.

Nearby, Grape Expectations is reopening as Zin, with a list of 100 changing, seasonal wines and a tapas menu.

Also on Forest, Bagel Fragel is opening in a vacant spot and bringing its twist on bagels to Plymouth.

Perfectly Sweet Cakes and Desserts has opened inside the Boule Artisan Bakery on Ann Arbor Trail.

And down the street at the prominent southeast corner of Main and Ann Arbor Trail, an old Amoco station is making way for a new building that may house a complex of restaurants, Bruscato says. The planning commission recently approved the site plan, limiting the building to two stories instead of three - a point of contention for downtown business owners concerned about inadequate parking.

Bruscato says it is unclear what exactly will go in to the building, but that construction will start within days.

Restaurants aren't the only new game in town. The Agio Spa at 444 S. Main opened about two weeks ago, in place of Spa Julianna, which closed when the owner died, Bruscato says. It offers massage, waxing, Vichy showers, hydrotherapy, facials and hair and body treatments.

"When many other downtowns are just hoping to hang on to what they have or losing businesses," Bruscato says, "we're still seeing new businesses coming."

Source: Tony Bruscato, director, Plymouth Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Nightlife builds in downtown Plymouth

Downtown Plymouth, known for its history, its ice festival, and boutique shopping, is making a name for itself as a designation for nighttime fun.

Tony Bruscato, director of the Plymouth Downtown Development Authority, says the city has hit the sweet mix of daytime vibrancy with boutiques, shops, restaurants, and soon-to-expand office space with nighttime action that's attracting 20-somethings on up.

The Detroit section of about.com listed Plymouth in its top 10 up and coming neighborhoods for nightlife destinations. Bruscato says it's here and now.

There's live music and a lengthy drink list at 336 Martini Bar, a DJ every Friday at Hermann's Olde Town Grille, the Penn Bar and Grill, Sean O'Callaghan's Pub, the Grape Expectations Wine Bar and more.

The city nighttime vibe gets to pumping even more when the Music in the Air concert series starts in Kellogg Park this weekend.

The concerts attract 3,000-4,000 people, Bruscato says.

"I think Plymouth is a good market. It's a good place to be right now," he says. "I think if you were looking for the cool downtowns Plymouth would certainly be one of those.  We've really turned into a town for nightlife. A younger clientele is coming in. Larger business offices are moving in. Young families are moving in…We've been very lucky."

Source: Tony Bruscato, director Plymouth Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

DTE Energy's community gardens expand

DTE Energy's community gardens are growing by four acres and possibly hundreds of new volunteers this year.

Farming season for the 10 DTE Energy Gardens kicked off in Southfield earlier this week, starting a multi-faceted project that provides food to Gleaners Community Food Bank. The gardens also offer volunteers the opportunity to get involved in their communities, to get more exercise and to learn about gardening. The gardens also serve as aesthetic buffers around DTE facilities.

Last year, the 10 gardens produced 44,000 pounds of food for Gleaners and its food banks. With extra land and more volunteers - as many as 1,000 total - the amount of food grown is expected to increase this year, DTE Spokesman Scott Simons says.

DTE Energy and Gleaners started the program at two electric substations in 2008 and have since expanded to company properties in Allen Park, Birmingham, Farmington Hills, Frenchtown Township, Plymouth Township, Pontiac, Southfield, Lyon Township, Washington Township and Westland.

Source: Scott Simons, spokesman, DTE Energy
Writer: Kim North Shine

Plymouth's $2M streetscape cruises toward completion

Downtown Plymouth is closing in on finishing a $2 million streetscape overhaul aimed at keeping its vacancy rate low and its vibrancy rate high.

"The last time the streets were done was in 1995 and it was starting to a look a little old," says Plymouth DDA Director Tony Bruscato. "And of course there's competition in downtowns for customers. Farmington and Northville and other cities were upgrading their downtown streets. You have to be competitive. You want people to come to your downtown and look at it favorably."

Bruscato likes to think it's just the latest in a line of good decisions that have kept  Plymouth's vacancy rates among the lowest, even in the most barren economic conditions, and businesses thriving day and night.

"We've been doing pretty well so we want to keep it that way," he says.

The streetscape projects include repaving, infrastructure changes, the installation of LED traffic lights on arms instead of wires, more walkable and safe crosswalks, and other work.
Some of the work was done last year; everything will be completed this year, the first phase finishing by May 27 in time for the first of Plymouth's outdoor concerts. They attract 3,000 - 5,000 people, Bruscato says.

The second and final phase will be completed in June, he says.

By then, every street in the downtown will have been touched, he says.

Source: Tony Bruscato, director, Plymouth Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Field of dreams coming to life in Plymouth

Where now there's nothing but a field behind Central Middle School in Plymouth by August there will be a baseball field, concession stands, bathrooms -- all of it creating a special place for special needs kids who want to play sports but don't have a place to do it.

The Miracle League of Plymouth is building the $1.1-million park and broke ground on it last week. Hundreds of small donations and major contributions, including a $250,000 grant from the state, are making the Miracle League park happen. The Rotary Club of Plymouth sponsors the Miracle League.

Deb Madonna, co-chair of the Plymouth Miracle League, says a park like this complements and adds to the local fairs, markets, shows, and special events that bring people out into the community.
 
Most importantly it lets the families of special needs children "hear the answer yes for once," when they ask to let their children join in, says Madonna, who co-chairs with Bob Bilkie, whose family's Bilkie Family Foundation recently gave $150,000 for the naming rights of the park: Bilkie Family Park.

Plymouth's Miracle League field will be one of several in Michigan, including one in Southfield, which draws visitors from the region and beyond, and one in Mid-Michigan that is expected to open in June.

The project means a 20-year lease of the land to the league by the school district and at least half a million dollars to build the field and grounds.

"It's perfect use for this land, and the impact on the community is huge, especially in these economic times," Madonna says. "This is a private-public partnership to say, 'Hey come to Plymouth,' like you say, 'Come to Michigan, it's huge'"

"And then there's the whole other level of what it does for these families who many times are traipsing who know where to find some kind of therapeutic outlet for their child. We want those parents to know we did this for their children. This was first and foremost in our mind. There was no other purpose for this project except to have kids out there playing baseball."

Source: Debra Madonna, co-chair Plymouth Miracle League
Writer: Kim North Shine


Propane-powered vehicles deliver for Wright & Fillippis

Goods delivered by Rochester-Hills-based healthcare supplies provider Wright & Fillippis are getting to their destinations on propane power as the company converts 25 percent of its fleet to this clean form of fuel.

That means 12 of Wright & Fillippis' trucks and vans will run on propane as they deliver goods in Michigan. About half the vehicles have already been converted and are on the road and a propane station is up and operating at the company's headquarters.

"They're hoping to convert the entire fleet eventually," says Matt Sandstrom, mobility division manager for the Clean Energy Coalition, an Ann Arbor-based non-profit that steers companies through the process of converting to alternative fuels, whether for transportation or building.

The Wright & Fillippis fleet conversion came out of a partnership with the coalition through a $15 million grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. 

Wright & Fillippis and the Clean Energy Coalition worked with Roush CleanTech, a Plymouth Township company that designs and manufactures liquid propane autogas fuel systems for a variety of light and medium Ford vehicles. The technology, which reduces vehicle operating costs and vehicle emissions, is available to consumers through authorized Ford dealerships.

The Wright & Fillippis project is one of several clean-fuel conversions being directed by the coalition through a $40 million agreement with the Department of Energy, says Sandstrom.

Of all the clean fuel projects, about a third are propane, he says. The others are compressed natural gas, electric, and hydraulic hybrid, he says. The type of fuel used depends on the type of fleet and uses of the vehicles, and the coalition guides companies through the learning process to select what's best for them.

Companies working with the Clean Energy Coalition include Frito-Lay, which is converting 90 of its vehicles, about half of its Michigan fleet, to propane, and U-haul, which is converting 30 vehicles.

"It should be very clear that this is not R&D. This is a deployment of these technologies… They've already been true and tried," Sandstrom says.

For Wright & Fillippis, propane autogas will result in the use of 48,000 fewer gallons of gasoline, the elimination of 931,200 pounds of carbon dioxide released, and a savings of $3,000 per converted vehicle, or $36,000 total thus far.

Source: Matt Sandstrom, mobility division manager, Clean Energy Coalition
Writer: Kim North Shine

Signs Now moves U.S. headquarters to Plymouth Township

Signs Now, one of two main divisions of Allegra Network, has moved its leadership team from Sarasota, Florida to Plymouth Twp, bringing together its Northville and Florida operations under one roof, as the company branches into marketing and visual communications.

The move into an industrial building in Plymouth Twp consolidated Allegra's signs and print brands divisions. Allegra is one of the world's largest marketing, print and graphics communications companies and ranks in the top 200 of franchise companies worldwide.

Previously, the headquarters for its print brands operated from a 16,000-square-foot space in Northville and Signs Now was run from a 6,000-square-foot space in Sarasota.

"We ended up buying a 67,000-square-foot building that allowed us to bring those operations together," Allegra Network majority owner Mike Marcantonio says. "Plymouth Township has been great to work with. It is really a business-friendly community."

About 50 employees work at the new Plymouth headquarters, some hired since the move, and more are expected to be hired as the company adds new services, Marcantonio says. The company has about 20 employees in Florida and other parts of the country. Some employees remained in Florida. Top leadership came to Michigan and will work in offices carved out of the former industrial building. The other part of the building is ideal for operations and will be used for training franchisees and "rolling out new products."

Plymouth will be the site of administrative offices for company leadership, franchise training, research and development, and also house a number of related businesses, from commercial art provider Progressive Art & Frame Design to the new marketing and visual communications arm that will offer small- to medium-sized companies marketing and advertising services typically not available from large agencies.

"We're developing a marketing resource center here in Plymouth," Marcantonio says.
This will lead to the hiring of marketing strategists, social media experts, designers and other jobs, he says.

Allegra is privately owned by an investor group including Marcantonio, former vice president of Domino's Pizza, and Thomas S. Monaghan, the founder and former CEO of Domino's Pizza and founder of Ave Maria University.

Source: Mike Marcantonio, majority owner Allegra Network
Writer: Kim North Shine


Geothermal system saves Plymouth Cultural Center, Ice Arena big bucks

Plymouth is putting its ice arena's high gas bills on ice.

With its first gas bill after the installation of a geothermal heating and cooling system, the Plymouth Cultural Center and Ice Arena's savings are already running into the thousands of dollars. Steve Anderson, the city's recreation director, says the 2008 and 2009 September gas bills were $4,600 and $4,100; last month's was about $800. "We're excited to see how things pan out," he says.

The whole system is expected to be fully functional by the end of this week. The ice arena has been up and running for about two months.

Anderson explains that the system's efficiency not only costs less, but makes for better skating conditions. With smaller, more efficient compressors that kick on only as needed, the whole system doesn't fire up unless necessary. "Because they're smaller capacity units with multiple phases, they're only using what they need," Anderson says.

"Hockey likes hard, fast ice, and no standing water, which means the puck stops," he explains. "When we lay 140-degree water and it's snap freezing in 30-40 seconds, the surface is faster, the puck won't hit water, and it creates a better surface for the user."

Plus, the arena can now use the heat taken from the water elsewhere in the building. "The Zamboni puts down 140-degree water, and that's energy we've already paid for," he says. "We're (now) pulling heat out of the ice surface and sending it to other parts of the buildings."

Geothermal is seen as the top-of-the-line energy efficient heating and cooling system. There are other geothermal ice arenas in the United States and Canada, but this is Michigan's first.

The $1.1 million project was paid for by the city's general fund. Anderson gave credit to the city commission for being proactive and replacing an aging system, original to the 1972 building, that likely would have been due for an upgrade soon anyway. Electric bill savings will be apparent during the hotter summer months.

The facility, at 525 Farmer Road, houses an ice rink, meeting rooms, banquet rooms, and recreation department offices.

Source: Steve Anderson, recreation director, city of Plymouth
Writer: Kristin Lukowski

Emagine Entertainment plans to break ground on Royal Oak movie theater in August

The founder of what will be Royal Oak's new movie theater hopes to break ground by the end of this month or early next on the entertainment complex.

Paul Glantz, founder and chairman of Plymouth-based Emagine Entertainment, says the process has been challenging, yet exciting to bring a first-run theater complex offering food, alcohol, and bowling to the city. Yet, "I think this venue is going to be very successful," he says. "And I think it's going to be successful not just for our benefit, but for downtown Royal Oak."

He expects that not only will the theater bring in new visitors to the downtown area, but they'll stay and visit the existing restaurants, coffee shops, and stores. It's expected to create 100 full-time jobs in the kitchen, at the ticket counter, and in the food-service area.

"It's going to be a pretty substantial economic engine," he says.

At this time Glantz is reviewing contractor bids before breaking ground this summer. Helping to fund the project is a $1.25 million Brownfield Tax Credit from the Michigan Economic Development Corp, which helped garner support from Royal Oak's Downtown Development Authority, and what Glantz calls a "substantial economic boost."

"We are really in the home stretch in terms of starting construction," he says. "It's very exciting. You pour a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into bringing one of these projects to fruition."

He still hopes to have the theater up and running by April, to get all the kinks worked out before next summer's blockbuster season starts.

The 10-screen complex, 73,000 square feet spread over two stories, will be located on the parking lot on 11 Mile Road just east of Main Street, behind the Main Art Theatre. The $14 million project will house 1,680 seats and 16 lanes of bowling. There will also be a private party area/meeting room on a second-floor mezzanine level over the main entrance.

Source: Paul Glantz, founder and chairman of Emagine Entertainment
Writer: Kristin Lukowski

Downtown Plymouth streetscape project wraps up

Work is wrapping up on this year's phase of the downtown Plymouth streetscape project late this week.

The Plymouth Downtown Development Authority is spending $2 million to revamp the Wayne County suburb's streetscape, making it more pedestrian friendly and improving its overall aesthetics. The first phase, worth $500,000, of the two-year project rehabbed the intersection of Main Street and Penniman Avenue.

"It's looking great," says Tony Burscato, director of operations for the Plymouth DDA. "We have this new decorative compass and concrete intersection that we think will be quite popular for some time."

Other improvements include a resurfacing of the streets, realignment of new brick crosswalks, LED traffic lights, and countdown crosswalk signals.

Next year, the DDA plans to do the same for the intersection of Penniman and Ann Arbor Trail.

Source: Tony Burscato, director of operations for the Plymouth Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Jon Zemke

Plymouth looks at geothermal for Cultural Center

Plymouth is expecting significant cost savings through implementing a big-ticket green item in one of its facilities.

The city is considering switching its heating and cooling system from natural gas to geothermal at its Cultural Center. The facility houses an ice rink, meeting rooms, banquet rooms, and its recreation department offices.

It would cost about $1 million to remove the existing mechanisms and install the geothermal units. Geothermal is seen as the top-of-the-line energy efficient heating and cooling system. The city expects to make its investment back within 8-12 years and then enjoy significant savings after that.

"The energy savings is what does it for us," says Paul Sincock, city manager for Plymouth.

The circa-1972 building at 525 Farmer Road is served by a boiler that runs on natural gas and electricity for heating. It also uses three 100-ton compressors for the refrigeration system to keep the ice sink cool.

The city expects to make a decision on the project by April 19.

Source: Paul Sincock, city manager for Plymouth
Writer: Jon Zemke

Downtown Plymouth boasts 95 percent retail occupancy rate

Recession or not, downtown Plymouth is enjoying a healthy retail business environment, thanks to a 95 percent retail occupancy rate.

"We're extremely lucky," says John Buzuvis, director of business operations and special projects for the Plymouth Downtown Development Authority. "Our occupancy rate is high. We're getting constant inquires. We're faring better than most downtowns."

A big part of that is a steady flow of new companies coming into the city center that revolves around Kellogg Park. This year so far, three have either moved into or are setting up shop in the area.

One of those is Sun and Snow, which is finishing a build-out at 388 S Main St. near Ann Arbor Trail. Eclectic Attic, an upscale consignment boutique, is opening on Forrest Avenue. And the Rock Bar & Grill just opened on 844 Penniman Ave.

Buzuvis expects that occupancy rate to stay high as more firms compete for open spaces this year.

Source: John Buzuvis, director of business operations and special projects for the Plymouth Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Jon Zemke

Plymouth begins $2M downtown streetscape project

Downtown Plymouth is about to become much friendlier to pedestrians now that the city's Downtown Development Authority has begun work on the first phase of a streetscape project.

This phase calls for redoing the intersection of Main Street and Penniman Avenue, a $500,000 portion of the overall $2 million, two-year project. Construction is set to begin in earnest in April and finish within 4-6 weeks.

"It will bring a fresh look to the overall streetscape and improve the safety of the intersection," says John Buzuvis, director of business operations and special projects for the Plymouth DDA.

The improvements include a resurfacing of the streets, realignment of new brick crosswalks, new LED traffic lights, countdown crosswalk signals, and a cement intersection. The middle of the intersection will feature a decorative compass that will serve as a piece of public art.

The DDA plans to do the same for the intersection of Penniman and Ann Arbor Trail next year.

Source: John Buzuvis, director of business operations and special projects for the Plymouth Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Jon Zemke

Michigan Life Science Innovation Center opens in Plymouth

--This article originally appeared on September 24, 2009

It's official. The Michigan Life Science and Innovation Center, one of the state's most intricate business incubators, is open for business and already has an impressive list of tenants.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Ann Arbor SPARK, and Greater Wayne Economic Development Corporation cut the ribbon for the old Pfizer space that will now house a combination of experienced entrepreneurs and start-up life science companies.

The 57,518-square-foot facility offers office state-of-the-art laboratories for drug development and clinical research. That means millions of dollars of equipment that is available to start-ups at a low cost. It's also has a central location, putting it within 20 minutes of five counties and Metro Airport.

"There is really nothing of this magnitude or scope under one roof," says Roger Newton, president and CEO of
Esperion Therapeutics.

The companies that have signed on include Algal Scientific, Distributed Compliance Solutions, Esperion Therapeutics, Lifetime Nutrition, Lycera, Milad Pharmaceuticals Consulting, Next Generation Therapeutics, Velesco Pharmaceutical Services, and Chef House Catering, which operates the center's cafe.

Source:
Roger Newton, president and CEO of Esperion Therapeutics
Writer: Jon Zemke

Downtown Plymouth gets new biz incubator space

One downtown Plymouth office landlord is getting a little creative when it comes to filling empty space. Trowbridge Realty has created a business incubator of sorts at 705 S Main for promising, out-of-the-box start-ups.

"We needed something clever to market the building," says Ryan Richmond, vice president of Trowbridge Realty.

The building was originally built in 1999-2000 and features 30,000 square feet of Class A office space and a ground floor built for a realty firm. Well, that real-estate company bit the dust when the housing market crashed and 705 S Main was left with a lot of empty space.

Now prospective tenants can rent spaces as little as 120 square feet in size. The first few months are free as long as tenants have more than your average business idea. That means more new economy start-ups and fewer run-of-the-mill old economy firms.

"We're looking for newer ventures," Richmond says. "Some who can define some long-term growth. Someone with an out-of-the-box idea."

So far 6,000 square feet has been designated for the incubator, with 10 businesses already signed up. More could be allocated if the demand grows. For information, send an email to rrichmond@trowbridgerealty.com.

Source: Ryan Richmond, vice president of Trowbridge Realty
Writer: Jon Zemke

Local owners take over Parkside of Plymouth project

The Parkside of Plymouth development is getting a second lease on life now that new local investors have taken the project over.

The downtown development had stalled out earlier this year before Sue Knight and Patrick Tortora (Plymouth and Northville residents, respectively) took it over. The new developers hope to have it all wrapped up by the end of this winter and fully occupied by next May.

"It's constantly being worked on," says Chris Knight, the realtor representing the project. "There is a lot that needs to be done."

The new owners were attracted to its location on Penniman Avenue overlooking Kellogg Park and to the value of such a large development in a small downtown.

"We all love downtown Plymouth," Knight says. "It's such a positive environment to do business in."

The 18-unit structure will be a mixture of for-sale and for-lease residential units, plus ground floor commercial space. It will also utilize geothermal heating and cooling units, which are considered cutting edge environmentally friendly building technology. Geothermal technology uses the constant temperature of the earth to help heat and cool the building while keeping costs low.

Source: Chris Knight, the realtor representing Parkside of Plymouth
Writer: Jon Zemke

Secure-24 cuts ribbon at new tech center in Plymouth

The ribbon is cut and the servers are humming at Secure-24's new data center in Plymouth.

The new 18,000-square-foot facility will house operations for both the Southfield-based information security provider and Wayne County. The new tech center will create 250 new jobs, according to Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano.

"It's a new direction for Wayne County," Ficano says. "It's something that sends a signal that we want you to come and invest in the area."

The $3.7 million facility was created as part of a public-private partnership. Secure-24 was able to build the facility, along with another 20,000-square-foot tech center in Southfield, thanks to a $7.1 million state tax credit over 10 years.

The idea is to consolidate IT projects between Secure-24 and Wayne County in a state-of-the-art and secure space. Organizers behind the project hope it will also attract more IT firms to the area.

Source: Robert Ficano, county executive of Wayne County
Writer: Jon Zemke

Plymouth to finish parking deck work by Sept

Work on downtown Plymouth's central parking structure is gearing up to finish by month end.

The city had hoped to complete the $150,000 project earlier this summer, but the discovery of new problems with the deck prevented that. The project includes recoating, redoing seals and joints, and repairing cement. The stair tower also has been painted and the heating pipes insulated to help save energy.

The deck, built in 1983, is located behind the commercial storefronts of the square block bordered by Main Street, Penniman Avenue, Ann Arbor Trail, and South Harvey Street, a stone's throw from Kellogg Park.

Source: Plymouth Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Jon Zemke

Wayne County racks up $26M in neighborhood stabilization funds

The words green demolition would seem mutually exclusive at first glance, but Wayne County will take a stab at making them a reality this year.

It is preparing to start a pilot program that calls for the deconstruction and recycling of abandoned homes instead of the normal process of bulldozing them and dumping what's left into a landfill or the Detroit incinerator. The new program trains people how to deconstruct these homes to their foundations, recycling the details, metal, and wood everywhere from scrap yards to architectural warehouses. The foundations will then be dug up and recycled.

"We hope to hit the ground running within 60 days," says Jill Ferrari, senior executive project manager for Wayne County, who is overseeing the program and supervising its use of federal neighborhood stabilization funds.

The county has been awarded $25.9 million to buy, rehab and demolish foreclosed structures. It recently received the first $3.9 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Source: Jill Ferrari, senior executive project manager for Wayne County
Writer: Jon Zemke

Downtown Plymouth to start parking deck renovation

Work on one of downtown Plymouth's most important pieces of infrastructure is getting ready to start as early as next week.

The city expects to choose a contractor to renovate the dual-level parking deck this week. The project, originally budgeted for $200,000, is estimated to cost $150,000. It will include recoating, redoing seals and joints and repairing cement. The stair tower will also be painted and the heating pipes insulated to help save energy.

"Since the contractor is here, it's cheaper to do it now," says John Buzuvis, assistant director of operations for the city of Plymouth.

The deck, built in 1983, is located behind the commercial storefronts of the square block that is bordered by Main Street, Penniman Avenue, Ann Arbor Trail, and South Harvey Street, a stone's throw from Kellogg Park.

Source: John Buzuvis, assistant director of operations for the city of Plymouth
Writer: Jon Zemke

Dhake Industries begins work on Plymouth office expansion

More new economy jobs are heading to Metro Detroit now that one of its companies is expanding its office space.

Dhake Industries is renovating and expanding its global headquarters on the 15100 block of Northville Road in Plymouth. Plymouth-based DeMattia Group is renovating the existing building and building a 2-story addition. The extra space will add about one-third of the space it already leases.

"It's enough to make a sizable marketing area for them to showcase their products," says Michele Liotino, marketing manager for DeMattia Group.

The renovated and additional space will be used for engineering, research and development, quality assurance and application laboratories. It will facilitate an expansion of the company, but Liotino declined to say how much or how many jobs would be created. She did say that Dhake Industries sees the current economic decline as an opportunity to position itself for future growth.

"They're taking advantage of the opportunity right now to build so they have all of the products in line and ready to go," Liotino says.

Dhake Industries, founded in 1979, is a supplier of specialty coatings for engineered plastics and a minority owned company.

Source: Michele Liotino, marketing manager for DeMattia Group
Writer: Jon Zemke

Metro Detroit goes green with events, giveaways this spring

Spring is in the air and it's full of metaphors about sustainability and living green in Metro Detroit. Among them are a line of environmentally friendly events and giveaways in the next few weeks.

The biggest will be the 2nd-annual Green Street Fair in downtown Plymouth during the first weekend of May. The fair features a variety of companies, non-profits, workshops and entertainment with a focus on sustainability. Last year those attending learned about local eco-friendly and organic products and initiatives.

"We estimated we had about 80,000 people over the two-day event," says Mandi Buckland, one of the organizers for the Green Street Fair.

Not to be outdone, Macomb County is teaming up with Walmart and the state to give away energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs. The give-away, already in progress, will continue everyday between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. until more than 165,000 CFLs are distributed. Basically that is enough CFLs for half of the households in the county.

CFLs use about one quarter of the energy of an incandescent light bulb and last 10 times longer. Each can save up to $30 in electricity costs per bulb. They are being distributed at Walmart stores in Chesterfield Township, Roseville, Shelby Township and Sterling Heights.

Lincoln Park is also looking at hosting a Sustainability Day on May 17 at its farmer's market. This would include a showcase of local environmentally friendly products.

Source: Mandi Buckland, organizer for the Green Street Fair, Macomb County and Leslie Lynch-Wilson, organizer of the Lincoln Park Sustainability Day
Writer: Jon Zemke

Plymouth/Canton trail, Wayne streetscape to get over $4M in improvements

Walking is about to become a bit easier in Wayne County's suburbs this year now that the state has agreed to fund projects in the Plymouth/Canton area and the city of Wayne.

The Michigan Department of Transportation plans to spend about $4 million rebuilding portions of the hiking/biking path along I-275 in Plymouth and Canton townships. The improvements will include new signage for the trail and bringing it up to Americans with Disability Act standards.

The I-275 Bike Path has suffered a lot of wear and tear since it was built in the 1970s. Its 44 miles stretching between Northville and Frenchtown Township have watched erosion, decay and mother nature wreak havoc on the trail, making some parts impassable.

"It will be 100 percent better," says Nancy Krupiarz, director of the Michigan Trails & Greenways Alliance. "There is a lot of surface deterioration. There are a lot of bridges that can't be used anymore. There are a lot of sink holes. There are a lot of intersections that aren't passable."

MDOT will also spend $177,890 to improve the streetscape on Wayne Road in the city of Wayne. The $222,362 project (the city is chipping in $44,472) will install brick pavers, planters and other landscaping on Wayne between Harroun and Annapolis streets. Work is set to begin this summer.

Source: Nancy Krupiarz, director of the Michigan Trails & Greenways Alliance and the State of Michigan
Writer: Jon Zemke

Secure-24 lands Wayne County for its new data center

Not long after Southfield-based information security provider Secure-24 put the finishing touches on its new data center in Plymouth, it signed one of its first clients -- and it's a big one.

Wayne County will use the data center for all of its IT and technology needs. The county and its 43 communities is expected to occupy 2,000 square feet (with an option to expand up to 5,000 square feet) of the data center.

"The success of this current initiative will dictate any future relationship," says Cheryl O’Brien, spokeswoman for Secure-24.

The new $5 million facility measures in at 18,000 square feet and comes with all of the fancy bells and whistles that get nerds geeked up. Construction was completed last winter and the firm expects to open it this spring.

In recent years, Secure-24 has hit triple-digit growth; headcount now exceeds 100. That growth helps explain why the
Edward Lowe Foundation has named the firm one of Michigan's 50 Companies to Watch.

The firm, founded in 2000, manages the IT of financial, payroll and logistic services for companies like Foresee Results and GM Racing, among others. Its founders, Matthias Horch and Volker Straub, relocated from Germany and chose Metro Detroit over California.

Source: Cheryl O’Brien, spokeswoman for Secure-24
Writer: Jon Zemke

Plymouth prepares to renovate downtown parking deck

One of the most important pieces of downtown Plymouth is set to have some body work done this summer.

The city is planning to spend about $200,000 to repair and renovate it's two-level parking deck in the heart of downtown. The deck, built in 1983, is located behind the commercial storefronts of the square block that is bordered by Main Street, Penniman Avenue, Ann Arbor Trail and South Harvey Street a stone's throw from Kellogg Park

"It's one of the key parking areas for downtown, especially for long-term parking," says John Buzuvis, assistant director of operations for the city of Plymouth. "It's centrally located and convenient for the business owners and patrons."

Engineers are currently assessing what has to be done and what it cost to renovate the parking structure. City officials expect it will need to be recoated, seals and joints redone and cement repaired.

Work is expected to be done this summer.

Source: John Buzuvis, assistant director of operations for the city of Plymouth
Writer: Jon Zemke

Plymouth holds meeting to consider new YMCA proposal

A new YMCA is coming closer to reality in Plymouth. The city will hold a special meeting tonight on the proposal to build the new recreation center on the Bathey Property.

"We're a ways away from starting but the developer is anticipating construction in 2009," says Paul Sincock, city manager for Plymouth.

The 16-acre site is just outside of downtown at Mill Street and Lilley Road. For years it served as an industrial plant for heavy manufacturing storage containers for the automotive industry. (Think of giant French-fry baskets that could deep fry an axel.)

The site went vacant about four years ago when the city took possession of it after the owner failed to pay taxes. The developer, Royal Oak-based Connective Properties, bought it for $2.2 million late last year.

Connective is still working out planning details with the city and financial details with lenders. However, it is also trying to take advantage of the Wayne County Land Bank's TURBO program.

Source: Paul Sincock, city manager for Plymouth
Writer: Jon Zemke

Lycera, Esperion plan to move into old Pfizer space in Plymouth

Ann Arbor SPARK has just nailed down the second of two anchor tenants for its Life Science and Innovation Center, aka the old Pfizer facility in Plymouth.

Lycera joins Esperion Therapeutics as the second major tenant in the space. Both companies will take up about 11,000 square feet of the center. They will also serve as magnets for other smaller life sciences-based firms SPARK hopes to attract to the facility after they move in.

"They will both begin moving in over the next 30-60 days or so," says Michael Finney, CEO of Ann Arbor SPARK.

Michigan's 21st Century Jobs Fund provided $1.5 million to buy the complex earlier this year. The idea is to help connect entrepreneurs, business accelerator organizations and local start-ups.

The center is backed with $3.5 million from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Ann Arbor SPARK, Greater Wayne Economic Development and a private foundation. It will feature state-of-the-art lab facilities, along with business building services such as peer-to-peer mentoring and funding support.

There is still about 35,000 square feet left for lease in the center. Finney sees small start-ups rooted in the life sciences industry occupying it.

Source: Michael Finney, CEO of Ann Arbor SPARK
Writer: Jon Zemke

Brembo North America makes move into Plymouth

Business in Plymouth just got a little more crowded now that Brembo North America has consolidated its operations at the MetroWest Technology Park.

The firm that designs braking systems will merge its corporate and research offices into a new 45,000-square-foot office building. Plymouth-based DeMattia Group will build the structure and manage Brembo's 12-year lease.

Brembo North America is a subsidiary of Italy-based Brembo, which has plants in 14 countries on three continents. The company will manage many of its global assets from its new offices in Plymouth. The move is expected to take place next summer.

Brembo's new facility will be located near M-14. It joins Johnson Controls, AVL North America, Freudenberg-NOK, Dow Corning and Metaldyne.

Source: Michele Liotino, spokesman for DeMattia Group
Writer: Jon Zemke

Plymouth plans for second Green Street Fair next spring

Living La Vida Eco is set to come back to downtown Plymouth next with the return of the Green Street Fair.

The fair is all about living and encouraging an eco-friendly, sustainable lifestyle. It's geared toward spreading the word about the benefits of sustainable, organic and eco-friendly products and services.

Next year it will be held May 1-3. The city is allowing the fair to expand to three days from two because of the success of last year's inaugural event. Officials estimate that 90,000 people attended the fair that featured 150 vendors of green products.

This year the Green Street Fair will feature a market village, speakers, live music, street performers, organic cuisine and public art.

Terri O’Brien, partner of Green Street Fair Inc., discusses their recycling initiatives for the 2009 event.

"We are stepping up our recycling efforts even more at the 2009 Green Street Fair," says Terri O’Brien, partner of Green Street Fair. "In addition to full-service recycling stations, the event will also offer manned compost stations which will be available to cleanly dispose of food and food service items."

For information, call (734) 259-2983 or send an email to info@greenstreetfair.com.

Source: Mandi Bucklan, spokeswoman for the Green Street Fair
Writer: Jon Zemke

Construction nearly done at Parkside in downtown Plymouth

Where a Masonic Temple once stood overlooking Kellogg Park in downtown Plymouth is now the home of Parkside of Plymouth, a development that is visibly closer to completion.

The project on Penniman Avenue is about four months shy of opening. Most of the work on the building's exterior is finished with the remaining construction left on the outside. The residents of the 18-unit structure will be able to move in soon after. Right now only 10 of the luxury condos are left in the three story building.

Each unit comes with hardwood floors, granite countertops and one underground parking space. Eight of the loft units will be one story while the remaining 10 will be 1.5 stories. However, some of the floor plans can be redesigned and combined to create larger units. Prices range from $250,000 to $360,000.

The building will also utilize geothermal heating and cooling units, which are considered at the cutting edge of environmentally friendly building technology. Geothermal uses the constant temperature of the earth to help heat and cool the building, helping keep those costs low.

Washington, Michigan-based Meridien Development is the developer behind the project. For information, call Lesley Aiello at (734) 357-0625.

Source: Lesley Aiello, sales and marking director for Parkside of Plymouth
Writer: Jon Zemke

Plymouth looks to expand parking options in downtown

Plymouth officials are looking to head off a potential parking shortage by creating more spaces. Now if only we can get the titans of finance to follow the same sort of logic.

"In the next few years we will reach the limit for public parking so we will have to provide more spaces," says John Buzuvis, the assistant director of operations for the Plymouth Downtown Development Authority.

The DDA wants expand the East Central surface parking lot, which is bordered by Main, Union and Church streets. To do that it hopes to buy five adjacent properties and raze the old single family homes turned businesses to create more parking.

Doing so would create another 60-65 parking spaces. The East Central lot already has 204 parking spaces.

Representatives from the DDA plan to approach the property owners in the next few weeks to see if that's feasible. The DDA plans to revisit the issue again before the end of the year.

Source: John Buzuvis, the assistant director of operations for the Plymouth Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Jon Zemke

Urbane Apts takes over leases for Connektiv Communities projects

If it seems like there isn't a vibrant downtown community that Urbane Apartments is extending its reach into, it's probably because it's becoming truer everyday.

The Royal Oak-based company has made a mint turning old apartment buildings near revitalized downtowns into high-end places to live. Now the company is branching out into new construction, handling the leasing for new developments in Royal Oak and Plymouth.

Urbane has formed a partnership with Connektiv Communities to lease out unoccupied units in Connektiv's for-sale developments, such as Grant Park Townlofts in Royal Oak and 300 Hamilton in Plymouth. Both developments are within easy walking distance of their respective downtowns but have struggled with sales as the housing market has crashed.

Urbane owns and operates eight buildings, is renovating a few more and ready to close on yet another in downtown Ferndale. The apartment buildings are mainly located in southeast Oakland County. For information on Urbane Apartments offerings, call (248) 988-7125.

Source: Diane Sawinski, director of marketing and leasing for Urbane Apartments
Writer: Jon Zemke


849 Penniman sells out in downtown Plymouth

If you're looking for a place to live in downtown Plymouth the developers behind the 849 Penniman project can't help. The development's last unit sold this spring, closing out sales for the project.

That last unit took the longest to move for the developer, Roseville-base Ferlito Construction. It recently cut the price to $148,900 to spark interest and sales in the project.

The development's units started in the 900-square-foot range with modestly bigger units. Condos included a terrace balcony, hardwood floors, granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances. Parking for each resident is available through a city parking deck behind the building.

The condos sit atop two floors of commercial space, which are leased to a wine bar called Buon Vino Winery on the ground floor and a text messaging company called Crucial Contact on the second.

The new building replaces an older wooden building that once housed Plymouth Office Supply.

Source: Mike Galliers, real-estate agent in charge of 849 Penniman Ave.
Writer: Jon Zemke


Plymouth's Green Street Fair to kick off this weekend

Living an eco-friendly, sustainable lifestyle will be the main focus of the Green Street Fair in downtown Plymouth this weekend.

The fair is geared toward spreading the word about the benefits of sustainable, organic and eco-friendly products and services. It will be held in downtown on Saturday and Sunday.

The event will combine businesses, artisans and entertainers to promote the idea of becoming more environmentally friendly through everyday activities and purchases. Among the major institutions participating in the event are Whole Foods, Lawrence Technological University and Great Lakes Renewal Energy Association.

For information, call (734) 259-2983 or send an email to info@greenstreetfair.com.

Source: Green Street Fair
Writer: Jon Zemke


Sales for Plymouth’s 300 Hamilton chug along

The agents behind the 300 Hamilton loft development are taking it one customer at a time. Not a bad strategy in a real-estate market where even having a single buyer a month puts you ahead of most other developers.

That’s what the downtown Plymouth project has been averaging with nine of the 25 units sold and occupied. Prices on the remaining units start at $175,000 -- $25,000 less than where they started last year.

The lofts range in size and price from 1,100 to 2,400 square feet. Each unit comes with a terrace balcony, exposed brick walls, concrete floors and 10-foot ceilings. The development is on Hamilton Street near Row Street, two blocks from Kellog Park in downtown Plymouth.

Royal Oak-based Connektiv Communities, which also has a development in Royal Oak and is planning another one in Northville, is behind 300 Hamilton. For information, call (248) 497-2163.

Source: Shelby Fulkerson, director of sales and marketing for Connektiv Communities
Writer: Jon Zemke


Meetings set for development of regional transit plan

Improving regional transit, it's one of those phrases everyone likes to say but few seem to want to put the hard work into doing.

Until recently. Maybe it's those $4 a gallon gasoline projections.

Within the last few years regional leaders have worked to streamline and integrate rival transit authorities, establish commuter rail lines and propose light rail lines. But putting all of these pieces of the transit puzzle together is arguably the most important aspect of improving overall regional transit, which is exactly what Metro Detroit's Regional Transportation Coordinating Council (what's left of DARTA) is trying to do.

The council, led by transit czar John Hertel, will host regional transit planning open houses in the tri-county area in early April. Hertel's group is developing a regional transit plan for Metro Detroit as a basis for applying for federal funds (the mother's milk of mass transit initiatives) and is hosting the meetings to get public input on developing this vision.

The first meeting will be held on April 8 in downtown Detroit at the SEMCOG Conference Room in the Buhl Building, 535 Griswold. That will be followed by meetings in Oakland County (April 9) and Macomb County (April 10).

The Oakland County meeting will be held in the Oakland County Board of Commissioners Auditorium, 1200 North Telegraph Road, in Pontiac. The Macomb County meeting will be at 15 Main in Mt. Clemens.

For information, contact the Regional Transportation Coordinating Council at drmt2006@sbcglobal.net or at (313) 393-3333.

Source: Megan Owens, executive director of the Transportation Riders United and John Swatosh, deputy director of the Regional Transportation Coordinating Council
Writer: Jon Zemke


Penniman Place condos nearly sold out in downtown Plymouth

Five down, three to go. That's all that's needed to close out the Penniman Place development in downtown Plymouth. Throw in 3,600 square feet of ground floor retail space and the building at 855 Penniman Ave. is finito.

"There are a couple of things in the works but nothing definite (to fill up the space)," says Adam Freund, the development’s manager. "It’s waiting for the right people with the right vision for it."

The loft-style condos range in size from two units with 1,300 square feet to a single unit with 2,300 square feet. Each one comes with heated indoor parking, 10-foot ceilings, granite countertops, balconies, secured storage and hardwood floors. They are priced in the low $300,000s and $400,000s respectively.

The structure is built in the style of a traditional three-story storefront similar to the rest of the buildings in downtown. Part of the ground floor retail space is leased or bought. The remaining 3,600 square feet can be either rented or purchased through a number of different ways, such as a land contract. A salon on the first floor is buying its space in the building through a land contract.

For information contact Freund at afreund@wtrealty.com or call (248) 624-7200.

Source: Adam Freund, manager of Penniman Place
Writer: Jon Zemke


Developer slashes prices to close out downtown Plymouth condo project

Going once... Going twice... The developer behind 849 Penniman hopes his latest price cut will sell the very last condo in the project.

"As soon as we did that we had a plethora of showings on it," says Mike Galliers, real-estate agent in charge of 849 Penniman. "It's been around for a while so it's time to move it."

The developer, Roseville-base Ferlito Construction, hopes the new price of $148,900 gets it moving into the right hands. This latest price cut brings down the cost from the unit’s original price in the upper $100,000s. The 900-square-foot unit has one bedroom, 1.5 bathrooms, a terrace balcony, hardwood floors, granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances. Parking for it is available through a city parking deck behind the building.

The other condos in the structure sold despite a glutted market. That is on top of the structure’s two floors of office space, which are leased to a wine bar called Buon Vino Winery on the ground floor and a text messaging company called Crucial Contact on the second floor.

The new building replaces an older wooden building that once housed Plymouth Office Supply.

For information, call Coldwell Banker Schweitzer real-estate agent Mike Galliers at (734) 453-6800.

Source: Mike Galliers, real-estate agent in charge of 849 Penniman Ave.
Writer: Jon Zemke


Plymouth green fair showcases new eco-friendly projects, products

Going green is going to be coming to Plymouth in a big way when the Green Street Fair sets up in early May.

The fair will help spread the word about the benefits of green, organic and eco-friendly products and services. It will be held in downtown on May 3 and May 4 and is expected to draw up to 100,000 people.

The event will combine businesses, artisans and entertainers to promote the idea of becoming more environmentally friendly through everyday activities and purchases. Among the major institutions participating in the event are Whole Foods, Lawrence Technological University and Great Lakes Renewal Energy Association.

For information, call (734) 259.2983 or send an email to info@greenstreetfair.com.

Source: Green Street Fair and The Kirkwood Group

Writer: Jon Zemke


Parkside of Plymouth selling, summer completion expected

Some of downtown Plymouth's newest residents are gearing up to move in by this summer. That's when work on the Parkside of Plymouth project is set to finish.

In defiance of the tough local economy, the downtown development only has six of the building's 18 units still available. The latest sale included a $480,000 custom designed residence with views of Kellogg Park, which the building overlooks. The framing of the 3.5-story building is nearly finished. Construction workers are expected to put the structure's roof on this week.

"We have redesigned a few floor plans to be slightly larger 2 or 3 bedroom residences," says Lesley Aiello, sales and marking director for Parkside of Plymouth. "The smallest units are starting at $250k and the larger at $360k."

Each unit comes with hardwood floors, granite countertops and one underground parking space. Eight of the loft units will be one story while the remaining 10 will be 1.5 stories.

The building will also utilize geothermal heating and cooling units, which are considered at the cutting edge of environmentally friendly building technology. Geothermal uses the constant temperature of the earth to help heat and cool the building, helping keep those costs low.

The 50-foot tall structure faces Penniman Avenue and stands on the space once occupied by a Masonic Temple.

Washington, Michigan-based Meridien Development is the developer behind the project. For information, call Aiello at (734) 357-0625.

Source: Lesley Aiello, sales and marking director for Parkside of Plymouth
Writer: Jon Zemke


MDOT looking for input on state's five-year transportation plan

State officials are looking for regular Joe's (or Josephine's) to give their opinion on where state transportation should go and how they want it to get there. The solicitation is part of the annual comment period for the Michigan Department of Transportation's Five Year Plan.

The plan covers how Michigan intends to spends its resources on transportation issues, such as road construction and mass transit, in the next five years. In the past this has mainly focused on road construction, but this year the emergence of the Detroit to Ann Arbor commuter rail project, Ann Arbor to Howell commuter rail project, Detroit Transit Options for Growth Study (aka Woodward mass transit line) and a host of local greenway initiatives are giving locals a variety of subjects to pontificate on.

You can make your opinion known where it counts here. The deadline for public comments is Dec. 21.

Source: Michigan Department of Transportation
Writer: Jon Zemke


Feds honor Metro Detroit's 100-mile network of greenways

It's not always a bad thing when the feds are paying attention to you. Such is the case when the Federal Highway Administration recognized the Michigan Department of Transportation with an award for "exceptional environmental stewardship" of its 100-mile network of trails and greenways in southeast Michigan.

"This award reflects our commitment to making non-motorized trails available as a transportation mode," says Kirk T. Steudle, director of MDOT. "Trails are a part of the transportation mix that is essential to protecting the health and well being of Michigan residents, and greenways contribute to enhancing quality of life."

The award largely recognizes the efforts of the Southeastern Michigan GreenWays Initiative. The public and private partnership has helped organize efforts to finance and develop a 100-mile network of greenways across Metro Detroit since 2001. The regional effort involves more than 75 municipalities in Warren, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe Washtenaw, St. Clair and Livingston counties.

Greenways provide recreation, transportation, conservation, tourism and economic benefits by creating non-motorized trails in developed areas that nurture and preserve green space. The GreenWays Initiative has worked to expand and enhance local greenways, helping leverage more than $82 million in investments in greenways from public and private sources. Although great progress has been made in recent years, Metro Detroit's greenways system is still behind leaders like Indianapolis, leaving plenty of work for southeast Michigan's leaders.

Source: Michigan Department of Transportation
Writer: Jon Zemke


Developer lowers price to clear out last condo in 849 Penniman Ave. in Plymouth

The lone condo left in the 849 Penniman Ave. development in downtown Plymouth is one too many, so the developer is cutting the price by $10,000 in order to close out and move onto his next project.

The 849 Penniman project has enjoyed more than its fair share of success this year despite a glutted real-estate market and troubled economy. The first two floors of the three-story building have been leased, to a wine bar and text-massage company, leaving only one of the third floor condos unsold.

The price of the last condo has been lowered to $169,000. The 900-square-foot home has one bedroom, 1.5 bathrooms, a terrace balcony, hardwood floors, granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances. Parking for it is available through a city parking deck behind the building.

Buon Vino Winery will open in the ground floor early next year. The mini-custom winery will allow its customers to make their own wine and enjoy it at the wine bar, a concept that is quite popular in California and Texas. It joins Crucial Contact, a text-messaging company, which is leasing the second floor. The company translates text messages sent into TV shows, such as voting for American Idol.

The new building replaces an older wooden building that once housed Plymouth Office Supply. The project was headed up by Roseville-base Ferlito Construction.

For information, call Coldwell Banker Schweitzer real estate agent Mike Galliers at (734) 453-6800.

Source: Mike Galliers, real-estate agent in charge of 849 Penniman Ave.
Writer: Jon Zemke


Parkside of Plymouth construction nears final phase, move set for early '08

While the skeleton structure of the Parkside of Plymouth project is visible in downtown Plymouth right now, the people that will occupy the mixed-use development are expected to move in early next year.

So far 8 of the building's 18 condo units have sold, even though first, second and third floors of the 3.5 story building are still being framed in.

"We just put out some options for some larger units," says Lesley Aiello, sales and marking director for Parkside of Plymouth.

The units range in size from 900 to 1,100 square feet and vary in price from $265,000 to $315,000. Each unit comes with hardwood floors, granite countertops and one underground parking space. Eight of the loft units will be one story while the remaining 10 will be 1.5 stories.

The building will also utilize geothermal heating and cooling units, which are considered at the cutting edge of environmentally friendly building technology. Geothermal uses the constant temperature of the earth to help heat and cool the building, helping keep those costs low.

The building will be 50 feet tall facing Penniman Avenue and overlooking Kellogg Park. The structure is in the space once occupied by a Masonic Temple. Washington, Michigan-based Meridien Development is the developer behind the project.

For information, call Aiello at (734) 357-0625.

Source: Lesley Aiello, sales and marking director for Parkside of Plymouth
Writer: Jon Zemke


Main Street Bank expands in downtown Northville, Plymouth

Chalk one up for the little guy. The little guy is Northville-based Main Street Bank which is expanding in both downtown Northville and Plymouth.

Main Street Bank opened in downtown Northville 3.5 years ago. Since then it has outgrown its offices and so opened a new headquarters in Northville Square. Along with the original branch and yet another in downtown Plymouth, three has become the magic number for the local business.

The original location, 201 E Main St. near Poole's Tavern, only had 6,500 square feet. The new headquarters in Northville Square has a spacious 10,500, making it one of the anchor tenants in that new development.

"Downtown Northville has a lot of things going on," says Audrey Mistor, president and COO of Main Street Bank. "We are a bank that wanted to be in the middle of downtown Northville."

The bank sees the same sort of potential in nearby downtown Plymouth. Main Street Bank opened a branch there, 706 S Main St. near Kellog Park, this past summer. It plans to consolidate its gains in the next 18 months before looking at expanding to another nearby city in 2009.

Source: Audrey Mistor, president and COO of Main Street Bank
Writer: Jon Zemke


Plymouth's 849 Penniman leases out ground floor to winery, project nearly closed out

Patrons of downtown Plymouth will soon get the chance to not only sip wine but make it too, now that the 849 Penniman Ave development is nearly closed out.

Buon Vino Winery will open in the ground floor of the new 849 Penniman building early next year. The mini-custom winery will allow its customers to make their own wine and enjoy it at the wine bar, a concept that is quite popular in California and Texas. Juices from around the world will also be available.

Entreprenuer John Corsi choose downtown Plymouth over other bustling downtowns, like Ann Arbor, because of the large amount of foot traffic and vitality of the restaurants.

"The restaurant scene seems to be doing really well here," Corsi says. "This seems like the perfect place for this business."

Buon Vino also fills a major void in the 849 Penniman building, occupying all 1,900 square feet of the ground floor in the three-story, mixed-use building. It joins Crucial Contact, a text-messaging company, which is leasing the second floor. The company translates text messages sent into TV shows, such as voting for American Idol.

Only one condo for sale remains to close out the development. The home has 900 square feet of space, one bedroom, 1.5 bathrooms, a terrace balcony, hardwood floors, granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances. It is priced at $179,000. Parking for it is available through a city parking deck behind the building. To help move the condo, the developer is building 100 square feet of storage space for the condo in the building.

The new building replaces an older wooden building that once housed Plymouth Office Supply. The project was headed up by Roseville-base Ferlito Construction.

For information, call Coldwell Banker Schweitzer real estate agent Mike Galliers at (734) 453-6800.

Source: Mike Galliers, real-estate agent in charge of 849 Penniman Ave. and Jon Corsi, owner of Buon Vino Winery
Writer: Jon Zemke

Amelia Row development in Plymouth could begin next year

When the real-estate market starts to pick up, that is when the Amelia Row project in downtown Plymouth will begin to rise. That could happen as soon as next spring.

The 84-unit project will go up on Amelia and Main streets, near the railroad tracks on downtown's north side. A combination of three- and four-story buildings will house 84 condos. There will also be 8,000 square feet of retail space facing Main. The development will replace an old fertilizer factory that was razed last year.

Royal Oak-based Connectiv Communities is behind the project. It already has a development in Plymouth called 300 Hamilton, which just opened to residents.

Source: Connectiv Communities
Writer: Jon Zemke


Farbman announces first member of Michigan Now! program

Environmental Compliance Office, Inc. is the first start-up company to take advantage of Southfield-based Farbman Group's Michigan Now! program.

The environmental engineering company will open its new office in the Fisher Building in Detroit's New Center neighborhood this week.

The company will occupy the subsidized office space for three years. Environmental Compliance Office, which has $1.2 million in revenues, expects to create five new jobs within the next year.

Michigan Now! provides office and commercial space at greatly reduced rates, or even free in some cases, to businesses and entrepreneurs in growth industries both in and out of state. The idea is that by defraying the rental costs will free up capital in start-ups, allowing them to focus their resources on improving their business.

That is expected to provide enough incentives to attract out-of-state businesses to move to Michigan, improving the state's economy in the long- and short-term. The program will also offer to match up these companies with local banks, consulting firms and attorneys to help them grow their business.

Vimala Anishetty and Dennis Karl, co-owner of Environmental Compliance Office, moved their company from Plymouth to Detroit to take advantage of the program.

"Dennis and I are certainly very excited about this opportunity. The Michigan Now! Program has dramatically increased the likelihood of our success and we are profoundly grateful for it," Anishetty says in a statement. "We look forward to the expertise of the many companies that have volunteered their services to help us help Michigan. The need for environmental compliance and safety is growing every day and Michigan can be a leader in this important sector."

ECO provides environmental engineering services to all manufacturing and other facilities that are required to achieve and maintain compliance with environmental and safety laws, regulations and other standards

The deadline for applications for the program has been extended indefinitely. More information can be found online at michigannow.net or by calling 866-NewMich (642-4639).

Source: Farbman Group
Writer: Jon Zemke


Residents set to move into newly completed 300 Hamilton in downtown Plymouth

In with the new, new residents that is. The first occupants of the 300 Hamilton loft development in downtown Plymouth are moving in this month shortly after construction wraps up.

A model unit of the four-story project will also open in July. So far at least nine of the 25 lofts have sold.

The lofts range in size and price from 1,100 to 2,400 square feet and $199,000 to $550,000, respectively. Each unit comes with a terrace balcony, exposed brick walls, concrete floors and 10-foot ceilings. The development is on Hamilton Street near Row Street, two blocks from Kellog Park in downtown Plymouth.

Royal Oak-based Connectiv Communities, which also has a development in Royal Oak and is planning one in Northville later this year, is behind 300 Hamilton. For information, call (248) 497-2163.

Source: Shelby Fulkerson, director of sales and marketing for Connektiv
Writer: Jon Zemke


Construction wraps up on 849 Penniman Ave. in downtown Plymouth

The easy part, finishing construction on the 849 Penniman Ave project in downtown Plymouth, is done.

That just leaves the hard part of filling it up. Well, hard in Metro Detroit's competitive economy.

The three-story, mixed-use building has one condo left for sale and its ground floor retail space available for lease. The second floor office space has been leased and the third floor condo of the brick building has been sold. Crucial Contact, a text-messaging company, has moved into the 1,900 square foot office space on the second floor. The company translates text messages sent into TV shows, such as voting for American Idol.

The remaining condo has 900 square feet of space, one bedroom, 1.5 bathrooms, a terrace balcony, hardwood floors, granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. It is priced at $179,000. Parking for it is available through a city parking deck behind the building.

The new building replaces an older wooden building that once housed Plymouth Office Supply and is headed up by Roseville-base Ferlito Construction.

For information, call Coldwell Banker Schweitzer real estate agent Mike Galliers at (734) 453-6800.

Source: Mike Galliers, real-estate agent in charge of 849 Penniman Ave.
Writer: Jon Zemke


Money names Farmington, Plymouth in top 100 places to live in U.S.

Plymouth and Farmington are so Money!

Just about everybody thinks their town is one of the best places to live in America, but a top-100 ranking in a nationwide magazine doesn't hurt when making that argument. That would explain why Farmington and Plymouth residents have a little more swagger in their step after Money Magazine named them in their Best Places to Live: Top 100 for 2007.

They were two of three Michigan municipalities, the third was Saline at No. 59, on this year's list, which "focused on smaller places that offered the best combination of economic opportunity, good schools, safe streets, things to do and a real sense of community."

Plymouth Township ranked the highest of the state's towns at No. 37. Although the city of Plymouth and Plymouth Township are two distinct municipalities, the difference is more akin to what separates New and Olde Springfield in the famous "The Simpsons" episode.

Money magazine called Plymouth "a quiet community with a firm commitment to providing outdoor recreational space, demonstrated through the opening of multiple parks and the upkeep of a township-owned golf course." It also highlighted the new Bosch technical center that created 400 new jobs and its "short commute to Detroit."

Farmington made the rankings at No. 55 because it exhibits "a strong commitment to family and community, as evidenced in the large number of initiatives and events focused on bringing the town together." The magazine also points out Farmington's vibrant downtown has been enhanced with amenities such as the Civic Theatre and recent additions Sundquist Farmington Pavilion and Riley Park. It's also an "easy commute" to Ann Arbor and Detroit.

Source: Money magazine
Writer: Jon Zemke


Plymouth DDA plans to reinvest in Penn Theater movie nights

If you show it, they will come.

That is in essence the Plymouth DDA's reasoning behind its plans to invest $18,000 to continue its Movie Lovers series at the Penn Theatre in downtown Plymouth. 

The Plymouth DDA spent $21,000 this year on the Movie Lovers series, which funded the free showing of movies at the Penn Theatre every Thursday between February and May. Each month of the series has a theme, such as westerns or science fiction of Alfred Hitchcock. 

The movie series was hit this year, attracting about 2,000 patrons over the 18 weeks worth of showings in the dead of winter. Most of those patrons came from Plymouth, but many others came from communities across Metro Detroit. 

DDA officials believe the movie patrons, which must get the free tickets from downtown businesses, will spend more time shopping, eating and drinking in downtown. The series also helps support the Penn Theatre, an old downtown movie theater opened in 1941 and closed in recent years. It recently was saved by the Friends of the Penn Theater group and is undergoing improvements.

Source: Sherrie Pryor, operations director for the Plymouth DDA
Writer: Jon Zemke


Farbman's Michigan Now! program offers free office space to growing companies

Taking a page from the "Only we can solve our problems" playbook, Southfield-based Farbman Group is starting the Michigan Now! program to attract, retain and grow new businesses in Metro Detroit.

The program is offering office and commercial space at greatly reduced rates, or even free in some cases, to businesses and entrepreneurs in growth industries both in and out of state.

"Now is the time for businesses to play a role in moving our state forward. We cannot sit by idly and place the burden solely on the shoulders of government," David Farbman, co-president of Farbman Group, says in a statement. "The old way of doing business is no longer working for Michigan and business owners have the power to make a positive impact. The state is its own greatest resource. We have creative and well educated individuals, tremendous real estate spaces and a wealth of natural resources that simply need to be connected."

The idea is that by defraying the rental costs will free up capital in start-ups, allowing them to focus their resources on improving their business. It also hopes that the reduced rates will be big enough incentives to attract out-of-state businesses to Michigan. Farbman Group hopes growing businesses like this at the grassroots level will help boost the state’s sagging economy in the short and long term.

The program will also offer to match up these companies with local banks, consulting firms and attorneys to help them grow their business. So far about a dozen such organizations have signed up to take part in the program.

Applications for the program are due by July 31. More information can be found online at michigannow.net or by calling 866-NewMich (642-4639).  

Source: Farbman Group
Writer: Jon Zemke


Plymouth moving forward with city hall renovations

The city of Plymouth is working on putting on a better face for the public with plans to renovate the exterior of city hall this summer.

A water problem causing rot and other damage is prompting the city to invest in restoring the exterior of the building, 201 S. Main St. The work includes new paint, roof, wood trim and plaster work.

The city is taking bids on the project in June and expects to start construction later this summer and wrap up before the fall. 

Source: James Penn, building officials for Plymouth


Rail service could bring $719 million in investment to Michigan

A study by the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative states upgrading passenger rail service across the Midwest could provide up to $719 million in investment, $3.5 billion in user benefits to Michigan, 6,970 new jobs, more transportation choices and a significant reduction in pollution.

Nine states from across the Midwest, including Michigan, are part of the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative, which is pushing for the creation of a 3,000-mile Midwest Regional Rail System, similar to systems on the east coast. Trains running out of a hub in Chicago would travel to nine Midwest states at speeds up to 110 mph, making travel times competitive with driving.

The proposed system would have three routes in Michigan that would connect Chicago to Metro Detroit, Port Huron and Grand Rapids. The study estimates the system would generate $23.1 in user benefits, such as time savings, and $4.9 billion in investment in the Midwest during the project's first 40 years. Of that, Metro Detroit could see as much as $315 million in user benefits.

Passenger rail service, provided by Amtrak, ridership in Michigan has increased steadily wince 2002 from 447,000 passengers to 673,000 passengers in 2006. The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments is also moving forward with plans to create a commuter rail line connecting Detroit, Dearborn, Metro Airport, Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor by the end of this year. 

For information on the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative study, visit michigan.gov/mdot/0,1607,7-151-11056---,00.html

Source: Michigan Department of Transportation


Greenways network taking shape for entire region

$89.5 million in funding will eventually result in a network of bike and pedestrian paths through the entire 7-county region. $15.3 million of that total stems from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan's Greenways Initiative.

Excerpt:

The project's scope could be huge. A Rails-to-Trails Conservancy study reported the potential for 2,400 miles of trails in southeast Michigan. "That's the big vision," says Anne Weekley, vice president of the community foundation. The GreenWays Initiative-funded projects will total about 100 miles — double the existing routes — when completed.

Read the entire article here.

Tiger sculptures appear in Metro Detroit this spring

Large sculptures of tigers will begin appearing across Metro Detroit en masse after opening day.

The fiberglass Tigers are a fundraiser and public-art project for the Children’s Charities Coalition, which is made up of four Oakland County-based charities. At least 80 tigers will appear throughout Metro Detroit, although most of them will be in Birmingham and Bloomfield. The tigers are approximately 4 feet tall and 100 pounds and will be displayed in front of businesses between April and June.

“Our inspiration was the Detroit Tigers, but we have all sorts of tigers,” said Gigi Nichols, public relations director for The Community House, which is part of the Children’s Charities Coalition. “They’re not necessarily tigers that have something to do with baseball, although some of them do.”

Money raised from the sculptures will go toward the four charities that make up the Children’s Charities Coalition: Child Abuse and Neglect Council of Oakland County, The Community House, Orchards Children’s Services and Variety The Children’s Charity.

For information, call (248) 594-6403.

Source: Gigi Nichols, public relations director for The Community House


TRU holding contest: what will mass transit look like in the future?

Transportation Riders United, a Metro Detroit non-profit mass transit advocacy group, is holding a design contest on what the future of mass transit in Metro Detroit could look like in 2025.
 
"Detroit in Transit: Visions of a Region on the Move" is looking for drawings and designs of what Detroit’s future transit and transit-oriented neighborhoods would look like with convenient, high-quality rapid transit.
 
"What we’re really hoping to do is launch a public conversation about what rapid transit can do to revitalize a city like Detroit," says Megan Owens, executive director of TRU.
 
TRU is looking for artists, designers, urban planners, architects, students and others to submit designs and drawings. The contest has three categories. The first is to design transit vehicles on a streetscape. The second is looking for architectural designs of transit stations incorporated into a streetscape. The third is for designing vibrant neighborhoods and intersections around transit stops.
 
Submissions are due by April 30. Finalists will be revealed and displayed during a gala event during National Transportation Week, between May 13 and 18. For information on the contest, visit detroittransit.org/design-contest.php or call (313) 963-8872.
 
Source: Megan Owens, executive director of Transportation Riders United

300 Hamilton prepares for mid summer completion

The new residents at the 300 Hamilton loft development in downtown Plymouth are reading for a June move in.

Construction on the 25-unit project is set to finish midway through this summer. So far eight of the units have sold.

The lofts range in size and price from 1,100 to 2,400 square feet and $199,000 to $550,000, respectively. Each unit comes with a terrace balcony, exposed brick walls, concrete floors and 10-foot ceilings. The development in on Hamilton Street near Row Street, two blocks from Kellog Park in downtown Plymouth.

Royal Oak-based Connective Communities is behind the project. For information, visit 300hamilton.com or call (248) 497-2163.

Source: Shelby Fulkerson, director of sales and marketing for Connektiv.


Penniman Ave. project in Plymouth nearly done

The 849 Penniman Ave. project in downtown Plymouth is nearly finished.

The development consists of a new brick, three-story building at 849 Penniman Ave. that will feature restaurant, office and condo space. One of the two third-floor condos has been sold, a new technology company is readying to move into the second floor and the developer is negotiating with a yet-to-be-announced restaurant for the first floor.

The remain condo has 900 square feet of space, one bedroom, 1.5 bathrooms, a terrace balcony, hardwood floors, granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. It is priced at $179,000. Parking for it is available through a city parking deck behind the building.

Crucial Contact, a text-messaging company, is expected to move into the 1,900 square feet of office space on the second floor early this summer after it finishes its due diligence on the space. The company translates text message sent into TV shows, such as voting for American Idol.

The new building replaces an older wooden building that once housed Plymouth Office Supply. The project, headed up by Roseville-base Ferlito Construction, is expected to wrap up by this summer.

For information, call Coldwell Banker Schweitzer real estate agent Mike Galliers at (734) 453-6800.


Source: Mike Galliers, real-estate agent in charge of 849 Penniman Ave.


Penniman Place condos in Plymouth close to selling out

Five of the eight loft-style condos at Penniman Place in downtown Plymouth have sold.

The condos range in size from 1,300 to 2,300 square feet in size. The come with heated indoor parking, 10-foot ceilings, granite countertops, balconies, secured storage and hardwood floors. Prices for the units start at $329,900.

The condos are on the second and thirds floor of the three-story brick building, 855 Penniman Ave. Retail space, which has not yet been leased, is available on the first floor.

The structure was built in the style of a traditional downtown storefront amongst similar storefronts in downtown Plymouth. It is one of a number of such developments that are being built in downtown in recent year, including the 849 Penniman Ave. project, which is selling condos for $179,000 adjacent to Penniman Place, and Parkside of Plymouth, which is selling condos a block away overlooking Kellog Park for $265,000.

For information on Penniman Place, visit pennimanplace.com or send an e-mail to info@pennimanplace.com.

Source: Pennimanplace.com.



Construction moving forward on Parkside of Plymouth

Workers are close to finishing the foundation work on the Parkside of Plymouth project in downtown Plymouth and are expected to complete work on the mixed-use development by this fall.

So far condo sales have been brisk with 8 of the 18 units in the building having been sold. The units range in size from 900 to 1,100 square feet and vary in price from $265,000 to $315,000. Each unit comes with hardwood floors, granite countertops and one underground parking space. Eight of the loft units will be one story while the remaining 10 will be 1.5 stories.

The building will be 50 feet tall, or 3.5 stories, on Penniman Avenue, overlooking Kellog Park. The structure is in the space once occupied by a Masonic Temple. Washington, Michigan-based Meridien Development is behind the project. Meridien Development is building homes in communities across Metro Detroit.

For information, visit www.meridiendev.com or call Lesley Aiello at (734)357-0625.


Source: Lesley Aiello, sales and marking director for Parkside of Plymouth.

Canton's Cherrywood Parc construction is set to start this spring

Work is set to begin on the condos in the Cherrywood Parc in Canton this spring.

The neo-traditional development, on the north side of Cherry Hill Road and east of Ridge Road, consists of 46 brownstone-style townhouses near a small commercial development. Officials expect the project will take three years to complete. The first phase of nine townhouses is expected to be finished by this fall.

The units will each have two or three bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, two-car attached garage and a balcony. They will range in price from $190,000 to $230,000 each.

Washington, Mich-based Meridien Development is behind the project. Meridien Development is building homes in communities across Metro Detroit.

For information, visit www.meridiendev.com or call Lesley Aiello at (734)357-0625.

Source: Lesley Aiello, sales and marking director for Parkside of Plymouth.

Daisy Square condos in Plymouth nearing completion

Plymouth is moving into its latter stages with the developer looking to close out the loft portion and begin construction on the remaining townhouses.

About a dozen of the 56 loft units in the loft building are left for sale. Those units range in size from 900 to 1,500 square feet. Prices for the units vary between $180,000 and $300,000.Each unit comes with underground parking.

Half of the 101 townhouses have been built. Those units range in size from 1,250 to 2,400 square feet and vary in price from $199,900 to $329,900. The developer, Chicago-based Joseph Freed Homes, expects to release new floor plans for the townhouses by March.

The project is being built on the site of an old Red Ryder BB Gun factory. The BB gun was invented in Plymouth in the late 1800s. The original ornate façade of one of the factory’s walls is being incorporated into the townhouses.

Joseph Freed Homes is building homes in communities across the Midwest, including Metro Detroit. For information on Daisy Square, visit daisysquare.com or call (734) 207-2300.

Source: Kris Gosselin, Director of Sales and Marketing-Michigan for Joseph Freed Homes.

Plymouth ice festival economic stimulus to downtown

The Plymouth International Ice Sculpture Spectacular, which runs Jan 26-28, is about more than just the art; the township's Downtown Development Authority will make use of the event as a marketing tool for its downtown amenities.

Excerpt:

Mike Wright, who chairs Plymouth's Downtown Development Authority Board of Directors, said the DDA believes in the ice fest and the traffic it brings to downtown retailers and restaurants.

"Our belief is that is has tremendous value, an event that is recognized within the entire region and draws people from beyond Plymouth," Wright said. "We feel so confident, we invested $2,500 in an ice sculpture with our new marketing logo that will be carved and displayed."

Read the entire article here.


Detroit, A2 top Crain's construction list

Crain's annual list of the area's 24 largest construction projects includes, in Detroit, all three permanent casinos, the @water Lofts and Book Cadillac and expansions at Henry Ford and St. John Hospitals. Ann Arbor makes the list with the replacement of Mott Children's and Women's hospitals and U-M's Cardiovascular Center and North Quad project.

Plymouth makes the list with the Camau Pico Headquarters.

Get the list here.
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