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Dearborn's City Hall Artspace Lofts heading into final stages of construction

Construction on Dearborn City Hall Artspace Lofts, a residential, retail and community gathering space for artists, their families, and lovers of the arts, is heating up now that winter has ended.

The residential portion of the project, 53 affordable live-work spaces for artists, is expected to be completed by January 2016, says Becky Carlson St. Clair, project manager and property developer for Minneapolis-based nonprofit, Artspace. Applications for residency will be accepted 90-120 days prior to completion.

The 20,000-square-foot commercial portion of the project is still in the investment phase and will take about five months to complete once funding is rounded up and tenants are found. The target opening is April or May 2016, Carlson St. Clair says.

The organizers are in talks with the ACCESS Growth Center, which would run an incubator space, and the East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority, which is interested in relocating to the space.

"We are also talking with many artists regarding studio space," Carlson St. Clair says.

City Hall Artspace Lofts will spread across a city block at Michigan Avenue and Schaefer Road where Dearborn City Hall once operated. The city complex filled the block with three buildings and landscaped grounds. City officials moved to a different building in another part of the city to save money and sold its more historic home, which was built in 1922.

Once complete, the Dearborn Artspace will feature work studios, co-working space for entrepreneurs and artists, and a live-work unit for an artist-in-residency program in addition to the incubator and residences. There will also be galleries, performance spaces, and community gathering areas inside and outside.

The $16.5-million project is seen as a way to improve the local -- if not regional -- economy by tapping into the arts and creative professionals. The mixed-use arts campus will "build upon Southeast Michigan's heritage as a center of innovation by creating a new anchor institution for the region's creative economy," says Artspace organizers.

The project is a partnership between Artspace, which has opened dozens of artist live-work communities around the country,  the city of Dearborn, and the East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority.

Source: Becky Carlson St. Clair, project manager/property development Artspace; and East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Total Health Foods takes over long-vacant space in downtown Wyandotte

The owners of Total Health Foods in downtown Wyandotte are expanding their business into a larger space and taking on the role of full grocers.

Total Health Foods has a following of customers who come for the vitamins, supplements, organic products, and gluten-free and other specialty foods. The business also offers massage, acupuncture, and nutrition services.

Responding to supporters as well as the lack of all-natural grocers downriver, Total Health Foods is adding space that will grow its footprint to 11,000-square feet in the former Gail's Office Supply complex.

The new location is just down the street from Total Health Foods' current store at 2938 Biddle Ave. No opening date has been set. Renovations are expected to begin in coming weeks.

Source: Wyandotte Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Luxury movie theater, The Riviera, to open in Farmington Hills

In February, Metromode reported on the start of construction of a luxury movie theater in Farmington Hills. The Riviera Cinema is scheduled to open April 30 at 9 Mile Road west of Middlebelt Road, an updated and high-end version of the theater that once was there.

A Hollywood-style, red carpet cocktail party opening is scheduled for May 6 and will raise money for four charities: Jay's Juniors, National Council of Jewish Women, Oakland Early College, and Sweet Dreamzzz. Tickets are $100 and include a strolling supper, signature cocktail, a live band, popcorn, snacks, and movies. Click here for tickets.

The Riviera will have nine auditoriums with wall-to-wall screens, the latest in film projection and sound technology, and new style theater seating with high-backed rockers and VIP recliners.

One auditorium will be for rent as a private screening room and a party and corporate event space.

The lobby, which was designed by Birmingham-based Ron and Roman with elegance as the guiding principal, will have a cocktail lounge and restaurant-like menu in addition to concession food.

The Riviera Cinema was developed in a partnership between Bloomfield Hills-based Cloud Nine Theater Partners and New York-headquartered DipsonTheatres. Cloud Nine operates 12 screens in metro Detroit, the others being at The Maple Theater. Dispon owns eight cinemas in New York, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.

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


 

New restaurant, the Triple Nickel, opens in downtown Birmingham's 555 building

A new restaurant has opened in the south end of downtown Birmingham, expanding dining options to another part of that city's central business district.

Triple Nickel opened April 9 in a renovated two-level storefront in the 555 Building at 555 Old South Woodward. It is co-owned by Marc & Petrina Blancke and business partners.

Marc Blancke is owner of Sindbad's restaurant and marina, an institution on Detroit's riverfront. Sindbad's head chef, John Fleming, is the menu creator and head of the kitchen at Triple Nickel, which will turn out regional favorites from around the country such as Maryland crab cakes and Boston bibb salad.

The Triple Nickel is billed as an American-themed tavern and meant to be a more affordable and casual option in Birmingham's restaurant scene.

The restaurant fills a two-story, 6,500-square-foot space inside the 555 office and retail development, and will feature outdoor patios with fireplaces and decks. TVs are part of the updated casual take on early American decor. The main dining room's windows also open up to give the restaurant an outdoor feel.

Source: Birmingham Principal Shopping District
Writer: Kim North Shine

Lost Lake Distillery in the works in downtown Wyandotte

A former nightclub in downtown Wyandotte may become a distillery, tasting room, and lounge.

Alex Bohl of Grosse Ile is in the early stags of developing the Lost Lake Distillery at 142 Maple, previously known as Studio 142.

Phase 1 of the project, according to the Wyandotte Downtown Development Authority, will open in 6 to 9 months. It will focus on research and development, selling spirits to go and giving customers a role in tasting and testing the products. There will also be a local history bent to the operation as a way to add to the customer experience.

The timeline for Phase 2, a much broader and more ambitious project, is unknown, but Bohl plans to transform the top two floors of the building into a 14,000-square-foot facility consisting of the still operation, tasting bars, lounges, lofts, and decks.

The DDA has awarded the project a $5,000 exterior facade grant.

Source: Natalie Rankine, director, Wyandotte Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine


 

Mini custard empire swirls across metro Detroit with third location

Erma's Original Frozen Custard, a 73-year-old, family-owned custard business, is swirling up enough success with its fresh-made custards and specialty parfaits that it's adding a third location.

The latest Erma's Original Frozen Custard opened at 28840 Harper Ave. in St. Clair Shores April 1. Its other two stands, one on 14 Mile Rd. in Warren that was opened six years ago, and the original 1942 location at 6451 Auburn Rd. in Shelby Township, opened for the season on the same day.

Jason Eagle, Erma's manager and director of marketing, says the St. Clair Shores location fulfilled a plan to expand further east.

"We've had a lot of fans over the years say they wanted a location on this side of town," Eagle says.

Erma's moved into what was a Dairy Boy after the owner decided to sell.

"We were happy to talk to him," Eagle says.

Erma's makes fresh custards each week: a vanilla, a chocolate, and a bonus flavor that typically contains fruit, nuts, or candy. Pistachio and Italian ice are also on the menu, as are 25 parfait varieties advertised on Erma's signature hand-painted signs.

Erma's opened in 1942 and was sold in the 1980s to a family that was part of the business. That family is now in its third generation of operating Erma's.

Source: Jason Eagle, manager and director of marketing, Erma's Original Frozen Custard
Writer: Kim North Shine

Venezuelan eatery brings arrepas and other South American specialties to Grosse Pointe Woods

Garrido's Bistro & Bakery opened this week on busy Mack Avenue in Grosse Pointe Woods, where it is welcoming customers who are excited to try the arepas and other Venezuelan specialties on its menu.

As it works out the kinks of a new restaurant, hours are limited to the daytime and the owners are serving breakfast and a prix fixe lunch menu. Eventually weekend brunch and dinner will be served.

Garrido's is a passion project of the Venezuelan owners who have support of family and their church in Tampa, Florida.

The hope is to find a following of customers who want something unique.

At Garrido's, that includes a Venezuelan meal of arepas, flat corn cakes stuffed with savory ingredients. The Reina Pepiada, or Venezuelan Queen, is stuffed with pulled chicken covered in mayo and avocado slices. The jamon y queso is ham and cheese and the carne mechada is pulled beef.

A bakery will turn out fresh breads and desserts, while the kitchen will prepare fresh dishes.

The drink menu offers several mixtures of loose teas. The Ayurvedic Total Body is made with peppermint, spearmint, ginger, rosehip, rooibos, rose, hibiscus, sunflower, calendula and osmanthus petals. Orange Grove Vanilla is a drink of naturally dried apple pieces, rosehip, hibiscus, red thistle, naturally dried orange pieces and sunflower petals.

Source: Garrido's
Writer: Kim North Shine

Untapped market for plus-size resale leads to three stores for HIPS Boutique

When Vikki Stoddart discovered that resale shops for plus size women were virtually non-existent, she decided to launch a business that since has uncovered an eager customer base.

After working in marketing and advertising, Stoddart, a Ferndale resident, opened her first HIPS Resale Boutique store four years ago at 10 S. Main St. in downtown Clawson. By October 2012, she added a second location on busy Gratiot Avenue in Roseville. At 2,000 square feet, it was double the size of her Clawson store.

It wasn't long after opening in Roseville that Stoddart began looking for a location for a third store. She needed to keep up with demand from an untapped market looking for quality, stylish clothing in sizes 12 and larger, especially sizes 18-24. She found her next store in downtown Detroit, where she had hoped to "be a part of the renaissance of the city."

On Monday, March 30, the newest HIPS Resale Boutique opens in the Penobscot Building, a landmark Detroit skyscraper on Griswold Street. It will join other retailers as part of the Shops at Penobscot. A VIP celebration is planned for Friday, March 27.

Like other HIPS shops, the 1,200-square-foot Detroit store will sell clothing sizes 12 up to 6X and 7X, as well as handbags, jewelry and accessories for women of any size.

"We are so excited," says Stoddart. "The building itself is so amazing. We spent 30 hours scraping the floors, using five gallons of vinegar and scraping the glue left from the carpet we ripped up. Underneath is amazing white tile. It's just beautiful."

Stoddart realized there was a lack of plus size resale options after she and a friend began looking for a place to sell new, unworn, and lovely things that belonged to her friend.

"[Resale shops] definitely were not interested in the sizes I had, which were 2X and 3X," she says. "I did research and thought, 'How is this possible?' The average size of a woman in the USA is 14 and there is nothing out there for them."
 
About a year ago, HIPS opened an online store. "We began getting requests from out of state and from customers who had moved away and had nothing like this where they were living."

The online store, like the physical stores, is thriving, she says.

"There is absolutely a demand for this. Being a plus-sized woman, the options you have are already very limited, and the options you do have are expensive and overpriced."

Source: Vikki Stoddart, owner, HIPS Resale Boutique
Writer: Kim North Shine

Dowtown Mount Clemens church hopes to serve community with new coffee business

The Well, a downtown Mount Clemens church, is opening a coffee shop that will be part business and part spiritual mission.

Ricardo Arredondo, pastor of The Well, expects More Than Coffee to open Friday, March 12 at 42 Pine St.

"[The coffee shop will] let us meet the people where they are as opposed to trying to get them to come to us," says Arrendondo.

In addition to serving quality, locally roasted coffee, the shop will be a place to worship; there's an area in the back where The Well has held services for months. The shop will also provide homeless people with job training in service industry positions.

More Than Coffee takes the place of Che Cosa, a coffee shop and lunch spot that moved to Clinton Township several months ago. The new shop will feature a rotating variety of local roasts. The first will be Great Lakes Coffee from Detroit. Anthology Coffee in Detroit and Dessert Oasis Coffee in Rochester will be in the initial line-up as well.

"The interesting thing about downtown Mount Clemens is there's so much diversity," says Arredondo, who spends Thursday nights on downtown streets and sidewalks reaching out to homeless locals.

"You have lawyers who have offices downtown. You have people coming in for jury duty, people coming in for court. You have people that are coming for the Oakland University center downtown. You have moms dropping their kids off at school who may want to stop in for a coffee. You have people coming in who want coffee, Wi-Fi and to work.

No matter where the customers come from, Arredondo wants them to have great coffee whether being part of greater mission or the church is important to them.

"Really, we're not trying to say, 'Hey! We're a church.' We're trying to say, 'Hey! We have this vision to just serve people coffee while we help people at the same time."

Source: Richard Arredondo, pastor, The Well, and operator of More Than Coffee
Writer: Kim North Shine

 

Meza bringing Mexican food to downtown Royal Oak

Two metro Detroit restaurant veterans are teaming up to open a new Mexican restaurant in downtown Royal Oak.

Michael Sophiea and Darrel Krause are partners in Meza, a Mexican restaurant, at 312 South Main St.

After renovations, the 3,000-square-foot restaurant will feature 148 seats, including 16 bar stools and outdoor seating for 24. Demolition has already begun.

Besides a restaurant and bar, Meza will feature live entertainment including bands and DJs.

Sophiea has owned and managed Oak Grill in Royal Oak and also was previous owner of two bars, Rumors and Local 212. Krause's restaurant resume includes Duggan's Irish Pub, Woody's Diner, Lakeview Grille in Oxford, and Post Bar in Novi,

Together they own and operate Ciccarelli's sports bars in Auburn Hills and Detroit.

Source: city of Royal Oak
Writer: Kim North Shine

Barbecue joint adds to downtown Wyandotte's restaurant options this summer

Downtown Wyandotte's main street is getting a new barbecue restaurant this summer in ALVI's BBQ.

"Our focus will be on rustic-themed, down-home southern barbecue," says ALVI's owner Al Fritz.

The downtown space at 3233 Biddle Ave. will be restored to its original 1921 condition, he says. There will be a mix of family-style tables and tables for four and two. An outdoor dining area is also planned as the city works to increase the number of establishments with sidewalk dining.

The facade for Alvi's is undergoing a complete overhaul as renovations for the dining room and kitchen, which will turn out ribs, pulled pork, brisket, chicken, sausage, wings and catfish.

Source: Natalie Rankine, director, Wyandotte Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Shuttered Sears store in downtown Wyandotte to become lofts, shops and more

The demolition of a former Sears & Roebuck department store will clear the way for a $5.3 million development of loft apartments, restaurants, retail, and commercial space in downtown Wyandotte.

The neighboring Sears auto repair garage is part of the Roebuck Residential project, which calls for the renovation of the three-story structure at 3061 Biddle Ave. and new construction of a four-story building next door at 3063 Biddle, Wyandotte's main street. Completion is expected by early 2016.

The renovation of the existing three-story building will bring about a 9,600-square-foot first floor to be occupied by a restaurant and other commercial businesses retailers. The second floor of the same square footage will become office space for two tenants, and the third floor, also 9,600 square feet, will be converted into nine loft-style apartments (six one-bedroom units and three two-bedroom units) with access to an open air rooftop terrace. The basement and mezzanine levels of the building will be renovated into storage space and common areas.

A newly constructed four-story building next door will rise in place of demolished department store and will contain an entrance lobby, stairwell, and elevator for the larger mixed-use building next door.

The project has been in the works since 2012 when the DDA purchased the property for $530,000. Since then, storage tanks have been removed from the site and other environmental preparations have been made. The development is expected to be create 56 jobs.

Developer Joe Daly bought the property from the DDA in 2014 for $350,000. Since then, the city of Wyadotte, the DDA, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation have chipped in tax abatements, grants, and other financial assistance worth nearly $3 million as the parties worked together to transform the long-vacant site into an economically viable part of downtown.

Source: Natalie Rankine, Downtown Development Director, city of Wyandotte
Writer: Kim North Shine

Golf year-round at new downtown Birmingham business

Golf pro Bob Krause has turned a downtown Birmingham office space into a year-round place to learn and practice golf.

4-Seasons Golf, a members-only club inside Suite 21U inside the shorter of the two buildings at 555 South Old Woodward, is outfitted with two indoor golf simulators and three practice bays, one of which will be used for private lessons.

The business is in soft-opening mode after an open house last week that welcomed prospective members.

"We've had great feedback and we're signing up members now. We want to take our time so we can give members the best service possible," says Stephanie Krause, Bob's wife and acting general manager.

"It's a very unique business model," she says. "There's nothing else like it here."

The company's market is all golfers, especially those who can't go south to play during the winter and those who want something other than public golf domes and sports bar simulators to practice in the off-season.

"Golf is an important game to play all year long if you want to keep up your game," says Krause.

The 4,000-square-foot facility was renovated to give it a country club feel, including a pro shop, lockers, changing area, liquor lockers, and other amenities for members. Members can entertain guests for an additional fee or can play against fellow members on the simulators, which are in comfortably furnished rooms and offer a choice of 30 courses.

The practice bays are connected to a software that analyzes every ball hit into nets covering the ceilings.

Private lessons for members and non-members are available, and the entire space can be rented for special events and parties.

Source: Stephanie Krause, acting general manager, 4-Seasons Golf
Writer: Kim North Shine

Micro-creamery concept coming to downtown Northville


The owner of Stuart's Ice Cream & Yogurt, a favorite seasonal ice cream and yogurt shop in Novi, is taking on a partner, expanding to a second location, and embarking on a whole new concept with the opening of a micro-creamery in downtown Northville.

Browndog Creamery & Dessert Bar has been in soft opening mode since Feb. 14, churning out classic and unusual flavors using Michigan-sourced milk and other local products. A grand opening of the business at 118 E. Main St. is set for March 6.

Browndog shares a space with longtime Northville candy shop Chocolates by Renee. Browndog will operate from a renovated space, making small batches of fresh ice cream and desserts year-round with ingredients grown or produced in Michigan whenever possible, says owner Paul Gabriel.

The Michigan focus will carry over to the sale of other products, including Michigan-made coffee and other beverages like Faygo, Nikki's Ginger Tea, and Boxed Water.

Gabriel and partner Brian Scherle, the owner of Stuart's Ice Cream & Yogurt in Novi, say Browndog is Northville's only micro-creamery and will complement the 20-plus restaurants and food shops located downtown.

"Stuart's is named after our first rescue dog," says Gabriel. "Browndog is named after our second rescue dog, Flash. He's brown." More of their story can be found on their new website.

The owners support animal rescue organizations through donations of part of their profits. It's not unusual to see the dogs at the shops. They will both be on hand at the March 6 grand opening.

"We are thrilled to welcome Browndog Creamery & Dessert Bar to our collection of unique eateries in downtown Northville," says Lori Ward, director of the Northville Downtown Development Authority. "Their menu and mission is the perfect complement to the downtown's family of businesses."

Source: Paul Gabriel, owner, Browndog Creamery & Dessert Bar and Jeanne Micallef, IMJ Communications
Writer: Kim North Shine

Dearborn's first microbrewery on schedule for May opening

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

Dearborn Brewing could open by May, says John Rucinski, who along with his wife Sheila Rucinski is renovating a 2,500-square-foot space at 21930 Michigan Ave. in downtown west Dearborn.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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