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Metro Detroit home prices climb 20% in June

The spring home-buying season proved to be a bountiful one for regional property values as buyer confidence increased.

Excerpt:

"The median selling price in Metro Detroit rose on an annual basis for a 16th straight month in June, according to figures released Monday by Farmington Hills-based Realcomp, the multiple listing service for southeast Michigan and a small portion of northern Ohio.

The median selling price in Metro Detroit climbed 20.2 percent year-over-year to $149,000 in June. Realcomp defines Metro Detroit as Oakland, Wayne, Livingston and Macomb counties."

More here.

Contests become launchpads for Detroit startups

In the last few years, entrepreneurs are increasingly making pitch and business plan competitions part of their game plans. And more than ever, nationally televised contests are filming in Detroit. 

Excerpt:

"A number of competitions mirroring the style of hit TV show "Shark Tank" have sprung up in Detroit,  where a downtown start-up tech scene  has taken root...

Mark Kiel's company, which developed software to interpret data about gene mutations in DNA sequencing, was founded two months ago, but he has already raised $47,000 in capital.Kiel, 37, won his money from MiQuest, the Michigan Collegiate Innovation Prize and Greenlight Best Overall Pitch.

Ann Arbor-based Genomenon has won three business-pitch competitions — allowing Kiel to bypass the traditional route of hitting up family and friends or wooing an angel from a venture capital firm."

More here.

Why Detroit shouldn't build on $500 houses as a renewal strategy

The old adage "If something sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true," applies when it comes to fantastically low Detroit home prices. Here's a well-reasoned article on why super-cheap home sales shouldn't be ground-floor urban renewal strategies.

Excerpt:

"Perhaps you’ve heard of the mythical  $500Detroit  house. Plagued by years of blight, desolation, and grim economic deterioration, the story goes, Motor City homes have become nearly worthless—poverty porn for coastal snobs, or fodder for urban yuppie real estate fixer-upper fantasies. One could see how this kind of deal might seem pretty enviable from cramped quarters in San Francisco or Brooklyn, but it’s important to understand what a price tag that low symbolizes."

More here.

Detroit-based Shinola founder talks "American made" with Wall St. Journal

Cars aside, watches and bikes are the new big-ticket "Made in Detroit" items. 

Excerpt:

"Not many people would relish the chance to pack up a sunny Southern California life and move to Detroit. But Daniel Caudill, the creative director of Shinola—a manufacturer of watches, bicycles, leather goods and more—has so much in common with the upstart company that he did it gladly. Raised in rural Montana, Mr. Caudill likes a good heritage back-story, and Shinola, a once-iconic shoe-polish brand that became a punch line (as in "You don't know s—from…") in World War II, has one."

More here.

Brookings Institution calls Detroit's Midtown and downtown "innovation districts"

As great minds think alike, they also stick together. The Brookings Institution has noticed the recent spate of tech start-ups in Detroit.

Excerpt:

"As far as clustering innovation in an urban setting goes, Detroit’s Midtown and downtown areas are putting the city on the Brookings Institution’s radar of places in the U.S. where close collaboration is becoming an alternative to urban sprawl and suburban, corporate office islands.

In the Washington, D.C.-based group’s report on rising “innovation districts,” authors Bruce Katz and Julie Wagner describe the areas as compact and transit-friendly, and anchored by educational institutions and large companies.

The authors point to Boston’s South Waterfront, San Francisco’s Mission Bay, Seattle’s South Lake Union area, and the Brooklyn Navy Yard as examples.

In Detroit’s case, the report highlights Henry Ford Health System and Wayne State University leading the charge in Midtown. It says downtown Detroit’s innovation district was “catalyzed” by the decision of mortgage lending giant Quicken Loans to relocate its headquarters there in 2010."

More here

Construction on the comeback in Southeast Michigan

Thanks to new investment in Detroit-area businesses and public transportation, the construction industry is finally hammering away again.

Excerpt:

"The construction industry in Metro Detroit and Michigan as a whole is part of a comeback story that needs to be told, an expert in the field told a local news website.

Chris Fisher, president of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan, told CBS Detroit  the state is undergoing a true renaissance  after years of dormant activity.

"We’re seeing more jobs, we're seeing better jobs and we're building again," Fisher said. "We suffered more than most industries did in Michigan and to see folks getting back to work, to see backlogs improving — it's quite a comeback story and we're thrilled to be a part of that."

There are several projects in downtown Detroit that have appeared to lead the way in Southeast Michigan including  renovation of the David Whitney Building  and plans for the $140 million M-1 Rail project."

More here.

Detroit's Midtown one of 10 best up-and-coming neighborhoods, says USA Today

USA Today mentioned Detroit's Midtown in the same breath as must-visit (or must-live) neighborhoods in Portland, New Orleans, Santa Fe, and the like.

Excerpt:

"The heart of the city,  Detroit's Midtown  is rapidly developing into a surprisingly well-rounded residential area while featuring an abundance of restaurants, galleries, community gardens and markets. Dedicated local entrepreneurs have made Midtown an attractive hub for small businesses with high-end shops like  Hugh  and  Nora, eateries like  Maccabee's at Midtown  and  Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company  and  Shinola, which makes American-made bicycles, watches, leather goods and journals. Midtown is at the core of the city's M-1 Rail development and non-motorized transportation plans will soon connect the district to Eastern Market and other neighborhoods via greenways and bike paths."

More here

National Main Streets conference & events land in Detroit, Ferndale this weekend

Detroit and area downtowns are serving as the backdrop for 1,200 of the nation's leading downtown revitalization experts, who are convening in downtown Detroit and Ferndale starting this weekend.

Excerpt:

"The Detroit suburb of Ferndale is among Michigan communities where downtown revitalization efforts are considered successful. Work has turned West Nine Mile from a bleak, dusty four-lane road into a walkable commercial strip with most storefronts filled...

"There's so much enthusiasm," said Patrice Frey, the Main Street Center's president and CEO. "After I visited Detroit last May, I told my husband, 'There's a really cool energy in Detroit. It feels like the next big thing.'"

More here.

HGTV's 'House Hunters' show comes to Detroit

Check out this episode of House Hunters, where the search for a Midtown Detroit home is on.

Excerpt:

"Young first-time buyers, Dan and Rachel, are hoping to find the ultimate deal in the hip Detroit neighborhood of Ferndale. But the seemingly inexpensive, five-figure deals are a wake-up call for these 20-somethings when they encounter the realities of the turbulent Motown real estate market."

More here

The Atlantic Cities calls for bus rapid transit all the way downtown

With mass transit finally going places in Detroit, The Atlantic Cities makes its case for dedicated bus lane network through city downtowns. 

Excerpt:

"One of the reasons so-called  Bus-Rapid Transit projects have been  so  contentious  in U.S. cities is that urban street space is a precious commodity. Unwilling to give BRT  exclusive lanes  along the median, many cities route the buses into curbside lanes with mixed traffic. There, BRT must share the curb with turning cars, double-parked trucks, and other traffic conflicts — forcing the buses initially sold to the public as "speedy" to a crawl.

In other words, what feels like a compromise is really a critical error. American cities that fail to extend true BRT through the downtown area ensure that the systems receive their greatest visibility in places where they experience their lowest effectiveness. The result can be to sour public opinion on BRT at large, making subsequent expansions —  there or elsewhere around the country  — all the more difficult."

More here.

Detroit-based Door Stops designers get national attention for "public furniture"

While "public art" has made it into the everyday lexicon, how about "public furniture?" 

Excerpt:

"Made from old doors salvaged from destroyed properties, the shelters are colorfully painted to put a smile on the faces of folks in the vicinity. (Not that you could tell it from the above photo – maybe the bus is running late?) The first of the stops went out into the city  late last year; today, the A' Design Award & Competition announced that it is gifting the effort with a silver medal in "Social Design."

More here.

Detroit is one of nation's top 7 most underrated food cities

There's no better way to make the foodie radar list than having "underrated" next to your name.

Excerpt:

"Being in Detroit puts you in ridiculously close proximity to some of the most authentic, best-tasting food you'd normally need a passport to enjoy. With the proper research/guidance, it's totally possible to travel the culinary world in 20mi, leaving you with a TON of leftover cash to blow on the important things... like even more food."

More here.

Atlantic Cities catches wind of Detroit Drone's new technology

Much more than a fly-by-night operation, Detroit Drone has some neat new technology that could become a powerful force in public service.

Excerpt:

"When government officials in Detroit gathered to celebrate the demolition of the  Brewster-Douglass housing projects  downtown last week, they were joined by a few drones.

One belonged to Harry Arnold, a local drone enthusiast who's turned his long-held interests in videography and radio-controlled helicopters  into a marketable service  (he runs the company Detroit Drone now)....

He wants drones to become part of the typical fire-fighting experience, capturing images humans can't get near and providing ground commanders an aerial view they otherwise wouldn't have. Just last week, Arnold was invited out to  film a hazmat training session  in the city, showing response crews what it would be like to have an extra layer of technology in the case of something like a chemical fire.

Arnold is optimistic his vision will become reality soon. "It's a technology that can have a public service," he says. "It has a chance to save lives."

More here.


Detroit-filmed movie, "Misled," to premiere at Florida film festival

A new Metro Detroit-made flick will be under the marquee lights at a Florida film fest this weekend.

Excerpt:

"Misled" is to screen Saturday at the Gasparilla International Film Festival in Tampa.

"Misled" is the debut feature of Detroit-based film company J Squared Productions.

The movie stars Detroit native Jonathan Stanley, who also is its co-writer and producer. It's a story about growing up on the streets of Detroit, based largely on Stanley's life, including him dropping out of high school and working as a stripper.

More here.

Detroit ranks no. 15 on national list of apartment boom towns

If you're looking to rent or build a rental property in Detroit, the gold rush is on. 

Excerpt:

"The conditions are right for rental housing in general and apartments in particular to remain popular for a while, said housing expert John McIlwain, senior resident fellow at the  Urban Land Institute, a nonprofit land-use research and education group.

“Housing prices are going to go up, and credit remains tight,” he said.

At the same time, unemployment remains relatively high for people in their 20s and 30s, and many of them are burdened with student debt, McIlwain added. So, many people are delaying buying homes. Meanwhile, construction costs are rising.

“The big challenge to industry is to provide rental housing at prices that middle-income people can afford,” he said.

That’s why, when we wanted to determine America’s Top 15 Apartment Boom Towns, we included a measure of affordability. We also looked at indicators of apartment availability, economic growth and population growth for the 100 most populated metro areas in the U.S.; the data covered 2009 to 2013, depending on the category."

More here.
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