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mousquet
Dec 6, 2013, 11:38 AM
:frog: Héhé, watch LMich excited like a kid at his brand new toy...
That's lovely.
I just thought they'd have announced the vehicle vendor, since the deadline was on the first, and they'd already narrowed it down to three companies last month.

Which ones? Any thin chance they eventually choose Alstom's compact Citadis? That'd be heck of beautiful. Well hey, it'd be manufactured, even partly engineered and definitely fully customized in the US anyway, just as pretty much anything both originally foreign and significant sold to the US (whose market is not really so free :D), and could well be the hottest if properly customized. And like by far. I think it could let Detroit downright show off the shiniest, sexiest, like most arrogant streetcar of entire North America. That'd be quite something awesome and funny along their old habit in designing shiny looking cars... Guess the only actual problem is that the Alstom prices might not be the most competitive at all, that indeed may turn them off. :(

LMich
Dec 6, 2013, 12:32 PM
That's the thing, they didn't even make public the three companies in consideration. BTW, this project is on a fairly tight budget, so I don't expect anything flashy, at all. Maybe, when we get an actual publically-funded system up and running there might be some investment in something more permanent, but at the moment, this one, short line is kind of meant as a demonstration project to see if they can convince the new regional transit authority to eventually expand it.

BTW, aside from wanting to see something shiny and new, this thing was originally proposed back in 2006. So, this inching to the beginning of the end just makes one really anxious. It has been like pulling teeth just to get the project to this point. I'm squirming waiting to see it finally all come together.

mousquet
Dec 6, 2013, 1:41 PM
^ I know, but at this point, a light rail network seems very likely anyway. It really looks like they're done with all of the hardest, now, and the streetcar/light rail market is booming all over the world quite including the US, so I don't see how it would spare any major city, even Detroit.

Of course, it's up to M1 to take the best possible advantage of competition between various manufacturers. They will need some nice looking vehicles to convince the most skeptical of the locals. When it comes to the looks of vehicles only, Citadis is cool for their customizable fronts and large windows, that's their most noticeable distinction when compared to competitors. That said, the livery of vehicles remains the most important, I believe. I just saw the Siemens S70 of Salt Lake City for instance. Well yes, it looks better than decent, I find.

No matter what manufacturer, they'll have to show a nice livery, then people should like it.

LMich
Dec 6, 2013, 2:08 PM
They really don't. That it's a different mode of transit from the bus alone will sell it. The livery doesn't need to be flashy, though, that would be nice.

And, no, a light rail system is not inevitable for Detroit. In fact, the transit legislation passed back in late 2012 for Metro Detroit requires a unanimous vote of the transit board for rail, while only a simple majority is needed for BRT. It's why a BRT system is currently being developed for the region with no mention of rail beyond what the private M-1 Rail company has organized.

It is never safe to assume that Detroit is going to follow national trends, particularly when local government bodies are struggling to provide basic services. There is still much education to be done to convince the region to support anything much above BRT, and the way the transit legislation was written actually discourages anything above the transit mode of BRT.

animatedmartian
Dec 6, 2013, 4:24 PM
I had a thought, but then I eated it.

animatedmartian
Dec 8, 2013, 5:07 PM
Troy zoning change triggers boulevard's building boom
By Nathan Skid. December 08, 2013

http://www.crainsdetroit.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/storyimage/CD/20131208/NEWS/312089949/AR/0/The_Galleria_of_Troy_Phase_1.jpg&MaxW=900&MaxH=900

http://www.crainsdetroit.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/storyimage/CD/20131208/NEWS/312089949/V3/0/Bonefish_Grill_Galleria_of_Troy.jpg&MaxW=900&MaxH=900

A 2011 change to Troy's zoning laws is spurring construction along a three-mile stretch of Big Beaver Road, representing at least $11 million in economic development.

Since 2012, seven projects have broken ground along Big Beaver between Rochester and Adams roads — bringing in about 30 national brands, encompassing restaurants, hotels and retailers.

Among them are Granite City Food and Brewery, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn, Piada Italian Street Food, Sprint, Bonefish Grille, Carrabba's Italian Grill, Halo Burger, Flagstar Bank, Tim Hortons and La-Z-Boy Furniture.

Brent Savidant, the city of Troy's planning director, said that once the Detroit Medical Center breaks ground on its 70,000-square-foot, $42 million children's outpatient specialty center at 350 W. Big Beaver, it will spur more activity.

Savidant said the spike in development along Big Beaver is due to the city's continual shift from a post World War II planning model, where office towers had to be far-removed from the street, parking lots were in front of buildings and each property could have only one use.

"Previously, Troy employed a single-use, or Euclidean, zoning style, which required separate uses for each space," Savidant said. "So residential was separate from commercial, which was separate from retail and residential."

Savidant said one of the biggest changes came in 2011 when the city amended its zoning ordinance to allow mixed-use development and development in existing parking lots and eased parking restrictions.

It also forced parking lots to be put behind new buildings, a move that Savidant said will encourage more foot traffic by moving the front of the building closer to the street.

"The ordinance changes make the things we wanted most, like walkability and mixed-use development, the easiest to accomplish," Savidant said. "That helps strengthen the presence of infrastructure along Big Beaver Road, which we hope will encourage more development."
...


http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20131208/NEWS/312089949/troy-zoning-change-triggers-boulevards-building-boom

animatedmartian
Dec 8, 2013, 5:15 PM
Also, in Troy news.

Molina ponders move to downtown Detroit
By Kirk Pinho. December 08, 2013

http://www.crainsdetroit.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/storyimage/CD/20131208/NEWS/312089950/AR/0/Molina_Healthcare_of_Michigan.jpg&MaxW=620&v=201311071514

Molina Healthcare of Michigan may go from suburban living to city dwelling.

The state's third-largest Medicaid HMO, which has about 60,000 square feet in the two-building Liberty Center office complex at Big Beaver and Livernois roads in Troy, is exploring a relocation of its 300 employees to downtown Detroit, according to real estate sources.

Sources said one of Molina's top downtown prospects is the 415,000-square-foot Detroit Media Partnership building, home of The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press. The DMP announced in January that it would sell the building and move its 600 employees to another downtown location by next summer.

Southfield also is a possibility.

"We are considering our options. We have not decided where to locate," said Stephen Harris, CEO of Molina Healthcare of Michigan. "Our lease is up. We are trying to get to a decision as quickly as possible."

Molina's lease expires on Aug. 31, according to Washington, D.C.-based real estate information service CoStar Group Inc. The 139,000-square-foot building at 100 W. Big Beaver is 97 percent leased, according to CoStar.

A Molina move downtown would put it near one of its chief competitors, Detroit-based Meridian Health Plan of Michigan, which plans to move into a new, $111-million office building, construction on which is expected to begin by early 2015. Meridian would move in by early 2017.

...



http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20131208/NEWS/312089950/molina-ponders-move-to-downtown-detroit

mind field
Dec 9, 2013, 2:44 AM
Hopefully they make the right choice, downtown Detroit!

LMich
Dec 9, 2013, 8:28 AM
Glad to hear about the changes to the zoning code in Troy. Development should have always been given more options, but better late than never.

Also good to hear that Meridian Health Plan already seems to be influencing more moves before they've even put shovels in the ground. BTW, I guess I just never really looked closely at it, but I had no idea that the old Detroit News Building they are talking about moving into was over 400,000 square feet.

http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5066/5732444508_35c1112b8b_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/hellek23d/5732444508/)
IMG_6302 A (http://www.flickr.com/photos/hellek23d/5732444508/) by markh0421 (http://www.flickr.com/people/hellek23d/), on Flickr

animatedmartian
Dec 9, 2013, 3:16 PM
A Museum Grows On Kercheval; Its Founders Are Out-Of-Town Artists Who Dig Detroit
Bill McGraw. December 8th, 2013

https://d2nyfqh3g1stw3.cloudfront.net/photos/article_landing_building_10068.jpg

With its boarded-up windows and predictable graffiti, the two-story building that was once the headquarters of Sibley Lumber looks empty and forlorn, like tens of thousands of similar structures across Detroit. Some of the floors inside are unsafe to walk on.

Yet Julia Solis, an artist and urban explorer who splits her time between Detroit and New York, sees something else when she wanders through the dusty rooms. She sees a museum. And not your run-of-the-mill museum, but an institution devoted to art, wonder, curiosity and adventure. The kind of idiosyncratic place that arises in big cities when a critical mass of artists comes together.

The museum of wonder has a name –- the Seafoam Palace -- and it has an impressive roster of backers who have both artistic and urban-guerilla credentials: About a dozen artists, some of whom have national art-world reputations, including Monica Canilao, Dorothy Trojanowski, an artist and designer and John Law, the co-founder of the Burning Man festival who commutes between Detroit and San Francisco.

None of the museum backers grew up in metro Detroit, though four have moved here in recent years.

They have big plans: In addition to exhibits, the organizers eventually would like to hold classes and workshops on such subjects as photography, publishing, and audio. Solis mentions the possibility of a radio station. They also want to publish a small journal of eclectic arcana to accompany the rotating collections, and they’re in discussions to form an alliance of small artistic museums throughout the country to share resources and exhibitions.

The museum isn’t scheduled to open for about a year, but it already has focused creative energy on a corner – Beaufait and Kercheval, two blocks east of the Capuchin monastery and soup kitchen -- that is far from the brainpower corridor that stretches from Eastern Market through Midtown and downtown to Corktown. The museum's neighborhood is old, poor and slowly disappearing, and the arrival of a museum of wonder is bound to be a curiosity in itself.

“We’re starting to feel out the idea of raising money,” Solis said. “We want to raise money, but so does everybody else. There’s so many people coming into Detroit and doing stuff like this.”

....

http://www.deadlinedetroit.com/articles/7509/a_museum_grows_on_kercheval_its_founders_are_out-of-town_artists_who_dig_detroit#.UqXSUtI84zC

Full size of the building. It's not terribly big, but probably more than enough for an artsy neighborhood museum.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/81/Sibley_Lumber_Company_Office_Building_Detroit_MI.jpg/1024px-Sibley_Lumber_Company_Office_Building_Detroit_MI.jpg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sibley_Lumber_Company_Office_Building_Detroit_MI.jpg

subterranean
Dec 9, 2013, 3:36 PM
^ Close enough to the villages and downtown that I could see it working. I find this fascinating.

animatedmartian
Dec 9, 2013, 4:08 PM
^ Close enough to the villages and downtown that I could see it working. I find this fascinating.

To be fair, it seems like it's going to be more of a hipster hangout than a yuppie one. It's not too far from the Heidelberg Project and there's a lot of urban farming in this area. It's also sort of "in shadow" of Elmwood Cemetery in relation to downtown so it kinda has that "off the beaten" path feel (meaning you kinda have to zig-zag to reach this area).

The lead artist also has done a lot of ruin porn photography and likes finding odd items. Most of the museum's success will likely come from a niche audience.

subterranean
Dec 9, 2013, 7:42 PM
Sure, it won't be without its struggles if it gets off the ground. But I welcome anything arts & culture related coming to the city. We need more risk-takers.

animatedmartian
Dec 9, 2013, 9:33 PM
Progress update on the Woodward Garden Apartments, now known as 3901 Woodward. The website (http://3901woodwardave.com/) labels this as a luxury apartment, but that's honestly an oversell. It's nice, but not luxurious. Regardless it's surely going to get filled up by medical workers once it opens next month.

http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/52a519e9f92ea15b8403de30/GardenApartments-100.JPG

http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/52a519dbf92ea15b8403ddea/GardenApartments-107.JPG

http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/52a519d0f92ea15b8403ddb8/GardenApartments-112.JPG

http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/52a519d4f92ea15b8403ddcc/GardenApartments-110.JPG

http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/52a519e7f92ea15b8403de26/GardenApartments-101.JPG

http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/52a519dff92ea15b8403ddfe/GardenApartments-105.JPG

http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/52a519e5f92ea15b8403de1c/GardenApartments-102.JPG

Via Curbed:http://detroit.curbed.com/archives/2013/12/a-first-look-inside-the-new-woodward-garden-apartments.php

animatedmartian
Dec 10, 2013, 9:30 AM
Sure, it won't be without its struggles if it gets off the ground. But I welcome anything arts & culture related coming to the city. We need more risk-takers.

Speaking of which, terribly tragic news, but the Heidelberg Project has been hit with 8 arson attacks within the last several months. The most recent one was on Sunday. This aerial video shows the project currently but also a really opening perspective on how scattered the homes are in the neighborhood.

S_VdJcOpCd0

While this isn't the first time Tyree Guyton has had to face destruction of his works, most notably by the city during the 90s, these latest string of arsons seem to be targeted and happen regularly. I'm not sure why someone would deliberately set these houses on fire unless they're getting off on seeing someone's work destroyed or looking for attention. The Heidelberg Project is pretty well known and gets visitors pretty much every day. Even if people's personal opinion on the project think it's ugly or whatever, it's still pretty messed up that someone would set fire to it. :(

subterranean
Dec 10, 2013, 1:36 PM
Such a goddamn tragedy.

subterranean
Dec 10, 2013, 1:54 PM
Tonight and tomorrow, SEMCOG is conducting its last public meetings of the year on the topic of the Woodward BRT.

Details at:
http://www.woodwardanalysis.com/pdfs/DecemberPublicMeetings_Flyer_AllCommunities.pdf

animatedmartian
Dec 10, 2013, 4:18 PM
^That really should be a light rail route. But yea, money, politics, blah blah blah. At least if it gets its own ROW then that's better than nothing, and possibly in the future, the lanes could easily be upgraded for LRT. But that's just being optimistic.

animatedmartian
Dec 10, 2013, 5:51 PM
The Metropolitan Building seems to be facing demolition by neglect.

http://detroit.curbed.com/uploads/metneg.jpg
By comparison, here's what the base looked like back in September, only a few short months ago.

http://detroit.curbed.com/uploads/metropolitanurbex.jpg

Via Curbed. http://detroit.curbed.com/archives/2013/12/neglect-reaches-new-heights-at-the-metropolitan-building.php

hudkina
Dec 10, 2013, 7:41 PM
Graffiti is only superficial. The building's biggest "threat" is the fact that most of the windows look out to some dirty alleys and there isn't immediately adjacent parking. What would be interesting is if a renovation included creating "green alleys" with hanging gardens, etc. Something that won't make the view so bleak.

subterranean
Dec 10, 2013, 8:17 PM
^That really should be a light rail route. But yea, money, politics, blah blah blah. At least if it gets its own ROW then that's better than nothing, and possibly in the future, the lanes could easily be upgraded for LRT. But that's just being optimistic.

I was surprised that streetcar wasn't even considered given the density along Woodward. They looked at BRT with and without its own ROW, and LRT. I know there are greater distances involved, but I still think streetcar might be the appropriate choice for this corridor, or some type of hybrid, if it had light rail-like segments of greater distances between nodes of greater activity. BRT with its own ROW I would imagine is much easier to convert to streetcar as opposed to light rail, but that might depend on the initial design.

Light rail seems more appropriate to me on a corridor like Michigan Ave., heading out toward the airport.

animatedmartian
Dec 10, 2013, 9:32 PM
I was surprised that streetcar wasn't even considered given the density along Woodward. They looked at BRT with and without its own ROW, and LRT. I know there are greater distances involved, but I still think streetcar might be the appropriate choice for this corridor, or some type of hybrid, if it had light rail-like segments of greater distances between nodes of greater activity. BRT with its own ROW I would imagine is much easier to convert to streetcar as opposed to light rail, but that might depend on the initial design.

Light rail seems more appropriate to me on a corridor like Michigan Ave., heading out toward the airport.

Perhaps. But pretty much all of Woodward north of 7 Mile has a pretty wide median that could easily fit transit lines even possibly without having to have at grade intersections with crossroads.

In the original Downtown to 8 Mile LRT proposal, there was a section of that demo video (which is blocked due to copyright claims) where they showed a station a Woodward and McNichols. If I'm not mistaken, the rail lines went into a shallow tunnel in order to pass the Michigan left turns that are north of McNichols and returned to grade at the station at 7 Mile. So it would possibly be a separate grade LRT line slightly below street level as an option to avoid snarling up left-turning traffic. Though I'm also pretty sure I saw other renderings/maps that showed the Michigan lefts being altered to have cars stop farther back with an at-grade crossing of the rails. Either way, I think LRT would be a pretty good option over streetcar given how wide and how much space Woodward itself takes up.

Of course it all greatly depends on budget, as always, since separate grade rail is predictably more expensive. But Metro Detroit's economy could support it, no doubt. It's just a matter of actually wanting to support it.

EDIT: Actually yea nevermind, I see what you mean. LRT from downtown to the airport while BRT operates on Woodward. Makes sense.

hudkina
Dec 11, 2013, 12:00 AM
Having all turn-arounds have a traffic light at the end of the straight-away as opposed to having the traffic lights/stop signs at the far side of the curve would make the most sense. The train could be timed with the lights, so it would essentially be the same as grade separation but without the massive costs. Such routes could travel along Fort, Michigan, Grand River, Gratiot, Van Dyke and Woodward as well as suburban lines along 8 Mile, Telegraph, Hall, Metro Parkway/16 Mile, Northwestern Hwy, etc.

LMich
Dec 11, 2013, 8:23 AM
I was surprised that streetcar wasn't even considered given the density along Woodward. They looked at BRT with and without its own ROW, and LRT.

The whole process seemed like a set-up, to me. It's like they injected questions and issues of politics and costs before they even started the study, instead of letting those arise in the appropriate part of the process, naturally.

I compare this to the Lansing study, where BRT was ultimately picked as the locally prefered alternative, and they include everything from a simple increase in regular bus service all the way to light rail (with streetcar and BRT, in between). Ultimately, they came to settle on BRT and modified it so that it's a really "heavy" form of BRT, but the process was thorough and it felt honest so no one really ended up complaining. By comparison, you could kind of feel from the beginning that they'd already steered this to cut out anything beyond a bus service. It seems to me with the corridor's density and the length of the area studied that you really couldn't have anything less than LRT that would make sense for such a long distance. Unless this BRT had a dedicated RTW, they might as well just run some extra SMART buses with signal priority and be done with it, because that's all it would end up amounting to.

Meh.

BTW, I'm still interested exactly how they are going to coordinate all of the regional services south of the Boulevard. From what I understand, they are still very much planning to run the Woodward Local and Limited routes of SMART and the DDOT's #53 bus in this corridor along with the streetcar and BRT. Now, the SMART routes and rush hours and limiteds, but that still leaves DDOT's #53 and streetcar overlapping in a lot of spots and the BRT competeting with the SMART routes.

animatedmartian
Dec 11, 2013, 10:45 AM
BTW, I'm still interested exactly how they are going to coordinate all of the regional services south of the Boulevard. From what I understand, they are still very much planning to run the Woodward Local and Limited routes of SMART and the DDOT's #53 bus in this corridor along with the streetcar and BRT. Now, the SMART routes and rush hours and limiteds, but that still leaves DDOT's #53 and streetcar overlapping in a lot of spots and the BRT competeting with the SMART routes.

So there's going to be 3 buses and a streetcar going down Woodward???

Well, actually that doesn't seem terribly bad because a big percentage of riders would still probably ride the streetcar because of the novelty of it being a train.

Long distance riders would be on BRT and local riders would most probably use DDOT. So really, SMART is the one that loses out the most and I wouldn't be surprised if they took out the Woodward route completely after a time.

The only thing that might hurt is the complexity of people not knowing if the BRT is long distance or the streetcar is long distance. I could imagine some poor tourist hopping on the train at Campus Martius thinking they were going to head out to Royal Oak only to find themselves at Grand. Not that it's a bad area, but they might not be expecting that they'd have to get on the BRT for the rest of the journey.


EDIT: Here's some proposed maps, not sure if you had seen these already.

http://www.woodwardanalysis.com/pdfs/AlignmentRoutingOptions.pdf

animatedmartian
Dec 11, 2013, 11:14 AM
Progress on the Garden Theatre restoration. An interesting blend of old and new.

http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/52a51bfbf92ea136f000d632/GardenTheatre-100.JPG

http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/52a51bf9f92ea136f000d628/GardenTheatre-101.JPG

http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/52a51be6f92ea136f000d5ce/GardenTheatre-110.JPG

http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/52a51bf7f92ea136f000d61e/GardenTheatre-102.JPG

http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/52a51bf5f92ea136f000d614/GardenTheatre-103.JPG

http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/52a51beff92ea136f000d5f6/GardenTheatre-106.JPG

http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/52a51bf1f92ea136f000d600/GardenTheatre-105.JPG

http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/52a51be1f92ea136f000d5ba/GardenTheatre-113.JPG

http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/52a798d0f92ea15de1019849/TheGrille-11.JPG

Via Curbed: http://detroit.curbed.com/archives/2013/12/after-decades-of-neglect-the-garden-theater-shows-off-a-welldeserved-restoration.php

LMich
Dec 11, 2013, 1:52 PM
EDIT: Here's some proposed maps, not sure if you had seen these already.

http://www.woodwardanalysis.com/pdfs/AlignmentRoutingOptions.pdf

Yeah, I'd either posted that here or in the Detroit mass transit thread. I believe there are three different alignments with two of them taking the line off Woodward through much of lower Midtown. I really can't see them taking it off Woodward if only because of visibility of the service even though it may make more sense.

I think the problem with all of this (particularly the streetcar ending around Grand) is that you kind of facilitate having to build a new physical hub of sorts somewhere in the area if you want to make it easy to change modes. I guess you could always simply combine a bus and streetcar stop near Woodward/Grand, but were I transfering modes, I'd want something with a bit more security. But, then a hub really doesn't make sense unless you have some kind of improved/upgraded cross-town service along Grand.

Anyway, what's the use for the renovated theater?

subterranean
Dec 11, 2013, 2:11 PM
Yeah, I'd either posted that here or in the Detroit mass transit thread. I believe there are three different alignments with two of them taking the line off Woodward through much of lower Midtown. I really can't see them taking it off Woodward if only because of visibility of the service even though it may make more sense.

I think the problem with all of this (particularly the streetcar ending around Grand) is that you kind of facilitate having to build a new physical hub of sorts somewhere in the area if you want to make it easy to change modes. I guess you could always simply combine a bus and streetcar stop near Woodward/Grand, but were I transfering modes, I'd want something with a bit more security. But, then a hub really doesn't make sense unless you have some kind of improved/upgraded cross-town service along Grand.



Weird. I really thought this thing was going to end at some intermodal bus/train station on the Amtrak site. Now I'm seeing it is going to Grand.

animatedmartian
Dec 11, 2013, 3:21 PM
Anyway, what's the use for the renovated theater?


Live music venue. They already have two shows coming up.

http://www.thegardentheaterdetroit.com/

hudkina
Dec 11, 2013, 3:37 PM
I think the problem with all of this (particularly the streetcar ending around Grand) is that you kind of facilitate having to build a new physical hub of sorts somewhere in the area if you want to make it easy to change modes.

Wasn't the plan all along to have a major intermodal station built on the lot bounded by Woodward, Amsterdam, Cass, and the tracks? It would connect Amtrak, commuter rail, the streetcar, buses, and if BRT is built north of Grand that as well.

LMich
Dec 12, 2013, 8:34 AM
The DDA has hired Parsons Brinckerhoff to study the possible removal of I-375, downtown:

http://cmsimg.freep.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?NewTbl=1&Site=C4&Date=20131123&Category=BUSINESS&ArtNo=311230109&Ref=PH&Item=5&Maxw=640&Maxh=410
Jarrad Henderson | Detroit Free Press

Consultant hired to study possible removal, rebuilding of I-375 (http://www.freep.com/article/20131211/BUSINESS06/312110122/1002/rss02)

By John Gallagher | Detroit Free Press

December 11, 2013

The Detroit Downtown Development Authority voted today to hire Parsons Brinckerhoff, a traffic and planning consultant, to conduct a study on the future of the I-375 corridor.

As recently reported in the Free Press, the DDA and the Michigan Department of Transportation are mulling what to do with the mile-long I-375 as the freeway nears the end of its useful life. With extensive repairs looming, the authorities will decide whether to rebuild I-375 as is or remake the corridor as a surface street to enhance the pedestrian access of the neighborhood on Detroit’s near-east side.

Parsons Brinckerhoff will be paid up to $372,691 for its work and will use the architectural firm SmithGroup JJR as a subcontractor. The study will involve consulting with major downtown employers including General Motors and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan as well as the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and the public. The study is expected to be finished around mid-2014.

Money to pay for the study is coming mostly from MDOT but GM, Blue Cross, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, the Kresge Foundation, DTE Energy, Ford Field and other donors will also help underwrite the planning process.

...

Glad to see something keep on schedule, for once.

Ditch the ditch!

animatedmartian
Dec 13, 2013, 5:47 PM
Midtown Kicks Off 2014 With Huge Cass Plaza Restoration

Cass Corridor Neighborhood Development Corporation will begin historic renovations on their Cass Plaza project at the first of the year. 3550 Cass and 149 Davenport will be restored to 47 units of affordable rental housing. The units are expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2015 and one of the buildings will include a coffee shop on the first floor.

3550 Cass
http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/52ab40f2f92ea1292a013bfc/cplaza.JPG

149 Davenport
http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/52ab3fabf92ea1027c00efd9/IMG_2451.jpg

http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/52ab3fd1f92ea1027c00f049/IMG_2448.JPG

http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/52ab3fbef92ea1027c00f034/IMG_2454.jpg

http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/52ab3fc6f92ea1027c00f03e/IMG_2453.JPG

http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/52ab4604f92ea1292a018aea/davenportrendering.jpg

http://detroit.curbed.com/archives/2013/12/midtown-starting-2014-with-huge-cass-plaza-restoration.php

animatedmartian
Dec 13, 2013, 5:51 PM
Big announcement coming on multi-million dollar hockey, entertainment development in Detroit

DETROIT, Mich. (WXYZ) - 7 Action News found out that a big announcement will be made Friday afternoon and it’s something that could make a big impact in Detroit.

We're hearing an announcement regarding the new hockey arena will come during a Downtown Development Authority meeting scheduled for 4:15 p.m. at the Guardian Building.


Read more: http://www.wxyz.com/dpp/news/region/wayne_county/Big-announcement-coming-on-multi-million-dollar-hockey-entertainment-development-in-Detroit#ixzz2nNWMk8vn

subterranean
Dec 13, 2013, 6:12 PM
The Davenport looks awesome! Really wish they were keeping the fire escapes, though.

animatedmartian
Dec 13, 2013, 6:33 PM
It's actually unusual in Detroit for such a short building to have fire escapes like that. This supposedly used to be a building for upper-class residents so I guess their safety was priority.

mousquet
Dec 13, 2013, 7:46 PM
What do you guys think about this?

Dec 09 2013

Regional group OKs $2.3B plan to widen I-94, I-75
Plans to add lanes to I-94 north of downtown Detroit and I-75

DETROIT - A consortium of southeastern Michigan governments has endorsed a $2.3 billion plan to widen two stretches of Interstates 75 and 94 serving Detroit and its suburbs.

The commission of the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments voted 24-7 Friday to proceed with plans to add lanes to I-94 north of downtown Detroit and I-75 in the city's northern suburbs.

Supporters say the work is needed to loosen traffic bottlenecks, while opponents say it would damage neighborhoods through which the highways travel.

Michigan Department of Transportation spokesman Rob Morosi tells MLive DOT com the earliest work would begin no sooner than 2016 on I-75 and 2018 on I-94.

I-94 would get extra lanes between Conner and I096, while I-75 would get them from Eight Mile Road to Michigan 59.

http://www.clickondetroit.com/news/regional-group-oks-23b-plan-to-widen-i94-i75/-/1719418/23389110/-/oy6umc/-/index.html

Is it dangerous like anti-urban, a waste of public money or anything wrong? $2.3 bi sure could fund an expanded LRT.

subterranean
Dec 13, 2013, 8:59 PM
What do you guys think about this?

http://www.clickondetroit.com/news/regional-group-oks-23b-plan-to-widen-i94-i75/-/1719418/23389110/-/oy6umc/-/index.html

Is it dangerous like anti-urban, a waste of public money or anything wrong? $2.3 bi sure could fund an expanded LRT.

Shortsighted, dumb, and unnecessary. For a slightly more positive outlook on the region's transportation issues, here's a blog post about the Regional Transit Authority from the Michigan Suburbs Alliance's communications director:

http://www.metromodemedia.com/features/hayleyroberts0326.aspx



Guest Blogger: Hayley Roberts

Hayley Roberts | Thursday, December 12, 2013
Metro Mode Media

Almost a year ago, Gov. Snyder signed into existence a Regional Transit Authority (http://www.semcog.org/RTA.aspx) for metro Detroit. About six months later, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments voted to forge ahead with billions of dollars of spending on outdated, illogical highway expansion projects, while the RTA looks like it will be closing out the year without yet having a long-term funding stream. Based on these two high-profile occasions, it would be easy to declare 2013 more of a mixed bag than a banner year for metro Detroit transportation. But it would be wrong.

Over the past year, metro Detroiters worked together, spoke in unison and ultimately changed the conversation around transportation—and it was remarkable. As a result, the RTA is now kicking into gear, the debate over spending billions to expand highways is, well, a debate, and the region is poised to start thinking differently about how we invest in our future.
...

animatedmartian
Dec 13, 2013, 9:13 PM
The problem is that these freeway projects were decades in planning and LRT had only been proposed in the last several years, if that. It seemed pretty unlikely that MDOT was going to stop or change these plans since they were pretty much already in motion (funding, studies, planning, etc). By comparison, LRT was still a pie-in-the-sky idea that, even now, doesn't really seem fleshed out yet.

Although it would have been nice to divert funds from the freeways to transit, it's just simply too late in the game. Detroit's saving grace is the possible removal of 375 since that is pretty much in the early stages of planning.

Had LRT been proposed in Detroit maybe 15 or 20 years ago, we surely would have had it by now or at the very least, had very large support for it. But of course, things were even more politically unfavorable then than they are now so this is the outcome.

In the end, this is still a pretty autocentric metropolitan area and transit still has a long way to go before it's a normal mode of transportation. Hopefully in the future, transit will get this type of funding, but today is not yet that day and I wouldn't get upset over what can't be changed.

Btw, here's videos on each project from MDOT.

lrfv-9zm7zY

sXZp_0HpDiw

animatedmartian
Dec 13, 2013, 9:30 PM
However, the article on clickondetroit does say that the I-94 constuction won't start until 2018, so maybe it's possible that the plan would be altered in someway within the next 4 years, but either way I see still think it's unlikely funding would shift, at least in great amounts.

animatedmartian
Dec 14, 2013, 12:09 AM
Groundbreaking set for Midtown building to house Lawrence Tech design center
By Chad Halcom. December 13, 2013

http://www.crainsdetroit.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/storyimage/CD/20131213/NEWS/131219916/AR/0/Lawrence-Tech-in-Midtown-Detroit.jpg&MaxW=620&v=201311071514

Midtown Detroit will break ground next week on a three-story, $7 million building at the corner of Woodward Avenue and Willis Street that will house a new Lawrence Technological University design center.

The Southfield-based university will house its new Detroit Center for Design + Technology, which will consolidate three Detroit-based programs of Lawrence Tech’s College of Architecture and Design in 14,000 square feet of the 30,000 square foot building. The groundbreaking is planned for Wednesday.

Relocating into the Woodward and Willis building will be LTU’s Detroit Studio, established by Associate Professor Joongsub Kim in 1999 and provides design support for neighborhood and community-based projects in Detroit, along with urban design studio DetroitSHOP, from the Federal Reserve Building in Detroit, and Studio Couture, a storefront exhibit space on Woodward Avenue.

Amy Deines, associate dean of the College of Architecture and Design and associate director of the new Detroit Center for Design + Technology, and Midtown Detroit Executive Director Sue Mosey said construction should get underway in a few weeks and the university is expected to occupy the building by October.

Other building occupants will include Ann Arbor-based Quinn Evans Architects Inc., the project architect that is expected to relocate a Detroit satellite office, as well as Invest Detroit, which manages $110 million in several investment funds and tax credits, as well as a possible restaurant tenant that is still finalizing negotiations with Midtown Detroit, Deines said.

...
http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20131213/NEWS/131219916/groundbreaking-set-for-midtown-building-to-house-lawrence-tech

Ironic that a school for architecture and design would have such a plain looking building. What's more surprising is that this won't really have any mixed-uses. It's pretty much an auxiliary building for the school.

Sucks for that McDonalds though. Guess they'll have to adopt a more urban design if they want to retain visibility. :D

mousquet
Dec 14, 2013, 3:07 AM
http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20131213/NEWS/131219916/groundbreaking-set-for-midtown-building-to-house-lawrence-tech
Sucks for that McDonalds though. Guess they'll have to adopt a more urban design if they want to retain visibility. :D
The ground space could go to a hungrier and better local cook, though. Small businesses are so great for their creativity... They never mentioned any boring major restaurant franchise.

Midtown is cool anyway. That's where it's at.

animatedmartian
Dec 14, 2013, 6:24 PM
State would demolish Joe Louis under plan for new hockey arena
By Bill Shea. December 13, 2013

http://www.crainsdetroit.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/storyimage/CD/20131213/NEWS/131219910/AR/0/AR-131219910.jpg&MaxW=620&v=201311071514

The state will pay to demolish Joe Louis Arena after the Detroit Red Wings move into a new facility sometime in 2017 or 2018.

The hockey team has played at the city-owned arena since 1979.

News of the arena’s fate was disclosed Friday afternoon during a Downtown Development Authority special meeting to approve sending to the city council a concession management agreement between the DDA and Olympia Development of Michigan for a new $650 million arena and entertainment district at I-75 and Woodward Avenue. ODM is the real estate arm of the Ilitch family, who own the Detroit Red Wings.

The cost of the demolition and what could be built on JLA’s riverfront location haven’t been determined, said George Jackson, chief of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., the quasi-public agency that staffs the DDA under a contact with the city.

Jackson said the demolition would happen not long after the Red Wings move out, pending an agreement with the state.

....


http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20131213/NEWS/131219910/state-would-demolish-joe-louis-under-plan-for-new-hockey-arena

animatedmartian
Dec 14, 2013, 6:30 PM
Building made of shipping containers planned for Detroit's Corktown; Construction could start in January
Dustin Block. December 13, 2013

http://imgick.mlive.com/home/mlive-media/pgmain/img/detroit/photo/2013/12/shipping-container-construction-in-detroit-7374b4ccebe6e50b.jpg

http://imgick.mlive.com/home/mlive-media/pgmain/img/detroit/photo/2013/12/-d677947288df844a.jpg

DETROIT, MI - Construction on a 4,400-square-foot office building made out of shipping containers in Detroit's Corktown neighborhood could begin in January, according to the company behind the project.

Three Squared Construction, a Detroit-based company that uses recycled shipping containers to create homes and offices, says it hopes to finalize financing by Christmas and break ground next month on a model center on Michigan Avenue near the Grinnell Place Lofts.

The company plans to use half the space as an office and demonstration site for larger projects planned for Detroit, said Three Squared CEO Leslie Horn, who splits time between San Diego and Detroit. The other half would be available for lease as a custom built workspace, she said.

Once approved, construction would move quickly on the project named "Michigan Avenue Squared," Horn said. The company would have the building framed within four hours of breaking ground and built out by February. Fast, low-cost construction is a major benefit of building from containers, she said.

Three Squared hopes the project is the start of a successful 2014. The company has $300 million in potential projects in the works for the next two to three years, is applying for patents on its construction system, and made a splash this week when it announced Eric Lloyd Wright, the grandson of Frank Lloyd Wright, was joining the firm as its lead architect. Wright will work out of Los Angeles with the aim of making shipping container construction energy efficient and attractive, Horn said.

....


http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2013/12/building_made_of_shipping_cont.html

hudkina
Dec 14, 2013, 7:06 PM
That's an interesting concept for Michigan Ave. It looks like they'll create an historic facade for the building to blend in with the neighborhood.

A lot of announcements, BTW. I'm also excited about 3550 Cass and the Davenport. These will help bridge the gap between "Midtown" and the Cass Park area. I'm excited to see what this area will look like in the next five years.

animatedmartian
Dec 14, 2013, 7:48 PM
Yea, things are really picking up heading into 2014 and beyond. I can't think of a time where so much activity was building up momentum.

Rizzo
Dec 16, 2013, 2:10 AM
That shipping container building looks great! Nothing like shipping containers which is why I like it.

JonathanGRR
Dec 16, 2013, 2:29 AM
While not development news per se, this is a pretty good piece about I-375 and Black Bottom (with some Corktown history thrown in!):

When Detroit paved over paradise: The story of I-375
John Gallagher, Detroit Free Press | December 15, 2013

If the state rips out I-375 to make Detroit more accessible to pedestrians, as some urban planners have urged, the move will come 60 years too late for older black Detroiters who remember how freeways destroyed the city’s historic Black Bottom district.

Named for the rich dark soil that French explorers first found there, the Black Bottom district in the 1940s and ’50s housed the city’s African-American entrepreneurial class, with dozens of thriving black-owned businesses and the Paradise Valley entertainment zone, where Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie performed.

But the builders of I-75 and I-375 plowed multilane highways right through Hastings Street, the commercial heart of Black Bottom, and projects such as Lafayette Park and the public housing projects to the north destroyed the rest in the name of progress.

“Black Bottom, Paradise Valley, was indeed a paradise for black entrepreneurial businesses,” said Sidney Barthwell Jr., 66, a 36th District Court magistrate whose father, Sidney Barthwell, ran a chain of pharmacies and ice cream shops in Black Bottom. The Barthwell business network, among the most important black businesses in America at the time, was mostly wiped out by the freeway construction.

“Funeral homes, doctors — there were a dozen different black-owned hospitals (in Black Bottom), because in those days, they wouldn’t admit you into the major hospitals if you were African-American,” Barthwell said. “The Detroit black community in its heyday was absolutely fantastic. It was better than Harlem.”

Historian Joe T. Darden of Michigan State University, co-author of the new book “Detroit: Race Riots, Racial Conflicts and Efforts to Bridge the Racial Divide,” said the Detroit experience needs to be remembered for what was lost to urban renewal and expressways in the 1950s and ’60s.

“Some people may not know that history, so if nothing else, it’s important to put that into perspective and say more about it,” he said.
...
Detroit Free Press (http://www.freep.com/article/20131215/OPINION05/312150060/Black-Bottom-Detroit-I-375-I-75-paradise-valley-removal)

LMich
Dec 16, 2013, 8:28 AM
To be clear, while the proposed I-94 is further along than I feel comfortable with, it's still far from a done deal. It could easily be cancelled or delayed with the change in state government depending on how the 2014 elections turn out. If I remember correctly, Granholm was the one who originally iced the I-75 expansion in Oakland County. I think what's different this time around is people are finally calling out MDOT on this silliness. State Rep. Jim Townsend has promised to give this process hell (MDOT is using an Environmental Assessment from the 90's for the I-94 expansion). And, just symbolically, since they serve two different purposes, but what's looking like the tearing out of I-375 will put pressure on MDOT, no doubt, to re-examine freeways expansions, in general.

This fight is far, far from over. Hey, if MDOT re-studies I-94, and they find that they need to reconstruct the freeway, and move and/or lengthen certain ramps and add some technology to make traffic flow better, I'm all for it. But, even a laymens glance at this shows you there is no need for a generalized expansion. It's not like trucking companies and industrial business have been screaming for some imminent expansion. I know the road lobby is hurting, but that's no excuse. MDOT needs a major culture change.

EuphoricOctopus
Dec 16, 2013, 10:05 AM
I don't get why they would want to widen the freeways when congestion has never been a huge problem. Compared to other cities our freeways do a good job moving traffic even during rush hour.

subterranean
Dec 16, 2013, 1:58 PM
To be clear, while the proposed I-94 is further along than I feel comfortable with, it's still far from a done deal. It could easily be cancelled or delayed with the change in state government depending on how the 2014 elections turn out. If I remember correctly, Granholm was the one who originally iced the I-75 expansion in Oakland County. I think what's different this time around is people are finally calling out MDOT on this silliness. State Rep. Jim Townsend has promised to give this process hell (MDOT is using an Environmental Assessment from the 90's for the I-94 expansion). And, just symbolically, since they serve two different purposes, but what's looking like the tearing out of I-375 will put pressure on MDOT, no doubt, to re-examine freeways expansions, in general.

This fight is far, far from over. Hey, if MDOT re-studies I-94, and they find that they need to reconstruct the freeway, and move and/or lengthen certain ramps and add some technology to make traffic flow better, I'm all for it. But, even a laymens glance at this shows you there is no need for a generalized expansion. It's not like trucking companies and industrial business have been screaming for some imminent expansion. I know the road lobby is hurting, but that's no excuse. MDOT needs a major culture change.

If you look at other similarly sized metros, it would appear that Metro Detroit's network of freeways doesn't suffer for infrastructure. In fact, it seems to be overbuilt. Despite this, traffic volumes can be astounding along the 4 and 5 lane freeways during peak times, and backups are very common. The sad thing is that the majority of these vehicles have single person occupancy. We do not have a good culture of ride share/transit use in part because of the relentless freeway development. But, as we know, the freeway demand has always caught up with supply and then we're right back where we started.

Are HOV lanes worth it? Most growing cities I've visited in the last few years have had these lanes, but I've never used them consistently enough to know their value.

LMich
Dec 16, 2013, 2:20 PM
From WeAreModeShift.org (http://wearemodeshift.org/i-94-freeway-expansion-your-house-demo-list):

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7269/7563763984_ec5d11676d_z.jpg

Is This Really Necessary?

The I-94 expansion is supposedly intended to reduce congestion and increase safety along the highway. It is debatable, however, if this benefit would ever be realized. The FEIS ignores the phenomenon of induced demand, by which motorists quickly consume any newly-generated highway capacity simply by taking more frequent, or longer, trips. Adding concrete to our urban centers only encourages people to move further away from work, shopping, and entertainment, increasing rather than reducing traffic and congestion. Urban planners figured this out over a decade ago, and expressways in many cities around the world are being scaled back or eliminated altogether, often resulting in an increased quality of life for everyone in the region – not to mention a huge savings in tax dollars.

It’s not the 1990s anymore. Automobile use is becoming increasingly unattractive as gas prices (which often dipped below a dollar per gallon while the I-94 expansion was being planned) are now pushing four dollars per gallon and don’t show any signs of decreasing. Telecommuting is on the rise. A younger generation of working Americans is electing en masse to live closer to downtown employment centers, and residential development in downtown Detroit is progressing steadily even in the midst of a nationwide housing collapse. Funding is in place for both commuter rail and bus rapid transit in southeast Michigan.

It was the lack of consideration given to truly multimodal, transit-oriented solutions that prompted Transportation Riders United, a Detroit transit advocacy group, to write a scathing 53-page response to MDOT’s draft Environmental Impact Statement. As TRU points out, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments 2020 land use projections (upon which the demand for an expanded I-94 was foretasted) used a model which assumed sole reliance on the automobile.

TRU cites the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration, who, in a 2000 review of SEMCOG’s methods, criticized regional authorities for lacking “operational mode choice or transit network assignment models for the region, [without which] the ability to … analyze tradeoffs among transit alternatives and between transit and highway projects is extremely limited.”

TRU also challenges many of MDOT’s dubious and unsubstantiated claims regarding supposed positive side effects of the project. According to FEIS Chapter 5: Social, Economic, and Environmental Impacts, the expansion of I-94 will bring about an increase in property values and property tax revenues in the vicinity of the highway (somehow), enhance pedestrian and bicyclist mobility (never mind that nine bridges over the highway will be removed without replacement), improve aesthetics within the I-94 corridor (if you like the way freeways look), and create construction jobs (but so would an equal investment in mass transit).

Adverse Impacts

Perhaps the most significant impacts of the planned expansion will come not from the widening of the highway itself, but from the addition of two-lane service drives and wider freeway on- and off-ramps. Although MDOT often makes the claim that the service drives will increase “neighborhood connectivity” and “pedestrian and bicycle mobility,” local traffic flow parallel to the expressway never seems to have been a problem.

...

According to the EPA, “[the project would] combine vehicular bridges with pedestrian bridges and eliminate stand-alone pedestrian bridges [without consideration of] how these changes would impact pedestrian and bicycle activity in the area.” The City of Detroit’s Planning and Development Department concurred that “pedestrian mobility will be seriously restricted” and recommended that MDOT “[e]xplore the feasibility of a scaling back [the project] … creating funding that could be used for potential mass transit” and pointed out recent changes in federal funding priorities that increased the viability of mass transit alternatives to highway expansion.

Detroit’s City Planning Commission held a public hearing on the MDOT project and reported “all non-MDOT speakers had serious concerns about the project.” The CPC and Detroit City Council also opposed the gratuitous taking of residential and commercial properties for expanded expressway service drives.

Perhaps the strongest and most significant local government opposition to the MDOT project came from the City of Ferndale, located six miles north of I-94 and thus removed from any immediate adverse impacts. The City Manager and City Council of the suburban community described the expansion as “too large, too costly, not coordinated with any regional mass transit plan … a detriment to regional and community development.” A resolution from Ferndale’s City Council lamented a plan that would, in its view, “aggravate urban sprawl, disinvestment from the central city and its older suburbs, and does nothing to help those who may not have private transportation options.”

...

Pedestrian-only Bridges to be Removed Without Replacement:

Brooklyn over I-94
Canfield over M-10

Pedestrian/Automobile Bridges to be Removed Without Replacement:

Third over I-94
John R over I-94
Beaubien over I-94
Lucky over I-94
E Ferry over I-75
Piquette over I-75
Saginaw over I-94
Eastbound Harper over I-94
McClellan over I-94

This whole this is overwrought and overdesigned and the process rigged. Of course Detroit has chokepoints as would any other area of this size, but the traffic here is and was nothing by comparison. There is a false choice being presented in all of this, which is support these expansion, as is, or do nothing. What needs to be done is that this needs to be re-studied to provide more up-to-date information. Some of the most recent data is ten years old, now, not even to speak of the age of some of the environmental data. Thank goodness Metro Detroit is finally back in population growth, mode, but the place is still down approximately 150,000 people since some of the more recent data was complied, and it's not going to gain all that back by decades end.

animatedmartian
Dec 16, 2013, 9:01 PM
Midtown Detroit's neon hammer & nail building coming down for new projects
By John Gallagher. December 15, 2013.

http://cmsimg.freep.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=C4&Date=20131215&Category=BUSINESS04&ArtNo=312150034&Ref=AR&MaxW=640&Border=0&Midtown-Detroit-s-neon-hammer-nail-building-coming-down-new-projects

Detroit’s thriving Midtown district will see two important new structures going up soon and one landmark coming down.

Cleveland developer John Ferchill said last week he hopes to break ground on a new five-story medical arts building at 3750-3800 Woodward Avenue. Ferchill, best known as the developer of the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel, told the Detroit Downtown Development Authority that the project will cost upwards of $60 million and contain more than 150,000 square feet of office space and a parking deck with more than 600 spaces.

The project means the razing of a Midtown landmark, the office tower at 3800 Woodward that’s emblazoned with the iconic neon hammer coming down on a nail atop the structure. Ferchill told the DDA he tried to save the tower to convert it to dorms for Wayne State University but the economics didn’t work.

The new five-story building will house the offices of Wayne State physicians and the Detroit Medical Center will take the fifth floor. A smaller retail building also be built on the site. Work should start in the spring.

....
http://www.freep.com/article/20131215/BUSINESS04/312150034/John-Ferchill-medical-arts-building

The other building mentioned is the LTU building down the street (with extra rendering).

http://cmsimg.freep.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=C4&Date=20131215&Category=BUSINESS04&ArtNo=312150034&Ref=V1&MaxW=600&Border=0

LMich
Dec 17, 2013, 8:26 AM
I'm still genuinely confused by the project. Whatever you think of the aesthetics - which is to say that it doesn't matter, in this context - the Professional Plaza isn't a run-down, abandoned property, and it fronts Woodward. It could have done a better job of it, but it's still on Woodward. What they are proposing is tearing down the existing property - which was also home to a lot of medical offices - to make room for medical office building of nearly the exact same size as the Professional Plaza. You get the mention of the little side building, but it still feels like an odd waste of effort.

I guess the only thing I find admirable about the whole thing is that they are going to replace the giant parking lot with a parking garage which will have retail, but even then that's only if the garage doesn't end up abutting Woodward in any way, and I can't tell from the rendering exactly how everything is placed on site. It looks like the main building doesn't even really front Woodward, but a side street, so does that mean we get some driveways, maybe a bit of surface parking fronting Woodward in between the three different structures that will be built?

animatedmartian
Dec 17, 2013, 11:07 AM
I get the feeling that there were always plans to vacate the Professional Plaza. If they were looking into converting the building into dorms while the building was still in use, then yea, it seems like there was going to be a point that the medical workers were going to move into a new building. It could very easily be that Professional Plaza is just too outdated to support the needs of the medical workers. No matter the condition of the building, it just might be cheaper and easier to build a new one entirely instead of trying to retrofit the old one.

The rendering leaves a lot to be desired in terms of showing how the site is laid out. It does look like there's a little drive way or side street coming off Woodward, but I can't really tell if that goes all the way to John R. I can't even really tell if the main building itself reaches John R. It certainly seems long enough.

I do like the nice little prominent feature on the building though. Seems like it adds just enough interest to stick out along the Woodward streetwall but not so much that it's a distraction.

LMich
Dec 17, 2013, 1:19 PM
I was talking more about the Woodward side of this development. Whereas the Professional Plaza ran the block creating a streetwall, this will leave some wholes in the streetwall. It seems that you'd want to retain the streetwall on Woodward and tuck the garage on the back of the site. This seems like the orientation of the new building a downgrade from an urban perspective given what's currently on the site. We're looking southeast in that rendering, right? I see a lot of unsued space on Woodward, and I'm hoping it's not a parking lot or lawn, but what else could it be?

RCDC
Dec 17, 2013, 1:50 PM
I don't know if it's been mentioned but here's another reason (http://blog.preservationnation.org/2013/09/06/not-stopping-that-united-sound-highway-threatens-detroits-motown-studio/#.UrBMRVtDtac) to stop I-94.

animatedmartian
Dec 17, 2013, 8:47 PM
I was talking more about the Woodward side of this development. Whereas the Professional Plaza ran the block creating a streetwall, this will leave some wholes in the streetwall. It seems that you'd want to retain the streetwall on Woodward and tuck the garage on the back of the site. This seems like the orientation of the new building a downgrade from an urban perspective given what's currently on the site. We're looking southeast in that rendering, right? I see a lot of unsued space on Woodward, and I'm hoping it's not a parking lot or lawn, but what else could it be?

Yea it could be that. But on the one hand, that might be there for future development. At worst it could be a parking lot for a strip mall, but I don't think that's the case.

I actually have a big gripe with developments that take up the whole streetwall and leave a lot of space behind them (or fills it with a parking garage). It's more old school to build perpendicular to the street than it is to build along it unless it's needed.

For example:
http://imageshack.us/a/img543/621/l4xw.png

http://img69.imageshack.us/img69/2640/iee2.png

IMO, the Ellington and the office building across from it in the first picture waste a lot of space. However, it can be forgiven since they sit on the corner. Though even in that respect, they still could have been built better. Both of them could have been more perpendicular to Woodward. Especially since the office building makes Parson's street entirely less interesting because of the parking garage. Even if the garage fronted Woodward, it wouldn't take up much streetwall space if built perpendicular to Woodward a la this parking garage fronting John R (http://goo.gl/maps/LbrYy).

If you see in the lower picture, the old school apartments are built away from the street towards the center of the block. This fills up much more of the block than if you just had one apartment filling the streetwall entirely. Another plus is that there's less risk for overbuilding. While it does leave holes in the streetwall, they're not huge holes. You could very easily build a slender apartment building on any of those empty lots.

That could also mean that you don't have to spend so much money on filling space (in turn, needing less money for financing), and instead you can build market-rate prices while also spending a little more on aesthetics. While it's a slower method of development, I think it's a better method.

I would hate to see something like this filling up Detroit's blocks.

http://imageshack.us/a/img194/9396/oz5v.png

http://imageshack.us/a/img560/4480/z0tt.png

I dunno, those just don't seem very human-scaled to me. They also look kind of ugly and cheap from the street (http://goo.gl/maps/zMVZC). I think Detroit would do well to focus on quality instead of quantity and keep things at a human scale.

LMich
Dec 18, 2013, 8:10 AM
I guess I just disagree. Were the city really booming and this were a perfect world, then perhaps I could tolerate it with the realistic expectation that you'd see infill. But what would likely happen in a place like Detroit is that you get a perpendicular building with a parking lot that stays there for a decade or more while new development doesn't fill in, but rather build on another block entirely with it's own parking lot on Woodward.

BTW, read the curbed article on this, finally, and the parking garage will be right on Woodward. Maybe it will be perpendicular to Woodward (still unsure of the site plan), but they are pretty explicit about the large garage having at least some of its frontage on Woodward. This is a downgrade as far as I'm concerned with the only saving grace, again, being that it will have ground floor retail. This makes me think that the garage is going to be on the southwest corner of the site, the medical arts building on the northwest corner leaving the little retail building somewhere in between the two, and definitely set back from Woodward, whether there is a parking lot or lawn in front of it will be little consequence as far as I'm concerned. This is just bad planning. We should be trying to hide parking on the backlot at every opportunity we get on Woodward, and with this site being so incredibly large and the parking already out back, that's where it should have stayed.

animatedmartian
Dec 18, 2013, 4:46 PM
I was under the impression that the Ellington was in the background to the right which put the building on the southwest corner which would put the backside of the building directly next to the parking garage that's already there.

Ugh, I just hope they come out with more renderings at some point.

animatedmartian
Dec 18, 2013, 6:21 PM
In other news, the LTU building had its groundbreaking ceremony earlier today, and the Brewster Projects are in the second phase of demolition which are the midrise towers on the north side of the block.

LMich
Dec 19, 2013, 8:49 AM
Here are the two Frederick Douglass mid-rises being brought down at the moment - with the replacement townhomes (New Brewster Homes) of the original Brewster Projects low-rise apartment buildings in the background, which will remain:

http://historicdetroit.org/image/2/750/0/5/images/broderick_32612_002_rb.jpg
HistoricDetroit.org (http://historicdetroit.org/galleries/brewster-douglass-projects-photos/)

Here they are in the context of the old Frederick Douglass complex (circa 1955):

http://historicdetroit.org/image/2/750/0/5/images/54274jp2-wi-he-re1-x0-y0-sw-sh-ro-1955.jpg
HistoricDetroit.org (http://historicdetroit.org/galleries/brewster-douglass-projects-old-photos/)

And, just for further context, the original Brewster Projects, which were demolished a few decades back for the townhomes pictured in the first photo (circa 1939):

http://historicdetroit.org/workspace/images/300_1jp2-wi-he-re1-x0-y0-sw-sh-ro-1937.jpg
HistoricDetroit.org (http://historicdetroit.org/galleries/brewster-douglass-projects-old-photos/)

http://historicdetroit.org/workspace/images/eb02e679jp2-re2-1939.jpg
HistoricDetroit.org (http://historicdetroit.org/galleries/brewster-douglass-projects-old-photos/)

http://historicdetroit.org/image/2/750/0/5/images/25473jp2-wi-he-re1-x0-y0-sw-sh-ro-1938.jpg
HistoricDetroit.org (http://historicdetroit.org/galleries/brewster-douglass-projects-old-photos/)

http://historicdetroit.org/image/2/750/0/5/images/brewster2.jpg
HistoricDetroit.org (http://historicdetroit.org/galleries/brewster-douglass-projects-old-photos/)

http://historicdetroit.org/image/2/750/0/5/images/groundbreakign.jpg
HistoricDetroit.org (http://historicdetroit.org/galleries/brewster-douglass-projects-old-photos/)

And, some photos from the late 80's and early 90's when the original Brewsters were put on the demolition list and subsequently brought down:

http://historicdetroit.org/image/2/750/0/5/images/brewdoug1988.jpg
HistoricDetroit.org (http://historicdetroit.org/galleries/brewster-douglass-projects-old-photos/)

http://historicdetroit.org/image/2/750/0/5/images/brewdougdemo1990.jpg
HistoricDetroit.org (http://historicdetroit.org/galleries/brewster-douglass-projects-old-photos/)

http://historicdetroit.org/image/2/750/0/5/images/brewdoug1992.jpg
HistoricDetroit.org (http://historicdetroit.org/galleries/brewster-douglass-projects-old-photos/)

Sounds weird to say, but I'm going to miss these old buildings.

LMich
Dec 19, 2013, 9:26 AM
No rendering, but it looks like up Woodward in Royal Oak, they are back to trying to develop their Gateway at Main/Woodward/I-696:

http://cmsimg.detnews.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=C3&Date=20131218&Category=METRO02&ArtNo=312180122&Ref=AR&Profile=1409&MaxW=640&Border=0&Apartments-offices-retail-proposed-696-site-Royal-Oak
The developers make their presentation for Royal Oak's Downtown Development Authority on Wednesday. (Ricardo Thomas / The Detroit News)

Apartments, offices, retail proposed for I-696 site in Royal Oak (http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20131218/METRO02/312180122/1409/METRO)

By Lauren Abdel-Razzaq | The Detroit News

December 18, 2013

Royal Oak — Developers working to build a hotel at 400 Main St. are pitching an idea to develop the city’s vacant land at the intersection of Main, Interstate 696 and Woodward.

The land, referred to as “the Gateway,” has attracted interest from several developers over the past decade, although all previous projects have fallen through.

Now, a group including Royal Oak-based CG Emerson Real Estate Group, the Kreiger Klatt architecture firm and Southfield-based Versa Development hopes to develop the site with apartments, offices and retail.

...

They are partnering with Farran Group, a national housing management association, to develop 160 apartment units, a parking deck and nearly 10,000 square feet each of retail, medical and office space. They estimate the project to cost $50 million.

The same partners gave an update on the 400 Main development, which sits on the site of the old Fresard car dealership. Erne said the groundbreaking for that project, which will include a Hyatt hotel, retail space, apartment and offices, is scheduled for mid- to late summer.

...

animatedmartian
Dec 19, 2013, 4:59 PM
Huh, that's interesting. Earlier in the year there was a plan to build a medical center there (http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2012/03/royal_oak_residents_embrace_dm.html). I hadn't heard much about the project since then. Did it fall through somewhere?

animatedmartian
Dec 20, 2013, 12:27 AM
Somewhat of a recap and update on current and proposed projects.

In a few years, Detroit's Woodward Avenue corridor will look very different
By David Muller

Wayne State University is building a 200,000-square-foot Multidisciplinary Biomedical Research Building at 6187 Woodward Ave. The $93 million project is the university’s largest-ever construction project.

http://imgick.mlive.com/home/mlive-media/pgmain/img/detroit/photo/2013/12/-8cbe9be0f6e9c23c.JPG

http://imgick.mlive.com/home/mlive-media/pgmain/img/detroit/photo/2013/12/-43ee379b2662ea1a.JPG

http://imgick.mlive.com/home/mlive-media/pgmain/img/detroit/photo/2013/12/-fc7fdc63186fceed.JPG

Midtown Detroit Inc. President Sue Mosey said the development organzaiton is nearing an agreement with an "end user" that will put the building that once hosued the Agave restaurant back into use. An announcement is expected in January, she said.

http://imgick.mlive.com/home/mlive-media/pgmain/img/detroit/photo/2013/12/-5c6d54297ad984f3.JPG

Construction of the M1 Rail line is just one of several projects along the Woodward Avenue corridor that will change the face of the area in just a few years.

http://imgick.mlive.com/home/mlive-media/pgmain/img/detroit/photo/2013/12/-9f0e25c6af2434a6.JPG

http://imgick.mlive.com/home/mlive-media/pgmain/img/detroit/photo/2013/12/-e09aeef70a77515b.JPG

Construction at the ground level of the David Whitney Building. The 19-floor building is going to be converted into 105 residential apartments, 135 hotel rooms and ground-level retail. The hotel will be Michigan’s first Aloft-branded accommodations. Developers say it will be done by July 2014.

http://imgick.mlive.com/home/mlive-media/pgmain/img/detroit/photo/2013/12/-351b1bea65e4cb77.JPG

http://imgick.mlive.com/home/mlive-media/pgmain/img/detroit/photo/2013/12/-c41108deac580e8a.JPG

http://imgick.mlive.com/home/mlive-media/pgmain/img/detroit/photo/2013/12/-5aed7bc208270e76.JPG

The $30 million, 75,000-square-foot Midtown Professional Building is planned for Woodward Avenue near Stimson Street. The site plan for the 5-floor building calls for retail on the ground floor, and Class A office space above.

http://imgick.mlive.com/home/mlive-media/pgmain/img/detroit/photo/2013/12/-9b1a99bbc0bc42dc.JPG

The new Woodward Garden Apartments, next to the recently renovated Garden Theater.

http://imgick.mlive.com/home/mlive-media/pgmain/img/detroit/photo/2013/12/-1ca627fc17042617.JPG

http://imgick.mlive.com/home/mlive-media/pgmain/img/detroit/photo/2013/12/-aecef00e4b16e915.JPG

Midtown Detroit Inc. broke ground Wednesday on a 30,000-square-foot commercial building at the corner of Woodward Avenue and Willis Street that will house Lawrence Technological University (LTU) as the anchor tenant.

http://imgick.mlive.com/home/mlive-media/pgmain/img/detroit/photo/2013/12/-dba87376518544f9.JPG

This looming, 150,000-square-foot structure near Woodward and Willis will be turned into 129 market-rate apartments, Midtown Detroit Inc. President Sue Mosey said. Mosey said financing for the porejct, which will take 18 months to complete, should be closed in April.

http://imgick.mlive.com/home/mlive-media/pgmain/img/detroit/photo/2013/12/-636c634a1139344d.JPG

http://imgick.mlive.com/home/mlive-media/pgmain/img/detroit/photo/2013/12/-823e596c8050c78b.JPG

The area near Sproat and Woodward where a new, 650,000-square-foot Detroit Red Wings arena has been proposed.

http://imgick.mlive.com/home/mlive-media/pgmain/img/detroit/photo/2013/12/-d56719fb294da8e9.JPG

http://imgick.mlive.com/home/mlive-media/pgmain/img/detroit/photo/2013/12/-99a6b729c8509f5f.JPG

http://www.mlive.com/business/detroit/index.ssf/2013/12/in_a_few_years_detroits_woodwa.html#incart_river

Other proposals include:


The 5 floor office building at the 3800 block of Woodward replacing the hammer and nail building.

The 16 floor office building at Campus Martius on the Monroe Block where Meridian Health will be the anchor tenant.


Still no time tables or proposals as of yet, but feeling pretty close:

The Hudson Block :)

LMich
Dec 20, 2013, 8:21 AM
I'd read about the streetcar-related construction, this morning. It's unfortunate M-1 is being so mum about all of this prep work.

animatedmartian
Dec 20, 2013, 9:24 PM
City Council OKs expanding DDA district for new Red Wings arena
By Kirk Pinho. December 20, 2013.

http://www.crainsdetroit.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/storyimage/CD/20131220/NEWS/131229969/AR/0/AR-131229969.jpg&MaxW=620&v=201311071514

Detroit City Council has approved expanding the Downtown Development Authority district for the construction of a $650 million development that would include a new arena for the Detroit Red Wings.

Following a nearly two-hour public comment period this morning, the council voted in favor of the expansion of DDA boundaries.

The project needed council approval to expand the current 615-acre DDA property tax capture district by about 40 blocks north of the Fisher Freeway between Grand River and Woodward avenues to encompass the arena district site.

Brian Holdwick, executive vice president for business development for the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., said at the meeting that the demolition of city-owned Joe Louis Arena, where the Red Wings have played since 1979, is expected to cost the state about $5 million.

...
http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20131220/NEWS/131229969/city-council-oks-expanding-dda-district-for-new-red-wings-arena

The North One
Dec 20, 2013, 9:29 PM
Its extremely ironic that a rail is going up considering how Henry Ford destroyed all the trains and rails that used to go through the city.

hudkina
Dec 20, 2013, 9:58 PM
It wasn't Ford. GM is the one who is accused of dismantling the streetcar system. Granted, the idea was to replace the "ancient" streetcar with a "modern" autobus system.

animatedmartian
Dec 20, 2013, 10:29 PM
I'd read about the streetcar-related construction, this morning. It's unfortunate M-1 is being so mum about all of this prep work.

They're surprisingly still behind on a few things.


M-1 Rail begins utility relocation work in Detroit
DAVID SHEPARDSON DETROIT NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU

M-1 Rail said Friday it began utility relocation work along Woodward Avenue in Detroit — the first step toward full-fledged construction of the 3.3-mile $137 million Detroit streetcar system.

M-1 Rail’s construction manager/general contractor, Stacy and Witbeck, along with Detroit-based utility contractor Blaze Contracting Inc. started relocating a catch basin located at the southwest corner of the median at Congress and Woodward.

“The relocation of underground utilities will allow the project to move rapidly once track construction along Woodward Avenue begins next year,” said Paul Childs, M-1’s chief operating officer. “Today we’ve prudently taken an important step toward fulfilling our mission of delivering a modern streetcar system to Detroit.”

M-1 is still deciding whether the transit system will be on-wire or off-wire. On-wire cars get their power from overhead wires, while off-wire cars are powered by batteries.

M-1 is in the process of identifying the street car vendor, and the choice will help determine what power source M-1 will use, said James Canning, a spokesman.

....


http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20131220/METRO05/312200105/M-1-Rail-begins-utility-relocation-work-Detroit?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7Ctext%7CFRONTPAGE

LMich
Dec 21, 2013, 12:35 AM
They're surprisingly still behind on a few things.

http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20131220/METRO05/312200105/M-1-Rail-begins-utility-relocation-work-Detroit?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7Ctext%7CFRONTPAGE

Speak of the devil. lol Anyway, I wrote them a little over a week ago, and they wrote me back saying they never intended to go public with the vendor until they actually inked a deal. I'm not sure they are behind on their new schedule, and with public announcement of utility locations, this is practically a done deal. That was really all I was waiting to hear.

From M-1...

http://cmsimg.detnews.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=C3&Date=20131220&Category=METRO05&ArtNo=312200105&Ref=AR&MaxW=640&Border=0&M-1-Rail-begins-utility-relocation-work-Detroit
M-1 Rail

M-1 RAIL begins underground utility relocation work, shutdown of Woodward Avenue is not required: Utility Relocations Will Not Prevent Customer Access to Businesses on Woodward (http://m-1rail.com/m-1-rail-begins-underground-utility-relocation-work-shutdown-woodward-avenue-required-utility-relocations-will-prevent-customer-access-businesses-woodward/)

Today M-1 RAIL began utility relocation work along Woodward Avenue, it’s the first step toward full-fledged construction activities of the 3.3-mile streetcar system. Public access to businesses will not be prevented by the utility relocation work.

M-1 RAIL’s Construction Manager/General Contractor, Stacy and Witbeck, along with Detroit-based utility contractor Blaze Contracting, Inc. started relocating a catch basin located at the southwest corner of the median at Congress and Woodward.

“The relocation of underground utilities will allow the project to move rapidly once track construction along Woodward Avenue begins next year,” said Paul Childs, Chief Operating Officer, M-1 RAIL. “Today we’ve prudently taken an important step toward fulfilling our mission of delivering a modern streetcar system to Detroit.”

Workers are expected to spend anywhere from five to 12-days at eight isolated worksites along Woodward Avenue from Larned Street to John R. Street, barring any unforeseen circumstances. Workers will finish activities at one site before moving to the next.

Each worksite will require an excavation approximately 10ft x 10ft in order to relocate or replace catch basins, storm manholes or water main gate valves. Crews are permitted to work between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. as necessary.

...

Progress Made in 2013

- Finalized engineering plans
- Established community and business stakeholder advisory councils
- Initiated Business Support Program to assess businesses’ needs
- Hired Construction Manager/General Contractor Stacy and Witbeck
- Connected with hundreds of businesses and community organizations
- Begin relocation of underground utilities along Woodward Avenue
- Obtained bids from streetcar vendors, currently conducting due diligence

Looking Ahead to 2014

- Finalize the intergovernmental agreements that will permit mainline construction to commence along Woodward Avenue
- Solicit for roadway subcontractors and suppliers for the mainline construction work along Woodward Avenue
- Continue pursuit of the necessary real-estate acquisitions and issue a design-build RFP for the vehicle storage and maintenance facility
-Move administration office to a new space located at 1426 Woodward Avenue shortly after the New Year

BTW, if there is any irony in anything at all, it's that Matt Cullen, a former General Motors exec, is the CEO of M-1 Rail. But, it's not all that ironic given that GM has been behind M-1 Rail from Day One recognizing it as one of the many components of retaining top-flight talent and growing downtown.

animatedmartian
Dec 21, 2013, 12:53 AM
So basically, they already have a vendor but the deal isn't set yet? The way Detnews worded it made it sound like they were still looking for a vendor which if I remember, they said they were going to choose earlier in December (which is when I thought the announcement would be made).

But that makes sense if they already choose someone and are just waiting for the deal to be official.

LMich
Dec 24, 2013, 8:18 AM
Gilbert buys the T. B. Rayl & Co. Building at the corner of Woodward and Grand River. Even in it's modified state, this has always been one of my favorite buildings on Woodward:

http://www.crainsdetroit.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/storyimage/CD/20131223/NEWS/131229933/AR/0/AR-131229933.jpg&MaxW=290&v=201311071514

Gilbert buys building at Woodward and Grand River (http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20131223/NEWS/131229933/gilbert-buys-building-at-woodward-and-grand-river)

By Kirk Pinho | Crain's Detroit Business

December 23, 2013

Dan Gilbert has purchased another building in Detroit near the hub of his other holdings.

Bedrock Real Estate Services LLC, the development arm of Gilbert's real estate empire, closed earlier this month on the purchase of the eight-story retail/office building at 1400 Woodward Ave., located at the intersection of Woodward and Grand River Avenue, according to two real estate sources.

How much the building sold for is not known.

Currently housing the Eastern Wig & Hair Co., the 60,000-square-foot building was constructed in 1925, according to Washington, D.C.-based real estate information service CoStar Group Inc.

According to Crain's "Who Owns Detroit?" database published in August, the building is owned by Sue Lee. Reached by phone last week, she said the building had not yet sold.

...

The Eastern Wig website says it has been in business since 1971. The advisory board report says Eastern Wig has been open on only the first floor of the building since 1997.

The purchase brings the size of Gilbert's real estate portfolio to more than 40 buildings, all of which were bought in the last three years.

...

Up Woodward in Highland Park, the Woodward Avenue Action Association has finally scounged up enough money to buy old Ford Administration Building, which is the first step in preserving it:

http://www.crainsdetroit.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/storyimage/CD/20131220/NEWS/131229959/AR/0/AR-131229959.jpg&MaxW=620&v=201311071514
Woodward Avenue Action Assocation

$550,000 secured for planned international auto welcome center in Highland Park (http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20131220/NEWS/131229959/-550000-secured-for-planned-international-auto-welcome-center-in)

By Sherri Welch | Crain's Detroit Business

December 20, 2013

The Woodward Avenue Action Association has secured the $550,000 needed to purchase the four-story administration building and adjacent executive garage on the campus of the Ford Highland Park plant as the future site of an international automotive welcome center for tourists.

A $100,000 investment from the Highland Park Tax Increment Finance Authority rounded out the amount needed to buy the buildings from Bloomfield Hills-based National Equity Corp.

The authority has joined Woodward Avenue Action Association as a minority partner in the deal and will own 18 percent of the buildings, said association executive director Deborah Schutt.

Other funding included $400,000 from the Michigan Department of Transportation, $15,000 from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and $42,000 raised through a crowdfunding campaign in September.

Schutt expects to finalize the deal, which was eight years in the making, in February or March. At that point, the association plans to launch a $7.5 million campaign to rehabilitate the buildings and create the Automobile Heritage Welcome Center, Schutt said. She hopes to raise that amount within two years and open the new welcome center by 2018.

...

animatedmartian
Dec 24, 2013, 9:11 AM
The bricks covering the windows actually look pretty nice. Still I wonder if they can be removed and if Gilbert plans on doing so.

http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2879/8826450200_3cd7f2803b_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelgsmith/8826450200/)
T B Rayl Company Building (http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelgsmith/8826450200/) by mgsmith (http://www.flickr.com/people/michaelgsmith/), on Flickr

LMich
Dec 24, 2013, 9:23 AM
The building wasn't built like that, so I'm pretty sure they could.

hudkina
Dec 25, 2013, 5:41 PM
It's almost certain that they would be removed.

animatedmartian
Dec 28, 2013, 12:53 AM
Brewster demolition progress via Detroiturbex.

https://scontent-a-lga.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn1/1512561_708642255836155_1746302045_n.jpg
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=708642255836155

They're been knocking it down pretty quickly considering they only started phase II last week on the 18th. I would have thought those thick concrete walls would have been a slow down.

https://scontent-a-lga.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/560139_703986162968431_864332372_n.jpg
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=703986162968431

animatedmartian
Dec 28, 2013, 10:29 PM
The Woodward/Warren hotel/conference center was never an official proposal, but I remember hearing years and years ago they wanted to put something prominent there to go with the Welcome Center across the street. The idea was to have a hotel and conference center. They tore down a huge chunk of the block except that Subway. The Subway lease was for several years. I'm not sure how much longer the lease has, but I wouldn't be surprised that once they raze that particular building they'll announce something major for that site.

I just drove by that Subway earlier today and it's no longer there. The signs and windows on the building are all covered up. Probably a matter of time before it's razed and possibly something will be announced about the site.

animatedmartian
Dec 30, 2013, 6:30 AM
Sounds weird to say, but I'm going to miss these old buildings.

I had been looking for this video for a while, but I finally found it. It's a half-hour documentary featuring the opinions and experiences of former residents of the Brewster Projects. It makes me miss a neighborhood I've never known. And it's kind of a weird feeling thinking if at whatever point in the future, some new mega development may take it's place, but there won't be quite anything like what it ever was. Very informative piece if anyone hasn't seen it.

40241661

mousquet
Jan 1, 2014, 11:17 PM
Hé, rather nice arrangement to the gospel song at the end, it sounds pretty good to my ears. Otherwise, I would confess I'm not disturbed at all to see that Brewster project being torn down. You may say it's because I'm a stranger but in fact, I'll never cry over the demolition of that kind of projects around my place either. A systematic mix of social classes definitely brings better results to everybody. It's gotta be enforced by the public authorities to some extent somehow, though, for people don't willingly mix. They're too scared for that. We're implementing that policy over here right now, so we should be able to tell about it's effectiveness within a couple of decades or so. It'll take much time to finally measure it. If the French socialists don't mess it up - it was originally their idea but they're quite able to eventually impoverish those who're not poor instead of helping the poor to get better off - I think chances that it'll be fruitful are high.

animatedmartian
Jan 1, 2014, 11:46 PM
I mean, I couldn't really imagine being a resident who grew up before the projects, saw the projects built, rebuilt, and then torn down and possibly become something entirely different by the time everything's said and done. Not to mention the surrounding decay. It just seems like very rapid and drastic changes for a neighborhood.

LMich
Jan 2, 2014, 8:24 AM
Kind of just generally development related, but I see that newly sworn-in mayor Mike Duggan had an interview in the NYT, yesterday. It seems the most notable thing to come out of the piece was that Duggan says that he "expects" Detroit to post a population gain in five years. I mean, boy if he's ever going to be disappointed, but I guess I appreciate his dogged tenacity. lol

He was clear that he's not being blindly optimistic; as an example he made it clear that the Detroit Works Project will continue (he appointed former interim mayor Ken Cockrel, Jr. as the new director, BTW). So, I guess I'm just happy to see the new guy shoot for something big, whereas Bing was sometimes a realist to the point that it crossed over into short-sighted pessimism. This was also a long-term goal as opposed to what he's going to be working on this year: public lighting, blight clearance, and revitalization of DDOT.

animatedmartian
Jan 2, 2014, 8:55 AM
Heck, even if Detroit gets a net-zero change, that'd be pretty good in my book. The hardest part is stopping the bleed from the neighborhoods. I feel pretty optimistic that if services are sorted out (and possibly lower taxes) residential redevelopment ought to come fairly easily.

LMich
Jan 2, 2014, 9:17 AM
Oh, I think that's what he meant. He wasn't talking about a net-gain over the 2010 number, but at least one year showing year-to-year growth. I still think that's ambitious over five years. Hell, post-industrial cities much further along in their revitalizations schemes are still bleeding population. I'd be happy with even just halving the 25% 2000-2010 loss by 2020. Detroit had been doing so good, too, over the 90's in cutting the percentage loss before the bottom absolutely fell out.

EDIT: Actually, SEMCOG estimates do show the loss slowing pretty significantly over last decade, though - looks to be an approximate 15% loss as of July 1, 2013 if projected to the 2020 Census if I'm doing my math correctly. So, I guess it's more possible than I may have thought to post some year-over-year growths during this decade, and even possible that the city could post a net single-digit percentage lost by decade's end if the slowdown in loss accelerates. I mean, SEMCOG is posting a 40% slowdown in the percentage loss in just a bit over three years, right?

animatedmartian
Jan 2, 2014, 1:10 PM
Yea, a gain over the 2010 numbers would be pretty optimistic but I figured he meant year over year.

I think the SEMCOG estimates don't factor in the movement of residents and companies from suburb to city (which is pretty uncertain at this point anyway), but simply bases growth on births, current employment growth, and assuming new residents come from outside the metro.

LMich
Jan 2, 2014, 1:56 PM
I've come to trust SEMCOG's estimates much more than I used to when I actually used to mock them. For the municipal level, anyway, they were much more on the money, and their formula is much more complicated than what the Census uses...mostly because they use Census estimates when they come out and then improve upon it. They still make the error in weighing housing unit gains or losses too much - it's why even with their much closer guess at the 2010 count was quite a bit off - but I'd say their numbers are far more reliable than the Census Bureau, alone.

What made Detroit, specifically, hard to estimate was the sheer size of the exodus, last decade, and when it took place. The loses were actually fairly "normal" (for Detroit, anyway), I believe, until about 2006, and then the bottom totally fell out in 2008.

animatedmartian
Jan 3, 2014, 1:09 AM
Totally agree. The housing market collapse plus the auto industry bankruptcy really gave Detroit a double whammy. I think unemployment went from 15% (which is really high to begin with) to 30%. The most recent numbers put it back around 17% but no doubt the greatest exodus happened around 30% unemployment.

By comparison, the end of the 90s saw unemployment fall to a low of 6%. The 90s seems like it'd been the best chance for near net-zero migration and maybe even a YOY gain if only a small one.

Based on Census Estimates (https://www.google.com/publicdata/explore?ds=kf7tgg1uo9ude_&ctype=l&strail=false&bcs=d&nselm=h&met_y=population&scale_y=log&ind_y=false&rdim=country&idim=place:2622000&ifdim=country&tstart=646891200000&tend=946789200000&hl=en&dl=en&ind=false), 1998 and 1999 came pretty close to a flat change in population; looks to be about a -0.2 decrease. Most other years seem close to less than 1% decreases. However, as far as I remember, there was no major push to get people downtown or into the city like there is now. That could have made a big difference and probably push it over a net-zero change.

animatedmartian
Jan 3, 2014, 1:58 AM
Peruvian developer gets Packard Plant deed after making final payment
THE DETROIT NEWS . JANUARY 2, 2014

Detroit — Peruvian developer Fernando Palazuelo now has official ownership of the 40-acre Packard Plant site.

The deed for the land was issued late Tuesday, according to the Wayne County Treasurer’s Office. Palazuelo placed the final payment of $364,590 with an escrow agent last month, said Wayne County Chief Deputy Treasurer David Szymanski. He had made a down payment in November. The purchase price of the once iconic and now ruinous former auto plant was $405,000.

“While the sale of the Packard Plant is now completed, success will be measured over the course of the next several months and years as Mr. Fernando Palazuelo pools his resources and addresses the redevelopment of this iconic structure,” Wayne County Treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz said in a statement. “I am hopeful the years of neglect of this plant are now slipping into our rear-view mirror.”

Palazuelo was the third person awarded the winning bid on an online auction in October. Two others had their bids — for $6 million and $2 million — rejected after they failed to pay. Palazuelo was allowed to pay the lower price because that is where he dropped out of the bidding.

....

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140102/METRO01/301020090#ixzz2pIQgtVh8

I'm surprised they didn't reach Palazuelo for a comment. In fact, I've hardly seen many quotes from him.

hudkina
Jan 3, 2014, 5:13 AM
He has made lots of comments, including one that he will actually live on site. I'm not sure he can do that legally as of yet, but maybe he means once he gets a particular building renovated or something.

LMich
Jan 3, 2014, 8:20 AM
From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140102/METRO01/301020090#ixzz2pIQgtVh8

I'm surprised they didn't reach Palazuelo for a comment. In fact, I've hardly seen many quotes from him.

He's been all over the local media, though, to the point of where it's gotten kind of annoying. lol The rough proposal for the hulking thing is really pie-in-the-sky, and it probably would have been better for him to team up with some investors first before jumping in. And, that he's promising to live in the thing blows my mind; it almost sounds like a joke. All that said, I really wish him luck, though, and that we finally have someone to go to when something happens with the property is a miracle and improvement in itself. At the very least, having security regularly patrolling the grounds is excellent for public safety, alone.

BTW, here are the operating license agreements that the City of Detroit (http://m-1rail.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/City-of-Detroit-Operating-License-Agreement.pdf) and MDOT (http://m-1rail.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/MDOT-Operating-License-Agreement.pdf) have come up with for M-1 Rail for approval. Along with the actual agreement, each agreement comes with detailed construction sheets showing station placements and alignments within Woodward.

animatedmartian
Jan 3, 2014, 1:18 PM
Detroit Club sold; revival hopes rise
LOUIS AGUILAR. THE DETROIT NEWS. JANUARY 3, 2014

http://cmsimg.detnews.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=C3&Date=20140103&Category=BIZ&ArtNo=301030025&Ref=AR&MaxW=640&Border=0&Detroit-Club-sold-revival-hopes-rise

The Detroit Club, a downtown social haunt for early- and mid-20th century elites, has been sold.

The 35,000-square-foot, Romanesque Revival building at the northeast corner of Cass Avenue and Fort Street was bought last week by Emre Uralli for an undisclosed amount, according to Lorna Abraham. Lorna and Nick Abraham had owned the building since 2011. The two are longtime members of the Detroit Club and they hoped to revive its one-percenter glory.

New owner Uralli said Thursday afternoon he couldn’t comment because he was rushing to board an airplane.

“I believe you will see more of the same in the future,” Lorna Abraham said Thursday. “It will be a place where top business leaders will meet and socialize.”

...

Two years ago, developers David Di Rita and James Van Dyke were approached to help boost membership. That plan hasn’t been carried out yet and the two hope to meet with new owner Uralli soon to determine whether the Detroit Club can remain in the building, Van Dyke said.

“We would like to see the Detroit Club get back to about 100 members and have it be a great social club for business and civic leaders,” Van Dyke said.

Uralli is a Florida-based investor who has owned the David Stott and Detroit Free Press buildings. Both of the downtown buildings were sold in auction to Chinese investors. The old Free Press building and the club are linked by a second-floor tunnel.


From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140103/BIZ/301030025#ixzz2pLBtlHCD

I would think there's not really enough 1%-ters around Detroit to really support this club...at least not yet. It'd be pretty boring if it was just Gilbert and Illitch there the whole time. ;)

LMich
Jan 3, 2014, 1:41 PM
It's bizarre folks are still talking about trying to resurrect a business club. Turn it into offices and/or apartments or maybe some entertainment options and call it a day. There is already a successful old boys' business club downtown; it's called the Detroit Athletic Club, and that era of multiple such clubs is gone.

hudkina
Jan 3, 2014, 3:50 PM
I was going to say, the Detroit Athletic Club already serves this purpose. I doubt this would amount to anything. I don't know how easy it would be to convert to residential. It might work better as offices for small law firms/accountants, etc.

Rail>Auto
Jan 6, 2014, 8:37 PM
When are the Red Wings going to unveil any renderings for the new arena? I'm hoping beyond hoping they go with the Old Olympia Stadium design but my inner gut tells me they won't do it because they don't want to look like copycats from the guy who designed it on his blog.

Also, why the initial rush to commit to demolishing Joe Louis? Why can't it be gutted and repurposed just like Cobo Arena?

animatedmartian
Jan 6, 2014, 10:41 PM
Mostly likely costs. JLA is designed way differently than Cobo Arena was apart from the obvious that JLA is way bigger. It'd be a while before anyone figured out what to do with it and how to go about doing it.

The design is unlikely to be a replica of Olympia. The architects hired to design the new arena are HKS Inc and NBBJ. That means it'll probably look something similar to this. Just imagine more Red Wings logos all over it.

http://farm1.staticflickr.com/106/300251622_02aa5429fc_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/couchsurfer/300251622/)
Go Jackets, Nationwide arena (http://www.flickr.com/photos/couchsurfer/300251622/) by couchsurfer (http://www.flickr.com/people/couchsurfer/), on Flickr

Rizzo
Jan 7, 2014, 12:10 AM
Pretty sure they'll design something more visionary than that. While I like nationwide, it was intended to blend in seamlessly into the surrounding of what is now called the arena district. I think Detroit's will end up bold and modern and stand isolated. Keep in mind the design of Nationwide probably began in the late 90's, that's a very very very long time ago in design trends. Though "trends" is awful thing to say. I do much prefer nationwide though to the steel blobs you see in the southwest

Barclays center was a huge leap in American arenas and I feel many firms with big sports portfolios are using that caliber as a standard

Rail>Auto
Jan 7, 2014, 1:09 AM
I didn't think JLA was that much bigger than Cobo. An aerial shot of it appears to show a slightly taller and wider JLA but a much boxier design that could be converted into trade show amenities much quicker.

As for the Red Wings new arena, I think I might actually cry if they don't go with something like this... http://newolympia.blogspot.com/

Guiltyspark
Jan 7, 2014, 5:47 AM
Personally, I would much rather have something like Barclays Center rather than that New Olympia concept. However, I feel like we will get something more along the lines of Nationwide. Only time will tell.

We went through a phase/trend of retro in this country with both stadium design and to a certain extent car design (from the big 3 at least). Perhaps it was because in the post 9/11 rise of china days we are feeling our best days are behind us instead of ahead mixed with a reaction to the horrid, cookie cutter designs of the 70s and 80s. We had to look somewhere for inspired design ideas and the only place to look was the distant past. While that period did give us some great stadium designs (looking at you Comerica Park and Camden Yards) I think that it is time to start looking ahead when it comes to our arena and stadium designs. The Europeans have some great arenas that could serve as inspiration.

LMich
Jan 7, 2014, 8:23 AM
Also, why the initial rush to commit to demolishing Joe Louis? Why can't it be gutted and repurposed just like Cobo Arena?

I'm huge on reuse, and often to others' annoyance, but the Joe's exterior has exactly zero architectural value. It was built in a rush and on the cheap to keep the Red Wings from bailing to the suburbs...and it shows. It worked for what it was, and worked really well in spite of itself, but the location is awkward and it's got to be one of the ugliest arenas around.

Sure, recycle the steel, but what's the architectual argument for saving it? How is it comparable to Cobo Arena in what can be done with it in a reconstruction?

http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/12/13/Detroit-Red-Wings-Joe-Louis-Arena-PI_20131213232641374_730_350.JPG
Fox Sports (http://msn.foxsports.com/topics/baseball/detroit-tigers.htm)

The only thing I'll miss about it is the name. You know much like when the Tigers lost their stadium, that the new name will be corporate.

animatedmartian
Jan 7, 2014, 8:56 AM
Pretty sure they'll design something more visionary than that. While I like nationwide, it was intended to blend in seamlessly into the surrounding of what is now called the arena district. I think Detroit's will end up bold and modern and stand isolated. Keep in mind the design of Nationwide probably began in the late 90's, that's a very very very long time ago in design trends. Though "trends" is awful thing to say. I do much prefer nationwide though to the steel blobs you see in the southwest

Barclays center was a huge leap in American arenas and I feel many firms with big sports portfolios are using that caliber as a standard

I don't think Detroit's would be too isolated as it'll be built within a district as well. I also kind of figure it'd be built along the same lines as Comerica Park in that it'd have brick facades and lined on the Woodward streetwall. Then again, there's nothing to say it wouldn't be otherwise.

I honestly just want official renderings instead of trying to speculate.

hudkina
Jan 7, 2014, 5:12 PM
I think he meant isolated, in the sense that it will be a unique design that stands out from the architectural styles of the surrounding area.