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  #501  
Old Posted Aug 25, 2007, 4:28 PM
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Source: Detroit News
Special report: Restoring Detroit's architectural glory

Timber! Historic hotel cuts down rooftop trees
Felling symbolizes step toward Hilton restoration

Louis Aguilar / The Detroit News


Field supervisor Jeff Moss, left, and foreman Tim Smith chop down the last of the trees on the damaged roof of the Pick-Fort Shelby Hotel. They believe the two-story tree, which is visible from the street, is 12 years old.

There's one less tree today in downtown Detroit -- and that's a good thing.

This tree had taken root on the damaged roof of the former Pick-Fort Shelby Hotel, which closed in 1973. The roughly two-story tree had grown so large that it was visible from the street, 20 stories below.

Over the years, media pundits said the tree proved downtown Detroit was beyond hope and empty buildings like the historic Pick-Fort Shelby on West Lafayette Boulevard should be demolished.

But on Friday, the felling of that tree represented another step forward for the Pick-Fort Shelby. The hotel is undergoing an $82 million transformation and will become the Fort Shelby Doubletree Guest Suites Detroit, slated to open in December 2008.

Earlier this summer, construction crews began removing tons of debris from the Fort Shelby that had accumulated through years of neglect. This week, they started working on the roof, where several large trees had grown over the decades.

On Friday afternoon, it took three men and two chainsaws to remove the final, biggest tree, which had grown in a crooked angle in a corner next to a stone-column railing.

"Timber!" yelled one of the crew as the tree was destroyed and then hurled into a Dumpster.

Crew members counted the rings of the tree and estimated the tree was at least 12 years old. The species of the tree was not known.

"A full-grown tree on a building is certainly a tell-tale sign the building has gone through years of severe neglect," said Elizabeth Knibbe, a principal at Quinn Evans Architects in Ann Arbor, who serves as the historical preservationist on the Fort Shelby project. "There used to be a lot of buildings in Detroit with large trees on them. Not weeds, trees."

Many were of the Boxelder and Tree-of-Heaven variety, she said.

"There's movement in the right direction that there are (fewer) trees on Detroit roof tops."

There are still at least three other large vacant buildings in downtown Detroit that have been neglected for so long that they have multiple trees on their roofs.

One, the Lafayette Building, is being hawked by city officials to developers. The others are owned by developers who have long-standing reputations of neglecting their buildings and failing to pay fines on various building code violations.

Push for convention business

The planned 204-room Fort Shelby Doubletree is part of a push to turn downtown into a regional contender for hotel and convention business. The Doubletree will contribute to nearly 1,900 new hotel rooms expected in Detroit by the end of next year, more than doubling the number of existing rooms.

Three new casinos-hotels -- the MGM Grand, MotorCity and Greektown -- plus the Westin Book-Cadillac and Doubletree will increase the number of hotel rooms downtown to about 5,100.

The Fort Shelby Doubletree also marks the return of a full-service Hilton hotel to Detroit after a 33-year absence.

A Hilton Garden Inn, the chain's mid-price brand, opened in Harmonie Park three years ago. It was the first new hotel to be built downtown since 1986. Hilton's Doubletree Suites are aimed at business travelers and others who plan multinight stays, offering larger rooms and more amenities and services.

Besides hotel rooms, the new Fort Shelby will also include 63 upscale apartments that may become condominiums; retail space that will include a national "upscale restaurant" to be announced later; and 38,000 square feet of conference space. The residences are slated to open in May 2009.


Worker Todd Malin rips up pieces of roof (tar and insulation) with the roots of the tree in them before it is cut down.
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  #502  
Old Posted Aug 26, 2007, 4:04 PM
DetKing12565 DetKing12565 is offline
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does anybody know if the new Rosa Parks Transit Center will have any new added length to the People Mover. are they going to expand it's transit, cause that is a major factor for Detroit's growth.
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  #503  
Old Posted Aug 26, 2007, 7:02 PM
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The transit center is a bus terminal, so no.
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  #504  
Old Posted Aug 27, 2007, 6:44 PM
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are you sure, i htought the people mover was going to have a station there, along with buses and taxis.
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  #505  
Old Posted Aug 27, 2007, 9:40 PM
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the people mover already has a station there. It's called the Times Square station. They chose that particular location to build the bus terminal because it is also the "hub" station for the people mover trains.
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  #506  
Old Posted Aug 30, 2007, 1:02 PM
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pope at a tiger's game? that's definitely development news!

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  #507  
Old Posted Sep 5, 2007, 4:05 PM
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Looks like the long delayed Dequindre Cut project is about to get underway

Path to join RiverWalk, Eastern Market in Detroit

Trenton firm is hired to build trail
September 5, 2007

BY JOHN GALLAGHER

FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER

More than five years in the planning, downtown's Dequindre Cut rails-to-trails project should get under way soon.

Detroit's Economic Development Corp., a quasi-public arm of the city, voted Tuesday to hire a contractor, ABC Paving Co. of Trenton, to build the trail.


The bike and pedestrian trail, slightly more than a mile long, will connect Eastern Market with the new RiverWalk.
Michael Dempsey, project manager for the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., said construction should begin in about one month and should be completed May 31. The contract is worth about $2.8 million, to be paid for with grants from the State of Michigan and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.

Long planned but delayed by a variety of obstacles, the pathway is the latest in a series of projects in and around downtown designed to enhance the quality of life.

With the RiverWalk about half complete, the city says it hopes eventually to connect that waterfront promenade to a regional network of pedestrian and bicycle trails through the Dequindre Cut, a former railroad line.

Specific tasks for the contractor will include removing five unused bridges that run over the trail, cutting weeds, installing lighting and security measures and paving the pathway with asphalt.

When finished, the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, which operates the RiverWalk, also will maintain the Dequindre Cut.

The city still must design a way to connect the new pathway to both Eastern Market and the RiverWalk. On the north end, the trail will stop at the south side of Gratiot. Dempsey said planners are studying how to continue the path north across Gratiot into Eastern Market.

On the south end, the pathway will stop at Woodbridge, a couple of blocks from the RiverWalk. Planners have to design a way to continue the path through the planned State of Michigan Tricentennial Park to the RiverWalk.

Eventually, the city says it plans to extend the trail north into the Midtown and Wayne State University districts to connect with other pathways.

In another action Tuesday, the Economic Development Corp. voted to approve a $4.8-million contract to build the tented roof structure that will rise over the new Rosa Parks Transit Center, now under construction near Michigan and Cass.

The transit center will serve as the new downtown terminal for local buses. City planners say they hope to convince federal transportation officials to pay for a light-rail system that would connect Ann Arbor with downtown Detroit, terminating at the Rosa Parks center.
http://freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/artic...SS04/709050415
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  #508  
Old Posted Sep 5, 2007, 4:12 PM
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Looks like the long delayed Dequindre Cut project is about to get underway

Path to join RiverWalk, Eastern Market in Detroit

Trenton firm is hired to build trail
September 5, 2007

BY JOHN GALLAGHER

FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER

More than five years in the planning, downtown's Dequindre Cut rails-to-trails project should get under way soon.

Detroit's Economic Development Corp., a quasi-public arm of the city, voted Tuesday to hire a contractor, ABC Paving Co. of Trenton, to build the trail.


The bike and pedestrian trail, slightly more than a mile long, will connect Eastern Market with the new RiverWalk.
Michael Dempsey, project manager for the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., said construction should begin in about one month and should be completed May 31. The contract is worth about $2.8 million, to be paid for with grants from the State of Michigan and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.

Long planned but delayed by a variety of obstacles, the pathway is the latest in a series of projects in and around downtown designed to enhance the quality of life.

With the RiverWalk about half complete, the city says it hopes eventually to connect that waterfront promenade to a regional network of pedestrian and bicycle trails through the Dequindre Cut, a former railroad line.

Specific tasks for the contractor will include removing five unused bridges that run over the trail, cutting weeds, installing lighting and security measures and paving the pathway with asphalt.

When finished, the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, which operates the RiverWalk, also will maintain the Dequindre Cut.

The city still must design a way to connect the new pathway to both Eastern Market and the RiverWalk. On the north end, the trail will stop at the south side of Gratiot. Dempsey said planners are studying how to continue the path north across Gratiot into Eastern Market.

On the south end, the pathway will stop at Woodbridge, a couple of blocks from the RiverWalk. Planners have to design a way to continue the path through the planned State of Michigan Tricentennial Park to the RiverWalk.

Eventually, the city says it plans to extend the trail north into the Midtown and Wayne State University districts to connect with other pathways.

In another action Tuesday, the Economic Development Corp. voted to approve a $4.8-million contract to build the tented roof structure that will rise over the new Rosa Parks Transit Center, now under construction near Michigan and Cass.

The transit center will serve as the new downtown terminal for local buses. City planners say they hope to convince federal transportation officials to pay for a light-rail system that would connect Ann Arbor with downtown Detroit, terminating at the Rosa Parks center.
http://freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/artic...SS04/709050415
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  #509  
Old Posted Sep 5, 2007, 8:08 PM
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such an ominous last sentence there.
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  #510  
Old Posted Sep 5, 2007, 11:23 PM
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I think a frequent commuter rail link between the cities is a better option than light rail. Are there any single light rail lines that are 40 miles long?
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  #511  
Old Posted Sep 6, 2007, 1:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hudkina View Post
I think a frequent commuter rail link between the cities is a better option than light rail. Are there any single light rail lines that are 40 miles long?
they are certainly rare, but google/wiki says

a line for the LA metro is built out would come out at 51 miles (not currently though, the gold line)

a line in china comes in at 31 miles and it apparently operational.
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  #512  
Old Posted Sep 11, 2007, 4:23 PM
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I would bet that LA's gold line is in a much denser area though. Once you get past Inkster the density is too low to support light rail.
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  #513  
Old Posted Sep 12, 2007, 5:48 AM
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Glad to see these groups come together I was kinda worried with competeting plans that both would end up failing.




Harwell teams up with ballpark conservancy board

Compromise on Tiger Stadium's fate could be on horizon
September 10, 2007

By JOHN GALLAGHER

FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER

Updated at 5:45 p.m.

Two rival groups trying to save portions of Tiger Stadium, including one headed by Hall of Fame broadcaster Ernie Harwell, have teamed up to increase the odds that some parts of the historic ballpark will be preserved.

Harwell and his attorney, Gary Spicer, said Monday they have accepted invitations to join the board of the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy, a Corktown neighborhood group working to save a corner of the ballpark as a community center and memorial.


Before Monday, Harwell and Spicer had backed an ambitious plan to preserve 10,000 to 20,000 seats and turn the vacant stadium, a storied spot in professional baseball history, into a multi-use facility with museums and commercial office space. The conservancy backed a more modest plan to keep about 1,000 seats, one dugout and locker room, and a corner of the stadium as a community center.

Their combined effort now aims at saving about 3,000 seats, both dugouts and locker rooms, and the playing field itself. Most of the more ambitious parts of the Harwell-Spicer effort would happen only at some future date if money allowed.


“We don’t like the word demolition,” Harwell told reporters in a press conference Monday afternoon at the stadium. “The way we look at this, we are scaling down Tiger Stadium… We can move forward with all the different groups, bringing together their ideas and cooperating on them.”


“Ernie and I are only interested in consensus,” Spicer said. “We don’t have any time or effort for arguments and wasting everybody’s time.”


The melding together of the two efforts should make it easier for the conservancy to raise money and work through details with the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., the quasi-public body that is overseeing plans to demolish most of the stadium.


George Jackson, president of the DEGC and Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s chief development officer, helped bring the two sides together. He hailed the agreement today as more likely to make something happen than the two groups operating separately.


“The mayor and I are very pleased that Ernie and Gary Spicer are now working with the conservancy,” Jackson said. “And we hope that the fundraising effort is successful, because it would bring both development and a significant historical facility” in the preserved portions of the stadium.


Under the city’s plans, created with the conservancy, about 90% of the old ballpark would be razed, with that footprint redeveloped as low-rise housing and retail. The playing field would be preserved and used for youth baseball, concerts and the like.


Jeff Wattrick, project manager of the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy, said getting Harwell and Spicer on the group’s board would help advance the project.


“I think it means that our efforts to save a significant portion of the stadium are going to be a lot easier,” Wattrick said. “You’ve got someone of the caliber of Ernie Harwell, and someone of the caliber of Gary Spicer, behind this plan helping with the fundraising and planning. It’s going to make our job that much easier and exciting.”


Contact JOHN GALLAGHER at 313-222-5173 or gallagher@freepress.com.
http://freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/artic.../70910027/1003
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  #514  
Old Posted Sep 12, 2007, 5:16 PM
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Great news for downtown, it's attracting small and midsize companies like these that are so key to reviving the office market.


Suburban firms to move in downtown

Compuware, Ilitch welcome neighbors to Campus Martius
September 12, 2007

BY TOM WALSH

FREE PRESS COLUMNIST

In a boost for downtown Detroit, two growing suburb-based companies are planning to move their headquarters and more than 100 employees each into the new 10-story One Kennedy Square office building at Campus Martius.

Marketing Associates LLC of Bloomfield Township, whose majority owner is Edsel Ford II, and Health Plan of Michigan, the state's third-largest Medicaid HMO, each will occupy two floors of the lime green tinted-glass building. By the end of this year when the moves are expected to be complete, the building's office space will be fully leased.


A news briefing is planned for Thursday to announce details of the Marketing Associates move, which is expected to take place in the last week of October. Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, Edsel Ford and Mark Petroff, president and CEO of the 140-person firm, are expected to attend.
Dr. David Cotton, president and CEO of Health Plan of Michigan, told me Tuesday that he expects to move his 110 employees from Southfield to their Detroit offices by Dec. 20.

Two ground-floor retail spots, on either side of the building's entrance, have yet to be leased, although developers are said to be close to a deal with a high-end restaurant for one.

When construction began in April 2005 on the office tower across Campus Martius Park from the Compuware Corp. headquarters, automotive supplier Visteon Corp. was slated to be the building's primary tenant. It had planned to put its contract information technology workers there. But as Visteon's financial problems mounted, the firm decided to sublet its space in the building.

Accounting and consulting firm Ernst & Young now occupies the top three floors, while construction firm Walbridge Aldinger moved its headquarters staff into the second and third floors in July. Marketing Associates will occupy floors four and five, and Health Plan of Michigan will move into the sixth and seventh floors.

Petroff is full of praise for his soon-to-be neighbors, especially Compuware CEO Peter Karmanos Jr. and Christopher Ilitch, president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings, the umbrella firm for Little Caesars Pizza, the Fox Theatre, and Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings sports teams owned by the Ilitch family.

Compuware has offered Marketing Associates workers access to the fitness center and child care facilities in Compuware's building. And on July 20, Petroff said, Chris Ilitch provided 300 tickets to a Tigers game for the company's workers and family members. Compuware hosted a reception for them before the game.

When Petroff first told his employees about the decision to move to Detroit, he said "it went over like a lead balloon among some of our people, especially the ones with long commutes from northern Oakland County." But the outreach and support from other downtown businesses "created a real shift in attitude," he said.

"It's a real community taking shape down here. We'll be part of the new creative corridor," said Petroff, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate who was a nuclear submarine officer before he earned his MBA from the University of Michigan.

Marketing Associates, until recently, was primarily focused on helping automotive companies with direct-mail and other traditional marketing campaigns. But after an investor group led by Edsel Ford bought the company out of bankruptcy from Lason Inc., the firm expanded into a range of interactive marketing services, ranging from e-mail blasts to archiving digital video assets and helping manage online contests and rewards programs.

Petroff, who joined the firm in early 2006, said he expects the staff to grow to 225 people by 2010.

Cotton, former chief of obstetrics and gynecology at the Detroit Medical Center and Wayne State University, formed Health Plan of Michigan by buying and merging several managed care plans in the late 1990s.

The company has been growing at a rate of 31% annually since 2000, he said.

He, too, was full of praise for Compuware's good-neighbor efforts. "They took time to walk our people all through their building and answer questions about working downtown."

Petroff said he looked at other locations in Southfield and Troy for Marketing Associates but decided that moving downtown fit the rapidly changing nature of his business.

Even though office space was plentiful and lease rates attractive in the suburbs, Petroff said the new office tower's location in a Renaissance Zone provided a tax abatement that helped offset the costs of parking and the City of Detroit income tax. Marketing Associates is paying for parking and giving employees a raise to cover the tax bite, he said.

"One Kennedy Square is now filled to capacity, which is further proof that the business community has confidence in our ongoing efforts," Kilpatrick said of the firms.

Detroit development officials, with help from Karmanos, Ilitch and downtown business leaders, are still trying to persuade Livonia-based Quicken Loans and Rock Financial, along with other companies, to move into the city.

Contact TOM WALSH at 313-223-4430 or twalsh@freepress.com
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  #515  
Old Posted Sep 13, 2007, 3:03 AM
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its nice to see (in a way) that One Kennedy didn't fully cannibalize the downtown office market.
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  #516  
Old Posted Sep 13, 2007, 6:06 AM
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Hey, now that this building is completely leased, does that mean we can build another 10 story office tower?

And that's 250 more employees who will hopefully be walking around the Campus Martius/Lower Woodward area in the not-too-distant-future.
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  #517  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2007, 9:30 AM
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Southwest Detroit secures state's first Business Improvement District

Southwest Detroit secures state's first Business Improvement District



The West Vernor commercial corridor has gone from bust to boom in the last decade. Part of the reason is that the Southwest Detroit Business Association has been operating a voluntary Business Improvement District there for the past seven years. Last week a vote of property owners formalized that BID, which sets a historic precedent in Michigan.

BIDs have been used to great effect in urban areas around the country. Assessments they generate can only be used in the designated area, which means services can be specifically targeted to the needs and personality of the district. The Southwest Detroit BID includes properties fronting W. Vernor from Clark to Woodmere and those along Springwells from W. Vernor to I-75.

Securing the BID was a four-step process. First, SDBA petitioned property owners to gauge their interest. Then, a zone plan was developed based on surveys that spoke to priorities. "Clean and safe were the most important priorities," says Amy Raupp, the organization's neighborhood development specialist. Marketing and capital improvements also ranked high on the list.

After City Council approved the creation of the BID, a vote was taken. Ballots were mailed to the owners of 371 parcels of land. Of the 183 votes received, 66 percent voted to approve the property assessment. The votes were weighted according to assessed value.

Raupp is excited about the impact the BID will have on the West Vernor/Springwells area. "This is all about the future of Southwest Detroit," she says. "This is about bringing in more investment and protecting the investments that people have already made."

The proposed 2% assessment would bring in $290,000.

Read more about BIDs here.

Source: Amy Raupp, SDBA
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

http://www.modeldmedia.com/developme...sdba11107.aspx
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  #518  
Old Posted Sep 20, 2007, 10:58 AM
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I wish somebody could get a good picture of the mgm at night. During the day, the design sucks but at night, it's somewhat redeeming if you don't realize how much money was blown on this corner of dwntwn. They're almost finished doing the M-G-M__G-R-A-N-D lettering of the vertical logo on the front side of the hotel. Hopefully it lights up nicely and adds a little bit to the ambiance of that corner.
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  #519  
Old Posted Sep 20, 2007, 6:27 PM
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I'm waiting for another Michi photo tour, its been awhile.
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  #520  
Old Posted Sep 20, 2007, 9:48 PM
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I know, I've been waiting for one too. All this development progress has been slipping through my fingers and I haven't been able to document any of it! I've been meaning to offer something for a long time, but it doesn't appear I will be able to until at least next weekend.

Orally, I can offer for those that don't live in Detroit:

South Univ. Village has started building upward. The garage has its Forest-facing wall built and now just needs to expand southward (the length). The mixed use buildings have the first of the steel errected.

MGM Grand: almost completely finished on the exterior. Lots and lots of landscaping and just as impressive is the utility infrastructure around the premises...a major freshness vibe to the rather "drab/dead" conditions seen on the west side of dwntwn.

Motor City is fascinating at night. I don't even know the best way to describe it. The roof looks like it is nearing completion, but the bread factory hasn't been covered yet...just preped.

Greektown is STILL the same level as the garage, but the lower 3 levels are progressing w/ facade as is the connector across the street and the skywalk. I'd imagine the first of the glass might come within a month's time.

Willy's has new windows, which also make it look incredible.

Casino Windsor's new hotel is now the tallest new building in the region and the tallest on the Windsor skyline. The best angle to view its height as being taller than the other hotel tower is from Belle Isle.

Shed construction has started in Eastern Market.

Brush Park North has begun and some of the 3-story wood frames have been constructed along John R.

Book Cadillac has nothing new visually, just the shell of the new addition in the back.

The Griswold is just about to lay foundation and the bus terminal excavation/construction is progressing well.

Crystal Lofts and the Kahn Bldg across the street have windows and look great. Crys. Lofts just needs windows on its new penthouse level and where the grocery store will go.

Also, there's been a really nice renovation on Charlotte Street that I haven't heard anything from...just seen it. I'll get a pic of it next time.

Sigh...now I want to go out and take pictures...I need patience as much as you!
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