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Belle Isle Conservancy president answers questions about future of city park

The Belle Isle Conservancy is like Switzerland. It will work for the greater good of the island park with nearly everyone who comes to the table.

An excerpt from this Q&A with the group's president, Michele Hodges:

It’s important to be open to options and find the model that is going to work best for the city of Detroit. Certainly, one of the models is the Central Park Conservancy (in New York). When they started out in the 1980s, Central Park was in far worse condition than Belle Isle. And they found one project, their Dairy Barn, which was their starting point, and look where they’ve come since then.

They've come a long way, indeed. Read on and watch the video here.

Cadillac Square getting ready for summer market

There is more shopping possible in downtown now than in recent memory. We like the pop-up to permanent vibe on Woodward and we like the use of Cadillac Square, just east of Campus Martius, for more retail this summer.

An excerpt from the Detroit News:

The retail market, simply called "The Market," will take place every fourth Friday and Saturday in June, July and August. According to the Campus Martius website, it will "feature an area dedicated to dynamic retailers, artists, designers, crafters, vintage/antique dealers, craft-prepared food products, and distinctive apparel.

Nice. We'll meet you downtown next month. More here.

Inc. staff writer chooses Detroit over Silicon Valley

It's nice to see Detroit and Silicon Valley used in the same sentence. It seems to happening a lot more of late, thanks to goings-on at the Madison Building in particular.

An excerpt from Inc.:

When tech entrepreneur Bob Marsh is on the phone with a prospective client and they ask him where LevelEleven is headquartered, he doesn't hesitate to declare: "Detroit."

"You can hear the smile in their voice on the phone," he says, "They say, 'Wow. It's so cool to hear that.'"

We think it's cool, too. Now let's fill up two or three more downtown towers with techie entrepreneurial nerds and make sure the scene continues to grow.

Read more here.

HuffPost Detroit slideshow rounds up 2013 development

With Detroit's first Whole Foods Market opening this Wednesday in Midtown and other quality of life developments in the greater downtown area, there is a palpable commercial buzz in the air.

HuffPost Detroit can feel it. Here is a piece that rounds up some of the best developments we've experienced in the last 5-6 months.

An excerpt: 

Austin Black, President of the City Living Detroit real estate brokerage, told The Huffington Post that residential demand in downtown and Midtown has increased steadily over the last three years. He calls the opening of the Whole Foods grocery store in Midtown, in particular, "a game changer" that has encouraged people to start businesses and relocate downtown.

Well said, Austin. Read more here.



World beat: Downtown makeover gets play in London media

Sure, we hear about another new purchase by Dan Gilbert's real estate team every other week or so, but what's not to like about a major league redevelopment project that aims to turn downtown Detroit into one of the country's most liveable neighborhoods?  

Even the Brit journos are noticing. Another good sign.

An excerpt:

His Bedrock property management company owns 22 buildings with more than 3m square feet in the city. He's attracting big names back into the city. Gilbert convinced Chrysler to take office space downtown and renamed a building after the car firm; he recently toured the city with Microsoft's Steve Ballmer. He's effectively created a business campus in the heart of a city some had written off as dead. A death that had been a long time coming.

Blimey, how dramatic. Read more here.

Detroit is finalist for Summer X Games

It's official, reports HuffPost Detroit, Detroit impressed ESPN enough to be named a finalist last week for the Summer X Games beginning in 2014.

An excerpt:

ESPN announced the competing cities had been narrowed down to Detroit, Chicago, Austin, Texas and Charlotte, N.C. Organizers Kevin Krease and Garret Koehler, with the support of city administration, business leaders and other stakeholders, submitted their official bid for the project in early April. Good work, guys.

More here.

Detroit 2020: Midtown rolling with momentum

It was nice to see Channel 7's Detroit 2020 focus on the recent successes of Midtown and, in particular, the dedicated vision and leadership of Midtown Inc. president Sue Mosey.

An excerpt: 

It takes a quick pace to keep up with Sue Mosey.

She’s the dynamo leading the redevelopment of Detroit’s Midtown neighborhood. "It’s taken a very long time to get to the point where acceleration is moving very quickly, but I think we’ve reached that point now," Mosey says.

Read on and watch the segment here.

NYT goes deep into Gilbert's private reclamation of downtown

Not one page, not two, not three. "People my age, we would hear from our parents and grandparents who were raised in Detroit about how great this city was, from 1900 to the 60s," Mr. Gilbert said. "But none of us had any memory of that. And it wasn’t until my late 20s and early 30s, when I started traveling for business, to places like New York City and Los Angeles, that I realized how much we were missing. As I started visiting these great American cities, it hit me -- man, how did we blow this so badly?"

Yes, the Mr. Gilbert talking is downtown Detroit redevelopment specialist Dan Gilbert. There is a lot in this New York Times profile you already know, and some things you probably did not.

Read more here.

Fast Company: How social entrepreneurship is rebuilding Detroit

Fast Company jumps into the early 21st century Detroit narrative, complex and ever-changing as it is to us here on the ground, in this feature published this week.

An excerpt: 

But the city's depression -- and the depressed real estate prices that came with it -- created opportunities. And opportunity lures entrepreneurs. The startup types, like Paffendorf. And the ones with lots of money, like Dan Gilbert, the founder and chairman of Quicken Loans, the third-largest mortgage provider in the country; he moved 1,700 employees downtown in 2010, giving him 7,000 employees there and making him Detroit's third-largest landowner (trailing only the city and General Motors). With slicked-back hair and a perpetual poker face, Gilbert has just gotten started on his plan to transform the area.

More to dig into here.

Soul of the city: Detroit School of Music emerges

We've heard good things about the newish (established in summer 2012) Detroit School of Music from our friends at D:hive and from an appearance on Channel 7's Detroit 20/20. Now a little more love from Detroit Unspun.

An excerpt:

The school is located in what was formerly the Malcolm X Academy, in a building that used to be a part of the public school system. Even though the system has left it, the outside of the School of Music reverberated with the hum of progress and potential that so many buildings in the area give off.

Music is important. I bet you didn’t know that individuals who study music demonstrate higher abilities in nearly all academic areas, a decrease in aggression and violent behavior, lower likelihood of abusing drugs and alcohol, and a lower instance of developing Alzheimer’s or other degenerative mental disorders. In short, music isn’t just about what your ears, but about your mind and soul.

Sounds good, yes? Read on here.

Toledo Blade: Entrepreneurship key to Detroit recovery

It's nice to see our Ohio friends to the immediate south in Toledo taking a deep dive into contemporary Detroit, interviewing enterprising people like Torya Blanchard, Josh Linkner, Shawn Geller (of Quikly), Kurt Metzger and others. Solid reporting, without pulling punches.

Check it out here.

Opportunity Detroit behind downtown retail plan

For a roundup of all the exciting downtown redevelopment and retail growth news that was announced last week, see Nicole Rupersburg's Development News piece here.

For a closer look at Dan Gilbert's Opportunity Detroit initiative, including Papa Joe's opening in the First National Building, check out Ashley Woods' story in HuffPost Detroit.

An excerpt:

Sidewalk cafes and basketball courts. Free wi-fi in Campus Martius Park. Food trucks and outdoor art installations. Parking garages emblazoned with the work of world-famous graffiti sprayers. An accessible waterfront and surf lounge (even Dan Gilbert himself was befuddled by that idea). Opportunity Detroit's brand of populist city placemaking creates interlocking activities, distractions and opportunities for lingering, daydreaming and visiting. It's a chance to make Detroit's downtown itself the star attraction, luring residents and visitors alike.

Very nice. Read more here.

Feature film projects come to Detroit, Hamtramck

The Michigan Film Office says How to Catch a Monster, a feature film that marks actor Ryan Gosling’s writing and directing debut, was awarded an incentive of $1,750,909 on $6,238,922 of projected in-state expenditures. The project is expected to hire 104 Michigan workers with a full time equivalent of 30 jobs.

The film will shoot in Detroit and other metro locations and features Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), Saoirse Ronan (Atonement), Eva Mendes (The Place Beyond the Pines) and Matt Smith (Doctor Who). 

Also approved for a state film encentive is Landlordwhich shoots in Hamtramck, and follows the tale of Elvis Martini, a widowed landlord dealing with spiritual conflict and the abduction of his daughter.

Follow news from the Michigan Film Office here.



Freep's Gallagher: Nonprofit oversight leads to Detroit improvements

In his new book, Revolution Detroit: Strategies for Urban Reinvention, John Gallagher goes into detail how cities are entering into partnerships with conservancies, foundations and nonprofits to offer better services for the public.

He writes about it in this piece in the Detroit Free Press. An excerpt: 

As emergency manager Kevyn Orr begins his work in Detroit, he may find one of the best ways to reshape city government is a practice already under way.

That practice is the spinning off of pieces of municipal governance to a series of quasi-public conservancies, public authorities and similar nonprofit bodies that are professionally managed. 

Read on here.


John Gallagher publishes 'Revolution Detroit - Strategies for Urban Reinvention'

In his new book, the Freep's John Gallagher looks at steps taken by medical and educational leadership in Cleveland to improve public safety with strategies that come out of the private sector. Interesting solution to a growing problem not just in the rustbelt but all over the country.

An excerpt: 

That's the truth in so many towns. Perhaps the time has come to stop looking at groups like UCI as a backstop for weak or nonexistent city services and more as a model for a new way of governing urban places. These hyper-local, government-like bodies might be combined with regional entities -- some of which may not even exist yet -- to provide flexible, efficient delivery of services. Ronayne, for one, is already thinking along these lines:

"The new construct is less federal-state-local and more neighborhood-regional-global. I would envision a day when we're given the rights to tamp potholes and maintain basic infrastructure, to plow streets. ... (Y)ou're going to see groups like ours grow in municipal services. Now, some people argue that (by) providing the service, you're giving the city an out. I don't, as a former chief of staff, look at it that way. I look at it as somebody's got to get the job done, and however it can get done most economically and efficiently, let's do it."

Read on here.
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