That was a relief to Huntington Woods residents and to golfers playing in Wednesday's heat, who said they feared plans by Detroit officials to sell the 120-acre course adjoining the Detroit Zoo for conversion into a housing development.
"We're extremely happy with the decision," said Huntington Woods Mayor Ron Gillham.
"We know Detroit could sell it to us or some other governmental unit. Our attorneys are going over this decision but if it's sold, it must be a public golf course," said Gillham, who has lived in Huntington Woods since 1959.
James Canning, a spokesman for Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, said city attorneys are still reviewing the court's decision and officials have not decided whether to appeal.
The appeals court said the Rackham family gift to Detroit in 1924 has "unambiguous language and the clearly stated intent" was that the land could not be used for anything but a public course. The three-judge panel added that Detroit may only sell the property "to another public entity and not to a private entity," even if the private buyer promises to keep it as a public golf course.
A private developer offered to buy the course from Detroit in 2006. At the time, the sale was envisioned as a way to shore up Detroit's 2005-06 fiscal year budget. The ensuing legal challenge by Huntington Woods and several of its residents caused Detroit financial officials to not rely on the proposed sale in projected revenue estimates in later budgets, Canning said.
Huntington Woods challengers to the deal argued, successfully it turns out, that a sale would violate the terms of the Rackhams' gift. Horace Rackham, who made a fortune in the early auto boom, donated the land and developed the course so average citizens could play at a facility rivaling the elite private clubs of the era.
Playing in their weekly Wednesday golf league at Rackham, players young and old said they were relieved.
"I like Rackham a lot. You can score well here, and they keep it in real nice shape," Cary Almas, 28, of Clawson said before starting his golf round.
The course was designed by fabled golf architect Donald Ross, who also designed the course at Oakland Hills Country Club. The clubhouse was designed by Albert Kahn, Detroit's best known architect of buildings, whose stamp is on the Fisher Building and Detroit Police headquarters.
"It's classic golf," said an admiring Wes Williams, 63, of Rochester Hills.
Because of the course's prominent designers, and its history as the first integrated public course in metro Detroit, Huntington Woods voted to make it a historic district in 2006, said Huntington Woods Zoning and Preservation Administrator Hank Berry.
"This course allowed African Americans to play from its inception. That was unheard of in the 1920s," Berry said.
Ben Davis, a black Detroiter named head golf pro at Rackham in the 1960s, "was the first African American to hold that position at an 18-hole public golf course anywhere," Berry added.
"Ben taught me. And he still plays the course. He's 96 and still hits the ball straight."
Huntington Woods City Manager Alex Allie called the court ruling "very comprehensive. ... Obviously, we're very pleased. It is a relief. It essentially upholds all our arguments."
As for the more than $6 million Huntington Woods earlier had offered to buy the course from Detroit, "It's a different ballgame now. It's a very complex sale condition," he said.
Huntington Woods is not actively pursuing buying the course as it waits to see how Detroit will respond to Wednesday's ruling, Huntington Woods officials said.
The court's decision said that any sale would have to be approved by Rackham heirs and could go only to a public body for purposes of maintaining a public golf course. Those restrictions vastly reduce the $11.25 million that developers in 2006 offered Detroit with their plan to build as many as 400 houses, according to a 2006 recommendation from the Detroit Planning and Development Department.
An attorney for the development group that would have built the houses said the court's decision seemed clear-cut. "Certainly it seems the upshot is that it remains a golf course in perpetuity," said Arthur Siegal, whose Southfield-based firm Jaffe Raitt Heuer & Weiss represented the developers' partnership, called Premium Golf LLC.
Siegal said the partners withdrew their bid in 2007 and that now, in light of the region's housing slump, they'd probably be less interested. "I'm sure the value of the property, for any purpose, has declined significantly," he said.
Ken Silver, Chairperson for Citizens to Save Rackham, said, "Huntington Woods hit a home run."
Silver, a 23-year Huntington Woods resident, and his wife live three blocks from Rackham Golf Course with their son and two daughters. Bounded on the south by I-696 and on the east by the Detroit Zoo, with its other two sides facing the homes of Huntington Woods, Rackham Golf Course is managed by American Golf Corp.
Steve Williams, a regional director for the company in Rochester Hills, said that golfers play more than 50,000 rounds a year there, but would not say how many players use the course.
Detroit Free Press
Just a 30-minute drive from downtown Detroit, Pleasant Ridge isn't exactly a suburb—it's one of Michigan's smallest incorporated cities, with 2,594 residents. Resident Kate Redmond calls it "a time capsule from the 1920s,"when upper-middle-class automobile tycoons built homes and raised families here. It's long been a draw for folks on the family track; it's not uncommon for newlyweds to buy a starter home here, trade up to a larger one when the kids arrive, then downsize as the nest empties, but never leave Pleasant Ridge.
Public schools spend almost $2,000 more per student than the national average, and class sizes average just 18 students per teacher.
Arts & Crafts homes, English Tudors, Prairie Schools, Georgian Revivals, and Dutch Colonials are all here.
Prices range from the low $100,000s for a modest bungalow to over a million for a big Colonial Revival or Tudor.
Why Buy Now?
Pleasant Ridge is already home to two national historic districts, and plans are under way to list the city, established in the 1830s, on the National Register. This small city stands to retain its historic fabric long into the future.
This Old House
The fifth season of the hit Bravo show starts at 9 p.m. Wednesday and features a contestant from our own backyard. Joe Faris, 41, of Troy, a veteran sportswear designer, is one of 16 contestants who'll battle to impress Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn and the rest of the "Runway" gang.
Faris, a married father of two daughters, says he's a jeans, T-shirt and leather jacket kind of guy whose style is influenced by his hometown.
He's even got a catchphrase that just may replace "fierce" (season four winner Christian Siriano's favorite word). Think "done-o-done" will sweep America?
Come back to the Free Press on Wednesday for more about Faris and the kickoff of "Runway."
Source Detroit Free Press
Cost: $728 per month
Encompassing the Ferndale, Huntington Woods and Berkeley sections of metropolitan Detroit, the dense corridor stretches 27 miles over 11 municipalities and is home to the largest number of jobs. It means something in Motor City that upwards of 12% of residents use public transport; the ridership rate in nearby Sterling Heights is below 5%. The average commute time in Berkeley, 19 minutes, is half as long as that of other downtown neighborhoods.
Maybe in the near future it will be the lowest cost per month with a new age mass transit system, hint hint....
Every weekend, Kelli Lewton-Secondino and her crew of chefs pull 16-hour days, preparing meals for more than 100 customers signed up with Royal Oak-based Pure Food 2 U.
The seven-month-old food-delivery service is an extension of Lewton-Secondino's existing business, Royal Oak's 2 Unique Catering, but with a new take. The chef had long been an advocate of locally grown, organic foods, and was ready to start a business modeled on her increasing conviction that healthy eating was the way to go.
With revenue for Pure Food's first year projected at $550,000, Lewton-Secondino found a growing market of diners with a taste for fresh, healthy meals but a dearth of kitchen time.Businesses like Pure Food are at the leading edge of a national demand for locally grown foods that's spawning new businesses and increasing demand at existing operations.
It's a trend that's too new to have produced much hard data, but from grocers to farmers to state agencies, mention the increasing demand for local food and you'll get a nod of recognition.“If you go back to leaders like (national organic and gourmet grocer) Whole Foods Market, they've been talking about local and doing it for at least three or four years, but in the last year, we're seeing it kind of explode on the consciousness,” said Neil Stern, a senior partner with McMillan Doolittle L.L.P., a Chicago-based retail consulting firm.
At Southfield-based Hiller's Markets' seven area stores, local foods are marked with a mitt that represents Michigan, said Larry Krispin, grocery buyer for the chain.“I think people are trying to buy more Michigan products and support Michigan, and I think it's really taken hold just in the last year,” he said. According to Hiller's Market, during the last fiscal year local products accounted for $16 million in revenue out of the store's total 2007 revenue of $170 million. Krispin said the stores work with more than 100 Michigan companies.“We're seeing a lot more interest from a wide variety of sources,” said Dan Carmody, Eastern Market Corp. president and CEO.“We have a steady stream of groups like local colleges and health care providers trying to source more food locally, and we've had a number of initiatives we're working on with our fellow not-for-profits to improve accessibility of local food through nontraditional sources of food distribution.”
The market's wholesale operation is about 90 percent locally grown food, he said, while the Saturday market that's open to the public can be 40 to 80 percent local, depending on the time of year
.And profits are growing all the way down the food chain.Michelle Lutz, co-owner of Maple Creek Farm in Yale, west of Port Huron, said she's looking for revenue to grow from $430,000 in 2006, her best year to date, to a projected $550,000 this year. Maple Creek lost $170,000 in 2007, the victim of a severe season-long drought.
Lutz sells to high-end stores throughout the metro area like Orchard Lake-based Plum Market, to restaurants and also to individual customers through retail sales and farmers' markets like Royal Oak's.
“It's not abnormal for me to move 20 tons of produce or more a week during the (growing) season, and to a small family organic farmer that's a lot,” she said.Expenses at an organic operation such as hers typically exceed those at mainstream farms, but Lutz said she's able to compensate for the higher labor outlay to some degree because she doesn't use costly petroleum-based fertilizer or pesticides, and tries to keep costs comparable to mainstream producers.
But Lutz is selling more than produce. Part of the sticker price includes a sense of security about the product,“If I can get close to what (the average mainstream) consumer is paying, I find people don't mind giving their money to me,” she said.
Lutz said that she might earn about 30 percent of the retail price of her products at a major retailer, while at a smaller, family-owned store the split might be closer to 50-50. Restaurants are about 60-40, but she sees her greatest profits in individual, direct sales.
Most of Maple Creek's produce, she said, is sold within 80 miles of the farm with the farthest destination the Plum Market in Ann Arbor.
Smaller farms also report an increase in activity.
Robin Leonard of the Garden Patch Farm in Pinckney said she's getting about five calls a week about her eggs and produce, and Diane Franklin of Rocky Gardens CSA in Davisburg in northwest Oakland County said all 51 farm co-op shares, priced at $560 each, were sold a month after she'd opened for sales.
Franklin said her annual revenue is about $25,000, typically reinvested into the farm's infrastructure.Julie LaPorte is another entrepreneur who's capitalizing on the growing demands for local foods, providing a connection between local farmers and time-strapped consumers.
LaPorte, committed to a local diet personally, found herself making the rounds to several local farms on the weekends. When she started picking up food for friends, LaPorte realized she'd developed a business model and started Clarkston-based La Vida Local.
The fledgling home delivery service currently fills about 25 orders per week, placed online, from a database of about 100 members. Weekly revenue from her seven-month-old business hovers between $1,300 and $1,600.Cutting out the middleman allows LaPorte to sell food at a lower price than a gourmet market, though she admits her wares exceed the mainstream market price.
“Raw cheese from Whole Foods is usually around $14 a pound, but my price is about $8.50 a pound,” she said.
LaPorte said her business has been growing slowly, but that she's content to see growth that taxes neither her resources nor the capacity of the roughly 30 suppliers she works with.
Gary Kuneman, general manager of Scio Township-based Eat Local Eat Natural is hoping to fill the delivery niche on a commercial level.
Kuneman has been working on the project for about two years, building his supplier base, but started making sales calls last month.“We're chomping at the bit because we've got the suppliers,” he said.
Originally conceived as a home-delivery service, Kuneman said, his company will focus on delivering locally produced meat and dairy to restaurants throughout the area.“We want to work with the small- to medium-sized producer,” he said. “It has to be a safe product. ... Our primary objective is to make sure it's safe and raised in a sustainable manner, the farmers don't use chemicals on crops, or hormones and steroids to feed animals.”
About 40 percent of the agricultural commodities grown in Michigan are consumed in-state, said William Knudson, an agricultural economist at Michigan State University. The rest are shipped out of state or out of the country.
In a national 2006 survey of specialty food stores conducted by Chicago-based consumer, product and market research firm Mintel, 31 percent of the food items in specialty retailers were sourced within 250 miles of the store, Knudson said. Five years ago, he said, the company didn't track that statistic, a sign of the increasing prominence of local food in the marketplace.
The number of farmers' markets in the country increased by 82 percent between 1996 and 2006, with a 40 percent increase between 2002 and 2006, he said.
There's no hard and fast rule regarding in- versus out-of-state food pricing, Knudson said — factors like whether produce is in or out of season can modify the price — but for in-season produce, locally grown can be cheaper.
Monroe County-based Calder's Dairy and Farms, family-owned and -operated since 1946, is a familiar name to Southeast Michigan grocery shoppers. The dairy's brands are carried in mainstream grocery stores and are fixtures at gourmet markets.
The dairy's home-delivery service added more than 220 orders to its 1,500 home-delivery customers just in the first quarter of this year, said general manager Nicola Noble.
“Local” doesn't always mean organic, Stern said, but it offers a sense of consumer security that “outside” products may not have.
“Locally grown has so many things going for it that are perceived as positive with the consumer,” he said. “If you start with the connotation of local, it typically means it's going to be better-tasting. If you have the idealized sense of local, it's the farmers' market, which implies direct from the grower.”
Locally grown food also has a better environmental and sustainability reputation, thanks to the smaller carbon footprint required to truck foodstuffs shorter distances.
And in an age of recalls, local food may seem safer, Stern said.
“There's traceability,” he said. “If you know where food is coming from, you think it may be safer. ... That doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be safer, but the implication is, "I know where this stuff is coming from.' “Noble said that changing Calder's feed to an all-organic mix isn't financially feasible — all the farm's milk-producing cows must be fed on more costly organic feed from birth on before the dairy could qualify as organic — but said she thinks part of the appeal of the dairy is that customers are able to see the humane way cows are treated.
Ari Weinzweig, co-owner of Ann Arbor's Zingerman's Community of Businesses, has been at the head of the local, organic trend since Zingerman's Deli opened in 1982.
For Zingerman's, Weinzweig said, it's about contact.“I think our push is to know everybody we buy from, everybody we sell to, even if that's your mail-order customer,” he said.“And when we can make connections at that level it's always for the better.
Source Crain's Detroit
While only 170 hospitals scored high enough in 16 specialties to make the best hospital list, more than 1,350 other hospitals received honorable mention for narrowly missing the top ranking, including 45 in Michigan.
But only the University of Michigan Hospitals & Health Centers in Ann Arbor made the magazine’s honor roll of 19. Honor roll hospitals received high scores in six or more specialties.
Making the list in Southeast Michigan for various specialties are Henry Ford Hospital, St. John Hospital and Medical Center, DMC Harper University Hospital, DMC Sinai-Grace Hospital in Detroit, and William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak.The 16 specialties include: cancer, gastroenterology, endocrinology, geriatric care, gynecology, heart, kidney disease, neurology, ophthalmology, orthopedics, psychiatry, and urology.
Click Here for Full Report
Demolition and adaptive reuse in Detroit
By Robert and Andrew Linn
Once hailed as “The Paris of The West” and a national center for investment and development, Detroit has become a symbol of failed urban policy over the past 40 years of decline. Vacant skyscrapers and factories dotting Detroit’s skyline testify to the city’s high water mark, a stirring juxtaposition of old and new, decayed and opulent.
Many Detroiters see these empty buildings as liabilities rather than opportunities. The city’s hesitation to re-use abandoned structures is deeply ingrained: “In a city so starved for investment,” says University of Michigan Professor Scott Kurashige, “Detroit chooses short-term profits from marginally beneficial new developments, like parking lots, over preserving buildings with immense potential.”
But some Detroiters deeply appreciate these storied, vacant structures. “They represent the raw material, the building blocks for rebuilding the City,” says Francis Grunow, president of the Detroit preservation group Preservation Wayne. Grunow advocates “adaptive reuse”—remodeling a building after it has outlived its original purpose —for the benefit of small businesses and organizations.
Everything Is Going To Be Alright by Robert and Andrew Linn
Jackie Victor, the owner of Avalon International Breads, a popular independent business in the city, found that reuse has a financial upside. When her bakery opened in June 1997, rent was just $0.50 per square foot. Jack Vandyke, an urban planning transplant from Texas and owner of The HUB, a Detroit bicycle retailer, had a similar experience. “Because reused structures are generally less expensive,” Vandyke says, “we have a much larger shop than would be economically feasible in a new development.”
Some adaptive reuse comes closer to illegal appropriation. Small businesses, such as underground music and arts venues, operate under the radar in residential and abandoned industrial areas. Victor believes the city intentionally ignores these businesses because they might be more beneficial than harmful. But the creative opportunities represented by Detroit’s stock of abandoned buildings have legitimate examples as well.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD), which opened October 2006 in a formerly abandoned 22,000-square-foot automobile dealership, is a shining example of adaptive reuse, Detroit’s industrial past, and the city’s hoped-for rebirth. Jessica Dawson, the museum’s administrative director, calls it “a leading local place of exploration for fresh ideas in the contemporary arts.” But, as another employee, Britton Toliver, points out, “Even though we’ve had such incredible artwork through these doors, all first-time visitors want to talk about is how interesting and raw the museum is.” Exterior exhibits reflect some of that raw aesthetic: California graffiti artist Barry McGee has scrawled “Amaze” over the front of the building; the phrase “Everything is going to be Alright,” a piece by Englishman Martin Creed, illuminates Woodward Avenue with a neon glow.
Reuse has its critics, though. “Some very real health and safety issues [arise] in adaptive reuse,” says Wayne State University Professor Robin Boyle. Many developers cannot conform older structures to today’s building codes, which have much more stringent fire regulations, for example. Another common obstacle is funding. Boyle believes traditional funding bodies, such as banks, can’t accurately estimate the cost of adaptive reuse projects, so they are disinclined to fund them. Victor and Vandyke had to personally finance Avalon Bakery and The HUB, while MOCAD “would not be possible without the support from the Manoogian Foundation,” says Dawson.
City policy also seems to favor demolition over adaptive reuse. In 2002, Detroit issued more permits for demolition than for all other building permit types combined, undoubtedly facilitated by the permit fee structure in Detroit: renovating a 22,000-square-foot building—the size of MOCAD—costs $6,980, but demolition costs only $108. A permit to redevelop a structure the size of MOCAD in Ann Arbor, Michigan, by comparison, would be $783.
This penchant for destruction is a sore point for those who find the history of these structures fascinating. “Seeing the demolition of Detroit’s iconic buildings is nothing short of heartbreaking,” says Caitlin Brown, a 24-year old, life-long Detroiter. “I’m near tears every time I drive by a parking lot and cannot recall which beautiful building stood in its place.”
The most egregious example of the City’s mission to demolish came in preparation for Super Bowl XL in 2006. A “blight court” established by Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to speed up the demolition process condemned the 10-story, Albert Kahn-designed Donovan Building, long home to Motown Records. After hauling away its remains and paving the site as a parking lot, Kilpatrick told The New York Times this redevelopment was “an opportunity to present people with the next Detroit.”
The blame does not fall entirely on the City of Detroit. The state funneled more money into the pre-Super Bowl demolition of one of Detroit’s grandest and most historic hotels, the Hotel Statler, than they put into the entire Cool Cities Initiative, Governor Jennifer Granholm’s lauded program that offers grants to preserve historic structures, start “cool” businesses, and revive public places.
Perhaps MOCAD’s “Everything Is Going To Be Alright” neon sign has significance beyond the walls of the museum. It betokens a new generation of businesses and institutions that want to want to turn the tide against this wave of demolition and reclaim Detroit’s long forgotten buildings. As Vandyke says, “In Detroit, our history is our greatest asset; it is something that cannot be outsourced and should be considered a social movement. We need not only to value our past, but celebrate it.”
Southeast Michigan Realtors are expecting a stronger summer selling season, according to pending and completed residential sales data released July 8.
According to Farmington Hills-based multilisting service Realcomp II Ltd., sales were up throughout the region by 13.1 percent at the end of June this year, compared to the end of June 2007.
There were 5,341 sales in the region during the first six month of this year, compared to 4,723 last year. The region includes the city of Detroit, St. Clair area and Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Livingston counties.
Pending sales are up across the region though, so it's expected that completed sales should increase during the next two months. Throughout the region, there are 7,191 home sales pending, compared to 5,437 at the end of June last year, representing an increase of 32.26 percent.
In Oakland County, there are 1,668 home sales pending, compared to 1,356 at the same time last year. Livingston County pending sales are 10.8 percent higher this year than last, with 195 reported at the end of June. Macomb pending sales number 910, 27.63 percent more than last year.
Realcomp reported 2,774 pending sales in Wayne County, 27.07 percent more than at the end of June last year, and Detroit pending sales are 22.52 percent higher than last year, numbering 1,398.
Wayne County and Detroit home sales have increased for six straight months, having a positive impact on overall sales figures. Wayne County sales were up by 31.4 percent this year and Detroit sales are up by 54.9 percent compared to last June. There were 990 Detroit sales the first half of this year, and 2,055 in Wayne County.
The nation's first concrete road was installed on Woodward Avenue in Detroit in 1909.
The nation's first four-way traffic signal followed, also on Woodward Avenue in Detroit, in 1920.
So it should be of little surprise that some of the nation's first so-called smart intersections -- which use wireless technology to enable traffic lights and street signs to send warnings to certain cars and trucks -- are being installed in metro Detroit.
The technology, which Ford Motor Co. showed off Thursday in a new 2009 Ford Flex, allows the vehicle to warn drivers if they are approaching the crossing too quickly or are not braking in time to stop, among other uses.
The three smart intersections in operation are at Village and Military roads in Dearborn, on Ford's product development campus, and at two Oakland County sites: 12 Mile and Farmington Road and 10 Mile and Orchard Lake.
"They are transmitting" signals, Gary Piotrowicz, director of traffic safety for Oakland County's road commission, told the Free Press on Thursday. He said the systems cost about $5,000 to $10,000 more than the normal lights and equipment, which run between $75,000 and $125,000.
Ford officials said these systems have the potential to substantially reduce accidents, injuries and fatalities.
That's because about 40% of the nation's traffic accidents, including 20% of all crash-related fatalities, occur at intersections, Priya Prasad, Ford's technical fellow for safety, said Thursday in Dearborn.
Engineers at Ford and a consortium of other auto companies, including General Motors Corp., Honda Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp. and Daimler AG, are testing the technologies in conjunction with government officials, who regulate and maintain the nation's roadways.
The stoplight technology is just one in an emerging category of so-called active safety systems, which are designed to prevent car crashes before they happen.
Ford is also offering adaptive cruise control, which reduces speed based on distance to the vehicle the car is following, and blind-spot alert, which notifies the driver about a nearby vehicle. The automaker said it will unveil yet another active safety technology later this year.
But Mike Shulman, manager of active safety research at Ford, said that the wireless intersection technology has great promise for the future.
He has been working on the wireless communication system ever since the Federal Communications Commission dedicated air space for it in 2006. He said that the Society of Automotive Engineers is also examining what types of standards the industry needs to establish to make the technology a marketplace reality.
While Ford doesn't have any specific plans to offer the technology, Shulman said it's only a matter of time.
"The standards should be in place by the end of next year," he said.
San Francisco Business Times
The San Francisco Bay Area is expected to compete with major cities of the Rust Belt in the pace of growth in millionaire residents over the next five years, according to the World Wealth Report by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini.
But there is a silver lining. San Francisco is building on a much larger base. And at least this year's report found the number of Bay Area millionaire households grew 11 percent to 123,476, based on research by Claritas. San Francisco's millionaire households are expected to climb 16.4 percent over the next five years vs. overall growth in the number of households of 2.8 percent.
Detroit has 81,320 millionaire households and that figure is expected to grow 16.3 percent over five years; Pittsburgh, 37,885, 18.1 percent; and Cleveland, 53,859, 17 percent. New York's 320,184 millionaire households are expected to grow 15.7 percent and Los Angeles' 212,895 millionaire households are expected to rise 22.4 percent.
Last year's Merrill Lynch/Capgemini (NYSE: MER) report found a decline in the number of millionaire households in the Bay Area, prompting concerns the wealthy were moving to friendlier tax climates in places like Nevada and Wyoming.
Not that taxes aren't coming into play for cities such as Orlando, where the growth of millionaire households is expected to jump by a third from today's 53,013 millionaire households who can enjoy the Florida sunshine and lack of an income tax.
Other winners in this ranking include Sacramento, with an anticipated increase of 30 percent from its current 48,737 millionaire households. Phoenix is expected to see a 32.1 percent increase in its millionaire households that now stand at 64,014.
Globally, the World Wealth Report found the number of rich people around the globe grew 6 percent last year to 10.1 million, with India, China and Brazil chalking up the fastest growth in wealthy citizens. India's population of high net worth individuals grew 22.7 percent; China, 20.3 percent, and Brazil, 19.1 percent. Those figures reflect in part the dramatic gains in stock markets in emerging nations. The Shanghai and the Shenzhen Stock Exchanges grew at 303 percent and 244 percent, respectively, last year. India's Bombay Exchange and National Stock Exchange had respective growth rates of 122 percent and 115 percent in 2007.
The number of the world's ultra high net worth individuals -- those with at least $30 million -- increased 8.8 percent.
Millionaire households are those with net assets of $1 million or more, excluding primary residence and consumables.
By Ellen McCarthy
Washington Post Staff Writer Sunday
I saw it first by night. A metropolis unveiled in viewfinder snapshots through the smudged windows of an elevated train. Gothic towers crowded close, proud detail etched on gray stone. A beaming stadium full of red-capped baseball fans, its front side left open as if to console the devoted others it couldn't quite hold. A neon neighborhood of revelers, trying their luck with the cards and with each other. A river that bounced fractured glints of the city back toward the heavens.
It was beguilingly authentic -- gritty and romantic -- and it was decided: I would side with Mary.
Mary, the smiling lady of the hotel lobby, not Alexandro, the cab driver who brought me to her.
"Is this your first time in Detroit?" Mary inquired. "You're going to love it! It's just like Paris."
Minutes earlier Alexandro laughed incredulously when I told him what I'd come here to find.
"Happiness?" he scoffed. "I can't really see it. Everybody's just so miserable."
Which is what Forbes magazine said, too; the Most Miserable City in America, it claimed in a report earlier this year. "Imagine living in a city with the country's highest rate for violent crime and the second-highest unemployment rate," the article proposes, by way of introduction.
But after riding the looping downtown train -- slickly named the People Mover -- and stepping into the Greektown section of the city, where I was met by saxophones singing from opposite corners and a scene that looked like the quaint, Hollywood version of a 1940s gambling town, it was over.
Alexandro said he bought his house for $200. Really $1,700, after taxes. He didn't mention the figure as a bragging point, but it started to seem like an enticing investment plan. That was just my price point, and who wouldn't want their own pied-á-terre in this Paris of Lake Erie?
I could be happy here. I already was.
* * *
Dawn broke from the east over the cerulean Detroit River, while my buddy Chris drove in from the west.
I had an itinerary I was sure we couldn't complete, and it began with breakfast at a classic dive in the city's Irish enclave, Corktown.
"It looks like a nuclear bomb went off," Chris assessed, after picking me up from my downtown hotel.
The streets were idle and empty. So many of the buildings that were hauntingly handsome at night were sad in daylight; windowless, hollow and crumbling. Lot after lot laid bare, covered with slabs of broken concrete or half-dead weeds. Warehouses, storefronts, office buildings left to rot, sealed with plywood, disfigured by graffiti.
The restaurant, when we found it, was closed for the day. The nearby coffee shop lauded in our guidebook? Closed. The barbecue place was in business, but not open. An Irish pub up the way would serve us something from the fryer, but it seemed too early to sit in a dingy, smoke-filled room.
My stomach ached, and not with hunger.
Finally, we saw a diner with its fluorescent lights on: the Brooklyn Street Grill.
"Good. I'm getting bacon," Chris sighed as we pulled in.
"Hey, guys," our waitress said, as a garbage-bag-robed dishwasher squeezed past her through the narrow aisle. "Just want to let you know we're out of bacon."
* * *
When Louis Hennepin, a Franciscan priest, first visited the area now called Detroit with French explorers in 1679, the lush landscape inspired him to write that "Nature alone could not have made, without help of Art, so charming a prospect."
Settlers, led by a man named Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, agreed, turning the region into a French outpost and major fur trading port. In the early 19th century, Detroit's leaders chose to model the city's streets after Pierre L'Enfant's hub-and-spoke design for Washington. By the turn of the century, Henry Ford had built his first automobile, setting in motion a revolution that would alter the lives of people everywhere and turn Detroit into a world-class city with a rocketing economy.
For a while.
In 1950, Detroit had a population of 1.84 million; today, fewer than 834,000 people live in the city. The number of autoworkers in the area has been halved in the past 30 years, contributing to its 7.9 percent unemployment rate in April. The comparable national rate that month was 4.8 percent. Along with that violence rate (1,251 crimes annually for every 100,000 citizens), Detroit carries the weight of 135 Superfund sites.
Forbes didn't feign the city's anguish.
* * *
After decent omelets at the Brooklyn Street Grill, we hustled up the city's main artery, Woodward Avenue, toward the Motown Historical Museum.
Which we missed. Which is easy to do, because it's really just a house (okay, a cluster of houses) with a second-story sign declaring the place "Hitsville U.S.A."
It's the right name for the place. The Commodores, the Supremes, the Four Tops, the Jackson Five, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson. "My Girl," "Baby Love," "Just My Imagination," "You Can't Hurry Love" and on and on. In less than a decade, so much of that greatness came through these walls, Berry Gordy's factory of singing sensations. Here's the desk where Diana Ross worked as a secretary to support her singing career. The basement recording studio where the Temptations practiced their moves. The square echo chamber cut into a second-story ceiling to generate perfect vocal reverberations.
"Can I get a volunteer?" asked our guide, who led the 50-minute tour with all the panache Gordy would expect of a performer being groomed for the spotlight. And when one brave lady stepped under the hole and belted it out -- " Ain't no mountain high enough . . ." -- the room seemed to quake.
"The teenagers were just ready for it," a disc jockey from the era recalled in a documentary on Motown shown at the end of the tour. The first time she'd heard the music, she walked away with a singular assessment: "This," she said, "was happy singing."
"Come on, people, you look like you're sitting in a library," scolded Esther Gordy Edwards, bursting through the doors of the small screening room in three-inch heels and a giant wig of curls. "Dancing in the Streets" was playing, and Berry's sister, who runs the museum, had a command: "Put your hands together."
When the room emptied, I asked Ms. Gordy where we might find Motown music on a Saturday night in Detroit.
"Well, there's a cafe down the street," she said after a thoughtful pause, "where they play it in the background while you eat."
* * *
Our next two stops, less than a mile apart, swung us to opposite poles of the culture spectrum: the Detroit Institute of Arts, a majestic, marble-encased collection of more than 100 meticulously curated galleries, and the Majestic, a bowling alley.
Actually, it's a bowling alley/bar/pizza place/concert venue/pool hall/swank restaurant. Detroit claims to be home to the most registered bowlers in America, and the Majestic claims to be home to the nation's oldest active bowling center.
At the DIA, which has just had a $158 million renovation, we explored room after room of works provocatively organized by theme, rather than artist or period. Depictions of the sea are placed among depictions of the sea. Same goes for landscapes, myths, deities and children and royals. At the heart of the billion-dollar collection, which includes pieces by van Gogh, Matisse and Rodin, is Diego Rivera's famous "Detroit Industry," two massive murals that simultaneously celebrate manufacturing's power and process and decry its potential to do harm when that power is abused.
Down the street, the Majestic was packed with birthday-party bowlers, so we decamped to its bar to watch Detroiters watch sports. The Tigers and Red Wings were both in action, and our new best friend, Nathan Keeler, was manning the television remotes and pulling beers.
We're here looking for happiness, we explained, and some decent evening entertainment.
Keeler, a scruffy-haired 29-year-old, said the Majestic is hosting a battle of the bands tonight. But, he adds, "Good live music? You're not going to find it here."
So, uh, the talent's not so awesome?
"Awful," he barked, eyes rolling back as he shakes his head.
Okay, what about happiness? Can Forbes's misery assessment really be accurate?
"That's pretty much true," Keeler nodded, moving on to the next customer. A few minutes later he returned with a reassessment.
"It's not so bad here," he said. "We have fun. There's lots to do here -- we've got a lot of hospitals, we've got a lot of schools. . . . "
Those charms aside, Keeler said he eventually wants to leave Detroit. Maybe head somewhere new, like North Carolina.
An hour earlier at the DIA, a boy, maybe 4, stood looking up at a panel of stained-glass windows by John La Farge. The word "Faith" sat at the top of one. "Hope" at another.
"What does hope mean?" the boy asked, staring up toward the massive, illuminated images.
"Mmm, that's complicated," his father whispered, before dropping to a knee.
"Hope is when you think about the future," he explained. "And wish for good things."
* * *
We ate beneath the Greektown Casino that night, at a place called Pegasus Taverna. Every five minutes or so, a plate of cheese was lit on fire and a server matter-of-factly called out "Opa!"
I wish we had ordered more than one. It's called saganaki and it's bliss-by-dairy-product: salty, melted and not nearly enough for two people (assuming I'm one of the two).
Above us, slot machines beeped and flashed, inviting what city officials had hoped would be a new engine of economic growth. There are three casinos now, plus a fourth just across the river in Windsor, Ontario. So as gambling-on-a-budget destinations go, Detroit should rank right up there.
Hard to say, though, if casinos are the force that will bring collective happiness back to the city. They don't do too much for me, so we hopped a cab over to Nancy Whiskey's, a Corktown dive known for its blues.
All around it was overgrown grass, streetlights blinking on and off and an eerie absence of movement, sound or structure.
Inside, Nancy Whiskey's was hopping. People were jammed wall-to-wall in the wood-paneled tavern, ordering cans of Miller Lite and dancing between tables as the raucous five-piece band played Van Morrison and "Mustang Sally" from the stage.
If there was sadness in the city, it wasn't at Nancy Whiskey's that night.
* * *
Knowing it would at least be open for business, we swung by the MGM Grand, Detroit's newest casino, for breakfast the next day.
Just outside the downtown nucleus, the upscale casino was a quarter-full by midmorning, its smoke ventilators humming in the background while the employees of glitzy boutiques unlocked their doors.
Our next stop was Hamtramck, a city within the city recommended by the guidebooks and our man Nathan from the Majestic. ("It's got the most bars per capita in the country -- or something like that," he'd offered.) And my grandmother had lived in the area during college and had told stories, later, about its cosmopolitan verve.
Hamtramck was historically a Polish enclave and is now an immigrant melting pot. It is also a neighborhood, like so many others, in decline. Closed department stores, seedy corner shops, run-down fast-food huts. In the place my grandmother found thrilling, we couldn't find a reason to stop.
For the couple of hours that remained before my return flight, we headed to Belle Isle, a storied city park that covers the length of a 982-acre island in the middle of the river. Designed by the same landscape architect responsible for Central Park in New York, the isle is gorgeous: dotted with elegant fountains, a domed conservatory and aquarium, a stately yacht club and picnic areas that were being well used as we passed through its drivable loop.
Then we stopped driving and started watching other people do it. In the center of this serene patch of earth is a racetrack, and on it cars were lined up by the dozen, waiting for timed runs through an intricate, cone-lined course. Tires screeched as mesmerized kids hung their elbows over the fence, necks craning with every hot rod's turn.
We pulled ourselves away to walk to the edge of the island facing the city's skyline. From a distance, Detroit looked as it had in the dark: beautiful.
Happiness here was the intention and, in truth, it was met. For two days we had great times in Detroit. But the misery gurgling through the metropolis was undeniable.
I learned later that the city's seal comprises two Latin phrases, "Speramus Meliora" and "Resurget Cineribus." The lines were chosen after a fire ravaged the city in 1805. Together they mean: "We hope for better things. It will rise from the ashes."
There's a lot to be said for that kind of hope -- for thinking about the future, wishing for good things.
Three upcoming events will allow you to bicycle, kayak and graze your way through Detroit's riverfront and east side.
The Detroit Eastside Community Collaborative, the folks who are taking on the exciting new Conner Creek Greenway project, is helping to run the events.
This Saturday, June 28, Detroit Bikes will host the Jazzin' on Jefferson/Conner Creek Greenway Ride, which will tour the east side and Grosse Pointe. The free ride begins at the Detroit Synergy Booth at Jazzin' on Jefferson, which is near the intersection of Jefferson and Chalmers, just before 10 a.m.
It'll be a leisurely ride, including a tour of some Detroit automotive history and a chance to try out a Sanders' Hot Fudge Sundae. No registration is required, but you will need your helmet. More information is posted at www.detroitsynergy.org/projects/detroitbikes.
Next up: a little free kayaking fun. On July 24 from 6-8 p.m. you'll be able to try one out in the pond at Maheras Gentry Park at the foot of the Conner Creek Greenway at Clairpointe south of East Jefferson. It's presented by the Riverside Kayak Connection, and information on local places to live will also be available.
Finally, on Aug. 12, you can take a guided kayaking tour of the east riverfront from 6-8 p.m., including Belle Isle, local canals and the RiverWalk at Gabriel Richard Park. This one will cost $15 an hour, but it's likely to be lovely. Meet at Maheras Gentry Park and RSVP in advance to email@example.com.
The Conner Creek Greenway, which is involved in all these events, is a planned 9-mile biking/walking path that runs from Eight Mile to the Detroit River along Conner Street. For more information on the Greenway or the events, e-mail http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080624/BLOG12/mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org or call 313-571-2800 x1159.
Mahle Industries Inc., a subsidiary of German parent company Mahle GmbH, chose to expand its North American technical center in Farmington Hills over a competing site in Tennessee.
Mahle makes automotive and heavy-duty engine components.The company will invest $27.6 million for the 45,000 square foot expansion. The company was granted a $2.5 million, state tax credit over 7 years by the Michigan Economic Growth Authority and a local tax abatement.
The expansion is expected to create 155 jobs with the company and 169 indirect jobs.
Rayconnect Inc. plans to invest $14.5 million in a new plastics injection molding assembly plant and headquarters in Rochester Hills. It will receive a 7-year, $2.5 million state tax credit from MEGA, which was awarded to influence the company to choose Michigan for its facility over a competing site in South Carolina. The Michigan Economic Development Corp. said it would also provide $120,000 in job training assistance funds.
Rochester Hills is considering a tax abatement of $862,000 to support Rayconnect’s expansion, according to the MEDC.
The facility is expected to retain 360 jobs in Michigan, including 148 at Rayconnect and its parent company A. Raymond Inc., a global supplier of fastener systems.
The company is joining the DOE’s FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership, a public-private effort to advance technologies that lead to reduced oil consumption and increased energy efficiency in passenger vehicles. The partnership’s scope includes fuel cells, hybrids and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
“We are excited to have this opportunity to work with universities, the auto industry, governmental agencies and other energy companies to develop the vehicles and infrastructure that will give drivers the performance and overall experience that they expect while significantly reducing the vehicle’s impact on the environment,” said Knut Simonsen, senior vice president of DTE energy resources, in a news release.
It would divert carbon dioxide from the power plant and combine it with treated wastewater to grow algae.The algae would be converted to biofuels and other uses.
Bob Truxell, the company's chief executive, said the technology could help transform the world's energy system."We think it's very economically feasible," Truxell told The Grand Rapids Press.Four sites are under consideration, but Truxell said he likes Holland because of the proximity of the coal and wastewater plants and a planned Michigan State University research center."Later on, the algae strain will evolve and we will need the genetic help that is available at the research facility," Truxell said. "I personally am very excited about Holland. I hope we proceed there."The company is seeking funds from a pool of $18 million in a proposal now before the Legislature. It comes from a program announced in January by Gov. Jennifer Granholm called Centers of Energy Excellence.
A Michigan State University official said the project is daunting but worth pursuing in a world worried about global warming and desperate for new fuel sources."Clearly there are lot of questions, but we have to balance those questions with a whole lot of potential," said Steven Pueppke, director of the university's Office of Biobased Technologies.
NPR Morning Edition April 22, 2008
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As the U.S. real estate market falls further into decline, some cities where properties are particularly cheap are seeing a strange revival. In Detroit, where foreclosed houses are found on nearly every block, foreign and domestic investors are buying bargain homes in bulk as long-term investments.
NPR Morning Edition June 11, 2008
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Wayne County, Mich. — home to Detroit — has been hit especially hard by the mortgage crisis.
The county has inherited thousands of unwanted properties, leaving plot after plot of vacant land. So a nonprofit group pitched an idea: Take that unused land, and grow food for the needy.
This year, the group — called Urban Farming — will take 20 derelict properties in Wayne County, then pull weeds, lay fresh topsoil, and plant fruits and vegetables.
The gardens aren't fenced off, so anyone can wander through and take their pick — for free. Any leftover produce is donated to food banks.
'A Huge Boon'
Neighborhoods in Wayne County are littered with boarded-up homes and vacant land that's covered in knee-high grass. Demolished apartment complexes have left empty lots the size of football fields.
That's why Urban Farming founder Taja Seville says Detroit was the perfect place to start working on farming projects. The city has long suffered from a glut of available property, and last year it topped the nation in foreclosures. Wayne County now has about 7,000 idle plots. Seville saw that as an opportunity.
"I've lived in L.A., N.Y., Connecticut, London, Minneapolis, and been around a lot, seen a lot of cities. But I've never seen these long stretches of unused land," says Seville.
Under the 20-plot pilot program, volunteers will tend the garden, and the city of Detroit will pitch in water.
Wayne County Treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz says that's a huge boon.
"It won't cost the county anything. We're donating the land. If a person wants to purchase the lot, it will be for sale. Perhaps it will be an inducement," says Wojtowicz.
'I Want to Garden There'
Wojtowicz says the biggest benefit, though, is less blight in the neighborhood. And residents say that, unlike abandoned houses, the gardens aren't targeted by vandals.
Detroit resident Eric Parrish says that those who live around the gardens respect the farming projects. "They see we're doing something to help the community," he says.
Parrish says he recently started gardening with Urban Farming because it helps turn things around in his city.
"You can tell people are struggling. So when I do see these plots of land it makes me say, 'I want to garden there,' " he says.
Parrish says most people are grateful for the gardens, although at first a few were concerned they would attract pests.
Turns out that urban farms do attract people, says Gail Carr, one of Detroit's city managers. She has houses boarded up nearly every day and sees what a dramatic difference the gardens have on communities.
"People are coming out of their homes who wouldn't come out under other circumstances because they didn't think there was still a community or a neighbor or a friendly person nearby," she says.
Wojtowicz says the county is watching the program and hopes to expand it.
Seville isn't waiting to expand. She plans to plant hundreds of gardens in at least a dozen other struggling cities this season.
To learn more about Urban Farming, their locations, upcoming events, and how to get involved click here for their official website