PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) -- A Detroit-

area attorney is set to buy the former home of the Detroit Lions for $20 million. The Pontiac City Council voted 4-2 Thursday night to approve selling the Silverdome to H. Wallace Parker of Bloomfield Hills.

The city and Parker have 90 days to survey the 127.5-acre property before closing on the deal. Parker plans a $175 million development at the site to add restaurants and other amenities, as well as renovate the 80,000-seat domed stadium to hold concerts and sporting events. The Detroit News reports Parker looked visibly surprised when the council approved his project. Two previous sale attempts in 2005 fell through, and talks with Parker broke down in February. The Lions left the Silverdome in 2002 to move to Ford Field in Detroit.
Six Southeast Michigan hospitals have made U.S. News & World Report’s list of “America’s Best Hospitals.”

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
Everything Is Going To Be Alright
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.”

Home Sales Are Picking Back Up In SE Michigan

Oakland Business Review

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.
Detroit Free Press

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.

CNN adds Detroit video to its city guides

Click here to watch the video

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.