Final 4: 2009 Detroit parties

Metromix Detroit

As the Final 4 prepares to touchdown in the dirty D, Detroiters are gearing up tackle the parties which promise big-name celebs, athletes and tons of weekend-long debauchery for sports nuts and nightlife lovers alike.



Detroit Riverfront - Atwater & Beaubein - Riverfront
Daily April 3 through April 5
Three days of free concerts with the AT&T Block Party Friday; Saturday features the Pussycat Dolls and Gavin DeGraw; Sunday hosted by Ryan Seacreast with performances by Fergie, Staind, Gym Class Heroes, Janelle Monae and Parachute

Monroe Street Mayhem

Monroe Street Cafe - 561 Monroe - Greektown
Daily April 3 through April 6
Three days of live music, DJs, food and drink featuring the Dirty Americans Sunday



Andiamo Champions Club - 521 Atwater - Riverfront
April 3 : 10 p.m. - 2 a.m.

Hosted by Braylon Edwards, Denzell Washington, Isaiah Thomas and Rod Strickland in conjunction with the National Basketball Association, there will be 10 different bars set up, each will have its own theme. Andiamo’s will also provide food all night long

South Beach Ultra Lounge - 3011 W. Grand Boulevard - New Center Area
April 4 : 9 p.m. - 2 a.m.
Metromix will be puttin’ the full-court press on this Final Four weekend special event, presented by Channel 95.5 FM, Live Presents, Ambassador Magazine and yours truly. For one night only, the luxurious South Beach Ultra Lounge is pushing its boundaries into the entire lobby of the Fisher Building to transform it into the Metromix Dance Hall, complete with a catwalk bikini fashion show, 360˚ full-service bar and DJ stage. Hosting the event are ’06 Playmate of the Year Kara Monaco, Miss February ’09 Jessica Burciaga, Miss June ’07 Tiffany Selby, Miss November ’07 Lindsay Wagner and ’08 Cyber Girl of the Year Jo Garcia. Spinning records and making heads spin will be guest DJ and former Playboy model Kristin Jackson, DJ Kay Jay.

Andiamo Champions Club - 521 Atwater - Riverfront
April 4 : 9 p.m. - 2 a.m.
Keep the Final 4 spirit alive after the Big Dance on the Riverwalk by joining Vital Productions at the former Asian Village overlooking the waterfront for the Big Dance after party

The 44 Bar - 1407 Randolph - Detroit
April 5 : 8 p.m. - 2 a.m.


Hosted by Detroit's own Kevin Vickerson of the Tennessee Titans with a live performance by L'Renee; confirmed guests include Jason Jones of the Tennessee Titans, Lendale White of the Tennessee Titans, Vince Young of the Tennessee Titans, Royce 5'9", Eric King of Detroit Lions and Howie Bell



Oslo - 1456 Woodward - Downtown Detroit
April 5 : 9 p.m. - 2 a.m.
Hosted by Travis McCoy of Gym Class Heroes who'll also be one the 1s and 2s.


NCAA Finals Party

Eclipz Ultra Lounge - 555 E. Lafayette - Greektown
April 6 : 8 p.m.
Network with some of the young entrepreneurs of Detroit while catching the game. DJ Sandman on the decks
The New York Times


IN a city whose name is forever entwined with that of Motown Records, it is tempting to expect to hear songs like “Dancing in the Streets” blaring constantly from speakers on light posts, or to see Eminem or Kid Rock shooting videos on the downtown streets.

But Motown left town a generation ago, leaving behind only the small white house that is home to the Motown Historical Museum. And while Eminem and Kid Rock still live and record there, they keep lower local profiles than their fame might suggest.

But the clubs where they and other Detroit acts got their starts are still very much a part of the city, developing performers who could join the ranks of other famous Detroit artists. Even though the city, and its auto industry, have been hit by hard times that threaten some venerable places, live music endures in the Motor City.

Alex Lovat, 17, was born the year the Magic Stick opened on Woodward Avenue, nestled on an often desolate stretch halfway between downtown and the campus of Wayne State University.

On a recent Monday, Mr. Lovat, a high school senior, was taking a break in a cafe below the second-floor club, to soak up the atmosphere of a spot that presented the White Stripes and the Toadies early in their careers.

“I really like the history of the place,” said Mr. Lovat, who wore vintage purple velvet pants, a brown and beige polyester button-down shirt and round, wire-rimmed sunglasses.

The Stick is a gritty 5,500-square-foot industrial spot that offered its first acts in 1992. It is housed in the Majestic Theater Center, a blocklong entertainment complex with a restaurant that emphasizes Middle Eastern specialties and a bowling alley that is nearly a century old.

For followers of rock as well as folk fans, the Stick is the center of the Detroit club universe. Chris Cervenak, 18, recently saw the Black Lips, a flower-punk band whose sound is described as “hippie meets punk” from Atlanta.

“I just dig the concerts here,” said Mr. Cervenak, a high school senior from Hamtramck, Mich.

While Jack White, half of the White Stripes duo, has since moved to Nashville, the Stick is a frequent showcase for up-and-coming artists, including some trying to broaden their visibility in the United States.

Los Campesinos, the seven-piece pop band from Cardiff, Wales, is set to appear on April 2, while the Glasgow alternative rock band Glasvegas visits the Stick on April 4.

During the N.C.A.A. Final Four men’s basketball tournament, which will take place next month at Ford Field, north of downtown and south of the Magic Stick, the city will hold the Big Dance, not just the name of the showdown, but a three-day festival beginning on April 3.

It will feature a block party, a wrap-up concert hosted by Ryan Seacrest, and acts like the Pussycat Dolls, Gavin DeGraw, Fergie and Staind.

But Detroit’s music scene stretches beyond downtown, and it can be hard to sample without getting behind the wheel.

Forty-five minutes west in Ann Arbor is The Ark , one of the country’s top folk clubs, along with the Michigan Theater , which regularly features artists like Ben Folds and Randy Newman.

Mark Braun, a local pianist known as Mr. B., will perform at The Ark on April 4 and 5, while Chris Cornell, perhaps best known as the lead singer and drummer of Soundgarden, appears at the Michigan on April 14.

Northeast of downtown, Hamtramck, long a working-class Polish-American enclave, is now home to a busy collection of small bars that hold the annual Blowout, a three-day festival in which 200 bands play 15 places. This year’s Blowout, held March 7 to 9, took place in bars like the New Dodge Lounge , which opens at breakfast, serves some of the area’s best burgers and offers a free shuttle to Ford Field.

North of the city sits Ferndale, home to the Magic Bag, a converted theater known for holding retro ’80s parties and presenting a variety of artists, including Lez Zeppelin, an all-women tribute band covering Led Zeppelin songs, which appears on April 3.

But the area’s entertainment center remains Detroit, where live music, poetry slams and big-name acts can be found every night.

St. Andrew’s Hall, a converted church just a few blocks from the Detroit River, made its name in the 1980s and 1990s, featuring bands like Nirvana, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Cure on its concert floor. Meanwhile, its hip-hop dance floor is known as the spot where the local rapper Marshall Mathers, better known as Eminem, battled other Detroit-area emcees before breaking onto the national scene. Coming acts at St. Andrew’s include Lily Allen on April 13 with her opening act, Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head.

In another direction, geographically and musically, are two clubs with a strong link to Detroit’s jazz past.

Baker’s Keyboard Lounge, located on the city’s far west side, calls itself the world’s oldest jazz club, operating since 1934. Named for its founder, Clarence Baker, the club has been home to generations of jazz greats from Fats Waller and John Coltrane to the Detroit natives Tommy Flanagan and Earl Klugh. It will celebrate its 75th anniversary with concerts May 1 to 4, though there are fears that the city’s financial straits may force it to close after that.

For now, the club holds a jazz-for-kids program on Sunday afternoons and open jam sessions with the Noah Jackson Trio on Sunday nights. The Diego Rivera Quartet, whose saxophonist-founder shares his name with the famous Mexican muralist, appears at Baker’s on April 11.

Back downtown, Cliff Bell’s is a small, elegant spot, once the heart of the city’s jazz world, in a building designed by Albert Kahn, architect for many Detroit landmarks. Founded by the local entrepreneur John Clifford Bell in 1935, the club closed in 1985 but was reopened a few years ago by Paul Howard, who relied on photographs for restoration. As close to a Manhattan jazz spot as anything in the city, Bell’s has two long, intimate rooms divided by a double-sided bar, and curved, rich mahogany ceilings hung with chandeliers. Patrons sit beneath vintage photos of the club.

Bell’s emphasizes local acts like the Scott Gwinnell Jazz Orchestra, akin to its house band, which is led by one of the city’s best-known jazz educators. The club features poetry readings, attracting a diverse young audience that nearly filled the club on a recent Monday night.

“When the organs work together, it’s called or-gan-i-za-tion,” said the poet Liteshineth, whose fiery cadence elicited shouts of “That’s right!”

“Everybody here is really real, and has a story to tell,” said Kristine Milostan, 22, of Clinton Township, Mich., who, like half the audience, was waiting to perform.

Another Detroit poet, Fluent, 31, wearing a black-and-red-checkered cap, brown jacket and red gym shoes, said the setting at Bell’s was inspirational, especially in a city that has seen such challenges, financially and artistically.

“Detroit has such talent,” he said. “Something about this place — it’s like family.”
Detroit Free Press

Five years and $26.3 million worth of out-of-state tourism promotion has resulted in nearly 5 million new tourists coming to Michigan who spent $1.1 billion and contributed $75.3 million in tax revenue.

That's a return of $2.86 for every $1 spent, pleased state tourism officials reported Tuesday at the Driving Tourism state conference in Detroit.

An independent company, Longwoods International, based in New York, did the analysis of how well the state's marketing is working. The company uses a statistical model that separates people who were influenced by the advertising from those who would have visited anyway. It then analyzes their spending and derives the tax total.

The next step for Pure Michigan was Tuesday's launch of a $10-million national ad campaign, a first for the state.

It is part of a record $30 million being spent on promotion this fiscal year.
http://www.singersroom.com/

The Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin and Reverend Al Sharpton are slated to be honored at the 54th Annual Fight For Freedom Fund Dinner in Detroit.

"Aretha Franklin has been honored by many all over the world. Yet there is no award like getting the award and total recognition from those in your own hometown," says Rev. Wendell Anthony, President of Detroit's NAACP chapter.

According to organizers, Franklin will receive the James Weldon Johnson Lifetime Achievement Award during a special dinner slated to be held at Detroit's Cobo Center May 3.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, founder of the Brooklyn-based National Action Network and the Rev. Edwin Rowe of the Central Methodist Church Detroit will be honored at the dinner with Freedom and Justice Awards for their contributions in recent years to civil rights and justice.

The dinner also marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the NAACP. The theme for the event is "Facing the Rising Sun of Our New Day Begun," a line from the Black National Anthem, "Lift Every Voice." The song was penned by Johnson, a poet and civil rights activist.
Erin Rose
Positive Detroit

The Detroit Tiger's are in the midst of a media frenzy over Opening Day 2009 falling on Good Friday.

Roman Catholics are especially upset because the home opener is scheduled during holy hours, with the belief that Jesus was hung on the cross from noon until 3 p.m. The game is schedule to begin at 1:05 p.m. against the Texas Rangers.

Ron Colangelo, Tigers Vice President of Communications, said Major League Baseball has a “monumental task” putting together a season’s schedule. Detroit’s climate makes a night game unrealistic this time of year.

“Fans have come to know that our home opener is always a day game,” states Colangelo.


I personally find all this mayhem to be quite comical, especially after reading this article stating Pontius Pilate should throw out the first pitch. I am looking forward to John Stossel covering this tale during his "Give Me A Break" segment on 20/20.

Below are a couple of points that I would like to make about the fuss being made over Opening Day falling on Good Friday:
  • All 30 American and National League teams play April 10, not just the Detroit Tigers.
  • We are currently living in The United States of America during the 21st Century, not in a 16th Century European Papal State.
  • Our President is Barrack Obama, not Pope Benedict the 16th.
  • Religious Freedom is one of the foundations of our Country. We are a melting pot of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Agnostics, and Atheists. We set our clocks by National Holidays, not Religious Holidays.
  • Good Friday is not Easter Sunday.
  • And my personal fave, Jim Leyland's brother Tom is a priest.
Yes, I am a huge Tiger's Fan and have absolutely no issue whatsoever about this year's season opener. I would also like to note that I was raised Catholic and attended 13 years of Catholic School. My great-aunt is a Catholic Nun.

There are bigger things going on in the world and Detroit that we should focus on and be concerned with. The Detroit Tiger's Opening Day falling on Good Friday is not one of them.

I'll go ahead and take the liberty to state the obvious here: The Detroit Tiger's Season Opener is a great thing for Detroit no matter what day it falls on.
Although traditionally closed on Easter, Olga’s Kitchen will be open at 17 locations on Easter Sunday to serve loyal fans and help our community.

Olga’s Kitchen will donate to Gleaners Community Food Bank 20% of the net proceeds from the business on Easter Sunday. For every $1 raised at Olga’s Kitchen on Easter Sunday Gleaners will be able to provide 3 meals.

“We are building on our commitment to help our community”, said Matt Carpenter, President & CEO, Olga’s Kitchen. “Beginning with providing a free OriginalÒ Olga on April 8-10 to anyone presenting their used Jan Leno ticket stub, to our support of Gleaners Community Food Bank from our Easter Day proceeds, we are committed to make a difference in our home state.

As a Michigan based business with almost 30 years of serving Michiganders, we have a great interest in making sure that food banks such as Gleaners are able to properly feed the people of our state during these difficult times.”

Gerry Brisson, Senior Vice President of Advancement, Gleaners Community Food Bank, said “With more people seeking emergency food than ever before, we are grateful to Olga’s for their generous efforts. On behalf of the children, seniors, families and individuals who need help, thank you so much to everyone who enjoys Olga’s this Easter! You are truly making a difference.”

Olga’s Kitchen will be open on Easter from 11am-6pm on Sunday, April 12, 2009 at 17 locations throughout Michigan including:

Allen Park – Fairlane Green

Ann Arbor – Plymouth Green Crossing

Auburn Hills – Squirrel & Walton Rds.

Birmingham – Old Woodward South of Maple Rd.

Bloomfield Township – Telegraph North of Square Lake Rd.

Brighton – West Grand River at Challis

Clinton Township – Garfield & 19 Mile Rds.

Dearborn Heights – The Heights Shopping Center

East Grand Rapids- Gaslight Village, Wealthy & Bagley Streets

Lansing – Frandor Shopping Center

Lathrup Village – Twelve Mile & Southfield Rds.

Novi – Grand River & Beck Rd.

St Clair Shores – Harper at 9 1/2 Mile Rd.

Sterling Heights – Van Dyke at 14 1/2 Mile Rd.

Troy – Big Beaver and John R. Rds.

West Bloomfield – Orchard Lake & Maple Rds.

Woodhaven – Allen & West Rds.

Detroit Connection: Glenn Frey of The Eagles

http://detroit.about.com/mbiopage

The Eagles played at The Palace over the weekend, luring fans from far and wide. While the band was formed in southern California back in 1971, Detroit is hometown to one of the band’s long-time members: Glenn Frey.

Frey was born and raised in Royal Oak. At Dondero High School, Frey wrestled, attended “gifted” classes and learned to play the piano and guitar. He was also voted “most likely to inhale” by his classmates.

Even so, Frey managed to form several bands while in high school and college in the 1960s, including the Disciples, the Hideouts (after a local club), The Subterraneans, The Mushrooms, The Four of Us and Heavy Metal Kids.

It was through The Mushrooms in 1966 that Frey cut his first single, Such a Lovely Child. The song was co-written by Bob Seger. The Michigan chapter of Frey’s music career ended in the late 1960s when he moved out west. The rest, as they say, is history….
Associated Press

Orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket manufactured goods and new homes sales both rose unexpectedly in February.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that orders for durable goods — manufactured products expected to last at least three years — increased 3.4 percent last month, much better than the 2 percent fall economists expected.

The department also reported that new home sales rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 337,000 from an upwardly revised January figure of 322,000.

Last month's strength in durable goods orders was led by a surge in orders for military aircraft and parts, which shot up 32.4 percent. Demand for machinery, computers and fabricated metal products also rose.

Orders for durable goods excluding the volatile transportation sector rose 3.9 percent last month, easily beating the 2-percent drop that economists expected.

In areas of strength, orders for heavy machinery surged 13.5 percent in February, demand for computers rose 10.1 percent and orders for fabricated metal products edged up 1.5 percent.
http://www.wwj.com/
Jake Sigal is 27 now, so you can't exactly call him a tech prodigy any more.

Still, the young man behind the Ion USB turntable and Delphi's coolest XM Radio products is back -- with his own company and his own very cool gizmo.

Sigal called GLITR Thursday from Hong Kong, where he was wrapping up a series of meetings with the developers and build partners involved in his latest device, the Ira.

That's an acronym for Internet Radio Adapter, and that's precisely what the device is.

What does the device do?
"If you have wireless Internet and a home stereo or boombox, you can get access to over 14,000 radio stations and podcasts from all over the world, from anywhere in the world, and the thing sets itself up in two minutes, automatically, without any computer needed and without any subscriptions," Sigal said.

The product was intentionally designed simply, without some extra bells and whistles that Sigal said a techmeister like himself might actually have liked.
That's the mantra for Sigal's Ferndale-based Myine Audio: "Get less." Sigal said it's meant to appeal to "people of any technological sophistication, any education level, any age."

The device has a suggested retail of $149 and is available now on the Myine Audio site and Amazon.com. Sigal is expecting it to be available at the usual retail behemoths in time for the holidays.

Sigal added: "You're already paying 60 bucks a month (for Internet access). Why not get all that music, sports and talk you're already paying for?"

So how do you navigate through that huge list of 14,000 audio streams? Sigal said Ira searches -- by music genre, keyword, location, radio station call letters, etc. -- to get you where you want to go. The device also comes standard with all cables needed for a hookup to any audio system or boombox.

And its internal list of Internet audio streams is automatically updated over the Web, transparent to the user.

Sigal said Myine now employs four people in Ferndale, and plans on hiring two more within the next month and four more before the end of the year.

Sigal is a Columbus, Ohio native who went to Ohio University. From there he went to Cumberland, R.I.-based Ion Audio, where he invented the USB turntable and a few other products. Then he had the chance to go to Delphi Corp. in 2006 as product manager for XM satellite radio.

In January 2008, he and partner Massino Baldini, business line manager of XM for Delphi, started Myine.

"I had the opportunity to move to LA or the Bay area, but I found Michigan just had a lot to offer -- it's very affordable, and my wife and I are really happy with the Ferndale community," Sigal said.

He's been able to grab electronics talent from the auto industry, folks willing to trade stock for salary.

To request more information on the Ira Wireless Internet Radio or other products from Myine Electronics, contact PR representative Jenny Coleman at (305) 576-1171 x24 or jennycoleman@maxborgesagency.com.
Earth Hour 2009 is taking off in a big way, globally and locally.

It's a one-hour voluntary statement of concern for climate change sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund in which supporters turn off all non-essential lights for one hour -- between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 28.

Cate Blanchett's on board.

And so is Detroit Mayor Ken Cockrel, Jr.

The Great Pyramids of Gaza in Egypt, New York City's Rockefeller Center, and the Acropolis in Athens, Greece will go dark.

So will The Emory in Ferndale.

This gesture may seem minor in the larger scheme of icebergs-melting, species-disappearing things. But gestures can add up.

And with 190 U.S. cities getting on board, it is symbolic gestures that maybe, just maybe, will grab the attention of the masses.

So, turn off your TV, your bathroom light, and that one you never shut off in the basement. Let your eyes adjust to that crazy thing called the dark.

See? It's not that scary!

Ann Arbor, Dearborn Heights, Detroit and Ferndale might be a little less bright on Friday night, but as participating cities, they are leading the way in promoting conversation about energy usage.

If you feel like celebrating the world's largest climate event ever, head to The Emory, where dollar-off drinks and candlelight will mark the occasion.

Source: Jennifer Harlan, The Night Move
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Detroit: City on the Move (1965 Video)

Joe Vicari, President and CEO of Andiamo Restaurant Group, has announced the opening of the Andiamo Champions Club on April 3, 4, 5, and 6th, 2009 during the NCAA Championships.

The Club will be open on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Noon-2am and on the 6th from 3pm-2am.

Mike Nowinski, general manager of Andiamo Riverfront, said, “The Andiamo Champions Club, in partnership with Bacardi, Budweiser, and Coca Cola will become the perfect headquarters for food and beverages as guests enjoy the Big Dance across the street, a free concert series with national recording artists on the Detroit Riverfront.”

The Andiamo Champions Club will provide complimentary admission with live entertainment. There will be nightly drink specials and a bar menu. And to make sure that sports fans don’t miss the action, there will be live HD broadcasts of the NCAA Tournament.

The Andiamo Champions Club will be located at Beaubien Place next to the Renaissance Center, the site of the former Asian Village.

For additional information please call 313-567-6700 or check the website at http://www.andiamoitalia.com/.
The Metro Detroit Buick Pontiac GMC Dealers are giving away 1000 tickets to the March Basketball games in Detroit!

All you have to do is visit one of the participating dealerships located on the map below and register by MARCH 27th!

Four® Ticket Official Rules

NO PURCHASE, TEST DRIVE OR SUBMISSION TO SALES PRESENTATION NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. PURCHASE DOES NOT INCREASE CHANCES OF WINNING.

ELIGIBILITY:
Open to Michigan and Ohio residents who are 18 years of age or older with a valid drivers license at time of entry. Employees, officers and directors of Metro Detroit Buick Pontiac GMC Dealers (“Sponsor”) and General Motors dealerships, The NCAA, The Barber Shop Marketing (“Administrator”) and their respective divisions, affiliates, subsidiaries and agents, and any others engaged in the development, production or distribution of promotional materials or prizes for this Promotion, and members of the immediate families or households of any of the above are not eligible to enter or win. This Promotion is subject to all applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations. Void where prohibited.

HOW TO PLAY:
Complete the required fields on the electronic entry form at any participating Buick Pontiac GMC Dealership (listed below) between March 2, 2009 and March 27, 2009, during dealers’ regular business hours (“Promotional Period”). Limit one (1) entry per person. Multiple entries will be disqualified.

WINNER SELECTION & NOTIFICATION:
A total of four hundred seventy five (475) Grand prizes (see description below) will be randomly selected by the Administrator from all valid entries at each dealership on or about March 29, 2009. Number of winners per dealership varies (see list below). Potential winners will be notified by phone and must claim winner status within 24 hours, or prize will be forfeit and an alternate will be selected, time permitting. If the winner can not attend the game day he/she is awarded, they will forfeit their prize and an alternate will be selected, time permitting. Potential winners must then complete and submit an Affidavit of Eligibility and Liability and Publicity Release form (where permissible) to the Administrator within 48 hours or the prize will be forfeited and an alternate will be selected, time permitting.

Click Here For Participating Pontiac GMC Dealerships or Contact Steve Batman Gotham at Somerset Pontiac in Troy for all your Pontiac and GMC needs:
Direct Line: 248-614-3667
Email: gotham@somersetpontiacgmc.com
On April 1, at 7:30 p.m., Dr. Phil will give a presentation at Music Hall, 350 Madison in Detroit; on April 2 at 2 p.m., he'll take part in a town hall-type discussion at I Am My Brother's Keeper Ministries, 1435 Brainard Street in Detroit. Later, at 8 p.m., he'll be at the Colosseum at Caesars Windsor for a program priced at $75 (Can.) a ticket.

Individuals and groups can compete for tickets to the Music Hall appearance by e-mailing WWJ-TV and telling why they want to hear Dr. Phil. To enter the ticket giveaway, visit www.wwjtv.com and complete the request.

Admission to the town hall program will be first-come, first-served. Award-winning author and Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom will moderate the discussion. For information, call 313-974-9227 from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

Dr. Phil learned about Pastor Henry Covington and I Am My Brother's Keeper when he read a recent Sports Illustrated article Albom wrote called "The Courage of Detroit." Both programs will be filmed for future broadcasts.

For ticket information about the casino appearance, visit www.caesarswindsor.com.

Locally, Dr. Phil's show airs at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on WWJ-TV (Channel 62).

New York Times

RECENTLY, at a dinner party, a friend mentioned that he’d never seen so many outsiders moving into town.

This struck me as a highly suspect statement. After all, we were talking about Detroit, home of corrupt former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, beleaguered General Motors and the 0-16 Lions. Compared with other cities’ buzzing, glittering skylines, ours sits largely abandoned, like some hulking beehive devastated by colony collapse. Who on earth would move here?

Then again, I myself had moved to Detroit, from Brooklyn. For $100,000, I bought a town house that sits downtown in the largest and arguably the most beautiful Mies van der Rohe development ever built, an island of perfect modernism forgotten by the rest of the world.

Two other guests that night, a couple in from Chicago, had also just invested in some Detroit real estate. That weekend Jon and Sara Brumit bought a house for $100.

Ah, the mythical $100 home. We hear about these low-priced “opportunities” in down-on-their-luck cities like Detroit, Baltimore and Cleveland, but we never meet anyone who has taken the plunge. Understandable really, for if they were actually worth anything then they would cost real money, right? Who would do such a preposterous thing?

A local couple, Mitch Cope and Gina Reichert, started the ball rolling. An artist and an architect, they recently became the proud owners of a one-bedroom house in East Detroit for just $1,900. Buying it wasn’t the craziest idea. The neighborhood is almost, sort of, half-decent. Yes, the occasional crack addict still commutes in from the suburbs but a large, stable Bangladeshi community has also been moving in.

So what did $1,900 buy? The run-down bungalow had already been stripped of its appliances and wiring by the city’s voracious scrappers. But for Mitch that only added to its appeal, because he now had the opportunity to renovate it with solar heating, solar electricity and low-cost, high-efficiency appliances.

Buying that first house had a snowball effect. Almost immediately, Mitch and Gina bought two adjacent lots for even less and, with the help of friends and local youngsters, dug in a garden. Then they bought the house next door for $500, reselling it to a pair of local artists for a $50 profit. When they heard about the $100 place down the street, they called their friends Jon and Sarah.

Admittedly, the $100 home needed some work, a hole patched, some windows replaced. But Mitch plans to connect their home to his mini-green grid and a neighborhood is slowly coming together.

Now, three homes and a garden may not sound like much, but others have been quick to see the potential. A group of architects and city planners in Amsterdam started a project called the “Detroit Unreal Estate Agency” and, with Mitch’s help, found a property around the corner. The director of a Dutch museum, Van Abbemuseum, has called it “a new way of shaping the urban environment.” He’s particularly intrigued by the luxury of artists having little to no housing costs. Like the unemployed Chinese factory workers flowing en masse back to their villages, artists in today’s economy need somewhere to flee.

But the city offers a much greater attraction for artists than $100 houses. Detroit right now is just this vast, enormous canvas where anything imaginable can be accomplished. From Tyree Guyton’s Heidelberg Project (think of a neighborhood covered in shoes and stuffed animals and you’re close) to Matthew Barney’s “Ancient Evenings” project (think Egyptian gods reincarnated as Ford Mustangs and you’re kind of close), local and international artists are already leveraging Detroit’s complex textures and landscapes to their own surreal ends.

In a way, a strange, new American dream can be found here, amid the crumbling, semi-majestic ruins of a half-century’s industrial decline. The good news is that, almost magically, dreamers are already showing up. Mitch and Gina have already been approached by some Germans who want to build a giant two-story-tall beehive. Mitch thinks he knows just the spot for it.

Writer Toby Barlow is the author of “Sharp Teeth.”

Michigan Could Be Home To Maglev Superhighway

http://www.blog.wired.com/

Lawmakers in Michigan are considering plans to build a high-speed, hydrogen-powered maglev rail line that would carry people between Detroit and Lansing using specially built cars, buses, and trucks.

The project would be funded entirely by the private sector, and according to the company that designed it, provide a variety of economic and environmental benefits to the state.

Supports of the program say it's a chance for Michigan to take a leadership role in an emerging industry, while critics argue it is an expensive distraction.

Known as the Interstate Traveler Hydrogen Super Highway, the program is nothing if not ambitious. Stainless steel tracks would run alongside and above the stretch of Interstate 96 that connects Detroit and Lansing, accommodating a wide range of vehicles built by the Big Three and capable of traveling up to 200 mph. Passengers would board and alight from traveler stations built at each freeway interchange, and rail-mounted solar cells would fuel hydrogen batteries that power the system's magnetic field.

Interstate Traveler Company LLC, the company that designed the system, says the Superhighway will not only move people across the state fast, but will spin off enough surplus energy to power municipal sewer and water, communication, and security systems, and its tracks can be used to house conduit clusters of utility lines and fiber optic cables.

Making this system a reality won't come cheap. The company estimates construction costs of $15 million per mile, but says private investors will put up the entire $2 billion required for the Detroit-Lansing line. That seems to have Michigan lawmakers chomping at the bit.

"This innovative rail system has tremendous potential for Michigan residents, and could be a major catalyst to strengthen our economy and create jobs," said Rep. Bill Rogers, who leads the task force studying the project. "Just as Michigan was the birthplace of the world's first mile of concrete roadway, our state could usher in a new era of transportation with just as much impact as the automobile."

Not so fast, say detractors, who question the wisdom of launching an unproven program in the current economic environment. The Conservative Media, a blog that covers Michigan politics, points out that the maglev project is being discussed at the same time other state public transportation projects are being starved of investment, and TreeHugger wonders if Michigan might not be better off with a more cost-effective, easier to deploy high speed iron wheel line.

But Interstate Traveler says that its superhighway, once deployed alongside all 54,000 miles of the Eisenhower Interstate System, will do much more than solve America's transportation problems. Building a national network, the company says, will require something in the neighborhood of 750 million tons of American made steel, singlehandedly saving that industry.

Staffing the network's traveler stations and associated businesses would create 2.1 million "livable wage" jobs, and the whole enterprise would generate a carbon offset value that exceeds $650 million.

Justin Sutton, the head of Interstate Traveler, says work on the Detroit-Lansing line could begin as early as mid-2010. While we like his vision, we're betting it's going to take longer than that.
EXT Life Sciences, Inc., a biotechnology start-up company spun off from Wayne State University that develops proprietary, targeted antioxidant treatments to slow the aging process, announces the development of a cell-penetrating catalase derivative that eliminates the fundamental cause of graying hair.

EXT’s new compound, called CATSKL™, is the only targeted antioxidant of its kind. EXT co-founder Stanley R. Terlecky, Ph.D., a pharmacology professor at the Wayne State University School of Medicine and a leading authority on the enzyme catalase, says EXT’s discovery and extensive research on targeted antioxidants present a platform for anti-aging products of the future, including shampoos to keep hair from turning gray and creams to keep skin smooth, by counteracting the natural oxidant damage that occurs with the aging process.

“The preservation of good health and youthful appearance well into old age is critical to the EXT mission. Given the dramatic growth of an aging global population, our research presents a transformative development for society while also introducing business opportunities for the cosmeceutical and medical fields,” said Dr. Terlecky.

CATSKL™ is a targeted catalase technology that reintroduces the enzyme into peroxisomes of aged cells to reestablish the balance of pro and anti-oxidants and has already earned patent protection in several countries.

Research by Dr. Terlecky and colleagues points directly at the importance of this equilibrium in thwarting the progression of certain aging parameters. This groundbreaking work has clear implications for the cells of aging hair follicles – where the first visible sign of aging deterioration occurs (as gray hair), as well as in cells corrupted by diseases associated with the aging process, including diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, stroke, and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

EXT’s announcement occurs as the scientific community deepens its research into aging issues. In a recently published scientific report, researchers at England’s University of Bradford discovered why hair turns gray as it ages. According to the study, hydrogen peroxide accumulates and "bleaches" hair due to the age-related absence of catalase.

Specifically, amassed and highly destructive reactive oxygen species (ROS), often referred to as “free radicals” or “oxidants”, damage melanocytes, the cells that produce melanin, because the responsible enzyme, tyrosinase, is inactivated by the high levels of hydrogen peroxide.

Dr. Terlecky says EXT’S research takes the Bradford study further.“EXT not only understands the process that turns hair gray but offers a potentially powerful antidote. Through our research, we have shown that CATSKL™ overcomes the catalase deficiency in a variety of human cell types, including those of the skin, scalp, and hair follicles,” affirms Dr. Terlecky. “We are ahead of the game in terms of nearing the point where we can act on our research and take a product to market.”

About EXT Life Sciences, Inc. (EXT)

Founder, Dr. Stanley R. TerleckyStanley R. Terlecky, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Pharmacology at Detroit’s Wayne State University School of Medicine.

His laboratory researches the molecular mechanisms of peroxisome biogenesis in human health, disease and aging. Dr. Terlecky is the author of 39 published articles in various areas of biochemical and cell biological research.

He holds a B.A. from New York University and a Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Physiology from the Sackler School of Tufts University’s School of Medicine. Dr. Terlecky was a National Institutes of Health (NIH) fellow in the Department of Biology at the University of California, San Diego.

He is a recipient of the National Research Service Award from the NIH, the Basil O’Conner Research Scholar Award from the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation, Wayne State University’s Academy of Scholars Junior Lectureship, and Wayne State University School of Medicine’s Research Excellence and College Teaching Awards.

About EXT Life Sciences, Inc.

EXT is a Michigan-based biotechnology company engaged in developing, manufacturing, and selling new classes of proprietary, targeted antioxidant biologicals to prevent, treat and cure diseases associated with aging in the global pharmaceutical and cosmeceutical markets. EXT, founded in 2004, was initially a joint venture with Wayne State University in Detroit and is now privately held, offering investment opportunities to sophisticated technology investors.
PRNewswire

Olga's Kitchen will support the Michigan community by providing a Free Original Olga sandwich on Wednesday, April 8 through Friday April 10, 2009 to anyone presenting a ticket stub from Jay Leno's two tapings at the Palace, Tuesday, April 7 and Wednesday, April 8. The offer will be good at all Olga's Kitchen restaurants.

Matt Carpenter, President & CEO, Olga's Kitchen, said, "As a successful Michigan based company with over 30 years of creating dining experiences for families, Olga's Kitchen wants to make a difference in the lives of local families by continuing the sensitivity, respect, and concern that Jay Leno has extended to our hard working communities. Through the simple act of providing a free Original Olga sandwich, we hope to continue the good work that Jay Leno has started and challenge other Michigan based businesses to do the same."

The offer will be limited to one per person per ticket stub, dine-in only, no substitutions.

Olga Loizon opened her first restaurant in downtown Birmingham, Michigan in 1970. Olga's Kitchen, Inc. was founded in 1976. Serving lunch and dinner in a sophisticated yet comfortable, healthy environment, Olga's Kitchen is committed to providing the best family casual dining experience.

Olga's Kitchen owns and operates 34 restaurants in Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, and Missouri.

Go to http://www.olgas.com/ for more information including details about the full menu, and a list of locations.

Olga's Kitchen, Inc. is headquartered at 1940 Northwood Drive, Troy, Michigan. The phone number is 248-362-0001.
http://www.wwj.com/

Automation Alley, Michigan’s largest technology business association, announced last week that the organization has been awarded more than $2 million in funding from the Omnibus Authorization Bill, which was signed into law by President Obama.

“We’re very pleased to have received funding for these critical projects,” said Ken Rogers, executive director. “Now, more than ever, we need to create high-technology products, services and jobs. These projects will allow us to better assist our members and the business community in Southeast Michigan. We thank Senator Levin, Senator Stabenow and former Congressman Knollenberg for their support in the last session and also Congressman Peters for his support in this session.”

The first project is a feasibility study on a 4,000 square foot expansion of Automation Alley’s Troy headquarters for $285,000. The current building and property will be reviewed to plan the construction of additional meeting rooms and parking, as well as renovating the facility to host international guests.

Since the building opened in 2004, Automation Alley’s membership has doubled from 500 to more than 1,000 members. Parking has become a challenge from this growth. More than 15,000 people have used Automation Alley’s headquarters in the past two years.

“The City of Troy’s partnership with Automation Alley is vital in promoting business attraction and technology company growth,” said Brian Murphy, assistant city manager/economic development services. “This construction grant will provide for renovation to bolster international business attraction to Troy and Southeast Michigan.”

The remaining two projects – the Advanced Manufacturing Training Center and the BUSolutions project – each received additional funding. The AMTC project will receive $428,000 to train displaced and dislocated adult workers in the advanced manufacturing industry.

“The equipment used in the AMTC program is state-of-the-art for the industry,” said Bill Williams, director of the AMTC program and a consultant for Oakland Schools in Career Focused Education.

“We offer software that is widely used for designing cars, trains, ships, aircraft and other manufactured products. In addition, there is also a broad array of training options for "green" technologies.”

An additional $1.6 million has been allocated to the BUSolutions project, which is a collaborative effort between government and industry, intended to demonstrate the feasibility of producing easily maintainable, efficient city transit buses.

In partnership with Altair Engineering, it is expected that the organizations will complete one prototype bus that will be delivered to SMART in 2010.
Model D

The movies are coming and the Detroit Film Office is trying to make sure Detroiters and their businesses are ready to take advantage of the jobs and contracts that come with them. One of the first steps is a free filmmakers round table on Thursday at the Northwest Activities Center.
"It's an educational symposium," says Stephanie Milledge, director of the Detroit Film Office.
"We're targeting citizens and residents of the city of Detroit and the metropolitan area."
The event will feature panels of actors, caterers, casting directors and others who will speak about their experiences working on movie sets, how they got their jobs and what was expected of them.
"They will explain what has worked for them," Milledge says.The event is from 5-8 p.m. March 19 at the Northwest Activities Center, 18100 Meyers.
For information, call (313) 224-3400.Source: Stephanie Milledge, director of the Detroit Film Office

It's Jaaaaaaaaaaay Leno!

Associated Press

Leno to give free show for Michigan's unemployed
Jay Leno will offer a little comic relief with a free show next month at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

The NBC "Tonight Show" host said on Monday's show the April 7 performance will be for "anybody out of work in Detroit."

People only have to say they're unemployed to get tickets.

Refreshments and parking also will be free when "Jay's Comedy Stimulus Plan" comes to the home of the NBA's Detroit Pistons.

Tickets will be available starting Monday at the Palace box office. Only four tickets will be allowed per person.
The Palace of Auburn Hills has released details for how people can obtain free tickets to an April 7 Jay Leno performance:

Participants must bring a valid Michigan I.D. to the Palace box office, 5 Championship Drive, no earlier than 8 a.m. Monday. Tickets, at a four-per-person limit, will be handed out starting at 10 a.m. Automotion, the Detroit Pistons dance team, will hand out slices of Dominos Pizza to those in line.

Jay Leno's "Stimulus Plan for Unemployed Michiganders" show happens at 8 p.m. April 7. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The parking lot opens at 5 p.m. For more information, call the Palace at 248-377-0100 or visit http://www.palacenet.com/.
UPDATE
Due to popular demand, a second show is slated for Tuesday, April 8.
http://www.dia.org/

Celebrate Johann Sebastian Bach’s 324th birthday with the Chamber Ensemble as they perform Brandenburg Concerto #2 in F major, featuring the DSO’s Kevin Good on trumpet.

Featured entrée: Wild mushroom, chicken, and dried cranberry strudelVegetarian option: Wild mushroom and dried cranberry strudel

Performances
Seating begins promptly at 11 a.m. with concerts beginning at 12 p.m. Seat assignments are based on the date tickets were purchased. Tables for two may be requested, but availability is limited. When such tables are not available, small groups will be seated together at large tables. Performances are approximately one hour long.

Brunch & Concert
Ticket Price: $35 (not intended for children under 7 years of age). Concert tickets include a hot entrée, fresh fruit, breakfast breads, coffee, tea and juice. Vegetarian entrees, which are also vegan must be requested when ordering tickets. Museum admission ($8 value) included. Excludes ticketed exhibitions.

Concert-Only SeatingConcert-only seats are $15 each. Tickets may be purchased in advance and, if available, on the day of the performance. Museum admission ($8 value) included. Excludes ticketed exhibitions.

Tickets
Tickets may be purchased online. You may also order by calling the Box Office at 313.833.4005 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday; and between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

Reservations will be held at the door. No tickets will be mailed. Tickets are non-refundable.
Jason Beck

Jim Leyland had plenty to worry about on Saturday, from Jeremy Bonderman's return from a sore shoulder in a morning camp game to Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson making their latest outings in the afternoon.

So given the questions he has to try to answer this Spring Training, he could be excused if he had a smile on his face as he gave up his manager's chair for a couple of minutes.
Ben Meisner studied up for his stint as manager for a day, including what to look for in the camp game, and the Southfield, Mich., native was anxiously anticipating the behind-the-scenes experience of a day at Spring Training. And when someone remarked that Meisner looked comfortable in the chair, Leyland was quick with a reaction.

"Well, there are a lot of guys that want that chair," Leyland said. "He might have it."

At least he seemed to bring some luck to camp with him for the Tigers, whose 10-4 win over the Blue Jays marked just their second win in their past eight games.

The Tigers and Leyland have used the idea of allowing a fan to be a manager for a day as a way to raise money for charity over the last few years. This year's honor was part of a charity auction during the Tigers' winter caravan in January, raising money for the Detroit Tigers Auction.

"This is an actual physical experience," Leyland said. "This is a little different from your normal charity thing. That's why I like it."

Howard Goldman had the winning bid, but when he realized a few weeks ago that he couldn't make it, he gave it as a gift to Meisner, whose father Irving is a lifelong Tigers fan who took Goldman with him to the 1968 World Series. And the younger Meisner returned the favor by taking his father with him on this trip.

Meisner, who lives in Chicago, followed Leyland for much of the day once he arrived in the clubhouse at 8:45 a.m. He took in the camp game with Leyland and Tigers officials and had a chance to observe the evaluation process.

"I've never seen the behind-the-scenes stuff," Meisner said. "To see the intersquad game, I was really excited to see Bonderman pitch and see if Bloom could get out lefties. I read all that stuff, but to actually be able to get a chance to watch Dave Dombrowski and Jim Leyland assess that was amazing."

Later, as the rest of the Tigers took batting practice, Meisner shagged fly balls in the outfield and chatted with Nate Robertson.

Once the game began, Meisner was seated beside Leyland just outside the Tiger dugout, watching the game and listening to Leyland as he explained some of his observations as the game went along.

"The size, speed, talent -- it's amazing," Meisner said. "I've been to 500 baseball games in my life, and to sit next to Jim Leyland and talk about the game (was great). I've watched a lot of baseball, and you think you know a lot about the game until you sit next to someone where that's their job. It was so cool to watch and see how he reacts, watch how he handles people."
The Associated Press
www.fanhouse.com

Detroit Pistons owner Bill Davidson, a noted philanthropist who was inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame last year, has died. He was 86.

The team said in a release early Saturday that Davidson died Friday at his Bloomfield Hills home with family at his side.

"The entire Palace family is mourning the loss of Mr. Davidson," Tom Wilson, president of Palace Sports and Entertainment and the Pistons, said in the release. "He was truly a pioneer in so many ways. His legacy will live forever."

Davidson also owned the WNBA's Detroit Shock and Palace Sports & Entertainment, comprising The Palace of Auburn Hills and DTE Energy Music Theatre.

Davidson's name was rarely in the headlines, but he was one of the most successful and innovative owners in professional sports. Under his ownership, the Pistons won three NBA championships, the Detroit Shock won three WNBA championships and the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup.

He was the first owner in the NBA to provide his team their own private jet, and he was the first to include luxury suites in his privately-funded arena, the Palace of Auburn Hills.

In the years that followed, nearly every team has followed in his footsteps, and even though the Palace is now one of the oldest buildings in the league, it remains one of the league's premier home courts.

Last summer, Davidson was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, not only recognized for his teams' success on the court but also credited for sharing his business acumen to help the league solidify its standing domestically and expanding its marketing reach internationally.

"Over the last 35 years, Bill Davidson's impact on the sports world and the NBA in particular has truly been legendary," David Stern said in a statement released by the NBA.

"From his seven championships in three different leagues during his Hall of Fame career to his incredible business successes to his extraordinary community service, Bill set a standard for ownership in sports that will be difficult for anyone to match. The NBA family has lost an innovative thinker, a visionary businessman and most importantly, a trusted friend. I want to extend our condolences to Karen and the entire Davidson family during this time. Bill's influence on our league will never be forgotten."

As CEO of the privately-held Guardian Industries, Davidson employed over 19,000 people while becoming one of the wealthiest people in country. Although he was most famous as the owner of the Pistons, Davidson was also an extremely generous supporter of the arts and charitable causes, giving over $200 million to various universities, hospitals, orchestras and other organizations over the years.

In addition, Davidson was the founder and the guiding force behind the University of Michigan's The William Davidson Institute, which was created in 1992 to study worldwide market economies.

In a press release, U-M President Mary Sue Coleman said Davison's impact on the college would "last for generations."

"His generosity as an adviser, a business executive and a philanthropist enhanced the teaching and research experience for U-M students and faculty," Coleman said. "He did not hesitate to share his knowledge and expertise and our university is stronger for it."

Davidson donated $5 million for the construction of facilities at the Michigan business school, from which he earned a bachelor's degree in business administration in 1947.

By June 2007, his gifts to the university totaled $59.8 million.

Forbes magazine ranked the Bloomfield Hills billionaire as one of the richest people in Michigan, tied for 68th in the country.

But Davison shied away from the limelight. He granted only a handful of interviews and turned down requests for dozens more.

"I just don't want to be a public figure," he told The Associated Press in 2004. "I don't see any point in it."

Services are scheduled for Tuesday at Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Southfield, according to the Ira Kaufman Chapel Funeral Home. A cause of death was not immediately known.
The Detroit News

There are "two great days in Detroit" for Ryan O'Halloran -- "Opening Day and the St. Patrick's Day parade."

"That's when everyone from all over comes out and has a good time," the 28-year-old Royal Oak resident said as friend Koebe Mosher nodded in agreement.

The two were among hundreds who gathered in the sunshine along Michigan Avenue on Sunday afternoon for the 51st annual St.
Patrick's Day parade in Corktown.
Highlighting the parade theme "The Irish were Green before it was cool," many were decked out in their best green attire waving Irish flags while taking part in numerous tailgates in parking lots such as Maxies Deli across from the old Tiger stadium.

Vendors selling St. Paddy's hats, necklaces, bags, shamrock sunglasses and more were also out in full force.

The two-hour festivities kicked off at Sixth Street and moved west toward 14th Street with horse-drawn carriages, clowns zipping by on miniature motorcycles and parade participants throwing beads and candy to spectators. Some onlookers wearing green wigs watched the parade from roof tops and cheered as five DeLorean sports cars manufactured in Northern Ireland cruised by with the doors raised open.

Various bands including the Wyandotte Marching Chiefs marching band also got people off the curbs and out of their lawn chairs dancing. But the best part for Jim Doyle of St. Clair was listening to the bagpipers and drummers clad in kilts, he said.

"I love listening to them because it's all about ... the history. It doesn't get any better than that," Doyle said. "This entire event gives people a sense of community."

Kathi Kelly agrees. She drove down from Gaylord to share her family's Irish roots with her two grandchildren attending their first St. Patrick's Day parade in Detroit.

"I grew up in the Metro area and have attended many of these parades. I love the camaraderie and it's such a happy time. If you look around everyone is smiling," Kelly said. "So I couldn't miss out on sharing this experience with granddaughter and grandson. It's very exciting seeing their responses to everything."

Kelly's five-year-old grandson Andrew Whitman of Brownstown watched with glee as a dog dressed in a green hat and beads zipped by in a remote controlled car.

"Wow!" he shouted pointing at the car. "This is really fun."
http://www.hometownlife.com/

Ferndale released a ray of light recently in announcing its better-than-expected growth rate.

Last year, 26 businesses opened their doors which is a net gain of 233 percent according to the Ferndale Downtown District Authority.

290 jobs were created.

“These jobs are opportunities for our residents to round out the local economy and support it by shopping and dining here. Jobs generate jobs, the formula works and Downtown Ferndale is the proof,” said Cristina Sheppard-Decius, executive director of the DDA.

The investments were large.

Leading the charts is the private/public investment figure of $20.1 million, a 299 percent increase from 2007. Significant contributors are the $9 million generated by the Lofts on 9 condominium project and $5 million from the Foley Mansfield Law firm rehabilitation of the historical library.

“The Lofts on 9 and the Foley Mansfield projects were certainly major, but it is even more important that our totals are based on decisions made by many different investors,” Sheppard-Decius said. “We were not reliant on, nor are we depending on, one single project or one single investor, and that is true for the year ahead. We already have projects in the pipeline or ongoing for 2009.”

What's the secret to Ferndale's success?

“I am asked that question all the time,” City Manager Bob Bruner said. “If I had the exact formula I could write a book. But, a key factor is that this a very open-minded community. It's inclusive. People here are very active, they don't just move here and sit back and do nothing.”

Bruner said there is high energy and participation from the residents who organize community events, work to make sure the city is diverse and accepting to all people, and strongly support their local businesses.

Businesses want to be part of the city.

Valerie Traylor, who owns Thicke Madam Boutique on Nine Mile Road, agreed. Thicke Madam was located in Oak Park for nearly two years, but Traylor and her business partner/daughter Shannon Eaddy decided that Ferndale's walking community would be a strong asset for the store.
“We have more visibility.”

Thicke Madam is a clothing boutique with clothes that are “jazzy and classy for plus sizes,” Traylor said.

Beverly Banton, owner of Unique Expressions on Woodward, said she decided to relocate her successful Southfield business to Ferndale because of the vibe that residents and the city have created. Unique Expressions carries branded merchandise for businesses.

“I needed a bigger building for my business and this one is beautiful,” Banton said. “Ferndale has blossomed in the past two years and the city itself has created an atmosphere that makes you want to be a part of it.”

Ferndale residents invest in their city. In the 90s they approved $60 million for infrastructure improvements, Bruner said. Nearly every street in the city has been resurfaced or rebuilt within the past 10 years.

“I tell other cities ... if you can figure out a way to attract people with that energy and openness — and a willingness to invest in their community — it's the secret sauce.”
Good bones help too.

In 1927 (when Ferndale began), it was created as a compact walking city with a traditional downtown and tree-lined streets.

“I think that compact community is back in style. So we began with strong bones,” Bruner said.
Sheppard-Decuius said the city has many reasons to be proud.

“We have exceeded expectations at every indicator,” she said.

The 2008 statistics indicate phenomenal growth and reinvestment in all segments of the market, from housing to retail to restaurant to business.

“Our programs are working, our downtown is thriving, we remain strong .”

Other new investments include 28 building rehabilitations such as the new billiard hall The Loving Touch and flower shop Blumz by JR Designs. Go Comedy! opened last year too, adding yet another entertainment destination to the city.
PRNewswire

Greektown Casino-Hotel officials announced today that market share increased from January 2009 to February 2009 by nearly one percent and represents the first market share increase for the property since September 2008.

Greektown Casino also showed positive year-over-year February revenue numbers, with an increase of 1.89 percent, in relation to February 2008.

February 2009 revenue is the highest for the company since it filed for Bankruptcy in May 2008. In addition, the company is also exceeding internal financial projections and expected hotel occupancy rates.

"Our numbers are positive compared to last year and that represents a great new beginning for Greektown. The market share increase from last month to this month indicates signs of a positive trend. The Fine Point Group was selected to turn this property around, and while we are a long way from being out of the woods, we are excited about the new momentum and are looking forward to continued progress," said Randall A. Fine, Managing Director of The Fine Point Group and soon to be Chief Executive Officer of Greektown Casino-Hotel pending regulatory approvals.

In recent weeks, Greektown Casino-Hotel embarked on a new marketing program including hotel incentives for players, a starting room rate of just $99, several casino promotions with chances to win a "life changing" amount of money such as "Spin to Win $1 Million" and "Sure Win Hot Seat."

"While the revenue numbers look great, anyone can grow the topline if they lose focus on profitability. At Greektown, we are also exceeding all of our internal profitability projections and goals - by 30 percent in January and 80 percent in February. The new hotel tower is doing great as well, with 60 percent weekday and 80 to 100 percent occupancy on weekends. We're pushing an aggressive marketing campaign and we've begun to see positive numbers as a result. We are going to show the people of Detroit that no one will work harder for their business," said Fine.

Located at 555 E. Lafayette Avenue in Detroit's Greektown Entertainment District, Greektown Casino-Hotel opened on Nov. 10, 2000.

Greektown Casino-Hotel offers such amenities as their all-new International Buffet, the Eclipz Lounge and a VIP lounge for players.

Greektown Casino-Hotel opened its new 400-room hotel tower February 2009.

For reservations and group events, call 877-GCH-5554 or visit http://www.greektowncasino.com/.

A NON-MOTORIZED PLAN FOR THE MOTOR CITY

Dorian Moore
In a previous post I talked about the need for cities to look at their situations as-is.

This leads to uncovering opportunities that exploit a city’s “uniqueness."

The City of the Past thrived on communal interaction out of necessity.

The City of the Present has an emphasis on private space aided and abetted by personal electronics.

The City of the Opportunity embraces adaptive reuse of place and space as a primary “organizing” theme.

Urban areas are uniquely equipped to provide this type of experience because of the concentration of the built “infrastructure” of buildings, open space, and landmarks, which create an environment of intense energy.

Understanding the roles that all three of the above elements play will be important in dealing with nature as a desirable amenity within the city will be paramount to counteract the rapid suburbanization of our country in the latter half of the 20th century. To ease the now inbred misunderstanding of the virtue of density among American citizens, natural elements must coexist with, but not dominate, the urban realm.

The Non-Motorized Urban Transportation Masterplan for Detroit is an example of opportunistic thinking in action. When you think of it what better place for this than the city that is known for the auto and yet 30% of its populace doesn’t own one?

I. DETROIT: THE URBAN CONDITION

The trials and tribulations of Detroit have been well documented:

-population loss to below 1 million after peaking at 2 million in the 1950s
-racial polarization
-economic disinvestment leading to physical devastation

The intrigue of Detroit stems from the fact that it is “shrinking” yet this shrinking is just the thing that is providing it with unparalleled opportunities for [re]development. The urban condition has become much more than the “hole in the donut”. It is a tattered tapestry. Thing that makes any tapestry, though, is the quality of the connections.

Detroit has (de)veloped into a series of destinations that are disconnected. Currently, “The City” (i.e.,government) and designers are searching for ways to link these pieces utilizing unique functions. We can understand how this situation is being reversed by looking at the city in relation to how it is [re]forming itself.

The following three areas, if successfully handled, could hold the answer for the rebirth of the city:

“Creative Economies”
Green development principles provide opportunities to rethink the way urban space works as well as how the urban economy flows.

“Opportunity-based Redevelopment”
Adaptive reuse of buildings and sites becomes a change agent by providing the opportunity to inject new functions into existing areas, creating catalysts for change.

“Transitions of Activity”
These areas are of primary concern. They hold the key to urban restructuring in many post-industrial cities. Detroit is specifically rethinking its core with “gaming” facilities as well as grass roots appropriation of public space. This approach fills needs on both ends of the socio-economic spectrum, but it does not help to “heal” the city overall. It represents both hope and despair.
II. TAKING ADVANTAGE OF UNDERUTIZED ROADS AND PARK SYSTEMS

Interestingly, though, Detroit has embarked on an endeavor that can fulfill this goal: a master plan for a Non-Motorized Path System for the entire city. 139 square miles of walking trails, greenways, and bicycle paths that will be used to provide connectivity between the numerous disparate nodes within the city. This plan, once implemented will provide non-car dependant mobility options for citizens of the “Motor City."

This is crucial in a city where more than half the population depends on public transportation that consists only of buses. I have been fortunate to be one the urban design consultants on this unique initiative5. This initiative takes advantage of the “opportunity” that underutilized streets, parks, districts, and rights-of-way provide. It attempts to stitch together the tattered tapestry.

III. THE PROCESS FOR THE NON-MOTORIZED PLAN

A. Design Team planning process

a. Destination Analysis
b. Route Analysis
c. Infrastructure Inventory
d. Intra-city connectivity

B. Public Involvement process

The process of realizing the Non-Motorized Path system involved community input at multiple levels. The design team conducted workshops in communities on all sides of the city. The team also worked closely with the Parks and Recreation department and the Department of Streets and Roads. The overwhelming vacancy in the city became a positive for realizing the project. The openness fostered creativity in planning as well as responding to residents needs.

C. Guidelines

a. Bike Lanes
b. Trailways
c. Greenways

IV. IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PLAN

A. Recommendations
B. Educating the Public
C. Encouraging usage
D. Enforcing rules of engagement

V. CONCLUSION

Towards a Better Community
A new urban environment is created by combining the traditional planning of urban areas with new technologies and aesthetics. The buildings respect the scale of the pedestrian and also provide interesting and engaging storefronts to make for a pleasurable experience. The area contains a healthy mix of housing, shopping, entertainment, and office functions. Again, this a traditional model for healthy urban development realized in a decidedly contemporary aesthetic. True urban space is created. Older, primarily industrial, American cities which typically have large areas of urban blight must embrace this concept of creating healing environments from the decay. Creating multi-functioning environments within the gaping holes in the existing fabric is an area where the city of the future can make the largest stride towards completely recapturing the spirit of community. A key element in doing this will be a connecting system that embraces, rather than fights, the existing paradigm.
http://nicolena10.blogspot.com/

It's such a breath of fresh air to read an article that sheds some positive light on Detroit. Every time I do, I make sure to share it with as many people as possible because we're all drowning in a sea of negativity on a daily basis.

Jeff Barr from the Kalamazoo Gazette shows some love for Detroit in his recent article about a Motown weekend getaway. In one article, Jeff sums up the message various organizations in southeast Michigan are trying to get across to the rest of the world, and sadly the majority of Michigan: Detroit truly has a lot to offer.

Jeff and his wife drove the two hours east from the K-zoo to Detroit - the "big-time city that often gets a big-time bad rap." The couple discovered just how fun and exciting Detroit can be, and I thank Jeff for putting his weekend into words to share this experience with the many skeptics.

Jeff highlights a variety of Detroit locations, including the Ren Cen Marriott, 42 Degrees North and Volt in the Ren Cen, the Fox Theater and of course, American Coney Island.

The entire weekend Jeff and his wife were in Detroit, they encountered not one of Detroit's typical stereotypes (you know, drug deals on every street corner and the constant ear-splitting sound of gun shots). They simply had a great vacation that didn't require the typical expenditures or travel hassle that accompanies many trips.

Take a few minutes to read the entire article. We all need a reminder that there are many reasons why we choose to live, work and play in Detroit.

Biggby Coffee Rules Social Media

http://www.yaffetidbitsblog.com/

You don't have to be a big company to be big in social media. Sure, large companies like Ford and GM have directors of social media on staff, but smaller companies who commit to it can make a big impact, too.

In fact, they just may be able to do it better. Such is the case with Biggby Coffee, a coffee chain of around 150 shops based out of East Lansing, Michigan.

Their whole vibe is an anti-Starbucks, fun and friendly vibe. And they're big into creating engagement with both their customers and their employees.

I'd seen Biggby Coffee shops going up around town here and decided to check them out online. Right away, they engage you when you land on the homepage. You can customize it with your own name and your choice of 5 backgrounds. There's also a trivia game you can play. But, the real engagement occurs when you enter the B Happy Lounge.

Near the top of the page, their logo keeps opening and shutting with CEO Biggby Bob popping his head out and inviting you into the lounge. Once there, you have a number of things to do and links to all their social networks: Facebook, Twitter, Biggby Bob's Blog, a YouTube channel, Flickr and LinkedIn.

The first place I went was an area in the lounge that invites customers to upload a picture to enter into Biggby's "Let's Travel The World Together" photo contest. All you have to do is take a picture of anything anywhere as long as it has a Biggby cup in the shot.

There are monthly and yearly winners, It's perfect to engage the rabid fan who's going to enter, but also to engage the casual fan who just enjoys viewing the photos - each a consumer generated subtle ad for Biggby.

The CEO, Biggby Bob writes the ongoing commentary for the Twitter account and uses it very effectively. It's the right mix of personal, business and fun tweets. He keeps up a pretty steady stream and was pretty quick to reply when I sent him a tweet - something you'd never get from a big company CEO. Plus, they do a good job of combining customer engagement with promotion.
On different days, they do a Spot Bob promotion, where Biggby Bob sends out tweets that he will be at a certain store during a set time frame. If you spot him and come up and talk to him, he'll buy your drink. I think that's a brilliant use of social media. It drives customers to your store for a free trial and a chance to chat with a CEO. But it's done in a non-selling way, one that is acceptable in a social media setting. Plus, the company gets ongoing, instant feedback from its customers during these chats.

Their YouTube channel is a way to connect with both the customer base and the employees. Much of the videos there are interviews Biggby Bob did with his hand held camera in different stores with the winners of their barista competition.

Fans can nominate their favorite barista for the honor on Biggby's Facebook fan pageand see their winning barista talk on the YouTube channel. And when you become a fan on Facebook, a day or so later you get a friend invitation from Biggby Bob, generating yet another connection to me, the customer. Bob often records random videos of stuff on his travels from store to store and posts them on the Facebook sites.

With all this and many other things they're doing, Biggby shows that by being committed to it, you can create a strong, multi-channel social media campaign that connects and engages your fans in so many ways, no matter what your size. And they carry that vibe into the store experience, too. My visits so far have found the same commitment to engaging their customers on the employee level, in person, as they do on a corporate level online. They brew a pretty darn good cup of coffee, too.


To find the Biggby in your backyard, click here.
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