The old Argonaut Building has a big place in Detroit’s history. From 1936 to 1956, it was the home of the General Motors Research Laboratory, the first in-house research & design studio in the automotive industry. The mass-produced automatic transmission was developed there, and over three decades every GM car was designed and styled in the Argonaut building. From 1956 to 1999, the building housed Argonaut Realty, GM’s real estate arm. But for the next decade, the somber 11-story structure, designed by famed architect Albert Kahn and built to support the weight of new cars on upper floors, was empty. So were many of the other buildings where people made, designed, or sold cars, or prepared legal documents, or saw patients, or did much of the everyday work of Detroit.

For most observers of the city, where an emergency financial manager, Kevyn Orr, filed for bankruptcy on July 18, that’s where the story ends—empty buildings, lost jobs, and a pervasive sense of decay and defeat.

But in reality, the Argonaut building has come back to life, re-imagined and re-named the Taubman Center for Design Education. Today, a small company called Shinola produces watches and bicycles, curiously old-fashioned yet hipster-ready objects, in a 30,000 square foot watch factory and smaller custom bike workshop. The highly regarded College for Creative Studies also uses the building for its graduate and undergraduate programs in advertising and various aspects of design. There is also a charter school on site, promoting arts and design education for 6th through 12th graders.

Like the Argonaut, the core of Detroit, encompassing the Midtown and Downtown neighborhoods are also undergoing a revival. Thirty-seven percent of the jobs (about 120,000) in the city of Detroit are in these neighborhoods, which take up only three percent of the city’s land. Dan Gilbert, the founder of Quicken Loans and various other businesses, has invested $1 billion in downtown office buildings. Approximately 10,000 new jobs have come to downtown in the last two years. While it doesn’t show up in official data, people on the ground suggest that the biggest surge in jobs has been in the last year or so, indicating that the area is only gaining momentum. From 2009 to 2011, the city as a whole lost jobs, but Midtown and Downtown saw a 5 percent jump. Thousands of new workers are now downtown, including companies like Blue Cross and Compuware that relocated from the suburbs.

People also want to live in midtown and downtown: Rental occupancy rates are higher than 90 percent in both neighborhoods and home sale prices are much higher than the rest of the city. Finally, there is new investment from private companies, including Whole Foods, which opened a midtown location in June 2013.

This investment and activity has benefits for Detroit as a whole, by creating jobs, drawing in residents, and generating tax revenue for a city that is greatly in need of all three. For example, almost three-quarters of Whole Foods employees are Detroit residents. And Midtown and Downtown have the potential to do even more for the city, and the wider Detroit region. The metropolitan economy needs to generate new ideas, products, and services that the rest of the country and the rest of the world wants to buy. Midtown and downtown could become the country’s next innovation district, where the density of innovative institutions and companies—hospitals, universities, research centers, clusters of tech and creative firms, plus resources for entrepreneurs and new businesses—begets still more new businesses, new products, new export opportunities, and new jobs.

Over time, this economic activity, and the new apartment buildings and retail strips that it draws, spread into surrounding neighborhoods. This is how the Detroit economy could, slowly but surely, regain traction. Getting the city’s fiscal house in order is only part of the story.

Click HERE for the full article!
Corktown - Detroit
Photo via


Sewing the Seeds of Resurgence: Cooley's Catalyze Corktown

The Center for Priority Based Budgeting, (a mission focused organization that provides technical advisory services to local governments, schoold districts, special districts and other non-profit agencies to enable communities to reassess their priorities in order to make sound, long-term funding decisions) recently sat down with Ryan Cooley, owner of O'Connor Realty, to discuss how the Corktown neighborhood is attempting to bring development outside the downtown core and into downtown's neighboring communities.

When you think of areas in Detroit, the two that automatically come to mind are Downtown and Midtown. Corktown is one that is brought up as the City focuses on addressing the needs of its close-in neighborhoods and communities. It is on the edge of Downtown and Mexican town. Its borders are: Interstate 75 to the north, the Lodge freeway to the east (M-10), Bagley and Porter Streets to the south and Rosa Parks Boulevard (12th Street) to the west. Although Rosa Parks Blvd. may have the western border, some still include the Michigan Central Station and other sections still a part of Corktown.

Corktown was first settled in the mid 1800s by Irish farmers who were at the time going through the Potato famine. They moved here and most were from the County Cork, hence the name, “Corktown.” Over half of the residents by 1850 were of Irish descent. Many would serve in the Civil War and as the 20th Century approached, Germans began to move into the area. The district used to be larger, but with the completion of the Lodge freeway and I-75, the district became smaller. Most of Corktown is residential, but the area along Michigan Avenue is mostly commercial.

After finishing high school in Marysville, Michigan, Ryan Cooley, headed to Chicago to attend college. Eight years ago, when most people were moving in the opposite direction, Ryan went against the trend and brought the third generation off-shoot of O’Connor Real Estate to Detroit. Ryan and his wife moved back to Detroit to join his brother Phillip, and other developers, in turning around Detroit’s neighborhoods.

In 1994, when Ryan moved to Chicago to attend DePaul Business School, Chicago’s State Street, resembled Woodward Avenue as it is today. There were predominantly vacant lots and storefronts. However, where it was once only fifty percent occupied, today there are no vacancies. In 2001, when Ryan moved to Wicker Park, a Chicago neighborhood northwest of the Loop, he couldn’t get a cab to take him there, even though condos were selling for $350,000. As young people moved into the neighborhood, and the handful of bars and restaurants grew to more than ten restaurants and twenty bars, the vacant land disappeared. Ryan is striving to accomplish the same transformation for Detroit.

He stated that the opportunities and low cost of entry that exist in Detroit could never have occurred in Chicago. Ryan and his brother Phil briefly considered opening a restaurant in Chicago, but it was too cost prohibitive. While Phil returned to Detroit, he realized the opportunities that existed in Detroit and met partners that would eventually become the Slow's ownership group. This, along with Ryan's desire for a more community focused lifestyle, brought Ryan and his family to Detroit.

The area that is on the rise is the commercial area along Michigan Avenue from roughly 6th to 14th Street. There are already many businesses along the strip that have been there for awhile and are thriving such as: PJ’s Lager House, Nemo’s Bar, the Corktown Tavern, and the Detroit Athletic Company.

There are buildings in Corktown that have been sitting vacant for a long time, but now are finding new life. Slows BBQ, opened in 2005 and co-owned by Ryan Cooley, has since won many awards, ranking as one of the top BBQ joints in Michigan. It sits right across the street from the Abandoned Michigan Central Station (MCS) and the block that it sits on has helped the buildings take new life.

Ryan credited the City's efficient permitting process as Slow's was being developed. The permitting process took only two months and allowed for an expedited construction schedule. However, Cooley also identified the zoning process as a significant hindrance to this and other developments. Cooley states, "The permitting process isn't really the issue, but the zoning is a bit of a mess." And he continues to struggle with zoning in an effort to expand parking at the ever-popular Slow's restaurant and block.

The building that currently houses Slows BBQ was too small as so much business was coming through, that it moved next door, taking over a former Real Estate Agency Building. O’Conner Real Estate moved two doors down next to Astro Coffee and LJ’s Lounge.

One building on the same block is a former Pawn Shop, next to The Sugar House, that has been empty awhile, but is looking at redevelopment and a new use. The former pawn shop was purchased by several partners, including Ryan Cooley.

The current pawn shop, soon to be Gold Cash Gold was purchased on a land contract and thus has had time for construction to get organized. Ryan adds, "The permitting process is complete, but financing has been tricky. Here things don't appraise very well, and market appraisals kill a lot of deals." Assuming the appraisal comes in as necessary, the financing will be complete and Corktown could have a new restaurant open by the summer of 2014.

The plan is to turn the former pawn shop into a restaurant with rental units located above. It has not been said yet what type of restaurant it will be. In the meanwhile, above the addition to Slows BBQ, Megan McEwen, Ryan's wife, has launched a new Bed and Breakfast called Honor + Folly. The ongoing development of the "Slows block" continues.

These are just a few of the renovations currently going on in the Corktown area. And while new businesses sprouting up along this strip of Michigan Avenue is impressive, the neighborhood still has a glut of abandoned homes, crumbling commercial buildings, spotty city services and challenges with community safety.

To address these issues, Cooley at one time sat on the board of the Greater Corktown Development Corporation, a 501(c)(3) with a mission to inspire development in the greater Corktown area, but due to a shortage of funds the community organization ceased operations in 2010. Cooley, undeterred, added that "Corktown has been and is about entrepreneurship."

There is more demand for multi-family and commercial space than availability. Both commercial and rental vacancy rates are nearly at 0%. Cooley states, "The disconnect is that property appraisals are just coming back. Until we get to prices of about $125 sq ft, there is no incentive for new housing construction and with appraisals consistently coming in below the asking price houses for the most part must be purchased with cash."

Click HERE for the full article! 

The Michigan Film Office announced today that the next DC Entertainment Super Hero movie from Warner Bros. Pictures has been approved for a film incentive from the state.

The film, from director Zack Snyder, brings together the two greatest Super Heroes of all time—Superman and Batman—for the first time on the big screen. Production on the new film is expected to begin in metro Detroit and throughout Michigan sometime in the first quarter of 2014. Snyder is co-writing the story with David S. Goyer, who is writing the screenplay. Charles Roven and Deborah Snyder are producing the film, which will star Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne and Diane Lane.

“This project will further strengthen the reputation of Michigan and metro Detroit as a premier film destination,” said Margaret O’Riley, director of the Michigan Film Office. “We look forward to the spotlight shining on our incredibly talented workforce and the businesses that support our film industry here in Michigan.”

“Detroit is a great example of a quintessential American city, and I know it will make the perfect backdrop for our movie,” stated filmmaker Zack Snyder. “Detroit and the entire state of Michigan have been fantastic collaborators, and we are looking forward to working together on this film.”

The as-yet-untitled feature film was awarded an incentive of $35 million on $131 million of projected in-state expenditures. The production is expected to hire 406 Michigan workers, with a full time equivalent of 426 jobs, plus an additional 6,000 man/days of extra work. The production anticipates using approximately 500 local Michigan vendors during the course of production and spending $5.1 million on local hotels, as well as an additional $3.5 million in out-of-town cast and crew per diem payments that will be spent in the local economy but which fall outside of the incentive program.

The incentive funding for the project will be allocated out of the Fiscal Year 2014 budget. However, any funding remaining from the budget at the end of the current fiscal year will be directed to offset the full incentive amount for this project.

The Michigan Film Office was created in 1979 to assist and attract incoming production companies and promote the growth of Michigan’s own film industry. The Film Office also administers the incentive program for film, television and other digital media production in Michigan. For more on the Michigan Film Office, visit:

Pure Michigan is a brand on the rise, representing business, talent and tourism initiatives across Michigan. These efforts are driven by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which serves as the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business growth, jobs and opportunity with a focus on helping grow Michigan’s economy.

 For more on the MEDC and its initiatives, visit: For Michigan travel news, updates and information, visit

The Chrysler brand is back for the Detroit Jazz Festival this Labor Day weekend! Visit the Chrysler brand experience in Hart Plaza from 12 to 8pm on 8/31 until 9/2, to interact with special edition Chrysler brand vehicles including the 2013 Motown and Varvatos Limited, the 2013 Chrysler 200 Special Edition as well as the Chrysler Town & Country S, speak with product specialists, and play games to win fun prizes including “Imported from Detroit” themed beverage containers.

Register at the Chrysler brand space to race the clock while packing a Chrysler Town & Country in the “Cargo Challenge” and sing along to tunes through the UConnect system in the Chrysler 200 “Car-eoke Challenge” while the performance is recorded and displayed live on screen for Jazz Fest goers to see. Winning contestants will complete for a chance to win a $150 gift card!

All visitors are automatically entered into the National Giveaway for a chance to win $45,000 towards any eligible Chrysler Group vehicle.

Visit for product info.


1 Hart Plaza in Downtown Detroit


Saturday, 8/31 from noon until 8pm
Sunday, 9/1 from noon until 8pm
Monday, 9/2 from noon until 8pm

5 Reasons You Should Visit Detroit Right Now

Detroit Content

Amanda Williams wrote a great article here on the RoamRight blog last month about three places all travelers should visit in Middle America. Her choices of Chicago, St. Louis and Pittsburgh were good. I have been to all three and each have wonderful things to offer visitors. However, her article got me thinking about other places in the Midwest that are often underrated or undervalued as tourist destinations and as soon as I did I realized Detroit is the number one place I would recommend. It has been the recipient of a lot of bad press lately and it doesn't have the best reputation but a recent visit to the city showed me there is a lot more going on in Metro Detroit, meaning Detroit and the suburbs that surround it, than anyone is giving it credit for. So, here are five reasons that I believe you should visit Detroit, right now.

1. Craft Beer 

Breweries abound within the city of Detroit and in the suburbs surrounding it. Some have been around for a long time but others are new. Traffic Jam & Snug in Midtown Detroit grows their own hops on the side of the building and has been happily serving patrons since 1965. Their Mitt Wit is a terrific Belgian Style Wheat Ale and I highly recommend it. Just across the street, Motor City Brewing is just one of the other breweries you'll visit if you book with Steve of Motor City Brew Tours; whether you choose to walk, bike or take the bus, he'll give you the best insight into Michigan's craft brew culture. For a little something different, visit Ferndale's B. Nektar Meadery to learn about honey wine. Craft spirits also are gaining in importance and bars like Sugar House, in Detroit's Corktown neighborhood, are helping to lead the movement.

2. Urban Farming 

One thing that is accurate in the recent reports about Detroit is that the city has a lot of empty lots and unused land after years of damaging house fires and unabated decay. What's left out of such stories is that all over the city those same vacant lots are now being turned into urban farms so that local residents, restaurants and chefs have easy access to fresh produce grown sometimes steps from their front doors. Some even have gardens on top of their buildings or homes in a 21st version of the Liberty Garden. This movement is helped by the group who manages Eastern Market (the oldest farmer's market in the United States) as well as several other organizations, and it has begun to revolutionize the restaurant culture within the city inspiring a whole new farm-to-table movement that has even prompted some chefs to migrate to the city from places like New York.

Click HERE for the full article!
So this guy came to Detroit...

And donated $30,000 to this park (Ride It Sculpture Park)...

Photo via MLive

Without any major media frenzy or brewhaha.  

Big Thanks to Tony Hawk.  You are a class act. 
Many of the products at Shinola, which has a new flagship store in TriBeCa, are made or assembled in Detroit.

You begin to shop at Shinola not at its new TriBeCa flagship, but somewhere back in your teenage years, when social causes were first stamped into your consciousness, when you were first taught that your dollar has not just purchasing power, but also ideological power.

Shinola, which takes its name from the resurrected shoe polish brand, is a relatively young company that specializes in bicycles, watches and leather goods, many of which are made in Detroit, or at least assembled in Detroit. If you want to know just how Detroit Shinola is, turn to its Web site, with its loving portraits of workers in its new factory, and its flowery odes to local artisanship.

Buying something made in Detroit, in this calculus, is not much different than buying a fair trade Andean sweater. You’re buying a small piece of the revival of a great American manufacturing city gone to seed. Or at least, you’re buying into the liberal idea of what supporting a distressed economy means.

Shinola’s New York store opened just a few days after Detroit filed for bankruptcy, and a couple of days before the company declared, on its Twitter feed: “Bankruptcy, shmankruptcy. We have a lot of job openings here in #Detroit. Come join our team!”

Shmankruptcy, indeed. Would it cramp your ideals to know that the company behind Shinola, Bedrock Brands, was started by a founder of the Fossil brand of watches, Tom Kartsotis, and also invests in Steven Alan, among other retail brands? In essence, that makes Mr. Kartsotis a midprice watch mogul looking to go luxury under the cover of charitable business practices.

Last year, Crain’s Detroit Business reported that Mr. Kartsotis commissioned a study in which people were asked if they preferred pens made in China that cost $5, the United States at $10 or Detroit at $15, and when offered the Detroit option, they chose it regardless of the higher price. And so a luxury brand was born.

Click HERE for the full article! 

Click HERE for full details!!!!

The United States boasts beautiful scenery from Coast to Coast. Fortunately for you, OpenTable restaurants are located at some of our country’s most breathtaking spots. To help sort through all the amazing choices, we asked our diners to pick their best spots for feasting their eyes while feeding their stomachs.

The list of winners is based on more than 5 million restaurant reviews submitted by OpenTable diners for more than 15,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Click HERE for the full list!

Eastern Market Panzanella | Detroit Lives from Club Narwhal on Vimeo.

Join Club Narwhal and Visit Detroit as we explore Detroit's Eastern Market and Devrie's general store in search of the finest produce, bread, and cheese to make panzanella. This Italian bread salad makes a simple and elegant summer meal, perfect for back porch dinners or lazy picnics.

View the recipe and more Detroit adventures at

Featuring "Shake It Baby" by Detroit blues legend, John Lee Hooker (

Cultural Weekly reached out to numerous leaders within Detroit’s creative community and gave them the opportunity to tell the world one simple thing: Why this city matters. We were happily overwhelmed with responses and are delighted to share the feedback that came in.

“Because life in Detroit is so hard…the art that comes out of it has to be great.” 
Ismael Ahmed, Co-Founder and Director, Concert of Colors, Co-Founder, Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS)

“One day Detroit will come back and it’ll be as generic, commercialized and boring as every other place. Until then, everyone should come experience all the inspiration to be found here.” 
Toby Barlow, Award-Winning novelist, screenwriter, Chief Creative Officer at Team Detroit

“Detroit matters because, whatever the circumstances, its creativity never ceases.”
Graham W.J. Beal Director, President and CEO, Detroit Institute of Arts

“Detroit matters because it is the heart & soul of the working people of America, and every genre of music from gospel to jazz pop & rock to hip hop flourishes and is nurtured here.” 
Joan Belgrave, Singer, songwriter, producer

“Detroit sits at the base of one of the greatest waterways of the world and it’s also the Mecca of the music world.” 
Marcus Belgrave, Legendary Jazz Trumpeter and Educator

“It is not the bounty of life that is interesting, it is the struggle to get to that bounty. Detroit struggles. In the good and bad times Detroit’s greatest product is hope.” 
Tom Carleton, Partner and Director, Mindfield (creative agency)

“Detroit matters because its where I’m from and even in the wake of the ”Bankruptcy” it stands as a cultural beacon and will NEVER be bankrupt of culture, soul and spirit!! To do this would be going against God’s plan for my hometown and we sure don’t want to do that!! Right?” 
James Carter, World-renowned Jazz saxophone player

Click HERE for the full article! 


The Detroit Historical Society needs YOUR help to create our next exhibition:
Detroit Decides: Our Most Celebrated Buildings
Our curators want to know your thoughts on which Detroit buildings have contributed the most to our city’s heritage and culture. Is it the Guardian Building for its unique architecture? Or Hudson’s for the generations of family shopping trips and memories? Perhaps it is a building no longer around, like Tiger Stadium or Ford Auditorium?

Detroit skyline, c. 1935
Detroit skyline, c. 1935

We need your help to answer this question: 

What Detroit building – past or present – best embodies the spirit of Detroit, and why?
Nominate your favorite building between now and August 30, 2013 and let us know why it should top our list. Our curators will choose three buildings based on the compelling cases made in the nominations.  In other words, let us know WHY your building of choice is important, and your words may be included in the exhibition.

Detroit Decides: Our Most Celebrated Buildings exhibition will open at the Detroit Historical Museum in January 2014.

Click HERE to cast your vote! 

Click HERE for the full article on
Click HERE for more comeback stories! 

Activity Details:

Activity: Arts & Scraps
Location: Playscape

Activity: Bike Rental
Location: Belle Isle Aquarium
$15 for 2 hours 

Activity: DIA Inside|Out
Location: Throughout the Island
Additional Information: Download map of artwork locations.

Activity: Food Trucks
Location: Fleming's Way (in front of Conservatory)
Based on menu 

Activity: Football 101 Training
Location: Athletic Fields
Additional Information: AUGUST 17 ONLY

Activity: Game Rentals
Location: Sunset Park

Activity: Giant Slide
Location: Playscape
$1 per ride or $5 for 6 rides

Activity: Guided Tours
Location: Starts at the information booth in front of the Belle Isle Aquarium

Activity: Kayak Rentals
Location: Belle Isle Beach
Single kayak - $15 per hour or $50 all day
Tandem (2 person) kayak - $20 per hour or $65 all day

Activity: Painting Class
Location: Belle Isle Conservatory
$15 Donation
Additional Information: AUGUST 17 ONLY 

Activity: Park Clean-Up/Stewardship Day
Location: Meet at Nature Zoo

Activity: Yoga
Location: East side of Belle Isle Casino

Open Every Saturday on Belle Isle:

Belle Isle Aquarium: 10am - 3pm
Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory: 10am - 5pm
Belle Isle Nature Zoo: 10am - 5pm
Dossin Great Lakes Museum: 10am - 5pm
Belle Isle Practice Center: 9am - Dusk
Belle Isle Beach and Waterslide: 12pm - 8pm
Kids Kingdom Playscape: All Day
More info on Belle Isle Activities and Attractions.

Jamz on the Beach:

This regular concert series at the Belle Isle Beach is back for 6 Sundays this summer: July 21, July 28, August 4, August 11, August 18, and August 25.  All concerts 6pm – 8pm.


If you’d like to be a BLISS partner and/or service provider, contact Tatiana Grant at or (248) 914-4578.
Made possible through the generous support of The GM Foundation and The Kresge Foundation.

Detroit Bikes, LLC, rolls-out its new A-Type commuter bicycle Aug. 16 at a launch party at the Old Miami bar on Cass Avenue in Detroit. The first in a series of such events throughout the United States and Canada, the Detroit launch party will feature displays and demonstrations of the A-Type, complimentary food and a performance by the Detroit Cobras band. The party begins at 4:00 pm for media and runs from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm for the general public.

The Detroit Bikes A-Type is the company’s first model, a minimalist bike with smooth shifting three-speed internal gears, a lightweight chromoly-steel frame and a durable, matte-black powder-coat finish.

Each bicycle frame is built from steel tubing cut, coped, welded and painted in Detroit Bikes’ 50,000 square-foot factory on Elmira Rd. in west Detroit. The company also builds the wheels and fabricates the bike's rear rack, chain guard, and bottom bracket on site. Final assembly in the Detroit factory includes these, and other components, plus steel fenders and pedals from Taiwan.

“We have the capacity to produce 40,000 bikes a year. American bicycle manufacturing hasn't seen this type of a mass production start-up in generations” said Zak Pashak, owner and president of Detroit Bikes. "I'm very proud of what the team has achieved so far, and we're just getting going.”

The Canadian roll-out begins Aug. 17 in Windsor and Aug. 21 in Toronto.

The A-Type commuter bicycle is available in the US for a suggested retail price of $550 (USD) and will be available for sale locally at the Wheelhouse on the Detroit River Walk.

Detroit Bikes seeks to encourage cycling by making an accessible, enjoyable bicycle while continuing Detroit's legacy of quality manufacturing and design.

Its headquarters and factory are located at 13639 Elmira Road, Detroit, 48227.

For more information, visit
Man Vs. Food

When it's time to order takeout, do you go "giant," or just go home? Is "blazin'" your preferred spice profile? Do you start to salivate when a menu item includes the word "monster?"

If you like your food on the wildly descriptive side, it's time to move to the Midwest, which is home to half of the Top 10 Most Extreme Food Cities, according to GrubHub. The online menu and food ordering service scoured items from over 20,000 participating GrubHub restaurants in more than 500 cities around the country. They found America's heartland is a dining destination for the most enthusiastic and hyperbolic descriptions of food.

The Top 10 Most Extreme Food Cities:

1. Detroit, MI
2. Lansing, MI
3. Columbus, OH
4. Denver, CO
5. Phoenix, AZ
6. San Antonio, TX
7. Milwaukee, WI
8. Madison, WI
9. Seattle, WA
10. Baltimore, MD

Click HERE for the full article! 

CNN Money: Detroit's Stealth Business Boom

detroit jobs
Construction workers working on a combination office and residential tower in downtown Detroit last year.

The nation's hottest downtown is in America's most troubled city -- bankrupt Detroit.

Detroit is struggling with the largest municipal bankruptcy in the nation's history, which was brought on in part by the flight of both residents and businesses in recent decades. But Detroit's downtown area is enjoying rapid growth. The busy, 7.2-square-mile area stands in sharp contrast to the stretches of abandoned homes, closed factories and urban decay that dominate most of the city.

"It seems like a paradox -- services are so bad but the demand for space keeps going up up up," said John DeGroot, vice president of research for Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, which tracks office vacancy rates nationwide. He said the office vacancy rate in Detroit is still high by national standards - about 27.1% in the second quarter, but that's down from 33% two years ago.

"Usually you see a percentage point drop here or there," he said. "It's phenomenal."

Affordable office space is driving the trend - downtown rents can be 7% to 25% lower than rates in some nearby suburbs. And so jobs from the suburbs are are returning to the city, and it's not the resurgent auto industry leading the charge. Quicken Loans, Michigan Blue Cross/Blue Shield and utility DTE Energy (DTE, Fortune 500) have all moved locations from the suburbs to downtown.

"One reason we believe this [revival] will have legs is it goes across multiple industries," said Cindy Pasky, president of the firm Strategic Staffing Solutions and the chairman of the Downtown Detroit Partnership.

Click HERE for the full article!

Click HERE to purchase your tickets!
  Click HERE for full details!
Hatch Detroit reviewed nearly 200 business plans to determine the top 10 plans to open in Detroit, Hamtramck, or Highland Park.  Now its up to you to decide which of these plans becomes the 2013 Comerica Hatch Detroit winner!  

...and the 2013 Semi-finalists are:

Batch Brewing Company aims to become Detroit’s first nano-brewing company, adding their own beer to Detroit’s ranks while seeking to help other small breweries develop their brand through their “Brewery Incubator” program.

Busted! is a local bra boutique which will complement existing retail shops and make shopping in the city easier. Specializing in making “the perfect fit”, Busted! aims to perk up Detroit’s retail experience.

Corktown Cinema is the reincarnation of the Burton Theater: an eclectic independent cinema that will feature arthouse, independent, LGBT, foreign, second-run mainstream, local and cult films. Their aim is to help Detroit rival Chicago and New York as a center for independent film.

Detroit Barber and Shave Shop is an upscale barbershop looking to open up downtown. Plans to pamper its clientele include straight shaves and warm towel wraps.

Eartha’s Natural Hair & Body Boutique will provide chemical-free, all natural and organic products for hair and skin. Products are formulated in-house by a licensed pharmacist to ensure a healthy glow.

HenriettaHaus Coffee Roasters is a coffee roaster and cafe looking to open up in Hamtramck. Their menu will include homemade favorites that people already drive miles to purchase at their pop-up location.

Mama’s Sweet Side is a family owned bakery established in 2011 who is looking to share their tradition of premium home-style desserts.

Spielhaus Toys will be an independent specialty toy store serving the families of Detroit and its visitors. Fond memories of THE Children’s store at Hudson’s fuel the vision of this establishment, and aim to bring similar happy experience to a new generation of Detroit children.

Treats by Angelique is an artisan sweet shop that specializes in a wide variety of cookies, cakes, cupcakes, brownies and more. Everything from Angelique is made from scratch, always with real butter and with local fresh ingredients.

Voigt’s Soda House  is a new twist on the old fashioned soda counters of Detroit’s recent past.  Homemade syrups and and eccentric toppings transform the experience to what customers are looking for in ice cream and soda today. Adult beverages included.
You can vote on both Facebook and though the website once every 24 hours. Hatch Detroit is also offering a group of neighborhood votes around town. Details on  Round 2 of the vote starts August 19, and the winner will be announced at the Hatch-Off on August 29.

LA Times: Move to Detroit, Land Of Opportunity

photo credit

When Detroit filed for bankruptcy last month, it wasn’t much of a surprise. With its boarded-up houses, abandoned schools, declining public services and shrinking population, it had become the country’s most depressing city. At least, that’s how it looked to outsiders.

The good news about Detroit’s bankruptcy filing, though, is that it was like hitting rock bottom. Where could the city go from there, but up?

In starting over, Detroit is finally in an optimistic position. Play things right, and it could reinvent itself into the city of the future with smarter economic engines, a modern workforce and public services tailored to city needs.

For anyone who’s ever envisioned the perfect city, Detroit offers the opportunity to get in on the ground floor.

And actually, Detroit’s recovery may already be underway. “What we are seeing is a network of philanthropic and business leaders coming together to revive that core of the city,” said Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institute in a recent interview with NPR’s “Fresh Air.”

“Something exciting is happening off the platform of what I could call good bones, good assets, older iconic historic buildings. I see energy and pragmatism and an affirmative vision stemming from the core of that city,” Katz said.

Click HERE for the full article!

Niantic Labs at Google, together with community partners Michigan Corps and D:hive, will host the first ‘Explore Detroit Day’ on August 10th, 2013 to invite the public into a guided experience of its ground-breaking Field Trip app. The free public event will take place on August 10, 2013 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at D:hive at 1253 Woodward Ave Detroit, MI 48226.

The event will provide guided opportunities to explore Detroit using Field Trip through walking tours and an open house with local food and beverages. The schedule of events is as follows:

1:00pm: Registration Opens

1:30pm – 3:30pm: Scavenger Hunt of Downtown (1 - 4 people per team); Teams of four will be given clues and will have two hours to scour downtown for answers. Some of the answers will be found through Field Trip.

2:00pm – 3:30pm & 2:30pm – 4:00pm: Explore Detroit Walking Tour; Experience Detroit’s major landmarks, new developments and great historical spots from an insider’s perspective. Learn about Detroit’s emerging themes of community, collaboration and creativity.

3:00pm – 5:00pm: Open House with local food and beverages. Announcement about Field Trip at 4:15pm. 

This event is free and open to the public, but space is limited. Register online.

Field Trip from Niantic Labs is a publishing platform that surfaces stories from hyper-local partners. Serving as a guide to the world’s hidden and unique treasures, Field Trip notifies the user as s/he approaches a landmark with an interesting story. ‘Explore Detroit Day’ will feature stories from partners like Detroit Moxie, Curbed Detroit, and Historic Detroit.

“Through Field Trip, individuals can, on their own time, engage with informative, inspiring, and often hidden stories about places and people in Detroit”, commented John Hanke from Niantic Labs at Google. “As more people look to participate in Detroit’s resurgence, tools like Field Trip invite everyone into a heightened experience and understanding of interesting stories in the community.”

“The spirit of Field Trip resonates with Michigan Corps’ mission to give Detroiters near and far opportunities to use the web and more to make a difference in Detroit,” said Elizabeth Garlow, Executive Director of Michigan Corps, a local non-profit partner of Niantic Labs at Google. “With Field Trip’s stories in hand, we believe amazing connections and creative ideas can surface.”

Whether you live in the city, are planning a visit, or would like to expose friends and family to Detroit’s hidden stories, download and begin exploring with Field Trip at

For more information about Niantic Labs at Google, visit 
For more information about Michigan Corps, visit
For more information about D:hive, visit

Yes, Detroit is broke, but your hometown sucks too.

That is the funny, defiant message in “Detroit’s Reply,” a new video by Detroit filmmaker John Kerfoot that is currently making the rounds in the Facebook and Twitter feeds of Detroit-lovers (reporter’s disclosure: guilty!).

Against the backdrop of grayed images of Detroit’s depressed and depressing cityscape, an announcer intones, “Michigan’s largest city, Detroit, is officially bankrupt. The Motor City has been on hard times for over 40 years. But apparently just now has the rest of the country noticed. And they are laughing.”

Then the filmmaker suggests that perhaps those living in glass houses should not throw stones.

To boot:

“Detroit is a joke to a beautiful state like California … that doesn’t realize their cities are next. And it’s not surprising when their major industry only produces awful crap in 3D.”

“New Yorkers chuckle at Detroit while their mayoral candidate is busy taking pictures of his junk at this very moment.”

“The nearby Chicago: they think they’re so much better because they have an elevated train, and a few more white people.”

And so on.

Kerfoot made the video, he says, to stick up for a city that he loves despite its obvious troubles. “You kept hearing about the bankruptcy in the news, with everyone bashing on Detroit. I felt like saying, ‘Listen, every city has problems.’”

Click HERE for the full article! 

The Best Cocktail In America Is Made In Detroit

The craft cocktail. A drink that in one fell swoop embodies class, fun, sophistication and a night to remember.

One might assume that only the biggest of cities, the ones portrayed in movies as “swanky” or “sexy” would be able to pass muster and represent the United States in an international cocktail competition. 

Au Contrare.

Detroit has swagger, and Yani Frye of Detroit’s own Sugar House won the U.S. Finals of the Angostura Bitters Cocktail Challenge with two drinks aptly named the “Room Key” and the “Morning After.”

If you don’t know what a bitter is, it’s integral to many libations. It’s an age-old additive that used to be called a “patent medicine,” but it’s now just for your taste enjoyment. It’s liquor flavored with the sharp taste of plant extracts of various kinds.

“I lend a lot of credit to being overly prepared. I was very adamant on bringing my own stuff, I shipped my own my box of syrups I made,” said Frye. “I didn’t want to put anything in fate’s hands. It was great.”

Click HERE for the full article!

For more information, click HERE!

Jennifer Conlin, 51, grew up in Ann Arbor and during her college days, spent a lot of time in Detroit. After 20 years living abroad in various cities with her AP-employed husband, she came back to Michigan with their three children in 2010. During that time, she had become a regular freelance contributor to the New York Times and upon her return, the paper started sending her to Detroit quite a bit for assignments.

Three years later, per a feature interview by Concentrate, Conlin is tooling around the area for another reason: CriticCar, a digital start-up funded by a $100,000 Knight Foundation grant. The idea is to record, at various arts events, the impressions and criticisms of John Q. Public:

Conlin says the idea was partly motivated by a desire to provide more positive and diverse local media coverage. “You can’t even watch television in Detroit any more, especially with the bankruptcy now, because it focuses on crime so much,” she says. “You just see black kids in hoodies who have robbed a bank or broken into a car.”

“But there are these fantastic young men and women who are talking about having their first experience in theater, or seeing their brother or sister at Mosaic, or seeing a dance performance for the first time.”

Click HERE for the full article! 
Daytime Skyline by Vito Palmisano

We’re calling on all Detroiters (and those that love Detroit) to send us their best images of the city. Selected photos will be posted on the Cultural Weekly Facebook page via one of four themed albums:

1. PEOPLE OF DETROIT – Show us the fine people of Motown living life to the fullest!

2. ARCHITECTURE OF DETROIT – Interiors and exteriors are welcomed. (NOTE: We are not interested in “ruins of Detroit” type of images – been there, done that)

3. STREET ART OF DETROIT – Find the best gems to show off the creativity and talent of the streets. 

4. CULTURAL WEEKLY IN DETROIT – Send us photos of our homepage (on a phone, tablet, laptop, etc) somewhere in Detroit. Feel free to be creative! We are looking for photos that show the world more than just burnt out buildings, roaming packs of dogs and…well you get it. Detroit is vibrant, alive and evolving. These conditions mean creativity has never been more exciting, so show it off!

The three photos with the most “Likes” in each album will be published on! (Be sure to tell all your friends and family)

Click HERE for submission details! 

Rembert Explains America: Detroit vs. Everybody

An interesting exchange takes place when you tell people you're headed to Detroit.

While it's never the same response verbatim, it usually revolves around three general themes: "Be careful," "Why?" and "Take pictures." These would be reasonable if I were, say, headed to a zoo. When discussing a city that people still call home, they're more than a little off-putting.

Detroit was one of the first places I knew I wanted to visit when this trip's route began to take shape. I've studied cities and their planning (or the lack thereof) since college and always knew this was a place I sorely needed to see. But if you were to ask me five years ago, 10 months ago, or even a week ago why my presence in Detroit was imperative, I'm not sure I'd have a good reason.

Truth be told, it was mostly voyeuristic.

The same way we're fixated by car crashes, we're mystified by struggle. And blight. And right now, there's no city mired in more struggle than Detroit.

On the whole, I don't think this country wants Detroit to make it. It sounds maniacal, but I truly believe that. We've made our peace with this still-great city firmly existing in the land of "once-great." This has been especially true since news of bankruptcy threw the city's woes on the front page of every major publication. These pieces were specific on the details of Detroit's dire economic situation, but they were operating from a distance. Highlighting the very real flaws, leaving no room for the imagination to assume positivity. They rarely acknowledged the chance of a bounce-back.

And because of this, due to the brainwash that happens when you read too much about the city, you begin to assume the worst. As you approach the city limits, you envision buildings have crumbled, cars have been overturned, the homeless outnumber the sheltered, and things are but a few steps away from martial law.

I fell victim to this line of thought only two minutes after making it downtown.

Having not even made it to my hotel, I felt as if I'd entered a Third World city.

"Be careful" and "Take pictures" were suddenly on high alert. As was the "Why?," as in "Why did I come here again?" Cities are my foremost sociological love, but this was unlike anything I'd seen before. Perhaps everything I was reading was correct. Maybe there was no hope for this place.

Finally, I pulled in to my hotel to check in, moderately rattled, and the woman at the desk gave me a heads-up.

"Don't be startled if you hear explosions," she said with a big smile on her face.

I don't know the look I gave her, because I can't see my face, but I'm certain it wasn't a big smile. Staring at her, without words, I stood still for a second. But there was no follow-up, no second sentence. She just went back to work.

Standing in the lobby, now on minute eight of Detroit, I sat down. Where was I? What was this place? And why did no one else seem taken aback by overturned subway cars and future explosions? Walking to the elevator, I overheard a conversation between two other employees during their break:

Employee 1: Did you see Mark Wahlberg the other day?

Employee 2: No, he was here?

Employee 1: Yes, I saw him. I wonder how long he'll be in town for Transformers 4. I bet it's gonna be good.

There are moments in your life when irrational fear or prejudice or judgmental nature backslap you in the face and all you can do is apologize.

I'm sorry, Detroit. I got caught up.

Now that I understood the previous 10 minutes of my stay in Detroit, thrilled that I could finally approach the city free of biases, I set out to learn. Not to explain, or philosophize, or pitch solutions, or make pretentious generalizations about its citizens and doomsaying conjecture about its future. Just to experience it.

Click HERE to read the full article!
A group show at the Detroit Mercantile Company, called “Art Ethereal: Beauty and the Beast,” included the photographs of Sebastian Sullen.

The night of June 20 was the Detroit native and photographer Sebastian Sullen’s first art exhibition, a group show called “Art Ethereal: Beauty and the Beast,” named for his contradictory subject: his city’s majestic architecture and scarred urban blight. Part of a monthly event called Third Thursday, the show packed the Detroit Mercantile Company, a retro general store and event space. There were carrot cake, beer from a nano-brewery and, in the storefront, “You Gotta Save Art!” stickers ($2.50) and T-shirts ($25) for sale in support of the Detroit Institute of Arts.

It was an apt message, even more so now. On July 18, Detroit, the cradle of the country’s automobile industry, filed for bankruptcy, the largest American city to ever do so. The tumble into insolvency has left officials pondering the likely fallout. For example, the Detroit Institute of Arts, which is owned by the city, faces the possibility of the sale of artwork from its impressive collection, which includes gems by van Gogh, Diego Rivera, Caravaggio, Breugel, Rembrandt, Rodin and Picasso, to help pay down the city’s crippling debts.

How Detroit’s bankruptcy will affect cultural life, and the 20 million tourists who visit the metro region a year, remains to be seen. But the city’s tourism bureau and others say that what the local government does has little bearing on what attracts people to Detroit. “Private investment in the city is at an all-time high, and while the bankruptcy process will be painful in the short run, officials know that the key to a successful city are the assets that draw visitors and residents,” said Renee Monforton, the communications director at the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau, a privately funded organization that has had concerned calls from convention groups but as of Aug. 5 no cancellations.

Tourism officials are still promoting attractions like the arts institute, the North American International Car Show, the Detroit Zoo and the sites downtown where the Detroit Tigers, Lions and Red Wings play. According to a February 2013 report from the nonprofit D:hive, 10.5 million people visit the greater downtown Detroit area a year for sites like the River Walk and the Detroit Opera House.

Jeanette Pierce, the director of community relations at D:hive, which assists visitors and new residents, said that this is not the first time that there has been dire news about Detroit. “It’s not a top-down city,” she said. “There’s nothing the government is doing that is why somebody would visit here.”

The bankruptcy has added an odd layer onto what has become a thriving, albeit complicated, local art scene.

Detroit’s dismal financial situation has been a subject of minimal regard for many artists, who said that their city is far from the ghost town some might assume from the news. They point out that a rich cultural undercurrent has grown only stronger in recent years, with a rise in contemporary art. They say that the arts, in the end, may propel economic development in Detroit, as it has from Asheville, N.C., to Bilbao, Spain.

“I think we’ll have a little cloud for a while, but I don’t think it’s going to be long-lasting,” said George N’Namdi, the founder of the N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art and a part of the city’s artistic life for decades. “We have too many forces working on art that supersede that.”

Artists have flocked to cheap rents and have converted shuttered storefronts and abandoned buildings into studio spaces and galleries as private money has poured into the local art scene. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation began a $19.25-million commitment to local arts projects last fall, the Kresge Foundation has awarded annual fellowships to artists since 2009, and Red Bull opened its first domestic House of Art, an emerging-artist incubator, here in May 2012.

Several suburban galleries have moved back to the city, and arts hubs are solidifying. A notable one is Midtown, home to the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, as well as galleries like the Butcher’s Daughter, Re:View, and the N’Namdi center. In Southwest, a white box called What Pipeline opened in April, down the street from community-focused spaces like 555 Nonprofit Gallery and Studios, housed in a former police precinct. In Eastern Market, two new destinations, Inner State Gallery and Trinosophes, opened in the spring on busy Gratiot Avenue, blocks from the Red Bull House of Art.

Click HERE to read the full article! 

11) Lafayette Coney Island, Detroit: Coney

One of the culinary world’s greatest rivalries is between two neighboring Downtown Detroit hot dog stands, Lafayette Coney Island and American Coney Island. While the battle over which hot dog tastes better is on par with the fight between Pat’s and Geno’s cheesesteaks in Philadelphia, most locals will tell you that it’s Lafayette all the way, for several reasons. The hot dog has a juicy, salty, smoky snap, the Coney sauce is spot-on, and the fries are crispy, but it’s the experience that puts it over the top in our book: While American is shiny and charmless, Lafayette is a divey, weathered, eccentric sort of place that hasn’t been renovated in many years, but the charm is palpable, especially in the staff, who’ll most likely bring you your order in less than 30 seconds. In short: the perfect hot dog stand.

Click HERE for the full list!
Moosejaw and Lole Yellow Yoga session - RSVP Now

Patrick Swayze & Chris Farley : Chippendales by tartenpion333

The 2013 Chevrolet Rockin’ on the Riverfront free concert series has metro Detroiters working for the weekend all summer, and on Friday, Aug. 9 Loverboy will take the stage in downtown Detroit. The concert, presented by Detroit’s #1 for Classic Rock 94.7 WCSX-FM, will rock the riverfront stage starting a 7:30 p.m. with opener Solid State.

In 1980 Loverboy introduced themselves to the world with their self-titled debut album. They quickly became one of America's and MTV's most popular rock bands. From 1980 through 1987 Loverboy garnered four multi-platinum albums and numerous international Gold albums. The band’s tours sold out arenas and stadiums nationwide. Their hit singles came one after another, and went on to become the anthems and party songs for an entire generation of rock concert-going fans. Loverboy's red leather pants, bandannas, and big rock sound defined the band's trademark image and high-energy live show.

Loverboy, driven by the powerful vocals of Mike Reno, the relentless rock groove of lead guitarist Paul Dean, bassist Scott Smith, keyboardist Doug Johnson and drummer Matt Frenette, built its reputation on-stage, bringing the energy from its radio hits to coliseum-rousing excitement.

With hits like “Turn Me Loose,” “Working for the Weekend,” “When it’s Over,” and “The Kid Is Hot Tonite,” the band’s albums went platinum in Canada and America.

Spanning six consecutive Friday evenings, 2013 Chevrolet Rockin’ on the Riverfront offers more than free concerts. Located in the heart of the city, between the GM Renaissance Center and Detroit River, the event has become a summer destination for dining and entertainment in Detroit. The final Rockin’ on the Riverfront concert is Aug. 16 with Night Ranger (Sister Christian, (You Can Still) Rock in America).

Admission to the concerts is always free and no tickets are necessary. Viewing space is offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs and blankets, but outside food, beverages and coolers are not permitted. In addition, boaters on the Detroit River are welcome to anchor near the riverfront and enjoy the shows from the water.

Andiamo Detroit Riverfront will provide refreshments and food concessions at several locations across the plaza. Andiamo Detroit Riverfront and Joe Muer Seafood will accept dinner reservations before and after the concert and both restaurants offer outdoor patios overlooking the Detroit River and the Rockin’ on the Riverfront stage.

Convenient parking is available for $5 per vehicle, starting at 5 p.m., at the GM surface lot at the intersection of St. Antoine and Atwater streets, adjacent to the GM Renaissance Center.

The Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center is offering an incredible package during the concerts. The Marriott-Andiamo Romance Retreat package includes a four-course dinner at Andiamo Detroit Riverfront and overnight accommodations at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center. For reservations call (888) 313-5001 and mention promotional code WN9 or visit The Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center online.

Listen to 94.7 WCSX each week during Rockin’ on the Riverfront for a chance to win VIP seats, a catered dinner by Andiamo, and meet and greet opportunities with the bands. Additionally, new to the event this year is Veterans Row. Veterans are invited to log onto, fill out an online form sharing where he or she served or is currently serving and WCSX will pull weekly winners to sit in the 94.7 WCSX Veterans Row for each Rockin’ on the Riverfront concert this summer.

Fans are invited to watch FOX 2 in the Morning every week to enter a FOX 2 EXPOSED contest for a chance to win a VIP prize package, which includes two (2) VIP access wristbands and lanyards with front-row seats, dinner for two (2) at Andiamo Detroit Riverfront in the Rockin’ on the Riverfront VIP section (the evening of the concert only), overnight accommodations for two (2) at The Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center (the evening of the concert only, and excludes the July 26, 2013 concert), free parking in the Beaubien Garage located on Beaubien Street (the evening of the concert only), WCSX 94.7 FM freebies, and a band meet-and-greet (if available). To enter, access the online contest entry form on and follow instructions.

In addition to Chevrolet, the 2013 Chevrolet Rockin’ on the Riverfront concert series is sponsored in partnership with Detroit’s #1 for Classic Rock 94.7 WCSX-FM, Quicken Loans, McDonald’s After Midnight, Metro PCS, and WJBK FOX 2.

For updates and information, visit and or