Photo by Nick Hagen

Open Streets Detroit, powered by Downtown Detroit Partnership and presented by DTE Energy Foundation, is part of a global movement to reclaim public space for people by temporarily transforming streets into paved parks and public spaces. Free and open to participants of all ages, Open Streets Detroit is proposed to temporarily close almost four miles of Michigan Avenue and West Vernor Highway to create space for healthy activities, community building, and connection to local retail.


Open Streets Detroit is a unique opportunity to bring the city and the region together through a celebration of public space that fosters community connections. The positive economic impact of Open Streets programs in other communities has been well documented, with local businesses reporting increased patronage on the day of the event and returning customers afterwards. Open Streets Detroit seeks to produce similar benefits by showcasing the city’s business districts, neighborhoods, parks and cultural institutions.


September 25, 2016
Noon to 5 p.m.

October 2, 2016
Noon to 5 p.m.


The inaugural Open Streets Detroit route will cover 3.7 miles along Michigan Avenue and West Vernor Highway. The proposed route begins at Campus Martius Park in Downtown Detroit, connects through Roosevelt Park in Corktown, and continues through Southwest Detroit, past Clark Park, ending at Boyer Playfield located at Livernois and Vernor.

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Photo: Kyle Evans Design 

Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman of Quicken Loans, the third-largest U.S. mortgage lender, is teaming up with upscale watchmaker Shinola to build the 130-plus-room hotel with about 17,000 square feet of retail space.

Mr. Gilbert’s Bedrock Detroit, the development arm of his family of companies, is credited with helping to revitalize Detroit’s city center by moving thousands of his highpaid employees there and redeveloping mostly vacant skyscrapers into high-tech offices.

Shinola was founded in 2011 in Detroit’s College of Creative Studies with a mission to bring manufacturing jobs back to America, albeit on a much smaller scale than the industrial barons of old. The company has retail locations from Palo Alto, Calif., to Toronto, with most watches selling for $475 to $1,500. It employs about 530 people, of which about 400 are in Detroit.

Executives at the two companies got together a few years ago and decided that they could further the redevelopment of the downtown Detroit area by teaming up to build a new hotel, which will combine Mr. Gilbert’s eagerness to redevelop vacant buildings with Shinola’s pared-down aesthetic.

Their aim is to create a vibrant lobby that can act as a cultural hub for downtown, which is seeing an influx of luxury apartments and office workers.

“We really need a boutique hotel where you can hang out on the ground floor and have these unique experiences on the site,” said Dan Mullen, an executive vice president at Bedrock Detroit, Mr. Gilbert’s development firm.

Mr. Mullen declined to say how much rooms will cost per night, but said it would be a high-end hotel.

The design will combine several vacant historic buildings, along with a new addition and an alleyway with everything from art galleries to noodle bars.

The Noho Hospitality Group, owners of Joe’s Pub and Locanda Verde in New York, will run the restaurants on the site.

The hotel is set to open in the fall of 2018.

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TEDxDetroit Reveals 2016 Lineup Of Speakers

If you had the world’s attention for a few minutes, what would you share? That is the question each TEDxDetroit speaker will answer during the highly anticipated celebration of technology, entertainment and design, on Thursday, Oct. 6 at Detroit’s historic Fox Theatre. With hundreds of applications submitted, event organizers have narrowed down the list and selected local influencers, thought leaders and innovators to kick off this year’s conference, including: History Channel’s Mobsteel Cast Member Adam Genei; HistoSonics Inc. President and CEO of Christine Gibbons and more.

Also joining the 2016 lineup of speakers are:
Kicking off at 8 a.m., conference goers will also draw inspiration from a selection of performers and artists, including: a showing of Anthem of Us, a short film produced by filmmaker Stephen McGhee; as well as performances by bluegrass band Shine on Kentucky Moon, improvisational atmospheric space orchestraBotanical Fortress, local soprano and Kresge Art Fellow Kisma JordanDetroit Bellydance performer Lana Mini, master puppeteer Patrick Elkins and  local poets James Kaymore and Zaira Ware. Legendary Detroit Street Artist Fel3000ft will also serve as the event’s artist in residence, creating a one of a kind canvas piece in the Fox Theatre Lobby throughout the day.
Detroit, Akron, Chicago and Memphis will get a collective $40 million to invest in their public spaces in an effort to counter recent trends toward worsening social and economic segregation. Four national foundations — the JPB Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Kresge Foundation and The Rockefeller Foundation — announced today that they will invest a total of $20 million for civic space in improvements in these cities. The other $20 million will come from local sources. The program, titled “Reimagining the Civic Commons,” launched as an ongoing pilot in Philadelphia in 2015. (The Kresge Foundation also provides funding support to Next City.)

“We see this as a series of local experiments to interpret a common theme: What is the purpose of community spaces like parks, libraries, municipal buildings or even sidewalks? What binds us to place and to each other?” said Alberto Ibargüen, Knight Foundation president, in a statement. “Citizen engagement must be a cornerstone of our rethinking how to use great civic spaces for today’s diverse and inclusive communities.”

The four cities will use the funding to create connections between existing public and civic spaces.

Detroit’s projects aim to connect two anchor institutions in the Livernois-McNichols area, a neighborhood considered the number one revitalization priority by Mayor Mike Duggan and home to both University of Detroit Mercy and Marygrove Collage. The Civic Commons funding will target the area between the universities, creating a network of public and community-oriented commercial spaces within walking distance of one another.

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Detroit’s first QLINE streetcar will be delivered this week, M-1 RAIL announced today.

“Delivery of the first QLNE streetcar is an important milestone for this project,” said M-1 RAIL CEO Matt Cullen. “We’re bringing a sleek, modern vehicle of exceptional quality to Detroit. This project is one of the most innovative public transportation projects in the world today, from our landmark private-public partnership to the innovative off-wire battery technology that will power the QLINE, we couldn’t be more pleased to welcome the first QLINE vehicle.

The first QLINE streetcar will arrive in Detroit Wednesday, nearly two months ahead of initial projections, keeping the QLINE on schedule for passenger operations to begin in Spring 2017.

“Receiving the first QLINE streetcar at this time will provide M-1 RAIL a greater opportunity to help Detroiters acclimate to the idea of sharing the road with a streetcar, and give us additional time for driver training,” said M-1 RAIL Chief Operating Officer, Paul Childs. “Over the next few weeks, we’ll complete the final assembly and mechanical checks needed before the streetcar makes its first appearance on Woodward Ave.”

The vehicle will depart today from Brookville Equipment Corporation, the only maker of streetcars to design and manufacture exclusively in the United States.

“The early delivery of this QLINE streetcar vehicle is a product of the outstanding working relationship we have experienced in our partnership with M-1 RAIL,” said Marion Van Fosson, President of Brookville Equipment Corporation. We look forward to delivering the next five vehicles and celebrating the QLINE opening with M-1 RAIL and the people of Detroit very soon.”

M-1 RAIL recently began the first of nearly 1,000 tests to be conducted before the start of passenger operations in 2017, operating a small motorized inspection car called a “speeder” to ensure the track is free of obstructions in advance of the first QLINE vehicle delivery.

The three-piece QLINE streetcars are each 66 feet long and will carry an average of 125 passengers per car. The QLINE will share the road, traveling with traffic on Woodward Ave. at speeds up to 35 mph. The QLINE streetcars will feature wi-fi access for passengers, vertical bicycle racks and and HVAC unit to keep passengers comfortable during all weather seasons. The QLINE will allow for station-level access for pedestrians as well as persons who use mobility assistance devices such as wheelchairs.

Detroit Is America’s Great Comeback Story

Photo: Vito Paomisano/ Detroit Metro CVB

You will feel the energy as soon as you get off the plane at Detroit Metropolitan Airport’s McNamara Terminal and make your way through an underground tunnel exploding with a colour-changing light and sound show.

The Light Tunnel uses LED lighting to illuminate glass panels with sand-blasted Michigan artwork in a dazzling, multi-sensory show that’s synchronized to an original score by an Ohio outfit.

“Welcome to Motor City,” the pilot said when we hit the tarmac.

“Welcome to Art City,” is what he should have said.

Something remarkable is happening here. The city is exploding with art and food and activity. Creative types are coming from all over to be part of the transformation.

Stop feeling sorry for Detroit.

Stop being scared of Detroit.

The story here is no longer automobile industry collapse, decline, decay and blight. It’s about a glorious city that birthed the Model T and Motown, that’s coming back better, stronger, artier.

Let Kim Rusinow of Show Me Detroit Tours give you a guided bus tour.

“We’re a blank canvas at this point — we have so many opportunities to be creative,” she enthuses. “Detroit’s coming back and you’re going to want to come back again and again and again.”

There’s Midtown with the “eds, meds and arts.” That’s short for universities, medical centres and Sugar Hill Arts District anchored by the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.

Downtown fills up with passionate sports fans when the Detroit Tigers are playing Comerica Park or the Lions are at Ford Field. Next year, Little Ceasars Arena will give the Red Wings a dynamic home between downtown and Midtown and anchor a new sports and entertainment district called the District Detroit.

Also downtown is Greektown with its three casinos, but I’ll be taking the kids on the Detroit People Mover, with art in all 13 stations. It’s just 75 cents and you can stay on the single-track train loop as long as you want.

Culturally cool Corktown is fully hipster and home to the Detroit Institute of Bagels, Batch Brewing (the city’s first nano brewery), music destinations, such as the UFO Factory and Hostel Detroit, with its free walking tours.

Nearby, along Grand River Ave., it’s all about the street art and graffiti murals. Rebel Nell, Rusinow explains, employs disadvantaged women to repurpose these very graffiti paint chips into jewelry.

“Adaptive reuse” is a term everyone uses here.

The Globe Building, part of an 1860s-era riverfront complex that sat vacant for decades, is now the incredible Outdoor Adventure Center, created by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Inside the centre (the name is a tad misleading), kids experience the great outdoors indoors with hands-on activities, exhibits and simulators. They touch a “waterfall,” climb an “oak tree,” walk across a suspension bridge, “fish” from a boat and take a simulated trail ride on a real snowmobile.

Speaking of transportation, this city is moving beyond cars.

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Yesterday, in Detroit’s Lower Eastside, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named Jefferson-Chalmers District a National Treasure. This designation by the nation’s leading preservation organization marks the first National Treasure in the state of Michigan and represents the first project under the National Trust’s new ReUrbanism initiative.

“Jefferson-Chalmers is Detroit’s diamond in the rough—and we’re excited to bring our expertise and national spotlight to the great work happening here,” said David J. Brown, executive vice president and chief preservation officer for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Not only do the buildings have the reuse potential to move Detroit forward, but revitalization of this historic neighborhood also has a lot to teach the rest of the country.”

The National Trust will work with city officials, residents, the business community and other stakeholders to bring increased capacity and pinpoint the best rehabilitation and reuse strategies to ensure Jefferson Chalmers’ older buildings evolve into assets that meet the 21st century needs of the community. Additionally, the National Treasures’ designation carries the full weight of the National Trust’s successful urban revitalization strategies, complemented by two of its programs playing roles in the city: 1) Preservation Green Lab’s Partnership for Building Reuse, a recent study focused on Detroit-specific barriers to building reuse that offers solutions to help realize the development potential of its older buildings; and 2) the National Main Street Center’s Refresh pilot program, a program to test new strategies and refine approaches for creating successful main streets.

“The City of Detroit is committed to innovative approaches that inspire the reuse and restoration of older buildings throughout its neighborhoods,” said Kimberly Driggins, director of strategic planning for the city of Detroit. “We are enthusiastic to work with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Jefferson East and the residents and businesses in Jefferson-Chalmers as we embrace new opportunities and conversations on the road to revitalization.”

As the National Trust’s new partners in Jefferson-Chalmers are demonstrating, preservation is about more than just keeping historic buildings in active use—it is also about managing positive change through direct community engagement that positions the needs and concerns of people at the center of the work.

“Jefferson-Chalmers is full of outstanding assets which will strengthen the restoration efforts, including its location and intact commercial structures,” said Josh Elling, ‎executive director for Jefferson East, Inc. “Through past hardship, engaged residents and business owners—the neighborhood’s biggest assets—have held together, maintained hope and crafted a vision to bring the neighborhood back to being a place where everyone thrives.”

Today’s event also codified the National Trust’s decades long involvement in the revitalization of cities across the country with the announcement of its ReUrbanism initiative, which positions preservation in the larger context of human needs as an essential element to creating the health and well-being of residents in communities, among other critical needs.

“It’s about putting people first, and using the remarkable powers of preservation and creative reuse to spur economic growth to help solve the problems neighborhoods and cities face today, and position them for an even brighter future,” said David Brown. “We believe that reuse should be the standard bearer for urban regeneration and that the demolition of historic places always the option of last resort.”

“It is an honor to see years of advocacy coming together in this great moment of naming the Jefferson-Chalmers District a National Treasure,” said Nancy Finegood, executive director for Michigan Historic Preservation Network, the organization first responsible for bringing Jefferson-Chalmers to the National Trust’s attention. “Our focus is to grow the capacity and number of single-family homes we can restore each year, but equally important is the number of local residents who benefit from the work as we move forward.”

Jefferson-Chalmers District joins a growing portfolio of irreplaceable, diverse places—from ancient sites to modern monuments—that have been designated National Treasures. Learn more at: