Public Invited to Help Rethink Detroit’s I-375 Freeway

I-375 project map in Detroit

As part of the I-375 Alternatives Study, a seven month-long effort to develop possible alternatives for recreating the 1-375 corridor, the public is being asked: “Do you think that I-375 as currently configured is still the best gateway into Downtown Detroit, or can it be improved to better meet the city’s needs now and in the future?”

On Thursday, Feb. 13, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., the public is invited to share their thoughts and ideas at the first of a series of three community meetings on the study. The meeting will follow an open house format and will feature exhibits of how other cities have transformed urban freeways to better suit community needs, as well as the opportunity to speak with transportation and urban design experts. The meeting will take place at the Stroh River Place South Atrium, 300 River Place Drive in Detroit.

The primary project study area extends along I-375 from Gratiot Avenue to Atwater Street. Additional study areas include the I-75/I-375 interchange, portions of Gratiot Avenue and the Gratiot Connector, and Jefferson Avenue between Washington Boulevard and Joseph Campau Street.

The alternatives evaluation process will address a number of issues including:
• defining a vibrant entryway into Downtown Detroit and the East Riverfront;
• making better connections to the Entertainment, East Riverfront, Greektown, Stadium, Convention Center, and Eastern Market districts; and
• improving pedestrian, non-motorized and transit connectivity.

The final report also will detail whether there are environmentally and economically beneficial ways to adapt and reuse the below-grade roadway.

For more information on the I-375 Alternatives Study, visit .

Will Tamminga
Director, Project Management

Jackson to leave DEGC, form private consulting firm

Jackson departing DEGC

George Jackson announced last week that he’ll be leaving DEGC at the end of March to
form his own Detroit-based private consulting and development firm. Needless to say, all
of us here at DEGC are very disappointed about losing such a dynamic leader and a
caring CEO, but we know how passionate he is about the city and look forward to
working with him “from the other side of table,” as he puts it.

George has been the president and CEO of DEGC since February 2002. Prior to that, he
worked for 27 years at DTE Energy, rising to the position of Director of Customer

During the announcement of his resignation, George said, “I had a tremendous run at
DEGC working with great companies here and from around the world, and solid partners
in the private and foundation communities. I look forward to working with great partners
as we continue to transform Detroit into a leader of innovative urban redevelopment.”

Among the accomplishments of DEGC under his leadership, George is most proud of the removal of the cement silos along the Detroit River and the transformation of the riverfront from industrial to mixed use. Now everyone enjoys recreational access to the river.

Some of the many other successes DEGC achieved during George’s tenure include:

• The restoration and reopening of the Book Cadillac as the Westin Book Cadillac
• Innovative programs and incentives that relocated Quicken Loans to Detroit,
consolidated operations of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan here and led to the
re-concentration of technology and creative companies in Downtown and
Midtown, bringing in well over 10,000 new employees.
• The opening of Whole Foods Market – the first national grocery chain to open in
Detroit in decades.
• The largest retail development in more than 40 years, anchored by a Meijer
• Steering the development and beginning implementation of Detroit Future City, a
comprehensive 50-year framework to help guide decision makers as they
revitalize the city with innovative approaches.

Everything was accomplished with an impeccable record of fiscal and ethical
responsibility, maintaining balanced budgets and clean auditing reports for DEGC and all
the public authorities it administers.

As the head of DEGC, George encouraged partnership and teamwork amongst the staff.
No matter your position within the organization, he was always willing to listen to
suggestions for improvements, ideas for new programs or just chat with his employees.
Not many employees can brag that they had a thirty-minute conversation with their CEO
about a golf game, their new house or the grand kids. George’s approachability, sense of
humor and demeanor made him more than just our boss; he is a friend.
I’m sure I’m not alone when I say it has truly been an honor and a privilege to work for
George over the last 12 years. All of us at DEGC wish him great success in his new

Tiffini Smith
Director, Corporate Communications

Construction on Livernois “Avenue of Fashion” continues

Livernois Avenue of Fashion

DEGC is making continual efforts in the revitalization of Livernois Avenue to get more and more businesses into the area and make this historic “Avenue of Fashion” a thriving community once again. For example, through its REVOLVE program DEGC partners with business owners to activate empty storefronts and encourage pop-up and permanent retail to enter the community.

The latest in the series of plans for Livernois involves an approved initial phase of construction. This first phase includes 2.8 miles of streetscape improvements on Livernois Avenue between the Lodge Freeway and 8 Mile Rd., consisting of boulevard landscaping, irrigation and pedestrian amenities. Construction is set to begin in the spring of 2014 and finish by summer 2014. The City of Detroit Department of Public Works will oversee the construction. The Economic Development Corporation of the City of Detroit (EDC) will oversee the project design implementation.

This initial phase of construction will enhance the image and elevate the brand of the area as a special place, creating a unique experience for anyone who gets off of the Lodge or turns off of 8 Mile. This end-result of the construction will elevate the role of arts in the community and will aim to bring new businesses to the area.

The construction is one project done within the context of a much larger series of investments taking place with many partners. There is approximately $5 million in redevelopment in the pipeline for the upcoming few years,

“There are lots of exciting developments to come including plans for improved lighting along the avenue and several great real-estate projects like the opening of The Hunters Supper Club building and Kuzzo’s Chicken and Waffles ” said Michael Forsyth, DEGC business development manager.

Funding for this initial construction will come from grants from the Michigan Department of Transportation, the City of Detroit Planning and Developing Department, in addition to grants from the University of Detroit Mercy and the Kresge Foundation. Be on the lookout for changes coming this spring and summer.

David Tobar – Project Manager

Business Spotlight: Craft Work – Hubert Yaro, Co-Owner

Craft Work
Craft Work is an American restaurant in the heart of historic West Village in Detroit. The restaurant prides itself in taking classic American dishes and putting a twist in the recipes. Co-owner Hubert Yaro has received a lot of support in the community since opening in December 2013. Currently, Craft Work is open Monday through Saturday from 4 p.m. to midnight and serves food from 5 through 11 p.m.

What makes Craft Work unique to your other restaurants?

The location! I’ve opened restaurants in Birmingham (Commonwealth Cafe) and Royal Oak (Ronin Sushi), but I really wanted to open a restaurant in my neighborhood. Craft Work is very personal to me because I live right around the corner. I love living and working in Detroit.

The space is great and the charm of the building really drew me in. In fact, the building is 90 years old so inevitably there was a lot of work involved in getting the restaurant up and running, but it was worth it. The history in this space is a great asset as well, because a lot of our customers have fond memories of this place throughout the years. This is very much a Detroit restaurant. That very special feel when you walk in the door – paired with our quality service – makes it a win-win.

What is your menu all about?

The menu is classic American. We are committed to sourcing quality meats, dairy and bread. The technique our executive chef Matt Dalton uses for our menu is a unique blend of multiple cultures. Our dishes are very balanced, and customers will walk out of the restaurant feeling full and satisfied.

What is it like working in Detroit, and how does the Detroit location contribute to the business’ overall success?

The community here is so strong and tight knit. There is a lot of pride and spirit in the neighborhood. I’m really inspired by it. People take care of their properties, homes and businesses, and I’ve received so much support with Craft Work. I think the restaurant being in Detroit has everything to do with how positively it’s been received.

Anything new and exciting coming up for Craft Work?

I really look forward to continually making a positive impact on the community and getting more involved. We’re also very excited to begin serving brunch in March on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Michael Forsyth, REVOLVE Detroit Program Manager