DDA Contributes to a new “front porch” for COBO Center

Cobo Center Streetscape

The Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is collaborating with the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority to transform the area in front of the main entrance to the center at Washington Boulevard and Jefferson Avenue.

The two organizations are making striking changes to improve the look and the functionality of what we call the “front porch” of Cobo. The Regional Authority is creating two attractive new public spaces — Cobo Square, right in front of the main center entrance, and Cobo Terrace, next to the former Cobo Arena, now the Riverfront Ballrooms.

The DDA is managing the construction of $3.4 million in streetscape improvements that will blend well with the striking new face of Cobo. The project will improve overall vehicle flow in front of the facility by creating a traffic drop-off circle and wider visitor drop-off lane near the main entrance of Cobo. A small parking lot and other space around the former Cobo Arena will be renovated to provide a seamless transition between the public right of way, Cobo Square and Cobo Terrace.

The project will also include the removal of the existing ramp connecting the entrance of Cobo Center to the lower level on Atwater Street and construction of a second traffic circle on that level.

The State of Michigan approved a City of Detroit application to assist in funding for the project, while the Regional Authority contributed required matching funds. The DDA is managing construction.

Besides the much more appealing look for the area, the project will also improve access to the facility for visitors arriving by car, bus or other means as well as the freight delivery for all of the conventions that COBO hosts. In all, this is a significant improvement to our newly renovated world class convention center’s front porch!

Tim Miles
Senior Project Manager

New loans available to improve energy efficiency in Detroit buildings


Building on the success of the first round of SmartBuildings Detroit Energy Conservation Program when 81 projects were funded, the Economic Development Corporation of the City of Detroit (EDC) and the Detroit Development Fund (DDF) are now offering a round of energy efficiency loans to improve commercial buildings in Detroit.

Loans between $50,000 and $150,000 are now available for commercial buildings owned or occupied by nonprofit organizations or for-profit entities including, but not limited to, grocery stores, restaurants, civic organizations, minority-owned businesses and low-income housing developers.

The energy-saving improvements could include:
• Building enclosures: insulation, weatherization, glass replacement
• Building systems: lighting and electrical, HVAC, low flow water/plumbing
• Alternative energy generation: solar panels, geothermal, wind and water systems

For more information, please visit: http://www.degc.org/businesses/smartbuildings-detroit. To receive an application, please contact me at ahaas@degc.org or call 313-237-4622.

Andrea Haas
Associate Project Manager

Banner Supermarket begins $5.6 million expansion

With assistance from DEGC’s Green Grocer Project (GGP), Banner Supermarket at 14424 Schaefer Hwy. has begun a $5.6 million expansion project that will nearly double the size of the independent grocery store to 40,000 sq. ft.

“Our store is going to be an icon for the neighborhood — inspiring others to invest in businesses and homes right here in northwest Detroit,” said Sam Shina, one of the store co-owners. “We are working hand-in-hand with the Mayor and everyone else who is revitalizing our city by providing great food choices so people don’t feel the need to shop in the suburbs.”

The expansion project will essentially double the size of every department as well as adding a pharmacy, a bakery, a hot food deli, and a seafood counter. The store is staying open during two phases of construction. The first phase is expected to be completed in November and the second phase early next year. The renovation includes a new entrance and parking lot and landscaping improvements. Shina said, “When we are done it will look like a brand new store – inside and out.”

Shina also expects to double the staff at the store by adding 25 or more jobs. We recognize the way Detroit’s independent grocery stores can help lead the way toward neighborhood revitalization, providing jobs and keeping consumer dollars in the city, so we support that any way we can. GGP provided direct help through a technical assistance grant and facilitated financing through Invest Detroit, Chase Bank and a New Market Tax Credit set up by Capital Impact Partners.

“A strong and vibrant Detroit must ensure that its underserved communities have access to the vital services most of us take for granted,” said Terry Simonette, President and CEO of Capital Impact Partners. “That is why we are proud to have led the financing for this loan and created the opportunity for the Shina family to double the size of Banner Supermarket and bring new jobs and access to fresh and healthy food to the neighborhood. We also commend our partners including DEGC, Chase, Invest Detroit and WK Kellogg for their continued support of efforts like these to revitalize Detroit.”

Mimi Pledl
Program Manager, Detroit Green Grocer Project

Detroit PAL, Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy collaborate on plan for historic Tiger Stadium redevelopment


This time all the significant stakeholders agreed to redevelop the historic site of Tiger Stadium the right way. Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy had an idea to preserve the site’s place in baseball’s past, Detroit PAL works with young baseball players to give them a better future. Together they have the opportunity to create a very active place. Detroit PAL and Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy (OTSC) put their ideas together, and the Economic Development Corporation of the City of Detroit has given the partnership preliminary approval to proceed.

In the plan, Detroit PAL will build a new headquarters next to a youth baseball field in the same area as many legendary baseball stars played. Two additional areas along Michigan and Trumbull Avenues remain in reserve for residential, retail or commercial redevelopment. With that mixed use development, the site will be significant in the continuing revitalization of Corktown. Thomas W. Linn, chair of the OTSC said, “Our cooperation with Detroit PAL is historic and is the foundation for a tremendous development for the youth of Detroit and the future of the city.” The site itself is about 9.5 acres in size and the plan shows the proposed new headquarters for Detroit PAL along Cochrane St., while the youth field would cover much of the same footprint as the former Tiger Field.

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) approved by the EDC also provides conditional rights for Detroit PAL and OTSC to develop the area along the Fisher Freeway Service Drive between Cochrane and Trumbull. Under the terms of the MOU, the development partners have until the end of September to provide a financial plan and other details for the project. OTSC controls a $3 million federal earmark that can be tapped for redevelopment of the site to support youth recreation. The City of Detroit owns the property currently and has assigned the responsibility of redeveloping it to the EDC.

George W. Jackson, Jr.

CEO Spotlight: Comprehensive Logistics, Inc. – Brad Constantini, Executive VP/Principal


Comprehensive Logistics, Inc. (CLI) is an award-winning, third-party logistics provider (3PL) that provides services primarily to the automotive and industrial industries. CLI offers engineered logistics solutions that help businesses stay competitive in today’s changing and often unpredictable business environment. The company currently has 19 locations across the U.S. and Canada and will open a new facility in Detroit in the fall of 2014.

It sounds like you’re in the middle of a significant expansion. How did you pick this location?

Real estate is a big part of our company’s business model because we operate, in many cases, very large warehouse facilities. We were looking for a plant that was as close as possible to the Ford-Dearborn Assembly plant, which we will service. That facility is where the Ford F-150 is built.

We came across the property through a broker and secured a deal with the owner. A build-to-suit plan was developed that allowed us to expand upon the facility to fit our company’s needs. The site had a pre-existing 120,000 square foot facility and there was also a larger area where we could add a new building, which is almost complete. The new building will be 365,000 square feet.

We’re located at Wyoming and McGraw, which is only about two-and-a-half miles away from the plant that we will service. The location was an important factor. Being close to the Ford-Dearborn Assembly plant will help us serve the client with a very high-level of efficiency.

How has your company grown in Detroit?

Will grow substantially in the new Detroit location. We conservatively estimate that the new facility will have 240 employees, but it could certainly be higher than that. We anticipate that number will grow substantially over time. We’ve operated in Michigan for a long time, including some business in Lake Orion and a hub in Lansing. We’re very much looking forward to growing with Detroit.

How will your investment here in Detroit impact the city positively?

The property we bought was a former glass manufacturer and there were environmental issues that needed to be addressed and cleaned up. With brownfield remediation support, we were able to clean up the soil and the property. We’ll also be adding a large number of jobs, which will impact the city positively. Most of the work that has gone into developing the location has been provided by companies that are locally-based, and the same will be true of the vendors and suppliers that service this operation when it’s functional. The equipment used will also be locally-based.

In total, the investment that our family and company are going forward with is about $20 million. We’re very happy to be taking part in Detroit’s revitalization and are looking forward to our future in the city. We’ve also joined the Bridging Communities Group, which is very influential in strengthening communities throughout Detroit.

How have your relationships grown with the City of Detroit and DEGC?

It has grown pretty quickly. CLI Director of Finance John Hopkin has really worked hard to make this facility a reality. He worked directly with DEGC, which has provided support and played a very important role in helping us navigate the process. Honigman also provided valuable counsel. The experience has been extremely positive, and we’re very appreciative of all the hospitality and support we’ve received.

We’re looking forward to continuing to build our relationship with the city and DEGC. This facility will launch around September or October, and we would gladly go through this process again if the opportunity presents itself.

Tracie Tillinger
Business Development Manager