Detroit Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, Detroit City Council Approve Four Development Projects

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Not only are businesses investing in Detroit, they’re rebuilding. The Detroit Brownfield Redevelopment Authority (DBRA) and Detroit City Council have approved brownfield tax increment finance incentive plans for four development projects set to bring in some serious investment and jobs for the Motor City.

  • Wurlitzer Hotel, Grand Circus
  • Mack Athletic Complex, Mack Avenue
  • Casamira Apartments, New Center
  • Erskine Mixed Use Development, Woodward Avenue

Upon completion, the projects are estimated to bring approximately $94 million in investment, over 100 new jobs and 243 residential units to Detroit.

Tax Increment Financing (TIF) reimbursement, in accordance with an approved brownfield plan, is a tool that can assist in redeveloping blighted, functionally obsolete or contaminated properties. Developers of eligible brownfield properties can be reimbursed for costs such as remediation, demolition, infrastructure and site preparation activities from tax-increment revenues generated by the project.

“These four projects are the latest demonstrations of just how powerful brownfield plans are as urban redevelopment tools,” said Art Papapanos, chief board administration officer, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation.

Wurlitzer Hotel
1509 and 1501 Broadway, Grand Circus

An extensive rehabilitation of the vacant Wurlitzer Building, built in 1926, into a 100-room hotel which will also contain a street-level café and bar, a second-floor restaurant and meeting space, and a roof-level lounge with direct access from the street.
Project developer: HM Ventures Group 6, LLC

Mack Athletic Complex
4290 and 4300 Marseilles

The abandoned Hanstein School on Mack Avenue was razed in order to build a 40,000 sq. ft. indoor, domed multi-sport field house as well as training facilities for multiple youth sports. The former school administrative building will be renovated as offices and meeting space. Construction is scheduled to be complete by fall of 2015.
Project developer: PDRM Properties    

Casamira Apartments
680 Delaware, New Center

An extensive rehabilitation of a vacant apartment building into 44 one- and two-bedroom rental units ranging in size from 643 to 1,057 sq. ft. is planned. One-fourth of the units will be affordable units for tenants at 50% to 60% AMI (area median income). Construction is set to be completed by late 2016.
Project developer: Central Detroit Christian Community Development Corporation

Erskine Block Mixed Use Development
3100 Woodward Block

Construction of a mixed use development including 199 units of market rate housing, 14,000 sq. ft. of ground floor retail and a 301-space parking structure is currently underway. Apartments will consist of studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom units ranging from 393 to 1,183 sq. ft. in size.   A swimming pool and outdoor recreation center are planned for the second floor. Construction is set to be completed in 2018.
Project developer: Woodward & Erskine, LLC.

Jennifer Kanalos
Director of Brownfield Redevelopment

D2D Buyer Ready Business: Rebel Nell – Amy Peterson, CEO

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Rebel Nell began with the mission of employing, educating and empowering disadvantaged women in Detroit. The social enterprise makes jewelry by repurposing graffiti into wearable art. Working directly with local homeless shelters, Rebel Nell identifies women who are ready to make this transition to a new phase in their lives. CEO Amy Peterson (along with co-founder Diana Russel) began the Rebel Nell vision in 2013.

What inspired you to found Rebel Nell?
I lived right next door to the Coalition on Temporary Shelter located on Peterboro Street for several years. I’d walk my dog and talk to these women and listen to their stories – all they’d overcome and the awful situations that they left behind – and it inspired me to do more for them. To provide them an opportunity to learn and grow.

What else does Rebel Nell do to assist women in need?
We offer financial, literacy and management classes to our staff. We also provide regular mentoring sessions to help each of our team members build confidence. Additionally, we hold entrepreneurship classes to help empower our staff to further their impact on the city in their own way. Lastly, we assist in providing legal aid to the women who need it. All of these classes are built into the staff’s work day.

We also work really hard to get them out of the shelter as soon as possible and into transitional housing. However, we’re in the process of taking it a step further and developing a housing initiative that will take them from homeless to home owners. More to come on that.

What types of products do you sell and what’s the price range?
Our products include pendants, cufflinks, rings, bracelets, and more. The prices range from $65 to $175. Our necklaces which are our signature products come with a location identifier that tells you from what part of the city the graffiti originated. It is important to note that we are a self-sustaining business that relies on the sales of our jewelry to support our business and the programs that we offer. Each sale really makes a huge impact on the lives of the women we hire.

Where are your products sold?
We sell our products directly through our website (www.rebelnell.com) and art shows around Detroit and Chicago. Our products are also sold by over 40 distributors around the country. Locally you can find our products at the Peacock Room, City Bird, Detroit Artist Market, DIA and the Henry Ford Museum.

How do you want your company to impact Detroit in the long term?
I think that creating jobs is key to the transformation of the city, but you also need to provide the tools for people to be successful — which includes education, confidence building, and support. My short term goal is to be able to add one to two more women to the staff by the end of the year. To date, we’ve hired four women full-time from shelters.

What is the Rebel Nell Security culture all about?
Our culture is all about family. The most important part of what we offer is a support system, whether it’s listening or providing guidance. Our culture is helping one another.

What companies have you collaborated with in Detroit as customers or suppliers?
We collaborate with quite a few local Detroit partners to offer guidance to our staff. Just to name a few, Lips and Hips help with our women’s empowerment classes, LifeLine Business Consulting Services provides entrepreneurship assistance, LauRyn Williams provided financial advising, and Foley & Lardner LLP provides our staff with legal aid.

When you can connect with another Detroit businesses, what benefits does that bring?
Our relationships with fellow Detroit businesses adds to the community atmosphere that Rebel Nell offers. If it weren’t for the people and businesses of Detroit supporting us we wouldn’t be where we are today.

Brian Watkins
D2D Program Manager

Motor City Match Accepting Applications from Businesses

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Are you an entrepreneur looking to start or expand your business in Detroit? Between now and July 1, you can apply to compete for $500,000 in matching grants, through Motor City Match.

Motor City Match helps businesses locate and thrive in Detroit by matching the best businesses from the city and around the world with Detroit’s best available real estate. The program provides competitive grants, loans and technical assistance to help building and business owners realize their dreams in Detroit. This is the second track – the Business Track – of Motor City Match. Earlier this year, over 150 property owners applied to the Building Track to get help leasing and renovating their properties.

In the Business Track, businesses will compete for the resources within these four categories:

  • Get Ready — Up to 50 businesses in the planning stage will receive free business planning courses to help transform their idea into a business plan.
  • Make a Match – Up to 25 businesses with a great business plan that are searching for space will receive one-on-one matchmaking with the top 25 properties in the Building Track, as well as expert guidance on leasing, financial planning and assessing market opportunities.
  • Make a Plan – Up to seven businesses that already have a property secured but need help planning for renovations will receive design and build assistance, financial planning assistance and priority permitting.
  • Match Your Cash – Up to 10 grant awards will be issued per round for a total of $500,000. Maximum grant awards are $100,000 per project. Financing is also available through six lending partners. Businesses reaching this round will have a location secured, a plan for build-out and strong of understanding of the money needed to start their business and complete renovations at the space.

This is the first of three challenge rounds for business owners this year. Round one applications are due July 1. Apply online here or via a printed application, which is available at the DEGC office at 500 Griswold Street in Detroit. For more information, visit motorcitymatch.com .

Michael Forsyth
Motor City Match Program Manager

D2D Program Works: Buyers Increase Their Spend in 2014

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The 17 Detroit organizations in the D2D Buyers Council purchased $962 million in goods and services from other Detroit-based businesses during 2014, a 14.4 percent increase over purchases in 2013.

“These results show that large institutional buyers are recognizing the capabilities and value that Detroit-based businesses offer them,” said Rodrick T. Miller, president and CEO of DEGC. “It also demonstrates the help we are delivering to small businesses in Detroit. The D2D program is identifying new bidding opportunities for them.”

Funded by the New Economy Initiative, D2D connects Detroit-based companies to each other as buyers and suppliers. The Buyers Council is a group of key purchasing organizations that lead the effort. The reported increase in 2014 resulted from growth in its membership and increased Detroit sourcing among those members.

DTE Energy is one of the companies that did a significant amount of construction work using Detroit contractors. DTE Energy Chief Procurement Officer Anthony Tomczak said, “We have been pleased with the capabilities shown by Detroit’s construction companies, and our purchases reflect that. We are also mindful of the fact that when we spend locally we further DTE’s purpose to be an engine of progress and help to create jobs in the communities we serve, and we are proud of that.”

Brian Watkins
D2D Program Manager