Detroit Construction Firms Learn to Grow Business

Supplier Capacity Building Seminar
Representatives from more than 10 Detroit-based construction firms participated in the two-day, interactive “Supplier Capacity Building Series” hosted by D2D in March.

“I was glad to be there,” said Tony Sabo, senior vice president and partner, Grunwell Cashero Co.  “It was well run and the speakers gave good information. It was great to be around so many good contractors.”

Presentation topics included financial analysis and ratios for contractors, construction accounting, contracting with the GSA, and increasing bonding for 2nd tier businesses.

“I want to thank the DEGC and D2D program for helping level the playing field for Detroit-based small businesses. At the end of the day, it boils down to access, and this program seeks to provide just that,” said Derek Gideons, founder, TEG Environmental Services, Inc.

Brian Watkins
Business Development Manager 

Two Downtown Apartment Developments Win Preliminary Approvals

The Griswold

We have known for some time that people who want to live Downtown have found it very difficult to find apartments, and the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has taken a step toward meeting that demand. The DDA has voted its preliminary approval of two separate housing developments Downtown. The Roxbury Group earned preliminary approval for The Griswold, an 80-apartment development that would be built directly on top of the parking garage at 150 Michigan Ave., next to the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel. Village Green Holding, LLC earned preliminary approval for Statler City, a 200-250 apartment unit that would be built at Washington Blvd. and Park Ave., directly across from Grand Circus Park.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, who also chaired the DDA meeting said, “It’s great news that there is strong enough demand to build another 300 or more residential units in our downtown core. This is more evidence that a growing number of people are excited about living in Detroit because they are seeing good things happening.”

The idea for The Griswold was first proposed as a condominium development in 2007. When the housing market collapsed, the project was cancelled. Under the new development agreement, a five-story structure would be built on top of the deck at an estimated cost of $22 million. The 80 housing units will be rental apartments. The agreement anticipates construction could begin this year and be completed in 2015.

Village Green, the developer of the Statler City project is a nationally recognized firm with Detroit roots and projects in 13 states. It recently renovated and renamed Trolley Plaza as Detroit City Apartments and the former Millender Center Apartments as Renaissance City Apartments. It is planning to invest between $30 million and $35 million in the project, build it to meet the National Association of Home Builders’ National Green Building Standards and develop first-floor retail space along Washington Blvd. Parking for tenants would be underground. The developers hope to have the first tenants move in before the end of 2016.

DEGC President and CEO, George W. Jackson, Jr., added, “The revival of The Griswold project clearly shows that Detroit has turned a corner since the housing crash of 2008, and the investment by Village Green in Statler City sends a strong message to developers around the world that this is a great time to invest in Detroit.”

Brian Holdwick
Executive Vice President of Business Development

CEO Spotlight: George Karmo – Tucker, Young, Jackson, Tull, Inc.


Tucker, Young, Jackson, Tull, Inc. (TYJT) is a consulting engineering business with a staff of about 60 people who provide comprehensive environmental and civil engineering services in four practice areas: water, wastewater, infrastructure and environmental compliance. TYJT was founded in Detroit in 1984 and is headquartered in the Ford Building downtown, with additional offices in Baltimore and Cleveland. George Y. Karmo, P.E., has been with TYJT for 20 years and has served as its president for 10 years.

Tell me about your work in the city of Detroit

I think we’ve worked with just about every department in the city of Detroit. We’ve handled civil and electrical engineering work on the RiverWalk, and streetscapes in Greektown and along Woodward. We’ve also done engineering design for water main replacements, water leak detection and audits, and water and wastewater treatment plant design for the Detroit Water Department. And we’ve done ADA ramp design and traffic signal control work.

Describe your most recent projects

Over the last couple of years, we’ve had the opportunity to partner with Kimely-Horn, a national aviation firm, on runway construction at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. We’ve done a lot of utilities work at the airport, but we didn’t have experience in runway construction. It was an opportunity for us to be mentored and trained by Kimley-Horn to perform design work and get experience in runway construction.

Recently, we’ve met with members of DEGC and MEDC on a storm water management project. We’re working to find solutions to reduce the discharge of storm water from areas where businesses operate, thus saving them money and in the process reducing the burden on the Detroit sewer system.

How do you want your company to impact Detroit?

We want to come up with solutions for businesses that will enable them to stay and grow in the city of Detroit, just as we’ve been able to grow here.

Detroit Future City Unveils 2014 Priorities

Detroit Future City
Detroit Future City (DFC) is an organization helping to revitalize the city of Detroit by implementing innovative ideas from the framework for redevelopment it published last year. Since then DEGC has assisted DFC in the hiring of urban planners and other staffers to help its efforts. When former Mayor and City Council Member Ken Cockrel Jr. started in January 2014 as executive director, it was a great addition to the DFC team.

“Working with our partners in the community over the last 10 months, we have been able to identify five key priorities from the DFC Strategic Framework,” says Cockrel. “The areas of focus we have selected are critical to the long-term viability of our city and must be addressed first.”

On February 20 DFC announced those five key priorities for 2014.

1. Economic Growth Priority – Employing more Detroiters
2. Land Use Priority – Fulfilling regulatory reform
3. City Systems Priority – Renewing systems strategically and with innovative ideas
4. Neighborhoods Priority – Stabilizing neighborhoods
5. Land and Building Assets – Transforming vacant land into an innovative open space networks

Read DFC’s full release about its priorities on the website
DFC made its announcement from its new permanent address at 2900 W. Grand Blvd., Suite 2. Be on the lookout this year for more news from DFC as it continues to launch projects aligned with those five priorities.

Malik Goodwin
VP Project Management

Jobs and the Downtown Events Center District


One of the primary missions of DEGC is the creation of jobs for Detroit residents, so it naturally is an important consideration in the development of a transformational events center district in Downtown Detroit.

In the concession management agreement (CMA) Detroit Economic Growth Corporation negotiated on behalf of the Downtown Development Authority, Olympia Development agreed to hire Detroit residents as 51% of its construction workforce. That translates to more than 4,000 Detroit jobs as the event center is being built. Olympia also agreed to significant efforts to hire locally to operate the center. For instance, it will “maximize opportunities” to hire Detroit residents and Detroit-based businesses as suppliers. Olympia pledged to provide development and training opportunities and use local Detroit-based workforce training programs for referrals or targeted hiring. And finally, Olympia agreed to review its efforts in these areas with the DDA.

By a majority vote of elected officials, the Detroit City Council decided that those and other community benefit commitments that Olympia Development did make were sufficient, and that the City had adequate measures in place to enforce them. In a good collaboration all parties make concessions to get the deal done, and now it is done.

Furthermore, the jobs created by the event center are important, but are only a portion of the benefits of the total transformation that the Council has approved. As the $200 million of private development proceeds around the center, it will bring in more construction, businesses, and residents in a thriving community that will generate many more opportunities for Detroiters as well. That’s a good trade for $2.9 million in land that is the only asset the City of Detroit had to commit to this deal.

Our negotiations delivered the essentials for a project that will transform Downtown, generate jobs and tax revenues that will benefit the entire city, and make Detroit a must-see destination for fans of sports and entertainment. And we did it by meeting every requirement of the law and the highest ethical standards.

George W. Jackson, Jr.
President and CEO