Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Annual Indian Village Home Tour this Saturday

Ever drive through Indian Village and wonder what its historic, lavish homes really look like on the inside? Do some of them really have maid's quarters? Are there really a few homes that have Thomas Jefferson's dumbwaiter, an invention designed to carry food from the kitchen to the dining room? Now is your chance to explore these homes firsthand and find out.

This Saturday from 10 am-5 pm, many of the historic neighborhood's homeowners will open their doors to the public for tours. Tickets are $13 in advance, and $18 at the event. Groups of 10+ can get a discounted rate of $11 per ticket. (A cool plus: Detroit Race for the Cure team members that purchase an $18 ticket on the day of the tour can have $5 donated to their Cure team by visiting Indian Village's website and printing out the Race for the Cure coupon.) Ticket sales benefit the Indian Village Association - an organization made up of neighborhood residents - that was established in 1937 to protect the Village from replacement by high-rise apartments, which were in high demand after World War II.

Indian Village, composed of the streets Burns, Seminole, and Iroquois, is one of Detroit's most well-known, most prominent neighborhoods. Designed by some of the city's finest architects, Indian Village's homes were created for some of its most famous residents. Edsel Ford - Henry Ford's only son, Arthur and Clara Buhl - who later constructed the Buhl Building downtown, and Louis Kamper - the architect of both the Book Building and Book-Cadillac Hotel, all had homes built for them in Indian Village.

This article, from the Detroit News' "Rearview Mirror" project, is a great resource for additional information on Indian Village. Check the Indian Village website for more information on tickets and the tour this Saturday. The website also has pictures from the tour booklets given out during the previous 31 years, which are also pretty cool.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Spotlight on: Detroit's Scarab Club

Sign above the Entryway Door

Historically-designated properties are prominent throughout Detroit, from the land of Historic Fort Wayne, to the old mansions of Indian Village, to the many churches, buildings, and sites that helped Detroit make it what it is today.

One historic property - the Scarab Club - often goes undetected, mainly because of its off-the-avenue location east of Woodward. Its rich history in Detroit's Midtown area, as well as its continued membership in the city's cultural community, make it a gem worth seeking out.

The Scarab Club is listed on the Registry of National Historic places

Founded in 1907 as the Hopkins Club, after Detroit marine painter Robert Hopkins, the Scarab Club is one of Michigan's oldest art institutions. After expanding from a social club to an organization focused on the continual renewal of the arts in Detroit, the club changed its name in 1913 to Scarab, an Egyptian word meaning rebirth.

A large sculpture of a scarab is visible on the building's west wall

The current building - created by architect Lancelot Sukert in 1928 - sits on the corner of John R. and Farnsworth, just east of Woodward avenue. Exemplary of the romantic Arts and Crafts style of the time, Sukert's building presently houses a main gallery, art studios, classrooms, and a lounge, which features high beams and a fireplace. The beams, although beautiful by themselves, have taken on a significance beyond their original purpose; over the years, they have become a literal signing board for many local and international artists, as well as significant contributors to Detroit arts programs. The signatures of Diego Rivera, Norman Rockwell, and Marcel Duchamp are a few of the names the beams display.

Always displaying the works of Detroit and Michigan artists, the Scarab Club also plays host to a photography exhibition every year. Other annual events include its Chamber Music at the Scarab Club series, and the Gold and Silver Medal exhibitions of painting and sculpture.

Open to the public from noon - 5 pm every Wednesday through Sunday, the club offers a wide variety of art classes, from beginning drawing to more advanced sculpture and design courses. Aside from its normal operating hours, it also opens its doors during special events, such as its upcoming Garden Party on June 12 and the Detroit Festival of the Arts, which runs from June 11 - 13. Other special events and weekly classes can be viewed at the club's

Friday, May 27, 2005

Fuse-In: Detroit Electronic Music Festival Evolves

For those of you sticking around the D this holiday weekend, make sure not to miss Fuse-In, the three-day techno fest going on at Hart Plaza this Saturday through Monday.

Put on by Kevin Saunderson's Musiclogical - Saunderson's production company - and sponsored by the likes of Nokia, Metro Times, WDET, Jack Daniels, Molson, Verizon Wireless, and more,
Fuse-In is set to offer the same heart-thumping beats and synthesizer melodies as past Memorial techno fests, with a few minor changes.

First, there is the obvious name change. The festival was initially known as the Detroit Electronic Music festival (DEMF), then Movement, and now has been changed to Fuse-In. This is because different companies have run the festival and changed its name when taking it over.

Second, the festival now requires attendees to purchase tickets, ranging from $10 for a one-day pass, to $75 for an all-weekend VIP pass. If you plan to attend the festival for a long period of time or for more than one day, I would just splurge for the $75 VIP; it comes with 4 drink tickets per day, as well as three meals a day, plus VIP stage rights, and access to the techno exhibit at Cobo Hall. If you plan to go budget, a three day no-frills pass is $25. Pre-sale tickets are available today until 5 pm for VIP and 6pm for all others. You can purchase tickets
here through Fuse-In's online ticket seller. You can purchase tickets at select stages, but with the 2-3 million people expected to converge on the grounds of Hart Plaza this weekend, be prepared to stand in line.

Third, Fuse-In has expanded its musical genre to include a stage that will solely play hip-hop. Many hip-hop musicians have begun incorporating techno into their songs, and this outgrowth of techno has received a strong response from listeners. Mos Def will be the headliner at the hip-hop stage on Monday; the first two days of the hip-hop stage will include acts like ONEBELO and Slum Village.

Through these changes, though, one thing remains constant: Detroit's link to techno and the importance of celebrating it as it develops and evolves. For more information regarding the 120 acts on 4 stages in 3 days, see the
Fuse-In website.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Belle Isle Slides Open this Weekend

What better way to usher in Memorial Day - the segway to summer time - than with an exciting, slippery trip down one of Belle Isle's most exciting attractions, the waterslides.

Not only are they bigger and better than that old Slip 'n Slide you have packed away in your attic, heading down to the slides will give you and your friends a chance to check out the beauty of Belle Isle, the three-mile island situated smack-dab in the middle of the Detroit River. Although it'll cost you $3 to take the plunge, this fee allows users to ride the slides all day. At less than what you're paying for your daily cappuccino, skip the joe and head on down for some fresh air and fun. The city is set to open the slides for use on Saturday. Daily hours are from 12:00 - 8:00 pm.

If water slides aren't your thing, don't fret; Belle Isle has plenty more attractions - ogle at the glorious James Scott fountain, monkey-around at the one-acre children's Playscape, or relax and do some bird-gazing at the blue heron watching area. Visit the Friends of Belle Isle's website for additional ideas. Click here for location and directions.

Friday, May 20, 2005

New-old movie, new-old theater

Detroit's Renaissance Center houses the Riverfront 4

Detroit residents tired of driving out of the city to watch new films got a double-dose of happiness Thursday when the Riverfront 4 reopened in the Renaissance Center with none other than the highly-anticipated "Star Wars Episode III".

The opening of George Lucas' final film about a galaxy far, far away unveiled new information about Anakin Skywalker, and also uncovered a new entertainment venue in downtown Detroit, which has been without a first-run theater since 2000.

With renovations totaling over $1 million, including state-of-the-art projection and sound systems, the "new" old theater complex is a welcome addition to Detroit's CBD.

Located on the third level of the Ren Cen's 200 tower, the complex - as its name implies - houses four different theaters, each containing between 180 and 240 seats.

Tickets for adults run $8.50 and kids get in for $5.50. Free parking is available in surface lots or moviegoers can pay $2 to valet.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Ernest & Young Moving to New Downtown Building

Although plans for the new building on Kennedy Square were only recently approved, Ernst & Young has already inked a deal to move its 400 Detroit-area employees into the top three floors once the structure is complete.

The new $54 million structure, which will join Compuware and Au Bon Pain in the Campus Martius Park area of Detroit's CBD, has the capacity to hold 1200 workers.

Projected to be complete by April 2006, One Kennedy Square - as the building will be known - will house workers from Visteon, as well as other yet-to-be named tenants.

Monday, May 16, 2005

St. John's building new $12 million facility on Jefferson

St. John's Riverview Hospital in Detroit announced last week that it was beginning construction on the newest addition to its Jefferson Avenue location: a 62,300-square-foot medical office building.

First announced in November 2004, the new space will house both primary-care and specialty physicians, as well as a pharmacy and a physical rehabilitation department. The new medical building is set to be completed in May 2006.

St. John's operates 8 hospitals in southeast Michigan, and began its relationship with Detroit in 1844.

Friday, May 13, 2005

1001 Woodward announces condo development

Detroit's 1001 Woodward building, the modern, 21-story office structure located at the edge of Campus Martius, will soon transform its top nine floors into condominium units, according to The South End, WSU's campus newspaper.

Currently, the building is occupied largely by tech companies and law firms. The Class A space also houses a barber shop, ATM, and a Bellacino's restaurant.

Designed by the award-winning firm Smith, Hinchman, and Grylls - architects who envisioned buildings in the D such as the Buhl, the Guardian, and the old Hudson's department store - 1001 Woodward adds depth to Detroit's skyline, which is mainly dominated by 1920s-era skyscrapers (several of which, ironically, the firm also designed).

With floor-to-ceiling windows, and breathtaking views of the Detroit river and Windsor skyline, the future residential tenants of 1001 Woodward are sure to experience luxurious living in the center of Detroit's CBD.

No date has been released yet for the project's completion, although interested individuals can sign up for an e-mail newsletter at www.1001woodward.com for information as it becomes available.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Saturday's Hip-Hop Summit in Detroit Focuses on Money

This Saturday, Detroit's plays hosts to a very influential, albeit unusual, team of renowned people coming here with one purpose in mind: to talk about money.

No, it isn't a special meeting of the Detroit Economic Club, nor is it a panel of economists coming to examine Detroit's fiscal problems. Instead, it's world-renowned rappers like Eminem, 50 cent, and D12, along with music-industry giant Russell Simmons, and financial guru
Suze Orman. Together, with the help of other celebrities like Obie Trice and Master P, as well as Simmons' non-profit organization, HSAN, and Chrysler Financial - the event's title sponsor - they will present the first-ever Hip-Hop Summit on Financial Empowerment.

Entitled, "Get Your Money Right", the summit will focus on teaching today's 18-35 age group the importance of understanding money and using it wisely. Basic banking concepts, budgeting, planning for retirement or other major life events, and the use of credit will all be discussed.

Tickets to the Hip-Hop Summit on Financial Empowerment are just $10 and can be purchased through
Ticketmaster. Pre-purchased tickets include a free copy of Suze Orman's newest book, "The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke", which buyers will receive at the summit.

Doors to the event - which will be held at the Max M. Fisher Music Center on Woodward - open at 9:30 am. This
press release issued on Monday states that Eminem will make an appearance at this Saturday's summit.

About HSAN: created in 2001 by Russell Simmons, the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization designed to utilize the influential power of hip-hop music as a means of producing positive changes for society, especially relating to equality, education, health and environmental issues, public policy, and poverty. To learn more about HSAN's upcoming projects or volunteer opportunities, please visit

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Ben & Jerry's Coming to Downtown Detroit

The world headquarters of Compuware is about to add another tenant to its quickly-expanding repertoire of retail clients. According to this news bulletin in tonight's online edition of Crain's Detroit (although the article's date says May 9 - which isn't until tomorrow...), Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit will open up the 16th U.S franchise of the unique ice cream shop Ben & Jerry's, which became very popular in the 90's for its funky ice cream names like Cherry Garcia (my favorite), Chunky Monkey, and Phish Food.

Besides having a fun, new ice cream store downtown, the opening of Ben and Jerry's in Detroit is a significant addition to the city because the business will be utilized to teach job skills to at-risk teens, such as the development of people skills, and other qualities like scheduling and inventory-management. Upon completion of the program, trainees will receive assistance in finding positions with area companies.

Goodwill - a non-profit organization that has many successful ventures in both Macomb and Wayne counties - qualified as a PartnerShop, a form of relationship created by the ice cream maker that allows chosen non-profits to forego many of the normal start-up costs of opening a franchise.

Detroit's Ben & Jerry's - which will be located on Woodward Avenue inside Compuware - is set to open at the end of this month and will be adjacent to retailers Kinko's and Borders.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

City's Sale of Marine Terminal Creates Opportunity on Riverfront

Plans are under way to transform 35 acres of riverfront property into a commercial shipping hub within the city of Detroit.

Yesterday, City Council approved the sale of the vacant and deteriorating Detroit Marine Terminal. It will be transferred to city ownership and then placed under the control of Nicholson Terminal & Dock and Ambassador Port, a joint public-private relationship between the two companies.

The land, which is located between Clark Street and Historic Fort Wayne in southwest Detroit, will be designed to accelerate both exporting and importing from the city, including steel and petroleum. The Port Authority hopes the new shipping center will later handle agricultural products, as well as automotive parts.

This Free Press story states that the development team will be ready to hire employees in about 30 days and that 200 new jobs will likely result from the project.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Cinco de Mayo in Detroit

Long for some things to do this Cinco de Mayo? Detroit has many ways to celebrate the traditional Mexican celebration from listening to folk tales to partaking in fiestas and pinata-breaking. Here are some of the city's happenings tonight:

Los Galanas: All-day celebration starts at 11 am - located on Bagley in Mexican Town

555 Gallery and Studio: Auction and live music starts at 8 pm - on Grand River

Bagley Housing Art Gallery: Opening night of select Detroit-area Mexican artists - located on Bagley

Mexican Town Fiesta Center: Food and music from 4:30 - 9 pm - located on West Vernor


Monday, May 02, 2005

Preservation Wayne Offers Unique Tours of Five Detroit Areas

Are you fascinated by Detroit's skyscrapers but don't know a thing about them? Ever wonder who the sculptures around Detroit actually depict? Is the significance behind the street names Gratiot and St. Antoine keeping you up at night?

Whether you're intrigued by a particular building, street, or landmark,
Preservation Wayne's Saturday morning tours are sure to uncover many of the Motor City's mysteries, and then some.

Here's the lowdown on the tours: each one costs $10 and begins at 10 am sharp (so you may want to show up 15 minutes early). All tours are given by Preservation Wayne's trained tour guides and will include historical information, as well as current and/or future projected uses of the specific tour area. Tours usually last 2 - 3 hours and are conducted in small groups, which are based upon a first-come, first-served basis. For this reason, reservations for groups of 10+ are mandatory and can be made by calling
Preservation Wayne at 313.577.7674. (To ensure your spot, get there early.)

The five Saturday tour areas are as follows:

1. Downtown
2. Midtown
3. Auto Heritage
4. Eastern Market
5. Cultural Center

Visit Preservation Wayne's website for complete details on each of the tours listed above, as well as tour meeting places, information on special yearly and Tuesday evening tours, and how to become a member of this wonderful non-profit group.

And let me say this: at $10 per tour, you'll pay nearly as much as the price of a movie ticket, and I guarantee you'll come out with more knowledge on Detroit than any movie could give you. Plus, you'll finally have some answers to some of your questions about Detroit.