Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Holiday wishes

Happy holidays, Detroit! Best wishes for a healthy and happy New Year!

Have a question or comment on this post?
I'd love to hear from you!
E-mail me at girl.in.the.d@gmail.com

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Support 'Explore the Detour' in Southwest Detroit

If you care about the vitality of Detroit, then you should know about Explore the Detour, Savor Southwest Detroit.

It's a new marketing campaign designed to help Southwest Detroit businesses survive the two-year closure of I-75 North and South between Rosa Parks and Clark Street - the main artery through Southwest's five business districts. The closure begins this February.

While Southwest Detroit business owners understand the importance of the project, they recognize that the effects of closing the main thoroughfare of their community must be addressed.

To counterbalance the closure, members of the Southwest Detroit Business Association (SDBA) created Explore the Detour, Savor Southwest Detroit - a comprehensive marketing plan promoting alternative means of accessing Southwest's retail centers and independent businesses so that the community's 800,000 visitors a year continue flocking to the area even while I-75 is closed.

Explore the Detour focuses on eight key points:
-A strong brand with detailed construction information and alternative routes for accessing the community's business districts;
-A detailed, project-long PR campaign;
-Informational print advertising and Web support;
-Radio spots promoting Southwest Detroit as a destination;
-A special map of the area;
-Informational billboards at key spots along the highway;
-A business grant program to assist area companies with immediate marketing needs.

What can you do to help? Continue visiting your favorite Southwest Detroit spots throughout the I-75 closure.

Southwest Detroit is the fastest-growing neighborhood in Detroit, and its population is up an estimated 22% from the 2000 United States Census.

For more information about Southwest Detroit, please click here.

Have a question or comment on this post?
I'd love to hear from you!
E-mail me at girl.in.the.d@gmail.com

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Deck the Halls

On Friday evening, my husband and I experienced poinsettia delight at the "Stroll through the Conservatory" event at the Belle Isle Conservatory.

Put on by the Belle Isle Botanical Society (BIBS) and the Floriculture Unit of the city of Detroit Recreation Department, this was the 19th year of the annual holiday stroll.

The 100+-year-old conservatory was decorated and specially lit for the evening, and a local choir was on hand singing Christmas carols.

With five climate-controlled greenhouses and a stunning building created by architect-Albert Kahn, the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory is a beautiful sight anytime of year, but especially around the holidays.

Divided into five distinct sections, the conservatory covers over an acre and features an 85-foot dome with two wings to the north and south, and a show house on the east.

Large palms and other tropical trees share over 100,000 cubic feet in the dome, while tropical plants such as bananas, oranges, coffee and sugar cane occupy the south wing. The north wing hosts several varieties of cacti and succulents, and the showhouse is home to a continuous display of blooming plants during the six major flower seasons of the year.

Home to one of the largest municipal collections of orchids in the nation, the conservatory is open every day of the year from 10:00to 5:00. Admission is free.

BIBS is a non-profit organization founded in 1988 to raise funds for the restoration and maintenance of the conservatory and its surrounding gardens and to provide educational programs for the public. Last year, BIBS funded the replacement of over 81 panes of glass in the conservatory and greenhouses, repaired slipped windows, patched 42 minor breaks in windows, installed vent arms and repaired broken vent wheels in the Show House. For more information on BIBS, click here.

Have a question or comment on this post?
I'd love to hear from you!
E-mail me at girl.in.the.d@gmail.com

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Studio One Apartments going up in Midtown

Finally -- Detroit is getting some new apartments.

One hundred and twenty-four new ones, to be exact.

Don't get me wrong; I'm thrilled with all the condo developments in the Motor City recently. But it's nice to have some diversity. And that's exactly what
Studio One Apartments - the first market-rate, new construction apartment building in Detroit in 30 years - brings to the city.

Recently, Girl in the D spent some time with Marcel D. P. Burgler of Grand Rapids-based Prime Development, to discuss Studio One, which is currently under construction on Woodward Avenue between Canfield and Forest. Here's the low-down on the building going up at the site of the former Vernors bottling plant:

- Five-story building: Ground-floor retail and four stories of apartments;
- Apartments range from 650 to 1008 square feet;
- Rental prices from $870 to $1,395 per month;
- Units include individual furnace, air condititioner and washer and dryer;
- Six floor plans to choose from;
- All units include one or two balconies and 10-foot living room ceilings;
- Floor-to-ceiling windows in every unit;
- Kitchens with granite countertops;

Cool extras available to Studio One-dwellers include access to an on-site fitness center for $15 per month, preferred cable and high-speed Internet for $49 per month, and a $65 parking spot per car per month in the Wayne State University (WSU) parking structure that will connect to Studio One Apartments via a third-floor crosswalk.

Burgler points out that along with the amenities of the units and building, Studio One is in a prime Midtown location.

And he's right.

The building, which has already locked-in tenant Fifth/Third Bank, is across the street from MOCAD, a few blocks from the Detroit Artists Market, and within walking distance of Midtown's cultural heavy-hitters, which include the Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit Public Library-Main Branch, Max M. Fisher Music Center, Detroit Historical Museum, Children's Museum, Detroit Science Center, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Scarab Club, and WSU's Bonstelle Theatre. The College for Creative Studies (CCS) is also nearby.

It's really city living," says Burgler, who notes that the building's commercial space will be completed in April 2008, while the apartments are slated for June 1, 2008.

Though Studio One is just steps from WSU's campus, Burgler wants prospective renters to know that Studio One is not student housing. What kind of people is Studio One attracting?

"So far, interest has come from a mix of young professionals, age 22 to 29, and empty-nesters," Burgler says. "Grad students, medical professionals from the DMC (Detroit Medical Center) and others."

Interested in finding out more about this $21 million apartment building? Stop into Studio One's sales center on Cass and Canfield between 10 am and 5 pm from Monday - Friday, or contact leasing manager-Billie Mason-Smith by email or at (313) 316-0824 to schedule a Saturday or Sunday appointment.

Studio One Apartments is part of WSU's $35 million South University Village. Phase One of the project includes the construction of Studio One Apartments and Wayne State’s 950-space parking deck. Phase Two could result in more apartments, or new condominiums, depending on the market conditions.

Have a question or comment on this post?
I'd love to hear from you!
E-mail me at

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Catch Mitch Albom's "For One More Day" this evening

If you've watched WXYZ-Channel 7 at all this week, then you've likely seen the spots promoting the movie version of Detroit-author Mitch Albom's book, For One More Day.

Produced by the queen of Daytime talk, Oprah Winfrey, Albom's tale of redemption stars Michael Imperioli, best known as Christopher from 'The Sopranos', as a washed up baseball star who gets to spend one more day with his mother, Posey. Detroit-born Ellen Burtsyn plays Posey.

Harpo Films produced the film for ABC. Oprah Winfrey and Kate Forte are the executive producers.

Lloyd Kramer ("Mitch Albom's The Five People You Meet in Heaven") directed the film, and Mitch Albom wrote the teleplay.

The previous collaboration by Oprah Winfrey, Kate Forte and Mitch Albom, "Tuesdays with Morrie," yielded four Emmy® wins, including Outstanding Made-for-Television Movie and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Mini-Series or Movie.

For One More Day premieres tonight at 9 pm.

Have a question or comment on this post?
I'd love to hear from you!
E-mail me at girl.in.the.d@gmail.com

Friday, December 07, 2007

Southwest Solutions' Holiday Wish List

December is one of my favorite months. I love the holiday celebrations, the splendid food and treats, the tinsel, the pretty wrapping paper and ribbons, the flashy lights and everything else the 12th month of the year brings.

The thing I like most about this month, though, is the gift-giving -- and not the gifts I give to my husband, parents or friends. The gifts I enjoy giving most are the ones for individuals that I will never meet. Individuals that are not fortunate enough to have Christmases like the ones I had growing up or like the ones I have today.

My condo complex used to adopt a family for Christmas and, through this, I discovered how cool it is to buy gifts for children and families in need. My complex no longer does this, but every year I receive an email at the end of November from an individual or organization looking for donations of specific items and unwrapped gifts. Call it holiday magic.

This year, that organization is Southwest Solutions (SWSOL), a 40+-year-old community mental health and housing development agency working to build a healthy Southwest Detroit community.

I first heard about SWSOL back in 2005 when it won Crain's Best Managed Non-Profit that year, but really got to know the organization a few months ago on a bus tour of its agency and redevelopment sites. I was so impressed with the organization that I attended another event, the grand opening of the Whitdel Lofts, 32 new units of artist housing, a few weeks later. (Side note -- the Whitdel is a great old Moorish-inspired building, complete with the Contermporary Art Institute of Detroit (CAID)-run Ladybug Art gallery, plus art education facilities.)

Any type of holiday giving is wonderful, whether it's a handful of coins thrown into a red Salvation Army kettle or giving up some of your time for others, but there's something special about going to the store, picking out a present and taking it to a representative of a positive organization like SWSOL.

Interested in helping Southwest Solutions this holiday season? Unwrapped, gender-neutral, educational gifts for children from birth to age 10 are needed, as are:

Laundry baskets with cleaning supplies and kitchen towels;
Adult-size XL and XXL hooded sweatshirts;
Men's and women's socks, hats and gloves.
Donations are tax-deductible and SWSOL is happy to provide you with a receipt for tax purposes. Gifts are needed in time for a December 16 Christmas Party.

For more information, please contact Mary Madigan, Fund Development Manager, at (313) 849-4902 or at mmadigan@swsol.org

Southwest Solutions operates successful programs in family literacy, mental health counseling, home ownership counseling, supportive housing and commercial revitalization. Please visit SWSOL on the Web for more information.

Have a question or comment on this post?
I'd love to hear from you!
E-mail me at

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Girl in the D garners another "Best of Detroit" award

Imagine my surprise when a representative from Ambassador magazine contacted me back in October to tell me that Girl in the D had been chosen as Best Blog by the publication's readers.

Not having been a reader of Ambassador at the time, I had no idea that a reader's choice poll had gone on or that Girl in the D was in the running.

Needless to say, I am deeply humbled by the accolade. Thank you to everyone that voted for my little blog that highlights Detroit's positive side!

And thank you for bringing Ambassador to my attention, because I now have yet another local publication to enjoy.

Published by two Detroit powerhouses, Denise Ilitch and Dennis Archer Jr., this bi-monthly magazine is full of articles and photos by an elite team of Detroit-area writers and photographers. I especially enjoy "Letter Home", a regular feature written by Detroit-born individuals whose lives have taken them elsewhere, but who will always consider Detroit home.

Ambassador is available at Southeastern Michigan-area Borders, Barnes & Noble, Kroger, Holiday Market and Nino Salvaggio stores.

Have a question or comment on this post?
I'd love to hear from you!
E-mail me at

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Festival of Lights

Happy Hanukkah, Detroit!

Have a question or comment on this post?
I'd love to hear from you!
E-mail me at girl.in.the.d@gmail.com

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Help Build the Belle Isle Nature Trail

One of the reasons I love Detroit Synergy Group (DSG) so much is that they are always thinking of cool projects for metro Detroiters to get involved in.

Today, for example, I received an email from DSG entitled "Help Build the Belle Isle Nature Trail". What a cool thing to be involved in!

As you can guess, the project is about helping create a brand new nature trail on Belle Isle, Detroit's island park (and the largest city-owned island park in the country).

Anyone may participate, and the first meeting, a brainstorming session of sorts, is Thursday, December 6. Interested parties should head to the Belle Isle Nature Zoo (BINZ) at 6 pm that day.

The meeting will last about an hour and BINZ staff will be on hand to discuss the project and how DSG members can help bring it to fruition.

For more information, visit DSG on the Web. Click here for directions.

Have a question or comment on this post?
I'd love to hear from you!
E-mail me at