Thursday, December 29, 2005

Detroit's Campus Martius Park Receives Recognition

Detroiters aren't the only ones raving about Campus Martius Park, the city's 13-month old outdoor public square.

Woodward Fountain

The non-profit group Projects for Public Spaces (PPS) thinks the urban park is pretty wonderful, too.

So much so, that PPS - a 30-year-old organization focused on creating and sustaining public places in communities - ranked Detroit's new gathering spot as the fourth best public square on its list of the Top 12 Public Parks in the United States and Canada. New Orleans' Jackson Square took the top spot, followed by NYC's Rockefeller Plaza and Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square, respectively.

Designed to serve as a gathering spot for Detroiters and visitors, the two-acre park is situated on and around the city's Point of Origin - the spot from which all Detroit streets and addresses originate. Fitting, as there is a new love for Detroit originating there, as well.

In the spring and summer, the park's lush lawn and green spaces are dotted with dozens of little green chairs and cafe-style aluminum patio sets.

City dwellers and visitors can enjoy lunchtime and weekend concerts; watch movies on a mammoth big-screen sponsored by Comcast; or, simply kick back and enjoy the sights and sounds of Downtown Detroit.

CMP wasn't designed just for warm weather, either; the park is just as busy with activities and people during the winter months as it is in June or July, because Campus Martius Park was designed as a spot for all seasons.

During November, the finely-manicured lawn is replaced by a large ice rink, creating a delightful cold-weather atmosphere that's perfect for those looking to have some fun outdoors during the colder months of the year.

The public square, which opened to the public on November 19, 2004, is a stunning sight from the end of November on through the holiday season, when the city's 55-foot Christmas tree is placed atop the Woodward Fountain.

The Rink at Campus Martius Park is open 7 days a week. Admission is $7 for adults, and $6 for senior citizens and youth aged 12 and under. Skate rental is $3. The Rink offers free validated daytime parking for skaters.

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Saturday, December 24, 2005

Luxury Condos planned for Lafayette Building

Last week, R. Donahue Peebles announced plans to turn the vacant Lafayette Building in downtown Detroit into 125 luxury condominiums.

The December 16 issue of the Detroit Free Press states that Donahue, a Florida real estate developer, "is close to moving ahead" with the $40 million conversion deal.

Peebles plans to fill up the first floor of the 1924 building with retail; the remaining 13 floors will be a mix of one- and two-bedroom condominium units. Prices will reportedly start at $400,000.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

D-lightful Last-Minute Gifts

Twenty-six percent of U.S. citizens can breathe easier over the next couple of days - they've got all of their holiday shopping done.

The rest of us don't have it so easy.

We've waited until the last minute, so we're in for larger crowds, longer lines and a higher probability of out of stock items - not to mention a lack of time to dream up those perfect gifts for everyone on our lists.

It's enough to make anyone overwhelmed. But before you give up and succumb to buying a dozen Chia pets, consider these affordable, easily-obtainable (read: no long store lines) Detroit-themed gifts. Your recipients will appreciate your thoughtfulness, and you will avoid the last-minute holiday shopping rush.

Pewabic Pottery has a host of holiday ornaments and small gifts

*Ornaments from
Pewabic Pottery: The well-known Detroit pottery has a variety of festive and non-festive ornaments for sale this year. Prices start at $14.50. Gift boxes embossed with the pottery's name and logo on the outside, and a nice one-page information sheet about the pottery on the inside, are available for an additional $1.

T-shirts like these from Detroit Industrial Gear make great, affordable gifts

*Detroit-themed t-shirts: If the quantity and quality of Detroit-themed t-shirts are any indication of Detroiters' love for the city, then Motown's got a major infatuation problem. From the auto-inspired look of Detroit Industrial Gear to the creative illustrations of BigLoveDetroit's threads, finding a shirt that pays homage to the D is no problem in this city. You may also want to check out the wide range of styles available from Pure Detroit. Most shirts start at $25.

Better Made and Vernors - great stocking stuffers!

*Nostalgic gifts: If it's stocking stuffers that you need, look no further than your neighborhood 7-11 or grocery store. Grab a snack-size bag of Better Made chips, a carton of Stroh's ice cream or a bottle of Vernor's. Anyone that's been away from the Detroit area for a while will appreciate these uniquely-Detroit gifts.

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Sunday, December 18, 2005

Pewabic, Southwest Solutions garner accolades

Congratulations to Pewabic Pottery and Southwest Solutions, two Detroit non-profit organizations recently recognized as Metro Detroit's "Best Managed Non-Profits" by Crain's Detroit Business.

Pewabic Pottery took the title for the contest's "under $3 million budget" category, while Southwest Solutions won the prize for the best managed non-profit in the "over $3 million budget" group.

Pewabic: making strides

Pewabic, a working pottery in Southeast Detroit started in 1903, not only doubled its visitorship in the last ten years - it increased the number of students in its ceramic arts instruction programs from 500 to 7300 during the previous eight.

Also during that same eight-year time period, Pewabic - which has operated as a non-profit since 1991 - beefed-up its real estate portfolio by acquiring three nearby properties.

The award-winning educational and retail establishment will renovate its current home, a two-story structure designed in the Tudor-Revival style, and use the newly-purchased properties, all located on Cadillac Boulevard, to expand. Its plan to modernize the pottery also include updating the parking lot and the landscape surrounding the property.

Southwest Solutions: a well-deserving organization

Southwest Solutions, parent company of Southwest Counseling and Development Services and Southwest Non Profit Housing Corporation, took the prize for Crain's best-managed non-profit in the "over $3 million budget" category, and it isn't difficult to see why.

The company, which has traditionally functioned as a behavioral healthcare provider, discovered in 1996 that many of the people it treated couldn't find affordable housing in the area. In addition to shedding light on this important and overlooked subject, Southwest did one better: it created a subsidiary organization, Southwest Housing Corporation (SWHC), to specifically address the issue.

Nearing its tenth year of operation, SWHC is responsible for creating 238 affordable housing units inside 14 properties. Aside from creating safe low-income housing for people in need, SWHC has also helped clean up the community of Southwest Detroit; many of its properties were burned-out and vacant prior to Southwest's actions.

Along with the integral services it provides in the behavioral medicine and low-income housing sectors, Southwest Solutions' contributions to Detroit also include the creation of a 20-member strategic team called Community Partnership of Southwest Detroit (CPSD).

CPSD, a strategic group created to ensure that community members receive the help they need when they need it, was formed when Southwest uncovered that its ability to treat youth in immediate need was limited to one out of every four. Today, because of the collaborative effort of two dozen agencies, high-risk youth are immediately treated based on the type of help they need.

Pewabic Pottery and Southwest Solutions will be honored at Crain's annual Newsmakers luncheon in February.

To learn more about either Pewabic Pottery or Southwest Solutions, please visit or

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Making the move to Detroit's PriceWaterhouseCoopers

Four floors of a new downtown building went from empty to full yesterday as hundreds of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) employees made the move to the company's new Detroit office, located just east of Ford Field.

Five hundred fifty employees of PwC, a national audit and accounting firm, vacated offices in Tower 400 of the Renaissance Center and relocated to the new $26 million St. Antoine building near Madison Avenue and I-375.

PwC will occupy the first four floors of the 115,000-square-foot building, which features a red-brick and glass exterior. The fifth floor of the structure, located at 1900 St. Antoine Street, is available for lease.

You can see pictures of the building's interior and learn about its inventive office design, called hoteling, by viewing
this article from last week's Detroit Free Press.

PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP is one of the country's largest accounting firms, with close to 90 offices and 46,000 employees. PwC is a privately-held company that provides tax, human resource and auditing services to businesses. The company has served as the independent auditor to Ford Motor Company since the automaker went public in 1956.

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Saturday, December 10, 2005

Plans for Detroit's Youth Education Town announced

Although Super Bowl XL will be over in less than two months, the NFL and several local individuals and companies are making sure that football's Big Dance lives on in Detroit long after the game is over.

The legacy of SBXL in Detroit is a
Youth Education Town (YET), a 30,000-square-foot education and recreation facility designed to benefit at-risk youth.

The new construction project, estimated at $6.6 million, will consist of a gymnasium, an arts & crafts center, a locker room, a game room, a technology center, a teen center, a multi-media studio and community and snack rooms.

The center, which will be managed by the
Boys and Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan, will be located on the city's west side. Future plans include the construction of both a patio and playground, as well as a new outdoor athletic field.

Youth Education Towns like Detroit's are part of the National Football League's
Join the Team initiative, a program that encourages citizens to join with NFL players and coaches in making a difference in their communities.

YET Centers, which the NFL began in Los Angeles in 1993, are made possible by the generous donations of the NFL, which always gives $1 million to the host city for the project, and local individuals and organizations.

In the case of Detroit's future YET, the Detroit Super Bowl XL Host Committee (DSBXLHC) will also give $1 million to the center, thanks to contributions from the Detroit Auto Dealers Association and the North American International Auto Show, which gave $250,000; former Detroit Lions head coach Steve Mariucci; auto giants Ford, GM and DaimlerChrysler; Visteon Fund; Bank One; and, Detroit Lions Charities.

Other donors to the new Detroit YET include Richard Dauch, chairman, CEO and founder of
American Axle & Manufacturing, and wife, Sandra, who have committed $1.5 million to the project; Johnson Controls, which will assist by providing both a monetary donation and material supplies for construction; and, Grosse Pointe-resident Ralph C. Wilson Jr., owner of the Buffalo Bills, who has promised some funding for the outdoor athletic field.

Ground-breaking on Detroit's Youth Education Center is scheduled for Spring 2006. It is expected to open in 2007.

Upon completion, it is estimated that Detroit's YET may accommodate as many as 25,000 youth each year. It will be located on the city's west side, at Joy Road and the Southfield Freeway.

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Friday, December 02, 2005


Ah, the holidays. That abundantly joyous time of year when everyone is in a festive mood. When lights are shining bright, and good will is in the air.

From the excitement of picking out the perfect tree, to the pleasantness that arises from making snowflake-shaped cookies, the holiday season is truly a time of togetherness. A time to cozy up with a loved one, reminisce with family and friends over a glass of eggnog, and be thankful for all that we have.

Amidst the gingerly times of singing carols and making snow angels, though, the time leading up to the holidays can also be littered with unholiday-type things, like trying to find a spot in the jam-packed mall parking lot. Or trying to muscle your way through the crowds of people to the opposite end of the mall, because the only parking spot you could find was on the other side of the building. And then there's the real test of patience, which comes when you finally get inside the store you came all this way for - only to discover that seventy-five other people are in line in ahead of you. It's enough to turn anyone into a grinch.

Lucky for you, downtown Detroit offers a fun, stress-free alternative to the traditional holiday-shopping frenzy.

It's called
SHOP Detroit and it's happening tomorrow from 11 am to 5 pm in the heart of the city.

All you have to do to participate is head over to the atrium inside Compuware and sign up. The wonderful volunteers at
Detroit Synergy, the group responsible for organizing and putting on this traditional downtown event, will provide you with everything you need - a list of participating stores, a map of the area, a free day-pass for the People Mover and special promotions and discounts for participating SHOP Detroit stores.

Meet at Compuware between 11 am and 4:30 pm for SHOP Detroit

Plus, you'll even get a one-day WSU One Card, which will get you discounts at most of the restaurants within the SHOP Detroit area.

Be a part of SHOP Detroit and avoid the long lines and headaches of the mall and the crammed aisles of the Super Walmart. You'll get all of your shopping done in one fell swoop, and you'll enjoy the scenery of The Rink and the Guardian and Penobscot buildings much more than the blandness of the rows of big-box retailers on M-59. Plus, you'll get some exercise!

SHOP Detroit is a free annual event put on by the non-profit group Detroit Synergy. Just a few of the 50+ retailers participating in this year's event are: Pure Detroit, Brooks Brothers, Borders, Jos A. Banks, Riverfront Theater, Mark England De Mode, Art Detroit and Broadway.

For more information, please visit

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Detroit Graphics Exposition

We all know that Detroit is famous for its cars, its musical stars, and its world-champion basketball and hockey teams. But did you know that Detroit is also quickly making a name for itself in the art world?

Surprised? Don't be - from the real-life art of Tyree Guyton's Heidelberg Project, to the city's various galleries and exhibitions, Detroit's creative movement has picked up steam and shows no signs of slowing down (just browse the latest edition of The Detroiter's weekly arts calendar and you'll see what I mean).

The Detroit art scene is finally getting the attention it deserves, and the public is beginning to understand that the D is much more than an old factory town. In fact, it's quite the contrary.

Image by Philip Mason

Take tomorrow night's Detroit Graphics Exposition (DGE), for example.

The DGE - presented by CreateDetroit and sponsored by a host of big-name companies like Apple and Mercedes-Benz Credit - promises to bedazzle event-goers with its gala-style reception at the Fisher Building Concourse, as well as to introduce them to more than four dozen of the area's most notable graphic artists.

Anyone attending the event, which begins at 7 pm, will have the opportunity to voice his or her opinion for "Best in Show", an accolade that will be awarded to the event-artist that best meets all of the project criteria. (Good luck Jeffrey and Boswell!)

In addition, DGE-attendees will be given the chance to take home some of the original artwork presented tonight. Each artist has created one poster reflective of the theme Detroit Propaganda, and 10 copies of each poster will be printed on site and hand-signed by the artist, and then auctioned off to the highest bidder. Proceeds will benefit CreateDetroit and the respective artists.

It's not too late to support Detroit's growing art-movement at this year's DGE - tickets are still available. At a mere $35 each, this is a great opportunity to support the city's art movement, and enjoy a festive party at the same time. For more information, please visit

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