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News of new restaurants, hotels, retail and other new developments in Detroit are being announced all the time. From the Riverfront and the Convention Center to Foxtown and Midtown, Detroit is bustling with new activity.
Olympia Development of Michigan recently announced plans for a sweeping transformation of dozens of underutilized blocks between downtown and midtown Detroit into a world-class Sports and Entertainment District. The District Detroit, which broke ground in September 2014, will connect existing and new development efforts in downtown and midtown Detroit along Woodward Avenue with five walkable, livable mixed-use District neighborhoods. The District will encompass dozens of blocks along and near Woodward Avenue. Development in the District will be integrated with existing sports and entertainment venues in or adjacent to the space, including the Fox Theatre, Comerica Park, MotorCity Casino Hotel, Ford Field, the Detroit Opera House, the Fillmore Detroit and more. The Ilitch organization has expanded its planned investment in the District to now include tens of millions of dollars in new neighborhood public infrastructure improvements such as lighting, sidewalks, green spaces and streets. These investments will occur concurrently with the development of the new District neighborhoods and arena. The project will spur at least $1.8 billion in economic impact for the city, region and state.
The new $450 million, world-class arena built concurrently with the District will be a model of innovation for such a facility in a downtown setting. It will serve not only as a powerful, continual generator of activity, but also as a good urban neighbor. The revolutionary design will focus the arena on its most fundamental elements, while concurrently building and integrating a new, mixed-use neighborhood surrounding it. As the design is scaled and planned to fit with both new and existing development, it will also offer a dynamic urban environment that is uniquely Detroit. The expected completion date is summer 2017.
Construction continues on the highly anticipated M-1 Rail. The M-1 Rail streetcar when complete in late 2016 will travel north and south on both sides of Woodward Avenue for 3.3-miles between Larned Street and W. Grand Blvd. The streetcar will service 20 stations (16 curbside and four median running) at 12 locations. The modern streetcar system will serve Detroit’s largest job centers and most visited destinations. It will ignite tremendous new economic development and job creation and will provide a foundation for improved and expanded public transit throughout the region. The project will also create construction and permanent jobs for Detroiters. For more information, go to m-1rail.com.
Brooklyn’s award-winning Galapagos Art Space announced it will be moving to Detroit in 2016. Galapagos is a for-profit space that presents a variety of pop music, theater, dance, indie classical music, cabaret, burlesque, lectures and other programming. Buildings have been purchased in Highland Park and Detroit’s Corktown area with the main goal of the project being to serve as a place-making engine in its new neighborhood. Plans include a 10,000 square foot lake in the center of the venue, a second, more intimate venue, the Kunsthalle Galapagos gallery project, which will create 50,000 square feet of gallery and artisan/maker space as part of the ground floor streetscape and a Detroit Biennial, a juried art show showcasing the best of homegrown contemporary art. Learn more at galapagosdetroit.com.
More than two dozen new restaurants, breweries, distilleries and coffee shops have opened in Detroit in the past year. From farm-to-table inspired menus to beer bars, Detroit’s dining scene continues to please even the pickiest palate. The list includes: HopCat, Wright and Co., Punch Bowl Social, Gold Cash Gold, Selden Standard, Johnny Noodle King, Batch Brewing Co. and Antietam.
Menswear designer John Varvatos announced he will be opening his first Midwest store in Detroit. The 4,000-square-foot store located in the Wright-Kay building on Woodward Avenue will open this spring. The Allen Park native said that this is more than a business opportunity, but a way to change the complexion of a great city and create a different kind of legacy.
Detroit’s Midtown is one of the city’s fastest-developing neighborhoods, featuring an abundance of restaurants, galleries, community gardens and markets. It was recently listed as one of USA Today’s 10Best: Up-and-coming neighborhoods around the USA. Local entrepreneurs have made Midtown a hub for small businesses such as Hugh, Nora, Maccabee’s at Midtown, La Feria and Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company. Detroit’s first Whole Foods also opened in Midtown in 2013, as did Shinola, which makes American-made bicycles, watches, leather goods and journals. Last summer Willy’s Detroit, a clothing store anchored by four classic American brands: Filson, Steven Alan, Clare V and Mollusk opened in Midtown. HopCat, a craft beer bar with 130 tap handles, which makes it the largest draft beer selection in Michigan, opened in December 2014 and another craft beer bar, Jolly Pumpkin is expected to open early this year. Midtown is also at the core of the M-1 Rail development and non-motorized transportation plans that will connect the district to Eastern Market and other neighborhoods via greenways and bike paths.
Detroit welcomed Michigan’s first and only Aloft Hotel this past December. Located in the historic David Whitney building, the new hotel features 136 spacious, loft-like rooms, forward-thinking design and an energetic, social atmosphere – all at an affordable price point. The adaptive re-use project restored the decorative exterior elements that were removed in 1959, as well as the four-story lobby with glass atrium, while thoroughly renovating all floors of the building. Amenities include the brand’s signature W XYZ® bar with live music performances by emerging artists, a 24-hour fitness center and 6,670 square feet of flexible meeting space. Aloft Detroit at The David Whitney is within walking distance to Comerica Park, the Detroit Opera House, Ford Field, Fox Theatre and other popular downtown attractions. For more, go to aloftdetroit.com.
The Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center completed a massive, one-year $30 million renovation project that transformed 1,298 guest rooms and 100,000 square feet of meeting space. One of the tallest hotels in the western hemisphere, the Detroit Marriot’s makeover began in January 2014 with guest room renovations that were completed in November 2014. Remodeling of meeting room space, two-level concierge lounge, and its 52 suites began in May 2014 and concluded in December 2014. For more information, go here.
Downtown Detroit’s Cobo Convention Center is in the final stages of its $279 million expansion and renovation. A new 40,000-square-foot Grand Riverview Ballroom is now open, as is a new 30,000 square-foot glass-enclosed atrium with floor-to-ceiling views of the Detroit River and Windsor, Ontario, skyline. Cobo now also features a TV broadcast studio with satellite uplink capabilities and high-tech video walls on the exterior of the building to welcome visitors. Coming this spring is Cobo Plaza, a 50,000 square foot exterior plaza and vehicle drop-off area. The center has remained open throughout construction and will welcome the following major groups this year: Shell Eco-marathon Americas, Midwest Media Expo, National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, USA Volleyball, Youmacon and the American Society of Association Executives.
Detroit's Globe Trading Company Building located across from the William G. Milliken State Park & Harbor has been being transformed into the new Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Outdoor Adventure Center. This one-of-a-kind Outdoor Adventure & Discovery Center will house exhibits, displays, and hands-on simulators introducing visitors to features in state parks, recreation areas, beaches, trails and harbors. When the Center officially opens to the public in July 2015, visitors will experience the Michigan outdoors through these primary interpretive areas – Michigan Trails, The Detroit River and Beyond, Michigan Waters, Heritage Outdoor Sports, Outdoor Lodging, The Big Tree, Nature in My Neighborhood, Michigan’s Healthy Forests and The Dark Sky. Interactive displays will teach people how to use a real bow and arrow, sit in a blind, use a simulator to hunt wildlife, and experience the sights and senses associated with camping. For more information, go to detroitriverfront.org.
The completely renovated Mt. Elliott Park features a Great Lakes schooner-themed water feature with water cascades and “kid activated” water cannons, wind chimes and many other interactive features. This is among the latest news surrounding the Detroit International Riverfront, which has been completely redeveloped, now with more than three miles of RiverWalk featuring plazas, pavilions, water features, a state park, fishing areas, beach volleyball, a playground and a carousel. More development continues this year, including the extension of the Dequindre Cut. For more information, go to detroitriverfront.org.
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"Bring your bike to the William Milliken State park along the Detroit River and ride up the Dequindre cut to Eastern Market, followed by a trip through Campus Martius to the Ren Cen and along the riverfront. Great experience!!" – Gary L.