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Local coffee roastery, bakery, and cafe to expand to downtown Royal Oak with third location

Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters is expanding to a third location — this time in downtown Royal Oak. It's a town that Nathan Hamood, President and Director of Coffee Roasting Operations at Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters, has been eyeing for a while. So when Hamood saw the 3,200-square-foot former home of La Dulce restaurant, he jumped on it.

Hamood hopes for a grand opening in downtown Royal Oak in May.

He expects a pretty easy build out this time around, at least as compared to the other two Dessert Oasis locations. The Hamood family opened Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters in Rochester in 2009, relocated to a more central downtown Rochester location in 2010, and opened a second location in downtown Detroit's Capitol Park neighborhood in 2015.

Given the building's former role as a restaurant, the infrastructure for a coffee shop and bakery is already there. Hamood will relocate the business baking operations to the Royal Oak location, and also move a coffee roaster to the front of the building, allowing customers and passers-by the opportunity to see—and smell—the coffee roasting process first-hand.

The Detroit location features an industrial, minimalist design aesthetic, and Hamood says he is working with design firm Ideology to maintain a minimalist approach but add some warmth to Royal Oak. Nightingale Company is tasked with the build-out.

"I'm excited about what the growth of our company does for our team," Hamood says. "Over the years, I've learned to delegate tasks to people's strengths. It creates an opportunity for others."

"We're operating like a real company."

Hamood also has his own line of hair pomade, Ace High, as mentioned in a profile that appeared in Metromode in 2016. He says that the business is growing as well, with the addition of hair clay and beard balm products and the hiring of a few employees. Ace High has picked up more local accounts, and even some distributors overseas.

Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters will be located at 115 S. Main St. in downtown Royal Oak.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Valentine Distilling announces expansion

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After 10 successful years, Rifino Valentine of Valentine Distilling Co. in Ferndale has announced plans to expand with a $1 million investment in its production operation. 

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RedLine Athletics set to open multiple youth athletic training centers in Michigan

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RedLine Athletics, which operates youth athletic training centers that includes coaching from former professional athletes, announced it will open 12 locations in Michigan, with the first opening next month in Farmington Hills.

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Vinotecca re-emerges in downtown Birmingham, focuses on eclectic entrees, live music


Vinotecca has opened in the former The Bird and The Bread restaurant space. Wine fans may recognize the name; Vinotecca used to be located in downtown Royal Oak. That location closed in 2017 to make way for that town's new Jolly Pumpkin outpost. The brand has been re-energized just a few miles north up Woodward Avenue in Birmingham.

Fans of the Vinotecca experience should feel welcome at the bar and restaurant's new digs. There remains an emphasis on great wine and food. The food menu, however, has been re-designed. While there are still the familiar small plates, the new Vinotecca returns with a more prominent entree menu.

Chef Adam Galloway, who has spent the past eight years at the Jonna Family of Restaurants' other wine bar and restaurant bar, Vinology in Ann Arbor, says that the new Vinotecca is more of a hybrid between the old Royal Oak location and Vinology. He characterizes the menu as wine-friendly world cuisine, and not just the predictable Italian and French dishes.

"We have small plates that represent a wide variety from around the world. There's an eclectic feel to the menu -- even on the entree side," says Galloway. "We're putting a twist on the classics, but in modern, fun, and interesting ways."

Entrees include the Cowboy Steak, Curried Scallops and Pork Belly, and Ponzu Glazed Fjord Trout, among others. Like the small plates, entrees are made available to share, with customers having the option to order full and half size plates of the main dishes.

In addition to wining and dining, Vinotecca offers wine education classes, weekend brunch service, and live jazz and blues concerts. One holdover from The Bird and The Bread days is the Elm Room, the 300 person-capacity private events space that remains in the back of the building.

Vinotecca is located at 210 S. Old Woodward Ave. in downtown Birmingham.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

LTU gets $100,000 state grant for business incubation

The Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) has approved a one-year, $100,000 extension to fund the Lawrence Technological University Collaboratory Gatekeeper Business Incubator.

The grant runs from April 1 through March 31, 2019, and was part of $1.7 million in state grants to support entrepreneurial resources. 

This is the third year LTU has received the grant to assist entrepreneurs and innovators in Southfield and throughout Southeast Michigan with a variety of programs, services, and events. 

The mission of the LTU Collaboratory is to help small manufacturers and hardware enterprises scale up for success. More about the programs and events available through the Collaboratory at www.ltucollaboratory.com

LTU has partnered with the City of Southfield to foster economic development through the city’s SmartZone. Based on the results from the Gatekeeper Grant, Southfield has provided the LTU Collaboratory additional support over the past year to help foster small business success.

Through the Gatekeeper Grant, the LTU Collaboratory has also strengthened its collaboration and working relationships with agencies such as the Michigan Small Business Development Centers, Automation Alley, Pure Michigan Small Business Connect, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, and other organizations.

The new Gatekeeper grant will continue the momentum established from the first two years’ awards to assist the growth of early stage technology companies, especially in those companies focused on product design, engineering, prototyping and manufacturing.

For further information on the programs, contact, Mark Brucki, executive director of the LTU Collaboratory, at mbrucki@ltu.edu.

“Collaboration resources such as those available through Automation Alley, TechTown and SmartZones across Michigan are essential in providing our state’s entrepreneurs the necessary support needed to spark innovation and spur the business economy,” said Fred Molnar, vice president for entrepreneurship and innovation at the Michigan Economic Development Corp., the state’s chief marketing and business attraction agency. “The continued funding of these programs demonstrates their impact in not only building and growing startups in Michigan, but in attracting out-of-state talent.”  

Gatekeeper business incubators assist early-stage companies in accessing various services and programs administered by Michigan SmartZones, including mentoring, incubator and wet lab space, technology assessments, market analysis, product development and entrepreneurial training. Under the grants they’ve previously received, Michigan SmartZones have helped 231 companies form, served 1,695 companies, created 730 jobs, retained 4,223 jobs, and assisted companies in raising over $286 million with an additional $125 million in sales.

Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Management. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 100 universities for the salaries of its graduates, and U.S. News and World Report lists it in the top tier of best Midwestern universities. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus include more than 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.
 

Beaumont moving forward on $160 million Farmington Hills expansion

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As a member of the Beaumont, Farmington Hills advisory committee and from his position as mayor of Farmington Hills, Ken Massey can see both the business and the community sides of the massive hospital renovation Beaumont is doing.

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ER docs run new urgent care in Milford

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A new urgent care facility capable of treating everything from the sniffles to broken bones opened this month in Milford. 

The practice is co-owned by physicians specializing in emergency medicine.  

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Drifter Coffee to open Ferndale cafe this spring

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Fans of Drifter Coffee’s mobile trailer will have an easier time finding the brew this spring when owner Alleah Webb sets up a permanent location in Ferndale.

The two-story coffee shop and roastery will be at 780 Woodward Heights. It will be part of a multi-building development known as Iron Ridge District, which also aims to include a full-service bakery, farmers, florist and other local vendors.

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Royal Oak-based Vectorform and Microsoft Partner to expand HoloLens technology for automotive design

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Royal Oak’s Vectorform, a digital product and experiences company with capabilities in mixed reality design and engineering, announced a collaboration with Microsoft Corp. to innovate vehicle design and the prototyping processes for the automotive industry.

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Cold juice producer Drought adding production kitchen in Berkley, launches business consulting

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Royal Oak-based Drought, a producer of USDA organic, cold-pressed juices, has launched a new arm of its business called Drought Solutions. Services are aimed at small businesses that are seeking to resourcefully expand their operations, including food preparation, manufacturing, distribution, business planning, and growth strategies.

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Retro-themed club Boogie Fever Cafe and Disco to celebrate grand re-opening in Ferndale

What's old is new again. Or is it: what's new is old again. Either way, Boogie Fever Cafe and Disco, that venerable retro-themed dance club in downtown Ferndale, is making a comeback.

In 2014, after 15 years of Boogie Fever, co-owners Mark McConnell and Rob Potter decided to reboot the Woodward Avenue nightspot as Twisted Tavern, a more contemporary club and restaurant. But after just three years of operating Twisted Tavern, McConnell and Potter are bringing the Boogie back.

"We realized that running Boogie Fever is what's in our wheelhouse," McConnell says. "And that's what the people wanted, so we're going to give them what they want."

The retro-themed dance parties are back, and so, too, is the light-up dance floor. There are some slight differences from its first iteration, with McConnell and Potter keeping some of the Twisted Tavern upgrades. McConnell says the decor is a little less cheeky, and a little more chic. The cafe features windows that open up to the sidewalk, and the kitchen will be serving dishes a step above the average bar food, including Ahi Tuna.

What remains the same is Boogie Fever's emphasis on entertainment. The establishment is open Wednesday through Saturday, with each night featuring a different theme. Wednesdays are trivia nights. Thursdays include half-off bottles of wine, and could eventually become New Wave night, featuring early 1980s-era MTV music videos and dance parties. 
 
There's an acoustic open mic night in the cafe on Fridays, and will eventually host classic rock cover bands on the club side. And Saturdays are reserved for the big Boogie Fever dance parties, with a DJ playing music from the 1970s and 80s, and some from today.

McConnell seems excited to bring back the Boogie Fever brand. Marveling at people's enthusiasm for the club, he says that people are flying in just for the grand reopening party. The demand is there.

"When you work for yourself, you have to recognize trends," McConnell says. "We have a lot of people that work here. We owe it to them to be the best that we can be.

The Boogie Fever grand reopening party is Saturday, Jan. 20. The cafe and club assume regular hours Wednesday, Jan. 24.

Boogie Fever Cafe and Disco is located at 22901 Woodward Ave. in Ferndale.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Metro Detroit cities prepare for autonomous vehicles with smart infrastructure

Last spring, Terry Croad started attending quarterly meetings of the Michigan Connected and Automated Vehicle Working Group. As Southfield’s director of planning, he hoped to stay abreast of the latest technology advancements as well as regulatory, financial, security, and other issues tied to the rapidly advancing ecosystem of connected and autonomous vehicles.

Often, he’d be the only planner in a room full of engineers, computer programmers, transportation experts, economic development leaders, and security and defense officials.

Southfield is getting a head start on the inevitable infrastructure changes mobility will require. “We’re already starting to tweak a little bit our land-use pattern and our regulation, and I think as this becomes more and more integrated into our daily lives, it’s going to have a significant impact on the way we park and use cars,” Croad says.

All Metro Detroit cities could look a lot different in the not-so-distant future thanks to the advent of autonomous vehicles and innovative mobility services.

Features we now take for granted, like 10- to 12-foot-wide driving lanes and expansive parking lots, could be rendered unnecessary in areas where people use connected, driverless cars, or ride-sharing platforms to get from point A to point B.

That’s why it’s crucial for local government officials to stay on top of the latest developments in connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) technology and adjust their infrastructure and land-use plans accordingly, says Croad.

Experts estimate that autonomous vehicles will be commonplace within 15 to 20 years. “As a [planning] profession, we need to be embracing this earlier than later ... The earlier we start talking about it and getting our elected officials at least aware that this is coming, better off we’re all going to be,” he says.

Southfield even included a section on “innovative transportation opportunities” in the master plan it updated in 2016. It stressed the need to be proactive to understand the impacts of such advancements so it could better plan and invest for the future.

That kind of awareness is one of the biggest things communities can do to prepare for CAVs, says Valerie Sathe Brugeman, senior project manager at the Ann Arbor-based Center for Automotive Research. Brugeman recently co-authored a “Future Cities” report commissioned by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) on the potential benefits and challenges of CAV technology to communities.

At this point she hasn’t seen Michigan communities drastically change their roads, intersections or pedestrian walkways, but she said big changes could be needed as more people use autonomous or shared vehicles.

Intelligent use of space

Since CAVs should be able to stay in their lanes better than vehicles with drivers, roads of the future could have narrower lanes, allowing more space for pedestrian paths, drop-off lanes or other uses. There’s a possibility these technologies could result in fewer vehicles on the road, meaning fewer lanes would be needed. Or it could have the opposite effect, and result in increased vehicle miles traveled with more people opting to commute further to work or using autonomous cars that drive around with no occupants after drop-offs, Brugeman says.

Parking needs also are expected to change. A driverless car could drop passengers off at their destination and then either park itself off-site, or continue driving to pick up different passengers. That would reduce the need for parking spots in prime locations as well as shrink individual parking space sizes. Autonomous vehicles can park closer together if there are no passengers who need to open doors.

As cities build new parking structures, they should consider making them retrofittable so they could be transformed for office space or recreational use as parking needs decrease, says Brugeman. Communities also could change zoning regulations to dictate the maximum number of parking spots instead of minimum number of spots for particular developments.
Southfield recently conducted an overhaul of its parking standards to take these trends into consideration. Croad wants to reduce the parking ratios required for certain land uses and shrink the space between aisles.

Future planning for Michigan cities

While Southfield is considered ahead of the pack in acknowledging the potential impacts of CAVs and other mobility advancements, it’s not the only Metro Detroit community taking action. Last year the City of Detroit created the Office of Mobility Innovation and named Mark de la Vergne its chief.

“The fact that they now have a chief of mobility innovation is telling of the value they place on the topic and the technologies surrounding it,” Brugeman says.

Detroit recently won a nearly $2.2 million federal grant to deploy vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication and detection technologies at intersections in high-traffic areas in Southwest Detroit, the Riverfront, Corktown, and the Livernois-McNichols corridor. De la Vergne says the connected corridors should improve traffic safety and reduce emergency response times.

The grant will be a jumping off point to understand how and if the city could scale the technology, and what kind of infrastructure it would require.

“Knowing technology is changing a lot, I think that’s the challenge we all face, but at the same time, we want to be able to start getting some of this stuff in the ground so that we can start learning,” de la Vergne says.

Michigan is a national leader when it comes to developing, testing and promoting CAV technology. There are at least 115 dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) roadside units installed throughout the state for vehicle and infrastructure connectivity, according to the Future Cities report. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is partnering with local and state entities to work on several CAV projects, such as allowing transit signal priority to SMART buses in Macomb County with the goal of improving efficiency and reliability.

“We have all these physical assets here that really make this area unique to other parts of the country,” Brugeman says, noting that one of Michigan’s biggest advantages is the collaboration between MDOT and the MEDC in concert with the auto industry, universities and other entities.

“They recognize the need to remain a leader, because there are a lot of other communities that are vying for a leadership position in this race for CAVs,” she says.
 

Growing the 'burbs: Top development stories to watch in Metro Detroit in 2018

Ferndale's growing up and out. Ford's helping to transform downtown Dearborn. And metro Detroit's communities continue to embrace the concepts of placemaking in earnest. There is no shortage of developments coming online in southeastern Michigan in 2018. By no means a complete list, here are several of the grand openings we're most looking forward to attending in 2018.

Ferndale
Home of the hippest downtown north of Eight Mile, Ferndale will only cement its status as metro Detroit's most attractive suburb for area millennials in 2018. From single family homes to multi-level mixed-use loft buildings, Ferndale will see a number of development projects begin or conclude throughout the year.

According to its website, the Ferndale Haus Lofts development will be completed by May 2018. Construction is currently underway on the mixed-use building, which is being built on the old Sav-A-Lot site on Nine Mile Road in downtown Ferndale. Expect 90 residential units, more than 10,000 sq. ft. of retail and office space, and integrated parking at the Ferndale Haus Lofts.
A mix of 100 single family homes and townhomes will be built on the sites of two former schools, both of which should offer at least some move-in ready homes over the course of the year. The 72-unit Parkdale Townes townhouse development is going on the former site of the Taft Digital Learning Center and the 28-unit Wilson Park Village of single-family homes is being built on the old Wilson University High School site. Bloomfield Hills-based developer Robertson Brothers Co. is responsible for both projects.

Though it may not be ready for at least another year or two, it will be no less interesting to observe how the development of the Iron Ridge District shapes up over the course of 2018. Located on a 13-acre site that straddles the border of Ferndale and Pleasant Ridge, the Iron Ridge development will eventually include residential, commercial, and office space, as well as a marketplace, brewery, beer garden, and more.

And while it may not be the sexiest of developments, a multi-level parking deck in downtown Ferndale confirms the city's continued and expected growth. Dubbed "The Dot," the four-level and 397-space parking deck will also feature street-level commercial space and the potential for two additional floors of office space. Construction on the structure, located on W. Troy Street, breaks ground in the spring.

Dearborn

In addition to the Ford Motor Company's increased focus on autonomous vehicles and mobility technology, the Dearborn-based company made the headlines several times in 2017 as they announced a number of development plans that embrace the benefits of traditional downtowns. At least two of those plans should come to fruition in 2018.

Work is well underway in west downtown Dearborn, where Ford has purchased, demolished, and is in the process of rebuilding two blocks of that city's main drag, Michigan Avenue. Eschewing the mid-twentieth century idea of an office tower surrounded by landscaping and parking lots, Ford is rebuilding the streetwall on Michigan Avenue to supply offices for as many as 600 employees in a walkable urban environment that is decidedly more appealing to a new generation of office workers. They are also renovating the historic Wagner Hotel as part of the project. The development should be completed by mid-year
Ford is also moving more than 200 employees to a redeveloped building in Detroit's historic Corktown neighborhood, another building that is located on Michigan Avenue. That move should be completed in 2018, too.

Though it won't be completed by the end of 2018, Ford also announced that it is redesigning its Ford Dearborn campus into a high-tech and green campus as it transitions from an automobile company into an automobile and mobility company. The campus redevelopment is a 10-year project and construction is underway.

Pontiac/Bloomfield Hills

The specter of the abandoned Bloomfield Park development in Pontiac and Bloomfield Hills has haunted passers-by for nearly a decade now, but it was announced in 2017 that the arrested development-that-never-was would soon be scrapped and replaced with a re-invigorated plan for the nearly 90-acre site.

The new development, the Village at Bloomfield, will incorporate some of the partially-built buildings while demolishing others, resulting in a mixed-use campus that includes commercial, residential, and a hotel. Openings should roll out over the course of both 2018 and 2019, according to Southfield-based developer Redico.

Placemaking

We reported on several placemaking projects over the course of 2017, and a number of them are scheduled to come online in 2018.

Bike share programs. Bike lanes. Bike racks. Bicycles have become a key component of a number of metro Detroit communities' placemaking missions. In the community of Wayne, a 2017 crowdfunding campaign successfully raised enough money to install 20 custom bike racks throughout the city. In 2018, look for pop-up bike repair stations to continue throughout spring and summer of 2018.

In the downriver community of Trenton, a successful crowdfunding campaign has funded the construction of the Wildlife Refuge School Ship Dock and Fishing Pier at the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge. While construction on the dock and pier have been completed, they won't officially open until this spring. The pier offers free shore fishing access to area anglers while the dock will host Michigan Sea Grant’s Great Lakes school ship, providing metro Detroit schoolchildren a "living laboratory" field trip destination on the river and refuge.

Both the Wayne bike rack program and the Wildlife Refuge School Ship Dock and Fishing Pier were subjects of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation's Public Spaces Community Places placemaking initiative. For successfully reaching their crowdfunding goals, each program received a corresponding matching grant.

Bonus developments to watch: 

It will be interesting to monitor what 2018 holds for three of metro Detroit's most notable sites, those of the vacant Northland Mall in Southfield, the shuttered Palace of Auburn Hills, and the partially demolished Pontiac Silverdome. Each site holds both cultural and nostalgic weight for metro Detroiters, but each is also uniquely situated to provide transformative development opportunities for their respective communities. No doubt that the cities of Southfield, Auburn Hills, and Pontiac are carefully weighing their options for each site.
 

Humanetics in Farmington Hills creates crash test dummies to increase senior safety

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Humanities, a Farmington Hills-based designer, supplier, and manufacturer of crash test dummies and calibration equipment, announced that a dummy designed to address the needs and characteristics of senior drivers and passengers has entered advanced testing for vehicle safety systems. 

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Vitrine Gallery & Gifts opens in downtown Berkley

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Vitrine Gallery & Gifts has opened in downtown Berkley, featuring work by local artists, global artisans, Michigan food products and fair trade products. Susan Rogal is the owner of the 1,500 sq. ft. shop. She also owns ArtWear Detroit, a functional art fashion, accessories and housewares company and has a studio at the shop.

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