AS PROUD METROPOLITAN DETROITERS, IT IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO REVITALIZE THE ATTITUDES OF OUR CITIZENS, THE POLITICAL, ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL ATMOSPHERE OF OUR STATE, AND THE PERCEPTIONS OF OUTSIDERS.

CREATE YOUR LEGACY.

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

HAMTRAMCK SAUSAGE HUNT (KOPYTKO AND SRODEK'S)

Hello all, I'd like to welcome you all to 2009, aka, our year.

In case you missed my life altering blog during most of the month of December, I'm happy to let you know that I'm back. Here's to Moving Forward.

Heading down Jos. Campau with my father and sister, after having a feast at Polish Village Cafe, the mission was finding great Polish sausage. The good folks at Detroityes had given me suggestions on where to look, so I had an idea of where I was going. I was told that Srodeck's, Bozeks, Kopytko, Polish Market, Stan's and Markowzycz are the best in the area.

We started off at Kopytko market on the south end of Hamtram on Jos. Campau. The market is on bottom of a stand alone structure and has a bit of a raggedy appearance on the outside. The three of us went straight to the meet counter to start ordering sausage, passing by the 80 year old woman peeling garlic in the corner. I was told to ask for lean chuck sausage, dried for seven days. Later I cut up the lean chuck and fried it along side some eggs. Needless to say, it was mighty tasty. We also picked up some Kabinosa aka hunter's sausage which was great for snacking. Lastly we tried some chunky smoked kielbasa. I'm sure its a delicacy if you really know your sausage, but I just wasn't amenable to its look and texture. Basically it looks like your small intestine and it wobbles back and forth when shaken. As people said in college (not me of course), it's my stizz.

Kopytko also carries fresh kielbasa, smoked liver sausage, and kiszka. Additionally they carry potato and cheese, sauerkraut, and mushroom pierogies. I advise taking a trip to hamtown to check out Kopytko for yourself, but if you can't you can order most of their products online. They ship anywhere. Take a look at Kopytko Meat Market

Next we turned back, heading North on Jos. Campau, where we ran into Srodeck's market on the West side of the street. Srodek's is bigger than Kopytko and is stocked with more goods. Meats, sausages and pickles line the showcase where an older Polish gentlemen took orders, resigned to his present position as the resident expert on Polish fare. "How are you today?", my father asked him as we walked in. "Alright I guess," he told us with a sigh. Typical Detroiter response in my estimation and probably reasonable concerning the state of things in 2008.

The economy was of no consequence to the man in front of us from Windsor. He told us how he makes the special trip to Hamtramck multiple times a year just to pick up some tasty pig products for his wife and daughter who seemingly can't get enough of it. The first product he had us try was something made from pig intestines topped off with a flesh colored gelatin. He told us that when he wants a little midnight snack he just eats a scoop of this stuff. It actually tasted pretty good, but based on its texture and description, my mind wouldn't let me enjoy it. We tried a few different sausages on the man from Windsor's reccommendation, but we ended up playing it safe and buying more of the hunter's sausage which we had first tried at Koptyko.

Besides sausage and Polish meat, Srodeck's also carries all types of Pierogi, Golabki aka stuffed cabbage, and Polish beer including Zywiec. Earlier we had tried Zywiec while eating at Polish Village Cafe. It was originally founded in 1852 and nationalized after World War II. Heineken acquired it in the 1990's making it a little more commercialized, but still very good nonetheless.

After we finished purchasing way more sausage than any human actually needed, we thanked everyone who helped us. On our way out, a kid, presumabley from somewhere in the area, stopped in and bought a pound of bacon. My father, sister, and I all nodded in approval. The bacon is for next time.

I still have plenty more sausage tasting to do in Hamtramck. I'm looking forward to checking out Markowzycz, Stan’s, Polish Market, and Bozeks. Below are some photographs from Kopytko and Srodek's. The entire Kopytko flickr set can be found here and Srodeck's here.




Kopytko Meat Market
8609 Joseph Campau St.
Hamtramck, MI 48212
(313) 873-4210





Srodek’s
9601 Joseph Campau St.
Hamtramck, MI 48212
(313) 871-8080

Detroit Army

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

HELP STEER PUBLIC TRANSIT INTO MICHIGAN

I don't know the specifics of this group, but it looks like they have the right idea. The entire theory behind Progress Michigan is to spring Michiganders to action by providing, "a strong credible voice that holds public officials and government accountable, assists in the promotion of progressive ideas and uses state-of-the-art web based new media to creatively build grassroots support for progressive ideas."

I'm sure the group will turn out to be a fascist facilitator of over zelous propaganda, but for now I'm going to take their word for it.

Anyway, I received this in my email box earlier today.

Modern public transit could be on its way to the Great Lakes state, but we need your help. You can help steer a groundbreaking transportation funding proposal through the legislature. Tell the state legislature to implement the Michigan Transportation Funding Task Force's recommendations now!

Click here to urge your representative and senator to take action for public transit today!

According to Cambridge Systematics, Michigan could create over 6,000 jobs by investing in public transit. What's more, implementation of a public transit system - like the ones being considered in Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Detroit, and along the Woodward Corridor - would help bring Michigan into the 21st century, creating vibrant cities that attract young professionals. Building modern systems of public transit in Michigan, such as light and commuter rail, will help connect people to their jobs, their schools, and to communities.

Let's bring Michigan into the 21st century by investing in new, innovative forms of public transit, as well as creating thousands of jobs for our great state! Before the legislative session ends, tell your representative and senator to support new transit funding and take up this critical issue in December.

Go to http://fundmitransit.com and tell your state rep and senator to support public transit for Michigan!

Sincerely,

Dan Farough

Executive Director, Progress Michigan


The point is, take up Progress Michigan on their offer and contact your state representatives and senators and let them know that you support public transit. One day I'd like to ride back and forth down Woodward without having to drive or wait an hour for a SMART bus. Get on that.

Oh and while your contacting Michigan political figures, tell them what complete dumbasses you think Richard Shelby and Bob Corker are and that the two of them and their states shall reap what they sow if you have anything to do with it. (Take a large breath) Also ask them where your credit line is that you were promised after you ponied up a trillion dollars for a bunch of scumbags, and how exactly congress just happened to get religion within the last month which just so nicely coincided with the Midwest asking for a loan. Then tell them that you'd like to take 50 billion of that trillion, or even just 16 billion of it and give 15 billion of it to the companies that created the very economic wealth that this country so proudly rests on and then tell them to take the extra 1 billion and shove it up the rest of those dimwits in the senate's....ah well nevermind you get the picture.

Or just tell them about the public transit.

Detroit Army

Saturday, December 6, 2008

PRIVATELY FUNDED LIGHT RAIL SYSTEM IN THE WORKS FOR DETROIT?

Originally Posted 5/29/08
Updated 9/2/08
Updated 9/12/08
Updated 12/6/08


"Key components of a plan to build a light rail line along Woodward Avenue in Detroit were approved without opposition by the state Senate on Thursday, and lawmakers said they plan to complete the multibill package when they resume session next week.

Bills approved by the Senate on Thursday would:

• Allow the organization of a nonprofit corporation to build and operate the railway system.

• Permit the railway to obtain land, sell bonds and mortgage its property to provide security for the bonds.

• Let the railway store and use electrical power.

• Authorize the Michigan Department of Transportation to establish a transit development finance zone that would be empowered to collect incremental property tax revenue.

• Require the state transportation department to supplement the railway's fare revenues with up to $8 million annually, beginning with the 2010-11 budget year."

Source: (Detroit News)

State congress is trying to work together with regional leaders who are overseeing the three-county mass transit plan. Multiple plans have floated around. A private plan which is partly funded by private money and has 12 stops along Woodward from Downtown to the New Center Area has been juxtaposed with a public plan which would run along Woodward from Downtown to the city limits at 8 mile.

It appears that the former has won out between the two, at least for now. For over two years, John Hertel has been studying all options to decide what is the most feasible plan. It looks like the privately funded plan will win out with the caveat that its construction would allow for additions. I believe that at some point, light rail will extend all the way to Pontiac along Woodward and a separate rail line extending from Ann Arbor to the Metro Airport, and then to Downtown Detroit, will connect to the currently proposed light rail line.

This would be a great start...

"The four regional leaders overseeing a three-county mass transit plan are scheduled to hear a finalized presentation and potentially vote on the proposed system at 3 p.m. Monday at the Miller Canfield offices in downtown Detroit.

Detroit Mayor Ken Cockrel Jr., Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and Macomb County Board Chairman William Crouchman — collectively known as the “Big 4” — will hear an outline from transit czar John Hertel on 26 months of assembling a three-county plan to deploy a light-rail and bus system."

Source: (Crain's Detroit)

Detroit Army

9/12/08 Update

Excitement, funds build for light rail in Detroit

John Gallagher of the Detroit Free Press reports that the privately funded light rail project for the city of Detroit is nearing its goal of raising $100 million dollars. Obstacles remain however including passing a bill in the state legislature for approval of the system, creating a non profit entity to run the system, and collaboration with a concurrent study by DTOGS regarding a publicly funded light rail project that would run along Woodward as well.

"The project, now known as the Regional Area Initial Link, or TRAIL, has gotten commitments for about 75% of its goal of raising $90 million to $100 million, a person familiar with the details of the effort said.

In a key fund-raising innovation, leaders of the effort are selling naming rights for up to 13 planned stations along the 3.4-mile route up Woodward Avenue. The rights go for $3 million for each pair of north-south stations. So far, 10 purchasers have committed to buying rights.

Having 10 commitments for station naming rights means the project has raised $30 million in that way. Selling rights to the other three stations would push the total from that money source to $39 million.

In addition, the Troy-based Kresge Foundation, which already has donated $50 million to create the Detroit RiverWalk, tentatively has agreed to provide between $10 million and $50 million to back the new transit system, foundation president Rip Rapson said this week. The exact figure will depend on the success of other fund-raising, but is expected to be close to the $30-million to $40-million range.

But if the project gets built, it could substantially boost economic development in the city's center. A study to be released Monday by the nonprofit Transportation Riders United group is expected to say that billions of dollars in new investment would follow creation of a light-rail line. The report, titled "The Economic Case for Light Rail in Detroit," studied such systems in several other cities.

A rail system along Woodward also would give a major boost to an effort to build a rail line from Ann Arbor to New Center. That line, planned by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments and to be paid for largely with federal money, would feed passengers to and from the TRAIL line, whose existence could help justify the expense of the Ann Arbor-Detroit route."
(John Gallagher/Detroit Free Press)

To see the entire article, click here

All this light rail talk is extremely exciting, but is it just me or doesn't any light rail need to extend much farther than just to new center? I thought the whole idea was that the line was going to extend to out to 8 mile, although maybe that was the other non private DTOGS plan. Personally I think they should have some sort of light rail extending all the way to Birmingham at least. Hopefully, however light rail is built along Woodward, it will have a structure that allows for expansion.

On another note, what of that non private DTOGS light rail plan? I'm getting a little concerned that these two plans are going to end up butting heads and the whole dream of light rail is going to fizzle before our eyes. I know that each plan has significant differences including where the stops will be on Woodward and, from what I can tell, how far down Woodward the rail will be extended. We're starting to really see some progress here. The two plans should start to work together immediately to avoid a much larger mess down the road.

I realize Detroit has not had real mass transit since 1956, but the newest incarnation of light rail in Detroit seems to be moving along quite quickly. More details emerge monthly and I can't help but get excited about it. Maybe this national economy and state recession really has gotten people to change their attitudes and inspired them to move forward with the type of 21st century reform that this state needs. We shall see, but at least with regards to light rail, I like how things are progressing.

9/2/08 Update

Crain's has recently reported a clearer picture on some of the names that are behind the alleged privately supported light rail system in the works for Detroit. Some of the names we were already aware of including Roger Penske and Dan Gilbert, but other big names have emerged such as Mike Illitch, Peter Karmanos Jr., and the Kresge Foundation with backing from Governor Jennifer Granholm.

It will be interesting to see what happens between the publicly funded plan being studied by
the Detroit Transit Options for Growth, a proposal by the Detroit Department of Transportation, and this privately funded plan. After mass transit being almost non existent for the past 60 years (sorry SMART bus and DDOT), let's hope we don't end up with two competing light rail plans with stubborn supporters who refuse to compromise. Let's hope two plans are even better than one, and within the next 10 years light rail is a reality.

The Crain's article states,

"The slow unraveling of Detroit's worst-kept secret continued last week with the unveiling of three more key players in the closely guarded private-sector effort to construct a $103 million light-rail loop on Woodward Avenue.

Peter Karmanos Jr., founder of Detroit-based software maker Compuware Corp., and Mike Ilitch, owner of the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings and co-founder of Little Caesars Pizza, are among a cadre of influential backers that have committed undisclosed sums to construction of the 3.4-mile mass-transit project, a source familiar with the project told Crain's on the condition of anonymity.

A third backer, Troy-based Kresge Foundation President and CEO Rip Rapson, recently stated his organization's interest in the project, called the Woodward Transit Catalyst Project, and the source confirmed that Rapson has been part of confidential meetings of the plan's financial and political backers.

They join Quicken Loans Inc. founder Dan Gilbert, who plans to move his company's headquarters from Livonia to Detroit in the next couple of years, and Penske Corp. founder Roger Penske as the known private figures involved in the project, a key element in economic revitalization efforts for the city and region.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm is known to back the plan, and State Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop and House Speaker Andy Dillon have voiced support. Legislation eventually will be required to move the project forward, since Woodward is a state highway."
(Bill Shea/Crain's Detroit)

5/29/08 Original Post


In a potentially huge development in the quest to secure mass transit for Detroit metro, Crain's Detroit reported the following...

"MACKINAC ISLAND - Sen. Majority Leader Mike Bishop and House Speaker Andy Dillon each said during a panel discussion Thursday they will back a plan by billionaires Dan Gilbert and Roger Penske to construct a privately funded $103 million light rail loop on Detroit’s Woodward Avenue.It was the first public acknowledgement of Gilbert and Penske’s involvement in the project, which was first reported on by Crain’s in February. Bishop said he would support the proposal “100 percent” and he and Dillon said they’ve met with Gilbert, owner of Livonia-based Quicken Loans/Rock Financial who is moving his 4,000-person business downtown, and Penske to discuss the plan."
(Bill Shea/Crain's Detroit)

More to follow soon...hopefully.

Full Article Can Be Found At Legislators, Gilbert, Penske will back light rail on Woodward
Detroit Army

Monday, December 1, 2008

FLYTRAP DINER

I think the name "Flytrap Diner" is supposed to be hip. Hip in in the way that says, "yea flies aren't really appealing to people while they're eating, but we're going to put the word in the name of our restaurant anyway and show people that our food speaks for itself." Whether owners, brother/sister duo Sean and Kara McClanaghan, and former Fiddleheads chef Gavin McMillian, admit it or not, that's what they're going for. Anyway, the name isn't that hip, but the food does speak for itself.

The three co-owners did much of the rehab work themselves at this self-proclaimed Ferndale "finer diner." The walls are splashed with color, the line is out the door on the weekends, and there's a mostly hipster clientele. While the diner is American themed, it also has hints of Asian and African, not to mention a brunch that far surpasses your neighborhood Coney. The "finer diner" moniker refers to the Flytrap Diner's tweaks on classic diner items. The menu includes A B.L.T. in the form of a B.L.A.T. which is a Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado, and Tomato. A burger is available, but for those who want to be healthier, a soy bean burger and an eclectic Salmon burger are available. If you want to stay on the red meat path, the salami and sausage based grinder looks tasty, along with the ribeye steak and fontina cheese sandwich. Filling the Asian theme includes a Vietnamese lemongrass pho bowl, vegetarian fried rice, and grilled chicken with chilled lo mein noodles in peanut sauce.

Flytrap really shines at breakfast. For one, Green eggs and ham are on the menu. The green in the green eggs is poblano pesto and on the side are slabs of seared ham (It's treyf, I know, but it's still really good). The huevos rancheros are piled high, you can get crab and eggs, and you can smother steak and eggs in homemade Flytrap Diner hot sauce which you can also purchase by the bottle. The omelets are well worth a try including a B.L.A.T.+C which is Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado, Tomato, plus cheddar. Additional options include omelet versions of huevos rancheros and the grinder sandwich filled with Italian sausage, peppers, provolone, and spinach.

The restaurant gets high marks from me. Almost everything on the menu looks appetizing and the items I've tried were delicious. Apparently I'm not the only one who enjoys grabbing a bite here as the restaurant was featured on the Food Network by that idiot with the frosted hair, Guy Fieri, who also appears in commercials touting T.G.I Friday's as a restaurant that has good food. You can check out the Food Network's piece on Flytrap Diner here.

Photo's of the Flytrap Diner are below. The entire Flickr set can be found here.





Flytrap Diner
22950 Woodward Ave.
Ferndale, MI 48220
248-399-5150
Flytrap Diner

Detroit Army

Saturday, November 22, 2008

ALOFT HOTEL PLANNED FOR DOWNTOWN BIRMINGHAM

Rumors have been persistent of a W Hotel being built in Birmingham for about a year now, although pessimists weren't buying it. Well, those pessimists were half right. A W Hotel isn't being built. Instead, a "vision of W hotels", ALoft, will be built on Old Woodard in downtown Birmingham, and will be finished in Spring 2010 according to Hotel Interaction, a hotel news website.

Aloft plans to shake up the hotel world by offering guests a different type of hotel stay. Aloft's concept is to create a hotel atmosphere with urban design, technologically accessible, stylish and social. Communal spaces will be outfitted to lure guests out of their rooms to mingle with others. This includes lounges with wi-fi, pool tables, bars, and 24 hour snack stations and state of the art pool and exercise areas.

The individual rooms are, not surprisingly based on the name, loft style with 9 foot high ceilings and huge windows. Each room is a combination high-tech office and entertainment center which features wireless internet and one stop plug & play which gives guests a one stop connectivity solution for a multitude of electronics including PDAs, cell phones, laptops, and mp3 players, all linked to 42" flat panel LCD television screens for viewing.

Aloft Hotels are set to start popping up everywhere, with about one hundred individual Alofts Hotels, open or set to open, internationally.

A lot of hotels are in the process of being restored, built, or planned in the Metro Detroit area, including the historical Fort Shelby and the Greektown Casino Hotel. This is in addition to the newly built, MotorCity Casino Hotel, the MGM Grand Hotel, and the Westin Book-Cadillac. It will be interesting to see, if and how, all of these hotels can make it.

For more information on the planned Birmingham Aloft Hotel, click here.

Detroit Army

Saturday, November 15, 2008

ROYAL OAK DISCUSSES WAYS TO ATTRACT MORE FAMILY ORIENTED RESTAURANTS

Apparently Royal Oak has had just about enough of every restaurant in their downtown being the favorite destination of what seems like every nondescript person in southeast Michigan when they want to get smashed. Royal Oak is taking an idea from Birmingham in hopes of gaining more restaurants which are more focused on food and having a nice meal...but still with alcohol. The answer? A bistro liquor license which would only be awarded to restaurants which have the capacity to only seat up to 65, don't have a bar, and where alcohol can only be served to seated restaurant patrons.

Last year Birmingham awarded one of these "bistro" style liquor licenses after having such a fun experience in the past with a little place called Blue Martini, where all hell would break loose every weekend. I don't know exactly which restaurant the Birmingham bistro liquor license was given to, but I would assume the recipient was Toast, the Ferndale breakfast place turned breakfast/dinner/drinking/wi-fi lounge place in its Birmingham location.

Cafe Muse, which is moving to a larger location in Royal Oak on Washington Ave., has shown interest in the new bistro liquor license. Dave Gillam, Royal Oak city attorney, will make a presentation to the city commission tomorrow. If the commission takes a liking to the idea, they will draft an order to be approved at a later date.

You can find more information on the "bistro" liquor license idea here.

Detroit Army

Friday, November 7, 2008

GREEKTOWN CASINO HOTEL TO BEGIN TAKING RESERVATIONS IN FEBRUARY 2009

Looks like the finished permanent Greektown Casino is beginning to take reservations for its hotel, beginning in February 2009. Officials at the casino state that there has been significant interest in room reservations and that nightly rates will start at just $119 a night, which includes breakfast for two at Bistro 555, a restaurant at the casino complex.

$119 a night is much lower than Greektown's other rivals across town, the Motor City Casino and the MGM. Hopefully this distinction will bode well for Greektown as it seemed to be immensely popular in relation to Motor City and MGM, when all three were temporary and it will be interesting to see how it does now that all three casinos will have permanant facilities. With the economy like it is presently, and news released from "the Big 3," if you can even call them that, who knows how any of these casinos will fare in the near future. I'll keep hoping for the best.

Greektown Casino Rolls The Dice

Detroit Army

Thursday, November 6, 2008

BRUSH PARK VILLAGE NORTH

Brush Park Village North is a spectacular development from HipCityDetroit on the North end of Brush Park. Some of the buildings are already complete, and there are many more to be developed based on demand. I was able to get a tour of one of the finished units, called the "Asher" layout, within the development. The interior was stunning. At first glance, the "Asher" model, at 1,712 sq.ft., and listed at $294,9000, seems a little bit pricey, and a little bit small, but once you step inside you become aware that the 1,792 sq.ft. feels like twice that size and that no expense was spared.

As you walk up the stairs heading toward the front door you find yourself in a serene setting. Yet, it's impossible not to notice downtown Detroit looming to the West along with Ford Field and Comerica Park right down the street. Brush Park has as much promise as any area in the entire city and it's easy to see why. Living in Brush Park gives you the best of both worlds. It allows you to live in a neighborhood setting while also having the luxury of walking to the downtown of a major metropolitan city or stroll over to Ford Field on Sunday to watch the Lions. Although at the present moment, credit is hard to come by and the job market is less than robust, once this economic malaise passes, I believe Brush Park will grow exponentially and will continue to grow for the future. It offers too much for it not to.

When you walk into the unit, the sitting area is to your left. With hardwood floors, and a fireplace, it makes for a cozy place to hang out. Heading up the stairs and to the right is the dining area which over looks the sitting area down below. Behind it is the kitchen, which has a large serving window which looks over the dining area. The kitchen has dark stained hardwood floors, tiled walls, wood cabinets, granite counter tops, and top notch appliances. Adding to the allure of the dining room space is a glass sliding door which leads to a balcony where you can look out into the neighborhood.

Heading upstairs, there is a guest bedroom on your left and a guest bathroom in the hallway. At the end of the hallway is the master bedroom. The master bedroom is spacious and has a classic bay window. The master bedroom has two closets and an attached full bathroom.

From the upstairs, there is an even higher level which has some great perks. There is a small mini bar and a sliding glass door which leads to a luxurious and spacious rooftop terrace. The terrace space does not figure into the square footage of the place, but it adds an element to the home which is hard to put a price on. The views form up top are exceptional as the Rennaisance Center towers over Ford Field and Comerica Park, which lay in the forefront.

Last, but certainly not least, is the basement. Unfortunately, I forgot to snap some photos of this cozy spot downstairs, but it is the ultimate chill spot. This is where you put the big screen TV. This is where you put a mini bar. This is where you put your leather couches and sip on a drink while watching football on a lazy Sunday. The room is a great touch to an already amazing home.

These homes carry a price tag, but they are without a doubt, some of the nicest places you will find and in an area which has unlimited potential. Based on the interior of the "Asher" unit, I'm sure the other layouts are just as nice and there are several different layouts to choose from depending on what type of living situation you are looking for. You would be hard pressed to find a place so close to the downtown of a major city and for these prices in almost any other city in the country. This is Detroit though, and places such as this one, in neighborhoods like Brush Park, is what makes this city special.

Below are a selection of photos from the "Asher" townhome in Brush Park Village North. You can see the entire Flickr set here.


Hip City Detroit
Asher Floorplan

Detroit Army

Monday, November 3, 2008

DETROITARMY.COM RECOGNIZED AS "UP AND COMING" BLOG IN METRO DETROIT

Outside.in, a website which tracks blogs and news feeds in almost 12,0000 towns and neighborhoods around the country, has recognized DetroitArmy.com as an "up and coming" blog in the Detroit area as they explore top cities and choose top blogs within those cities. The rankings were based on variables such as number of posts, location of posts, links from other sites in each specific community, and feedback from members of Outside.in.

I'd like to thank all of you who support DetroitArmy.com, but more importantly I want to show appreciation for all of you who support the Detroit region. It does not go unnoticed.

The link to the Outside.in awards for Detroit can be found here

Detroit Army

Friday, October 31, 2008

POLONIA RESTAURANT

With a Polish (and good looking I might add) staff, murals of scenes from old world Poland, and authentic Polish food, the dining experience at Polonia is as good a way as any to experience Polish culture in the historically Polish enclave Hamtramck. Hamtramck was founded by Germans, but Poles began to flood the area when the Dodge Brothers opened a plant nearby.

Located in "Poletown," the premises of Polonia began as a Workmen's Cooperative in 1927 to offer home cooking to Polish immigrants who had just arrived in this country. With that in mind, the tradition of familiar Polish dishes has continued as Polonia offers a wide range of Polish dishes at cheap prices.

You cannot eat at Polonia without trying the dill pickle soup as a first course. I hadn't tasted it before, but after getting a recommendation from a friend, I had my first experience. The soup was extremely tasty. I believe it has a chicken broth base which is thickened with either ketchup or sour cream. There are little specks of dill throughout, which adds the perfect touch. I didn't need to add anything to it, and I finished it in about a minute and a half as I voraciously ate it as if someone was chasing me.

For my meal, I ordered the Polish Combination plate so I could get a taste of everything. At $8.50, the combination plate is delicious and cheap. It came with stuffed cabbage and tomato sauce, sausage, two pierogies, and mashed potatoes with brown gravy and kraut. Everything was outstanding. It's hard to go wrong with mashed potatoes, but these were better than usual as they were covered with brown gravy and kraut. The stuffed cabbage was just as I would imagine it to be, stuffed with beef and covered in a perfectly concocted tomato sauce.

If you eat sausage, Hamtramck, and Polonia in particular, is the place to get it. In its natural casing, the sausage hit the spot. I could've eaten more of the sausage if I had chosen to go that route, but I thought better of it. I'll have to get my fill on my next visit.

Next it was on to the pierogies. There are multiple choices available including potato, cheese, kraut, or beef. I went for the traditional potato. I'm not a pierogi expert, but if I never ate a pierogi from anywhere else, I wouldn't mind. The potato pierogies came out hot and the filling was made just right. On a future visit I will no doubt try a different variation, but the potato pierogi was more than sufficient.

Everything on my plate was delicious. By the end of the meal I was eating everything on my plate at the same time. I was scooping up parts of pierogi with kraut and then variations of stuffed cabbage or sausage with mashed potatoes.

I have a feeling that there is more traditional Polish fare that I have yet to try, but next time I might just get a plate of only pierogies and sausage. Both are favorites of mine and Polonia does them more than justice.

I've heard rumors that Polonia may move locations or even be sold in opposition to a proposed Aldi which will take up much of Polonia's parking spaces. I don't know how much truth there is to this, but I wouldn't take any chances. Although Polish Village Restaurant is right down the street, Polonia is too good to miss.

Below are some photos from my meal at Polonia. To see the entire flickr set click here.





Polonia Restaurant
2934 Yemans Street
Hamtramck, MI 48212
Tel: (313) 873-8432
Website: Polonia

Detroit Army

Thursday, October 30, 2008

COBO EXPANSION PLAN SENT TO FULL DETROIT CITY COUNCIL

A Detroit City Council committee approved a $288 million Cobo Center expansion plan which would increase the size of the convention center by 166,000 square feet. After being approved the committee sent the proposal to the full city council to get approval so that the project can move forward. Cobo Center and North American International Auto Show officials optimistically said that the expansion could be done by 2010.

Personally, I'm not even sure which Cobo expansion proposal this is. I seem to remember one proposal by Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano which was to cost almost a billion dollars and then a pared down plan which was to be around $600 million. I also remember Governor Granholm and former mayor/king Kwame Kilpatrick introducing a more reasonable expansion plan. Possibly the Granholm sponsored plan was the one which was sent to the city council today.

We'll keep you updated...

Detroit Army

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

DETROIT '67 VIDEO

It's possible that I'm just a sucker for sappy Detroit songs, but to me, the new song "Detroit '67" from the Sam Roberts Band showcases Detroit's historical relevance while contemplating its future. On the other hand maybe it doesn't mean anything, but the song is catchy as hell and the accompanying video provides plenty of great historical and present day footage of Detroit.

The link to the video is provided below.

Detroit '67 Video

Detroit Army

Monday, October 20, 2008

FIVE-STORY BUILDING TO ANCHOR KEY DOWNTOWN BIRMINGHAM LOCATION

The Greenleaf Trust building will host a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday in what looks like just part of a developmental boom in downtown Birmingham. The building will stand at Maple and Woodward and across Woodward from the Barclay Inn where a completely new hotel is planned. The five story building will house Greenleaf Trust's southeast Michigan office, Zazio's, an upscale Italitan eatery from Kalamazoo, office space, and luxury residences.

Say what you want about Birmingham being uppity, but the city has a quality downtown core and seems to be in a development mindset. It might be the most flourishing downtown in southeast Michigan. Other developments in Birmingham are just finishing such as the old Briggs building at 151 S. Old Woodward which houses Clark Hill, offices and ground retail, and the Bank of America building which will go up at on the Northwest corner of Woodward and Brown which will hold a Bank of America branch, a second floor health club, and office space.

Across Woodward, plans continue to develop what the city has dubbed the "triangle district," including the newly built 735 Forest building which has lofts on the top floors and the new Forest Grille on the ground floor, and the aforementioned hotel on the southeast side of Woodward and Maple, among others.

See more details about the Greenleaf Trust building here

Detroit Army

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

NORTH CORKTOWN PART II

"Go east young man," is what I was told through a comment that was left for me after my first post about North Corktown and its status as nothing more than an urban prairie. The implication was that while trouncing around in the dead of winter, I missed the development taking place on the east end of North Corktown, mostly on Harrison and Cochrane.

Through my most recent tour of North Corktown, I was able to witness some of the development that the comment was referring to. While Cochrane has multiple, although sometimes sporadic, multi colored new houses lining the street, empty lots with weeds can still be found. Harrison has more of the same with many new houses mixed with empty lots and the occasional burned out structure. Rosa Parks Boulevard also has its fair share of homes around Elm Street. The only other signs of development can be found a few blocks West at Wabash and Butternut where two new fairly large brick homes sit nice and neat, but surrounded by nothing but grassy lots and weeds. The contrast between new and old is something to be seen.

Wandering through the neighborhood I found myself wondering what exactly the story is behind the new development in the area and what the residents who live in these homes are like.

Within the last 5 years, 30 single-family homes developed in North Corktown as part of an affordable housing venture by the nonprofit Greater Corktown Development Corp. (GCDC).

A story from ModelD, the online Detroit centric magazine states that,

"The homes, which cost each $160,000 to construct, were available for purchase to moderate-income individuals and families at a range of $91,000 to $98,000 depending on the model. Additional construction funding came from National City Bank, Charter One Bank, Detroit LISC, City of Detroit Community Development Block Grants and the Empowerment Zone."

The article further explains that,

"The GCDC purchased scattered, city-owned vacant lots to build the homes, which cost between $91,000 and $98,000 in purchase price. But each home – dotted between Trumbull and Rosa Parks, Temple and MLK — cost about $160,000 to construct. Qualified applicants can buy a home for about $80,000. The corporation raised private dollars and received money through the City of Detroit, which received federal housing money to put in the pot. Residents must earn no more than 80 percent of the Wayne County median income. For a single person it is s $39,150 and $73,800 for a family of eight. Owners must live in the dwelling for at least five years. After that, the houses could conceivably be sold at market-rate prices."

While ModelD answers what attracted some people to move into North Corktown, my tour of the neighborhood answered who these new residents are. I began my tour on Cochrane. Before I finished snapping my first photo, a white woman from across the street was questioning me about what exactly I was doing. Apparently my meandering and taking pictures of their homes made residents suspicious. In an otherwise apathetic environment, this is a good thing.

I told her I was in the neighborhood to look at the new development. I let her know how nice the newly devloped areas looked. She thanked me and informed me that she was watching the house which I was photographing because the owners were out of town. Her concern for the neighborhood's overall health was refreshing.

I moved on and walked towards Harrison to find more. A black man who was outside watering his plants politely came up to me to find out what I was doing. After explaining myself, the man informed me that he heads the neighborhood association and that all residents of the neighborhood were doing their best to keep the area safe, clean, and free from the violence and despair of which many neighborhoods in Detroit were victims.

His home looked great. It was taken care of and nicely kept. Yet, the man also voiced his concerns for his neighborhood. He pointed to a building on the corner which someone was trying to turn into a bar. He wasn't pleased about the development and was planning on talking to city council about what options he might have.

He continued to show me a house next to his which was completely vacant and which the developer of the bar on the corner also owned, but had not kept up. He explained to me the damage that a dangerous eyesore such as the home next to his does to the community. He spoke of the unfortunate reality of how many "investors," are sitting on properties which they hope will have value in the future, but which for the time being are left rotting. For all the good which the work that this man had put into his own home did for street, the dilapidated structure next door did just as much damage.

I moved on to the corner of Cochrane and Perry when I heard the distinct crow of what could only be a rooster. Unbeknownst to me, I had stumbled upon a farm, complete with goats, roosters, and chickens. Since North Corktown is mostly urban prairie in the first place, the farm might not seem that out of place until you realize that you are only about one mile from downtown. Once you come across the urban garden just down the street, you realize that the farm might not be out of place at all.

Goats, chickens, and roosters living a mile or two from downtown Detroit is awesome. Take a look at some footage below.

video

After spending a couple hours in North Corktown, my thoughts about it varied. My experience was overwhelmingly positive and depending on which direction this neighborhood heads, it can be a model for other neighborhoods throughout the city. Ten years ago North Corktown was completely empty, which is exactly what it needed. The neighborhood was able to start from scratch, and new residents now have the ability to set the precedent as to how the new incarnation of North Corktown will evolve.

While the seeds of a sustainable neighborhood are now planted, there is much that still needs to be done. The area still has an extremely long way to go. Two streets of development in an entire neighborhood is a tease of what could be in an otherwise desolate area. The residents have the right attitude though and believe that they personally hold the key to North Corktown's destiny. Hopefully, North Corktown residents are right and progress will continue into the future.

Below are a few photographs of North Corktown. The complete Flickr set of photographs can be seen here.




Below is the neighborhood association President's home.
And the home next door...

Below is one of the two homes on Wabash.


And the scene looking out from the homes on Wabash...

A goat on the farm at Cochrane and Perry.


An urban garden.


Detroit Army

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

$150-MILLION COMPLEX (WAS) PLANNED FOR DOWNTOWN

Originally Posted 1/6/08
Updated 10/7/08

10/7/08 Update

Nevermind. Looks like the "Cadillac Centre" probably isn't going to happen. In this economic climate it's not surprising, but it's disappointing nonetheless. This project was really going to stick out as something new and innovative. Oh well...

"The proposed Cadillac Centre project, which could be one of Detroit's most notable downtown developments of recent years, appears to be in trouble and may not happen."

"The Detroit Economic Growth Corp. issued a statement late today saying the New York-based developers had failed to meet certain pre-development milestones and instead had asked permission to offer a modified plan for the site. The DEGC, a quasi-public arm of the city, said it had rejected that request."

See the entire article here
See even more up to date information here

Original Post 1/6/08

Woke up this morning to some very exciting news. The development will be called the "Cadillac Center" and will fill in the last empty parcel surrounding Campus Martius. This is craazy.

Link Below:

$150-million complex planned for downtown

Detroit Army

Thursday, September 25, 2008

REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION COORDINATING COUNCIL TRI-COUNTRY TRANSIT PLAN

John Hertel's organization, the Regional Transportation Coordinating Council, released the details of its tri-county transit plan Wednesday Night. The plan is an important step in the right direction for Metro Detroit and our ultimate goal of creating an efficient regional transit system.

The plan has four main points which include, enhancing existing bus service, introducing rapid transit corridors of light rail, commuter rail and bus rapid transit, creating seamless connection between mass transit lines, and finding funding sources.

The plan is not complete and the provisions of the plan will be discussed at future meetings before a finalized plan will hopefully be signed off on my the four main tri-county leaders.

Details of the plan can be found here

Detroit Army

Friday, September 19, 2008

DOES THIS STORY SOUND FAMILIAR?

The Free Press ran a column today under their "local comment" section of the newspaper written by Brian Pappas who is returning to Michigan after practicing law for 3 years in Chicago. Here is a portion of what he has to say.

"I love Michigan, and I love Detroit. I hold three degrees from Michigan universities. Aside from my dad, I don't know anyone else who will pause the TiVo to watch a Pure Michigan ad. Still, I left, moving to Chicago after law school to experience all that a successful city has to offer.

I felt guilty, but I wasn't alone. Many of my classmates left, too, for California and Virginia, New York and Florida. What we found is that we weren't alone. Since 2006, Chicago has been awash in a sea of Detroit Tiger caps with the distinctive Old English D. The barista at the nearby Caribou is from Royal Oak, my neighbor moved from Grand Rapids, my coworker grew up in Trenton, and on and on. Like me, they also wanted the economic and social opportunities offered by cities like Chicago.

So did I find the job of my dreams in Chicago? Nope, the job market is saturated with new lawyers. Did I find the social life I dreamed of? I suppose, but I've never been one to close down bars or attend the latest art shows.

What I did find was direction for my career, the experience of selling my car and using public transit, and the joy of running the lake path as the sun rose on a warm summer morning. Closer to my 30s, I enjoyed a lifestyle that eluded me in my 20s in the Detroit area.

I also met my wife, who chose to stay in Chicago instead of returning to Kansas after college.

But now, nearly three years later, I am moving back to Michigan. When I tell people, the normal response is "good for you," or "congratulations," but every once in a while I get negative feedback, and almost always from transplanted Michiganders. Many seem to feel guilty from years of parental pressure, and they try to rationalize their decision to move while simultaneously touting their love of Michigan."

In case anyone here didn't know, thats my story, more or less. The exception being that I went to law school for 3 years and promptly moved back to Michigan as opposed to attending law school in Michigan, then moving to Chicago for three years, and then moving back.

For the most part, Pappas's observations are right on. Chicago has tons of kids walking around wearing there olde english D hat and representing metro Detroit or Michigan like they are still living there...except they're not. I'll admit that I was one of those people, but with one difference. I knew that after my three years of law school were done in Chicago that I would be moving back to metro Detroit, no questions asked. And everyone knew it. I told anyone who would listen that this was just a pit stop on my journey and that while Chicago was great, Michigan was where I wanted to be.

When native Michiganders in Chicago told me where they were from I bluntly asked them if they wanted to move "home" with me. Usually their answer was exactly what Brian Pappas describes, "I love Michigan, but I'm not going back." Those were the words which I hated most.

Most of these people moved to Chicago, like Pappas wrote, to see "all that a successful city has to offer." I can't blame them for that. That's what I did and for as of now, for Detroit to succeed, experiencing what growing cities are like and how they operate, might be an integral part of turning metro Detroit into a growing and economically prosperous region once again. The problem is the response, "I'm not going back." That's what needs to change. How to fix that response, I don't know. Of course we need new industry. Of course we need new jobs. Of course we need mass transit. Of course we need more cooperation between the counties and cities.

That doesn't really answer the question though. And I don't know the answer except that every one of us must do our part to revitalize this region. Whether it be with positive thinking, entrepreneurial ideas, promotion of our area, or cooperation with complete disregard for race, county, city, government lines, we have do everything we can to uplift our area, and take it one day at a time.

When asked why I wanted to move back to Michigan, by not only Chicagoans and transplanted Michiganders, but also Michiganders still living in the state, I told them that metro Detroit and the State of Michigan is a great place. Usually I got a sideways look of confusion, but it was to be expected. I told people, we have museums, sports, culture, restaurants, great suburbs, a fascinating city core, and a resilient population of individuals who have been through it all. We also have an unbelievable northern part to our state which rivals anywhere in the United States in terms of beauty, serenity, and natural wonder.

I explained to them that while Chicago might be nice and spotless and clean, not only does Detroit have soul, but we have A soul that has gone through the great times and the bad to emerge as complicated and different. We can be optimistic and negative, cocky and insecure, prosperous and self-defeating, and compassionate and downright rude. To tell you the truth, I couldn't find that in Chicago.

So, this is my call to all former Michiganders living in cities around the country. Take advantage of your time in those cities. Do your due diligence. Learn everything that you can and bring that knowledge back to Michigan. Michigan is your home and you have the opportunity to do something great. I'll hold down metro Detroit with the 4.5 million other great residents for the time being. Those that are here will continue moving this state in the right direction. When you are ready to move back, we'll be here and we'll welcome you with open arms.

You can see Brian Pappas's local comment here. Write him an email or letter and let him know how impressed you are with his comment in care of the Free Press Editorial Page, 615 W. Lafayette, Detroit, MI 48226 or at oped@freepress.com.

Detroit Army

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

FARMERS RESTAURANT

Everything about the Farmers Restaurant screams the Midwest. With portions larger than any human should eat in one sitting, you know that you couldn't be anywhere else. The restaurant offers omelettes, eggs, sausage, ham, bacon, corned beef, turkey, strip steak, pancakes, french toast and house made polish sausage along with your choice of grits, or potatoes.

The setting is a minimalist environment where the food speaks for itself. The restaurant opens at 5:00 AM for the Eastern Market early birds and breakfast is served until closing around 3:00 PM. This is in contrast to Russell Street Deli which only serves breakfast on the weekends, and Butchers Inn which only has breakfast until 11:00 AM.

Omelettes range from vegetarian to filled with gyro meat. You can order eggs, pancakes, or french toast, paired with any meat under the sun. Lunch is available as well, including corned beef sandwiches, tuna, hamburgers, pitas and salads.

I ordered corned beef hash which looked as if it came fresh from the farm...and it might have. The potatoes were piled high, mixed with corned beef and onions, and topped off with two eggs cooked over medium. The hash wasn't the kind where the potatoes and corned beef are mixed together looking like they just came out of a blender. That's a good thing.

Unfortunately though, the corned beef to potato ratio wasn't appropriate, and while I almost never leave food on a plate, the potatoes proved to be too much for me to finish. The portion was huge and I would either add more corned beef to the dish or pare down the potatoes. Seriously, no one needs to eat that many potatoes in one sitting.

The inordinate amount of potatoes on my plate didn't give me the best first impression, but I couldn't help but notice the man next to me with his family eating the "Farmer's Special." Consisting of 2 eggs, ham, bacon, AND sausage along with hash browns and toast, the "Farmer's Special" was the biggest plate of food I've ever seen, and while I could feel my arteries clogging just looking at it, the food looked amazing. In the future, that's what I'm ordering.

On another note, with any egg selection you are given the choice between having potatoes or grits. Not enough breakfast places offer grits and it's definitely something to think about when deciding where to eat breakfast.

The next time I go to Eastern Market on a Saturday and I want corned beef hash, I probably will forego Farmers Restaurant and head to Russell Street Deli. No one could have fresher ingredients than Farmers Restaurant though. While Russell Street's corned beef hash can't be beat, if you want a huge, hearty, wholesome, no frills meal, Farmers Restaurant should be your choice.

Below are photographs from Farmers Restaurant. A link to the complete Farmers Restaurant flickr set can be found here





Farmers Restaurant
2542 Market
Detroit, MI 48207
313-259-8230

Detroit Army

Thursday, September 11, 2008

LOFTS TO GO UP NEAR MOTOR CITY CASINO

Plans were unveiled by Made in Detroit today for lofts near the Motor City Casino in the old Detroit Creamery Building on Spruce St. Designed by Albert Kahn, the building was erected in 1914 and is near the intersection of Grand River and the Lodge Freeway.

"Known as the 1015 Spruce St. project, the development would offer 93 loft condominiums carved out of the historic Detroit Creamery Building, a 1914 industrial structure designed by architect Albert Kahn near the Lodge Freeway and Grand River.

Units would measure from 1,000 to more than 3,500 square feet, and sell from the $300,000 to $850,000 or more for the largest penthouses.

The project also would include a spa, health club and meeting rooms."

With the housing, mortgage, and credit market in shambles, I don't know what gives these developers the indication that they are going to find buyers for this condo project and in turn receive funding for these lofts.

Further, there are condos planned for the riverfront. an area most people would describe as more attractive than by Motor City, that developers are having trouble selling at prices lower than the ones announced for the old creamery. That being said, these lofts would be a great addition to the city, especially for the designated area. Let's all hope for the best.

See full article here
Detroit Army

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

REVIVE

Possibly the youngest sneaker shop businessman in the country, Revive owner Aaron Cohen left Michigan at a young age for the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, but he couldn't resist returning to his roots in Metro Detroit. It wasn't hard for him to notice that their was an black hole of nothingness in the Metro Detroit market for high end sneakers and hip street wear that New York City has so much of.

Open since 2006, Revive in downtown Birmingham has filled that gap. Offering limited edition and custom made Nike's, hooded sweatshirts, T-shirts, Jeans and hats by labels such as The Hundreds, RockersNYC, Acapluco Gold, Reason, Married to the Mob, Lemar and Dauley, Rocksmith, King Stampede, Amongst Friends, Staple, and more, Revive has given Birmingham an edge not seen before (Yes, I realize Birmingham described as with "an edge" is humorous).

Cohen first started selling shoes out of the store solely on consignment. The way consignment works is that consignor aka the seller bring in items they want to sell, the owner sells those items, and the consignor takes a cut of the price the item sells for, while the owner takes the rest. New York has many of these consignment shops, but Revive might just be the first consignment sneaker store in the state of Michigan.

While Revive still runs on consignment, Cohen's ultimate goal was to strike deals with all the major sneaker brands. In the limited edition sneaker world, not just anybody has the right to sell hard to find sneakers. Thats why they're...um...limited edition. Representatives for the brand are sent out to take a look at the stores to make sure the vibe, style, products and owners are up to each individual company's standards.

It isn't easy though to gain those privileges though and when Revive first opened, Cohen faced an uphill battle. After two years in operation, Cohen has managed to impress multiple companies and in turn gain the rights to sell many of the limited edition sneakers that sneakerheads crave. Cohen still has more shoe brands with which he wants to gain the rights to, and if Revive continues to be a success, I don't see why it would be a problem.

Walking into the store, hipster paintings and graffiti adorn the walls and hip hop is ringing from the speakers. Jeans, hoodies, t-shirts, and hats line the walls on both sides of the store, while sneakers can be found on shelves in between and below the apparel on their own prominent shelves. Couches sit on the left side of the store for your relaxing pleasure, although I don't get the impression that you're invited to sit around and hang out. Once in a while the store emits just a hint of an elitist attitude, but it's all part of the persona.

As for the employees, they seem knowledgeable about the merchandise and are happy to show that off. I don't know if this is still the case, but at least in the past, employees weren't actually given a pay check and instead were given discounts on items within the store. I've heard grumblings about why anyone would want to work for discounts, but I think it's a testament to how passionate these employees are about the street culture, and for that matter, the store. Anyway, it seems like a good deal for Cohen and like I always say, you can't knock the hustle (Actually I would never seriously say that, unless I was kidding...or actually, maybe I would, I don't know, I've said some pretty ridiculous stuff).

Aaron Cohen has a good thing going at Revive and he knows it. Revive has brought a sense of street style to Metro Detroit, specifically the mean streets of Birmingham. Their aren't too many places like Revive and it's good to see the young, creative, entrepreneurial class of Detroit showing how successful they can be.

The store is definitely worth the trip, and it's way less expensive than flying to New York to find gear that not many people around here have. Just remember though, although while inside the store you might FEEL like you're in the Lower East Side of Manhattan (Meanwhile, is the LES still hip or is it now just yuppie?), you're still in Birmingham, so don't get too crazy.

Below are photos from Revive in Birmingham, Michigan

You can see the complete Flickr set of photographs from Revive here




383 Hamilton Row
Birmingham, MI 48009
248.593.9788
Revive
Revive Blog

Detroit Army

Sunday, September 7, 2008

SENSE OF URGENCY SHOULD START NOW IN DETROIT

Nolan Finley of the Detroit News writes a thought provoking article in the Detroit News on September 7, 2008 regarding the state of Detroit City. His ideas are overly idealistic, with some being unrealistic and all much easier said than done. Yet, there is something to be said for the tone of the article and the urgency that all of us as metro Detroiters should have regarding our city.

"Detroit needs a big turnaround play to change the conversation about a city that can no longer deny its decline.

Why not make every inch of the city a tax-free zone? If you're willing to come here to live or open a business, you won't have to pay state or city income taxes, property taxes or sales taxes.

Pay for it by taking the bureaucracy down to the bare bones until the city regains a critical mass of commerce and residents.

Boost the repopulation effort by recruiting the immigrants who are flocking to America from places like Iraq and Eastern Europe.

Use the city's thousands of vacant houses to lure them here. If they're willing to come, give them the keys to a house. If they fix it up, it's theirs.

Detroit doesn't have the luxury any longer of a slow and steady rebuild. It needs to make a dramatic statement to get people talking about it again as a city of hope, rather than as the most devastated place in America."

See the entire article here
Detroit Army

Thursday, August 28, 2008

AEROTROPOLIS IN METRO DETROIT'S FUTURE?

It looks like the aerotropolis idea, which has been thrown around for some time, is really taking off.

"Chicago is in the crosshairs, and North Carolina is the goal.

That's the message from the backers of the plan to develop an “aerotropolis” of aviation-reliant business and industry in the area anchored by Detroit Metropolitan Airport and Willow Run Airport. Backers want to attract investment to 5,000 targeted acres among 60,000 acres — over 25 years — on what is now largely undeveloped land sprinkled with some industrial and airport-related businesses.""

The potential economic results are eye-popping: A Jones Lang Lasalle aerotropolis study earlier this year estimates that construction-related economic impact, both direct and indirect, would average $173 million annually over the 25-year build-out, or $4.3 billion total."
(Bill Shea/Crain's Detroit

For more information see here

Detroit Army

Friday, August 22, 2008

ROCKY PEANUT COMPANY

In the cutthroat business of upscale food products, Rocky Peanut Company certainly has the variety and quality of products to give any store in Eastern Market a run for its money. Rocky Peanut Company prides itself on the quality of its products and its commitment to providing the freshest, tastiest, and many times healthiest food products available. These products include, bulk candy, meats, cheeses, bulk coffee, spices, and of course, raw nuts and dried fruits. Additionally, Rocky Peanut Co. also has a coffee bar where patrons can sit down and relax after a long day at the market.

According to their website, "Rocky Peanut Company buys raw nuts and dried fruits right at harvest, directly from growers and processors all over the world to assure that all we roast and process is the freshest and best quality. In our oil roasting process, we use Canola oil, which is lower in saturated fat then Cotton Seed or Peanut oil-the oils that most roasters typically use."

Yet, as much as the glorious selection of nuts, coffee, spices, cheeses, deli sandwiches, and bulk candy, satisfies my urge to purchase high quality food products, I still can't get over the fact that R. Hirt Jr. company just looks so much more like the real deal. I also realize that R. Hirt Jr. really holds itself out as more of a general store, where the uppity..um..general store snob would want to shop, while Rocky Peanut Company prides itself on being a store where the uppity food snob would want to shop. And, while in many cases each store carries very different types of products, they do sell some similar items, mostly in the vein of meat and cheese.

Until I'm proved differently, which I'm open to, if I'm going to spend an absurd amount of cash on cheese or meat, I'm going to R. Hirt Jr.. Hirt is, what I like to call, the "OG" or "Original Gangster" store in Eastern Market, which garners the utmost respect from all the newer stores on the block and whose reputation precedes it. Rocky Peanut is that newcomer on the scene who decided to go bold and take the old guy head on.

In actuality though, Rocky Peanut Company is really not that new at all. The company traces its roots all the way back to 1969 when Rocky (Rocco) Russo purchases a small peanut roasting business and began selling bagged peanuts to Tiger Stadium in Detroit, along with local street vendors. By 1971, Rocky had expanded his nut operations to the point where he needed a new location. The new store was opened in Eastern Market on the corner of Russell and the Fisher Freeway Service Drive.

Within the next 10 years Rocky had moved his operations again and relocated down the street from the previous location, although still within Eastern Market. In 1993, Rocky Peanut Company created a wholesale distribution business with its distribution center located in Ferndale and run by Rocky's son, Joseph Russo.

In all, Rocky Peanut Company has has all the upscale food products that you could want or need and they provide those products with a great presentation, a health conscious approach and respect for their patrons. Maybe then I'm being unreasonable by proclaiming that somehow the vibe at Rocky Peanut Co. takes away from its products. Maybe it doesn't make sense to downgrade the unbelievable array of high quality items due to the ambiance inside the store. Or maybe I'm just right. Still, you'll be hard pressed to find a better high end food market in Metro Detroit.

Below are photographs from Rocky Peanut Co. along with a link to the entire Flickr set.

Complete Rocky Peanut Co. Flickr Set





Rocky Peanut Company
2489 Russell, Detroit, MI, 48207
(800) 437-6825
Rocky Peanut

Detroit Army

Monday, August 18, 2008

CAN THIS NEW LIGHT RAIL PROPOSAL BE FOR REAL?

Originally Posted 4/22/08
Updated 8/18/08

There was big news yesterday in the basically non existent world of mass transit in the Detroit area, which could have huge implications for the future world of mass transit in our region.

The Free Press reports "Detroit took a small but significant step Monday toward a long-envisioned proposal to construct a two-rail rapid-transit system along Woodward Avenue from downtown to 8 Mile."

The Free Press goes on to explain, "A study group recommended construction of an estimated $371-million light-rail system that would allow commuters to park in 400 spaces at the State Fairgrounds and ride to and from downtown with stops at 13 to 15 sheltered stations."
Source: Detroit Free Press

The Detroit News reports, "City leaders have pinned their mass transit hopes on an eight-mile stretch down Woodward Avenue that connects the State Fairgrounds with downtown, calling the $371 million project a "first step" toward the return of light rail to Metro Detroit."

The Detroit News states, "Construction could begin in three years, with an estimated 11,000 riders a day by 2013."
Source: Detroit News

Model D points out the obvious obstacles that still remain. "There are still, of course, the nagging questions of getting approval for federal funding, finding a local funding source and traversing the minefield that has blown up so many other well-intentioned mass transit initiatives in the past. All important concerns, but not enough to take away from the big-picture changes that would come with creating the line."
Source: Model D

There is so much excitement, so many opinions, and so much skepticism about this plan, that it is hard to sift through all of the information. I, for one, am not sure how this plan will ultimately turn out, and I'll use a cautiously optimistic approach being that it is so early in the process and taking into account Detroit's track record with regard to transit.

It is true that there have been plenty of mass transit initiatives within the last 30 years which have fizzled, but there is no denying that this study, recommendation, and gathering of multiple groups, all with the intention of making light rail a reality, can only be a good thing.

Below are links to the news sources mentioned above as well as others so that you can find as much information about this potentially pioneering plan as possible.

Detroit Free Press
Detroit News
Model D
Crain's Detroit

8/18/08 Update

More details have emerged regarding the light rail proposal by the Detroit Department of Transportation. It appears that the details of this plan differ from the minimal information that we are aware of regarding the privately backed light rail proposal from the likes of Illitch and Dan Gilbert.

"The $371.5 million light-rail system Detroit has proposed to build along Woodward Avenue features the type of passenger boarding the city argued was too dangerous as part of its justification to switch from streetcars to buses in the 1950s.

The layout also isn't as conducive to economic development along the route as lines that offer curbside service, some transit insiders say. Atop that, there's a privately funded Woodward rail plan, backed by at least two of Detroit's billionaires and kept mostly secret, that does offer streetside service.

Backers of the city's proposal say it's both safe and every bit a driver of revitalization."
(Bill Shea/Crain's Detroit)

Again, more details to follow.

Dueling transit plans differ on station placement

Detroit Army

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

GS MARKET

The Vernor's sign out front says it all. GS Market just south of Lincoln on Woodward in Royal Oak is a traditional liquor store which carries wine, beer, soda, cigarettes, and snack items, but what makes the market a Royal Oak favorite is its wide selection of local products including Vernor's, Faygo, Better Made Chips and locally brewed beers. The building in which GS Market sits was built in 1938 and while it has changed hands four different times, the current owner and family have operated GS Market out of the building since 1976.

Personally I don't think enough stores in the metro Detroit area carry a sufficient amount, but GS Market takes its Faygo products seriously. Cans of Faygo including flavors such as Grape, Moon Mist, Cola, Orange Soda and of course Red Pop are offered, along with glass bottles of Red Pop, Orange Soda, Vanilla Creme and Root Beer. Better Made products such as pork rinds, wavy chips, orignal, caramel popcorn and the party mix are available.

As for beer, the selection is great. Of course GS Market carries the normal name brand beers, but the store also carries a multitude of beers from local breweries along with lesser known beers from other parts of the country. Liquor is shelved along the front wall behind the counter and most standard liquors of your choice are displayed.

The local products at GS Market are an obvious draw, and their selection of beverages, whether it be alcoholic or otherwise definitely are more plentiful than many of the "convenience" stores from the Metro Detroit area, but besides those, albeit, important factors, there is nothing special per se about GS. Yet, every time I drive by I find myself stopping in, even when I don't have anything particular in mind to buy.

It's unclear though what exactly the future holds for GS Market. I was told by one of the owners that they plan on remodeling the entire store within the next couple months and change the format. The new GS Market will be re modelded and re branded as an upscale wine shop. I was assured though that the products made (or formerly made) in Detroit will still be available for purchase. Unfortunatley though, the great Vernor's sign which is displayed so prominently out in front will be coming down. I sincerely hope the impressive selection of local products that GS Market currently carries do not suffer the same fate.

Below are photos from the store, along with a link to the entire flickr set.

GS Market Flickr Set





GS Market
25852 Woodward Ave.
Royal Oak, MI

48067-0910
Phone: 248-541-0212

Detroit Army