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Secreto Cigar Vault opens in downtown Ferndale

Cigar bars may be on a the cusp of a resurgence as another metro Detroit establishment catering to cigar lovers opens for business.

Secreto Cigar Vault opened at 315 W. 9 Mile Road in Ferndale earlier this week.

Besides an extensive selection of cigars and humidors to store them, Secreto will host live entertainment and special events. Tapas will be served and foods, drinks and special menus that complement cigars are planned.

Craft cocktails, a modern lounge atmosphere and an outdoor seating area are part of the renovated space that has become Secreto.

Secreto is one of several cigar bars to open in metro Detroit in recent months, a return from their 1990-2000s heyday. In February, Socialight owned a bistro and cigar lounge in West Bloomfield, and Stray Cat Lounge opened almost a year ago in Clinton Township.

Source: Ferndale Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Pure Barre brings newer style workout to Grosse Pointe Farms

Two lifelong athletes turned barre workout worshippers are business partners behind Pure Barre Grosse Pointe, a barre studio that opened in Grosse Pointe Farms in late August.

Co-owners Renae Lange and Lia Amine renovated a 2,200-square-foot storefront at 75 Kercheval Avenue in The Hill business district into a studio space with room for 22 students. Lange and about seven other instructors teach 5-6 classes each day.

Lange, a high school basketball and softball player, discovered a passion for barre while looking for a workout that felt competitive once her sports days had ended.

"With barre it's like you're competing with yourself to get stronger," she says. "With the music it's fun. It's interesting."

Co-owner Amine grew up playing soccer and found barre after a knee injury. She's a grad student working on a doctoral degree in physical therapy at New York University.

When she returns to teach and help run the studio she will also be able to offer clients advice on ways to strengthen weak or troublesome parts of the body.

The two met while Lange managed Pure Barre in Ann Arbor. Amine taught there while attending the University of Michigan, where she obtained a degree in movement science.

"She is excited to share the amazing Pure Barre technique with the Detroit area," Lange says in her online bio.

Lange has seen both sides of the business: as a franchise owner, and the corporate side after starting Pure Barre Midland in 2009 and then moving to Denver to work as master teacher trainer and director of training at Pure Barre's home office. Lange also managed Pure Barre in Okemos.

Barre is a workout that uses a mix of body positions and movements to strengthen and stretch the body. Many of the movements involve a barre like those in ballet studios.

"It's going very well," Lange says. "The community has responded to it very well. We're having a lot of fun."

Source: Renae Lange, co-owner, Pure Barre Grosse Pointe
Writer: Kim North Shine
 

DFCU Financial breaks ground on Plymouth branch

DFCU Financial, Michigan's largest credit union, is opening a new branch in Plymouth.

Ground was broken in late August on a 4,583-square-foot facility that will open in the first quarter of 2015 at Ann Arbor Road and Main Street.

The branch will be the 25th for the credit union that formed in 1950, started by seven Ford Motor Co. engineering employees. President and CEO Mark Shobe says the Plymouth location will serve more than 4,000 families.

The branch, which will sit on about one acre of land, will have two drive-through teller lanes, a drive up ATM and full services inside.

DFCU currently has branches in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Lansing.

Source: Peggy Richard, spokesperson, DFCU Financial
Writer: Kim North Shine


New markers tell history of downtown Clawson

Visitors to downtown Clawson can take a glimpse into the past while shopping for the home at Leon & Lulu, dining on Vietnamese at Da Nang or sipping suds at Black Lotus Brewery.

The history lessons come through a series of permanent markers erected in August to tell the story of Clawson's past and add an element of interest to the downtown center that conveys and old meets new appeal.

Seventeen History Walk plaques are spread through four sections of downtown, says Joan Horton, director of the Clawson Downtown Development Authority.

The DDA and the Clawson Historical Museum worked together on the project sponsored by Talmer Bank.

The object, says Horton, is for downtown visitors "to take a stroll to enjoy the downtown of today while learning about the one of the past."

The plaques are installed on posts along sidewalks and on buildings such as the Black Lotus Brewery (formerly the Clawson State Savings Bank), Leon & Lulu (where the Ambassador Roller Rink once operated), and the closed Clawson Theater, which is under renovation.

"Overall, using text and photos, they help to tell the story of Clawson -- the steam powered mill that was in the northeast corner, the interurban train, horses and cars sharing dirt roads downtown and on through to the process of paving in 1928 and glimpses of life into the 1950s," says Horton.

Printed rack cards showing marker locations are available at City Hall, the historical museum, the library, Black Lotus and Leon & Lulu.

Source: Joan Horton, director, Clawson Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Could Macomb County score with $10 million baseball stadium?

Macomb County, the city of Utica, and Rochester-based General Sports & Entertainment are teaming up to bring a minor-league or college-level baseball stadium to Utica.

General Sports & Entertainment, the stadium developer, will spend about $10,000 to construct a 2,500-seat, 500-space parking structure off of Moscone Drive north of Auburn Road.

There are no teams signed to play there, but approximately 80 independent league games are expected to be played at the stadium, which will also host family-centered events. Phase two will add retail and condominiums to the development.

While no teams are signed, either minor league or college level for exhibition, the General Sports chairman and CEO was a senior vice president for the Detroit Pistons and former owner of the Fort Wayne Wizards. He also has connections locally and nationally through General Sports, which brokers sponsorship deals between corporations and sports franchises, including college football bowl games, the Baltimore Grand Prix, and several major league soccer teams.

Utica's Downtown Development Authority donated the property valued at $600,000 to General Sports, the project developer. Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel and the county's department of planning and economic development, which is under contract with the city to act as planner, brokered the deal.

“Besides the obvious economic development advantages such as job creation, increased property values and increased consumer spending, the new baseball stadium will further enhance the city of Utica as a great destination point for families and people of all ages," says Stephen Cassin, director of the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development.

Source: John Cwikla, spokesperson,  Macomb County Office of the County Executive and Ballpark Digest
Writer: Kim North Shine


 

Shinola bikes for rent in downtown Birmingham



Shinola and The Townsend Hotel, two brands cementing reputations of luxury, are pairing up to offer Shinola bikes to hotel guests and to Birmingham residents.

The Shinola bike rental program at The Townsend launched about a month ago as a new amenity that offers an easy and stylish way to see downtown Birmingham.

The bikes are for rent by the half hour for $15, an hour for $25 and for a day for $125. Bike helmets and locks are also available.

Operators at The Townsend, a Euro-styled hotel in Birmingham, and Shinola, which promotes American- and Detroit-made products and operates a factory and retail store in Detroit, say Shinola's Runwell and Bixby models are a great way to see how walkable -- or rideable -- Birmingham can be.

"We've only had a few rentals so far, but we have a sign at the concierge desk in the main lobby announcing the offering, and we've had many inquiries," says Lynette Zebrowski, The Townsend's chief concierge. "So we are expecting to see this pick up."

Source: Hope Brown, principal PublicCity PR
, and Lynette Zebrowski, chief concierge, The Townsend Hotel
Writer: Kim North Shine

 

Shoe Tree women's shoe store to open in Grosse Pointe's Village

The most-watched block in Grosse Pointe's Village business district is getting a new tenant, a shoe store that will sell moderately priced women's shoes and be owned by a local who believes she knows what Grosse Pointers want and are willing to pay.

Hilary Butcher will open the Shoe Tree, likely in late October, at 17121 Kercheval Avenue, next door to the Calico fabric store that opened in June.

The block once housed a Borders bookstore and Ace hardware store, and since they closed in 2011 and 2012 the block sat vacant until a few months ago.

The developer, Kercheval Company, has leased much of the space to St. John Hospital, which will have offices and retail space. Kercheval Dance has opened a dance studio next door and Calico at the opposite end from St. John, which is still renovating its space.

Butcher's store is an alternative to the pricey, designer shoe store, Capricious, which is located on Kercheval Avenue on The Hill in Grosse Pointe Farms.

Source: The Voice of the Village
Writer: Kim North Shine

Olive Vinegar offers gourmet oils, vinegars in downtown Rochester

The stainless steel dispensers that are the centerpiece of the new Olive Vinegar in downtown Rochester add up to an attractive decor, but it's the function of what's inside the shiny containers that is the basis for the business.

Inside the Fusti storage containers are high-quality olive oils and vinegars from around the world. Paired with them is the knowledge of Michael and Nicole Loffredo, owners of Olive Vinegar. They opened the store and tasting room stocked with more than 50 varieties of oils and vinegars last month at 205 S. Main St..

Besides selling tasty oils and vinegars such as Persian lime, mushroom, raspberry, and coconut to enhance food, an integral part of the business is spreading the word about the health benefits of products such as high-phenol olive oils.

Recipes, demonstrations and access to information comes with a visit to the store as do foods that can be paired with liquid product that's imported and fills Olive Vinegar's own bottles. Gluten-free pastas, meatballs, orzo, kitchen supplies, spices and other products are also sold at Olive Vinegar.

Source: Olive Vinegar
Writer: Kim North Shine

Grosse Pointe trolley organizers want riders to heart GP

A new trolley is criss-crossing the Grosse Pointes, taking customers to and from local businesses on weekends.

Last week, the first week of operation, showed interest was high with 115 riders hopping the train Friday night and 550 riding Saturday during its 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. service.

The Grosse Pointe Chamber of Commerce and two nonprofits, the Richard and Jane Manoogian Foundation and Paul and Carol Schaap's Urban Renewal Initiative Foundation, are behind a trial run of the trolley that would go through the end of the year.

The old-fashioned trolley runs up and down Kercheval Avenue between Maryland and Moross. It stops in Grosse Pointe Park, where an old business district is seeing several new business openings, goes through the Village in the city of Grosse Pointe's downtown area, and up to The Hill business district in Grosse Pointe Farms. If the trolley is a success it could expand to much busier Mack Avenue.

The free service is part of the larger "I heart GP" initiative, says Grosse Pointe Chamber president Jennifer Boettcher.

"The philosophy behind the trolley service, K-Line, coincides with another chamber initiative called “I heart GP” that's encouraging residents to put their money where their hearts are - Grosse Pointe," she says.

Soon, she says, "I heart GP" banners will hang from light posts throughout the business communities and on Vernier and Lake Shore roads "as a reminder to the residents to think local first."

Promoting business isn't all the trolley service is about.

"The best part was the camaraderie," says Boettcher, who rode the trolley on its maiden voyage weekend. "Everyone was laughing and talking like one big family."

Source: Jennifer Boettcher, president Grosse Pointe Chamber of Commerce, executive director, Grosse Pointe Foundation
Writer: Kim North Shine

 

Cooley Law School's building ranks as one of world's most impressive

A rainwater harvesting system, a green roof, low flow plumbing and other eco-focused features has landed Cooley Law School in Auburn Hills on the list of the most impressive law school buildings in the world.

Best Choice Schools' independent ranking put Cooley, which has undergone major renovation and a 64,000-square-foot addition, at #35 out of 50 law schools. Architects and engineers from Rockford Construction and SHW Group designed the building.

Cooley's building on its Auburn Hills campus at 2630 Featherstone Road is a LEED silver certified facility that was constructed with sustainability at the fore. "Building architects sought to maximize light and air flow throughout the structure with large windows and open spaces," according to Best Choice Schools.

Cooley is the fourth law school in the U.S. to be LEED certified.

Source: Tyler Lecceadone, spokesperson, Cooley Law School, Auburn Hills
Writer: Kim North Shine

 

Farmington Road next big downtown development project

A rebuild of Farmington Road is the next big project to make downtown Farmington into an inviting place for businesses and customers alike.

Annette Knowles, executive director of the Farmington Downtown Development Authority, says the new Farmington Road streetscape will spruce up the the city's main thoroughfare, make it easier to travel and reach businesses, whether by car of foot and, ideally, help local businesses grow and attract new clientele.

One goal of the rebuild is to give restaurants more sidewalk space for outdoor seating.

"We've got our work cut out for us," Knowles says, "but next year we hope to be starting construction."

The project is largely funded by federal grants through the state and will require local, state and federal approvals of the construction plan, which is being drawn up by OHM Advisors and Grissim Metz Andriese Associates.

The Farmington Road streetscape comes on the heels of of the rebuild of Groves Street, a major makeover of a tired shopping center there and the redesign of Riley Park, a downtown gathering spot.

"We're not resting on our laurels or closing the book," Knowles says. "There's always something that needs attention. That's kind of challenge for any community.

"We are providing all of these investments into the downtown to keep us positioned to businesses that need to grow or are looking for attractiveness for relocation."

Source: Annette Knowles, executive director, Farmington Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Stray Cat Lounge gets second life in Clinton Twp.

After a 12-year-run in Grosse Pointe Woods, Robusto's Martini Lounge has reopened as the Stray Cat Lounge in Clinton Township.

The Stray Cat Lounge still serves martinis and sells cigars and features local bands, but is bigger and redesigned with an emphasis on modern and swanky.

The move to 40813 Garfield Road puts the business in a more central location and lets it offer private party space and catering.

The new business, bigger with a refocused beer and drink menu, carries on the owners' love of local music, cigars and luxury.
There are still humidors and cigar lockers, specialty cocktails, big screen TVs and a stage for changing local music and the addition of more Michigan-made beers and liquors.

Source: Stray Cat Lounge
Writer: Kim North Shine

$22 million Neuroscience Center opens at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak

The first freestanding building to go up on the campus of Beaumont Hospital's Royal Oak campus in more than a decade opened this week.

The three-story, 80,000-square-foot, $22-million Neuroscience Center will give pediatric and adult patients one point of access for the diagnosis and treatment of neurological conditions.

The center was built in anticipation of a growing population of patients 65 and older. The number is expected to double to 72.1 million by 2030. Pediatric patients will also be a focus of the center.

The Neuroscience Center will offer high-tech conference rooms that allow physicians and clinicians to collaborate on patient care, advanced equipment for diagnosis and treatment, rooms designed for comfort and privacy, and more.

There are 11 clinics within the center, including the Ian Jackson Craniofacial Clinic, a pediatric and adult epilepsy clinic, clinics for stroke, spinal, and brain tumors, neuro-oncology, concussion, aneurysm, Parkinson's Disease and others.

The center was developed by Royal Oak-based T.H. Marsh Construction and designed by HKS Architects of Northville.

Source: Angela Blazevski, spokesperson, Beaumont Hospital Royal Oak
Writer: Kim North Shine

Farmington Brewing Co. builds downtown house of suds

Renovations are underway for a brewery that's coming to Grand River Avenue in downtown Farmington.

Farmington Brewing Co. will open, possibly in September, at 33336 Grand River in a space previously occupied by a coffee shop. The renovations of the 1,600-square-foot space will make room for beer-making barrels and a bar that runs the length of half the space.

Four, five-barrel fermenters (a barrel is equal to two kegs) will be just behind be the bar and be the focal point of the room.

"Our equipment will be directly behind our bar. We think it adds to the ambiance of the space to have all the equipment there. We will not be brewing during serving hours, but customers will see where we do the work," says Jason Hendricks, partner in Farmington Brewing Co. with Jason Schlaff and his father Gary Schlaff.

Hendricks and Jason Schlaff started home-brewing beer about five years ago, says Hendricks.

The two are environmental scientists and chemists, while Gary Schlaff works in marketing for a TV station.

"We started out as home brewers and began experimenting more and more and developing the recipes of beer we like to drink," Hendricks says. "As friends and family started to enjoy it along with us we decided to expand our horizons."

"It's something we love to do," he says. "We figure if you do what you love you never work a day in your life."

Farmington Brewing Co. will not serve food. It will instead partner with local restaurants to deliver food to its guests who want a meal to go with their beer. Nearby restaurant menus will be kept on hand and delivery will be made quick and easy by Farmington Brewing Co. employees.

Opening day hinges on regulatory approvals, mostly, says Hendricks, but the target date is mid-September.

The opening is much anticipated by locals, says Annette Knowles, executive director of the Farmington Downtown Development Authority. She hopes the brewers can be a part of the city's annual Harvest Moon Festival.

Facebook posters regularly ask when it's coming and say they can't wait.

It is located across the street from the Grove Street redevelopment that is remaking a tired strip mall into a more attractive retail district for new businesses.

Source: Jason Hendricks, co owner, Farmington Brewing Co.
Writer: Kim North Shine

Advantage Health Centers unveils mural at newest clinic in Warren

A community healthcare practice that treats low-income, uninsured, underinsured and homeless patients is brightening up its clinic in Warren with a mural that tells the story of what community health care means to people with little or no access to doctors, dentists or mental health treatment.

The mural at Advantage Family Health in Warren -- the newest of the federally-funded practices operated by Advantage Health Centers -- is being unveiled this week during a presentation that includes video interviews with patients and employees. The interviews were compiled in January and February, about a month after Advantage moved one of its Detroit clinics into a renovated warehouse in Warren. The interviews with patients -- new ones and old ones who followed the clinic from Detroit -- were interpreted by a storyteller and then made into the mural by an artist, says Joseph Ferguson, executive director of Advantage Health Centers.

"The mural depicts the community's feelings about our role in their lives," says Ferguson, adding that community health clinics such as his and others that serve some 170,000 patients in greater Wayne County are preventing the over and unnecessary use of emergency rooms and are also giving care that leads patients to be healthy enough to work: "to be productive again."

The mural decorates the lobby of the clinic on 8 Mile Road, and the artwork will also appear in patient education materials. It was made possible by a $35,000 grant from the Kresge Foundation through its Health and Arts & Culture Healing Spaces initiative.

A mural that already decorates the clinic's community room was paid for by the Kellogg Foundation.

Advantage Health Centers operates seven practices, Warren being the newest. Its other clinics are located in Detroit and are seeing increases in patient numbers. AHC is hiring, and has added several employees to its staff in recent months as it works to complete community outreach and provide education in neighborhoods used to relying on the emergency room as their primary form of medical care. Dental care and behavioral health care are also offered to adult and pediatric patients through Advantage Health's clinics and practices. Outreach workers are also teaching patients how to use the Affordable Health Care Act and the Healthy Michigan program to find appropriate and affordable health care rather than using hospitals they can't pay or forgoing medical care until treatment becomes more costly and taken on by hospitals.

Since 2008, Ferguson says, the number of patients has increased from about 8,000 to more than 20,000. By the end of the year, that number will be up to 25,000 or 26,000, he says.

The Health Centers originally started in 1986 and targeted the homeless and veterans due to the high number of homeless vets. Eventually it grew to also serve uninsured, underinsured and neighborhoods with little or no access to doctors.

Source: Joseph Ferguson, executive director, Advantage Health Centers
Writer: Kim North Shine
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