The Ilitch organization and Olympia Development play a huge part in this investment for the city as it shares a commitment to develop and revitalize the city.
Michael and Marian Ilitch established Ilitch Holdings Inc. in 1999 to provide services to all of the Ilitch-owned businesses, including Little Caesars, Olympia Development, the Detroit Tigers and MotorCity Casino Hotel.
Olympia Development, which is a subsidiary of Ilitch Holdings, was created in 1996 to focus on all of the projects within the city, according to the Ilitch Holdings website.
The organization is behind the city’s entertainment district, including Comerica Park, which is home to the Detroit Tigers, Ford Field, which is home to the Detroit Lions, and its newest investment, The District Detroit.
“This type of investment spurs more of an interest by people to come to Detroit to live, work and visit,” Monforton said. “That generates a greater tax base for the city, more jobs, more business for local shops and restaurants, etc.”
Within The District Detroit are five neighborhoods — Columbia Street, Columbia Park, Woodward Square, Wildcat Corner and Cass Park Village — with the shared goal of connecting downtown Detroit and Midtown along with providing opportunities for people to work, play and relax.
In the center of The District Detroit is the Columbia Street neighborhood, an area filled with shops, boutiques, galleries and cafes. It’s home to the Fox Theatre and the Fillmore Detroit.
Columbia Park started off as an industrial center but is being transformed into green space with offices, retail shops and loft-style condos.
The creative, artistic and entrepreneurial side of Detroit will be on display in the Cass Park Village. Featured in this neighborhood are shops, markets and galleries, Cass Technical High School and the Masonic Temple. Nearby is Wayne State University.
Wildcat Corner, home to the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Lions, is the neighborhood for baseball and football.
Woodward Square — home to Little Caesars Arena where the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Pistons will play — is the central core for the District Detroit. It will include restaurants, shops and public space for events and activities. The arena opens in September.
Money and jobs
“Little Caesars Arena is a Michigan-made, Detroit-built project with more than $345 million in contracts awarded to Detroit-based businesses, representing nearly 60 percent of total contracts, and more than $575 million, or 90 percent of contracts, awarded to Michigan businesses,” said Ed Saenz, communications manager for Olympia Development. “This is a sports and entertainment district that will draw visitors from around the region.”
According to Saenz, this investment will have an economic impact of more than $2 billion and will create more than 12,500 construction and construction-related jobs along with 1,110 permanent jobs.
He added that there are approximately 1,200 people working on the construction sites and about 200 apprentices have worked or are working on the arena.
Monforton said, “More than $11 billion of new investment has been pumped into the local economy, including investments that draw tourism, such as our revitalized riverfront, the Q-Line rail system, new retail like Nike, Under Armour and more than 100 new restaurants in just a couple of years.”
“If you haven’t been to Detroit in the past five years, then you really haven’t been to Detroit,” she said
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The Detroit Experience Factory focuses on tours that connect locals and visitors to the people, places and projects in the city.
“We’re helping people understand the assets that we have here but also understand the challenges and frequently breaking down the myths that exist mostly within our local population,” said Jeanette Pierce, lifelong resident and DXF founder.
DXF has taken more than 85,000 people on walking and bus tours in the city and hopes to reach 100,000 people this year.
The organization puts Detroit, the region and its history into context by having visitors step off buses, walk in the city and meet business owners.
“Detroit has world-class assets including an international riverfront, four major sports teams within walking distance, and 13,000 theatre seats in a five-block radius,” said DXF’s experience coordinator Ian McCain.
“Detroit is unlike any other place on this earth,” McCain said. “Despite the city’s challenges, what you will find is a group of thoughtful, caring and passionate citizens leading Detroit through her toughest challenges and celebrating the creative, innovative solutions that lead to her greatest triumphs.”
The organization helps anyone wishing to live, work or engage in the city by providing information and opportunities such as tours to meet business owners.
Sue Krause, DXF’s community liaison, said people should visit Detroit to see for themselves all that the city offers by taking one of the Detroit Experience Factory tours.
DXF provides tours throughout greater Downtown Detroit, which is 7.2 square miles and includes Downtown, Midtown, Woodbridge, Eastern Market, Lafayette Park, Rivertown and Corktown neighborhoods.
Greater Downtown Detroit features over 400 eateries, 350 shops and 64 arts and cultural institutions, according to the 7.2 Square Mile report.
According to Pierce, DXF’s most popular tour is the “Detroit Innovation & Inspiration” tour, where participants get to see the people behind the projects that help reinvent Detroit, including the Greening of Detroit, Detroit Bikes Factory and Artesian Farms.
The “Downtown & Beyond” bus tour, another popular tour, lets people get a sense of community and collaboration by visiting neighborhoods within greater Downtown Detroit.
Other tours include “Art & Architecture,” “Best of Downtown” and “Tasting.”
Pierce’s favorite part about Detroit is “the people, the small businesses and the sense of community where you know your neighbors and this friendliness that you don’t get in other big cities.”
The winter tour schedule runs from November to May and includes the “Art & Architecture” tour at noon Fridays, the “Downtown & Beyond” bus tour on the first Saturday of each month and the “Best of Downtown” tour at 2 p.m. Saturdays.
Summer tours for DXF run from May to October and features the same tours as the winter schedule plus bar tours including an “Eastern Market Bar Tour” and the organization’s first “Livernois Bar Tour.”
“Detroit is big enough to matter in the world and small enough for you to matter in it,” Pierce said.
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The Detroit Historical Society will recognize the 50-year-old Twelfth Street riot by its newest project “Detroit67: Looking Back to Move Forward.”
The five-day riot in Detroit, which led to the deaths of 43 people, was one of the deadliest and costliest in the history of the U.S. It began after a police raid at an unlicensed bar on Twelfth and Clairmount streets on the west side of Detroit.
The riot’s causes included social, economic and racial issues. Its aftermath was a turning point for the city — more white flight, increased activism and more community engagement, according to the Detroit Historical Society. Coleman A. Young, Detroit’s first black mayor, took office in 1974.
The “Detroit 67:Looking Back to Move Forward” project was created to use lessons learned from the 1967 events to spark social change, according to Kalisha Davis, the society’s director of community engagement and outreach.
Davis said she believes this project is important to the city because the situations that led to July 1967 are similar to what is currently happening on a local and national level.
“We’re seeing problems related to equitable housing, education, health, and police harassment and brutality manifest entirely too often in cities across the country,” she said.
“This project allows us to unpack these challenges through the lens of community engagement by utilizing the best that every organization and individual has to offer to build our collective community’s ability to spark change.”
The society created an oral and written history online archive as a way to tell the story of Detroit.
The archive features stories from those who had positions of authority during 1967, those who have lived here and either stayed or moved away, and those who wanted to voice their opinion.
“This project provides us with an opportunity to really look at what has happened in the past and understand it from different perspectives,” said Rebecca Salminen Witt, chief development and communications officer.
Along with the online archive, the documentary “12th and Clairmount” will be the opening film March 30 for the Freep Film Festival. The documentary examines the causes and outcome of the riot through the eyes of home movies from Detroiters.
Beginning in mid-June, the exhibition “Detroit 67 Perspectives” will provide an interactive experience for visitors and allow them to understand the history before, during and after the riot.
The exhibition is expected to cover 100 years of history from 1917 to 2017 and beyond to help shape and create a better future for Detroit.
“We want visitors after leaving the exhibition to be moved and motivated to create change in the community,” Salminen Witt said.
Visit the Detroit67 website to learn more about the project.
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Detroit ranks No. 9 out of 52 places to visit in 2017, according to The New York Times, and is known as “a comeback city set to make good on its promise.”
After exiting bankruptcy in 2014, Detroit has been turning things around by improving safety, tearing down thousands of abandoned homes, replacing street lights, creating businesses downtown and launching mobile applications to report problems to the city.
David Rudolph, senior managing partner at D. Ericson & Associates and a native Detroiter, believes downtown Detroit is growing in terms of population.
“The city is sort of blossoming like a rose,” he said. “When it finally opens up, you can see the true beauty of Detroit.”
The Detroit Free Press reported in May 2016 that the Census Bureau estimated a 0.5 percent decrease in population in 2015, the slowest decline in years. Mayor Mike Duggan said he expects the next set of figures to show the city is growing.
Deanna Majchrzak, media relations manager for the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau, suggests people visit the attractions and restaurants in the city, including the Detroit Institute of Arts and Comerica Park, home to the Detroit Tigers.
Because the Detroit Pistons are making the move from Auburn Hills to downtown Detroit, all four of Michigan’s professional sports teams — Detroit Tigers, Detroit Lions, Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Pistons — will play within a mile of each other.
Majchrzak said The Motown Museum is one of her favorite places in Detroit as it gives her “an upbeat, Motown mood.”
Detroit Experience Factory, a nonprofit dedicated to connecting locals and out of towners to Detroit, features 900 eateries, shopping and entertainment opportunities within greater downtown Detroit.
“There’s just so much history and life that’s around Detroit that if you don’t experience something you aren’t used to experiencing, then you’re going to miss out,” said Kailey Poort, director of communications and marketing for Downtown Detroit Partnership.
The Motown Museum, also known as Hitsville U.S.A., is home to the Motown sound and tells the story of Berry Gordy and his journey to creating a successful record company, which introduced the world to artists including Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross and Stevie Wonder during its heyday in the 1960s.
Poort urges people to take advantage of everything in Detroit and step outside of their comfort zone.
Detroit has grown into a city where investors, such as the Ilitch family and billionaire Dan Gilbert, have helped the community and outsiders come together to enjoy the city’s offerings.
Michael Ilitch and the Ilitch family have invested time and money in Detroit by establishing Ilitch Holdings in 1999, which includes Little Caesars, Olympia Entertainment, the Detroit Red Wings and the Detroit Tigers.
The new Little Caesars Arena, the most recent investment from the Ilitch family, is under construction in Detroit and is scheduled to open in September 2017. According to the Detroit Free Press, the investment could cost $1 billion in public and private dollars.
The Little Caesars Arena will be the new home for the Detroit Red Wings and the Detroit Pistons. The arena is in The District Detroit, which is a 50- block development consisting of six theatres, five neighborhoods and four sporting teams, all within walking distance.
“Michael Ilitch led the way with investments because he embraced and showed love to Detroit a long time ago,” Rudolph said. “Ilitch knew he could do something with Detroit when people didn’t think they could.”
Another investor who has played a key role in the rapid growth of the greater downtown Detroit area is Gilbert, the founder of Quicken Loans and owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Since 2011, Gilbert has spent $451 million to acquire 62 properties in Detroit, according to The Detroit News. Properties include One Campus Martius and the First National Building.
“These investments help create awareness of developments, bring people downtown and without these investors, we wouldn’t be here,” Majchrzak said.
Poort said she believes the investments are positive to the city because they have changed the landscape for the better but added that people need to be aware of those who lived here before.
The population in Detroit was at 1.85 million in 1950 due to the number of jobs with the Big Three automakers, according to The New York Times. Since the 1967 riot, the city’s population has declined to an estimated 677,116, according to the U.S. Census.
In a three-part story on National Geographic, Detroiters shared their opinions about Detroit from what they’ve experienced to what’s to come for the city.
Jim Hayden, who’s featured in part three, titled “Tough, Cheap, and Real, Detroit is Cool Again,” is a Seattle businessman, who spends a few months of the year in Detroit.
“I am a fan of comeback stories, like ‘Rocky,’ and Detroit is the greatest Rocky story ever told,” Hayden said.
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Cultural institutions and creative industries have played a critical part in bringing the people of Detroit closer.
According to a report by Creative Many, an organization focused on the culture and design economy in Michigan, creative industries in Michigan contribute to the growth of communities and the economy along with providing tools and education for youth to become strong leaders and innovators.
Mark Stryker, Detroit Free Press arts & culture reporter and critic, has been in the business for 20 years and has seen the impact that cultural institutions have had on Detroit.
“The arts is one of our greatest assets, and it’s just as important as sports and public safety,” he said.
Stryker added, “Culture is fundamental to the future of Detroit because it draws economic development, attracts residents and entrepreneurs, and creates an environment where people want to work and play.”
Approximately 180 arts and cultural organizations in Michigan were formed for the purpose of developing and promoting the work of artists in visual and performing art forms, according to the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.
“There is such a groundswell of people and organizations that are really seeing the opportunity to bring people together and to make Detroit an even more vibrant place by using the arts,” said Kathryn Dimond, Culture Source’s advocacy & program strategist. Culture Source is a member association for nonprofit art and cultural organizations to help develop a diverse community in southeastern Michigan.
The New York Times and other news organizations reported that Trump may have plans to eliminate both the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, along with privatizing the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
These organizations make up .016 percent of the U.S budget, which is about $4.6 trillion.
Dimond said the NEA funds programs for the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Mosaic Youth Theatre while the NEH funds programs from colleges and universities to conduct research.
“When people start looking at what it funds, that’s when you start realizing the impact that it would have,” Dimond said.
Stryker, Fourcroy and Dimond said arts should continue to be funded — especially in schools — because students can develop a creative way of thinking and gain cultural understanding.
“It’s an investment in our youth and that they deserve quality arts education,” Stryker said.
Because of the art programs here and the potential to grow, Detroit has become a place where musicians and artists of any background come to showcase their talents.
According to The New York Times, artists from New York come to Detroit to take advantage of “Detroit’s deep and rich cultural history” and the opportunity to grow as an artist.
Philip Kafta, one of the artists in the article, believes that a person can find their purpose in Detroit and that it has become almost impossible to do in New York.
Within Detroit, there are empty industrial spaces, community-focused projects and design opportunities where artists can express themselves.
Fourcroy said there is a strong correlation between exposure to arts as a child and participation in arts as an adult.
Taking an art or music class in elementary, middle or high school can help to give a person exposure to something new and can help give that student an understanding of different cultures.
“Detroit is a hot place for emerging artists to move to,” she said.
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Museums, galleries and other cultural institutions have helped bring positive vibes to the city of Detroit.
According to Trip Advisor, there are 23 museums in Detroit, with the Detroit Institute of Arts being No. 1. Time suggest that people start their Detroit tour at the DIA because it’s the “city’s crown jewel.”
The newest exhibit at the DIA shows why it has become one of the best museums in the United States.
Bitter|Sweet: Coffee, Tea & Chocolate is the newest and first exhibition at the Detroit Institute of Arts to engage all five senses.
While visitors view approximately 70 works of art, they can touch, hear, smell and taste coffee, chocolate and tea-related beverages.
“Everyone loves coffee and chocolate,” visitor Laurisa Sinsabaugh of Rochester said.
This exhibit focuses on how coffee, tea and chocolate came to Europe in the late 16th century. They changed drinking habits, tastes and social customs, according to the DIA.
Most of the pieces in the exhibit are from the museum’s holdings in pre-1850 European silver and ceramics. The institute’s prints, paintings and sculptures relating to the arrival and impact of beverages in Europe help to create new contexts and connections for objects from the permanent collection.
The last stop before the tasting station is “The Craze for Chocolate.” Visitors learn about how chocolate is made from fresh cocoa beans and how the Mayans and Aztecs were among the first to turn the beans into a drink. Visitors can shake a cocoa pod to hear the sound of the cocoa beans.
Before exiting, visitors can “taste the story” of chocolate by tasting two versions of hot chocolate: Aztec recipe and 18th century French recipe.
“It was nice to learn about how important hot chocolate was back then and how big it is now,” said Shaina Ferrell of Detroit. Ferrell works at the tasting station at the end of the exhibit.
The last thing visitors see is a quote about the world in a cup and how every cup of coffee, tea and chocolate tells a story: “A global story… both bitter and sweet, of vessels adapted and transformed, of economic systems built on power and subjugation, of identity, both self-defined and imposed, of traditions shared across time and place. Perhaps there has never been anything simple about a cup of coffee, tea, or chocolate.”
“We’re both big coffee and tea drinkers,” said Francis Mazureki of Royal Oak, who was there with her mother, Diane. “ We think the history aspect of it is intriguing.”
Marcil said the institute has received positive feedback, comments and reactions via comment cards. The exhibit runs until March 5.
“We came to this exhibit to spend some together, we love the museum and we thought this would be an interesting subject,” said Cathy Seltz of Waterford.
Visitors are encouraged to take photos, bring friends and to use #SipTheStory on Instagram to show how they drink coffee and tea.
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Looking for a place to have great food and a good time? OU News Bureau reporters have visited some distinctive eateries in Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties to learn more about what these places have to offer. Reporter Alexus Bomar visited Cupcake Station in Rochester and spoke with store manager Chris Coulter.
Tell me about the history of this place.
Cupcake Station actually started 11 years ago. The Birmingham location was the very first Cupcake Station in Michigan, which opened in 2006. It was a single owner, who sold it to the current owner, Todd Gildersleeve, about three years later and he owns all five locations. After that, he bought the property in Ann Arbor, Plymouth, Ferndale and Rochester. This Rochester location is now three years old as of this past December.
Describe what it offers patrons.
We offer made-from-scratch, freshly baked cupcakes. We make them fresh every day. We make all of our frostings, batters, cookies, brownies, caramel bars, cheesecake pops and banana pudding. We also have treats for dogs called “pupcake,” and those are a big seller. We offer cupcakes in two different sizes: regular and mini. We do have a third size. It’s called jumbo and it’s about 4 inches in diameter and we only make two of those a day. We are not a gluten-free or gluten- friendly facility yet. The owner is currently working on getting some recipes. We do have vegan products, including vegan cupcakes and chocolate chip cookies.
What do you do that’s different from other places like this?
A lot of bakeries only make so much, sell out then put a lock on the door. Once they’re sold out, they close up. We don’t. We bake more throughout the day and we try to stick to our closing times as much as possible. Very rarely will we ever close early and sell out.
What’s the one thing everyone should order here?
If you like chocolate, I would recommend the Bump-a-licious cupcake. Everyone should have one of these. Like I said, it is our No. 1 seller. If you like vanilla and coconut, everyone should try the Station’s Samoa. It’s just like the Girl Scout cookie. It’s dipped in toasted coconut and drizzled with chocolate.
How many people work here?
What does the future hold for this place?
I think the owner is looking at possible franchising and looking at possible Cupcake Station express. Cupcake Station express would be a much smaller facility with less variety but where people can go in and out faster.
Cupcake Station is at 205 S. Main Street, Rochester, MI 48307. (248) 651-5401. Visit the website or Facebook for other locations.