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Don Knight at classic Ann Arbor steakhouse Knight's new downtown location
Don Knight at classic Ann Arbor steakhouse Knight's new downtown location - Doug Coombe | Show Photo

Development News

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Free Smarter Home seminar series to offer green tips for homeowners

Meadowlark Energy gets a lot of phone calls from homeowners who have lots of questions about energy issues in their homes. What the building performance company found is that many of them are missing basic information about how their homes work. 
"People are looking for knowledge about this and they don’t know where to go to get it," says Doug Selby, co-founder of Meadowark Energy. "We wanted to put something together so people could, in a relaxed setting, learn more about how their homes operate."
As the home remodeling is picking up again, Meadowlark Energy is planning a free seminar series to provide homeowners with the basic knowledge they need to decide how they can make their homes greener. 
"We think people should be thinking about all of the opportunities for greening your home," Selby says. "It's the only remodeling activity that actually puts money back into your pockets." 
While Selby says the larger, longer-term solutions discussed in the seminar series will cover services offered by Meadowark Energy, other DIY approaches will also be included. 
The Smarter Home Seminar will take place once a month for three months beginning May 11. 

Source: Doug Selby, Meadowlark Energy
Writer: Natalie Burg

Nutritional Healing Center doubles footprint, adds 5 new staff

Growth has been a part of The Nutritional Healing Center of Ann Arbor since it opened in 2000. Now on its fourth expansion, the alternative health business was able to retain its N. Liberty location by growing into the suite next door. 
"We basically busted down the wall in two places and made it a giant circle," says Jessica Bonesteel, office manager for The Nutritional Healing Center. 
The expansion doubled the business' space to 5,000 square feet, allowing for new treatment rooms and the addition of massage therapy to the office's services. 
The company signed the lease for the new space last summer and began construction in September. The space was fully functional in January, and The Nutritional Healing Center celebrated with an open house last week. Bonesteel says their growth can be attributed to the company's hands-on approach to each client's needs. 
"We don't make general recommendations across the board," she says. "Everybody has their own gradient for what they can take on. So it's very tailored to that person's success."

The Nutritional Healing Center's staff has expanded as well. Since October, five new employees have been hired, bringing the total number of staff to 14.

Source: Jessica Bonesteel, Nutritional Healing Center of Ann Arbor
Writer: Natalie Burg 

GetDowntown adds entertainment to May's Commuter Challenge

After setting participation records last year, getDowntown's Commuter Challenge is shooting for new, higher goals and is incorporating art and music into this year's program. 
"David Zinn is doing some great art this year," says getDowntown director Nancy Shore. "We are also focusing a lot more on teamwork this year so we will have a weekly team challenge each week."
Additionally, Shore says the well-known downtown street musician, the Violin Monster, is offering to serenade participating organizations on request during Green Commute Day, which will take place May 1. On Bike to Work Day, which will be May 17, getDowntown will be unveiling the first Bike House downtown in partnership with the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority. 
As of last week, more than 700 employees from 172 organizations have signed up for this year's Challenge. With 239 organizations having taken part in 2012, the 2013 goals are to have 300 organizations and 2,500 participants involved in the Commuter Challenge. 
"We know that the Challenge changes lives, gets people to try alternatives and inspires them to spread the word to others," says Shore. "Our long-term goals are to continue to make alternative transportation a way of life for Ann Arbor employees. We also hope the Challenge will help us continue to make the case for increased investment in alternative transportation in this region."

Source: Nancy Shore, getDowntown
Writer: Natalie Burg

$4M Thompson Block plan includes 16 lofts in downtown Ypsi

A new, $4 million plan in the works for the Thompson Block property in Ypsilanti includes 16 luxury lofts, 14,000 square feet of commercial space and 30 onsite parking spaces. 
"The building is one of the most historic buildings in the entire state of Michigan," says developer Stewart Beal of Beal Properties, who has been working to redevelop the property for several years. "The project is extremely important to me."
Beal presented his new plan to the Ypsilanti Downtown Development Authority last week, including the news of new investors who have helped raise $300,000 toward the project goal of $1,740,000. Beal calls the new investors critical to the success of the development. 
The presentation also requested support from the DDA in the form of grants from the organization's Façade Improvement and Building Rehabilitation programs, consideration of future DDA liquor license requests and a letter of support to the Michigan Economic Growth Corporation to help secure financial support.  
Beal hopes to begin work on the revised Thompson Block plan after a 6-month period of raising new equity, obtaining local and state approvals and signing leases for the spaces. He anticipates construction to begin in late 2013 or early 2014 and complete work by late 2014 or early 2015. 

Source: Stewart Beal, Beal Properties
Writer: Natalie Burg

The Eyrie to bring Michigan-made goods to Depot Town

After traveling the world for more than a decade as a flight attendant, Janette Rook knew just what kind of gifts she wanted to feature in her new Depot Town shop, The Eyrie, set to open April 25. 
"You don't see the regional differences or the unique local items like I remember more from when I was a kid, and from other countries," says Rook, who also worked as a union activist before deciding to open her own business. "I'd like to recreate that more vibrant experience as much as I can in our little corner of Michigan."
Rook decided the beautiful historic storefront in Ypsilanti's Depot Town was the perfect place to showcase a variety of goods from Michigan artisans including art, accessories, home décor items and potted plants.
"I'd love for this place to be one more reason folks come to Ypsilanti and see what I see," says Rook, "not only in Depot Town, but in downtown Ypsilanti. There is a feeling of new beginnings here that is interesting, exciting and hopeful."
Even the renovations put into the 750 square-foot shop were Michigan-made, as Rook painted, stained and fixed up the place herself. Rook will be staffing The Eyrie herself initially, but plans to add up to two new positions at the shop in the upcoming months. 

Source: Janette Rook, The Eyrie
Writer: Natalie Burg

Jerusalem Gardens looks to expand footprint and staff

Though expansion plans for downtown Ann Arbor's Jerusalem Garden are preliminary, owner Ali Ramlawi says the popular restaurant is overdue for growth. 
"We've always been short of space. For years, customers have said, 'you need to expand,'" Ramlawi says. "There have been several weekends when we've turned away as many customers as we've serviced."
The plans include an addition, a basement and rooftop seating that would add up to an additional 1,600 to 1,800 square feet of space, doubling the small restaurant's size and adding 40 to 50 additional seats. Though the plan could change as it moves through various stages of approval, Ramlawi hopes to have final word in 60 to 90 days. 
"This is our wish list," he says. 
Along with the historic building's physical expansion, Jerusalem Garden would increase its staff. Ramlawi says he would hire additional workers immediately if he had the room, but plans to add 15 new employees to his 25-person staff with the addition. Should the plans be approved, Ramlawi expects construction to take between 12 and 18 months.
Jerusalm Garden opened in 1987 as a 300 square-foot, take-out only restaurant. While the restaurant has evolved with the times, Ramlawi says it is a unique piece of Ann Arbor's history in an ever-changing downtown market. 

Source: Ali Ramlawi, Jerusalem Garden
Writer: Natalie Burg

Second Glassbox Coffee location to open at Arbor Hills Crossing

A month after opening his first Glassbox Coffee location on S. University, owner Jason Friend has announced a forthcoming second, larger Glassbox Coffee to be located in Arbor Hills Crossing.
"For an independent coffee shop, having a chance to get in at a center like Arbor Hills Crossing is probably a once in a lifetime opportunity," says Friend. "The developers have done an outstanding job at getting in a stellar group of well known national stores as well as really making a very concerted effort to get local businesses in."
The second iteration of the café will still offer gourmet coffee and unique juices, but the 2,100 square-foot space will expand the capabilities of the new shop beyond the original, 700 square-foot Glassbox Coffee. 
"We will have a full juice bar inside the shop, as opposed to the four to five juices we currently offer at the shop on South U.," Friend says. "The shop will definitely be one of a kind, from our very unique brewing equipment, to the distinct layout and design. We are also planning on eventually roasting in the space, which customers will be able to watch through glass walls."
Friend anticipates an Aug. 23 opening, and plans to hire a staff of about 15. Despite opening a second location so quickly, Friend currently has no plans for further expansion. His focus for now, he says, will be making both Glassbox Coffee locations the best they can be.

Source: Jason Friend, Glassbox Coffee
Writer: Natalie Burg

Unique twist on Asian sandwiches comes to S. University

With the popularity of Vietnamese bánh mì sandwiches on the rise nationwide, it seemed like a perfect time for restaurateur Eric Joh and his partner to bring the trend to Ann Arbor – with their own take on the cuisine. 
"Our sandwiches are inspired by bánh mì , but they aren't really authentic bánh mì,"says Joh of his new S. University restaurant, Belly Deli's specialty. "The only difference is that our meats are hot, and we have Korean-style beef. It's our own unique spin on the sandwich."
The breads used at Belly Deli are unique as well. While they have been using authentic Vietnamese breads made in Detroit, the owners are currently working with Great Harvest Breads to develop a new roll produced especially for them. 
"Right now we're still working on the bread," says Joh. "Great Harvest is local, and they mill their own flour, so we're happy to be working with them. It's been hard to find the right kind of bread." 
The new restaurant opened just over two weeks ago and employs a staff of 12. Belly Deli opened in the former, 700 square-foot No Thai location that was vacated after the popular eatery moved into the first floor of the Landmark building nearby. Joh is friends with the owners of No Thai, and says they have been helpful in developing the business. Some of the five Belly Deli co-owners are also co-owners of No Thai. 
Joh says he hopes to soon add delivery service and eventually expand into multiple locations. 

Source: Eric Joh, Belly Deli
Writer: Natalie Burg

NWP expands into 10,000 sq ft Eisenhower Corporate Park space

It took Calif.-based NWP Services Corporation less than a year to outgrow its downtown Ann Arbor location, and the utility cost recovery and management solutions provider is now expanding into a 10,000 square-foot space in the Eisenhower Corporate Park on S. Industrial Hwy.
"We are very delighted and encouraged with the level of talent we have access to for both financial and technology services," says NWP Vice President of SmartSource Tim Rogers. "Ann Arbor also provides a location with easy access to great support services."
The office park location was chosen, Rogers says, for its easy access for customers, employees and partners. The build-out is currently underway, and NWP plans to move into the new office in early June. The larger size will also allow the office to continue to grow its presence in Ann Arbor.
" NWP has a long history of doing what we do well," says Rogers. "With the expansion into Ann Arbor, we are very excited about strengthening our presence in the region, and look forward to being a bigger part of the community."
NWP currently employs 35 at their Ann Arbor office. Rogers says he hopes that number will continue to grow, though no definite hiring plans are currently in place. 
The Ann Arbor branch of NWP primarily supports the company's SmartSource service, which provides back-office outsourcing opportunities for property owners and managers.

Source: Tim Rogers, NWP Services
Writer: Natalie Burg

Birmingham-based Boyd Beauty opens Ann Arbor satellite

With a number of Ann Arbor clients and a resident himself, the decision of where to open a second location of Boyd Beauty practically made itself for Dr. Charles Boyd. After launching his first clinic in Birmingham three years ago, Boyd Beauty opened near Kroger on E. Stadium Blvd. this February. 
"What we do here is enhance your natural beauty," says the Ann Arbor Boyd Beauty's lead practitioner, Shari Martuscelli. "We craft the perfect, individualized treatment plan for your needs."
Boyd Beauty offers such services as cool sculpting, skin tightening, injectables, chemical peels, facials, laser treatments and cosmetic surgery. The 1,400 square-foot office opened in early February, and a grand opening is anticipated in May. 
What makes the new Boyd Beauty office truly unique, says aesthetic specialist Janet Kirk, is the staff.
"We work as a team," Kirk says. "We're really looking to achieve the best results. We look to each other and we work cohesively together to achieve that goal."
The new Ann Arbor office of Boyd Beauty employs Martuscelli and Kirk, in addition to owner Boyd. Martuscelli says their goal is to grow and add additional practitioners to the staff. 

Source: Shari Martuscelli, Boyd Beauty
Writer: Natalie Burg

New tenant, ITI, at Willow Run GM facility to create 25 jobs

With the promise of investment and new jobs, locally owned International Turbine Industries (ITI) will soon bring back to life 23,000 square feet of a 300-acre Willow Run property. RACER Trust, the organization tasked with remediating and positioning for redevelopment former GM locations, announced the agreement with ITI to purchase the former General Motors Willow Run Company Vehicle Operations facility in early April. 
"I applaud Mark and Rhonda Andrews for their commitment to Michigan," says RACER Trust Redevelopment Manager Bruce Rasher of the ITI owners. "They had opportunities elsewhere but wanted to stay and grow at Willow Run. I'm very pleased that we were able to play a role in that decision."
ITI is expected to invest $50,000 into the facility and add 25 new jobs to their current staff of 10. The company specializes in engine repair, overhaul and inspection of jet engines. Andrews has worked at or near Willow Run Airport since 1988. RACER says the decision to grow his company in Michigan was based on giving his employees the chance to stay in the area.
More than 300 acres and a 5-million-square-foot facility remain for sale at the site. RACER will continue to market the property. 
"Our goal is to do what the community has asked us to do," says Rasher, "attract new jobs and economic activity to the site as soon as possible. We have had, and continue to have, discussions with several interested parties from a variety of sectors."
Rasher says he's been impressed with the level of engagement and partnership of local elected officials and economic development organizations during the marketing of the Willow Run properties. 
"They've been great to work with," he says. "They very clearly see the potential of Willow Run and are just as active and energized as we are about the future of that site."

Source: Bruce Rasher, RACER Trust
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

AATA calls 6.6% ridership increase a transportation "sea change"

The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority announced last week that ridership rose 6.6 percent in 2012, with a total of 6.6 million rides on the Ann Arbor-based transportation system. 
AATA attributes the record-breaking number of rides to increased accessibility to The Ride's fixed-route service, increases in on-time performance, as well as national trends toward public transportation use. The shift in transportation habits, says AATA's Don Kline, is more than just a passing trend. 
"Demographic and research data suggest that there are growing populations of both young (under 40) and senior residents who are choosing not to drive," says Kline. "This 'sea change' in transportation habits means that robust public transportation choices are growing increasingly necessary in order to effectively serve our community."
In order to meet those changing needs, AATA has made changes to services. For example, AATA doubled the frequency of weekday service on the #4 Washtenaw route in Jan. 2012, which led to an increase in ridership by 28 percent. Most of the increases, however, were due to growth in existing services. 
"The long-term growth trend for AATA ridership remains strong," says Kline. "The annual number of riders has increased by more than 50 percent since 2004, while AATA productivity has improved by 43 percent during the past eight years."

Source: Don Kline, AATA
Writer: Natalie Burg

Environment Michigan report urges Ypsi to set goal of 1,000 solar roofs

A new report by Environment Michigan's Research and Policy Center suggests Ypsilanti leaders set a new goal of 1,000 roofs by 2020 and outlines steps the city can take to make that happen. 
"For such a small city, Ypsilanti ranks third for concentration of solar projects," says Virginia Shannon of Environment Michigan. "It's already leading the way. It's a really exciting goal. It's also definitely reachable and realistic."
The report was presented during an event at the Ypsilanti Food Co-op on Monday with representatives from Environment Michigan, Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association and SolarYpsi, among others. 
The study recommends the goal of 1,000 solar roofs in Ypsilanti can be reached with the following four steps: leading by example by employing solar roofs on city and historic buildings; promoting and streamlining information for the public on financing options for solar roofs; partnering with non-profits, business and Eastern Michigan University to build awareness an educate the public; and supporting policies at all levels of government that promote solar energy. 
"The report highlights the ability of solar to become a point of pride and identity for the community," says Shannon. "The mayor and others are always talking about how to make it a destination college town and a sustainable community. Solar helps in both ways."
According to Shannon, reaching this bold goal of covering 1,000 of Ypsilanti's 5,000 homes with solar roofs is key to creating that identity. With 13 major solar projects already in place in Ypsilanti and classes in solar technology offered at EMU, this distinction is intended to further the community's identity as a place to both learn about and become involved in solar energy.

Source: Virginia Shannon, Environment Michigan
Writer: Natalie Burg

Gallup Park canoe livery to invest $563K in renovations

Ann Arbor's Gallup Park canoe livery will soon be more accessible, safer and easier to navigate after $563,398 of improvements coming to the property. Work is slated to begin late this week or early next week, will continue through Memorial Day, and will pick up again after Labor Day to avoid the livery's busy summer season. 
Work will include ADA accessibility on trails to the waterfront and additions to existing docks that will better facilitate kayaks, as well as an ADA accessible kayak dock.
"The docks themselves are really exciting," says Gallup Park Facilities Supervisor Cheryl Saam. "These three new docks will be like fingers coming off [the existing dock]. One of the fingers will have an ADA accessible kayak dock. It's pretty difficult for anyone to get into a kayak, so that will be tremendous." 
The project will also include improved wayfinding signage, separating a sidewalk and driveway for improved safety, an ADA accessible fishing dock and expansion of the patio outside of the livery coffee shop. 
"We have had so much growth at the canoe livery," says Saam. "When it was designed in the '70s, we never dreamt of the capacity we're running at right now."
The project was made possible through a $300,000 Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant. The remainder will be funded by the city. During pre-Memorial Day renovations, all Gallup Park operations and staff will be transferred to the Argo livery, which will be open seven days a week. 

Source: Cheryl Saam, Gallup Canoe Livery
Writer: Natalie Burg

Phone Home Repair finds a home on E. Liberty

Smartphone repair may have a reputation for being the territory of big box stores, but Kort Linden and Katrina Chizek are looking to change that image with Phone Home Repair on E. Liberty St. in downtown Ann Arbor. 
"We wanted a retail setting," says Linden, "and to offer more unusual products, and have access to the downtown foot traffic in this area."
Phone Home Repair isn't Linden's first venture in the industry. Prior to moving to Ann Arbor with his fiancé, Chizek owned three phone repair shops in California. When the pair decided to move closer to Chizek's family in Plymouth, he sold his West Coast locations to set up shop on Liberty. 
"There's not a lot of high-quality competition in this area," says Linden." So far, people have been really receptive."
The small, 700 sq. ft. shop opened March 26, and offers mobile device repair, customization and accessories. In addition to being independently owned, Linden says Phone Home Repair offers faster turnaround on repairs and lower prices on retail items. 
Chizek and Linden spent about a month renovating the space themselves. The store is also staffed by the couple. Linden says he hopes to eventually expand Phone Home Repair by opening locations in other Michigan cities.  

Source: Kort Linden, Phone Home Repair
Writer: Natalie Burg
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