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Veteran family housing proposed as $6M renovation project

Local veterans and their families could have a new housing option in Ypsilanti Twp. Julie Fielek, owner of Oakridge Apartments on Holmes Rd., would like to turn her 64-unit rental property into a place where veterans with families can find affordable housing and specialized services. 
 
"Julie has been doing work for veterans over the past few years," says Bob Beale, owner of Premier Property Management, which manages the 20-year-old Oakridge Apartments. "There are some very specific needs veteran families need."
 
The project, which Beale estimates will cost between $6 and $7 million, aims to renovate the 64 units, as well as build a community center that can accommodate some of those special services, including having healthcare staff available to address posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms and provide daycare for veterans so they more easily find and maintain employment. 
 
Oakridge Apartments are now fully leased. Beale says residents will be notified of the transition, and the management will work with other area rental properties to help relocate those who may need assistance. 
 
Low-income housing tax credits will be sought to help finance the project, and Beale says additional applications will be made for Housing and Urban Development grants. An application for Washtenaw County HOME funds has been approved to assist as well, contingent upon securing the housing tax credits. 
 
Should the financing move forward, Beale anticipates renovations being completed in 2015. 
 

Source: Bob Beale, Premier Property Management
Writer: Natalie Burg

World of Beer aims to draw beer lovin' professionals to S. University

As if 40 rotating taps of craft beers and 500 rotating bottles from craft breweries around the world weren't enough to get a beer lover excited about S. University's forthcoming World of Beer, co-owner Chad Wilson says the bar's true specialty will be a well-educated staff. 
 
"All of our servers and bartenders go through a two-week beer school," says Wilson. "We give them a broad knowledge of beer. We'll have a great atmosphere and live music, but we'll also have a commitment to knowledge."
 
That means every server will be able to answer guests' questions about the flavor profiles and origins of the hundreds of beers available at the 3,000 square-foot World of Beer, which is scheduled to open in mid-June in the Landmark building with 35 to 40 employees. 
 
University of Michigan graduates Wilson and co-owner Steve Rossi's decision to open on S. University was carefully made, even though they anticipate their typical patron to better fit the Main St. market over the more student-oriented S. University area. 
 
"We'll brand ourselves as a different type of bar on South University," Wilson says. "We want to change the dynamic of the area, to introduce craft beer to the kids, and also to get some of the business professionals down there to make it a more universal destination."
 
The Ann Arbor World of Beer will be one of more than 40 locations of its kind in the United States. Wilson says World of Beer operates unlike a typical franchise, and the Ann Arbor location will be owned and operated by himself and Rossi, who are local to the area and will place an emphasis on Michigan beers. The co-owners plan to eventually open six World of Beer bars in the state. 

Source: Chad Wilson, World of Beer
Writer: Natalie Burg

South State Street Corridor Plan inspires affordable housing proposal

With affordable housing projects underway in 25 communities around the United States, Ann Arbor's McKinley is no stranger to the concept – they just haven't had the opportunity to bring one to fruition locally, at least not yet. 
 
The proposed changes to zoning included in the new South State Street Corridor Plan, however, could finally open the door for an affordable housing project to happen on a McKinley-owned parcel on State St. Should staff recommendations be approved, the area including that property would change from light industrial to an office zoning designation that would allow for multi-family residential use.
 
"It would be great to do this in Ann Arbor," says McKinley CEO Albert Berriz. "We hope we get the opportunity to do this. With all the setbacks affordable housing has had here, this would be a fun thing to see come to life."
 
Berriz clarifies that the target market for the affordable housing project would be those at around 60 percent of the area median income level. The current area median income is $59,737. 
 
"This is the [demographic] that is least talked about," says Berriz. "They talk about homeless housing, but there's no effort in the area of workforce housing."
 
The S. State St. location is ideal for workforce housing, adds Berriz, because of its proximity to bus lines, as well as employment opportunities throughout the corridor, including Briarwood Mall. 
 
No plans have yet been released about the number of units the affordable housing project could include, or the amount McKinley plans to invest in the development. Berriz plans to utilize the Michigan State Housing Development Authority's Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program, but says no local or county assistance will be required for the project. McKinley plans to proceed with the development immediately upon approval of the South State Street Corridor Plan's zoning changes. 
 

Source: Albert Berriz, McKinley
Writer: Natalie Burg

Michigan Vein Care Specialists opens Ann Arbor clinic

It may come as a surprise to many that 40 to 60 percent of people have some sort of vein disease. Even those that may be aware of their issues may not realize that non-invasive procedures are available to treat them. That is one of the reasons that after working with Chelsea Surgical Associates for several years, Dr. Suzanne Jones decided to focus her energies on vein issues, opening Michigan Vein Care Specialists on W. Eisenhower Pkwy.
 
"A lot of people are surprised to find out that their vein problems can be corrected so quickly," says Jones. "Some people go back to work the same day."
 
Michigan Vein Care Specialists offers laser and radiofrequency treatment in their new, 2,200 square-foot office. The business began seeing patients in January and will celebrate its grand opening on May 20. 
 
"I love the location," says Jones of the W. Eisenhower Pkwy office. "It's very easy for patients to get to. I see a lot of patients from this side of town."
 
Including Jones, the new office employs a staff of five. As the business continues to grow, Jones hopes to bring in another practitioner and perhaps expand into a second Ann Arbor-area location. Michigan Vein Specialists will host a free screening event for vein issues on May 16. 
 
Source: Dr. Suzanne Jones, Michigan Vein Care Specialists
Writer: Natalie Burg

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
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