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Toyota to Expand Technical Center in York Township, Create 250 Jobs

27 Aug 2014, 9:24 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Toyota Technical Center in York Township

Toyota Technical Center in York Township

At the beginning of August Toyota Motor North America pledged $1 million to the City of Detroit toward the Detroit Institute of Arts’ effort to raise $100 million as part of a larger commitment to protect the museum’s art collection and also help the city emerge from bankruptcy. Now, the Japanese automaker is looking to grow its investment in Michigan by expanding the Toyota Technical Center in York Township, a few miles south of Ann Arbor, as the company will consolidate its national headquarters in Plano, Texas.

According to MLive.com, this expansion will accommodate approximately 250 direct procurement jobs that are currently based in Erlanger, Kentucky, and is a key component of the company’s ongoing consolidation of the North American operations.

The $187 million Toyota Technical Center in York Township opened in 2008 on nearly 700 acres of land that the automaker had purchased from the state in 2005. Spanning 530,000 square feet of space, the center incorporates two large buildings—a crash test/safety facility and an engineering design building—with around 1,100 employees, mostly engineers and designers. The Detroit News reported that the 250 positions will be relocated from Erlanger to York Township by the end of 2016 or beginning of 2017.

Toyota will invest $32.5 million in expanding its Technical Center in York Township and will receive an additional $4 million tax incentive through the Michigan Business Development Program. Further financial help is expected to come from the York Township in the form of 12-year property tax abatements valued at $4.6 million.

“Toyota’s expansion reflects the company’s recognition that the Ann Arbor region can accommodate its future growth and product development,” said in an official statement Paul Krutko, president and CEO of Ann Arbor SPARK, a non-profit organization that helped Toyota through the incentives process.


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Toyota Technical Center in York Township image via Toyota

Private Car Condos Project in Pontiac Ready to Break Ground as Developers Close on 80-Acre Construction Site

13 Aug 2014, 4:07 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

More than one year after Birmingham native and entrepreneur Brad Oleshansky announced plans to redevelop a vacant parcel in Pontiac, the project is now one step closer to becoming reality.

M1 Concourse - Pontiac

M1 Concourse – Pontiac

The construction site, an 80-acre property that was once used as a validation facility for General Motors and housed four plants, was recently acquired for an undisclosed price by Oleshansky, founder and CEO of M1 Concourse–the future auto-themed park that will be built on the northwest corner of South Boulevard and Woodward Avenue. According to a news release, the property was previously owned by Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response (RACER) Trust which was created in May 2011 by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in an effort to attract investors that would redevelop and reuse a list of properties owned by the former General Motors Corporation before it ran bankrupt five years ago.

Uniprop, a real estate development company based in Birmingham, made a significant equity investment in the project and will assist the M1 Concourse team with its expertise in real estate development, construction and finance.

The $40 million to $60 million M1 Concourse has already received preliminary approvals from Pontiac city officials. Designed as a both a private club and public destination in an area known for the large concentration of car enthusiasts, the project will include a community of 250 to 350 private garages—marketed as “car condos” —that will sell for $100,000 and more. Detroit Free Press reports that the garages will range in size from 600 to 1,200 square feet and will have a capacity of four to six cars.

In addition to the car condos, M1 Concourse will include a 40,000-square-foot events center, an amphitheater for outdoor concerts, auctions and car shows, 100,000 square feet of multi-tenant office space, a 7,000-square-foot private club house, and a 1.5-mile performance track. Phase 1 of the project, which is scheduled to break ground in the following weeks, could open for car enthusiasts in mid-2015, while the first private garages will be sold beginning September this year.

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Rendering via M1 Concourse Facebook page

Detroit Joins Micro-Unit Development Wave with 180 Units at Shapero Hall Building

6 Aug 2014, 6:54 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Two weeks have passed since developers unveiled redesigned renderings of the dormant DuCharme Place and another redevelopment project is ready to kick off in Detroit’s Lafayette Park. Rumors surfaced recently that the long-vacant Shapero Hall building located at 1010 Rivard Street will be transformed into apartments—and not any kind of apartments, but micro-units.

Shapero Hall

Shapero Hall

According to Crain’s Detroit Business, locally-based Boydell Development Co. has received the necessary building permit to repurpose the derelict structure into a rental community with 180 micro-apartments. Ranging in size from 400 to 500 square feet, the units will rent for $560 to $700 per month and are expected to meet the demand for smaller dwellings in Detroit’s Central Business District, where the vacancy rate is at only 1.9 percent of the existing 10,551 apartments. With big employers such as Quicken Loans, Detroit Medical Center, DTE Energy, Compuwave Corp. or Wayne State University (WSU) offering incentives for young professionals, these micro-apartments could just be the perfect choice for fresh graduates willing to relocate and get a job in Detroit.

Designed by Paulsen, Gardner & Associates in the early 1950s, the T-shaped building was originally known as the Wayne State University Medical Science Building and it became the home of the university’s College of Pharmacy in 1965. Almost 20 years later the eight-story building was renamed Shapero Hall in 1984, according to Detroit Urbex. In the late 1990s WSU decided to cut renovation costs at Shapero Hall and relocate closer to its main campus in a newly built facility, the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy which opened in 2002.

After staying vacant for five years, Shapero Hall was purchased for $2.3 million by Dennis Kefallinos—who owns Boydell Development Co.—with plans to transform the building into a hotel. However, Kefallinos’ project was discarded because of zoning problems.

While it still needs a name, the Shapero Hall adaptive reuse project is slated for completion by the end of 2015, Crain’s says. The 180 apartment units will bring Boydell Development’s residential real estate portfolio in Detroit to approximately 1,000 units.

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Image via Detroit Urbex

Corktown’s $148 Million Lightweight Metals Research Hub Could Create 10,000 Jobs in the Region

30 Jul 2014, 6:53 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Corktown—a symbol of the Irish-American community in the United States and Detroit’s oldest surviving neighborhood that is best known for its abandoned Michigan Central Station, the bygone Tiger Stadium and the annual St. Patrick’s Parade—is slowly making a comeback.

Corktown - ALMMII Headquarters rendering

Corktown – ALMMII Headquarters rendering

The long-time vacant plant on Rosa Parks Boulevard will get a new life as a manufacturing, research and technology center backed by the Obama administration. The 107,000-square-foot property whose last tenant was Mexican Industries, a local plastic auto-parts maker that filed for bankruptcy in 2001, will become the headquarters of the federally funded American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute (ALMMII). According to Detroit city officials, ALMMII is a public-private partnership founded by Columbus, Ohio-based manufacturing technology nonprofit EWI, Ohio State University and the University of Michigan. Referred to as a “teaching factory” by the White House back in February when it was first announced, the institute is part of the National Network of Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) led by the Department of Defense and aims to implement innovations with lightweight metals into the commercial and military sectors that involve automobiles and aircrafts.

ALMMII was initially announced for the Haggerty II Corporate Park in Canton, but the site was leased by a German 3-D printing company called Voxeljet AG so the research institute had to identify other properties. Set to open in the fall at 1400 Rosa Parks Boulevard, the $148 million high-tech research institute is expected to bring 10,000 jobs to the region over the next five years, most of which will be in stamping, metalworking, machining and casting industries that prevail in the Midwest region, The Detroit News reported. However, operations at ALMMII will start with a staff of ten and will eventually have around two dozen direct employees.

The 99,000-square-foot research building was designed by Harley Ellis Devereaux and is located directly across from Quicken Loans’ 66,000-square-foot tech center that is under construction. ALMMII will include offices, meeting rooms and training space, as well as lab spaces for developing and testing technologies for manufacturing. The institute will be funded by $70 million in federal grants over five years and another $78 million from the businesses involved in the consortium (leaders in the aluminum, titanium and high-strength steel manufacturing industries). The funding includes $10 million from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and $1 million from the nonprofit New Economy Initiative of Detroit.

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Rendering credits to Harley Ellis Devereaux Corp.

Stalled DuCharme Place Project in Lafayette Park to Reemerge as 185-Unit Residential Community

24 Jul 2014, 2:18 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

DuCharme Place - Lafayette Park

DuCharme Place – Lafayette Park

Ten years since architects came up with design plans for a town home community in Lafayette Park, the DuCharme Place residential project is ready to take off—this time with a scaled-down design and backed by a $5 million tax increment awarded by the Detroit Brownfield Redevelopment Authority.

The vacant parcel located at 1544 E. Lafayette between Rivard and Orleans streets, directly across from the Lafateyye Foods grocery store, will be replaced by a three-building apartment complex that will be built by local developer Walter Cohen through his development company DuCharme Place LLC, under plans designed by McIntosh Poris Associates. Model D reports that construction at the long-stalled DuCharme Place will start this fall.

Scheduled for completion in late 2015, DuCharme Place will have 185 market-rate apartments in a mix of studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units. The contemporary amenities

DuCharme Place - Lafayette Park

DuCharme Place – Lafayette Park

include a common courtyard and pool, green roof and ground level parking with nearly 270 spaces. According to the news source, the parking spaces will be incorporated underneath three platforms that will raise one story above the ground to support the residential buildings.

According to MLive.com, the cost per unit hasn’t been determined yet, but the development team estimates that it will be slightly less than other residential units located in the Downtown and Midtown areas. Estimated to cost around $30 million, the DuCharme Place project is partly financed under the HUD 221 (d) program that allows up to 40-year mortgage loans to encourage the new construction or substantial rehabilitation of multifamily rental or co-op housing for moderate-income families, elderly and the handicapped. Earlier this month the residential project received $5 million in tax incentives from the Detroit Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, Model D reported.


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Renderings via McIntosh Poris Associates



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