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Pontiac's Notre Dame Prep opens $7.5M science, art, tech wing

Excerpt: 

Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy (NDPMA) in Pontiac has opened a 26,000-square-foot, $7.5-million science, art, and technology wing.

The wing has been added to the shared middle division and upper division building, which houses science laboratories, collaborative-learning classrooms, a robotics lab, a greenhouse, and a fine arts studio.

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Woodward Camera: 50 years and still "developing"

Excerpt

Woodward Camera, celebrating its 50th year in the landmark building that was designed specifically for their business, offers on-site processing – and sales of cameras, equipment and accessories; state-of-the-art video systems; photo gifts; classes; monthly photography contests – and is run by a longtime staff with decades of photography experience.

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Gongos moves 130+ employees to new Royal Oak facility

Gongos, Inc. officially opened the doors to its newly built 20,000 square-foot headquarters in the vibrant, downtown community of Royal Oak on Tuesday, August 28th.  This relocation marks the culmination of the company’s 2020 vision to deliver on “decision intelligence” for Fortune 500 corporations. As an early occupant of Royal Oak’s #RethinkRO initiative, Gongos’ new space was designed in collaboration with local partners to foster the kind of customer-centric culture it aims to help its clients create.
 
“Our growth and evolution made it clear that we needed to create an environment that fit the company we were rapidly becoming,” said president & CEO, Camille Nicita.  “In early 2018, we recalibrated our people system to adopt a more agile approach to serve our clients’ continuously expanding needs.”
 
Having integrated the disciplines of data science, information design, customer experience, and change management into its already strong consumer insights heritage, Gongos’ new people system was architected to offer equal footing among all disciplines. The progressive design further fuels collaboration, camaraderie and a people-first philosophy, while offering fresh perspectives on its clients’ consumer-minded business challenges.
 
Experiencing 13% organic revenue growth in 2017, Gongos ranks #42 among the largest market research organizations in the U.S.  Although its clients span the globe, Gongos is committed to remaining a Metro Detroit-based company. With 144 employees, it was just recognized as a Crain’s2018 “Cool Places to Work” and is among Corp! Magazine’s and the Detroit Free Press’ lists of companies recognized for top cultures and best practices.
    
As a decision intelligence company, Gongos, Inc. brings a consultative approach in developing growth strategies grounded in operationalizing customer centricity. Partnering with insights, analytics, marketing, strategy and CX groups, Gongos serves as a translator to help cross-functional teams fuel the competency to gain and apply consumer wisdom, transform decisions into action, and navigate organizational change. Coalescing enterprise data with primary research and curating insights for multiple audiences ensures information is designed to influence actions and behaviors from executives to the frontline.
 
Gongos partners with clients across multiple industries including Mars Wrigley, Kraft Heinz, Kellogg’s, FedEx, U.S. Bank, UnitedHealthcare and GM. In 2007, the company was first named to the Inc. 5000 list of “The Fastest Growing Companies in America” and is among the AMA Gold Top 50 U.S. market research organizations. For further insight into Gongos, visit the newly redesigned gongos.com.  

All-purpose vegan boutique to bring sustainable plant-based living to Oak Park

Nurah Ikpeama wants to revolutionize the way people shop for plant-based foods and products.

On the path to doing so, she’s taken an important next step. This Saturday, Aug. 25, Ikpeama is celebrating the grand opening of Electric Plate Vegan Shop, a multi-purpose space in the Crown Pointe Plaza building in Oak Park.

Electric Plate Vegan Shop is a vegan grocery boutique. The store will feature a mix of prepared foods and groceries--all vegan. Caffeine-free coffee is on the menu. Ikpeama will also host monthly forums on the plant-based lifestyle.

She’s also planning a vegan fest for later in the fall.

"For those of us living the plant-based lifestyle, we usually have to go to stores that aren’t dedicated to being vegan," Ikpeama says.

"Places like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s might have vegan sections, but you still have to walk through the meat section. I don’t like that mix."

Ikpeama’s path to Electric Plate Vegan Shop began in 2015, when she transitioned from what she calls being a "dirty vegan" to a "clean vegan," a difference she explains as when she took plant-based cooking more seriously and stopped eating things like mass-produced cookies.

She began sharing her plant-based recipes on social media. Interest was so high that places around Detroit began inviting her to throw pop-up kitchen events. People then began to ask when she would have a permanent place of her own.

Electric Plate Vegan Shop is that place. Located on the third floor of the Crown Pointe building, Ikpeama says she chose the location because Oak Park is equally accessible from both the east and west sides.

Though not a full-service restaurant, Electric Plate will sell Ikpeama’s ready-made dishes. Most items, like her tacos and quinoa burgers, are served raw and don’t require ovens. The shop will also feature a variety of vegan-friendly groceries.

Electric Plate Vegan Shop is located on the third floor of 25900 Greenfield Rd. in Oak Park.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.


Southfield tech company offers better cloud connections for business

In an effort to better connect businesses and their cloud services, the Southfield-based data center, network, and voice infrastructure services provider 123Net is now providing high-speed connections between the parties.

Dubbed Cloud Connect, the service securely connects businesses and cloud service providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and more. Doing so via Ethernet, the Cloud Connect service avoids the public Internet, not only bolstering security but also improving network performance issues.

"Over the past couple years, hundreds of Michigan businesses have migrated their data to the cloud," Chuck Irvin, director of network development at 123Net, said in release.

"Our Cloud Connect service will give these organizations dependable, high-capacity connectivity to cloud service providers. Proving a private, dedicated pipe assures our customers that they will fully leverage next generation’s cloud-based applications."

Three of the 123Net data centers are located in Southfield, with the fourth being located in Byron Center.

123Net celebrated the hiring of its 100th employee in December 2017. The company has previously stated that it plans on growing its employee base by 30 percent every year.

123Net is headquartered at 24700 Northwestern Hwy. in Southfield.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.


Southfield announces mixed-use redevelopment plans for Northland Mall

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Southfield announced several developers have submitted letters of intent to acquire land at the former Northland Mall, which opened in 1954 and closed in 2015. The city also has entered into due diligence agreements with the prospective developers.

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Royal Oak is turning its alleyways into pathways

Downtown Royal Oak is looking to transform five blocks of alleyway into a pedestrian-friendly pathway.

The alley runs behind the buildings on the east side of Main Street. One block, from 2nd to 3rd Street, has already received an aesthetic upgrade, with patterned stamped concrete recently installed. The block connecting 2nd Street and 11 Mile Road is next.

The city has hired the firm Fleis & VandenBrink to draft a master plan to design the alley that connects 3rd and 6th streets, which would add three more blocks to the redeveloped alleyway system.

Royal Oak, which recently joined the Oakland County Main Street program, has applied for "technical assistance" dollars from the county to pay Fleis & VandenBrink. That request is currently under review.

Central Park Development Group, the developer responsible for the Royal Oak City Center project, inspired the program after having initiated the cleanup of the alley that runs adjacent to the eventual structure. The city quickly got on board.

While still making room for deliveries and dumpsters, the alleys will be cleaned up and made attractive to pedestrians. There will be public art and hanging cantina lights.

Sean Kammer, Downtown Manager for the Royal Oak Downtown Development Authority, says that some restaurants are already planning patios for the revamped alleyway.

"The main thing is that we’re giving some much-needed attention to our alleys that are in need of repairs and upgrades. But we’re also taking pedestrian conditions into account," Kammer says.

"The alleyway project will help with walkability and non-motorized connectivity."

The first phase is complete. Now it’s on to the rest.

Kammer is confident that the alleyway project will receive approval from Oakland County. Then comes the design. And then the construction.

"When all is said and done, we will have ornate alleys from 11 Mile to 6th Street," Kammer says.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.


Troy's NAI to open manufacturing facility in China

Excerpt

NAI, a Troy-based manufacturer of global connectivity solutions for high-performance systems used in the industrial technology, telecom, and medical industries, announced the opening of a manufacturing facility in Suzhou, China. 

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New patisserie to bring cosmopolitan flavor to Franklin

Holly Kaiser hopes to open her new shop, Madeleine’s French Patisserie, in Franklin by Labor Day if everything goes to plan. Kaiser is busy remodeling the historic barn behind the former Market Basket store at 32654 Franklin Road and wants to bring an international selection of delicacies to the village.

“We will be offering a selection of European pastries, (croissants, pain au chocolate, tarts, and tortes), classic Europeans cookies, gelato, European-style chocolates, and ice cream sodas,” Kaiser says. She also plans to establish a small market within the store for gourmet ingredients, wine, and beer, as well as healthy grab-and-go food and prepped “you cook” meals.

This isn’t Kaiser’s first foray into the culinary arts. Originally starting her career as an architect, Kaiser launched Madeline’s in 2008 as a way to supplement her income when the architecture industry in Detroit went into “cardiac arrest”. Her delicacies proved so popular she’s decided to branch out.

“Franklin was really just a dream,” Kaiser admits. “I never really thought I could get a storefront here, but when I inquired about a completely different space this location was offered as an option. It was just what I envisioned, so I took a leap of faith and here I am.”

Kaiser sees the historic village as the perfect place to cater to a cosmopolitan palette and says she wants to “bring the world to Franklin” through food.

“Very few places exist where people from all over the world live or are living in close proximity,” she explains. Part of her world flavors initiative will be thanks to an online blogger Kaiser has commissioned. Each month her travel writer, “Madeleine Pomeroy” will chronicle cooking adventures in a location overseas, providing new recipes and gifts concepts, and beginning in Paris, France.

With plans for outdoor seating on the covered porch and lawns, Kaiser hopes people will stop by for tea, coffee, and nutritional shakes. It’s quite an alteration for the historic barn she’s chosen to establish her store in. “I chose to change the color completely,” she says, “and fill the site with beautiful landscaping.”

“I would like to have people feel like this is a lovely getaway and a wonderful place to bring their family for dessert or pick up a picnic basket for meals on the Village Green.”

Kaiser says the reaction so far from the community has been heart-warming. Upon being given the keys she was simply told “welcome home”, a comment she won’t soon forget. “We hope to be able to join forces with other local shops to drive business to the community and help to bring more awareness of what Franklin has to offer,” she says.
 

Q&A with the owners of downtown Rochester's new artisan market, Bizzy Buzz

Pamela and Ryan Walther have been working on their downtown Rochester storefront for the past seven months, restoring the old Heller’s Jewelry space to its former glory. The couple has finally celebrated the grand opening of their Bizzy Buzz Artisan Market. Locally made clothing, jewelry, and home décor items make up just some of the new store’s inventory. We asked Pamela all about it.

Q: We last talked in March. Any exciting developments since then?

A: There have been a lot of renovations done since March to restore this historical building, the gold leaf on the tin tile ceiling came out spectacular! Our Artisans have helped in adding some special artistic touches to make it unique as well. We have hand-blown glass pendants from Marc Vandenberg Studios and Flower Power, a back-lit homemade slat wall, and a custom designed piece of metal under our 5-thousand-pound bank vault from Metal Artwork by Dion.

We have over 50 very talented local Artists with products in Home Decor, Jewelry, Detroit Centric Novelties, Pet Products, Third Man Records, Michigan cherry products from Traverse City's Benjamin Twiggs, local honey from Hardy Honey Bee Farm, Fashionable wears and much more! We also are very close to getting our liquor license with the plan to offer craft beer and wine. The space is truly an experience in it of itself; that paired with the truly breathtaking art from our Artisans is something you have to come to experience for yourself. There is also a Man Cave section complete with a Royal Rumble pinball machine to keep the guys happy!

Q: Bizzy Buzz had hoped for a spring opening, but grand openings get pushed back all the time. What delayed your opening and how did you overcome it?

A: Our contractor, Jay Noonan with Design Resources, has done a phenomenal job bringing in talented professionals to make this renovation a truly spectacular transformation. Geoff Davis with GP Davis, Inc. was our Jack of all Trades, Master of ALL and did such a quality job on all the detail work. He was our MVP! We lost a few weeks when we found out the roof needed to be replaced, as we thought we could wait a few more years before having to take that under as well. We had to wait on a neighbor to repair their shared wall as water was getting behind their brick and that would void a warranty on our new roof. Our project would have come to a screeching halt if that brick wasn't fixed. Thankfully two weeks later the owner got the wall repaired, and our project could proceed!

Q: Any advice for future entrepreneurs?

A: My advice for future entrepreneurs is to seek out people with the skill sets that you lack, invest in yourself with business classes and seek Him first! I prayed a lot! I knew I couldn't control everything and rather than stressing over those things I couldn't control I asked Him for help. I prayed for the right people to come and help us with the things my husband and I couldn't tackle ourselves and help always showed up! These people were truly Godsends!

Q: How are you feeling now that you're finally open?

A: This has been a ten-month-long full-time job to get this all set up. We started hunting for artists back in October last year. We started our renovation on the store seven months ago and are so happy to see the Artists moving their product in now! It has been a whirlwind of a time getting a whole new business started up, but our faith, the support from our family and friends, and our desire to live our dream has kept us going!

Bizzy Buzz Artisan Market celebrated its Grand Opening on Saturday, July 28. It is located at 409 S. Main St. in downtown Rochester.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet@mikegalbraith.


Oakland County Parks and Recreation commission dedicates Independence Oaks safety path

The Oakland County Parks and Recreation Commission and Independence Township officials dedicated a new safety path that connects Independence Oaks County Park and Independence Oaks-North on Wednesday, Aug. 1.

The collaborative project brings more walkability to park visitors and community residents with the addition of a safety path and boardwalks over wetlands. The event was attended by Oakland County Parks and Recreation Commissioners and staff, Independence Township officials and staff, project partners, media and other stakeholders. A brief presentation was followed by a ceremonial ribbon cutting.

“Trails are the number one reason people visit the Oakland County Parks, and we know that walking, running, biking and other forms of trail usage continue to increase in popularity not only in Oakland County, but across our nation as a whole,” Executive Officer Dan Stencil said. “This safety path project provides an opportunity for park visitors and area residents to expand their recreation inside and outside our park boundaries.

The 1.6-mile trail includes 870 linear feet of 10-foot wide boardwalks through wetland areas and an 8-foot-wide asphalt trail with grass shoulders.

The $1.34 million was funded by $740,000 from the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Commission and $600,000 from Independence Township Safety Path funds.

Independence Township installed two resting stations, at the north and south entrances of Independence Oaks County Park. The north entrance station features a bench, bike rack, bike- fixing station and air pump. The township is installing several more resting stations for its new “Park to Park” trail project that will connect Independence Oaks County Park to Clintonwood Park, Depot Park, Deer Lake Beach Park and Bay Court Park.

Independence Oaks County Park is located at 9501 Sashabaw Road, Clarkston. Independence Oaks-North is located at 10089 Sashabaw Road, Clarkston

For information on other events, visit OaklandCountyParks.com. Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Oakland County-based aircraft provider celebrates groundbreaking for new headquarters

After taking to the skies for the past 35 years, fractional aircraft provider Corporate Eagle is celebrating a major development on the ground. The company ceremonially broke ground on its new headquarters, having been selected by Oakland County International Airport to lease 5.7 acres of land for the development.

Corporate Eagle was selected following an in-depth RFP process by the Waterford-based airport. The new headquarters will be located at the corner of M59 Highland Road and Patterson Parkway.

Its 5.7 acres will include:

  • 56,000 sq. ft. of hangar space
  • More than 9,000 sq. ft. of business and member VIP facilities
  • More than 8,000 sq. ft. of support facilities
  • 40,000 gallons of jet fuel storage
  • 85,000 sq. ft. of high-load capacity concrete tarmac


Corporate Eagle, a provider of fractional and managed business aviation programs, has 70 full-time employees and a fleet of 14 aircraft. The company was founded in 1982.

According to Corporate Eagle President and CEO Rick Nini, the company has been enjoying a years-long period of extended growth. The new headquarters will accommodate even more anticipated growth.

"We are thrilled to be well on our way with the construction of the new Corporate Eagle headquarters facility," Nini said in a release. "The number one goal of this new headquarters was to enhance the experience for our members significantly, and I assure you, we have accomplished this goal.

"Also, we have added room for larger and more aircraft and greatly improved the site and floor plans for a more convenient and safer flow of our company operations."

The company is currently located in a 58,000 sq. ft. facility less than a quarter mile from its new headquarters.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.


After decades of attempts, bicycle and pedestrian trailway opens in Troy

He laughs when he says it, but Kurt Bovensiep can only laugh because it’s true. The city of Troy has been working on developing a bicycle and pedestrian trail system since 1974.

One obstacle after another, from property owner disputes to the Great Recession of 2008, has stymied efforts to develop a trail over the years. But in 2018, the city of Troy can finally say it has the beginnings of its own trails network.

While the grand opening celebration for Troy Trails & Pathways isn’t until Wednesday, Aug. 1, the trail itself is indeed already open. Enthusiasm for the trail was so high, says Bovensiep, that bikers and walkers were on the heels of construction workers as each section of asphalt was poured.

Today, riders can take the 1.3-mile asphalt trail from the Troy Town Center, through P. Terry & Barbara Knight Park, past Wattles Road (where a pedestrian safety island has been installed), and finish at Troy Historic Village. The trail largely takes users off city streets and sidewalks and into the woods.

"People are saying, I can’t believe I’m in the middle of suburban Troy yet feel like I’m in such a natural area," Bovensiep says.

This is just the beginning for Troy Trails & Pathways. While no specific plans have been announced, Bovensiep hopes to connect the trail to a larger network of trails, making it a viable alternative transportation route. The goal is to connect to the Clinton River Trail, either through Auburn Hills or Rochester Hills, which itself is planned to connect to the statewide Iron Belle Trail system.

The Troy city council has appropriated $750,000 for the trail for each of the next three years.

A grand opening celebration is planned for Troy Trails & Pathways for Wednesday, Aug. 1, with updates available online.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.


Green Lantern Pizza to expand with new locations in Rochester Hills and Berkley

First opened in Madison Heights in 1955, the award-winning Green Lantern Pizzeria & Lounge has steadily built its reputation as one of the best pizza joints in the region. And while it still calls Madison Heights home, the restaurant has since opened four additional locations throughout Oakland and Macomb counties.

Get ready for two more.

Green Lantern is prepping a new carry out- and delivery-only location to open in Rochester Hills. The new store will be located at the intersection of Walton and Livernois.

John Spreitzer, a descendant of the original owners of what has always been a family business, says that the Rochester Hills location is about two to three weeks away from opening. A fire suppression system and "city stuff" is all that remains on the to-do list.

In the community of Berkley, a full-service Green Lantern restaurant and bar is planned to take over the now-shuttered Sila Italian Dining & Pizza restaurant on Twelve Mile Road. Expect an early 2019 opening, Spreitzer says.

"Berkley feels like a perfect fit for our style. It has an older feel; it feels similar to Madison Heights," he says. "With replacing Sila, we have big shoes to fill in the community.

"We’ve been watching that building for fifteen years and we jumped at the opening."

Fans of Sila can take comfort in the fact that Spreitzer is considering the possibility of adding some of that restaurant’s more popular and signature dishes to the Green Lantern Berkley location.

Spreitzer says that the company will probably stop adding new locations once the Berkley restaurant is opened--at least for a while. But that doesn’t mean that Green Lantern is done growing. He says that the family could soon begin franchising the brand.

"We’re a pretty small company. It’s just my brother and I running things. But in the past twenty years it’s been snowballing into a faster process of growth," Spreitzer says. "We just keep learning things as we go along. It’s been pretty organic."

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.


Boutique for pets and the people that love them celebrates ribbon-cutting in downtown Milford

Downtown Milford is going to the dogs. But it’s a good thing. Especially for Bub’s & Betty’s, the new pet boutique that celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday, July 19, with the Huron Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Bub’s & Betty’s is currently open for business, operating under a soft open since April 26, 2018.

Bub’s & Betty’s sells clothing for people and their pets. Co-owner Caitlin Erickson started her line of pet-themed clothing in January 2017. What began as a passion project soon turned into an online-only shop. Business was so brisk, she says, that the storefront was the next logical step.

Becoming an entrepreneur has always been a goal for Erickson. "I spent my 20s figuring out what I wanted to do. And now it feels like I’m living my dream," Erickson says. "I live in downtown Milford. I get to walk to work. I’m familiar with the community.

"Milford is a dog town."

Erickson’s signature line of pet-themed clothing includes t-shirts with sayings like "My dog is my BFF" and "I’d love to but my dog said no." Dog Mom and Dog Dad baseball caps are some of her biggest sellers, she says.

Erickson started Bub’s & Betty’s as a creative outlet following the death of her grandmother, Betty. Bub is the name of her dog, who, she admits, she treats as if he were her own child. She co-owns the business with family members Michele Erickson, Devin Erickson, and Cristen Wisniewski.

In addition to the pet-themed clothing, Bub’s & Betty’s carries pillows, totes, and coffee mugs, and pet items like leashes, collars, and healthy, all-natural treats for dogs and cats. Many of the items are made in Michigan.

"Everything is just colorful, unique, and tailored to people that love to show love for their pets," she says.

Bub’s & Betty’s is located at 411 N. Main St. in downtown Milford.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

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