Tuesday, November 8, 2016: Visitors to the Detroit Institute of Arts in the museum's Rivera Court, featuring The Detroit Industry Murals by artist Diego Rivera, painted in the 1930's.  Assignment ID: 30197528A  Photo by Kevin J. Miyazaki/Redux                              NYTCREDIT: Kevin Miyazaki for The New York Times

Detroit ranked 9th in global destinations

Detroit’s revitalization, after its 2013 bankruptcy filing, has long been building. In 2015, it was named a Unesco City of Design. But 2017 may be the year promise becomes reality. The new QLine streetcar is expected to open in April, connecting the central Woodward Avenue corridor some 3.3 miles between downtown and the revived New Center area. It passes through Midtown, home to the Detroit Institute of Arts, and the entertainment-focused District Detroit, where a stadium opening this fall will be shared by the Detroit Red Wings and, in a return from the suburbs, the Detroit Pistons.

Work underway on $100 million Fisher, Albert Kahn building projects

A $100 million effort to restore the Fisher Building and redevelop the nearby Albert Kahn Building in Detroit is underway.

The buildings, which were purchased last year at auction for $12.2 million along with a pair of parking decks with more than 2,000 parking spaces, are among the largest redevelopment efforts in the greater downtown core in the works.

Plans call for turning the Albert Kahn Building, which is only about 20 percent occupied, into 162 apartments on the third through 11th floors, keeping office space on the second floor and using the first floor and concourse area as retail space, said Dietrich Knoer, principal of Detroit-based The Platform LLC along with developer Peter Cummings, one of the owners of the buildings.

Construction is expected to begin on the Albert Kahn Building in the third or fourth quarter next year and take 15-18 months to complete, Knoer said.

The other owners are New York City-based HFZ Capital Partners and New York City-based Rheal Capital Management, which is owned by Detroit native John Rhea. Southfield-based Redico LLC was part of the four-headed investment group that purchased the buildings last summer but it sold off its ownership interest.

Perhaps the largest challenge, though, is the restoration of the Fisher Building, one of the city’s architectural masterpieces that is just about 60 percent occupied. The Fisher has 635,000 square feet, while the Albert Kahn has 290,000.

Exterior work on the building’s marble, plus work on interior painting and fresco restoration in the building’s arcade, began this fall, according to a news release.

“It is more than just a beautiful building or a landmark; it is a beacon in the heart of Detroit for all of Detroit. It is the beacon of our city, both of its past and its future,” Cummings said in the release.

“We cannot revitalize New Center without reanimating and revitalizing the Fisher Building,” Knoer said in a Tuesday morning interview. “We are looking at a variety of uses. The building already has retail, entertainment with the Fisher Theater, parking, office.”

Knoer said the projects are expected to be financed using a mix of debt, equity and federal historic tax credits.

“Peter and Dietrich are the right people with the right vision for those particular properties,” said Richard Broder, principal of the Birmingham-based development company Broder & Sachse Real Estate Services Inc. “Not only do they know what they are doing, period, but they also know what they are doing with these landmark buildings, architecturally and geographically. I think they are the right guys. Is New Center the up and comer? For sure it is. It is in the path. There is no question about it. Do I think 160 more units in the marketplace will work? I do. I think we need a lot more than that.”

The Royal Oak office of JLL (formerly Jones Lang LaSalle) is responsible for leasing the Fisher Building office space to tenants. Bloomfield Hills-based CC Consulting is handling the retail leasing.

Separately, The Platform has about $250 million in mixed-use projects in the works that the company says will bring about 1,000 apartments and 100,000 to 150,000 square feet of retail space to the market in Midtown, New Center and around TechTown.

The projects include the 231-unit Third and Grand, a $53 million project under construction next to the Fisher Building, and Baltimore Station, a $40 million plan to put 160-170 apartments at Woodward Avenue and Baltimore Street.

There is also the planned redevelopment of an Albert Kahn-designed building at Cass Avenue and York Street that used to be a Cadillac sales and service building and house Wayne State University criminal justice classes. About 80 residential units and other uses are planned for the 147,500-square-foot building.

The Platform has also been investing in northwest Detroit, the Islandview area near Belle Isle and near the University of Detroit Mercy.

‘Maker City’ spotlights change agents in Fisher lobby

Big things are coming to the Fisher Building’s three-story, marble arcade — long sadly underutilized, but about to pop with new life.

The Fisher Beacon Project, as the building’s new owners call it, will mount an ongoing series of exhibitions, performances and lectures to make the 1929 masterpiece into a must-visit destination, with programming designed to connect the building to the wider neighborhoods that surround it.

“The Beacon Project will be a series of events celebrating the people, history and culture of Detroit,” said Peter Cummings, the real-estate developer who’s one of the principals behind The Platform, the company in charge of the Fisher’s restoration and programming.

The first step, launching Friday, will be a colorful exhibition called “Maker City.”

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This will involve large, illuminated portraits and short profiles of 28 of Detroit’s “Makers and ChangeMakers” who undergird the city’s revived national reputation as a creative hub.

“Maker City” takes a broad view of the concept, including not only artists such as sculptor Robert Sestok or metalworkers Gabriel Craig and Amy Weiks, but also those working in social change, like Veronika Scott, founder of The Empowerment Plan, or Pastor Barry Randolph at the Church of the Messiah.

Said Cummings, “We see this as an opportunity to shift the narrative of Detroit’s recovery to the story of the neighborhoods, championing an inclusive vision for the city’s revival.”

One of the makers in the glass display cases will be Olayami Dabls, artist and founder of the Dabls MBAD African Bead Museum on Grand River.

Dabls said he thinks linking makers to an Albert Kahn building that epitomizes high craft is brilliant pairing.

“Anytime you’re trying to hold onto the craftsmanship from the past, that’s always a great idea,” he said. “And the best thing they could do is illuminate those displays and windows.”

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Lit-up glass cases are just one part. The new owners also are tackling tons of deferred maintenance, buffing and restoring all the bronze, wood and frescos that won the Fisher the accolade “Detroit’s largest art object.”

This being 2016, naturally there’s a cool interactive element, which you can access by downloading the “MKR City” app at the App Store or Google Play. That will put you in touch with makers and change agents in Detroit and nationwide.

At the Lothrop Street end of the lobby, three vitrines will be animated by LED screens with rotating interviews with the various makers across the city.

Even better, the app will let you take a selfie shot at one of the vitrines which, once uploaded, will pop your picture onto an LED screens alongside the makers.

“This is just the first of many Beacon projects,” promised Dietrich Knoer, who’s partners with Cummings at The Platform.

“There’s something happening in Detroit,” Cummings added. “The city’s almost becoming a laboratory for urban solutions. And that’s how the larger universe is starting to look at it. We want the Beacon Project to be a part of that and to help address it.”

mhodges@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-6021

Twitter: @mhodgesartguy

The Platform breaks ground on Third and Grand, the first such major development in Detroit’s New Center in decades

DETROIT – The team behind The Platform was joined by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and other local leaders today for the ground-breaking of Third and Grand, a new $53.1 million residential building that is the first development of its kind in New Center in more than 30 years.

The six-story, 231-unit development will be located on the northwest corner of Third Avenue and West Grand Boulevard, within blocks of Henry Ford Hospital, the Fisher Building and Cadillac Place, as well as the Lodge Freeway and the QLine. The 356,000-square-foot development is expected to open in spring 2018.

Third and Grand will be built on the site of what was once a Howard Johnson Motor Lodge. Max M. Fisher, the father-in-law of Platform Principal Peter Cummings, helped break ground on that hotel in 1964. In 1978, the hotel was acquired by Henry Ford Hospital and turned into the New Center Pavilion. It was imploded in 1997, and the site has served as a parking lot ever since.

“My father-in-law attended the ground-breaking on this site half a century ago, and did so much for Detroit. I am proud to be here today, breaking ground again,” Cummings said. “This is the beginning of a new era in New Center, and I am honored to be a part of it.”

Seventy-three percent of the 231 apartments will be studio or one-bedroom residences. The remainder will be two bedrooms, ranging in size from 908 to 1,158 square feet.

Also, honoring the City’s evolving policy on housing, The Platform will set aside 20 percent of the Third and Grand residences for affordable housing, including studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom plans.

Not since the ’80s has New Center seen this kind of development,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. “We’ve seen a lot of buildings being built and rehabbed downtown, but now Detroit’s comeback is spreading into more neighborhoods. This great project from The Platform team is another example of how the city is coming back in a way that provides quality housing options for Detroiters of all income levels.” 

In addition to the 231 apartments, the development will feature a 330-space parking structure, as well as 21,000 square feet of commercial space.

“Everyone deserves a great place to live in Detroit,” said Dietrich Knoer, a principal at The Platform.  “The Platform’s mission is to develop well designed urban communities based on the principles of equitable development and inclusiveness in the great neighborhoods of our city.  Everyone deserves to be able to take part in the amazing things happening in Detroit.”

The building was designed by Cline Design Associates PA of Raleigh, N.C., and will be built by Lansing-based Wieland.

ABOUT THE PLATFORM

The Platform is a real estate development company dedicated to helping rebuild the City of Detroit. This includes revitalizing neighborhoods and mentoring the next generation of developers, in addition to the primary mission of creating high-quality mixed-use residential communities in Detroit’s Midtown, TechTown and New Center areas, specifically on the M-1 Rail (QLine) corridor. The neighborhood focus, based on the partners’ personal interests and relationships, includes Brightmoor, Islandview and the University District. The Platform’s principals are Peter Cummings and Dietrich Knoer, joined by partner and Chief Development Officer Mike Hammon. Everard Findlay is Chief Innovation Officer of The Platform.

For more information, go to www.theplatform.city

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Mother of Thousands Art and Design Collective Launch at Bergdorf Goodman Men’s Store Windows

Mother of Thousands lives in the overlap between art and design, centering on works and happenings which warp the quotidien into other realms where sofas stretch into noodles and everyday tasks take on new significance. Why must our lamps look like lamps? Why not fetish shaman leading us into worlds yet unexplored? What is the significance of space itself? Can it serve as a crossover between invention, interaction, exploration?

Mother of Thousands lives to give shelter and new context to designers and artists and scientists stepping off into the void. Everyday items subverting the everyday.

Stop by the Bergdorf Goodman Men’s Store Windows on 5th Avenue between 57th and 58th Street to see Mother of Thousands artists interpret the idea of home.

Everard and Molly Findlay formed the Mother of Thousands art collective to gently subvert the day to day while bringing together artists and innovators. MOT will continue to host happenings to reinvent reality as we experience it.

Shane Ruth, the Men’s store window designer at Bergdorf Goodman, asked Mother of Thousands to create a world in all four windows along 5th Avenue; a subverted living scene featuring works from Mother of Thousands artists.

For press inquiries call 1-888-212-5745 or email press@motherofthousands.com

To stay connected, follow @MotherOf1000s on Instagram or use hashtags #MotherOfThousands, #MrsNoodle and #NoodleShow

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Dartmouth’s ICE Institute to Bridge Science and Humanities

“There are questions that scientists are dealing with right now that science alone cannot answer,” says theoretical physicist Marcelo Gleiser, the Appleton Professor of Natural Philosophy.

The question of free will, for example, has traditionally been a problem for philosophers and theologians, but is increasingly a subject of inquiry in neuroscience. But scientists and humanists don’t always understand or listen to each other. “We speak very different languages,” Gleiser says.

That’s what led to the creation of the Institute for Cross-Disciplinary Engagement at Dartmouth (ICE). Gleiser, the institute’s director, says the project will explore big questions—from the limits of human knowledge to the nature of time, consciousness, and reality itself—as it bridges the so-called two cultures that divide the sciences and the humanities.

“We’re trying to create a complementarity between the way the sciences and the humanities deal with common questions—questions that define humanity, that are important for our future as a species,” Gleiser says.

The institute, which will officially begin work in July 2016, will be funded through a three-year, $3.5 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

“Dartmouth is committed to bringing together the sciences and the humanities in creative, tangible ways that will have an impact on campus and in the world,” says Provost Carolyn Dever. “We’re grateful that the Templeton Foundation has given Marcelo’s leadership of this initiative such a vote of confidence.”

ICE will focus on three initiatives:

  • A series of dialogues, to be held in major cities around the country and live-streamed around the world, will bring together prominent scientists, humanists, and spiritual leaders to discuss big questions. Following each session, a group of participants will be invited to join an intensive workshop on the topic. “These people are going to be our ambassadors, opinion formers,” Gleiser says.
  • The institute will create a fellows program to bring prominent and emerging scientists and humanists to campus to develop projects related to the institute’s themes. The fellows will be in residence for up to one term. ICE is now accepting applications for the 2016–2017 academic year; the deadline for applications is Dec. 15, 2015.
  • Two massive open online courses, or MOOCs, will be created through the DartmouthX partnership with the nonprofit online learning consortium edX. “It’s really a course on physics, philosophy, and religion,” Gleiser says.
    The foundation, based in West Conshohocken, Pa., was founded in 1987 by investor and philanthropist John Templeton to “serve as a philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to the big questions of human purpose and ultimate reality,” says the foundation’s website.

 

“Our founder, the late Sir John Templeton, encouraged open-minded dialogue and learning from different perspectives and worldviews,” says Ayako Fukui, assistant director of strategic program initiatives at the foundation. “Transcending disciplinary boundaries with a spirit of open-mindedness can lead to new intellectual and spiritual dimensions. It is our hope that, under the leadership of Dr. Gleiser, the institute’s groundbreaking work will become a global model that inspires others to follow suit.”

http://now.dartmouth.edu/2015/10/new-institute-will-bridge-science-and-humanities

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Anndra Neen’s Phoebe and Annette Stephens in Suriname

“A good trip always broadens our vision, so we were thrilled when our friend Everard Findlay invited a few jewelry designers to Suriname to experience life in a country that’s 90 percent rain forest. After a quick connecting flight from the tiny country’s capital, Paramaribo, we landed in the middle of the South American jungle and soon found ourselves surrounded by the oldest trees on Earth, with the only sounds those of rain falling and birds calling out to one another. We learned about the so-called telephone trees—pre-Columbian Amerindians would hit them on the base of the trunk to communicate with one another, sometimes as far as five or six miles apart. Then we arrived at a clearing where the rain forest met a river, and guides with rowboats greeted us for a breathtaking tour of the Kabalebo River.

We also met the local painter and sculptor Erwin de Vries, whose work—so free and full of color—reminded us of our grandmother’s, an artist working in Mexico in the thirties and forties. Suriname is built from diverse influences ranging from Dutch, Javanese, and Chinese to Indian and African, all of which contribute to the vibrant music, food, and dress that we saw everywhere we went. Between the culture clashes and the raw power of nature, we were completely mesmerized.”

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Everard Findlay