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  • Get ready for National Tequila Day!

    Thursday, July 24th marks National Tequila Day, and forget everything you know about the beverage. Those nasty old “tequilas” of yesterday were find for doing body shots, but tequila has become something of a luxury spirit while few were paying attention. Have you tried all the varieties of tequila? Can you tell the difference between blanco, joven, reposed, añejo and extra añejo?  If your local bar doesn’t have the stuff that will help you celebrate this important holiday, there are several bars that cater just to the tequila fan. There’s Aqua Rum and Tequila Bar in the MGM Grand Detroit Casino in Detroit, as well as Rojo Mexican Bistro in Novi, which offers more than 100 kinds of tequila, and Taqo Detroit, a new spot serving American-friendly Mexican fare and serving an astonishing variety of tequilas, more than 200 in all. Been waiting for a reason to drink up this south-of-the-border nectar? You got it. Guzzle responsibly.    

    The post Get ready for National Tequila Day! appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • DWSD to host water fair in wake of 15 day moratorium on Detroit water shutoffs

    In light of worldwide attention on its efforts to cut water service for thousands of Detroit residents, the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department said today it would host a Water Affordability Fair on August 2nd to explain options available to those facing financial hardship. DWSD officials said in a news release today the fair will be take place from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the department’s Eastside Customer Service Center at 13303 E. McNichols. The move came on the heels of growing pressure from opponents of the initiative and criticism from the U.S. bankruptcy judge overseeing Detroit’s Chapter 9 case. “Every customer that has come to DWSD with a legitimate financial hardship has not had their water service terminated,” said Darryl Latimer, DWSD deputy director, in a statement. “In cases where the water has been shut off, it’s been restored. We keep hearing at DWSD that there are poor people who are not receiving the assistance that they need, so we want to help them and we want to make it as easy as possible for the to receive that help. That’s why we created the Water Affordability Fair – ease of access and ease of assistance. We are here to […]

    The post DWSD to host water fair in wake of 15 day moratorium on Detroit water shutoffs appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Thrillist Names Detroit’s Motz’s Burgers Among Best in Nation

    The folks at Thrillist have again compiled their annual list of the nation’s best burgers, and Southeast Michigan, it seems, is well represented. Ranking alongside joints in major cities such as New York and L.A., is Detroit’s own Motz’s Burgers, hailed specifically for its Double Cheeseburger Slider. Via Thrillist: There’s nothing remarkable about the façade of this SW diner… it’s just a diner, like the hundreds of others in the D. The staff’s been there for years… and so have the regulars, who can’t get enough of Motz’s legendary smashed burgers. The formula’s nothing revolutionary: smashed, griddled patties with oozy cheese and onions that melt into the burger itself as it cooks. But it’s that unmistakable flavor of a well-seasoned griddle — which has also been here for years — that makes the difference. You can score big burgers with accoutrements, but this isn’t really a place to say things like “accoutrements”. Grab the old-school slider (the double cheeseburger one), and prepare for three perfect bites of Detroit’s finest. Flint’s Torch Bar and Grill also made the cut, most notably for its Deluxe Torch Burger with Bacon. Tucked away in an alley beyond the brick streets that used to mark […]

    The post Thrillist Names Detroit’s Motz’s Burgers Among Best in Nation appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • In what weird ways are you paying for school? MT wants to know!

    The Metro Times is looking for college students or graduates of Michigan colleges that used atypical means to pay for their schooling (i.e. sugar baby, selling underwear, military enrollment purely for school help, etc.). We are looking for personal anecdotes about the lengths you went to help pay for school, what came of it, your monetary situation, if the resource worked to get you through college and more. If you have utilized any one of these avenues, or know someone who has, please drop us a line at college@metrotimes.com.

    The post In what weird ways are you paying for school? MT wants to know! appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Kid Rock ordered to produce dildo in ICP sexual harassment lawsuit

    File under “WTF” — attorneys representing former Psychopathic Records publicist Andrea Pellegrini announced Monday that they have subpoenaed Kid Rock to produce a glass dildo as part of Pellegrini’s sexual harassment lawsuit against the Insane Clown Posse’s record label. Pellegrini claims the glass dildo was given to her by Psychopathic Records employee “Dirty Dan” Diamond as part of a larger culture of constant harassment in which she was called “bitch,” made the target of explicit sexual advances by Diamond and other co-workers, asked to procure automatic weapons for a photo shoot, and even encouraged to “deceive government investigators from the US Department of Labor.” On Friday, Diamond admitted under oath that he told Pellegrini that he had “a fat cock” and that he would “fuck the shit out of her.” The dildo, though, was “a work of art,” according to Diamond, and should not be considered sexual harassment. Why is Kid Rock involved? Diamond says when Pellegrini declined his dildo, he gave it to Kid Rock instead (presumably as a “work of art” and not a sexual advance). So now, according to court orders, Rock has 14 days to produce the glass dildo so the court can better determine if it is art or, well, a dildo. We will […]

    The post Kid Rock ordered to produce dildo in ICP sexual harassment lawsuit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Henry Cavill and Amy Adams spotted at Pig & Whiskey

    Fans of the latest Superman franchise got a treat at Pig & Whiskey this weekend. Actors Henry Cavill and Amy Adams were spotted amid the crowds of the festival that took place in downtown Ferndale as well as a local restaurant. Cavill, who plays the man of steel in the upcoming Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, stopped to chat with fans, take pictures, and sign autographs on Saturday afternoon and evening. He was wearing an inconspicuous black polo shirt as well as a signature Superman-style ‘do. Other fans spotted Amy Adams at Ferndale’s Imperial on Saturday night, some were even seated next to her at the restaurant’s communal benches. Adams reportedly was slightly annoyed that patrons continuously asked for her photo, but she smiled while cell phones snapped images nonetheless. The Zach Snyder film the two are starring in together is currently filming in Birmingham. Ben Affleck, who plays Batman, has been spotted around town with his wife Jennifer Garner recently as well. The closed movie set is under intense security and Brett Callwood attempted to infiltrate the filming last month, but was forced to give up his camera’s memory card, lest he make off with telling photos.

    The post Henry Cavill and Amy Adams spotted at Pig & Whiskey appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Stir It Up

Building blocks

Does Detroit have to accept any development without tweaks?

The 35-acre parcel on the southeast corner of Woodward Avenue and Eight Mile Road would seem to be valuable real estate at the intersection of two of Detroit's main thoroughfares. Once owned by the state, over the years, developers have had plans for a campground, parking lot, hotels and various retail outlets there. About 10 years ago there was even a plan to build a new Detroit Public School there.

But the high-profile property has been fallow for decades.

In 2004, the Detroit City Council approved development of a mall there. Seven years, three mayoral administrations, a couple of developers, some concept changes, and one Great Recession later, it looks like the Gateway Marketplace, an open air mall, will finally get built at Woodward and Eight Mile. 

"Around the country, in any city and even suburban places, commercial real estate has been struggling for quite a few years," says Ricardo Solomon, a former Wayne County Commissioner and one of the developers for Gateway. "It's not unusual to see projects taking longer than one thought. This development is not unusual at all. Things are taking longer than was envisioned in lots of places."

Detroit City Council member Saunteel Jenkins, who heads the committee on planning and economic development, says, "I think it's closer to happening now than it's ever been," of the development that has so far been long on promise and short on delivery.

But after all the time and changes, it's a vastly different concept than was envisioned even two years ago, when it was named the Shoppes at Gateway Park, and an artist's rendering displayed a village-like setting with retail store facades that looked like cottages with greenery popping up all around. It was something you might expect to see in the shopping area of a city such as Rochester.

There's always a gap between concept and reality. But the latest rendering, distributed at a recent meeting, pretty much looks like two strip malls with a large parking lot between them. That's just the look. The fact that there are Meijer and Marshalls stores lined up to be part of the mall shows that this is no mere strip mall.

It would be nice if the design sent the same message. That was pretty much the conclusion of community members at the meeting, which was technically a brownfield development hearing that would lead to tax breaks for Gateway.

Folks generally welcomed the idea of getting something going there, but were concerned that it be a better asset to the neighborhood in terms of walkability, eye appeal and the kinds of stores and restaurants brought in. Developers mentioned talks with McDonald's to locate there. But there is already a McDonald's at the corner of Seven Mile Road and Woodward Avenue, and another on Woodward just south of Nine Mile Road. Do we need a third location at Eight Mile?

"We need a nice sit-down restaurant there," says Harold Varner, who lives on Hamilton in the Palmer Park area.

Varner, the principal of the architectural firm Varner and Associates and a former director of development for the city of Detroit, designed Cobo Hall and the Wright Museum of African American History in addition to many other area projects. He knows the development game.

"Woodward is our main street, and we want it to be beautiful," Varner says. "A parking lot on Woodward, that's totally unacceptable. That's a necessary facility but let's not destroy our city at the same time. You can have an entry off Woodward but no parking on Woodward. They need to replan the way the market has been planned. Whoever did the planning wasn't thinking. That's the entrance to the city. The main service entrance ought to be off of Eight Mile Road. If the big box [Meijer] is turned just 90 degrees and the service entrance is put on Eight Mile, it would make a big difference. Somebody just plopped some buildings down and put parking in the middle and that's not acceptable.

"There are no buildings there to shield the view from Woodward; you're going to see all the guts [delivery docks, etc.] there. That's unacceptable. Malls have a lot of parking and you need to have it, but you don't have to feel like you're in a big parking lot. They need some good urban planner to help put it together. ... Ricardo is a friend of mine; he said they were going to talk about it so I'm sure they're doing some adjustments."

But Solomon seemed a bit recalcitrant on the subject. "That's not just my decision," he said, pointing out that the development team includes Elliott Hall, Marvin Beatty, Bernie Schrott and Southfield-based Redico, a national property management company.

Hearing Schrott's name gives me pause. In 2000 and 2001, Metro Times detailed a number of questionable business dealings that Schrott was involved in, including connections with a drug ring, accusations of fraud in a Bahamian casino deal and a plan to sell the land at Woodward and Eight Mile to Detroit Public Schools at a vastly inflated price. However, there are a lot of business deals done by persons of questionable character, and citizen concerns lean more toward the impact Gateway will have on the local community.

"For the most part we're going to probably stay with the direction that we're going," Solomon says. "Redico has been hired by us. They've done a lot of work with the city; they have a lot of familiarity with Meijer. We work in collaboration and they are managing the project on our behalf. We've had a number of changes."

Developers have looked at the local demographics, reporting that there are 185,111 households with an average income of $54,473 within a five mile radius of the development. That includes areas such as Ferndale and Madison Heights. Yet they don't seem to have done much in terms of engaging the surrounding community. At the brownfield meeting, Jason Fowler of the Woodward Avenue Action Association (WA3) said that this was the first his organization has seen of the plan. Fowler, whose WA3 vision includes "Inspiring architecture, quality streetscaping and beautiful public spaces that are well maintained, clean, safe [and] welcoming," says he is "disappointed with the design."

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