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  • Here is why landlords could make money in Wayne County

    CNN has a message to all prospective landlords: Head to Wayne County! Occupancy and rental rates are increasing, the report says, creating an opportunity for serious returns on investments. In fact, after comparing the median sales price of homes to average monthly rents in nearly 1,600 counties, RealtyTrac found that Detroit’s Wayne County offers landlords the best return on their investment in the nation. Investors who buy homes in the metro area can expect a 30% gross annual return from rents. That’s triple the national average of 10%. RealtyTrac, an online real estate information company, says the county offers investors low prices for larger homes — with a median price of $45,000. “We’ve got some steals here,” said Rachel Saltmarshall, a real estate agent and immediate past president of the Detroit Association of Realtors, told CNN. “There’s a six-bedroom, 6,000 square-foot home in a historic district selling for $65,000.” For more, read the entire report here.

    The post Here is why landlords could make money in Wayne County appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit

    This Saturday, audiophiles across the world will venture out to their favorite independent record stores in search of limited releases that quickly become collectors items. The third Saturday of April marks the fairly new international holiday Record Store Day. There are certainly dos and don’ts to know for RSD — like where to shop, and how to shop. That’s right, there is an etiquette to shopping on Record Store Day and violating that code makes you look like a real asshole. In my experience of celebrating Record Store Day, I’ve seen stores use a few different tactics as far as stocking the special releases. Some establishments will set up a table, somewhere in the store, where a few shoppers at a time can flip through records in a calm and contained manner. Other places will have a similar setup, with all the releases at a table, but shoppers ask the store employees for the releases they want. It’s like a record nerd stock exchange. This process gets loud, slightly confusing and incredibly annoying — this is where elbows start getting thrown. Then, there are places that put the releases on the shelves, usually categorized by size — twelve inches with the twelve inches, seven inches with the seven inches and […]

    The post The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled

    The Detroit Electronic Music Festival, which was supposed to be making a triumphant return this year, has been canceled. A statement on the website says that the festival will be back in 2015. Back in November, Ford Field hosted an announcement party for DEMF, where it was revealed that a new DEMF festival would take place at Campus Martius Park in Detroit over the July 4th weekend. “I’m proud to be involved in the biggest and best electronic music festival in the world,” said Juan Atkins. “The future’s here. This is techno scene.” Not the immediate future, apparently. The DEMF people claim that the M-1 rail construction is partially to blame for the cancellation/12-month-postponement. Read the full statement here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards

    Despite a turbulent 2013 which saw Metro Times change owners, move buildings and change editors twice, we picked up eight awards at the Society of Professional Journalists Awards on Wednesday night. The big winner was Robert Nixon, design manager, who picked up a first place for “Feature Page Design (Class A)” for our Josh Malerman cover story, first for “Cover Design (Class A)” for our Halloween issue (alongside illustrator John Dunivant), and a second in that same category for our annual Lust issue. In the news categories, our esteemed former news editor and current contributing writer Curt Guyette won third in “General News Reporting” and third in “Best Consumer/Watchdog” – both Class A – for the Fairground Zero and Petcoke Series respectively. Music & Culture Editor Brett Callwood placed third for his Josh Malerman cover story in the “Best Personality Profile (Class A)” category, and former editor Bryan Gottlieb picked up a couple of Class C awards for “Editorial Writing” and “Headline Writing” (third and second, respectively). We were also pleased to learn that our investigative reporter Ryan Felton won first place and an honorable mention for work published while at the Oakland Press. The MT ship is steady now, […]

    The post Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval

    In this week’s Metro Times we took a look at the state legislature’s role in Detroit’s ongoing bankruptcy — in particular, how it must approve a $350 million pledge for the so-called “grand bargain” to remain intact. And, with last night’s announcement of a significant deal between the city and Detroit’s pension boards and retiree groups, the ball is Lansing’s court now. The new deal, first reported by the Freep, would cut general employees monthly pension checks by 4.5 percent and eliminate their cost-of-living increases. Police and fire retirees would see no cuts to monthly checks, while their cost-of-living increases would be reduced from 2.25 percent to 1 percent. Under the original offer, police and fire retirees cuts were as high as 14 percent, with general retirees as high as 34 percent, that is, if the groups rejected the “grand bargain,” an $816 million proposal funded by foundations, the state, and the DIA to shore up pensions. The sweeter deal for pensions, though, it must be noted, entirely relies on the state legislature approving $350 million for Detroit’s bankruptcy.  And while this broke after Metro Times went to press, that was the focal point of this week’s News Hits column — so, it’s worth repeating: The […]

    The post Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday

    This Saturday, April 19, is Record Store Day, and there is plenty going on in metro Detroit and Michigan. Of special interest to us is Chiodos’ 7” single “R2ME2/Let Me Get You A Towel,” Mayer Hawthorne & Shintaro Skamoto’s 7” “Wine Glass Woman/In a Phantom,” Chuck Inglish & Action Bronson’s 7” “Game Time,” Chuck Inglish & Chance the Rapper’s 7” “Glam,” Chuck Inglish & Chromeo’s 7” “Legs,” Chuck Inglish, Mac Miller & Ab-Soul’s 7” “Easily,” James Williamson’s 7” “Open Up and Bleed/Gimme Some Skin,” Black Milk’s 12” “Glitches in the Break,” Mayer Hawthorne’s 10” “Jaded Inc.,” Wayne Kramer & the Lexington Arts Ensemble’s 12” “Lexington,” and best of all, Ray Parker Jr.’s 10” “Ghostbusters.” We wrote about James Williamson’s release this week. Go shop. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Incentive programs for city employees start to pay off

Apparently you've got to pay them to live in Detroit.

Two major incentive programs that encourage those who work in Detroit to live in the city have kicked off in the past month. One of them, Live Midtown, is for employees of Wayne State University, the Detroit Medical Center and Henry Ford Health System. The other, Project 14, is a city of Detroit program to get police officers and possibly firefighters to live in the East English Village and Boston-Edison neighborhoods.

The Live Midtown website,, says it succinctly: "It Pays to Live in Midtown. Literally."

"Many employers across the country have employee assistance programs like this," says Sue Mosey, director of the University Cultural Center Association, which administers the Midtown effort. "The idea is for anchor employers to offer benefits to retain and attract employees. Also, foundations are interested in attracting people to live in the core downtown area. Philadelphia ran a similar program for about five years; Baltimore has been running one for a long time."

There are four incentive options in Live Midtown for the area bounded by I-75 to the east, Philadelphia to the north, Mack/Martin Luther King to the south, Rosa Parks to the west, and Grand River Avenue (Martin Luther King to Rosa Parks) on the southwest.

New renters can receive a $2,500 allowance for the first year and $1,000 for a second year. New homeowners can get a $20,000 forgivable loan, or $25,000 paid out at $5,000 a year. People who have already plunked money down in the neighborhood aren't left behind. There is a $1,000 allowance for renewing a lease in 2011, and existing homeowners can get matching funds of up to $5,000 for exterior improvements on projects that cost $10,000 or more. Well, that could put a new roof on your house.

"This is an anchor-driven program, funded by anchor institutions," says Mosey. "It's another opportunity like many incentives to encourage more density. There are many other incentive programs in the neighborhood, grants for security improvements, for commercial business to fix up the front of their building. There's a mix of all things that help continue to improve the neighborhood. It helps everyone who's been here if more people move in and fix up the neighborhood."

WSU, the DMC and Henry Ford are three of the city's largest employers. WSU has 26,000 employees; the DMC has more than 12,000 employees in nine facilities; Henry Ford system spokespeople I spoke to couldn't breakdown how many of their 23,000 employees are in the city proper, but the program is open to employees system-wide. Those numbers carry considerable economic clout. As of last week, Mosey said the UCCA had processed about 30 applications, with more buyers than expected.

Project 14 beneficiaries are considerably fewer. The pilot program is offering 200 potential residencies. There are about 3,000 Detroit police officers, 53 percent of them living outside Detroit; a higher percentage of firefighters, who could be included in the program later, are nonresidents. Project 14 offers cops city-owned and -renovated homes for $1,000 down — with generous help with remaining down payment costs — and buyers responsible for monthly payments (principal, interest, taxes and insurance) of $500 to $1,000 per month.

The project name is from Police Code 14, which means a situation has returned to normal. It's hard to say what's normal when it comes to police residency. The state Legislature ended an 80-plus-year city policy in 1999 when it banned employment residency rules statewide. Policies across the nation show little consistency. Chicago requires police officers to live in the city; Atlanta doesn't. Philadelphia requires police to live in the city, but last year began relaxing requirements and accepting applications from nonresidents.

It's revealing that the city offers homes in only two neighborhoods. East English Village is a place where developers have built numerous homes over the past decade. Boston-Edison is a formerly tony neighborhood that has fallen on tough times. Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and Berry Gordy all once lived there. The houses are large, and proximity to the New Center and the proposed Woodward rail line make this a prime candidate as a comeback neighborhood.

Now we're getting a sense of where Detroit is headed. Propping up East English Village helps nearby Indian Village and the East Jefferson corridor near Belle Isle. Midtown and Boston Edison build on the Woodward corridor strategy. Last fall the Living Cities foundation collaboration picked Detroit as one of five cities (along with Baltimore, Cleveland, Newark and Minneapolis/St. Paul) to benefit from its Integration Initiative — a $17 million pledge that will help leverage millions more in grants, commercial loans and below-market rate charitable loans — along the Woodward corridor. Goals include at least 200 new units of mixed-income housing, renovation of at least 75 properties, attraction of 10,000 new residents and providing at least $50 million in additional vendor and supplier opportunities to local businesses. Apparently being close to Woodward heightens your chance of being a target for redevelopment.

Project 14 prompts another question: Does this give us any clue on what incentives will look like when the city tries to move people from sparsely populated neighborhoods to more densely populated areas? So far the city has been mum. The Project 14 incentive is employment-related, so neighborhood consolidations could be entirely different. However, if the city wants to take the property you already own, it might make sense to trade you for property that the city already has and leverage grants to help fix your new place up. I don't know much about urban development, but it seems something like that would stink less than other scenarios.

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