Archives for January 2015

Growing a Community

We hear the word community used a lot these days, so much so that it is often diluted to mean any situation in which a group of people are assembled.  But simply having a group of people working or living in close proximity to one another does not, by itself, create a community.  It's only when meaningful relationships begin to form between those people that a true community can emerge and start to grow, organically, over time. That, in a nutshell, is the approach we've used to form and grow the Green Garage community of businesses over the past four years.  It started with a set of goals centered around a deep exploration of sustainability in an urban environment (in this case Midtown Detroit) and the intention to create an environment within the Green Garage that would help grow and … [Read more...]

Why a walkable Midtown still would love great public transportation

  Once upon a time when the El Moore was young, people walked to and fro in the surrounding neighborhood streets. The El Moore was in the heart of what was, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, one of the more fashionable neighborhoods in the entire city. Old photos show plenty of cars motoring back and forth on the streets around the Cass Corridor but there are also wide sidewalks made for walking and strolling. Today, one of the things Detroiters like the most about Midtown (formerly the Cass Corridor) is its walkability. There aren't many areas of the city where residents and visitors alike can feel comfortable going out for a nice long stroll. Detroit is a city built for and by the automobile, and sometimes it seems as if the inability to comfortably and efficiently travel in … [Read more...]

The El Moore was “Old Detroit”

During the 1840's, Detroit's population was around 2,000 people. Not exactly a bustling, booming metropolis like New York City, which boasted a population of 312,710 residents at the time. Not surprisingly, New York City was by far the largest, but even Charleston, South Carolina, which ranked as the nation's 10th largest city in 1840, had 29,261. That was more than 10 times the population of Detroit. But by the time the El Moore was built in 1898, it was a different story altogether. By the turn of the century, Detroit's population had exploded from 2,000 to nearly 300,000 residents. The population would continue to multiply at a dramatic pace for another 50 years until Detroit became home to nearly 2 million residents. This was the most explosive growth … [Read more...]

Walking Around the El Moore Neighborhood: Source Booksellers

The El Moore, a beautifully restored historic residential apartment complex that is designed to be a model of urban sustainable living, is located at 624 West Alexandrine at Second Avenue in the heart of the Midtown area of Detroit. As Tom Brennan, the co-founder of the Green Garage and the El Moore likes to say, just a few years ago you could roll a boulder down Second Avenue and not hit anything. Today, the greater Midtown area from the I-94 freeway to West Grand Boulevard is a growing and thriving district that is encouraging walkability, biking, and support of local businesses.   One local business that has been in Midtown since the days of near-empty streets is Source Booksellers, now located a few blocks from the El Moore at 4240 Cass Avenue. Source Booksellers is one of … [Read more...]

The M-1 Railway; what does this mean for Midtown?

  At the time the El Moore was being designed and built at the end of the 19th century, Detroit was one of the leading manufacturing areas for railroad cars, including trolleys. Now, just a few blocks from the El Moore, rail transportation is coming back to the city. If you ask the developers who have been involved with helping chart a course for Midtown for decades, one of the primary reasons they give for why they have always believed Midtown was the perfect spot for development was its location. It is close to Wayne State University, it is close to downtown, it is close to a major hospital, and it is close to all but one of the major thoroughfares reaching out from downtown throughout the rest of the Metro Detroit region. That makes it ideal. And now that the M-1 … [Read more...]

Construction Update – Week of January 12, 2014

Just a few updates this week. PV panels were delivered via crane to the top of the roof for placement above the rooftop cabins. More lath wood has been added to the walls of the cabins, and cement countertops were added. Take a look. … [Read more...]

Michigan’s Changing Seasons: Why We Love Them

  Make no mistake; Michigan is not Palm Springs, nor is it South Florida. The sun most certainly does  not shine all the time, and a good portion of our days are cold ones. To everything a season, and Michigan most definitely has all four. It's that 365 days-a-year spirit that the El Moore's Seasons is expected to bring to the residents as well as the local community once it is completed.  A four-season, indoor/outdoor retail building that will be constructed along the northern end of the El Moore Gardens, the Seasons will service both the wider community and people attending events in the Gardens. With an entrance along 2nd Ave. and food vendor windows opening onto the Gardens, there will be a rotating … [Read more...]

Old Main stands tall in a new Detroit

As we chronicle the restoration of the El Moore and the development of the community around it, we often give the old building its own voice. It's too bad Old Main doesn't have  a voice, because no doubt it would have quite a few stories to tell about how the surrounding neighborhood that is now  Wayne State University and Midtown has evolved over the past century. Just the name of the Wayne State University's oldest structure, "Old Main", tells the Detroit-style tale of survival all by itself. Similar to the El Moore, Old Main is an historic Detroit landmark building that was built at practically the same time (The El Moore was built in 1898, construction of Old Main began in 1894 and proceeded over a three-year period). The building, which is within walking distance of … [Read more...]