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Indie film destination Maple Theater renovates, adds second location

The Maple Theater in Bloomfield Hills is undergoing a second round of renovations and bringing on a partner theater, The Riviera, which is scheduled to open in Farmington Hills in May.

The Maple, which was built in 1977 and eventually made the best of being too small to show most large run commercial films by featuring independent films, will have a larger lobby and lounge to add to the comfort of patrons. The renovations are expected to be completed by April.

The theater, which is operated by Cloud Nine Partners LLC, was renovated to add a coffee bar and cafe in 2012, when Cloud Nine bought the three-screen theater from Landmark Theaters. The theater will remain fully operational during renovations.

In the meantime, construction will begin Feb. 1 on The Riviera at 9 Mile Road west of Middlebelt in Farmington Hills.

"We're very excited about this," says Ruth Daniels of Cloud Nine. "Michigan is a wonderful state for movie-going. It actually has more independent theaters than most states. And let's face it who doesn't love something new and updated."

The Riviera, which is owned in partnership by Cloud 9 and Dipson Theaters, an operator eight movie theaters in Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania, will have nine screens and a screening room for private parties and corporate events.
Dipson operates the theater that will be replaced by The Riviera. The existing theater closes at the end of the month.

Birmingham design firm, Ron and Roman, will design the new theater, which will reelect a luxury feel, a cocktail lounge, specialty food menu and premium comfort, convenience and technology. Ron & Roman is also redesigning the Maple Theater.

"It will be a very drastic change," Daniels says of the changes happening at the movie theater that will become The Riviera. "A movie is all about the experience and we want to give the best possible movie-going experience. I go across the country and see some of the amazing things people are doing with theaters," she says. " This is going to be amazing."

Source: Ruth Daniels, Cloud Nine Partners LLC
Writer: Kim North Shine

M1 MRI Center brings latest tech to $700 million facility in Berkley

The M1 Imaging Center, which operates from a $700,000 facility in Berkley, is the only MRI center in the state to hold a license for a weight-bearing imaging device that was developed by NASA and is used to treat chronic back, neck, leg and knee pain.

The owners of M1, one a radiologist, the other a health care administrator, combined their expertise to open the MRI center inside a 75-year-old, 3,000-square-foot former Henderson Glass at 27501 Woodward Ave.

The center offers several forms of MRI, and the latest, the DynaWell L-Spine, is non-invasive and allows patients to stand and bear weight during MRI in for more accurate diagnoses, and potentially, more effective treatment plans.

It is one of several services and technologically-advanced tools offered by M1 to patients and doctors in southeast Michigan, some of them available only at M1.

“By simulating gravity on the lumbar spine through the compression device, we can make a more comprehensive diagnosis than an MRI that does not offer weight-bearing images,” says Joshua Katke, the health care administrator who owns M1 with muscoskeletal neuroradiologist, Dr. Chintan Desai.“What we see may be the difference between conservative treatment and surgery. Weight-bearing MRI will not create a false positive or worse condition of spinal stenosis when there isn’t one but rather will be the first to detect a previously under-diagnosed condition.”

Source: Lynne Golodner, Your People LLC
Writer: Kim North Shine

Juice Bar business added to fitness studio in downtown Ferndale

The owners of two health-and-fitness focused businesses are operating under one roof in downtown Ferndale as a way to tap into one another's clients by offering them more products and services.

The grand opening of Pure Juice Bar & Cafe is being celebrated this Friday. It shares its space at 23440 Woodward Ave. with TV Fitness, a workout studio that offers personal training and trainer-assisted workouts with popular TV and DVD exercise routines.

Pure Juice Bar & Cafe serves fresh juices, smoothies, fruits, vegetables and light meals in the cafe or for takeaway. It also is a source for drinks and education for clients on cleanses.

Its counter with bar stools and a small seating area with tables and chairs take up part of the lobby at TV Fitness, which has a gym and workout space behind glass partition off the lobby.

TV Fitness owners and brothers Ryan and Earl Carruthers see the two businesses as natural complements.Friday's grand opening will double as a health expo with TV Fitness hosting an open house while Pure Juice cuts the ribbon on its business opening.

Source: Ryan and Earl Carruthers
Writer: Kim North Shine

Milford announces LaFontaine Family Amphitheater

Just in time for the new year, construction on Milford’s  newest addition to Central Park, the LaFontaine Family Amphitheater is substantially complete. Nestled between the Village’s downtown shopping district and Southside neighborhoods, the new amphitheater will open with an inaugural concert in spring 2015.
“This has been an amazing and rewarding project,” said Joell Beether, executive director of the Huron Valley Chamber of Commerce. “We are anxious for the amphitheater to open and for the community to enjoy the new venue.  We really are so thankful to all our generous donors, especially the LaFontaine Family, who went above and beyond to see that this project could be completed.”
More than $450,000 was raised through grants, private donation and in-kind services to complete the 3-phase project, including a $155,000 contribution form the LaFontaine Family.
“Our family has lived in the Highland/Milford area since 1977, and owned and operated multiple automotive dealerships here since 1984,” said Ryan LaFontaine, manager of the LaFontaine Automotive Group and presenting sponsor of AMP in Central Park. “As soon as we heard about AMP in Central Park, we knew we wanted to support the project. It is an amazing addition to our local community, and we’re thrilled to give back and be part of such a great community project.”
The 18-month community-driven initiative to build a one-of-a-kind multi-use amphitheater began in April 2012 as a joint venture between the Rotary Club of Milford, the Huron Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Milford Downtown Development Authority
“The Rotary Club of Milford is proud to have initiated and been part of the AMP in Central Park project,” said Keith Wilson, president of the Rotary Club of Milford. “The entire community came together to make this vision a reality and it’s gratifying to see how we’ve made our already charming town even more beautiful than it was before.”
Built into the natural landscape of Central Park, the LaFontaine Family Amphitheater fits snuggly into the existing topography of the site, incorporating terraced seating for nearly 2,000 people.  The environmentally-friendly design orients patrons towards the historic Albert Kahn-designed Ford Power House and Pettibone Creek waterfall, while allowing 98 percent retention of the standing poplar trees that form a natural canopy over the park. 
Designed by Grissim Metz Andriese Associates  and constructed by  John Stewart and Associates and Margolis Companies, the LaFontaine Family Amphitheater was made by possible by  John Grissim, Chip Mobley and B & M Electric Contracting, Inc.M.J. Whelan Construction, Dave Janette and  Janette and Sons ExcavatingBrien’s Services and the Milford Downtown Development Authority.
“Milford is such a beautiful town, and we are fortunate to have a dedicated and giving community,” said Ann Barnette, executive director of the Milford Downtown Development Authority. “The Lafontaine Family Amphitheater would not have been possible without our supporters, contractors and partners. We’re very excited to see it open this May and to enjoy the live entertainment in our beautiful new theater.”
An inaugural concert of the LaFontaine Family Amphitheater is being planned to launch the venue before Milford’s highly anticipated Summer Concert Series and Friday Night Live return this summer.
For more information and the most up-to-date information on the LaFontaine Family Amphitheater, visit http://www.milfordamp.org.


Innovative Learning Group set to move to bigger office in Troy

Innovative Learning Group has been a staple of downtown Royal Oak for years, and now it’s going to become a staple of Troy.

The 10-year-old business consultancy purchased a new building in Troy last December with plans to execute a move later this year. The new office is more than twice as large coming in at 10,100 square feet.

"We will be spending the year remodeling the building and moving just before the end of this calendar year," says Lisa Toenniges, CEO of Innovative Learning Group.

Innovation Learning Group specializes in training and human performance improvement for businesses. It has grown 40 percent over the last year and is looking to add another 15 percent this year. Most of that growth comes from its mobile work.

"Using your tablet or smartphone for learning or doing your job better," Toenniges says.

That increase in work has led to more hiring at Innovative Learning Group. It has hired six people over the last year, including project managers, graphic designers and office managers. It is also looking to hire another three (a consultant, project manager, and sales professional) to add to its current staff of 17 employees.

"We are full up (on space for employees) here in Royal Oak," Toenniges says.

Source: Lisa Toenniges, CEO of Innovative Learning Group
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.


Institution of Dance Arts opens in Ferndale

The new Institution of Dance Arts, Ferndale's only traditional dance class studio, is building a following of customers who want to learn dance as well as the skills it imparts imparts in their lives outside the studio.

Owner Ida Lowback opened the studio several weeks ago at 701 Woodward Heights, Ste. 130. She and her four instructors and occasional staff guest artist teach several genres of dance and pilots to all ages.

"Can you believe that the city of Ferndale has not had a studio offering traditional dance classes up until now?  Well, we are here now and excited to fill the void and share our passion for dance," says Lowback.

The business inside a renovated office building, which looks like a former school. The cheery yellow paint on the inside opens onto a studio that was built with a sprung sub floor and a Marley floor covering, both of which make dance more comfortable, effective and safe than regular flooring.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Ida Lowback, founder, The Institution of Dance Arts


Vodka, gin distillery, tastng room planned for Royal Oak

Royal Oak may soon be home to small distillery and tasting room. Five Lakes Distillery received a small distiller license from the city commission this week, paving the way for owners Craig Schlicht and Keith Reid to make vodka, initially, and then, eventually, gin from a small space at 4320 Rochester Road.

The plan is to produce vodka on site, 90 percent of it for distribution, 10 percent on site for the weekend-only tasting room, which will take up 190 square feet of the 855-square-foot facility.

The owners have a permit to produce up to 60,000 gallons of spirits per year, says Todd Fenton, the city's manager of economic development, but as of now they expect to produce closer to 6,000 gallons.

No opening date has been set as other city permits are still required. If successful, Five Lakes could join metro-Detroit-made spirits success stories such as Valentine Vodka in Ferndale, Hard Luck Candy Vodka in St. Clair Shores, Griffin Claw Brewing Co. in Birmingham and Zim's Vodka based in Warren.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Todd Fenton, economic development manager, city of Royal Oak


Brose to invest $97.6M in metro Detroit expansion, add 388 jobs

Auburn Hills-based Brose North America Inc. plans to invest $97.6 million to expand at its locations in Huron Charter Township, Warren and Auburn Hills.

Read more


Slows Bar BQ to open location in Pontiac's former Strand Theatre

Can lightning strike a rehabilitating urban neighborhood twice? Corktown's hugely popular Slows Bar BQ has signed a lease to open a restaurant in the former Strand Theatre in downtown Pontiac, which is planning to undergo a $21 million renovation and reopen in the fourth quarter this year.

Read more.


Crispelli's to open French bakery and commissary in Royal Oak

Crispelli’s is opening a new 6,000-sqaure-foot French bakery and commissary in Royal Oak, joining restaurants in Berkley and West Bloomfield which operate under the Crispelli's name. 

Read more.


Ink Detroit looks to dress other major cities with spinoff

Ink Detroit, a Royal Oak-based clothing company and the official registered trademark holder of the “I Heart Detroit” products, has plans to broaden its reach beyond Detroit via its new company, Ink City, with designs already done for Chicago, L.A., Las Vegas, and Miami.

Read more.

Harman breaks ground on North American automotive headquarters in Novi


Harman International Industries broke ground on its new North American automotive headquarters in Novi. When completed in fall 2015, the 188,000-square-foot building will initially accommodate 750 employees, with an additional 250 to be added in future years.

Read more.


With $1.5 million from state, Covisint moving from downtown Detroit to Southfield


Covisint Corporation is moving from the Compuware Building in downtown Detroit to Southfield.

The move is being supported by a $1.5 million Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant.

Read more.


Salon owner brushes back challenges, opening new shop


George Nikollaj, one of the owners and founders of 6 Salon in Royal Oak and Birmingham, is preparing to open Dye & Dash, a new concept in Troy.

Read more.


Moody's investors service upgrades Clarkston Community Schools bond ratings

Clarkston Community Schools announced that Moody’s Investors Service upgraded the district’s $19.9 Million 2015 Refunding Bonds (General Obligation – Unlimited Tax) to an A1 underlying rating and Aa2 enhanced rating. An A1 underlying rating on the district’s outstanding general obligation (GO) debt was reaffirmed, and Moody’s removed its “negative outlook.”

Moody’s noted multiple strengths leading to the assigned rating, including recent improvement to the district’s financial operations resulting from significant expenditure reductions, above average socioeconomic indicators and a sizable recovering tax base.

“Moody’s upgrade to Clarkston Community Schools’ rating reflects the health of our district and the hard work that has gone into keeping the schools financially sound even in a continually challenging environment for education,” said Rod Rock, Ed.D., superintendent of Clarkston Community Schools. “With a high rating, we are better equipped to borrow at better rates to maintain our vigorous standards for student learning. Our rating proves we are a good investment for bond buyers, as well as parents and students.”

Moody’s summarized its ratings rationale in its report:

The A1 underlying rating reflects the district's sizable tax base and affluent demographic profile; limited reserves; maintenance of some revenue and expenditure flexibility despite the sectors weak institutional framework; and elevated debt burden. Removal of the negative outlook is based on recent improvement to the district's financial operations that is expected to stabilize the district's reserves. Also incorporated is recent recovery in the tax base, that will likely reduce the district's debt burden going forward despite ongoing borrowing from the state School Bond Loan Revolving Fund (SLRF) to support debt service.

The Aa2 enhanced rating is based on the SBQLP [School Bond Qualification and Long Program] programmatic rating of Aa2, which reflects sound program mechanics and the strength of the state's GO credit.

Moody's Investors Service is a leading provider of credit ratings, research and risk analysis. The firm's ratings and analysis track debt covering more than 115 countries, 11,000 corporate issuers, 21,000 public finance issuers and 76,000 structured finance obligations.


Formed in 1952, Clarkston Community Schools is a highly regarded school district with an enrollment of 8,000 students, encompassing seven elementary schools, one middle school, one junior high and one high school. The district offers a rigorous curriculum, including advanced studies and Advanced Placement programs. The Clarkston High School facility includes state-of-the-art technology, a Performing Arts Center, Olympic-size pool and top-notch athletic facilities. In 2006, the district opened a brand new Early Childhood Center. For more information, visit www.clarkston.k12.mi.us.
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