Downtown Newsmagazine | Birmingham/Bloomfield

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JULY 2021


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Ominous sign: waters warming in state lakes Like a canary in the coal mine, the Great Lakes and the inland waterways in the state of Michigan are going through a warming, even in the lower depths of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, an indication that global warming is having an impact.



Asking – and discovering – who we are is a normal exercise of growth and discovery. For transgender and non-binary individuals, the process is complicated and exacerbated by literally not feeling like they belong in their own bodies.



If the state legislature fails to act on a citizen initiative proposal to expand the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, then voters will have the opportunity to do just that on the 2022 ballot.



A recap of select categories of crime occurring in the past month in Birmingham, Bloomfield Township and Bloomfield Hills, presented in map format.




Stevens early money/promo boost; the skinny on the Craig run for governor; John James opts out for now; questions about influence of donation for Lucido; election “audit” fever in Michigan; plus more.

Cover photo: Lake Superior Cover design: Chris Grammer

*Relocation Sale prices valid in Birmingham, MI only from July 6 to 24, 2021;not to be used in conjunction with any other offer.



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Vote on RH postponed for month; outdoor dining changes; speakeasy in city shut down; Dream Cruise status; new school superintendent; anti-semitic attacks on Townhouse owner; plus more.



With the lifting of pandemic restrictions, the restaurant industry is starting to come back strong, so we have brought back our Metro Intelligencer restaurant column, with Gigi Nichols at the helm.



Birmingham commission must stay true to the bistro ordinance process; time to give food trucks a try.


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FROM THE PUBLISHER ews editor Lisa's Brody's longform piece this month on the gender identity issue facing society couldn't be more timely as we close out the annual Pride Month in this area. It could also serve as a prelude to the 2022 election when voters could well be facing a ballot issue about extending the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to provide protection for members of the LGBTQ community.


The Elliott-Larsen Act was passed in 1976, thanks to Michigan House member Daisy Elliott (D-Detroit), who had been pushing for state civil rights legislation starting in 1966. She was told by legislative leaders they would take the issue up if she could find a Republican co-sponsor. Along comes Mel Larsen (R-Oxford), first elected in 1973 and a member of the civil righst committee in the House, who offered to put his name on the bill. My first exposure to Mel Larsen came when a vindictive Democrat state lawmaker threatened to place a prison at an abandoned World War II Nike Missile base near my then home on Long Lake in Commerce Township in the late 1970's as a way to get back at then-Oakland County Prosecutor L. Brooks Patterson for his tough-on-crime programs, and the Republican's often glib attacks on state lawmakers. A group of us homeowners asked Larsen, who sat on a related committee, to tour the old missile base and help direct the state prison-plan away from our neighborhood – and it worked. I always thought of Larsen, reportedly now residing in Birmingham, as hardworking and responsive, part of a political breed that varied quite dramatically from what we see now from Republican lawmakers who expend more energy tossing chum to political base foot soldiers than developing critically-needed legislation. Larsen was very much like some of those in Lansing – then-House member James Defebaugh (R-Birmingham) among them – who I considered mentors in my early years of directing news coverage of state legislative issues for a news organization in the western Oakland lakes area at the time. They had firm beliefs but worked across the aisle to serve the public. Little of the headline-grabbing nonsense we see cooked up in the political-party-meth-labs of today. From what I recall all these years later, lawmakers had to grapple with pushback from the LGBTQ community in getting the Elliott-Larsen law passed. LGBTQ advocates at the time wanted their civil rights added to the bill but practical lawmakers saw little to no chance of passage if sexual orientation was added to the legislation, which passed overwhelmingly in both the House and Senate. Although the legislature's records don't reach back that far, a diligent researcher at the state library in Lansing provided me background for the House and Senate on the Elliott-Larsen Act's journey to passage through the two chambers. All Oakland County members in Lansing supported what we now see as the state's civil rights protections, sans the LGBTQ community. Since it was first adopted, there have been about 20 amendments to the Elliott-Larsen Act, but none of them address LGBTQ concerns. Just a half dozen years ago it briefly looked like progress would be made but LGBTQ activists differed on whether to go to the ballot. The issue stalled in the legislature once again thanks to some members who were hesitant to include transgender individuals in the bill, so two competing Elliott-Larsen expansion pieces of legislation received committee hearings but never came up for a vote. This time around, things could be much different. LGBTQ activists all seem to be on the same page, against the background of support of 72 percent (61 percent strongly) of Michigan residents in a recent Glengariff Group poll. Sufficient signatures (483,000), gathered by Fair and Equal Michigan, have been submitted to place the issue before lawmakers. If they fail to act, then voters

will decide the issue on a 2022 statewide ballot. The proposal will not change the Michigan Constitution – it is citizen initiative legislation to expand the ElliottLarsen Civil Rights Act to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression.” Without it, members of the LGBTQ tribe can continue to have housing denied or be fired from jobs on these very issues, with no state-level legal remedies. The proposed expansion of the Act includes compromise language to protect “religious liberty” of individuals, a major sticking point with some conservatives. The Michigan business community – large corporations and smaller businesses – has been on board with this effort for the past decade. They recognize, as many of us individuals do, that the state needs to be a welcoming place for members of the LGBTQ community or we will continue to lose valuable talent to places like New York City, California, Chicago and the Philadelphia area at a time when we need to be competitive. That's a selfpreservation reality, aside from the general philosophical and ethical consideration of equal protections for all persons. Joining the corporate support are a number of business organizations like the Chambers of Commerce for the Detroit area, the western side of the state, along with the Traverse City area, all of whom have lent their names to this effort. I have asked Joe Bauman, Birmingham-Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce President, whether our local group will also be getting on the band wagon. The response: the chamber of commerce here usually does not take a position on ballot issues although he was willing to take the issue to his executive committee to see their inclination. Given that the city of Birmingham years ago was among (if not the first) Michigan municipalities to enshrine in local ordinance the housing rights for gays and lesbians, it would be logical to support this push. Lastly, there will likely be more hurdles for Fair and Equal Michigan, including challenges like the one filed in early June by the Honigman law firm on behalf of some recently-established, mystery group (Citizens for Equality, Fairness and Justice) that wants to challenge the validity of electronic signatures gathered during the pandemic when the petition drive had run up against the Michigan Stay-At-Home Executive Order that was in effect. The challenge was filed with the Michigan Board of State Canvassers. Fair and Equal Michigan, along with local state House member Democrat Mari Manoogian, were successful early on in the current petition drive to receive some relief from the courts, so hopefully further challenges like this can be deflected much the same. As a final note, here's some food for thought for the powers that be at the Honigman firm, anchored in Detroit, with an office in Bloomfield Hills. I understand gigantic law firms handle representation of a variety of clients with sometimes conflicting agendas. But I find it more than a bit contradictory and disconcerting that the chairman and CEO of Honigman would lend his and the company's name to the list of the region's largest law firms which signed on to what one could appreciatively call a manifesto/statement in June of 2020, after the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breaonna Taylor, promising to “continue to advocate for equality, equity and justice for all“ when it comes to the community's Black and other people of color, but crank up the billing meter and take on a case that could well derail the current drive for codified equality when it comes to the LGBTQ community. David Hohendorf Publisher


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BIRMINGHAM | BLOOMFIELD PUBLISHER David Hohendorf NEWS EDITOR Lisa Brody NEWS STAFF/CONTRIBUTORS Hillary Brody Anchill | Tracy Donohue | Kevin Elliott | Stacy Gittleman Austen Hohendorf | Jennifer Lovy | Jeanine Matlow | Gigi Nichols | Bill Seklar PHOTOGRAPHY/CONTRIBUTORS Esme McClear | Laurie Tennent | Chris Ward Laurie Tennent Studio ADVERTISING DIRECTOR David Hohendorf ADVERTISING SALES Mark Grablowski GRAPHICS/IT MANAGER Chris Grammer OFFICE 124 W. Maple, Birmingham MI 48009 248.792.6464 DISTRIBUTION/SUBSCRIPTIONS Mailed monthly at no charge to most homes in Birmingham, Bloomfield Township and Bloomfield Hills. Additional free copies distributed at high foot-traffic locations in Birmingham/Bloomfield. For those not receiving a free mail copy, paid subscriptions are available for a $15 annual charge. To secure a paid subscription, go to our website ( and click on “subscriptions” in the top index and place your order online or scan the QR Code here.

INCOMING/READER FEEDBACK We welcome feedback on both our publication and general issues of concern in the Birmingham/Bloomfield community. The traditional “letters to the editor” in Downtown are published in our Incoming section and can include written letters or electronic communication. Opinions can be sent via e-mail to or mailed to Downtown Publications, 124 W. Maple Road, Birmingham MI 48009. If you are using the mail option, you must include a phone number for verification purposes. DOWNTOWN GOALS/MISSION The personnel at Downtown Newsmagazine bring a special commitment to the publishing effort, reinvesting in the local communities and working to make sure the Birmingham/Bloomfield area reaches its highest potential. Our mission dictates that we strive each month to provide a solid news and advertising product that local residents look forward to reading. Our goal is to build a community of informed citizens through the efforts of our passionate team. We are innovators producing products that go well beyond what others offer. Downtown Newsmagazine captures life in the local communities through coverage of major municipal and school issues, personality profiles, the latest news from the business community and the all important social non-profit circuit that makes these communities unique. We also devote considerable effort each month to address major issues facing local residents through our longform story-telling efforts, further setting us apart from others competing for readers' attention. WEBSITE


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These are the crimes reported under select categories by police officials in Birmingham, Bloomfield Township and Bloomfield Hills through June 17, 2021. Placement of codes is approximate.


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INCOMING Insightful McDonald interview Insightful interview and article by your news editor, Lisa Brody, with Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald (July/Downtown). A good prosecutor can do more good for a community than is commonly recognized. McDonald from her prior view as a judge could see that she could accomplish more as the county prosecutor than she could as a judge. A judge reacts to what is before her, but the prosecutor decides what kind of acts to focus on, who to prosecute and, most importantly, what will be the longterm impact of her decisions. Her dedication to treatment courts, recognition of mental health needs and realization that incarceration is often counterproductive is a breath of fresh air for a once very narrowly focused office. One area covered in the interview was McDonald’s focus on juvenile problems and the opportunities presented to change lives. At the same time she is not a fan of some of the anti-police rhetoric. They have a tough job and need our support. I really think she strikes the right balance. Thank you to Lisa Brody for again doing thorough research in order to prepare an excellent interview. Marty Reisig Birmingham (Reisig is a former federal prosecutor and former defense lawyer)

Ominous, divisive line Downtown Newsmagazine draws a line as ominous and divisive as Woodward Ave. in suggesting that downtown property owners and businesses “have already paid their fair share” for parking and should not contribute to repairs, maintenance or expansion of the system ( Let Triangle District pay for parking costs/June 2021). “Be on the alert,” it warns. “Factions” are considering a “raid” to “siphon” money in a “cash grab.” Be on the alert, yes, but for selfinterest, transparent rhetoric, and the omission of relevant facts and perspective. You can reasonably infer that the “faction” to which Downtown refers is the Birmingham City Commission, which, after clearing up some longstanding misconceptions about the parking system, voted 7-0 May 24 to study action that would assure its long-term success. (I am a member of 26

the commission, but I speak only for myself here.) The city’s Parking Enterprise Fund, while restricted to use for parking, is neither restricted to use in the downtown nor merely “dedicated for future parking deck repairs,” as Downtown misleadingly stated. Credit City Attorney Mary Kucharek for clarifying that, along with the fact that downtown property owners legally may be assessed — though they never have been — for repairs and maintenance. Downtown did get this right: City Manager Tom Markus estimates the system is due for roughly $12 million in repairs in the coming years. And with any expansion costing $30,000 or more per space, an $18 million fund balance won’t go very far. Downtown’s assertion that property owners “have already paid their fair share” is arguable. You decide: Did the relatively small contributions decades ago by the owners of onestory, low-density buildings adequately cover the cost of parking for the four- and five-story, highdensity buildings that replaced them and stressed our system, pre-COVID, to the breaking point? As we emerge from the pandemic and gain a better understanding of needs, good stewardship demands a thorough understanding of our resources and options. Some additional perspective: The 2040 Plan draft envisions a “Maple and Woodward” district that spans big Woodward along Maple, and a “Haynes Square” that spans big Woodward south of Haynes. Significant residential development is likely to occur in both; two projects comprising more than 400 new units are already in the works. That’s a lot of new consumers for Downtown and its advertisers. Reimagining downtown and putting more feet on the street crossing Woodward would help diminish the divisiveness of Woodward and strengthen our city. Parking is only part of the equation, but the bottom line would benefit residents and businesses on both sides of the divide. Clinton Ballard Birmingham (Publisher's note: The editorial did not say or suggest that downtown property owners should never be assessed for repairs or expansion of the current system, only that they should not be assessed for parking structures on the other side of Woodward Ave in the Triangle District.)

SPEAK OUT We welcome your opinion on issues facing the Birmingham/Bloomfield communities. Although we do not have a fixed maximum length for letters sent to us, we recommend a maximum length of 175-200 words. We also reserve the right to edit letters for length if necessary. Opinions can be sent via e-mail to or mailed to Downtown Publications, 124 West Maple Road, Birmingham MI 48009.

Parking and safety paths You are "spot on" the issues of Triangle District parking and the need for safety paths in Bloomfield Hills, at least on Woodward (Endnote/June). Over the last 40 years I've seen hundreds of people walking in the mud or the outside line on Woodward. We should equally support bus service from Big Beaver to Hickory Grove. Richard Rosenbaum Birmingham

Advisory safety path vote Hopefully some members of the Bloomfield Hills government will at least consider Downtown’s suggestion to put an advisory question of safety paths for the city on the fall ballot (Endnote/June). A vote at the ballot box would be far more reliable indication of public sentiment than the “survey” the city runs periodically. Great idea but not holding my breath. Name withheld on request Bloomfield Hills

Michigan's nuclear future In the article “Avoiding Meltdown: Michigan’s nuclear future” (July/Downtown), Stacy Gittleman says that we “conjure-up” the three biggest nuclear accidents, but then doesn’t say what they are. Three Mile Island (TMI) gets “credit” for being the worst U.S. nuclear accident. Not so. The 1979 nuclear spill at Church Rock New Mexico is the biggest nuclear accident in the U.S. The 1957 accident at Kyshtym in the then-Soviet Union is officially in the second worst category to Chernobyl and Fukushima. My top


four worst nuclear accidents are Church Rock, Kyshtym, Chernobyl, and Fukushima. But there have been so many very sobering accidents it’s hard to pick which ones to “honor.” But the errors in the article about TMI show a heavy bias against those who can talk about their experience of that accident, namely Libbe HaLevy (, and research done by people not connected with government or the nuclear industry. For Gittleman to say TMI emitted “a small radioactive release” is simply mistaken. Gittleman goes on to quote T.R. Wentworth that nuclear reactors produce electricity with “zero carbon emissions”. But, when the nuclear fuel cycle from the mine, to the mill, to the steps in fabrication of nuclear fuel are taken into consideration, nuclear reactors are far from carbon free. Add the near-fabulous amount of carbon emitted in construction and the incalculable carbon cost of handling the waste from nuclear plants. To cherry-pick the small part of the cycle where electricity is actually being generated is deceptive. Wentworth also seems proud of the emergency preparedness routines at NPPs in Michigan. But an essential and very cheap emergency measure should be in the medicine cabinet of every household within a 10-mile radius of Michigan’s nukes: potassium-Iodide tablets. However, to fill this need would draw attention to the actual danger posed by nuclear power, so it is sidestepped in favor of emergency drills the public is unaware of. One can only admire Wentworth’s bravado in mentioning the Vogtle expansion in Georgia, which has not produced one watt of electricity, whose cost has ballooned to $25 billion from the original estimate of $14 billion, has been under construction more than eight years, and, along with the $9 billion construction-abandoned and scandalridden V.C. Summer NPP in South Carolina, caused Westinghouse to go into bankruptcy and Japan’s Toshiba to break up. In short, Gittleman needs to take a look at research done by organizations that are not invested of nuclear power. The work of Lazard, The World Nuclear Industry Status Report and Mark Z. Jacobson of Stanford come to mind. Jan Bodart 07.21

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OAKLAND CONFIDENTIAL Oakland Confidential is a periodic column of political gossip/news, gathered both on and off-the-record by staff members at Downtown newsmagazine. We welcome possible items for this column which can be emailed to: All sources are kept strictly confidential. The gossip column can be viewed at where you can sign up to receive updates via email.

SECOND TIME A CHARM: Political strategists say that during the Obama administration not enough was done to promote to the voting public the value of economic assistance packages created by the administration. The lesson was evidently learned. Now comes the House Majority, an outside Democrat group, which spent $1 million dollars earlier this year to advertise the good coming from the administration of President Joe Biden with its American Rescue Plan. The group in late May launched a second round of political spending, to the tune of $1.2 million, to be spent in the House districts of members of Congress considered possibly in a precarious STEVENS position heading into the 2022 election cycle. Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Troy, Auburn Hills, part of Rochester Hills, western Oakland and Wayne counties), who has been an announced target by national Republicans, was scheduled to receive $190,000 in television commercials touting her role in helping to bring the economy back as the country digs itself out of the pandemic. Commercials started airing in late May and early June. NO GO: Republican sources confirm to Oakland Confidential that always-a-bridesmaid-never-a-bride candidate John James of Farmington Hills, won’t be seeking the governor’s office in 2022. James ran, and lost, for Senate twice, once in 2018 against Senator Debbie Stabenow (D), and then again in 2020, against Democratic Senator Gary Peters. While he came closer to striking distance in 2020 against Peters, a loss is still a loss. One top Republican said now that former Detroit Police Chief James Craig plans to run for the Republican gubernatorial mantle, James “is relieved to not run a statewide campaign again and be a three-time CRAIG loser.” Did they have to talk James out of running? “You’ll never push John into – or out of – anything. He’s got his own ego,” said the politico. Said another party player, with James out of the top race, then the party can avoid what was feared to be a possible “nasty primary next year” between two Black candidates. Word is now that James is waiting to see what the state’s Independent Redistricting Commission reveals for redrawn congressional districts, and then he’ll evaluate running for Congress, and if so, for which seat. As a note, per the Constitution, a candidate for Congress does not have to live in the district they run in.

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WHO DAT?: While Michigan Republicans are excited – actually, they’re positively gleeful – over the imminent gubernatorial race of former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, he is not the only Republican who is running against Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer in 2022. Conservative media host Tudor Dixon announced she will be running, posting on Twitter in late May, “I am excited to announce that I am running for governor to get Michigan back on track. We will restore our state and help Michiganders build their American Dream once again!” Dixon, of Norton Shores, south of Muskegon, hosts a daily show called “America’s Voice Live!” on Real America’s Voice, an online media platform which is “a platform for patriots all across America who care about traditional values.” No surprise, Dixon was a vocal critic of Whitmer’s pandemic restrictions. On Twitter, Dixon indicated she met with former President Trump recently, stating he has a lot of power among Republicans. “He has a lot of influence over what happens,” she said at a news conference following her campaign announcement. Let’s




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COMPETING CONSULTANTS: Speaking of the Craig gubernatorial candidacy, when asked if it was off to a rocky start, one Republican insider responded: “It’s not off to a rocky start – he’s not even officially running yet. But he’s running.” Craig is in the organizational stage, debating who should be part of his team, including whether to go with consultant John Yob, who has worked with Michigan GOP Co-chair Ron Weiser and former governor Rick Snyder, or Bobby Schostak, former YOB Republican party state chair, reportedly favored by former governor John Engler. One political wag speculated that Engler, who “still loves and cares about Michigan,” may or may not get involved in the 2022 race, no matter who’s on Craig’s team. Several GOP SCHOSTAK pundits shared the sentiment that “people are excited about Craig.” One of those, who had just been in the UP for a memorial service for former Sen. Tom Casperson (passed away from cancer at the end of 2020) added that even in the Upper Peninsula people are “very excited” about Craig running against Whitmer.



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SORRY, CHARLIE: Republican gubernatorial challenger Austin Chenge, who immigrated to the U.S. in 2008 from Nigeria, has lived in Grand Rapids since. A product and software design entrepreneur, he has never held public office, and told Michigan Public Radio he wants to “be a breath of fresh air” for Michigan, is learning a hard lesson about politics. While he really, really, really wants to take on Whitmer, it’s highly unlikely we’ll see him on the 2022 GOP primary ballot because it doesn’t look like he qualifies to run. See, there’s these things called the Michigan Constitution and election laws – and they’re the real deal. The Michigan Constitution requires gubernatorial candidates to be a “registered elector” for at least the four years prior to taking office. While Chenge has been a Michigan resident since 2010, he was a college student living in England and then working in California until 2014, when he said he didn’t register to vote because “his business was expanding.” While he says he “adamantly” supports former President Trump, he did not vote for him, or for anyone – in 2016. Chenge is said to be challenging the election eligibility requirement, which will necessitate him collecting 15,000 valid voter signatures, at least 100 from half of the state’s congressional districts, to qualify for the primary ballot – a tall order, especially from a political unknown. That hasn’t stopped him from trying to grab headlines. On June 13, he announced that he bought Whitmer a one-way ticket to Miami, posting, “On behalf of Michigan citizens, I urge the Governor to resign and not to miss her flight.” Whitmer’s spokesperson said, “This is so delightfully unhinged.”

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just assume she believes Trump’s “Big Lie” over last November’s election. Another relative unknown in the mix, Garrett Soldano, a Mattawan chiropractor who served as co-chair of the Unlock Michigan campaign, which successfully ran a petition drive to repeal a 1945 law which had allowed the governor to declare – and keep in place – a state of emergency during the pandemic. With all restrictions scheduled to end July 1, will anti-pandemic curbs still hold water with voters next year?

NO, NO, NO: With all the buzz about who is getting into the race to take on Gretchen Whitmer next year and be the Michigan Republican standbearer, barely a whisper can be heard as to who is not aiming their boots at her behind. We’ve got the latest word. Along with two-time’s not-thecharm loser John James, MIRS, Michigan Information & Research Service, broke the news that former Michigan Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) would not be running for governor, at least not this cycle, preferring to “enjoy life in the private sector and spending



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time with the family.” Republican dream candidate Candice Miller (RHarrison Township), currently Macomb County Public Works Commissioner, former congresswoman and secretary of state, put the kibosh on GOP fantasies by stating early on, ‘no thanks.’ So too national Republican Chair Ronna (don’t call me Romney) McDaniel, who we hear would have taken a HUGE pay decrease for trading the headaches of Trump for the state of Michigan. Michigan militia worshipper and state Senate Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) has also taken himself out of the running (or was run out of the race, hard to know). WHEELIN’ & DEALIN’: Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido, who has been holier-than-thou both as a state senator and since he became prosecutor in January 2021, when throwing stones against Governor Gretchen Whitmer – primarily accusing her, and threatening to criminally charge her, of forcing nursing homes to take patients ill with COVID-19 and endangering their lives, despite Lucido’s former senate colleague, Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) saying that they “have not seen any evidence or testimony that says LUCIDO that a nursing home was forced to take someone against their will.” Now comes a story in Metro Times that alleges that Lucido was involved in a shady “backroom deal” to allow a man who beat his 10-week-old son to escape jail time. According to reporter Steve Nealing, Lucido bypassed his own assistant prosecutor and struck a deal directly with the child abuser’s attorney – an arrangement which seems to directly violate the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office policies. Adding to the deal making, the attorney, Art Garton, donated to Lucido’s campaign last November. The Macomb Accountability Project (MACAP) said if Lucido was going to “people who violently abuse their children off the hook to benefit his political friends,” Macomb families should find a new prosecutor. MACAP previously called on Lucido to resign after four women alleged he sexually assaulted or inappropriately touched them, and filed a complaint with the Secretary of State’s Bureau of Elections in May alleging Lucido violated state law by promoting the Republican Party on the prosecutor’s office official Facebook page.

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ELECTION AUDIT FEVER: The Arizona “forensic audit” fiasco involving the presidential election “Big Lie” effort is having a ripple effect nation-wide, including in Michigan’s Cheboygan County. Despite Donald Trump taking 64.2 percent of the vote on election night in Cheboygan County, there is an undercurrent among some GOP county commissioners, spurred on by Detroit lawyer Stephanie Lambert, to conduct an “audit” of election results in the Northern Michigan county. The push for the audit request has been flamed by allegations of security issues LAMBERT with Dominion voting machines in Michigan’s Antrim County where on election night, thanks to human error, Joe Biden was shown in early voting to be 3,000 votes ahead of Trump, which was later reversed when the glitch was caught by election officials. Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson sent all county election officials in the state a letter pointing out that local officials had no authority to order up an election audit. Officials with the Dominion voting machine company also sent a letter to Antrim and Cheboygan officials outlining that letting someone outside the government have access to the voting machines would likely be a violation of licensing agreements and could impact the ability of using said machines in future elections, an issue now facing Arizona officials who fear they will have to replace all voting machines. At press time, Cheboygan County Commissioners were still debating whether to conduct an audit. Detroit attorney Lambert has reportedly offered to pay the cost of sending in a “forensic team” to review ballots and election scanners.



An Extraordinary Agent Providing Extraordinary Results #1 TOP PRODUCER FOR 2020 AT HALL & HUNTER REALTORS

Cindy Kahn REALTOR®

Elaina Ryder

Emily Kahn



248.568.7309 | |

347 Greenwood Street | Birmingham | $1,195,000

— 3 Bedrooms | 3 Baths | 4,906 Total Sq. Ft. — Located in the heart of Birmingham, this exquisite property defines sophistication & perfection. One-of-a-kind home filled with stylish touches, every detail carefully selected for its quality & craftsmanship. Main level boasts gracious open living room + bar closet with French glass doors that flow to study/office. Gourmet kitchen featuring Wolf, Subzero & Bosch stainless steel appliances with breakfast nook. Step down to family room which is part of an addition by Templeton & designed by Victor Saroki. Upstairs features 2 bedrooms with shared full bath, bonus room (office/study), & master suite (part of reno) complete with generous walk-in closet, jetted tub, glass shower & laundry. Lower level features wine cellar, additional laundry & rec room. 478 sq. ft. bonus loft space above garage with full bath, bedroom nook & kitchenette. Serene courtyard patio with covered walkway to heated 3 car garage with 4th bay converted to workout room. Lush landscaping by Fleur Detroit. Spectacular location & close to all that Birmingham has to offer!

442 S. Old Woodward Avenue Birmingham, MI 48009

An Extraordinary Agent Providing Extraordinary Results #1 TOP PRODUCER FOR 2020 AT HALL & HUNTER REALTORS

Cindy Kahn REALTOR®

Elaina Ryder

Emily Kahn



248.568.7309 | |



860 Vaughan Road | $5,999,000

1753 HERON RIDGE Drive | $5,299,000

6 Bedrooms | 7.1 Baths | 11,008 Total Sq. Ft.

6 Bedrooms | 6.3 Baths | 14,251 Total Sq. Ft.



1439 Kirkway Road | $3,999,000

495 Vinewood Avenue | $3,975,000

5 Bedrooms | 5.2 Baths | 8,869 Total Sq. Ft.

5 Bedrooms | 7.2 Baths | 7,710 Total Sq. Ft.



1871 Indian Trail Road | $3,475,000

780 Greenwood Street | $2,499,000

4 Bedrooms | 4.2 Baths | 7,109 Total Sq. Ft.

5 Bedrooms | 5.2 Baths | 6,614 Total Sq. Ft.

442 S. Old Woodward Avenue Birmingham, MI 48009


CINDY OBRON KAHN 248.568.7309 | |



348 Cranbrook Court | $2,375,000

1022 Waterfall Court | $1,875,000

5 Bedrooms | 5.2 Baths | 8,181 Total Sq. Ft.

3 Bedrooms | 3.1 Baths | 3,893 Total Sq. Ft.

Also Listed as Residential



1010 Burnham Road | $975,000

3151 Devon Brook Court | $849,000

Beautiful Trowbridge Farms setting | 3+ Acres

4 Bedrooms | 2.2 Baths | 4,034 Total Sq. Ft.



765 S Glenhurst Drive | $749,000

101 Curry Avenue (Unit 618) | $309,000

3 Bedrooms | 2.2 Baths | 3,790 Total Sq. Ft.

1 Bedrooms | 1.1 Baths | 1,108 Total Sq. Ft.

TOP AGENT 2012-2019



FACES Monica Notaro onica Notaro has a broad range of talents and abilities – she is a chemist, professional singer, single mom and owner of URTH, a local plant-based meal prep and delivery service. After graduating with a biochemistry degree from Grand Valley State University, Notaro worked for two years as a chemist before leaving to focus on her professional singing career, which includes regularly singing the national anthem at Detroit Red Wings home games. Concurrently, Notaro started posting photos of her homemade vegan meals on Instagram and gained a following. Soon she was preparing meals for a small group of friends who loved her food and encouraged her to start her own business. During this time, she was also going through a difficult period in her life and viewed cooking for others as a positive outlet. In early 2019, her plant-based, prepared meal company, URTH, was born. “The food I prepare is fresh, nutrient-rich, high quality, gourmet,” she said. “I grew up with my dad cooking amazing Italian food, so I especially like cooking anything Italian, particularly with eggplant, mushrooms and, of course, marinara sauce.” Notaro, of Birmingham, currently leases a professional kitchen in Southfield with a staff that includes two sous chefs and a nutritionist who reviews the menus. “Eating healthy is not just about calories but the quality of food we put in our bodies,” she explained. “About half of my clients are not strictly vegans, they just like eating healthy.” According to Notaro, URTH’s plant-based menu offerings are organic and non-GMO (when available) and do not contain dairy, meat or animal byproducts. Nearly all produce URTH uses is from local sources. She posts a new menu on her website each week for delivery the following week and is committed to providing flexibility to her clients by offering items a la carte and does not require meal plan commitments. The URTH menu contains a creative selection of healthy items such as Tuscan penne, pad Thai, pierogi quesadillas, carrot sriracha hummus and cold-pressed juices. The company has a wide delivery area which includes the Birmingham/Bloomfield area as well as communities such as Shelby Township, Novi, and Ann Arbor. Although Notaro is not a professionally trained chef, she has a passion for sharing her healthy food while continuing to learn and grow. Since URTH has already surpassed Notaro’s initial goals, she hopes its continued success will lead to expanding in a way that makes her prepared food more accessible to more people – perhaps through a presence in other stores or her own wellness storefront. “Life experience brought me to this point. There are tough days when you own a business, but my clients are so amazing – and they keep me going. Many are immunocompromised and I appreciate their positive messages about my food making their lives easier. Ultimately, I would like more people to have the opportunity to experience my food,” she said. “My biggest inspiration is my five-year-old daughter, Mila. I try to set a good example for her every day. I hope I have instilled in her the value of hard work and that it will motivate her later in life. I never thought I’d be singing professionally for the Red Wings or starting a business. I want her to know that nothing is impossible.” For more information:,


Story: Tracy Donohue

Photo: Laurie Tennent

oming across a body of water in Michigan doesn't take very long. Whether it’s the Great Lakes, which, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) comprises 84 percent of North America’s fresh surface water and approximately 21 percent of fresh surface water on the planet, or an inland lake, of which there are 1,200 in Oakland County alone, according to Oakland County Parks, water is an integral part of Michigan’s DNA. The United States Geological Survey counts 41.5 percent of the state as being covered in perennial water, categorized as surface water that flows continuously throughout the year, putting it on par with Hawaii, at 41.2 percent, and the most of any of the 50 states. This unique access to fresh water is something often taken for granted by Michiganders. That is why it is all the more alarming that recent studies show that lake temperatures are increasing at a faster rate than also increasing air temperatures. In July 2020, Lake Michigan’s average surface water level was nearly 11 degrees higher than the average recorded temperature. That same month, Lake Ontario’s average temperature was nearly 10 degrees higher than its average surface temperature from the previous 25 years, and was the lake’s warmest surface water temperature ever recorded. Lake Superior, the largest, deepest, and coldest of the Great Lakes, is warming more rapidly than any of the other Great Lakes, all of which experienced similar warming patterns last summer. In March 2021, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (NOAA GLERL) published results of a 30-year study tracking the temperature in Lake Michigan. NOAA and other government entities routinely track climate data, including temperatures and rainfall across the country, in order to provide foundational, baseline information. These data sets are imperative for researchers at labs across the country, whose job it is to interpret the numbers. Lake Michigan covers 22,300 square miles, with a length of 307 miles that allows residents from Chicago to Traverse City to enjoy its fresh water and beaches. It is the second largest of the Great Lakes by volume and the third largest by surface area, and is the fifth largest lake in the world. In comparison, the largest of the Great Lakes, Lake Superior, is the world’s second largest lake by surface area, with a water surface area of 31,700 square miles and an average depth of 489 feet. Temperatures within the lakes can vary greatly depending on the water’s depth. According to the EPA, Lake Michigan’s average depth is 279 feet, with the depth typically increasing the more north one goes. Therefore, the 30-year study, which shows “Seasonal overturn and stratification changes drive deep-water



warming in one of Earth’s largest lakes,” done in collaboration by NOAA GLERL, the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability and the University of Toledo Department of Environmental Sciences, provides information that is monumental for assessing warming lake trends around the world. Global lake surface water temperatures have warmed by an average of 0.21 degrees Celsius per decade. In Lake Michigan, average surface water temperatures from 19902019 have risen between 0.40 and 0.49 degrees Celsius a decade. According to Dr. Andrew Gronewold, professor at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability and co-author of the GLERL study, surface temperatures, like those record-setting numbers last summer, can change at a faster rate than deeper water due to water’s “climate memory.” That is why it is most notable that the 30-year study measured temperatures deep below the surface as well. “So much research is done at the surface. That’s where humans, fish, and wildlife interact. It’s where the winds and the waves interact, where ice is formed. What we have been looking at is the overall temperature of the lake not just across the surface, but at its depth. A lot of that is borrowed from oceanographic research. There’s lots of research on the heat content on warming oceans, and the average temperature across oceans from top to bottom. The question in part was motivated by what’s the heat context of lakes and is that changing over time? We learned something pretty remarkable from directly measuring the subsurface,” Gronewold said. The mooring station – the location from where the temperature was collected – was located in the southern part of Lake Michigan. The measurements were taken by a thermistor string, a vertical string of high tech thermometers with a heavy anchor on the bottom, measuring water temperatures at various depths. The anchor is decidedly low-tech, and may be a concrete block or an old train wheel – ”the key point is that they be heavy enough so that they stay on the bottom at a fixed place, and that they be findable so they’re available when you go to retrieve the data,” described Gronewold. The thermistor string recorded water temperatures nearly every hour for the past three decades – the only consistent data of its kind. In the deepest water, temperatures were rising approximately 0.06 degrees Celsius per decade, with temperatures on the surface rising at a much faster rate. While a fraction of a degree Celsius may not seem like much, according to Scott Tiegs, professor of biological sciences at Oakland University, it’s important to remember that, “when we talk about temperature, we often refer to it as the master variable. It’s one that governs so many ecosystem processes so even a degree or two can have profound implications for how those ecosystems function.”

nyone who’s ever brought a goldfish home from a carnival recognizes how susceptible fish are to changes in water temperature. Each species of fish needs water at a set temperature to not only live, but to reproduce. According to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, the Great Lakes support 139 native species, including many which are regularly featured in grocery stores and restaurant menus, such as whitefish, walleye, lake trout, brook trout, and large and smallmouth bass. Some non-native fish species also now call the Great Lakes their home, finding a compatible ecosystem after entering the water via migration and human intervention. As Kevin Wherly, research biologist in the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Fisheries Division explains, “the species that are here migrated into the region after the last glacial event; the whole region was covered with ice until about six to 10,000 years ago. In their [fish] ancestry, they’re a migratory lot. However, the rate of warming is much faster than we’ve ever seen, so there are concerns that not all fish species will be able to migrate to suitable habitats due to the pace of projected warming.” The rising lake temperatures are quickly impacting these fish species, as well as those which rely on them for sustenance, income, and recreation. Cold water fish, like walleye and yellow perch, are finding their current homes inhospitable, while warmer weather fish like bass are thriving. As a reaction to the warming waters, cooler water fish have already begun migrating northward. “The Great Lakes are massive bodies of water,” reminds Nicholas J. Schroek, director of the environmental law clinic at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. “Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are connected lakes. Fish can migrate all along Michigan’s Lower Peninsula to find a suitable environment. As water temperatures are changing, they’re going to move.” He notes that, while Lake Superior’s temperatures are also increasing, since its “baseline starting point” is much colder than the other lakes, cold water fish like whitefish are suffering less immediate impacts than in other lakes. Over time, however, it is likely that there will be “a change in the environmental or ecological character of the lake.” Water depth plays a significant role when it comes to the rising lake temperatures, as the warmer surface water mixes with deeper, cooler water. These distinct bands of temperature, known as stratification, are more pronounced the deeper the water is. According to Wherly, “a naturally deep lake will stratify in the summertime, becoming thermally stratified. As the surface starts to warm, ice melts and the water is initially pretty uniform from top to bottom. As the wind blows across the surface of the water, the lake can mix from top to bottom. Wind is the main driver of lake mixing that occurs in the spring. As we warm up in the springtime, the surface water warms up faster because it absorbs most of the heat from the sun and the lower depths don’t warm up as much. As the surface waters warm more and more, they become lighter and less dense. The bottom water is more dense. … Eventually, as the temperature gradient increases in the summer, you get stratification, a warm layer on top that mixes, and a cold, more dense layer on the bottom that doesn’t mix with the upper waters. That cold water is locked away from the warmer surface waters and that’s what allows cold water to persist in those deeper lakes. Those deep lakes will still maintain some cold water habitat even as we experience climate warming because of that physical process of stratification. Shallower lakes won’t have that buffer. They’re going to mix and be warmer from top to bottom.” Notably, according to the GLERL study, “the greatest surface warming rate occurs in October. … Monthly trends … confirm a surface warming trend in September and October with upticks occurring after 2010, though winter trends at the surface are relatively flat.” Warmer fall weather has led to a longer period of stratification. Ice levels on Lake Michigan have also changed, with the lake no longer freezing every year. In January 2021, the Great Lakes hit record low levels, with only 3.9 percent of the Great Lakes covered in ice. For Lake Michigan, January 2021 was the second lowest ice level on record. According to NOAA, in mid-February, they predicted that at most, 38 percent of the Great Lakes would be covered with ice in 2021. By comparison, the average annual maximum ice coverage is 53.3 percent. It was expected that approximately 27 percent of Lake Michigan would


have ice coverage this year, compared to its long-term average of 40 percent. In 2014, 93.1 percent of Lake Michigan was covered in ice. Lake Superior, which as recently as 1996 had 100 percent ice coverage, was expected to have 46 percent coverage in 2021. It’s most recent long-term average is 61.5 percent. The lakes rely on these cooler temperatures to regulate both their water temperatures and oxygen levels throughout the year. When the lakes stratify, all of the oxygen in the deep, cooler layers is “locked away,” according to Wherly. “No other sources of oxygen get into that water in the summer.” The fish living in those deep waters consume the oxygen, and “you can have considerable loss of oxygen in the bottom waters and that starts to creep upward into the water column as the summer progresses.” He goes on, “you might have good cold water temperatures in the bottom of the lake to support cold water species, but they can’t use the entire bottom waters because there isn’t enough oxygen to support them.” In spring and fall, there is turnover and the water column mixes, replenishing the lost oxygen. When excess nutrients enter the water, that loss of oxygen may be accelerated. “The main thing with climate change is, especially in these cold water lakes, they’re warming from the top and seeing a reduction of oxygen in the bottom, which creates a squeeze. The fish can’t go all the way down because of the lack of oxygen.” The main cause of these excess nutrients entering the water is from chemical contamination, whether from runoff from fertilizers or fossil fuels. And water temperature plays a role in the chemical reactions that take place in the water, according to Donna Kashian, director of Environmental Sciences at Wayne State University and visiting scientist at NOAA GLERL. That includes an increase in phosphorus levels, which leads to algal blooms which deplete oxygen levels, as well as an increase in mercury levels. Mercury levels are higher in larger, longer-lived fish, details Schroek. “Larger fish like catfish and lake trout, because they eat smaller fish, they are accumulating that mercury, and then we accumulate it in our body.” For those who rely on Great Lakes fish as part of their diet, and who may assume that eating local is the best option, this increase in mercury levels is particularly concerning. While there are consumption advisories for many of these fish that recommend limiting intake depending on age (children and women of childbearing age being most susceptible to the contaminants), many communities – in particular disadvantaged communities and those of color – rely on these fish as a regular part of their diet. This environmental justice concern is one that both Kashian and Schroek have, and continue, worked to tackle. ashian described the River Walkers program, a collaboration with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and funded in part by the Erb Family Foundation and the Michigan Sea Grant, which is an educational campaign along the Detroit River indicating which fish are better to eat – for example, “yellow perch are really good, but step away from some of the larger, fattier fish.” For those fishing at many locations along the Detroit River, much of the fish consumption is cultural, so “if it’s part of your culture to do these big fish fries of carp and catfish, are there ways to change how you cut and clean the contaminant load? You can’t remove mercury from the fish, but you can remove some other contaminants.” This concern for the food chain is enhanced because “temperature change makes the pollutants more prevalent.” Additionally, the warming water temperatures affect the reproduction levels of the fish, according to the DNR’s Wherly, so “we see a reduction in the number of those species that prefer cool and cold water.” Historically, “as an agency,” Wherly said, they “might be stocking lakes with cool and cold water species, but if they become unsuitable, we’ll have to change our management approach. Stocking is a longstanding practice in the state to create fishing opportunities. There are a lot of lakes that are suitable for species like walleye that never had walleye in them; they likely just didn’t have the access in that postglacial colonization. But many of those places may not be suitable in the future, so we’d have to adjust our management on the waters and the public will have to adjust their expectations. We can’t put fish in places that are not suitable.”



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The Great Lakes are not the only waterways in Michigan experiencing the impact of warming temperatures. The thousands of inland lakes throughout Michigan are also experiencing warmer temperatures and the repercussions that come with. However, there is less consistency as to how much temperatures have increased. Said Oakland University's Tiegs, “both types of lakes are susceptible to warming. There’s a lot more variation in temperatures in those smaller lakes both among lakes, a to b, and then through time. Those inland lakes undergo a lot of changes thermally, near freezing, and then they might get close to 30 degrees Celsius. The Great Lakes don’t fluctuate as much and are more thermally stable.” Since the depth of many of the inland lakes, particularly those in Oakland County, are not nearly as deep as the Great Lakes, that layer of deeper, cooler water which occurs during stratification is less likely to occur. As such, an entire lake may mix and warm. Adds Kashian, “water contains heat energy really well. A massive body of water won’t heat up as fast as inland lakes. A smaller body of water will warm up faster and retain the heat.” That can have deleterious consequences for the fish that live in those lakes. As fish look to migrate to more hospitable environments, those that are unable to migrate will die off. The migratory pattern of the fish that live in inland lakes is less direct than those in the Great Lakes system. While some of the inland lakes may be connected to other bodies of water by rivers and streams, creating migratory opportunities, others are completely insular, leaving nowhere for the fish to go. Wherly said that the DNR is “trying to identify where we could improve connectivity.” One option he mentions, although he says “we’re not there yet,” is removing dams in order to “help fish populations in the face of climate change.” Fortunately, many of Oakland County’s lakes are connected. Right now, according to Schroek of University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, “bass is able to live in warmer temps, so they’re becoming more prevalent in inland lakes, whereas walleye and other larger fish are having a harder time surviving in our inland lakes. As that trend continues, we’ll see more shifting of these species – both those that were previously unable to survive that now are able to and some iconic fish species that will unfortunately not be able to live in these lakes if these trends continue.” akland County has more lakes than any other county in Michigan, contributing to the allure of the area. With many homes – and their lawns – abutting the lakes, much of the runoff from these fertilized lawns ends up in the lakes. Schroek notes that as “those chemicals get into the lakes, it can lead to increased algae and seaweed growth. That plant growth depletes the oxygen levels, which over time affects the fish.” Additionally, he points out that it will be “aesthetically less pleasing if you have what had been a lake with open water that is now covered with weeds. It’s not as nice for boating and water skiing. We shouldn’t minimize that. Part of why property values are the way they are around Oakland County lakes is the recreational sports aspect of it.” As the waters warm, the opportunities are increasing for algal blooms and bacteria growth, which can also lead to beach closures. “Whatever you do on that land, it’s going to end up on the water somehow,” Schroek said. “Eventually lakes can get so degraded because of what’s feeding into it.” Yet even in Lake Superior, which is geographically more isolated than the other lakes, with fewer people and fewer developments along the shorelines, the water is warming. “It’s the least impacted by human activity of the Great Lakes,” said Schroek, demonstrating that even with less stormwater runoff and other pollutants, global human behavior has its effects. The Great Lakes support a $7 billion industry related to recreational, commercial, and tribal fisheries. Not to be left out, “on our inland lakes,” said Schroek, “the amount of money people spend on tackle and bait and fuel for their boats is significant to the local economy. Gas stations and party stores close to the inland lakes get a lot of business,” and are all significant contributors to Oakland County’s economy. The warming lakes are just one example of how Earth is rapidly warming. While water levels are warming at a faster rate than the air, the weather itself has become increasingly less predictable. “Fluctuations in temperature like the cold snaps late in spring and early in the fall have been shown to have pretty profound implications, especially for our terrestrial ecosystem,” noted Tiegs, highlighting a late June frost in 2012 that was the worst recorded year for Michigan fruit crops, including the loss of more than 90 percent of Michigan’s tart cherries. In April, a hard freeze had some apple growers worried about damage to





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their fall crop. The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, which indicates which plants will thrive based on a location’s weather, is continuously changing to reflect these changes in weather patterns. In May, NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information released a new 30-year “Climate Normals,” showing the average temperature changes from 1991 through 2021. NOAA releases this data once a decade. Metro Detroit’s temperatures followed trends across the country with the average annual temperature at Metro Airport rising 0.2 degrees, to 50.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The average for the contiguous United States was 53.3 degrees Fahrenheit, up by half a degree from the previous cycle. Here in Michigan, eight out of the 12 months of the year are warmer, with December more than 1 degree warmer than the 1981-2011 cycle. Average snowfall has increased as well (although we now receive lower amounts in December), and average precipitation is up almost one inch, to 34.32 inches annually. These new averages have come during a time of more extreme weather conditions on both ends of the spectrum, as hotter and colder days both abound. All the scientists said that it is this unpredictability that is most challenging, as the averages provided in the data sets don’t always mean as much as what happens at the extremes. “In general with climate warming,” described Wherly, “we have seen the increase in variability of temperatures from year-to-year. One of the main effects of climate change is this increase in variability, as well as the increase in the magnitude and severity of spring rain events.” He singles out the spring because there’s “always a spring pulse that comes into water bodies. That’s when the major rainfall comes into this region. We’re just seeing more of it and more intense rains, which leads to more surface runoff.” he Great Lakes, and Michigan in particular, are uniquely situated such that weather events happening in various parts of the country often convene in the atmosphere above. According to UM's Gronewold, “changes in air temperature and changes in precipitation are based on large air masses that move across the continent. We are in a very unique part of the continent where we can, depending on these atmospheric circulation patterns, we can get very cold, dry air from the Arctic like we did in 2014. We can also get very, very warm, wet air from the Gulf of Mexico like we’ve been getting for about a decade.” Much has been documented over the past few summers about the seemingly eroding shorelines along the Great Lakes. While Gronewold said that the past two years have had water levels “as high as ever” in the Great Lakes, this has been juxtaposed against an extended period of significantly lower levels. “Starting around 1998, up until 2014, we had the longest period, particularly on Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, and Lake Superior, of water levels that were persistently below average. Many people became accustomed to these low water levels. … Starting in 2014, Lake Superior, Michigan, and Huron rose at the highest rate in recorded history. Water levels were at or near record highs for the past few years.” Compared to this time last year, Gronewold said lake levels are about a foot lower. “A foot of water level is a lot of shoreline,” he described, as people look forward to the return of those beachfronts that had gone missing the past few summers. As temperatures continue to change, Schroek expects there may need to be some legal intervention in order to protect lakes – and its inhabitants – from climate change. “With fish, we have legal limits on how many of a particular species someone can catch on a certain day. Some of those laws may need to be changed to manage that resource for as long as possible,” he said. “It might be that some fish are no longer allowed to be caught, some may have to be catch and release if that population is threatened. There are a series of laws that protect species when they’re endangered or threatened.” Schroek recognizes that changing human behavior isn’t simple, but laws and zoning restrictions, like those that strengthen wetlands protections, are imperative “or otherwise we’ll continue to allow these lakes to be degraded over time.” Considering it's 21 percent of the Earth's freshwater, it's a degradation that must be prevented, sooner than later. “It is a limited resource. Most of that water is left over from the glaciers. What’s frightening is you have this ecosystem that for thousands of years was basically the same, and then in the past 100, 200 years, you’re seeing these dramatic changes based on human activities,” Schroek pointed out. DOWNTOWN


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Howard Hertz hances are that anyone working in the entertainment industry, especially in the Detroit area, knows or knows of Howard Hertz. Hertz has been practicing media and entertainment law as well as intellectual property law for over four decades at the law firm he helped found, Hertz Schram PC, with offices in Bloomfield Hills and Detroit. Hertz grew up in Detroit, graduated from Cass Technical High School and received his law degree from Wayne State University. After law school, he serendipitously “got sucked into” entertainment law after helping negotiate a contract for his wife’s coworker’s husband, who was a singer/songwriter – which led to a string of referrals and, ultimately, to the start of a successful law practice and career. “There are so many artists trying to make it and get buzz. I get a lot of pleasure when I’m able to work with an artist on the brink of success and help them be well known,” he said. With a collection of fascinating stories and a client list that includes wellknown artists such as Eminem, Jack White, George Clinton, and Sippie Wallace – among many others, Hertz has contributed to the success of many artists locally, nationally, and beyond. After decades in the industry, he has seen many changes and challenges, including the impact technology and streaming continue to have on the music industry. Over the years, Hertz has been involved with many organizations and received numerous awards and accolades. Currently, he is supporting and promoting the Detroit area music community as a member of the board of directors and president of the Detroit Music Awards and chairman of the Detroit Music Awards Foundation. The Detroit Music Awards Foundation’s purpose is to recognize, support and cultivate Detroit area musicians and the musical community. The


Detroit Music Awards just celebrated its 30th annual award show virtually due to the pandemic, but it is usually held at The Fillmore Detroit. According to Hertz, the evening is one of “high energy and a lot of fun” with incredible live performances and the gathering together of people from all musical genres and backgrounds. Annual awards are presented in the wide variety of musical categories represented by the extensive talent in southeast Michigan, including Americana, Blues, Classical, Country, Electronic/Dance, General, Gospel, Jazz, Rap, Rock, Urban and World. There are also special awards given each year. “I believe more major artists have come out of Detroit than anywhere else. Other big cities draw talent from all over,” explained Hertz. “The diversity of homegrown talent that has come out of Detroit is in all genres of music – not just in the areas we are known for…In jazz, almost every internationally known artist may not be from Detroit, but has at least a band member from Detroit.” Despite his busy schedule, Hertz enjoys world travel with his wife, Wendy, as well as singing and playing blues harmonica when the opportunity presents itself. Not surprisingly, he also has a passion for attending live performances and supporting the local music scene, which he encourages others to do. “I can’t wait until the clubs open up. There’s nothing like the excitement of live music,” Hertz said. “In order for artists to survive in a changing music industry, I encourage people to go out to listen to live music when it is safe to do so and support artists you enjoy.” Story: Tracy Donohue

Photo: Kathleen Galligan



INDEX This special advertorial section is designed to provide readers of Downtown Newsmagazine with added insight into the people behind the businesses serving residents of this area. With the exception of the photos on pages 4, 13 and 17, all photography is the work of Laurie Tennent of the Laurie Tennent Studio in Birmingham. Stories are the work of Hillary Anchill, Lisa Brody, Tracy Donohue, Kevin Elliott and Stacy Gittleman.

Page 3: Kathy Broock & Company | Kathy Broock Page 4: Kastler Construction Inc | Rick Kastler, Paul Kozicki Page 5: SHE | Sharon Eisenshtadt Page 6: Chief Financial Credit | Tom Dluzen, President & CEO Page 7: Optik Birmingham | Dr. Joseph Ales, OD Page 8: College Choice Counseling | Barbara Connolly, J.D. CEP Page 9: RLA Real Estate Group | Renee Lossia-Acho Page 10: Urban Wick Candle Bar | Marlene Mansour, Elise Mansour Page 11: Habatat Galleries | Aaron Schey, Corey Hampson Page 12: State Farm Insurance | Barbara Merten-Dubensky, CPCU Page 13: Meredith Colburn Real Estate | Meredith Colburn Page 14: The Hills Eye Care and Optical | Dr. Amy Crissman Head Page 15: Sterling Development Corporation | Marc Alexander, Todd Emerson Page 16: Stateside Deli | Spencer Soka Page 17: Lynn Baker & Deby Gannes Team | Lynn Baker, Deby Gannes Page 18: Valia Designs | Dana Vagnetti Page 19: KW Domain Birmingham | Erin Keating DeWald Page 20: New Standard | Howard Luckoff Page 21: Roma Sposa | Anna Castaldi Page 22: Restore Hyperwellness + Cryotherapy | Orangetheory Fitness | Scott Marcus Page 23: Investment Consulting Group | Chris DeWolfe Page 24: Area Rug Co. | Tina Smart

Downtown Newsmagazine | 124 W. Maple Road, Birmingham 48009 | 248.792.6464


KATHY BROOCK & CO. Kathy Broock 275 S. Old Woodward, Birmingham | 248.318.4504 | | Facebook: kathybroockrealtor | Instagram: kathybroockrealtor

athy Broock, Michigan's number one Realtor for 11 consecutive years, grew up in the business as a fourth generation Realtor. She understands and appreciates what it means to carry the Max Broock moniker. “I was raised by and learned the business from my dad, and he is a gentleman,” she said. “It is my responsibility to carry on these values and to teach them to my children.” Broock has surrounded herself with a team of five women, one a buyer/listing agent and four administrative team members, “where everyone wants the other to succeed. We genuinely respect the work of the other. All the women have gratitude. They love helping others. They're appreciative, and that comes out – amongst ourselves, and the way they handle a client. They are rock stars.”


Broock lists, and sells, homes, estates, farms – even hunting lodges – all over the state of Michigan. “I love it. It's fun to have the diversity in your portfolio. That's where the creativity comes in, doing something differently,” she said. “I don't want to be like everyone. Marketing is my passion!” In this hot real estate market, she noted there is a plethora of real estate agents, and while she values the competition, she misses the days of knowing all the other realtors in the Birmingham/Bloomfield market, and worries for some, there is an emphasis on transactions and less on relationships. For Broock, it's long term and about building foundations. “It's so important for the future of any business, for our industry and for our clients that we continue to hold ourselves to a higher standard.”



KASTLER CONSTRUCTION INC. Rick Kastler and Paul Kozicki 425 S. Main Street, Clawson, 48017 | 248.655.5580 | Facebook: kastlerconstruction | Instagram: kastlerconstruction

wenty-five years in business is quite an achievement and a reason for any business to celebrate. While the COVID-19 pandemic is postponing the party, Rick Kastler, president, and Paul Kozicki, vice president, of Kastler Construction, Inc., are definitely commemorating the achievement. Kastler’s primary focus is building custom homes, cohesive home additions, whole house renovations, gourmet kitchens, and luxurious bathrooms. Kastler Construction is beloved by their clients in metro Detroit, and their phones have been ringing off the hook during the pandemic, as many of their clients, some on their second, third and even fourth Kastler project, looked to Kastler and Kozicki to enhance their current living environment instead of moving from their cherished neighborhood. “We have clients who are looking to add first floor master suites, or people who are working from home all day and want to improve their kitchens, work spaces and living spaces,” Kastler said.



They're also staying busy with new builds for clients who are looking for custom homes, not cookie-cutter planned communities. The team works to provide better floor plan layouts and with dedicated spaces such as large kitchens, home office space, mudrooms, wine cellars and expanded garages. They noted they have many requests for additions, and their goal is to keep the character of the home with the addition. “We want the addition to be as seamless as possible,” they explained. A new development, Gaslight Estates, featuring four custom homes in Saugatuck, Michigan, is an exciting adventure for the company, as they branch out to an area they love. “For us, it’s really about helping clients create a space they’ll enjoy for many years and working through the details to give them the finished product that they are expecting,” Kozicki said. Above: Rick Kastler, Paul Kozicki


SHE Sharon Eisenshtadt 6400 Telegraph Road, Bloomfield Hills, 48301 | 248.385.5502 | Facebook: SHEstores | Instagram: SHEstores

haron Eisenshtadt is the ultimate retail survivor. Even something like a worldwide pandemic wasn't going to get in her way – instead, she figured out how to rule it, becoming adept at social media and transforming her retail store, SHE, into an Instagram fashion show every single day. “Since last April, we've picked up thousands of more followers and sales from new clients, both locally and throughout the country, proving that Insta really works,” said Eisenshtadt. Thinking of new creative ways to promote is part of Sharon’s DNA. “I’ve always been a seller,” Eisenshtadt said of her early days running the personal shopping department at Marshall Fields, and then at Saks Fifth Avenue. For the past 13 years, Sharon has led the charge at SHE, one of metropolitan Detroit’s most fashionable designer clothing and accessories stores, which she opened with her husband Howard – her biggest fan. Howard praises Sharon for successfully pivoting into athletic wear and high-end loungewear at the beginning of COVID, while continuing to focus on core designers


such as Veronica Beard, Yigal Azroul, MISA, and L'Agence. In addition to featuring the latest fashion trends such as Rufflemania, Sharon has also added more accessories such as games, candles, books, fine jewelry and giftware to SHE’s product mix. As life embraces more events once again, Sharon is excited to return to philanthropic initiatives, beginning with co-chairing the JCC Larry Sills Golf Classic in September, with Howard's brother Steve. Another lemonade-from-lemons moment occurred when a Chanel collector contacted Sharon to sell part of her unique collection. Due to the continued popularity of featuring this collection, Sharon has created the SHELuxe division, which features gently-loved, high-end vintage pieces from various accredited sources. “You bring the item you want to see to our store and I can make a call to my clients in New York, California, New Jersey, Colorado – everywhere,” Sharon said. “We've learned the trade. It's true sustainability. The nice thing about gently loved items is you pass it on to someone who can gently love it.” DOWNTOWN NEWSMAGAZINE / 5


CHIEF FINANCIAL CREDIT UNION Tom Dluzen, President & CEO 189 W. Merrill Street, Birmingham 48009 | 248.253.7900 | | Facebook: chieffinancialcu | Twitter: ChiefFinancial | Instagram: chieffinancialcu

hen Chief Financial Credit Union opened its doors in downtown Birmingham in 2020, they hadn’t planned on the tremendous need for financial assistance that was brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. But as a community resource serving metro Detroit since 1941, there was perhaps no better time. As opposed to a traditional bank, Tom Dluzen, Chief Financial’s president and CEO described that “We’re member-owned. Even the board is made up of volunteers within our membership,” as opposed to the paid board members banks have. A checking account with Chief Financial pays 5 percent APY up to $5,000, which is 125 times the national checking interest rate average. They also offer lower auto loan rates and refund ATM fees up to $25 a month. Their Visa credit card provides a percentage of profits to local charities, like Leader Dogs for the Blind and Rochester University.



When the pandemic first hit, Chief Financial immediately delayed loan payments for three months before their members could ask. They helped many local businesses who had been turned away from their banks because they were considered “too small” to obtain the first two rounds of Paycheck Protection Loans. Those purchasing a car could complete all of their paperwork electronically in order to minimize the amount of time spent at a dealership. Most impressively? While their telephone call volume was increasing with questions about loan payments, unemployment and stimulus checks, Chief Financial ensured that 94 percent of calls were answered within the first 45 seconds. “When you’re concerned about your finances, you want to talk to a human being,” reflected Dluzen. “Our priority is to find out how we can meet each person where they’re at and help.”


OPTIK BIRMINGHAM Dr. Joseph Ales, OD 247 W. Maple Road, Birmingham, 48009 | 248.646.6699 | Facebook: ShopOptik | Instagram: Shop_Optik

or a mix of top notch eye care and high fashion eyewear, one needs to look no further than downtown Birmingham’s OPTIK. The store boasts several collections of glasses designed in Europe that are scarcely found in the U.S., as well as the largest selection of original, unused vintage frames. Owner and optometrist Dr. Joseph Ales, OD, says that “very few people in the country offer a selection like that,” which includes frames made of vinyl, wood, buffalo horn, leather, and a variety of metals. He typically finds these frames through his travels across Europe; recently, he did a collaboration with a line from Budapest that uses vinyl records as the final layer of the glasses for the Motown Museum in honor of its 60th anniversary.


Of course, before picking out a pair of glasses comes the eye exam. “This is a retail environment, but I’ve got instrumentation that goes beyond a standard of care. I’ve invested in some of the latest instrumentation for diagnosing even though I’m in a boutique. Patients really appreciate that,” notes Ales. Something else customers are thankful for? “As a boutique optical, we take vision insurance. Most do not. It’s kind of a big deal. People get a luxury type frame using their insurance that saves hundreds of dollars, but they still have something unique and special.” It is Dr. Ales’ artistic sensibility and attention to patient care that has made OPTIK a Birmingham staple for nearly two decades.



COLLEGE CHOICE COUNSELING AND TUTORS CCC Barbara Connolly, J.D. CEP 950 E. Maple Road, Suite 208, Birmingham, 48009 | 248.294.0099 | | Facebook: CCCConnolly | Twitter: CCCConnolly | Instagram: Collegechoicecounseling

arbara Connolly and her team at College Choice Counseling are ready to take high school juniors and seniors on the path to applying to college – something that can be both exciting and stressful. After a career in law and working as an admissions reader at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, Connolly founded CCC in 2002 as a private college admissions and educational consulting business. From providing subject and standardized test preparations to tailoring a college search, the Birmingham resident customizes a multifaceted approach to the college application process for each student’s unique qualities. This May, Connolly published her first book, College Admission Success: Getting Into College Under Any Circumstances, which is available on Amazon. She recently opened a new business, Tutors CCC, offering online and in person services. Also this May, Connolly was honored to perform a TEDx talk, which is available on YouTube. As she did during the pandemic, Connolly this summer will consult with groups of



families over Zoom and work with rising seniors to get a head start on applications. “I have always been a believer in face-to-face private consultation,” said Connolly, who is the only Certified Educational Planner in Michigan. “But with the pandemic came a paradigm shift. Through video conferencing, we are able to reach out to a number of families at a nominal cost to give people flexibility on how they spend their college preparatory dollars.” Connolly stays up to the minute with changing trends in college admissions. She notes that although some colleges are waiving test requirements, rigorous coursework and involvement in activities still makes an application rise to the top of the heap. The staff at CCC have diverse professional backgrounds in law, education, counseling and business. “We enjoy working as a team,” said Connolly. “Our clients’ work not just with one tutor but several, depending on the needs of the student and the different strengths and areas of expertise of the tutor. We are a 360-degree consultancy.”


RLA REAL ESTATE GROUP Renee Lossia-Acho 210 South Old Woodward Avenue, Suite 200, Birmingham | 248.590.0800 | Facebook: RLARealEstateGroup | Instagram: reneelossiaacho

irmingham resident Renee Lossia-Acho considers it “an unintended journey” that brought her to a successful career in real estate. After growing up exposed to accomplished architects, builders, and designers within her family, Lossia-Acho developed an interest and talent in these areas but worked as a teacher while raising her young family. Motivated by a personal life challenge, she entered the real estate industry and discovered her true passion. “I started out in real estate working with builders and my background ended up being an asset to both the builders and my clients. I was able to offer guidance through the design and selection process to better meet the wants and needs of homebuyers and help my clients better visualize the home's potential,” she explained. For the past ten years, Lossia-Acho has been recognized as a Top Producing Agent. Her success has led to the launch of her own company in downtown Birmingham, RLA Real Estate Group, which is part of KW Domain, the top luxury


real estate office in the area. She acknowledges that her team, which is comprised of all women, is the heart of her business. Lossia-Acho views her role as that of a consultant who guides clients through the home buying process to make thoughtful, intelligent decisions that are best for them, their families and finances and making the home buying or selling process a seamless and stress free experience. She also helps clients see past paint colors, walls and even emotions to visualize a home that fits their style and needs while also maintaining market resale value. “I take a consultative approach to my business and focus on relationships with our clients – over 90 percent of our business is from referrals. Even after the sale, my team and I will continue to provide insight, resources, and guidance to clients,” she said. “We don’t just sell homes, we build relationships, and pride ourselves on being a resource to our clients well after they receive the keys.” DOWNTOWN NEWSMAGAZINE / 9


URBAN WICK CANDLE BAR Marlene and Elise Mansour 172 N. Old Woodward Avenue, Birmingham | 248.977.8432 | Facebook: urbanwickcandlebar | Twitter: UrbanWickMI | Instagram: urbanwickcandlebar

tarting a new business is challenging, but starting one during a pandemic is especially challenging. Undeterred and tapping their collective talents and enthusiasm, mother and daughter duo, Marlene and Elise Mansour, opened the doors to Urban Wick Candle Bar in downtown Birmingham last summer. “We had been making candles at home for family and gifts,” said Elise. “When I was finishing my master’s degree, we decided to start a business and work together.” They signed a lease at the end of February 2020 and opened in July, which gave them time to ensure their customers have a safe in-store experience with an air filtration system, sanitizing protocols and a 60-foot-long bar which makes distancing easy. Urban Wick Candle Bar offers its customers the unique opportunity to create their own custom scent combination from over ninety premium fragrance oils to use in candles, wax tarts, diffusers, room spray, lotion, soap or hand sanitizer. They use natural soy wax and organic cotton wicks for the cleanest burning candles possible.



The candle making process takes about 30 to 45 minutes, followed by 90 to 120 minutes setting time depending on the size of the vessel. They encourage customers to shop or dine at nearby Birmingham businesses during the setting process, and will even deliver finished products to their customers at local restaurants. The Mansours are committed to exceptional customer care and often assist their customers with creative solutions for finding just the right gift, party favor or scent. According to Marlene, they can “scent weddings” with custom-scented favors or fragrance at the wedding itself. They have also built a wholesale business making scented products for other businesses. “We offer an experience to our customers. Whether it’s family, friends, date night, team building activity or celebration, we want people to come in, get comfortable then be able to pause their lives and enjoy each other,” explained Marlene. “We want to be the best part of someone’s day.” Above: Elise Mansour, Marlene Mansour


HABATAT GALLERIES Aaron Schey and Corey Hampson 4400 Fernlee Avenue, Royal Oak, 48073 | 248.554.0590 Facebook: Habatat | Twitter: Habatatmi | Instagram: HabatatGalleries | YouTube: HabatatGalleries

elebrating 50 years, Royal Oak’s Habatat Gallery has set itself apart as the country’s oldest and largest gallery devoted to glass art. In fact, co-owner Aaron (Mr. Glass) Schey, says that the Midwest, and Michigan in particular, is “a mecca in the contemporary glass art world.” Museums like the Detroit Institute of Arts, The Henry Ford and the Muskegon Museum of Art all have glass collections, as well as the Toledo Museum of Art and the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. There’s a bevy of private art collectors in the area as well, with Habatat providing guidance for these glass art collections. While there are many artists working in Detroit and Dearborn, Habatat boasts an extensive roster of international artists, several of whom Mr. Glass says he’s never met in person. “When I first started,” he recalled, “there was an artist, Margit Toth, in Hungary who only communicated by fax.” That model has perhaps positioned the gallery well


over the past year, as virtual communications, and virtual art exhibitions, have become de rigueur. The gallery is currently open by appointment, with virtual art shows and programs. “There have been Zooms every single weekend since May last year,” noted Mr. Glass. “On YouTube, we visit artist studios, museums. We’ve seen clients more face to face than ever.” And once the shows debut online, they’re there in perpetuity. Their summer show, Glass49: Habatat Direct ( features over 100 artists from 26 countries. Throughout 2021, Not Grandma’s Glass debuts a new artist each month whose artwork “is not yet in grandma's art collection.” While these online shows will help expose more people to the contemporary glass art world, there is still no substitute for viewing art in person. “There’s always something in the gallery to come see and be inspired by.” Above: Aaron Schey DOWNTOWN NEWSMAGAZINE / 11


STATE FARM INSURANCE Barbara Merten-Dubensky, CPCU 800 N Old Woodward Avenue, Suite 200, Birmingham, 48009 | 248.647.4266 | Facebook: Barbara Merten-Duvensky-State Farm Agent | Twitter: MertenBarbara | Instagram: bmdubensky

arbara Merten-Dubensky is a one stop shop for all things insurance. While this includes auto, homeowners, life, commercial insurance etc… her services extend far beyond that, with financial licenses for mutual funds, annuities, mortgages and more. She and her team take a holistic approach to her client’s needs, as she sees insurance as just one piece of a larger financial puzzle. “It is important to have the appropriate amount of insurance to provide a solid foundation of which to build the rest of your financial portfolio on. Once that base is in place we can assist our clients with investment options for future needs such as emergency savings, retirement or a legacy.” As an independent State Farm agent, Merten-Dubensky is able to serve the local community by accessing national resources. And prior to opening her business in 2000, she spent 14 years on the claims side. This uniquely



positioned her to help guide her clients to navigate insurance options specific to their needs. “As a claims adjuster, I spent much of my time interpreting insurance policies and estimating damages sustained due to natural disasters and accidental events to make sure our customers were taken care of and their claims were settled appropriately.” This unique experience gives her insight as to what calamities her clients can face, and shares those possibilities with them. “Many people may not know the extent as to what insurance protection they may need until they don’t have it,” an eventuality Merten-Dubensky aims to avoid. Whether by phone, email, or in person, she spends time getting to know her clients and what is important to them. This personal touch helps guide her in the types of insurance or financial services she recommends to her clients to best fit their needs.


MEREDITH COLBURN REAL ESTATE Meredith Colburn 442 S. Old Woodward, Birmingham, 48009 | 248.762.5319 | Facebook: MeredithColburnRealEstate | Instagram: MeredithColburnRealEstate

he COVID-19 environment continues to place our homes at the center of our daily lives. “It’s more essential than ever to be happy and comfortable within your four walls,” shares Associate Broker Meredith Colburn. As we have spent the better part of the past year social distancing and doing our best to remain safe and healthy, Colburn notes that this, in large part, continues to fuel an extremely busy real estate market. “Those who spent a lot of time at home realized what they might be missing,” including home offices, gyms and ample spaces for relaxation. “That has prompted many local moves,” as well as those by young adults returning to the Detroit suburbs from places like Chicago and New York. “We also continue to have an influx of buyers transferring to our area for job opportunities.” Buyers and sellers have long turned to Colburn to help them navigate the process of both purchasing and marketing homes for sale. Colburn began her


real estate career 28 years ago, joining her mother and mentor, Nanci J. Rands, in the industry. Colburn’s current team – which includes Nanci – has grown into a collaboration of “incredibly capable, professional women who I trust completely to jump in and do an impeccable job when I am otherwise committed.” Part of the team’s success is having an unfaltering commitment to their client’s best outcome. Colburn serves as a mentor for “a new generation of Realtor,” which includes team member Jessica Weisman, who Colburn says “has taken my business model, my philosophy on how to work effectively, attention to every detail along with a platform of client service excellence, and become such a phenomenal extension and representation of my business.” The team is rounded out by Caroline Johnson, a Buyer's representative, and Katherine Schuerman who seamlessly handles their daily operations.



THE HILLS EYE CARE AND OPTICAL Dr. Amy Crissman Head 31815 Southfield Road, Suite 12, Beverly Hills | 248.645.2220 | Facebook: TheHillsEyecare | LinkedIn: The Hills Eyecare and Optical

hen Dr. Amy Crissman Head became the new owner of The Hills Eyecare and Optical in 2020, she was looking to improve upon an eye care practice that had been providing a high level of service to Beverly Hills and the surrounding areas for over 30 years. “I inherited a great legacy and highly skilled staff,” said Crissman Head, a Bloomfield Hills resident and optometrist with nearly 25 years of experience in Oakland County. “I was looking to make changes with patients in mind and be an active community partner.” The recent enhancements involved upgrading exam rooms and the addition of more advanced eyecare medical equipment, plus improved patient technology, including online patient portals, appointment scheduling and contact lenses ordering. According to Crissman Head, the hallmark of the practice had been the optical side but, since last fall, they have increased optometrist patient hours. She



emphasized that while the practice has two optometrists, a person who already has a favorite eye care provider can bring in their prescription and take advantage of The Hills’ highly skilled board-certified opticians as well as the great variety of highquality, stylish frames they offer from designers such as John Varvatos, Tom Ford, Gucci and Lafont. “It’s important that we make our patients comfortable and at ease when they’re in our office. We offer a high tech, yet warm, welcoming, unrushed experience to patients of all ages,” she explained. “We take a consultative optometry approach which means we not only determine the patient’s correct prescription and diagnose any issues, but we look at their day-to-day lifestyle such as screen time, hobbies, activities, and goals which can affect how we can help them see better. “Two people can have the same prescription, but very different vision needs. We listen and take the time to find out.”


STERLING DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION Todd Emerson and Marc Alexander 2382 Franklin Road, Bloomfield Township, 48302 | 248.203.2036 | Facebook: SterlingDevelopment

ince starting Sterling Development Corporation as an investor in 1996, Todd Emerson has taken a hands-on approach to custom building. He has now grown the Bloomfield Hills-based business into one of the most recognized and awarded luxury contractors in metro Detroit. “I decided to pursue building full time in 2002, and I began by developing homes on speculation which soon expanded into renovations and new construction for clients,” Emerson said. “As my business grew naturally through word of mouth, I made the decision to bring in a partner to oversee operations in 2014” – his partner and brother, Marc Alexander. “We have very complementary personalities which has proven to be very effective,” Emerson went on to say. With his degree in mechanical engineering, Marc worked in the auto industry for 27 years before joining Sterling in 2014. His extensive knowledge of project management and his personal experience with building homes has proven to be an invaluable asset as the company grew.


Today, Sterling has approximately 18 employees, including project administrators, superintendents, and a crew of finish carpenters. With a focus on new homes, additions and renovations throughout Oakland and Wayne counties, Sterling Development brings together over 200 years of construction, planning, architectural and interior design experience, earning multiple Detroit Home Design Awards over the past five consecutive years. “Marc and I stay active in all aspects of the business, including customer relations, marketing and regular site visits. This allows us to properly communicate our vision to our staff along with insuring quality expectations are met,” Emerson said. “We are also heavily involved in the planning process with the client, architect and interior designer.” Sterling has recently added a service department to handle all of the client’s maintenance needs to ensure customer satisfaction and ease of ownership beyond the warranty period. “Our goal is to always exceed our customer’s expectations from start, to finish and beyond.” Above: Marc Alexander, Todd Emerson DOWNTOWN NEWSMAGAZINE / 15


STATESIDE DELI AND RESTAURANT Spencer Soka 653 S. Adams Road, Birmingham | 248.550.0455 | | Facebook: Stateside Deli Birmingham | Twitter: statesidedeli | Instagram: statesidedeli

s the food service industry struggles to meet challenges brought about by a global pandemic, restaurant owner Spencer Soka is doubling down on his business with the recent opening of Stateside Deli on the edge of Birmingham’s emerging Triangle District. “I’ve always known it’s a lot of work,” Soka said. “Deep down you have to love it. And I love it. That’s what is going to make your business.” It’s that love that keeps Soka working to offer customers the type of high quality meats, soups, sandwiches and other food you expect from your neighborhood delicatessen, but located at a full-service restaurant with catering options. From the signature corned beef sandwiches to overstuffed omelettes, Stateside Deli is a new staple in the Adams Square shopping center. Soka’s passion and work ethic stems from his teenage years when he worked at his father’s pizzeria. As he went on to work for other business owners and chefs, he learned how to run a kitchen and a business.



“I realized that I like things done a certain way,” Soka said. “I had learned from the chefs I worked with and others, and that allowed me to start my own business.” Eager to work for himself, Soka started his own business in 2006 when he opened a cell phone store in an Okemos shopping center. When a neighboring ice cream parlor went out of business, Soka saw an opportunity to return to the restaurant business. When Soka and his wife moved to Oakland County in 2018, he expanded the deli concept with a second location, opening Stateside in June of 2020. With the closure of the longstanding Village Coney in the Adams Square shopping center, Soka hopes to fill a need in the neighborhood. “The restaurant was here for 17 years before the pandemic,” he said. “We would like to be here for another 17 years.”


LYNN BAKER & DEBY GANNES TEAM Lynn Baker, Deby Gannes 442 S. Old Woodward, Birmingham 48009 | 248.379.3003 | Facebook: lynnanddebyhallandhunter

he world of real estate has evolved exponentially since Lynn Baker and Deby Gannes first got their real estate licenses, in 1979 and 1984, respectively. While staying up-to-date professionally, the two also rely on timeless style and skills to help their clients. "We add the most important aspects they can't get off the computer," Lynn said "There must be a hands-on approach to pricing all properties," Deby added. "Zillow pricing has no effect because it neither has access to the most current information nor is it able to see the inside of the home with all its upgrades and special features. " It seems their client-first philosophy of always doing an in-person interview with the client and home visit before putting together a presentation has been very effective. The duo have worked together for decades, making them the top listing agents at Hall and Hunter for 21 years out of their 22-year partnership selling homes in Oakland, Macomb, Wayne and Livingston counties. Lynn reflects on the growth of their business saying that "adding sales and office


staff has been part of our natural expansion. Lucy Kollin speaks Mandarin and is a dynamic sales agent. Jean Sander multi-tasks between office manager, marketing director and closing coordinator. Donna Rousseau is our go-to in the field for buyer and seller public relations. Our expansion has kept us ahead of the curve and on top.” But Lynn and Deby are much more than just successful listing agents. Lynn said they agreed as they became successful they wanted to give back to the community, as both had volunteered with local charities prior to becoming partners. So, every year they choose local organizations to support, such as the Older Persons Commission (OPC) and Rochester Community Schools. They also regularly donate school items to underprivileged schools in Detroit. Since both have teaching backgrounds, helping schools hits close to home. It has also played a role in their real estate careers. "The philosophy that Deby and I have is that we teach people," Lynn said. "What we tell our team when we go out to do a listing or presentation is that we're here to educate." Above: (Left to right) Donna Rousseau, Deby Gannes, Lynn Baker, Lucy Kollin, Jean Sander DOWNTOWN NEWSMAGAZINE / 17


VALIA DESIGN Dana Vagnetti 248.205.6690 | Facebook: valiadesigns | Instagram: Valia_Designs

s owner and principal designer at Bloomfield Hills-based Valia Design, Dana Vagnetti takes on each project by creating unique solutions for each client’s personal needs and style. “It’s really about understanding my clients, their needs and desires for their space and then creating an overall vision that will drive each and every design decision to be made,” she said. “I’m not a repetitive designer I have one certain design plan and then deliver the same thing over and over again not caring who will use and enjoy the space. For me, every job is client-focused, so we are designing something specific to that client, whether there are functional needs or aesthetic needs and all of the above and my portfolio can attest to that.” The approach has earned the licensed, boutique interior design firm the “Best of Houzz” Service Award six times, as well as a reputation as one of the



top design firms in Michigan, as recognized by LuxPad. Vagnetti earned her interior design degree from the International Academy of Design and Technology in Chicago, where she served as an instructor before moving back to Michigan. Vagnetti can take projects from start to finish with one point of contact, and established crews, if they choose. The full-service aspect, along with her licensure and vast construction knowledge, is just one of the aspects that sets Valia Design apart from other designers and contractors. “We take that really scary piece of having to finding a reliable and skilled contractor out of the already overwhelming the puzzle for our clients,” Vagnetti said. “When I moved back to Michigan, I realized that a lot of people who practice as interior designers aren’t licensed, so I think gives us a little edge in the Detroit market.”


KW DOMAIN BIRMINGHAM Erin Keating DeWald 210 S. Old Woodward Avenue, Suite 200, Birmingham 48009, 248.259.3544 | Facebook: ekd.domain | Instagram: ekd.domain

rin Keating DeWald is a fourth generation offspring of local developers and top producing area realtors. Erin originally entered the corporate world after college but naturally kept coming back to houses, design and her love of working with people. "For me, it was a natural progression,” said DeWald, realtor and co-owner at KW Domain-Luxury Homes International in Birmingham. DeWald, who grew up in the Birmingham/Bloomfield Hills area, has helped people find their dream homes for about 20 years, and helped launch KW Domain-Luxury Homes International in 2016. She has worked across various price points and all across metro Detroit. DeWald said since the market is much smaller for luxury homes, one needs to really stay on top of what’s selling, who is buying, networking with the top


real estate professionals and creatively marketing those properties. “You have to be good at telling the story of your own personal properties to make sure they stand out,” she noted, mentioning that communication, market knowledge and persistence is a key to being successful. Clearly, whatever she is doing is working. DeWald said they are the leading real estate firm in downtown Birmingham, and she is now one of the top producing agents. DeWald hopes to become the number one office overall in downtown Birmingham, without losing the personal touches that make her, well, her. “My goal for my career and success is built on honesty, loyalty, integrity. An ethical agent...that people can trust. I’m going to guide and educate my clients to make the best real estate decision for their needs.”



NEW STANDARD Howard Luckoff 24906 John R Road, Hazel Park | 248.873.0420 | Facebook: anewstandardmi | Twitter: anewstandardmi | Instagram: newstandardcannabis

ocated just minutes away from downtown Birmingham, guests of New Standard’s flagship Hazel Park location step into a welcoming space that appeals to the senses, much like walking into your favorite beanery or brewery. The retailer provides a curated consumer setting for purchasing cannabis, like none other. New Standard is the brainchild of metro Detroit co-founders, including CEO Howard Luckoff. Every aspect of New Standard is designed to reflect the company’s culture and desire to bring people of all lifestyles together to enjoy cannabis. “The end of the prohibition on cannabis opened up a whole new jumping off point for getting in on the ground floor of a new industry,” said Luckoff, who formerly served on the board of directors with Shinola. “Our budtenders walk each customer, ranging from the connoisseur to the curious novice, through our 275 different products,” said Luckoff. “We offer one-on-one consultations, educating customers on the products that will work best for their desired cannabis experience, whether that be for medical or recreational use. From an edible



gummy to use as a sleep aid or an infused cream to alleviate chronic pain, our team is able to help you navigate your journey.” New Standard has additional stores in Sand Lake, Edmore, Nunica and Muskegon, with more locations opening soon in several communities, including Ann Arbor and Grand Haven. New Standard also produces several products at its two cultivation facilities in Michigan, with assurances that plant flowers and leaves are rigorously tested to be free of pesticides and other contaminants so the customer is assured they are buying the purest product. “Our unique and vast product collection is pivotal for a personalized and memorable cannabis journey,” said Luckoff. “We are a team of friendly professionals with a hunger for knowledge. We’re on a mission to open minds, whether you are new to the cannabis experience, or deeply embedded in the cannabis culture and looking for something new to try. Whatever your journey looks like, we got you.”


ROMA SPOSA ATELIER Anna Castaldi 708 N. Old Woodard Avenue, Birmingham | 248.723.4300 or 25 years, Anna Castaldi has been dressing brides throughout southeastern Michigan and helped them look and feel beautiful on their special day. After their weddings, women return when they have big events for cocktail dresses and evening wear, and mothers of brides and grooms often enjoy custom-designed garments made-to-measure to reflect their personality, silhouette and body, using the most colorful silk fabrics coming from all over the world, highlighting the newest trends and timeless styles. “Every woman deserves to shine like a star when they walk in to a party or special occasion,” Castaldi said, who consults with each woman, giving them the best suggestions until she sees a reflection of themselves coming through. Castaldi recognizes women's individual attributes and accentuates them with gowns from designers like Ines Di Santo. Galia Lahav, Monique Lhuiller, Naeem Khan, Victor and Rolf, Zuhair Murad, Toni Ward, Romona Keveza, Inbal Dror and


many others. She features an exclusive evening collection designed only for Roma Sposa’s Atelier by Pnina Tornai. “I travel the world to bring in the most recent trends in order for my clients to be always dressed with the latest newest styles so they are going to be unique,” she said. Castaldi believes that being in love never goes out of style and invites her clients to believe in themselves and choose the best colors for their skin tone, respecting the choreography and location of where there are going to attend the event. Now celebrating the 25th anniversary of Roma Sposa, Castaldi and her nine dedicated staff members custom measure for each woman and deliver the finished dress. For them, it is a labor of love to make each bride, bridal attendant, mother of the bride and groom, glow for their wedding day, and then to return to be outfitted for special events throughout the years.



RESTORE HYPERWELLNESS + CRYOTHERAPY AND ORANGETHEORY FITNESS Scott Marcus 643 S. Adams Road, 633 S. Adams Road, Birmingham | 248.598.4975 | 248.712.4548 |

cott Marcus, owner of the newly-opened Restore Hyperwellness + Cryotherapy, as well as many Orangetheory franchises throughout the state, sees a holistic approach to the concept of wellness. “What we talk about is lifespan and healthspan. Lifespan is how long you live, but healthspan is how long you live a healthy life.” While devotees of Orangetheory can attest to the intense group fitness classes the studios offer, it is what happens post-workout that fuels Marcus’ newest endeavor. With 10 different “modalities,” everyone from the “novice exerciser” to student athletes to marathon runners will benefit from a treatment. “Part of what Restore is is recovery, so recovery from fitness, muscle recovery, cardiovascular recovery, stretching,” Marcus described of the services, which include IV drip therapy, cryotherapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and compression therapy.



Not an athlete? Onsite nurses and nurse practitioners may discover vitamin deficiencies upon intake, or a client may simply be struggling with sleep. The hyperbaric chamber, Marcus noted, is particularly useful for clients with arthritis. “Depending on what your ailment is, we can target it.” Clients often come in multiple times a week for a Vitamin D or B complex shot, one step of an overall health and wellness lifestyle that is even more of a priority in 2021. As for Orangetheory, the workout equipment remains spaced and the studio follows all current Michigan state guidelines. For those who are still not comfortable heading back to the gym in person, an Orangetheory workout is still available. OT Live, which rolled out this past year, isn’t simply an online workout class. It provides members with live, hour-long classes led by a local coach who can provide real-time feedback, offering corrections and motivation – just like in the studio.


INVESTMENT CONSULTING GROUP Chris DeWolfe 500 S. Old Woodward Avenue, Birmingham | 248.273.8200 | Facebook: Investment-Consulting-Group-107710896735390 | Twitter: cdewolfeICG

he Investment Consulting Group is a local, boutique investment advisory team founded in 1999 by Chris DeWolfe and Jason Franklin. They work with individual investors, families and the next generation, as well as small business and corporate retirement plans, and corporate executives. DeWolfe says his team has a unique investment planning process, where they take a tactical approach with investment strategies. “I always use the sports analogy: we act as the head coach and take offensive and defensive plays from our coordinators and know what players to field, where most others will buy a little of everything and hold through all kinds of market conditions.” This process differs from the more passive, buy and hold though all parts of the market’s cycle approach, which DeWolfe says, “This approach works too, it’s just a matter of how long an investor wants to wait for that ship to right itself


during rough seas, versus having the technique to navigate elsewhere, to calmer waters, for the time being.” Educating clients is big part of the process, and DeWolfe regularly furnishes educational pieces, including a quarterly market and portfolio strategy update to clients and social media followers. “My grandmother was an educator, my mother is a retired educator, and my younger sister is an educator, and I always tell clients that 50 percent of my job is educating them,” he said. DeWolfe lives in Birmingham with his wife Stacey and their two children and family dog. They are involved with a wide range of activities and sports, enjoying the outdoors in all seasons.



AREA RUG CO. Tina Smart 202 East Maple Rd., Birmingham | 248.480.0715 | Facebook: arearugco | Instagram: arearugco

rowing up in a family-owned rug business in Ontario, Canada, Tina Smart developed a passion for area rugs and home décor which she recently brought to downtown Birmingham with the opening of her new showroom, Area Rug Co. After getting married and moving to Michigan five years ago, Smart continued to work in the family business, but between commuting distance, the birth of her daughter and the pandemic, it was increasingly challenging. She missed the rug industry as well as the day-to-day customer interactions and decided to tap her expertise by launching her own business. “My family has four well-established rug showroom locations in Ontario with a fifth on the way. I wanted to bring my own, unique concept to Michigan by offering a blend of area rugs and will soon introduce home décor items” she said. “I’m a small, woman-owned business, and while I’m new to Michigan, I’m not new to the rug industry.” According to Smart, she works with overseas rug manufacturers to design each



rug based on current trends. While she offers some traditional style rugs in her store, she describes her niche as modern and transitional. The top trends featured in her collection include neutrals such as grays and beiges and distressed patterns with soft blended colors. The store’s rug selection is ethically produced with an emphasis on being durable, high quality and simple to clean. Area Rug Co. displays rugs on swinging racks to make shopping easier. While her first showroom concept in Michigan is smaller compared to the Ontario locations, she still has access to additional rugs through the Ontario stores. “I offer very personalized customer service,” she said. “I introduce new rug styles every three to four months, plus have a great selection of home décor items so there is always something new to see.” As part of Smart’s commitment to the community, she plans to make donations to the Michigan Parkinson’s Foundation, a cause with a personal meaning to her family and many others.

Artists Assemble! Comic Art Night with Marvel Comics illustrator Jerry DeCaire Come meet Jerry in person at The Community House! Jerry’s work includes iconic characters such as Thor, X-Men, Wolverine,

Iron Man, Conan, Punisher, Nick Fury, The Phantom, and more! Attendees to this live-drawing session get to connect the dots between pop-culture and math while they watch the real-time development of a superhero using geometry, rations, fractions, anatomy, and proportions. And one lucky aspiring artist will get to help complete an illustration with Jerry!

$25 per ticket Tuesday, July 27 $20 per ticket when you buy 6 to 7 p.m. more than one (YHU\ WLFNHW LV D UDIµH HQWU\ IRU D VLJQHG LOOXVWUDWLRQ Don’t miss out on this rare opportunity to see the blank page come to life as Jerry plies his craft and works his magic. Email or call 248.594.6406 to attend.

The Community House conducts all events and gatherings in accordance with the latest CDC Covid-19 guidelines and protocols for the safety of our guests.

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lake Bonkowski grew up in Royal Oak uncomfortable in his own skin, not knowing who he was, bullied as an outsider throughout school because other kids thought he was a lesbian. “I got the idea – you're weird, you don't belong,” Bonkowski said, who was born female. “People had been calling me a lesbian my whole life, but I knew that didn't fit. I never questioned gender. It was something I was never aware of. Until I graduated high school, I didn't know that trans people existed – I knew that some trans women existed, but not trans men, and I didn't know that non-binary was real. I knew that calling myself a gay woman didn't fit, so I repressed everything until the end of high school, and then I met a girl I couldn't deny I had a crush on.” Bonkowski said he never spoke to his parents about his sexuality, gender dysmorphia or even the harassment and bullying he experienced. They just weren't the kind of family that talked about things, he said. “They may have picked up that I was picked on, but we just weren't the kind of family that talked about things,” he said. Oakland University was the one college his parents would pay for, allowing him to live at home and commute, and attending there in many ways set him on the course for his future in more ways than either he or they could have imagined. Today, at 28, he is an Oakland University academic advisor as well as having a podcast. Bonkowski recalled that a freshman communications course led him to the Gay/Straight Alliance within the Gender and Sexuality Center on campus, where he suddenly felt at home. He ended up hanging out there for all four years every single day, including gaining leadership positions on its board. “For the first time in my life I was surrounded by people who were out to each other. I met trans people there. The more they talked, the more I felt, 'this sounds like me,' though I wasn't ready. I was still in denial,” recalled Bonkowski. “I was educating myself about the community while I was learning about myself. The more I learned, I realized something gender-y was going on. By the end of the (freshman) year, I recognized that I was some kind of trans or non-binary. I spent the next year figuring out, 'am I gender-fluid, non-binary,' which is neither man or woman. “One day I was in my parents' basement trying on different clothes. I looked in the mirror, I pushed my boobs down, and I looked at myself from the side, and said, 'Oh shit, that looks correct.' I identified my chest as my sense of dysphoria. From that point on I wanted top surgery, and sophomore year I began to bind myself.” Moving onto campus housing by his junior year, he cut his long ponytail – long a source of angst for himself and a symbol to his mother, who had issues with him transitioning – and chose his name as Blake, and began using the pronouns he/him full time, other than with his parents, who he avoided, living a dual life. As a large built, 5-foot 10-inch person, “I soon began passing as a guy.”

“I felt liberated when I began to be who I am on campus with my friends,” Bonkowski said. Asking – and discovering – who we are is a normal exercise of growth and discovery. For transgender and non-binary individuals, the process is complicated and exacerbated by literally not feeling like they belong in their own bodies. The realization that they may have been assigned a gender at birth that does not conform to their internal gender identity can happen at any age, experts say. More and more frequently today, youth are feeling comfortable verbalizing that they are a “girl” or a “boy,” even if they have been born the other sex, while there are incidences of older adults announcing their transition, such as Caitlin Jenner, who was formerly known as Bruce Jenner. “Transgender can happen at any stage of life,” said Gretchen Marsh, PhD, a Bloomfield Hills licensed psychologist who practices in Franklin. “Caitlin Jenner explored it at various times of her life, but at various times did not want to go forward. Perhaps now we're more supportive (as a society) and the person can feel they can be who they are now. Some realize it as a child or an adolescent. We don't have to be so concrete and put people in boxes. Allow people to explore who they are – it takes time.” Roland Sintos Coloma, professor, College of Education, Wayne State University, concurred. He noted that being older, like Jenner, is not at all unusual. “Because of cultural, generational pressures to conform and be a certain way, as well as there weren't as many models. Trans folks were seen as freaks, as people on the margins of society. Trans folks, they've been seen, especially in non-Western cultures, they've been revered as spiritual,” such as the “two-spirits” of indigenous cultures, the hijras in India, South American culture and their widespread presence in ancient Greek mythology. “As people know things exist, there are more opportunities for trans people. We have more policies, cultural understanding and better language for trans people, so that makes it more acceptable,” explained Shanna K. Kattari, assistant professor of social work and assistant professor of women's studies, School of Social Work, University of Michigan. “It's not a fad – it's made space for trans individuals. There have always been trans people – this is that there are not magically more trans people. For young people, knowing there are trans people allows them the space to find their identity. For young people, erasing rigid lines and knowing they can be who they are; for others, letting them play with gender and discovery. For some young boys, they want to wear dresses – but that does not make them trans.”


attari explained the term “transvestite” is no longer acceptable, and the term “cross dresser,” for men who choose to dress as women is the appropriate term. However, with gender fluidity, many younger people of both sexes choose today to dress in whatever they feel expresses themselves on that day. Kattari said it is normal for people from “three to 90 to realize they are trans. For many people, they know when they were really young. Some are coming out later because it feels safe for them now. For some young people, it's societally more available for them – if their family members are supportive for them.” Brooke Bendix, LMSW, with a therapy practice in West Bloomfield primarily working with children, teens and young adults, said she is seeing more and more younger kids, and has started a Rainbow Group in her practice, called Therapyology.

“We are getting calls from parents of eight and nine-year-olds that are non-binary or gender non-conforming,” Bendix said. “We have a waiting list for a group of more than 30 kids. We see kids who question their gender identity, and we make sure our paperwork process asks them their preferred gender and pronoun.” She said to not call them by their chosen gender, pronoun or name, “It makes you feel excluded and increases your anxiety. It makes you feel like you're an island by yourself.” A 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey (USTS) study conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), with 27,715 respondents, provides a comprehensive look at the lives of transgender people in the United States, including their experiences involving health, family life, employment and interactions with the criminal justice system. A majority of respondents, 60 percent, reported that they began to feel “different” from the sex on their original birth certificate at age 10 or younger, including 32 percent who began to feel different at age five or younger, with 28 percent who began to feel different between the ages of six and 10. Six percent reported that they began to feel different at age 21 or older. According to the survey, respondents were also asked how old they were when they started to think of themselves as transgender, even if they did not know that word. One in 10 – 10 percent – reported that they began to think of themselves as transgender at age five or younger. Sixteen began to think of themselves as transgender between the ages of six and 10, and 28 percent between the ages of 11 and 15. Eight percent reported beginning to think of themselves as transgender at age 26 or older. Asked at what age they began to tell others that they were transgender, one in 10 respondents to the survey reported they began to tell others that they were transgender between the ages of 11 and 15, and 37 percent did so between the ages of 16 and 20. Another 30 percent began telling people they were transgender between the ages of 21 and 30, and 14 percent began informing people they were transgender at age 31 or older. An additional five percent reported they had not told anyone else they were transgender. According to GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), transgender is a term used to describe people whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. “Gender identity is a person's internal, personal sense of being a man or a woman (or a boy or a girl.) For some people, their gender identity does not fit neatly into those two choices. For transgender people, the sex they were assigned at birth and their own internal gender identity do not match,” GLAAD said. “Trying to change a person's gender identity is no more successful than trying to change a person's sexual orientation – it doesn't work. So most transgender people seek to bring their bodies into alignment with their gender identity. This is called transition.” Many transgender people take a name that represents their gender identity, with their birth name considered their “birth name” or “dead name.” They also utilize pronouns that match their authentic gender, whether they have transitioned or not. GLAAD noted that some people use the singular “they” to reflect their non-binary gender identity and/or gender expression. “They see 'he' or 'she' as binary. 'I don't necessarily need to call myself he to say I am a trans man.' 'They' disrupts the gender binary and allows that fluidity,” said Coloma of Wayne State University. “It's challenging the binary of gender and allowing the fluidity to come through.” “For transgender youth who feel like they were born in the wrong body, the feelings can be overwhelming because of potential fallout,” said Sarah Kiperman, assistant professor of educational psychology, Wayne State University. “Some parents kick their kids out. The kid will say, 'I'd like to not be called John, call me Sophia, and the parent will say, no I'm calling you John.' That's dead naming. It calls out their hurt. It's their birth name but not what they want to be called, nor how they see who they are. They're not putting on a show – they are trying to be who they see who they are.

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“The conflict comes in, being transgender does not cause mental illness,” Kiperman said. “It's the pressures and messages in our life or the media and the stresses, the bullying and harassment, the marginalization, that causes the mental issues. Being transgender is not inherently part of depression – it's all of the pressures from outside.” Marsh echoed that. “Having gender identity or questions in itself is not a mental illness. It can cause psychological distress by the environment around them by harassment, bullying, by not being able to use pronouns and names, discrimination, not being able to use bathrooms – and these things cause cause mental illness like anxiety and depression.” Some transgender people are gay – but some are straight, some are bisexual, and some fall somewhere along the sexual spectrum, because every trans individual is a unique individual, and their sexual orientation is separate from their gender identity. As GLAAD describes it, “Sexual orientation describes a person's enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attraction to another person, while gender identity describes a person's internal, personal sense of being a man or a woman, or someone outside of the gender binary. Simply put: sexual orientation is about who you are attracted to and fall in love with; gender identity is about who you are. Like everyone else, transgender people have a sexual orientation.” “Sexual orientation is about who you desire, who you want to date,” explained Rogerio Pinto, LCSW, PhD, professor and associate dean for Research and Innovation, University of Michigan School of Social Work, who describes himself as gender non-conforming. “Many people get confused by the difference between gender fluidity and sexual orientation. It's not always about sex.”


hat is gender fluidity? Genderfluid people often express a desire to remain flexible about their gender identity rather than commit to a single definition or gender. They may fluctuate between differing gender expressions during their lifetime, or express multiple aspects of various gender markers at the same time. According to Sabra L. Katz-Wise PhD, Harvard Medical School, “As an identity, it typically fits under the transgender or non-binary umbrella… While some people develop a gender identity early in childhood, others may identify with one gender at one time and then another gender later on… Ultimately, anyone who identifies as gender-fluid is a gender-fluid person. Often, the term is used to mean that a person’s gender expression or gender identity – essentially, their internal sense of self — changes frequently.” Many of us also read about entertainers, such as singer Demi Lovato, who recently came out as non-binary, which is a term that is newer and unfamiliar to many. Katz-Wise said, “Non-binary means a person’s gender identity doesn’t fit into strict cultural categories of female or male.” Pinto said, “What we're talking about is the 'other' – the more we are creating and perpetuating the 'other.' On Facebook, last time I looked, there are 55 different kinds of gender identities. What I think is happening today is there is a language to use, and when we have a language, and it's on TV, very young kids can say to their parents, this is what I'm feeling. It's wonderful for them. Sometimes the family pretends it's not there, but that's a tool of invisibility. Coming out, one comes out to be visible. If you're not visible, you don't exist. That's true for people for gender identity, as well.” Kattari of University of Michigan explained that “non-binary is

socially constructed. I don't feel a direct fit with either gender. Some trans people identify with one gender or another. I feel like I'm wearing a coat that's three sizes too big – but I don't feel like a man. I'm a Femme. I wear dresses, makeup. “Identity is who you are. Expression is how you show your identity.” GLAAD explained that gender non-conforming is a term to describe some people whose gender expression is different from conventional expectations of masculinity and femininity. Not all gender nonconforming people identify as transgender, nor are all transgender people gender non-conforming. For some transgender people, they may be perceived, or perceive themselves, as being gender non-conforming before transitioning, but might not be after transitioning. Those who identify sexually and by gender with their birth sex are called cisgender. “Many (transgender individuals) are searching for where they are on the identity spectrum. They don't identify as LGBTQ – they're the plus,” noted Truman Hudson Jr., EdD, professor of teacher education in the College of Education at Wayne State University. Just as many people have sexual feelings or attractions along the sexuality spectrum even if they identify as straight or gay, “they're fighting for their own space. When they're gender fluid or agender, that's a space,” Hudson said. “While it doesn't not show up on the LGBTQ spectrum, it's there.” Non-binary can be all these things – or their sexual identity can shift. They can feel differently on different days. “It's a human right,” Hudson said. “Let people be who they are. Respect who they are and know it's not a phase.” Aiden Korotkin, who grew up in Bloomfield Hills but now lives in Philadelphia where he works as a cinematographer, knows first-hand it's not a phase. Born female, his earliest recollections are from between the ages of three and five, when he remembers “something being off. I told my parents I wanted to be a boy. I thought if I thought hard enough, I could grow a penis.” His parents were thoughtful and attentive. “As soon as I began saying this, they sought professional help from all the right sources – my pediatrician, a psychologist, a school counselor. “They all said I would grow out of it.” He didn't. Instead, forced to wear girls clothes 'to fit in' for school,“I felt ashamed. I felt attracted to other girls – I had a huge crush on my best friend at five – but I repressed all my feelings during elementary school. The three years of middle school, I couldn't look at myself, I couldn't look at myself in the mirror because I hated myself, my body. I tried to minimize my chest as much as possible.” Unable to deny his attraction to other females in middle school after going through puberty, he came out as a lesbian to his family after high school. He said his family was supportive. “I didn't come out to everyone until I was in college,” Korotkin said. “That was a huge weight off my shoulders – but I was still miserable and I didn't know why. It was about myself. I didn't like myself, and so I assumed no one else liked me. “I remember not knowing being trans was an option or what I identified with,” having no real experience with transgender people, other than watching the Showtime show “The L Word,” which he said had a trans man “and the show did a horrible job scripting it. The show was pro-lesbian but not supportive of trans. That put it into my head that I didn't want surgery. I should just be a lesbian. I was again repressing my feelings. I thought it was something to be ashamed of.” At 27, he decided he wanted to transition to being male. “I came to a point where I just hated myself. I knew there was a better future, and I couldn't figure out how,” Korotkin recalled. “A friend asked me how do you see yourself going to the pool, and I said I see myself with a beard, no chest, no shirt and swim trunks. That was my best self. It took me back for a second.” He found “a wonderful therapist who had himself transitioned 15


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years before, and it was just life changing.” First, they figured out which pronouns fit – for Korotkin, it's he/him, and picked out a name that felt right. “As soon as friends started calling me that it felt so much better. It felt like me. It's like putting on a well-fitting outfit, something custom made just for you,” Korotkin said. “You feel strong, you feel powerful – like you can take on the world. I said I'm trans, this is what was wrong with me all along. “It's like going from being seasick your whole life to being on solid ground.” He said he came out to the world – via Facebook – in March 2016, and on May 27, 2016, “my T-date,” he started testosterone, followed by top surgery, (or mastectomy) to remove the female breast tissue, in 2017. “When I first looked in the mirror, it just felt like I saw myself for the first time – it was an incredible experience. It was extremely freeing. I had never felt that way about my body,” Korotkin said. “It flipped a switch. I was able to feel confident enough in myself to stand up for myself.” Korotkin declined to discuss if he had “bottom surgery,” or sex realignment surgery or gender reassignment surgery, a surgical procedure by which a transgender person's physical appearance and function of their existing sexual characteristics are altered to resemble those socially associated with their identified gender. Blake Bonkowski of Oakland University also had top surgery, later a complete hysterectomy, but chose not to have a metoidioplasty and phalloplasty, which would have realigned his sexual genitalia. “I know hundreds of trans men and non-binary people, and they're (sex realignment surgery) extremely uncommon for a reason,” Bonkowski said. “Many, including me, do not feel it's necessary – if I want to have sex with a penis I can buy something. Having a penis is something I don't care about, while getting rid of my breasts was necessary.” “Being trans is not about genitals – it's so much more than that,” Korotkin emphasized. “It's existence. It's being who you were meant to be. Everyone has different bodies; the focus shouldn't be on the body. It's a way of living – how you view and exist in the world.” Many transgender individuals never transition – a process where a person begins to live in a gender that is different than the one on their birth certificate. Gender transition can involve a lot of different aspects, including changing one's clothing, appearance, name, identity documents, and asking people to use different pronouns than the ones associated with the gender on one's birth certificate. Transitioning can also include undergoing medical procedures, such as hormone therapy or surgeries. According to the USTS study, nearly half of respondents – 43 percent – reported they began transitioning between ages of 18 and 24, with almost one-quarter, 24 percent, transitioning between ages 25 and 34. Fifteen percent transitioned under the age of 18, and 18 percent transitioned at age 35 or older. Non-binary respondents and transgender men were more likely to have transitioned at a younger age with 24 percent of non-binary respondents and 17 percent of transgender men transitioning under the age of 18. Shanna Kattari of University of Michigan said, “Some trans and nonbinary people do want medical intervention, with hormones, binding their chests, top down surgery – and some don't. It's not changing into a new body, it's making their existing body in line with who they are.” Gretchen Marsh, PhD, said, “Every person's changes are idiosyncratic – like every group, there are more differences than similarities. Not all follow the changes with hormones or medical procedures. Many choose to live with their at-birth genitals. Generally, when they pursue surgery and gender reassignment, they feel it's a need. It's not something they want to do – it's a core need. It's essential to their being. It's not a flip decision.” She continued, “If a child is interested in transitioning, this is

something we need to look at over time, to develop over time, for the child and the parent to have the time and space and support to adjust. There's no rush. You should allow them to express themselves in the way and manner they want to express themselves. For the parents, they have their own journey as well.” Bendix, the West Bloomfield therapist, said, “Times are changing, but there is still such a stigma about coming out and being identified as who you want to be identified. My goals is that we will get to a place where more young teens will feel that they can come out and be proud to be who they really are. It's human rights. We can provide a safe, nonjudgmental place. They just want to feel normal.” Many of her patients do want to transition, and she often works in conjunction with a family practice physician who does hormone replacement therapy (“he has more than 700 people on his waiting list”) to provide the mental health component. Bendix said she is also starting a Rainbow Group for parents. “Most are Gen Xers trying to wrap their head around having Jane become Jim,” she said. A “60 Minutes” report in late May focused on four individuals in their early 20s who claimed they had transitioned with minimal mental health and medical support, and later regretted their decision, which LGBT advocates have excoriated as inaccurate and inappropriate for adding to the marginalization of transgender individuals. GLAAD said after its airing that 60 Minutes “aired a shameful segment fear mongering about trans youth. Parents of trans youth could walk away with the false belief that young people are being rushed into medical transition. That is simply untrue.” They noted that “every major medical association supports affirming, age-appropriate care for trans youth and the guidelines for that care are safe and well-established.” “This discussion has been around for decades, because at what age in a person's development should you give hormones? A social intervention?” said Pinto of U-M. “A social intervention by a parent can help or deny what the child feels. You know your child. If their life will be significantly better at puberty, and you deny them the possibility of looking the identity they identify with, you're denying them the benefits. Further, many of the hormones today can be stopped. They don't stop development, they neutralize the hormones.” “The American Psychological Society and the American Medical Association have provided very clear and stringent guidelines and standards,” said Coloma of WSU. “Most trans people go through extensive medical health counseling and before any surgical procedure, they go through extensive evaluations with a psychiatrist. Transitioning is often a multi-year process. “I say, 'walk in their shoes for a day.'”


ome schools provide open, supportive environments – and others add to the mental anguish transgender students are already experiencing. According to the U.S. Transgender Survey, the majority of respondents who were out or perceived as transgender while in K-12 school experienced some form of mistreatment, including 54 percent reporting being verbally harassed, 24 percent being physically harassed, and 13 percent said they had been sexually assaulted because they were transgender. Further, 17 percent said they experienced such severe mistreatment they left a school as a result. Fifty-two percent reported they were not allowed to dress in a way that fit their gender expression or identity, and 36 percent were disciplined for fighting back against their bullies. Twenty percent said they believe they were disciplined





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more harshly because teachers or staff thought they were transgender. A quarter of people who were out or perceived as transgender in college or vocational school were verbally, physically or sexually harassed. “Schools are not accommodating to the dress code of the child or their pronouns. They're not saying, 'Let's look at this child's identity, if they want to come out,” said Hudson, of Wayne State University. “Many public schools do not respect a child's privacy, and out them when they're not ready to be. Sometimes educators are well-intentioned and out the kids to their parents before the kids are ready to out themselves, and are thrown out of their houses, and are couch-surfing. The data shows, those couch surfing have a high undercounting for homeless youth. The theme is consistent wherever you are in metro Detroit.” “The biggest messages that schools can do is affirm, validate, protect – and do no harm,” said Hudson's Wayne State colleague Sarah Kiperman. She said it is important to create upstanding students by letting bystanders to bullying know where they can reach out to teachers to report the bullying and to teach them to reach out to ask them if they're OK. “It's important to actively work to value and protect their classmates,” she said. She noted it's imperative that teachers receive training and the understanding of trans youth, and to cultivate safe classrooms, “where students can go to be affirmed and supportive, as well as to not out students without their permission.” She emphasized it is illegal for a school to prevent students from forming gay/straight alliances, now frequently called gender and sexuality alliances, or to provide gender neutral spaces such as locker rooms and restrooms – although those spaces and rights are increasingly under attack by Republican-led legislatures across the country, including here in Michigan. On June 1, Florida became the seventh, and largest, state to ban transgender women and girls from participating in school sports, which Reuters described as “part of a campaign in statehouses nationwide this year that equal rights activists assail as discriminatory… Supporters of the sports bill say they are needed to preserve fairness, asserting that cisgender women and girls would be at a disadvantage against transgender female athletes who were designated male at birth but have since transitioned.”


labama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Montana, Tennessee and West Virginia have passed similar legislation and South Dakota's governor signed an executive order supporting a sports ban. “A successful social justice movement always comes with a countermovement,” pointed out Shanna Kattari of U-M. “Because there's been so much progress in the last five to 10 years, this is the pendulum swinging back. Most young people aren't going to testify, they don't have the political capital to fight back. Sports bills build on this fear – 'the man in the dress' trope.” Becky Pepper-Jackson, an 11-year-old girl from Bridgeport, West Virginia, and her mother, have filed suit as of early June against West Virginia's law, which is prohibiting her from running cross-country at school in sixth grade. Her principal told her she was welcome to try out for the boys' team, but as a transgender girl, she could not legally compete alongside other girls. “She's not doing this just for herself. She wants to help other kids who

are just like her,” her mother, Heather Jackson, told The Washington Post. Jackson said they are seeking an injunction for the law. On March 10, state Sen. Lana Theis (R-Brighton) introduced Senate Bill 218, to make it an education requirement “that only biological males may compete for a position on and compete on a boys' high school team in an interscholastic activity and only biological females may compete for a position on and compete on a girls' high school team in an interscholastic activity.” The Michigan High School Athletic Association does not support the legislation, noting that in all of Michigan, there have only been a total of 10 transgender women who have wanted – and are qualified – to play sports. Sen. Jim Runstead (R-White Lake), one of 13 Republican senators backing the legislation, said during a committee hearing on May 28, “A specific example is not a requirement to make a law.” He hypothesized that tennis superstars Serena and Venus Williams “would never be known” if they had competed against transgender women. Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield, Oak Park, Huntington Woods) said, “It's a culture war they're playing. It's a fight we did not start that is brought to us.” Moss, who is openly gay, said he introduced Senate Bill 208, to expand the state's Elliott-Larsen civil rights law to add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression” as a protected class, and making it a crime to deny employment, housing, use of public accommodations, public services, and educational facilities to another person on the basis of an individual’s assertion of a particular sexual orientation or gender identity, on March 9 – just one day before the introduction of Senate Bill 218. “We see a lot of public support for this (the expansion of Elliott-Larsen), and the legislature is way behind,” Moss said. “Of all the LGBT communities, the transgender community is the most marginalized. For them to introduce 218 10 bills later, their messaging is, 'maybe you're fine with gay people, but we have to be worried about trans people.'” “The modern GOP has latched onto legislating culture wars,” said state Rep. Mari Manoogian. “It's what they feel is an appealing way to win votes. I know the governor will not sign the bill. But Sen. Theis, the only reason she and the GOP are motivated are for political gain. They're shunning science and expertise and falling back on demonizing people who are not like you.” “It's what politicians do, because they want to 'otherwise' people. It is a clever way to distract people from the things they are not doing in their constituents' district,” said U-M's Rogerio Pinto. “They are trying to create two classes of people – as long as gay people cannot get married, I am superior. As long as a Black person cannot earn a good wage, I am superior. “At the core of it is supremacy. It's a huge distraction from water, infrastructure – the things that actually matter to constituents.” “Because it is a new issue and most of us don't know a lot about it, political elites are ripe for it because it is so new and most opinion is unformed. They can find a way to frame the issue,” said Mary Herring, associate professor of political science on gender and politics, Wayne State University. She likened the transgender debate to the debate over the poor – if it is because it is biological, then people will believe their rights should be protected. If people believe their transitions are because of liberal policies or culture, “then they are much less willing to protect those rights. We know explanations make a difference in political discussions, and then politicians and political pundits determine how problems should be addressed.” “They're trying to solve a problem that does not even exist,” Moss said. “There's this big phantom fear that these trans athletes are filling all the sports teams, and that's just not true. It's just an effort to demonize an already marginalized group of people.” Aiden Korotkin, like many others who have transitioned, no longer feels as marginalized. “Since transitioning, I've been the happiest I've ever been, and been able to experience the beauty and joy of life, truly.”




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Adriana Berguer and Adrianna Bojrab fter Adriana Berguer and Adrianna Bojrab were furloughed from their jobs, the lifelong best friends were able to combine their dream to work together, join professional experiences and passion for fashion into the launch of their ecommerce women’s apparel business, Ines, in May 2021. “We were each other’s first non-related friend. From ballet at Miss Barbara’s to being on the same tennis and swim teams, we became best friends,” said Bloomfield Hills native Bojrab. “We eventually ended up living and working in New York and sharing an apartment.” Berguer, who grew up in West Bloomfield, was the first of the pair to move to New York in 2013 after graduating from Michigan State University and working as an accountant. She left the accounting field to pursue her fashion buyer aspirations in New York City, landing in the buying office at the iconic retailer Barneys New York until the luxury department store brand declared bankruptcy in 2019. In the meantime, Bojrab graduated from University of Michigan and DePaul University College of Law in Chicago, specializing in Intellectual Property Law with the intent to work in the business side of the fashion industry. She moved to New York City in 2016, and most recently spent over three years working for Ralph Lauren before she was laid off in 2020 due to the pandemic. “It was serendipitous that we were both furloughed at the same time. The stars aligned. We were able to spend time not just dreaming but on putting together actual mood boards and creating our own little studio,” said Bojrab. Berguer added, “The first thing we talked about were the pieces missing from our closets – such as the perfect cropped cardigan with just the right length and weight. We wanted to make high quality pieces in simple silhouettes we couldn’t find anywhere that are neutral, seasonless, wear-forever pieces and not too young or too old.”


According to Bojrab, Ines’ initial offering is limited and includes flexible and travel-friendly dresses and tops meant to be paired with jeans or leather pants. One of the signature items that has received a lot of favorable local buzz is the Lover Caftan. The collection’s neutral color palette was influenced by a road trip they took last summer. “We went out west and were inspired to incorporate browns, beiges, oranges into our collection. Our black Baby Cardigan has an orange lettuce hem and orange buttons,” Berguer explained, According to Bojrab, manufacturing in the United States and sustainability are a big focus with the Ines brand. “We feel very strongly about eliminating our carbon footprint and being direct to consumer helps…We use deadstock fabric, which is leftover and in limited quantities bought from family-owned businesses in the New York garment district, so our collection is limited and cannot be reproduced.” While Berguer and Bojrab currently live in New York City and work other jobs to supplement their dream, they continue to be inspired by their roots. They were able to spend time during the pandemic at home in Michigan working on their collection. In addition to naming their company after the 1920s Art Deco building, Inez, in Highland Park, they were also able to produce garments in the Detroit area. As for the future, Berguer said, “It’s been a really fun ride learning with our first line. Ultimately, our dream is to have a building in Detroit with our name on it where we can produce fashion – and to have a fashion industry in the Detroit area.” Check out the first Ines collection at, Story: Tracy Donohue

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MUNICIPAL RH rezoning vote pushed back to July A rezoning request by Restoration Hardware scheduled for Monday, June 14, will be delayed a month due to a public notice error at the proposed property along S. Old Woodward between E. Brown and Daines streets. Birmingham City Attorney Mary Kucharek said the developer failed to post the correct notice at the property prior to the city commission meeting. She recommended city commissioners postpone the review until July 12. The commission unanimously approved the measure. “It came to our attention today by a citizen who noticed there wasn’t a physical notice on the building of the lot in question,” Kucharek said. “Under our zoning ordinance, there must be a physical notice placed upon the property and it would have to say it was a notice for a rezoning amendment or rezoning. The notice didn’t say that. It was in regard to the previous meeting. “I want to make sure that everyone is clear that this was not the fault of the city or any of the staff,” Kucharek said. “The zoning requirement puts the onus upon the applicant to put the notice on the building, and it was the applicant that failed to do that, not the staff, not the city.” City commissioners in May approved a series of property line amendments to allow for the existing three lots that house the Capital Title/Lutz building, Frank’s Shoe Service/Roche Bobois buildings, and the parking lot of Coldwell Banker Weir Manuel to be become two lots that will house the future RH building. The postponed zoning request includes rezoning the property to the city's D4 zone from D3 to allow for a fourth floor restaurant and a requested amendment to the city’s economic development license map to include the newly formed parcels. Plans for the site call for a 49,624square-foot building with three stories of galleries, as well as a fourth floor restaurant that would double as a gallery for indoor/outdoor furnishings. Representatives for RH estimate more than $25 million would be invested in the project and generate about 130 new jobs Birmingham City Manager Tom Markus said the public notice mistake is the result of an overly complicated notification process that should be updated.

Old Country Day School to become a home By Lisa Brody

n introduction to a lot split request for the former Detroit Country Day School located at 3600 Bradway Boulevard, which would allow it to be renovated into a large single family home along with two other single family lots, received unanimous support from Bloomfield Township trustees at their meeting on Monday, June 14. Jordan Jonna of AF Jonna Development, along with Detroit Country Day School, submitted the lot split request for the 3.39 acre property, to create three residential lots with the existing school structure, which was built almost 100 years ago as Bloomfield Village School in Birmingham Public Schools, to be renovated as a single family residence. Jonna indicated it would be a home for him and his young family. Patti Voelker, director of planning, building and ordinance, said the building has been vacant for a period of time. The site is zoned R-2, which is single family, which can also be used for such uses as schools and religious buildings. “This is unique because it fronts on three sides,” Voelker said. She said the lot split would create lot A, which would be a 99,000 square foot property with the school building, fronting on Bradway and Lahser; lot B, which would create a 24,500 square foot property, fronting on Tuckahoe; and lot C, a 23,800 square foot property fronting on Tuckahoe and Lahser. She said it met all of the zoning ordinances. However, improvements to the school, to create a residential home, would likely need to go before the township's zoning board of appeals. “The applicant is currently working on drawings, and is consulting with the township,” she said. “They have applied for a commercial demolition permit, and then would apply for a residential permit.” “I'm looking forward to taking this almost 100 year old school and turning it into a private home,” Jonna said. “It's an opportunity to create a one-of-a-kind home, and moving from within Bloomfield Village, one home to another.” Right now he said he has no plans to sell off the lots, and would depend on what he encounters with the renovation of the school building. “The two lots would create a buffer between the homes on Tuckahoe,” he said. A public hearing is scheduled for Monday, June 28, for final approval of the lot split.


“It’s my belief we have created a management nightmare to keep this taken care of because each one of these require a different sign,” Markus said about the public hearing notices. “We actually have stickers and the developer puts the stickers on the sign to identify the specific kind of public hearing. I suggest to you, with maybe a fair exception of people in the community, they don’t distinguish the type of hearing it is or isn’t.” Markus thanked resident Paul Regan for bringing the matter to the city’s attention, and further noted that the process should be reevaluated, as it’s likely that similar errors have occurred and gone unnoticed. He said the intent of the notices is to let the public know something is happening at the property and how and where to get additional information. “I think this is something that staff

will look at and come back to the commission,” Markus said. “

Township to conduct study of water rates By Lisa Brody

After issuing a request for proposals (RFPs) at a May meeting for a water and sewer rate study and receiving two proposals back, Bloomfield Township trustees unanimously approved accepting the proposal from Raftelis at their meeting on Monday, June 14. The proposals submitted to the township were from Plante Moran, of Southfield, which the township has used in the past, including in 2018, when they assisted with the special assessment district (SAD) structural deficit analysis, and they provided an expert witness in the water and sewer rate lawsuit which the


township defended itself against the law firm Hanley Kickham. Raftelis, of Kansas City, Missouri, submitted a proposal that provided detail on their rate development process and clearly identified that not only do they have an understanding of accounting, but also a clear understanding of the technical aspects and intricacies of owning and operating a water and sewer system, engineering and environmental services director Olivia Olsztyn-Budry informed trustees. “Not having worked with Raftelis in the past, township staff followed up on several of the references provided in their submittal. Specifically, the city of Rochester, the city of Sterling Heights, and the city of Marquette all engaged Raftelis on studies with similar scopes of work,” Olsztyn-Budry said. While Raftelis' proposal was slightly more expensive of the two, she noted theirs was an extremely detailed proposal response with a clear outline of steps to complete the goals of the water and sewer rate study, had reviewed hours of township meetings for familiarity, identified that the study will include review and consideration of rate structures based on customer class, customer demand, type of customer, and water meter capability, and “Although not based in Michigan, has experience with several Michigan municipalities and agencies.” “It's always nice to support a local company, but we want to provide the township residents with value,” said trustee Michael Schostak. “Their deep understanding of engineering was very impressive to me. I think they're going to give us a great rate study.” “The personalized proposal – they watched hours and hours of us. The other was a canned proposal,” said supervisor Dani Walsh. “We want to be methodical, we want to be fair, and we want to be transparent. I feel with them we will get there,” said treasurer Brian Kepes.

Planning panel moves along two new bistros By Kevin Elliott

Two new proposed restaurants seeking bistro licenses were recommended for approval on Wednesday, May 26, by the Birmingham Planning Board for consideration by the city commission. Birmingham’s bistro liquor ordinance was created in 2007 with the goal of invigorating city streets, 67

creating greater walkability, and offering new and unique dining destinations while strengthening the retail community. Largely a success, the ordinance has helped to revitalize the city’s downtown retail area, making it's dining area a destination for the metro area. The city permits two new bistro applications to be approved annually, in addition to two establishments that have operated in the city for more than five years. Additionally, the restaurants must have no more than 65 seats, including 10 at the bar; meet outdoor dining requirements and storefront glazing; outdoor dining on sidewalk or street platforms; and other requirements. As such, the application process is highly competitive and bistro licenses are a coveted asset in the city. Two new proposed businesses went before the city’s planning board for consideration of new bistro licenses. The applicants are two of five forwarded to contend for one of the two new bistro licenses. Bloom Bistro, 239 N. Old Woodward, is hoping to use the former Pita Cafe space to open a new plant-

based (vegan) experience driven by a trendsetting atmosphere, complemented by hand-crafted cocktails and a chef-intensive, seasonally changing menu. Celebrity chef Matthew Kenney is the man behind Bloom, with an extensive background in plant-based cuisine. Kennney has authored a dozen cookbooks and founded many vegan restaurants. Birmingham architects Ron Rea and Roman Bonislawski are designing the interior and exterior of the historic Huston Building. The proposal calls for 65 interior seats and 36 exterior, 24 or which would be located in the rear of the establishment along the Willits Alley. The plan would formally activate the alley with outdoor dining, a longstanding goal of the planning board. “This is what we’ve been looking for for the past 14 years,” said board member Robin Boyle. “We have been waiting for something to come and activate the alley like this.” The alley serves a mix of retail and commercial businesses, along with service access for trash and rear

entrances to some businesses. In recent years, Dick O’ Dow’s installed new bay doors that open to the alleyway. Outdoor use was extended during the Maple Road construction and again during pandemic restrictions. Bonislawski said the activity in the alley helped prompt the new bistro concept. “We saw the activity happening at Dick O’ Dow’s, and thought this added to the activity happening there,” he said. “There are other things that extend into that space, and we think it’s an important component of the restaurant.” While the alley is used by service vehicles and staff from surrounding establishments, planning board chair Scott Clein said he wasn’t concerned about limited traffic in the alley. Planning board members unanimously approved sending both the special land use permit and final site plan and design review to the city commission with its recommendation for approval. The second bistro application forwarded was by Sushi Japan, 176 S. Old Woodward, in the former 2941

Mediterranean Streetfood space. Sushi Japan, which specializes in primarily Chinese food and ramen dishes and sushi, would be operated by Ximing “Charlie” Yu, who said he plans on operating whether or not he receives a bistro permit. Yu said ramen is a particular specialty of his, with a mix of Japanese and Chinese dishes. The restaurant is proposing 54 seats inside, as well as 18 outdoor dining seats, of which a dozen are proposed to be next to the building and six east of the sidewalk along the curb, along the on-street parking. Boyle said he likes the plans and concept for the restaurant, but questioned the name of the establishment, Sushi “Japan,” as it specializes in Chinese food. Kelly Allen, who represents Yu, said city commissioner Clinton Baller recommended changing the name to “Charlie’s Chinese,” but that Yu plans on keeping the name and not changing it. Board members unanimously approved recommending approval by the city commission for the special land use permit and final site plan and design review.

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Outdoor dining restrictions to be reinstated By Kevin Elliott

utdoor dining restrictions lifted by Birmingham officials for restaurants struggling during the pandemic will be reinstated on July 1 as state limits on the indoor dining capacity are lifted, after Birmingham city commissioners took no action on the the temporary COVID-19 off-season outdoor dining standards at their meeting on Monday, June 14. As part of the city’s efforts to assist those suffering economic hardships from the pandemic, commissioners in May 2020 approved temporary COVID-19 off-season outdoor dining standards that allowed businesses to erect dining platforms on city property without charge and without following standardized dining platform rules. That resolution is set to expire on June 30. In addition to the outdoor dining standards, the city allowed for additional measures, including relief grants used to purchase outdoor heaters, propane tanks, disinfectant, greenhouses, an igloo and other equipment. The city also allowed restaurant owners to store such items outside. Likewise, restaurants that have encroached into the public domain – such as sidewalks and yellow-curbed areas – have been allowed to operate free from enforcement of such issues. Temporary standards allowed restaurants to expand outdoor dining by up to 200 percent of previously approved area; extend their dining area to no more than 50 percent of neighboring storefronts not used for food and/drink establishments; utilizing adjacent outdoor property not previously permitted. Commissioners discussed the matter with input from the public, including several residents and business owners who have been impacted by the dining standards. Birmingham resident Jennifer Hammond asked commissioners to keep the current standards in place to allow for greater outdoor dining opportunities. “If you haven’t noticed the recent vibration that has returned to our streets, I guess you haven’t been out since the COVID restrictions have been lifted,” she said. “Not only are these outdoor dining venues providing a lovely scene for residents and others seeking a change of scenery and fresh air for lunch or dinner, but it also creates an unmatched sense of safety for those who have been locked in their homes for the better part of 16 months due to COVID.” Birmingham property owners Ted and Dulce Fuller said it isn’t fair to other businesses to allow restaurants to continue to encroach on other store frontages for an extended period. Rather, they asked commissioners to revert to the previous standards. David Klein, owner and operator of the David Klein Gallery, 163 Townsend, told commissioners his storefront has been obscured for eight months, limiting the curb appeal of the art gallery. Other members of the public and business community spoke in favor of extending the temporary standards through September or longer. Joe Bongiovanni, operator of Market North End, 474 N. Old Woodward, said the current standards, or lack of standards, has allowed restaurants to pivot in new directions in order to meet customer needs. Taking such measures away now, he said, would be difficult. Attorney John Henke, who chairs Birmingham’s Design Review Board, said it’s imperative for restaurants to continue the current standards to help recover from the pandemic’s economic impact. Birmingham City Manager Tom Markus said enforcement of outdoor dining standards has been non-existent. As a result, there are areas throughout the city that have obscured pedestrian sidewalks to the point where it is problematic for walkers. Propane storage tanks, signage, tables and other obstructions create both an eyesore and safety hazard. City Commissioner Stuart Sherman said, “Anytime you give something and try to get it back, there is a considerable pushback, especially in some cases where what was given was taken to the nth degree,” about taking back the leeway given to dining platforms. “We have structures that were built that blocked meters. We have structures that look like they were hunting blinds. And while taking down roofs and walls takes care of some of those issues, I don’t know how that is going to take care of the issue of ADA compliance.” Reverting to pre-COVID standards will still allow for outdoor dining for those restaurants that have been permitted by the city. Commissioners voted 5-2 to take no action, thus letting the current temporary standards expire on June 30. Commissioner Mark Nickita and mayor Pierre Boutros voted against the motion.


Both the bistro applicants will go before the city commission for final consideration. A third proposed bistro, Vinewood bistro, has already been forwarded to the city commission for consideration, after being denied a recommendation from the planning board. That application was postponed on Monday, May 24,at the request of the applicant.

Board recommends new restaurant’s plan Mare Mediterranean is planning to open in the former Cameron’s Steakhouse spot, 115 Willits, following special permit and site plan approval recommendation on Wednesday, May 26, by the Birmingham Planning Board. Cameron’s closed its 6,891 square-foot establishment abruptly in 2019 without advance notice to customers. The site has been vacant since. Mare Mediterranean is proposing a new restaurant in the location. The new restaurant would have 181 indoor seats and include a new outdoor patio with seating for an additional 38 people. The patio would be contained within two existing parking spaces and a portion of the sidewalk. A third space will be shared with the valet drop off. Nino Cutraro is the man behind Mare Mediterranean, which would feature Greek, Italian and Spanish inspired dishes. The menu would consist of raw favorites, such as tartare tuna, ceviche and crudo, along with an array of seafood, kabobs, steaks, chops and other items. Cutraro and his wife took over Bella Piatti, 167 Townsend, in 2013. He is hoping to open Mare in September. The new proposed restaurant would utilize a Class C liquor license and wouldn’t be contending for one of the city’s limited bistro licenses. The planning board unanimously recommended approval by the city commission for the special land use permit and final site plan and design review.

Vinewood Kitchen pulls bistro application Birmingham City Commissioners will review two new bistro submissions in July, as applicants behind the proposed Vinewood Kitchen and Cocktails, 720 N. Old Woodward, withdrew their submission to the city this month.

City commissioners were scheduled Monday, June 14, to review Vinewood’s site plan and designs, as well as its special land use permit request. A public hearing was also scheduled and held at the commission meeting, despite the application being withdrawn. Birmingham Planning Director Jana Ecker said the applicants would have to resubmit as a new project and restart the process if they wish to pitch the concept at another date. Designed by Birmingham-based architects Ron and Roman, the proposal included a semi-outdoor wintergarden, as well as outdoor seating in the rear of the restaurant, adjacent to the Rouge River. The concept was well received by some city commissioners last year, as Vinewood was one five bistro applications moved forward to the planning board. However, planning board members subsequently rejected the proposed bistro in April, recommending city commissioners vote against approving the bistro. Among the issues noted by planning board members was the proximity to the river and potential conflict with neighbors regarding noise, concerns about the floor plan and the garbage dumpster configuration. Several nearby residents also voiced their concern that the restaurant would be a nuisance to the adjacent neighborhood. Planning board members also took issue with activating the rear alley of a building under the bistro ordinance, which is intended by ordinance to activate street activity in the front of buildings. Two additional bistro applications – Bloom Bistro, 239 N. Old Woodward, and Sushi Japan, 176 N. Old Woodward – were scheduled on June 14 for review by the commission on Monday, July 12.

Whistle Stop bistro goes to commission By Kevin Elliott

Renovations that include outdoor seating and a bistro license to allow for brunch cocktails moved forward on Wednesday, June 9, as the Birmingham Planning Board forwarded site plans for Whistle Stop Diner, 501 S. Eton, to the city commission for final approval. Under the city’s bistro license application process, the city may approve two new bistro licenses for existing restaurants each year, in addition to two new restaurants. Whistle Stop Diner and

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Commonwealth are both existing restaurants that applied for bistro applications with the city. Commonwealth has yet to submit their application to the city’s planning department. Planning board members reviewed the final site plan and design for Whistle Stop Diner, as well as a special land use permit request. Members approved forwarding both issues to the city commission with a recommendation to approve, with board member Stuart Jeffares voting against approval. The plans for the diner call for a major renovation to accommodate 64 seats inside and 28 in a new outdoor patio. The interior seating would remove some existing booths and replace them with tables. The outdoor patio would be located adjacent to the building, with the existing sidewalk rerouted around the patio and the grassy skirt next to the street replaced with pervious concrete. Jeffares took issue with replacing the grassy area with concrete, leading to his opposing vote. “This isn’t hundreds of people walking by,” Jeffares said. “It’s not a sidewalk like on Pierce, but to take out that much green space because it’s convenient and makes it tidier, I don’t think that’s what the city is about.” Architect Jawan Matti, who represented the applicants/owners of Whistle Stop Diner, said the proposed concrete is a pervious material in hopes to balance out the amount of concrete. Jeffares also urged the applicant to add a bike rack and/or bench to the concrete pad to provide some purpose to the area. Board members agreed to require streetscape improvements as a condition of approval, with the applicant agreeing. The Whistle Stop was started in 1965 in the city’s Rail District, taking its name from the nearby railroad. Wife and husband Elda and Valter began working at the restaurant in 1999, eventually purchasing it in 2012. The couple expanded to a Pleasant Ridge location on Woodward Avenue in 2015, which they expanded with a liquor license. They are now pursuing a bistro license to add a modest drink menu to the Birmingham location. The proposed drinks include Bloody Mary, Tequila Sunrise, Spanish and Irish coffee, Madras, Screwdriver and Champagne. Attorney Patrick Howe, representing the owners, said they 72

COVID cost fire department revenue By Lisa Brody

loomfield Township Fire Chief John LeRoy informed the board of trustees at their meeting on Monday, May 24, that the COVID-19 pandemic reduced the numbers of calls, transports and traffic accidents while increasing the number of home renovation and cooking fires, and the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) monitored and updated all PPE and documentation requests from the county and state. “2020 was a very trying year,” LeRoy said, noting the first two months of the year the department initially experienced significantly higher calls for service. “Then with COVID, calls decreased. Everything decreased.” They received 11 percent less calls for service – 5,812 incidents, down from 6,449 in 2019. “Up to this point, we had been 10 years without a decrease,” LeRoy said. “The first two months of the year, we were up 20 percent. Then came March – we didn't have another month that came close to that until April of this year.” He reported that EMS transports were down 60 transports, with COVID the direct result. “People were afraid, and they stayed home,” he said. “They called, but they didn't want to go to the hospital. The revenue from transports just dropped off.” Fire Department revenue from transports decreased about $250,000 in transport dollars from what had been budgeted. He reported there were 30 percent less traffic accidents from previous years; a sharp decrease in the number of fire alarms, because people were home. There were COVID-related increases. He said there was a 67 percent increase in CPR, and an 8 percent increase in critical EMS patients. “People were dying in their homes, often of COVID. They were waiting too long to get help,” he said. There was a 62 percent increase in the total number of fires, and a 46 percent increase in the number of structure fires. “As COVID progressed during the year, so did the number of home projects, home renovation fires and cooking fires. There were also a number of fireplace fires, usually from improper ash disposal.” Throughout the period, LeRoy said, personnel kept their training up. On February 24, two weeks before the first COVID cases were reported, Bloomfield Township opened the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) for police and fire, and a state of emergency was declared on March 10. “It's still open, we're still monitoring conditions, submitting updates and PPE (personal protection equipment) requests to the state of Michigan and Oakland County,” LeRoy reported. “We processed and secured all the PPE during the pandemic, provided all documentation and submitted it to FEMA and the state of Michigan, and developed operational policies to meet the state of Michigan's requirements. “To date we've received $1 million in submitted reimbursements from the county and federal government,” he said.


wouldn’t seek additional drinks at this time, and would return with an amendment request in the future if they desired a change. Two members of the public spoke during the meeting, both who voiced concerns about parking in the area. Both requested the planning board deny the applicant until additional parking requirements are in place. Board president Scott Clein noted the applicant was decreasing the number of seats inside the restaurant, and that the limited cocktail menu wouldn’t draw significant traffic or lead to additional parking issues.

“Parking is a continued issue in pretty much every development or project that we see,” Clein said. “In this case, we have an existing establishment that is operating already.” Board member Daniel Share concurred. “It’s very limited and there’s no change in the hours,” Share said. “I don’t think it will increase parking. Not to minimize parking, but I don’t think it’s on the applicant to solve it.” Board members approved forwarding the site plan and special land use permit request to the city


commission with recommendation for approval with six conditions. The conditions include the planning board approve 67-percent glazing on the front of the building, opposed to 70 percent required by city ordinance; including specifications for garage doors windows to be installed; to provide a certified land survey; that the applicant work with city departments to improve the streetscape; the applicant replace the existing tinted windows with clear windows; and that the applicant comply with all city department requests.

Drinking water replacement loan By Lisa Brody

Bloomfield Township trustees unanimously approved a plan for an application for loan funds from the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan (DWSRF) program to replace water mains in the Birmingham Farms subdivision at their meeting on Monday, June 14, despite learning their application would not be funded by the state for this year, but is valid for five years. Olivia Olsztyn-Budry, director of township engineering and environmental services, explained the plan had to be submitted to the state by July 1, as well as have a public hearing. The benefit of the DWSRF program is it has low interest rates. When she initially met with state officials, she said they told her the project was likely to qualify. “A few weeks ago, we were notified by the state of Michigan they had lots and lots of applications for this program, which provide grants and loans through the Michigan Clean Water program,” she said. “In the past the township has funded these programs. This is the first time we've applied to this revolving loan fund. While we qualified, the township did not make the cut, and the state will not be allocating the funds.” She explained though that the project is good for five years, and if the state has more funds through Michigan Clean Water, or through the American Rescue Act, the township would have the application ready. Karyn Stickel from Hubbel, Roth & Clark explained the low-interest loans are for 30 years for planning, designing and constructing eligible water system projects through EGLE. She said the township's water system was constructed in the early 1960's, 07.21 4130 Telegraph Road / Bloomfield Hills / MI 48302 /

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with most in poor condition, resulting in excessive breaks. She said the township prepared a water asset management plan in 2017 to recommend water mains in bad condition, and the next one on the list is the Birmingham Farms subdivision, at Telegraph and 14 Mile. She explained the water mains, all of which are six-inch and eight-inch, are in poor condition, would be replaced with new eight-inch mains over three years.

Speakeasy in Willits Alley shut down By Lisa Brody

It seems the roaring '20s are indeed back, with an illegal speakeasy that had been operating in a storefront in the Willits Alley in downtown Birmingham shut down after months of noise complaints, damage to adjacent property and close observations by police. The illegal operation was run by Willits Records, the website for which is currently inactive and its Facebook page has not had a new posting since May 30. The speakeasy, located at 237 Willits Alley, did not have a liquor license nor special land use permit or occupancy permit, “creating an unsafe environment in violation of health, safety and fire codes,” according to a Birmingham police report dated March 28 which Downtown obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. The police report identified Willits Records as “operating a liquor establishment without a liquor license and without having secured the necessary certifications and approvals from the city as set forth by ordinance.” Birmingham City Manager Tom Markus said Willits Records, owned by David Harrison Martin, was issued 16 citations for misdemeanor offenses ranging from illegal occupancy where a special land use permit is required to selling alcohol without a liquor license. “It was operating without any licensure, without any planning and reviews, and charging a cover,” he noted. “We investigated and closed it down. The prosecutor with the city will be reviewing charges, and we expect it to go through the court system. The illegal business is closed.” Police had been advised on March 24, that there was suspicious activity going on in the Willits Alley during evening hours, including someone 74

Townhouse owner target of online attacks By Lisa Brody

he latest Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become local, with Townhouse owner Jeremy Sasson, who is Jewish, becoming the target of anti-Semitic and hate-based social media attacks on him, his family and his restaurants after he posted an Instagram post featuring an Israeli flag. Sasson said on Friday, May 14, he put up a story on Instagram featuring an Israeli flag with the Hebrew words, “Om Yisroel Chai,” that loosely translate to “Let Israel live in peace.” Sasson is the son of an Israeli father. “That got picked up by the world of social media, and within hours, I had about 350 direct messages, and by the weekend I had a 1,000 direct messages (on Instagram),” Sasson said. He said his restaurants, Townhouse Birmingham and Prime + Proper, were flooded with phone calls, voice mails and emails, “to the point where we had to shut off the phones at the restaurants because some were anti-Israel, some were pro-Palestinian, some were anti-Jewish. There was just tons of hate. Some were threatening my wife and family.” Sasson said there were so many random postings of terrible one-star Yelp and Google reviews online for his restaurants, such as, “I bit into my steak and there was an Israeli flag in it,” that Yelp shut itself down, and Google is in the midst of taking them down. On Tuesday, May 18, Sasson said he received a call from the Detroit Health Department, who said they had just received three inquiries regarding rat infestations in the last day at Townhouse Detroit. “Townhouse Detroit isn't even open,” he exclaimed, noting the restaurant is closed for remodeling. That has not stopped thousands of people from anonymously posting one-star reviews of meals they have allegedly eaten there recently, he said. He said he put out a new Instagram statement that “I am a proud American Jew, the son of an Israeli father, and I support the humanity,” in the Middle East. “My original post was misconstrued. It was like saying God Bless America.” He made clear he has no issues with individuals of Palestinian heritage or descent, but only terrorist organizations of any form. The original Instagram post has been picked up and shared thousands of times, he said, including by an Instagram page from a group in Dearborn that said, “Jeremy Sasson supports the killing of women and children.” “I'm in the hospitality business – I'm in the business of making people feel great. My job is to take care of the people who want to be my guests,” he said of the business which is rebounding after a difficult year with the COVID-19 pandemic. He would not speculate if his establishments have suffered an economic hit from the social media campaign attacks.


using a previously vacant location as “a party place with live music, no masks (which were required at the time), alcohol, dancing and general overall revelry.” On March 25, Birmingham building official Bruce Johnson and officer Kyle McCanham walked over to the location where “Willits Records” was identified on the door. Looking inside the window, they noted a band area with a drum set, at least three bar top-style tables, on top of which were red Solo cups along with White Claw containers, and the interior decorated like a bar, according to McCanham. They

observed someone inside who appeared to be cleaning up. Returning to the police station, McCanham looked up “Willits Records,” where he found it identified as an “independent record label, production company, '90's cover rock, punk pop, band. We also offer private party event rental space...Willits Records is the Top Destination in Birmingham for Bachelorette Parties.” It had dates and fees posted for live band shows, with “DM for private table.” Other posts offered a limited amount of memberships, with live


music on select nights, 24/7 key code access, free entry to all member/public events, and the ability to host their private party once a month, for $349 a month. Videos on the Facebook page shows numerous videos with bands playing surrounded by unmasked patrons holding alcoholic beverage containers, all very close together. On March 28, around 12:30 a.m., McCanham and Birmingham Police Chief Mark Clemence went to Willits Records in plains clothes to investigate the speakeasy. They could hear loud music as they entered Willits Alley and saw six to eight people talking. They were approached by a middled aged white male at the entrance who welcomed them and advised there was a $50 per person cover fee, which Clemence paid. McCanham was carded, and asked if there was a mask requirement, and he was told there was not. Entering, they observed a live band with a singer/guitarist and drummer playing to a crowd of about 40-50 people. A QR code on the bathroom led to a Venmo page with a public account for payments of beer and other alcohol. A free standing refrigerator held “common mixer beverages such as lemon juice, margarita mix and cola.” It also had White Claw Hard Seltzers and Molson Canadian beer. Upon inquiry to how to get a drink, another patron “gladly opened the fridge and provided us both with White Claw Hard Seltzers.” A second floor of the establishment held a table set up for beer pong, a blow up mattress and a makeshift office/living room. Throughout the night, the two observed patrons passing a bottle of tequila amongst themselves, people drinking from red Solo cups, and several White Claw beverages littered along the establishment. Martin, the owner of the establishment, was seen playing the drums the majority of the night. Around 1:15 a.m., the business promptly shut down, leaving individuals drinking alcohol and carrying alcoholic beverages within Willits Alley and along Willits Street. Police reports earlier in March document noise complaints from the address, and going back further, to October through December 2020, there are numerous – approximately a dozen – police reports of criminal activity at the location, including an October 3 report of damage to the adjacent J. Lyle Beauty Salon, 235 07.21

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Willits Alley, where three males were arguing with one another, and Martin invited them into 237 Willits Alley where a band was playing. Because they continued arguing and causing a disturbance, they were asked to leave, and one resorted to physically pushing them out. A bench was thrown through the window of the salon doors, and the three took off running southbound through the alley. They were later caught and arrested in the Martin and Bates area.

Birmingham water, sewer rates to go up Water and sewer customers in Birmingham will see a hike in rates starting July 1, following the city commission’s approval of increases on Monday, May 24. Water and sewer increases are typically pass-through increases that are charged to the city from the Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner’s office and the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA). Birmingham Finance Director

Mark Gerber said the city commission reviewed the water and sewer fund budgets on May 1, and that the city received updated sanitary and storm water costs from the county. Based on the rates and budgets, there are increases to both water and sewer rates. Water rates will increase 35 cents, from $4.95 to $5.30 per 1,000 gallons of water used, or about seven percent. That would raise the annual cost of a homeowner using 90 units of water by about $31.50 per year. Sewer rates will increase 36 cents, from $8.21 to $8.57 per 1,000 gallons of water used, or about 4.4 percent. The increase raises annual costs to a homeowner by about $32.40 per year. Stormwater rates will increase $15 annually for customers in the Evergreen-Farmington Sewer Disposal District, and $10 for those in the Southeast Oakland Sewage Disposal District. Industrial surcharge and industrial waste control charges will increase about 2.6 percent. Those fees are charged by the Great Lakes Water Authority and collected by the city. The city doesn’t keep any of the

money it collects for those fees. Commissioners unanimously approved the rate increases.

Birmingham approves budget, lower millage By Kevin Elliott

Birmingham city commissioners on Monday, May 24, approved a $91.6 million annual budget for fiscal year 2021-2022, a decrease of $6.3 million from the previous year’s budget, with a 4.2 percent decrease in millage rates due to Headlee Tax Limitation Amendment rollbacks. The city’s fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30 each year. As property values rose more than expected over the past year, overall tax rates in Birmingham have decreased for the seventh consecutive year while maintaining a .3 mill difference between the operating millage levy and the maximum allowed by state law. Birmingham Finance Director Mark Gerber said actual tax values were higher than projected, allowing the operating millage and refuse levy

to be lower than expected. Overall, the total millage rate will be 13.5896, down from 14.1870, a decrease of .55974. The city’s library fund was set to a maximum of 1.3380, from 1.3554, a budget increase of $31,730. The city’s refuse fund was increased from .7803 mills to .7930, an increase of $35,640. The city’s debt levy decreased from 1.008 mills to .5657 mills. Gerber noted the budget marks the fourth consecutive annual decrease in its operating levy. In terms of highlights to the general fund, Gerber said grants available to fund the police department’s mental health caseworker for next year will increase intergovernmental revenue by $44,000. The city manager also recommended $25,000 be added to the city commission budget for strategic planning after the November 2021 election. Gerber noted the budget reduces unfunded pension and retiree health care liability by contributing about $1.2 million above actuarial requirements without increasing costs. Additionally, he said the

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City scales back Dream Cruise events By Kevin Elliott

irmingham city commissioners on Monday, June 14, agreed to scale back the city’s involvement in the annual Woodward Dream Cruise this August as COVID-19 deaths in the United States topped 600,000. Birmingham Fire Chief Paul Wells in May requested commissioners drop all support for this year’s Dream Cruise, which is scheduled for Saturday, August 21, citing public health concerns and a new variant of COVID-19 on the rise. Commissioners requested Wells return at the June 14 city commission meeting to discuss the matter further and update them on potential conditions. “In the past two weeks, we have seen eight cities with an uptick in COVID. We are also seeing up uptick in different countries,” Wells said. “The latest on the Delta variant are showing Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are 79-percent effective against it… 10 percent of cases in the United States have a Delta variant, and they think there will a rise in that.” Wells said that with about 60 percent of the state’s population vaccinated, there is still a risk for large gatherings, such as the Dream Cruise, which draws in visitors from across the country and around the globe. As such, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) recommend against large scale events, and to provide social distancing if they do take place. In May, Wells had said the state wasn’t yet trending in the 75-80 percent vaccination range where he believes it should be for an event of the Dream Cruise proportion to take place, and people crossing state lines to come to the Dream Cruise provides a greater risk. Further, there are choke points where social distancing is nearly impossible, as those areas can’t be well regulated. “These are some of my concerns,” Wells said. Wells had advised commissioners to cancel any city-related events, such as car clubs using city property on Old Woodward or other uses of city property for Dream Cruise events. While he recognized police and fire personnel would still have additional duties that day due to other activities, he said the safety aspect would be more manageable. “I think we will still have an influx of 5,000 to 10,000 people, just cruising around, using restaurants and parking decks and walking streets, but sponsoring the large events we’ve had in the past – I think we need to take baby steps with this and not just roll into it all at once,” he said. “I’m not anti-Dream Cruise, I just feel like I have to tell you that I feel concerned if we overextend ourselves.” At the May meeting, mayor pro tem Therese Longe pointed out, “I think whatever we decide here will have consequences for more than one year,” implying that sponsors could pull out of the city all together should the city withdraw its support. Since the May commission meeting, the Dream Cruise received a green light from organizers, the Woodward Dream Cruise board, the official sanctioning body for the cruise, which runs from 8 Mile Road to Pontiac along Woodward. Commissioner Mark Nickita noted it would be impossible to cancel the event, as it occurs on public property and Woodward is a stateowned road. Officials learned that sponsors, such as General Motors, were seeking locations on privately-owned property in an effort to bypass city approvals. Started in Ferndale in 1995, the Dream Cruise draws in more than a million people and over 40,000 cars each summer. Scheduled for Saturday, August 21, this year marks the official comeback of the event following its cancellation in 2020, due to COVID concerns. Rather than cease all involvement in the event, Wells recommended a scaled down version on the city’s behalf that would span S. Old Woodward between Bowers and Landon streets. The area would allow for a staging ground for General Motors between George Street and Ann Street; car clubs and vendors between George and Bowers; a WXYZ staging area in front of the Birmingham Pub; and a WOMC tower at Ann Street and Woodward. “You’ll still have a large concentration of crowds here, but it will be much easier to manage with police and fire on the day of the event,” Wells said. Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution approving the scaled down involvement.


budget adds three additional positions, provides $900,000 in lead water service line abatement; includes $6.1 million in street, sidewalk and alley improvements, including a half-million for unimproved streets; and $4 million for ice arena and park improvements. Commissioners unanimously approved the budget and tax millage rates.

Police chief presents transparency initiatives By Lisa Brody

Bloomfield Township Police Chief Phil Langmeyer presented a series of initiatives the department is undertaking to be a better department, and informed the board of trustees at their meeting on Monday, May 24, in an effort at transparency to the board and community. “Over the last year, we know there has been a lot of discussion about police and police transparency. We want to let you know what Bloomfield Township has been doing about it,” Langmeyer said. “We've all heard about transparency and law enforcement. We've all prided ourselves on our transparency, but we can do better. We turned to the internet to see where we could improve,” said captain Dan Edwards. He said on the township's website there is a page now on police transparency with thousands of pages of data, annual reviews, their accreditation report and policies, including use of force. “The chief deserves all the credit for this,” Edwards said. “His leadership and vision is second to none in getting us accredited and with transparency. You see all our calls for service, our arrests for the last three years, citations we wrote, arrests, they have demographics. It's changing on an hourly basis.” “Police reforms are nothing new. We want to be ahead of the game. Accreditation is first. We were accredited February 2, 2020, long before the demands in the country for police reforms. We were just reaccredited in our annual review. They make sure they're the nation's best practices and they're updated. We have to prove we do them. “We prohibit 'no knock' search warrants unless they're approved by a judge or the chief. We have completely banned choke holds unless it's a matter of life and death. We have never trained these or endorsed them,” he said. “The duty to

intervene policy – we've always had them in our rules and regulations, not just for use of force, it's for all times. We have changed our use of force reporting policy when an officer draws a pistol.” He said they evaluate every employee, with efforts at deescalation emphasized, twice-a-year training, and a much greater emphasis and recruitment, hiring and training regardless of sex, nationality and color. “We have a committee to recruit a more diverse applicant pool,” he said. “It's very difficult. We're struggling. We can't find people who want to be police officers.” He said one larger hindrance is their requirement for all officers to have a bachelor's degree before academy training, which not all departments do. “I don't want to see it go anywhere. A college educated officer is 40 percent less likely to use force in any form and 30 percent less likely to discharge a firearm. California is mandating it for all officers 18 -24 years of age. We've been doing it since the '70s.” He said training in the department is a career-long process, which also allows people to move through their career so they continue to grow. “We view ourselves as community guardians, not warriors. We work with the community to address problems and use arrests as a last resort,” Langmeyer said.

Cranbrook Road from Maple to 14 closing In a partnership between the city of Birmingham, Bloomfield Township and the Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC), Cranbrook Road between 14 Mile and Maple roads closed for reconstruction Monday, June 14 through late August. Once closed, the RCOC said the road will remain closed to through traffic so RCOC can repave the road and make safety improvements. Safety improvements include reconstructing the section between Maple and Lincoln roads as a three-lane road with a continuous center left-turn lane and three-foot wide paved shoulders. The road will also be milled, meaning the existing pavement will be ground off, followed by the placement of three inches of new asphalt. The project will also replace damaged curbs, modernize the traffic signal at the Midvale/Cranbrook intersection, improve sidewalk crosswalks to comply with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), and work on Maple Road

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from Cranbrook Road west to Glengarry. The cost of the project is projected at $1.4 million, to be shared by RCOC, Bloomfield Township, the city of Birmingham, Birmingham Public Schools for the Midvale traffic signal, and Oakland County general government through their Tri-Party program. Access to homes, businesses and Seaholm High School will be maintained at all times. The detour route for Cranbrook Road during the closure is 14 Mile Road to Lahser Road to Maple Road, back to Cranbrook/Covington Road, and vice versa. The detour route for Lincoln Road traffic is Southfield Road to Maple Road and vice versa. Maple Road will remain open throughout the project, lanes will close as needed to complete work between Cranbrook and Glengarry roads.

Valente political sign theft case in limbo By Lisa Brody

The larceny case involving a former Republican candidate for trustee in Bloomfield Township, Don Valente, for theft of campaign signs in last August's primary election, may have been dropped by the assistant Oakland County prosecutor after numerous delays and appeals on the part of Valente and his lawyer, unless Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald chooses to personally review the case. Valente is a retired attorney. In late July 2020, the Oakland County Sheriff's office has submitted an investigation into multiple thefts of campaign signs by a candidate for Bloomfield Township Trustee, Don Valente, to the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office for consideration of an arrest warrant after a complaint was filed with the Bloomfield Township Police Department by a citizen who recognized Valente and saw him taking campaign signs for township supervisor Leo Savoie and treasurer Brian Kepes in the vicinity of Long Lake and Telegraph. Bloomfield Township police initially investigated the complaint, with surveillance cameras confirming the thefts. They then expanded their surveillance review to other locations along Telegraph, where they saw numerous other signs for Savoie, Kepes, Tom Smyly, Eric Pernie, Neal Barnett and other candidates that had been taken. Because Smyly is a Bloomfield Township police officer, the 80

Roberson new Birmingham superintendent By Lisa Brody

r. Embekka Roberson, who has been with Birmingham Public Schools since 2008, first as an elementary school principal, then high school principal and assistant superintendent for the district, was named the new Birmingham Public Schools Superintendent by a unanimous vote of the school board on Tuesday, June 8. Roberson, a Black woman, is the first female and the first person of color to become superintendent of the Birmingham Public Schools district. Pending completion of final contract negotiations between the board and Roberson, she will assume her new position July 6. The search for a new superintendent for the district began in April, following the resignation of superintendent Mark Dziatczak February 23, following an extended medical leave of absence which began in October 2020. The search process included community surveys, formal board interviews by three candidate finalists as well entry plan presentations from the candidates, virtual site tours of home districts and stakeholder interviews. Roberson became the assistant superintendent for Student Learning & Inclusion for the district in 2020 after being principal of Groves High School from 2017-2020. She was previously principal of Harlan Elementary School form 2008-2017; she began her career as a fourth grade teacher in Detroit Public Schools. In her current position as assistant superintendent for Student Learning & Inclusion, she oversees, coordinates, and supervises curriculum planning, implementation, and evaluation; assessment and standardized testing administration; program development and evaluation; career and vocational education; and professional learning for staff, and provides strategic leadership regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. During her final interview on June 1, Roberson presented a 90-day transition plan, which included four goals: safety, focusing on student health and safety priorities and social and emotional support for students and staff; academic achievement; community/stakeholder outreach, inviting stakeholders perspectives and voices to be heard, and with an effort towards building community connections; and looking at organizational needs, including central staffing needs, making sure all buildings are prepared for opening in the fall, and initiating the strategic planning process. The desired outcomes of these goals are for a seamless transition as superintendent; a clear and shared understanding of work priorities; to create a summary report of key findings and recommendations and organizational plan for hiring central leadership personnel; and to develop a roadmap and timeline for the development of the district’s strategic plan. The first 30 days are geared towards listening, with full implementation within 90 days.


investigation was referred to the Oakland County Sheriff's Office to avoid a conflict of interest. Pernie, Savoie, and Valente all lost their respective races, and Smyly lost to Martin Brook in November. Reports indicated that between 50 and 60 election signs were found by officers in plain view leaning against the outside of Valente's garage. Neal Barnett, a long time township trustee who was re-elected in 2020, said he received a call from the assistant prosecutor handling the case informing him that Valente's attorney had made a motion in 48th District Court before Judge Kimberly Small to

have the evidence – all of the election signs – thrown out. Small denied the motion, and Valente has appealed to Oakland County Circuit Court to have Small's motion overturned. Barnett said the assistant prosecutor said the office had decided to drop the case at this point. “That is a dangerous precedent to set,” Barnett said. “I wrote an email to the new prosecutor (McDonald) saying that.” He said McDonald is now going to review the case. Calls and emails to her office were not returned to confirm that by press time. “He's never even apologized to the


community or admitted he did something wrong,” Barnett said. That is something that particularly bothers Kepes as well. “What is most troubling is he violated a system we all swore to uphold – the Constitution of the state of Michigan,” said Savoie, noting Valente is still a licensed attorney as well as a former assistant prosecutor for Wayne County. “This guy has no respect for the system he was part of. They're allowing him to violate the public's trust. He was running for office. It's part of the integrity of the office.” Valente had been a vocal opponent of Savoie and Kepes at township board meetings and in written campaign materials, but Savoie's wife Sally said it went far beyond vocal opposition. “He harassed and threatened us for two years, including coming on our property and to our front door,” she said. “He stole signs in broad daylight. I was scared he could do worse. I can't believe as an attorney he can get away with it.”

Water, sewer rates staying the same Residents living in Bloomfield Hills will not see either their water or sewer rates increase for fiscal year 2021-2022, after city commissioners unanimously approved resolutions at their meeting on Tuesday, June 8, to maintain the same rates as the current fiscal year. The new fiscal year begins July 1. “Based on a review of the city's water and sewer financial condition, as well as discussions with Oakland County Water Resource Commission (WRC) and Hubbell, Roth & Clark (HRC), we feel there are adequate resources to continue the necessary operations and maintenance, complete in-progress capital improvement projects, cash finance upcoming regional projects, and provide for a necessary risk and resiliency study, without increasing rates,” city manager David Hendrickson informed commissioners. The water rate pass through from Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) and Southeastern Oakland County Water Authority (SOCWA) will remain at $47.96 per metered cubic foot (MCF) used and $43.75 per meter equivalent unit (MEU) fixed quarterly charge is necessary. For sewer rates, the sanitary sewer rate is $35.58 per MCF of water sales, and a $15 per MEU quarterly charge is necessary. Commissioners voted 5-0 to approve. 07.21



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FACES Dr. Selina Mahmood s a neurology resident at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Dr. Selina Mahmood may have anticipated the demands that come with her career, but she had no way of knowing that the COVID-19 pandemic was coming. Her experience would inspire her to write a book called: “A Pandemic in Residence: Essays from a Detroit Hospital” (available through Amazon and Belt Publishing). “I started writing essays as an undergrad,” said Mahmood, who went to New York University and the University of Michigan before attending medical school in Pakistan. Born in Detroit, Mahmood grew up in Bloomfield Hills. “When the pandemic started and I was working on the new COVID floor, I didn’t have an apartment yet, so I was living in Bloomfield Hills with my family and friends, but I ended up in a hotel in Troy that was completely deserted,” she said. “It feels kind of suffocating in a hotel room. The first weekend, I was one of the only ones there. I felt trapped.” While her living situation was far from ideal, she could not risk infecting others. Writing would serve as a creative outlet that seemed to suit her. “I would write notes during the day about what was going on and in between those essays there are other essays in the book that are more free-floating thoughts,” said Mahmood. Still, there is a common thread. “A good essay collection has a narrative that ties things together,” she said. “This one is grounded in my surroundings that include the pandemic, neurology and family integration. I also tried grounding it in a lot of pop culture.” She is inspired by writers like David Sedaris, Milan Kundera, Virginia Woolf and Kaveh Akbar. An excerpt from her book that appears in an essay called “Sleep” reveals her distinct voice: “In the patient’s room, banging open curtains, letting sun wash away delirium. Standing still watching the attending examine the patient, a cup dithering on my piriform cusp, waiting it out, it so rarely visits anymore, this deepness of purpose.” From the time her residency began the summer before the pandemic to its start in March 2020 was like night and day. “Nobody knew what was going on. It was all so very up in the air,” said Mahmood, whose father is a neurosurgeon. “I was very wrapped up in my own thoughts and my writing took me out into reality in writing and in life as well.” Her editor told her the main reason for writing is to communicate with others, and Mahmood wanted her essays to resonate with readers from all walks of life. “You don’t want to be vague or abstract,” she said. “But publishing something that’s going on can be tricky because you don’t have hindsight to frame it.” From a medical standpoint, she found it interesting to see how the world dealt with a novel virus. Though she said the experience was surreal, there were some positive aspects, including community building. “One day I came into work at 6 a.m. and there were people holding posters who were clapping,” she said. The pandemic also made her closer to her colleagues. As she explained, “The shared experience ended up bonding us together.” Now the hospital is pretty much back to normal, with a few exceptions, like masks. “When you’re in it, you don’t know how strange it is,” said Mahmood. “When you’re living through it, the strangeness becomes normalized.”


Story: Jeanine Matlow

Photo: Justine Castle Photography




THE COMMUNITY HOUSE NEW LEGACY & PLANNED GIVING PROGRAM TO SUPPORT THE HISTORIC COMMUNITY HOUSE As you may know, on January 1, 2018, The Community House Association’s Board of Directors announced the creation of a new and separate entity: The Community House Foundation to act as a supporting organization to The Community House AAssociation.

In many cases, a legacy gift is made upon someone’s death, but not always. Legacy giving can take several forms, including recurring donations that begin while the donor is alive and continue after they are deceased. And legacy gifts do not have to be monetary, either. They can include material goods, property, stocks – anything that is of value to the beneficiary. We consider those donors who inform us of their gift commitments – a very special group. They have set themselves apart and are demonstrating to the historic Community House that they care and want to be recognized for their gifts during their lifetime. To honor this special group of people, The Community House Foundation has established a number of recognition societies that pay tribute to those who have made a gift commitment to us through their estate or other long-term commitment. Membership into our giving societies, including the Bates Street Society, will be reserved for donors who have arranged for a gift to TCH through their will or living trust, a life insurance or retirement plan beneficiary designation, gift annuity, charitable remainder trust or other life income gift.

With this historic announcement we learned that the mission of the new Community House Foundation was to generate and secure supplemental philanthropic funds needed to fulfill our promise – to families and to the Community – who depend on us to deliver a variety of quality programs and services throughout the region. In addition to securing supplemental funding to maintain quality programming and services at TCH, The Community House Association’s leadership also mandated that The Community House Foundation dedicate itself to raising funds and awareness for the preservation and perpetual care of The Community House Association’s historic building and nearly century-old plant.

painless – and always impactful. Legacy gifts are typically prepared for a donor through a financial planner or attorney and are meant to reflect the values and desires of the donor. Whether leaving a bequest as a tribute to a family member or to create a legacy for themselves, donors benefit from planned gifts because they can make a lasting impact on a cause that is important to them.

Bill Seklar

With these goals in mind, much of The Community House Foundation’s initial efforts to date have focused on educating and carefully pairing passionate and caring donors with the immediate and emerging needs of The Community House – critical needs over and above its normal day to day operations. Fortunately, over the last 18 months, charitable donations and estate/legacy gifts at The Community House Foundation continued to come in – despite the devastating pandemic. Surely, COVID-19 created needs over and above “normal” day to day operations. Much of this giving occurred through several key transformational planned gifts – gifts made after a donor's death. The impact of these estate gifts during 2020 were undeniable. Without these estate gifts, our ability to navigate through the treacherous waters of the last year, to where we are today – most unlikely. When establishing The Community House Foundation, we learned that planned giving is the process of donating planned gifts. A planned gift is a contribution that is arranged in the present and designated (allocated) to an organization at a future date. Commonly donated through a will or trust, planned gifts are most often granted once the donor has passed away. It sounds scary, but it is not. It sounds complicated but it is often not. Legacy giving, generally referred to as planned giving, is a donation made by an individual through a will or other formal designation. It can be easy, quite

As we turn the page on our “second century” of service in 2023, it is with great hope for a strong and certain future that The Community House and The Community House Foundation officially unveils its “new” Legacy and Planned Giving Program. As part of the roll out of this new program, friends and supporters of TCH can soon expect: • A semi-annual newsletter, BATES 380, delivered to your mailbox or inbox. • Life Stage Gift Planner™ to help guide you through financial strategies and possible charitable solutions to the challenges and opportunities you may be facing. • Access to a Gift Comparison Chart & Analysis Tool to determine a gift strategy that fits your needs. • Monthly blog on the most up-to-date giving strategies and planning tools. • Access to dozens of Planned Giving & Estate Planning educational brochures. • A complimentary, (if requested) customized planned giving plan tailored to your specific needs. In the meantime, should you be interested in learning more about estate planning, legacy and planned gifts or naming opportunities at The Community House now, please contact the Office of President at 248.644.5832. William D. Seklar is President & CEO of The Community House and The Community House Foundation in Birmingham.






DEE WRIGHT ASSOCIATE BROKER Hall & Hunter Realtors c. +1 248 330 8667 o. +1 248 593 0695

Med err e Mаterpie

Loc iо Eevery ing



4 Bedrooms | 3.2 Baths | 3,641 Sq. Ft. | $1,475,000

3 Bedrooms | 4.1 Baths | 3,335 Sq. Ft. | $975,000

Mediterranean masterpiece! Foyer boasts mosaic tile inset into limestone floor. 1.5 Story Living Room with wood floors, vaulted beam ceiling with tie rods, gas fireplace w/Pewabic tile arch & hand plaster walls. The Formal Dining Room opens to Kitchen & Family Room. Designer Kitchen with Downsview cabinetry, limestone countertops and floor. Wolf gas range w/2 electric ovens surrounded by solid carved limestone and handmade molded glass backsplash. Sub-Zero ref & Bosch dishwasher. Center limestone island w/seating for 2. Dornbracht faucets. First floor laundry. Master Bedroom w/2 walk-in closets. Master Bath w/ Carrera marble floors & walls, soaking tub & shower w/ frameless glass Euro door. Yard designed by Detroit Garden Works w/iron Pergola w/ grapevines, crushed granite courtyard, fountain. Concrete block fenced yard covered with plaster. All Anderson windows, red tile roof, sprinkler system and central air. 4 bdrms, 3.2 baths. 2 car attached heated garage.

Location is everything! Truly a contemporary design in one of Birmingham’s most sought after in-town locations! Large, spacious rooms with hardwood floors throughout most of the house. All bedrooms have private baths. Walk-out lower level. Just move right in and walk to the parks or your favorite restaurant. Don’t miss this one!

H A L L A N D H U N T E R . C O M | +1 2 4 8 6 4 4 3 5 0 0 | 4 4 2 S . O L D W O O D WA R D B I R M I N G H A M

BUSINESS MATTERS Shady treatment Birmingham and Bloomfield shoppers looking to complement their homes with the addition of window treatments have another option with the opening of The Shade Store, 142 S. Old Woodward, in downtown Birmingham, in early June. With open showrooms and offerings that include custom and to the trade window treatments, their exclusive collection of more than 1,300 in-stock fabrics and materials provides customers with an unparalleled amount of style and customization options. The Shade Store boasts it is a premium custom window treatment company with a rich heritage in luxury textiles and interior design – and every window treatment is handcrafted in the USA, hung and tested for quality assurance and ships free in 10 days or less. “The Shade Store offers a complete range of in-person and virtual design services for consumers and design-trade clientele, including swatches, complimentary professional window measurements and photo rendering.” In addition, as advocates of environmental sustainability, for every purchase made, the company provides the ‘Gift of Shade’ by planting a tree in partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation.

Med spa in downtown Jodi Eichoff and Wendy Bidwell met a few years ago, at a time when both were looking for something new. Today, they’ve found it, creating Beauty Fusion Aesthetics, a boutique med spa in the 555 Building in downtown Birmingham. Eichoff, a nurse practitioner, and Bidwell, a registered nurse, are joined at the medical spa by an aesthetician, where they offer clients Botox and other fillers, skin rejuvenation, skin tightening services, like Ulthera for the face and neck and Velashape for the body. They also offer laser services for skin resurfacing and vein removal, body contouring,

microneedling, hair restoration for men as well as women with thinning hair, peels and facials. The aesthetician can also perform microblading, lip blushing and medical tatooing, Eichoff said. With four treatment rooms, “We are excited to be here,” Eichoff said.

A place of her own Kathy Razny was well-known in local skin care circles for years, offering her expert facials and waxing services for 21 years at Emile’s Salon in Beverly Hills before heading off this spring to open her own spot, Skin & Body Place, 725 S Adams Road, Suite 175, in Birmingham. “It was just my dream.” Reflecting on the pandemic, she said, “The time was right for me. The chaos of the last year was enlightening and a lot of the puzzles of my life came together.” With a clientele that has grown by word of mouth, she describes Skin & Body Place as “a unique oasis of calm. I wanted a private, intimate environment. I develop personal relationships with people, and I wanted a private space.” Razny offers a wide selection of therapeutic, relaxing signature treatments for both men and women “We’re in the business of improving quality of life.”

Bagel and a shmear Craving a bagel and cream cheese? Look no further than Jersey Bagel Deli & Grille, which has opened a third metro Detroit location at 1120 E. Lincoln in Birmingham. First opened in New Jersey by founder Eddie Daham 30 years ago, Daham Daham, Eddie’s son, along with his partner Sammy Abdo have opened Jersey Bagel franchises in West Bloomfield and Bloomfield Township, at Maple and Lahser. Jersey Bagel offers a variety of sweet breakfast plates, loaded breakfast sandwiches, create your own omelets, offer hand-rolled bagels, hand-sliced Nova lox, salad platters, and of course, cream cheese as well as classic deli sandwiches.

Feeling just peachy Looking to get your lower body perfect for summer? Peach Lab is just the place for you. It’s a boutique fitness studio that focuses on lower body-based workouts, said manager Kaila Duncan. Located in Birmingham’s Rail District at 2125 Cole Street, it is affiliated with RPM, a full fitness gym, sharing the same owner and parking lot, but Duncan emphasized Peach Lab is a different concept. All classes are strength, circuit and HIIT-based, with one full body workout class a week. “It’s a good feeling walking in every day,” Duncan said. “It’s women supporting and empowering each other through their one-hour workouts. It’s a great community of women supporting each other here.” Sign up via their website. As for the the studio’s name? “Our mission is to help you sculpt your perfect peach with innovative classes crafted to get you the workout you love and see results exactly where you want them.”

Barber shop clarification We want to clear things up – at long time and well-known Birmingham Barbers, 725 S. Adams, Suite 110, Birmingham, former owner Jim Farhat, who opened the popular barbershop in 1966, died quite a while ago. No new news to longtime customers, new owner Anna Canisz said. She just wanted it cleared up that while she worked for years with Jim, she actually bought the shop in January from Jim’s son, Larry Farhat – who is alive and well. Larry retired from the business, prompting Canisz to purchase the local institution. With the pandemic waning, she’s fixed the place up, even adding putt-putt for kids – and kids at heart.

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The Birmingham/Bloomfield area is filled with discriminating diners and an array of dining establishments. Make sure the message for your restaurant reaches the right market in the right publication—Downtown.

Contact Mark Grablowski for advertising rate information. O: 248.792.6464 Ext. 601


The Places To Eat for Downtown is a quick reference source to establishments offering a place for dining, either breakfast, lunch or dinner. The listings include nearly all dining establishments with seating in the Birmingham/Bloomfield area, and then some select restaurants outside the immediate area served by Downtown.

Birmingham/Bloomfield 220: American. Lunch & Dinner, Monday- Saturday. Reservations. Liquor. 220 E. Merrill Street, Birmingham, 48009. 248.646.2220. 5th Tavern: American. Lunch & Dinner daily. No reservations. Liquor. 2262 S. Telegraph Road, Bloomfield Township, 48302. 248.481.9607. Adachi: Asian. Lunch & Dinner daily. Liquor. Reservations. 325 S. Old Woodward, Birmingham 48009. 248.540.5900. Andiamo: Italian. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 6676 Telegraph Road, Bloomfield Township, 48301. 248.865.9300. Bangkok Thai Bistro: Thai. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 42805 Woodward Ave., Bloomfield Township, 48304. 248.499.6867. Beau's: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 4108 W. Maple, Bloomfield Hills, 48301. 248.626.2630. Bella Piatti: Italian. Lunch & Dinner, Tuesday-Saturday. Reservations. Liquor. 167 Townsend Street, Birmingham, 48009. 248.494.7110. Beverly Hills Grill: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Liquor. No reservations. 31471 Southfield Road, Beverly Hills, 48025. 248.642.2355. Beyond Juice: Contemporary. Breakfast & Lunch daily; Dinner, MondaySaturday. No reservations. 270 West Maple Avenue, Birmingham, 48009. 248.594.7078. Big Rock Chophouse: American. Lunch & Dinner, Monday-Saturday. Reservations. Liquor. 245 South Eton Street, Birmingham, 48009. 248.647.7774. Bill's: American. Lunch & Dinner, Daily. Reservations. Liquor. 39556 Woodward Avenue, Bloomfield Hills, 48304. 248.646.9000. Birmingham Pub: American. Lunch and Dinner, daily. Weekend Brunch. Reservations. Liquor. 555 S. Old Woodward, Birmingham. Birmingham Sushi Cafe: Japanese. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 377 Hamilton Row, Birmingham, 48009. 248.593.8880. Bistro Joe’s Kitchen: Global. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Sunday brunch. Liquor. Reservations. 34244 Woodward Ave., Birmingham, 48009. 248.594.0984. Bloomfield Deli: Deli. Breakfast & Lunch, Monday-Friday. No reservations. 71 W. Long Lake Road, Bloomfield Hills, 48304. 248.645.6879. Brooklyn Pizza: Pizza. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Liquor. No reservations. 111 Henrietta Street, Birmingham, 48009. 248.258.6690. Café ML: New American. Dinner, daily. Liquor. Call ahead. 3607 W. Maple Road, Bloomfield Township. 248.642.4000. Casa Pernoi: Italian. Dinner, TuesdayDOWNTOWN

Saturday. Reservations. Liquor. 310 E. Maple Road, Birmingham, 48009. 248.940.0000. Churchill's Bistro & Cigar Bar: Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 116 S. Old Woodward Avenue, Birmingham, 48009. 248.647.4555. Cityscape Deli: Deli. Lunch & Dinner, Monday-Saturday. No reservations. Beer. 877 W. Long Lake Road, Bloomfield Hills, 48302. 248.540.7220. Commonwealth: American. Breakfast & Lunch, daily. No reservations. 300 Hamilton Row, Birmingham, 48009. 248.792.9766. Dick O’Dow’s: Irish. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 160 West Maple Avenue, Birmingham, 48009. 248.642.1135. Eddie Merlot's: Steak & seafood. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 37000 Woodward Avenue, Bloomfield Hills, 48304. 248.712.4095. Einstein Bros. Bagels: Deli. Breakfast & Lunch, daily. No reservations. 4089 West Maple Road, Bloomfield Hills, 48301. 248.258.9939. Elie’s Mediterranean Cuisine: Mediterranean. Lunch & Dinner, Monday-Saturday. No reservations. Liquor. 263 Pierce Street, Birmingham, 48009. 248.647.2420. Embers Deli & Restaurant: Deli. Breakfast & Lunch, daily. Dinner, Monday-Friday. No reservations. 3598 West Maple Road, Bloomfield Hills, 48301. 248.645.1033. Flemings Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar: American. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 323 N. Old Woodward Avenue, Birmingham, 48009. 248.723.0134. Forest: European. Dinner, MondaySaturday. Reservations. Liquor. 735 Forest Avenue, Birmingham 48009. 248.258.9400. Greek Island Coney Restaurant: Greek. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 221 Hamilton Row, Birmingham, 48009. 248.646.1222. Griffin Claw Brewing Company: American. Dinner, Tuesday-Friday, Lunch & Dinner, Saturday and Sunday. No Reservations. Liquor. 575 S. Eton Street, Birmingham. 248.712.4050. Honey Tree Grille: Greek/American. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, daily. No reservations. 3633 W. Maple Rd, Bloomfield, MI 48301. 248.203.9111. Hunter House Hamburgers: American. Breakfast, Monday-Saturday; Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 35075 Woodward Avenue, Birmingham, 48009. 248.646.7121. Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse: American. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 201 S. Old Woodward, Birmingham, 48009. 248.594.4369. IHOP: American. Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 2187 S. Telegraph Road, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48301. 248.333.7522. Joe Muer Seafood: Seafood. Lunch & Dinner daily; Sunday brunch. Reservations. Liquor. 39475 Woodward Avenue, Bloomfield Hills, 48304. 248.792.9609. Kaku Sushi and Poke': Asian. Lunch & Dinner. Tuesday-Sunday. No reservations. No Liquor. 869 W. Long 07.21

Lake Road, Bloomfield Township, 48302. 248.480.4785, and 126 S. Old Woodward, Birmingham, 48009. 248.885.8631. Kerby’s Koney Island: American. Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 2160 N. Woodward Avenue, Bloomfield Hills, 48304. 248.333.1166. La Marsa: Mediterranean. Lunch & Dinner daily. Reservations. 43259 Woodward Ave., Bloomfield Hills, 48302. 248.858.5800. La Strada Italian Kitchen & Bar: Italian. Lunch & Dinner, Tuesday-Sunday. Reservations. Liquor. 243 E. Merrill Street, Birmingham, 48009. 248.480.0492. Leo’s Coney Island: American. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 154 S. Old Woodward Avenue, Birmingham, 48009. 248.593.9707. Also 6527 Telegraph Road, Bloomfield Hills, 48301. 248.646.8568. Little Daddy’s Parthenon: American. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 39500 Woodward Avenue, Bloomfield Hills, 48304. 248.647.3400. Luxe Bar & Grill: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily; Late Night, 9 p.m.closing. No reservations. Liquor. 525 N. Old Woodward Ave., Birmingham, 48009. 248.792.6051. Madam: American. Breakfast, MondayFriday, Brunch, weekends. Lunch, Monday-Friday, Dinner daily. Reservations. Liquor. 298 S. Old Woodward, Birmingham, 48009. 248.283.4200 Mandaloun Bistro: Lebanese. Lunch, Monday-Friday. Dinner, Daily. Reservations. Liquor. 30100 Telegraph Rd., Suite 130, Bingham Farms, 48025. 248.723.7960. Market North End: Mediterranean. Lunch & Dinner, Tuesday-Sunday. No reservations. Liquor. 474 N. Old Woodward Avenue, Birmingham, 48009. 248.712.4953. MEX Mexican Bistro & Tequila Bar: Mexican. Lunch, Monday-Friday, Dinner, daily. Liquor. 6675 Telegraph Road, Bloomfield Township, 48301. 248.723.0800. Nippon Sushi Bar: Japanese. Lunch & Dinner daily. No reservations. Liquor. 2079 S. Telegraph, Bloomfield Township, 48302. 248.481.9581. Olga’s Kitchen: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 2075 S. Telegraph Road, Bloomfield Hills, 48302. 248.451.0500. Original Pancake House: American. Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 33703 South Woodward Avenue, Birmingham, 48009. 248.642.5775. Phoenicia: Middle Eastern. Lunch, Monday-Friday; Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 588 South Old Woodward Avenue, Birmingham, 48009. 248.644.3122. Planthropie: Vegan. Dessert and Cheese. 135 Pierce Street, Birmingham, 48009. 248.839.5640. Qdoba: Mexican. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Also 42967 Woodward Avenue, Bloomfield Township, 48304. 248.874.1876 Roadside B & G: American. Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 1727 S.

Telegraph Road, Bloomfield Hills, 48302. 248.858.7270. Salvatore Scallopini: Italian. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Beer & Wine. 505 North Old Woodward Avenue, Birmingham, 48009. 248.644.8977. Shift Cocktail Bar: Small plates. Dinner. Liquor. 117 Willits Street, Birmingham, 48009. 248.792.2380. Sidecar: American. Lunch and Dinner, daily. Liquor. 117 Willits Street, Birmingham, 48009. 248.792.2380. Slice Pizza Kitchen: Pizza. Lunch and Dinner, daily. Liquor. 117 Willits Street, Birmingham, 48009. 248.792.3475. Social Kitchen & Bar: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations, parties of 5 or more. Liquor. 225 E. Maple Road, Birmingham, 48009. 248.594.4200. Stacked Deli: Deli. Breakfast & Lunch, Monday-Saturday. Delivery available. No reservations. 233 North Old Woodward, Birmingham, 48009. 248.593.5300. Stateside Deli & Restaurant Deli. Breakfast, Lunch, Sunday-Monday. Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner, Tuesday-Saturday. No reservations. 653 S. Adams Road, Birmingham, 48009. 248.550.0455. Steve’s Deli: Deli. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 6646 Telegraph Road, Bloomfield, 48301. 248.932.0800. Streetside Seafood: Seafood. Dinner, daily. Liquor. 273 Pierce Street, Birmingham, 48009. 248.645.9123. Sushi Hana: Japanese. Lunch, MondayFriday; Dinner, Monday-Saturday. Reservations. Liquor. 42656 Woodward Avenue, Bloomfield Hills, 48304. 248.333.3887. Sy Thai Cafe: Thai. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 315 Hamilton Row, Birmingham, 48009. 248.258.9830. Tallulah Wine Bar and Bistro: American. Dinner. Monday-Saturday. Sunday brunch. Reservations. Liquor. 55 S. Bates Street, Birmingham, 48009. 248.731.7066. The Franklin Grill: American. Lunch & Dinner, Monday-Saturday. Reservations. Liquor. 32760 Franklin Rd, Franklin, 48025. 248.865.6600. The Gallery Restaurant: American. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Beer & wine. 6683 Telegraph Road, Bloomfield Hills, 48301. 248.851.0313. The Moose Preserve Bar & Grill: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 2395 S. Woodward Avenue, Bloomfield Hills, 48302. 248.858.7688. The Morrie: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 260 N. Old Woodward, Birmingham 48009. 248.940.3260. The Rugby Grille: American. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 100 Townsend Street, Birmingham, 48009. 248.642.5999. Toast: American. Breakfast & Lunch, daily; Reservations. Liquor. 203 Pierce Street, Birmingham, 48009. 248.258.6278. Tomatoes Apizza: Pizza. Lunch & Dinner daily. Carryout. 34200 Woodward Avenue, Birmingham 48009. 248.258.0500.

Touch of India: Indian. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 297 E. Maple Road, Birmingham, 48009. 248.593.7881. Townhouse: American. Brunch, Saturday, Sunday. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 180 Pierce Street, Birmingham, 48009. 248.792.5241. Whistle Stop Diner: American. Breakfast & Lunch, daily; No reservations. 501 S. Eton Street, Birmingham, 48009. 248.566.3566. Zao Jun: Asian. Lunch Monday-Friday; Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 6608 Telegraph Road, Bloomfield Township, 48301. 248.949.9999.

Royal Oak/Ferndale Ale Mary's: American. Weekend Brunch. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 316 South Main St., Royal Oak, 48067. 248.268.1917. Anita’s Kitchen: Middle Eastern. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Beer & Wine. 22651 Woodward Ave., Ferndale, 48220. 248.548.0680. Assaggi Bistro: Italian. Lunch, TuesdayFriday. Dinner, Tuesday-Sunday. Reservations. Liquor. 330 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale, 48220. 248.584.3499. Bigalora: Italian. Weekend Brunch. Lunch, Monday-Friday. Dinner, daily. No Reservations. Liquor. 711 S. Main Street, Royal Oak, 48067. The Blue Nile: Ethiopian. Dinner, Tuesday-Sunday. Reservations. Liquor. 545 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale, 48220. 248.547.6699. Cafe Muse: French. Breakfast & Lunch, daily. Dinner, Tuesday-Saturday. Reservations. Liquor. 418 S. Washington Ave., Royal Oak, 48067. 248.544.4749. Cork Wine Pub: American. Sunday Brunch. Dinner, Monday-Saturday. Reservations. Liquor. 23810 Woodward Ave., Pleasant Ridge, 48069. 248.544.2675. Due Venti: Italian. Sunday Brunch. Dinner, Tuesday-Saturday. Reservations. Liquor. 220 S. Main St., Clawson, 48017. 248.288.0220. The Fly Trap: Diner. Breakfast & Lunch, daily. Dinner, Monday-Friday. No reservations. 22950 Woodward Ave., 48220. 248.399.5150. Howe’s Bayou: Cajun. Lunch, MondaySaturday. Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 22949 Woodward Ave., Ferndale, 48220. 248.691.7145. Inyo Restaurant Lounge: Asian Fusion. Weekend Brunch. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 22871 Woodward Ave., Ferndale, 48220. 248.543.9500. KouZina: Greek. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 121 N. Main St., Royal Oak, 48067. 248.629.6500. Kruse & Muer on Woodward: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 28028 Woodward Ave., Royal Oak, 48067. 248.965.2101. Lily’s Seafood: Seafood. Weekend Brunch. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 410 S. Washington Ave., Royal Oak, 48067. 248.591.5459. Lockhart’s BBQ: Barbeque. Sunday Brunch. Lunch & Dinner, MondaySaturday. No reservations. Liquor. 202


E. Third St., Royal Oak, 48067. 248.584.4227. Oak City Grille: American. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 212 W. 6th St, Royal Oak, 48067. 248.556.0947. One-Eyed Betty: American. Weekend Breakfast. Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 175 W. Troy St., Ferndale, 48220. 248.808.6633. Public House: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 241 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale, 48220. 248.850.7420. Redcoat Tavern: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 31542 Woodward Ave., Royal Oak, 48073. 248.549.0300. Ronin: Japanese. Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 326 W. 4th St., Royal Oak, 48067. 248.546.0888. Royal Oak Brewery: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 215 E. 4th St., Royal Oak, 48067. 248.544.1141. Strada: Italian. Dinner, Wednesday Sunday. Liquor. No reservations. 376 N. Main Street. Royal Oak, 48067. 248.607.3127. The Morrie: American. Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 511 S. Main St., Royal Oak, 48067. 248.216.1112. Toast, A Breakfast and Lunch Joint: American. Breakfast & Lunch, daily. No reservations. 23144 Woodward Ave., Ferndale, 48220. 248.398.0444. Tom’s Oyster Bar: Seafood. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 318 S. Main St., Royal Oak, 48067. 248.541.1186. Trattoria Da Luigi: Italian. Dinner, Tuesday-Sunday. Reservations. Liquor. 415 S, Washington Ave., Royal Oak, 48067. 248.542.4444. Twisted Tavern: American. Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 22901 Woodward Ave., Ferndale, 48220. 248.545,6750. Vinsetta Garage: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 27799 Woodward Ave., Berkley, 48072. 248.548.7711.

Troy/Rochester Capital Grille: Steak & Seafood. Lunch, Monday-Saturday. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 2800 West Big Beaver Rd., Somerset Collection, Troy, 48084. 248.649.5300. Cafe Sushi: Pan-Asian. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 1933 W. Maple Rd, Troy, 48084. 248.280.1831. CK Diggs: American & Italian. Lunch & Dinner, Monday-Saturday. Reservations. Liquor. 2010 W. Auburn Road, Rochester Hills, 48309. 248.853.6600. O’Connor’s Irish Public House: Irish. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 324 S. Main St., Rochester, 48307. 248.608.2537. Kona Grille: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 30 E. Big Beaver Rd., Troy, 48083. 248.619.9060. Kruse & Muer on Main: American. Sunday Brunch. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 327 S. Main St., Rochester, 48307. 248.652.9400. Loccino Italian Grill and Bar: Italian. Lunch, Monday-Friday, Dinner, daily. Liquor. Reservations. 5600 Crooks


METRO INTELLIGENCER Metro Intelligencer is a monthly column devoted to news stories, tidbits and gossip items about what's happening on the restaurant scene in the metro Detroit area. Metro Intelligencer is reported/created each month by Gigi Nichols who can be reached at with news items or tips, on or off the record.

The table is set Arguably one of Oakland County’s most unique restaurant additions this summer is Sylvan Table, located at 1819 Inverness Street, Sylvan Lake. Tucked just off Orchard Lake Road, the restaurant sits on five acres with three acres dedicated to farming 100 different crop varieties that will be incorporated into their seasonal food and drink menus. The menu features rustic, artisan and vegetable-forward food along with high quality meats, freshly made pastas and sustainable seafoods. The modern cozy dining experience is achieved in a 300year-old barn which owners Tim and Nicole Ryan acquired from Maine. The interior of the barn showcases two dining levels, an eight-foot wood-fired grill, wood-fired pizza oven, two fireplaces and a glass roof solarium. Executive Chef Christopher Gadulka said that the opportunity to lead the team at Sylvan Table is a dream come true. “There is not another place like this in Michigan. The combination of an amazing kitchen buildout with the fresh produce and other farm goods at my disposal will allow me the opportunity to create amazing food,” he said.

Let there be Brunch! Who doesn’t love a good brunch? Madam, located in Birmingham’s newly opened Daxton Hotel, is giving foodies plenty of unique and delectable options. The brioche French toast is plated with mascarpone, preserved berries and mint while the flat iron steak and farm eggs is served with marble potatoes and a choice of heritage bacon or chicken sausage and sourdough toast. Cooking up these creative dishes is Executive Chef Garrison Price, who says he is looking forward to creating brunch with a playful spin on seasonal favorites. “Guests are invited to the restaurant to experience Madam’s first-ever seasonal menu since our opening this April, an exciting reason to join us all summer long.” Madam’s vibrant space seats up to 80 guests in its artistic dining room beneath a soaring ceiling and expansive custom-made chandelier. Madam is located at 298 S. Old Woodward and serves up lunch and dinner daily with brunch service on Saturdays and Sundays. Reservations are not required but can be made via OpenTable.

Eat your veggies Local food truck and caterer, Nosh Pit, has expanded its restaurant operation (formerly located in Hamtramck, it closed in January 2021) to Royal Oak. The eatery, which specializes in vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free cuisine, is coowned by Karen Kahn and Stefan Kudek. The new location, located at 304 N. Main Street, Royal Oak, will accommodate seating for 78 including an outdoor patio. Menu favorites include mac un cheese, a nondairy grilled mac experience which the owners brag is the best vegan mac around; mozz cheese stix, homemade vegan mozzarella cheese in seasoned breadcrumbs; and the Larry sandwich, a corned “beet” Reuben. Co-owner Kahn says the restaurant was built with the help of the community. “Over the last few months, through donations and people who just showed up to help, we built up this restaurant by hand to keep our staff members working through our closure. The ceilings were painted by a customer, the walls were painted by staff and volunteers. Hand painted signs and art is all by our staff,” she pointed out. “We aren’t building a fancy food experience – we are building a community for Detroit vegans and people who want to experience eating a wholly veggie meal.”

Imaginate: a theatrical dining experience Omar Mitchell, executive chef and owner of Imaginate in Royal Oak describes his new restaurant as a “theatrical dining experience like no other.” The South Beach-themed interior presents fashionable personal lounge areas with plush white couches and pearl silver chandeliers. But what’s most unique about the concept is that all of the entrees will be served as props. The coconut almond popcorn shrimp will be presented in an old-school popcorn machine, while the bone-in ribeye will be displayed on a butcher block speared by a three-foot standing fork. Even the check at the end of the evening will be delivered in a Jack-in-the-box which guests will crank to find their bill. All of this is done to put the “fun in fine dining,” says Mitchell. In addition to seating 165 in the main dining area, the upstairs banquet space can accommodate up to 200 for special events. Entrees range in price from $26-59. The restaurant expects to open by

Road, Troy, 48098. 248.813.0700. The Meeting House: American. Weekend Brunch. Dinner, TuesdaySunday. No reservations. Liquor. 301 S. Main St, Rochester, 48307. 248.759.4825. Miguel’s Cantina: Mexican. Lunch, Monday-Friday. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 870 S. Rochester Rd, Rochester Hills, 48307. 248.453.5371. Mon Jin Lau: Asian. Lunch, MondayFriday. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 1515 E. Maple Rd, Troy, 48083. 248.689.2332. Morton’s, The Steakhouse: Steak & Seafood. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 888 W. Big Beaver Rd, Troy, 48084. 248.404.9845. NM Café: American. Lunch, MondaySaturday. Reservations. Liquor. 2705 W. Big Beaver Rd, Troy, 48084. 248.816.3424. Oceania Inn: Chinese. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. The Village of Rochester Hills, 3176 Walton Blvd, Rochester Hills, 48309. 248.375.9200. Ocean Prime: Steak & Seafood. Lunch, Monday-Friday. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 2915 Coolidge Hwy., Troy, 48084. 248.458.0500. Orchid Café: Thai. Lunch, MondayFriday. Dinner, daily. Reservations. 3303 Rochester Rd., Troy, 48085. 248.524.1944. P.F. Chang’s China Bistro: Chinese. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. Somerset Collection, 2801 W. Big Beaver Rd., Troy, 48084. 248.816.8000. Recipes: American/Brunch. Breakfast & Lunch, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 134 W. University Drive, Rochester, 48037. 248.659.8267. Also 2919 Crooks Road, Troy, 48084. 248.614.5390. Rochester Chop House: Steak & Seafood. Lunch, Monday-Friday. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 306 S. Main St., Rochester, 48307. 248.651.2266. Ruth’s Chris Steak House: Steak & Seafood. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 755 W. Big Beaver Rd., Troy, 48084. 248.269.8424. Silver Spoon: Italian. Dinner, MondaySaturday. Reservations. Liquor. 6830 N. Rochester Rd., Rochester, 48306. 248.652.4500. Too Ra Loo: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 139 S. Main St., Rochester, 48307. 248.453.5291.

West Bloomfield/Southfield Bacco: Italian. Lunch, Monday-Friday. Dinner, Monday-Saturday. Reservations. Liquor. 29410 Northwestern Highway, Southfield, 48034. 248.356.6600. Beans and Cornbread: Southern. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 29508 Northwestern Highway,

Southfield, 48034. 248.208.1680. Bigalora: Italian. Weekend Brunch. Lunch, Monday-Friday. Dinner, daily. No Reservations. Liquor. 29110 Franklin Road, Southfield, 48034. The Fiddler: Russian. Sunday Brunch. Dinner, Thursday-Sunday. Reservations. Liquor. 6676 Orchard Lake Rd, West Bloomfield Township, 48322. 248.851.8782. Mene Sushi: Japanese. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Beer & Wine. 6239 Orchard Lake Rd, West Bloomfield Township, 48322. 248.538.7081. Meriwether’s: Seafood. Lunch, MondaySaturday. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 25485 Telegraph Rd, Southfield, 48034. 248.358.1310. Nonna Maria’s: Italian. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 2080 Walnut Lake Road, West Bloomfield, 48323. 248.851.2500. Pickles & Rye: Deli. Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 6724 Orchard Lake Rd, West Bloomfield Township, 48322. 248.737.3890. Prime29 Steakhouse: Steak & Seafood. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 6545 Orchard Lake Rd., West Bloomfield, 48322. 248.737.7463. Redcoat Tavern: American. Lunch & Dinner, Monday-Saturday. No reservations. Liquor. 6745 Orchard Lake Rd., West Bloomfield Township, 48322. 248.865.0500. Shangri-La: Chinese. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. Orchard Mall Shopping Center, 6407 Orchard Lake Rd, West Bloomfield Township, 48322. 248.626.8585. Sposita’s Ristorante: Italian. Friday Lunch. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 33210 W. Fourteen Mile Rd., West Bloomfield Township, 48322. 248. 538.8954. Stage Deli: Deli. Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 6873 Orchard Lake Rd., West Bloomfield Township, 48322. 248.855.6622. Yotsuba: Japanese. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 7365 Orchard Lake Rd, West Bloomfield, 48322. 248.737.8282.

West Oakland Gravity Bar & Grill: Mediterranean. Monday – Friday, Lunch & Dinner, Saturday, Dinner. Reservations. Liquor. 340 N. Main Street, Milford, 48381. 248.684.4223. It's A Matter of Taste: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 2323 Union Lake Road, Commerce, 48390. 248.360.4150. Volare Ristorante: Italian. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 48992 Pontiac Trail, Wixom, 48393. 248.960.7771.

North Oakland Clarkston Union: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 54 S. Main St., Clarkston, 48346. 248.620.6100. Holly Hotel: American. Afternoon Tea, Monday – Saturday, Brunch, Sunday,

Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 110 Battle Alley, Holly, 48442. 248.634.5208. Kruse's Deer Lake Inn: Seafood. Lunch & dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 7504 Dixie Highway, Clarkston, 48346. 248.795.2077. The Fed: American. Lunch and Dinner daily, Brunch, Saturday and Sunday. Liquor. 15 S. Main Street, Clarkston, 48346. 248.297.5833 Via Bologna: Italian. Dinner daily. No reservations. Liquor. 7071 Dixie Highway, Clarkston. 48346. 248.620.8500. Union Woodshop: BBQ. Dinner, Monday – Friday, Lunch & Dinner, Saturday – Sunday. No reservations. Liquor. 18 S. Main St., Clarkston, 48346. 248.625.5660

Detroit Bucharest Grill: Middle Eastern. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 2684 E. Jefferson, Detroit, 48207. 313.965.3111. Cliff Bell’s: American. Sunday Brunch. Dinner, Tuesday-Sunday. Reservations. Liquor. 2030 Park Ave., Detroit, 48226. 313.961.2543. Cuisine: French. Dinner, TuesdaySaturday. Reservations. Liquor. 670 Lothrop Rd., Detroit, 48202. 313.872.5110. The Detroit Seafood Market: Seafood. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 1435 Randolph St., Detroit, 48226. 313.962.4180. El Barzon: Mexican. Lunch, TuesdayFriday. Dinner, Tuesday-Sunday. Reservations. Liquor. 3710 Junction St., Detroit, 48210. 313.894.2070. Fishbone’s Rhythm Kitchen Café: Cajun. Breakfast, daily. Sunday Brunch. Lunch, Monday-Saturday. Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 400 Monroe Street, Detroit, 48226. 313.965.4600. Giovanni’s Ristorante: Italian. Lunch & Dinner, Tuesday-Saturday. Reservations. Liquor. 330 S. Oakwood Blvd., Detroit, 48217. 313.841.0122. Green Dot Stables: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 2200 W. Lafayette, Detroit, 48216. 313.962.5588. Jefferson House: American. Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 2 Washington Blvd., Detroit, 48226. 313.782.4318. Joe Muer Seafood: Seafood. Lunch, Monday- Friday, Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 400 Renaissance Center, Detroit, 48243. 313.567.6837. Johnny Noodle King: Japanese. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 2601 W. Fort St., Detroit, 48216. 313.309.7946. Mario’s: Italian. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 4222 2nd Ave., Detroit, 48201. 313.832.1616. Midtown Shangri-la: Chinese. Lunch & Dinner, Monday-Saturday. Reservations. Liquor. 4710 Cass Ave., Detroit, 48201. 313.974.7669. Motor City Brewing Works: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Beer & Wine. 470 W. Canfield St., Detroit, 48201. 313.832.2700.

Prism: Steak & Seafood. Dinner, Tuesday-Saturday. Reservations. Liquor. 555 E. Lafayette St, Detroit, 48226. 313.309.2499. Red Smoke Barbeque: Barbeque. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. Trappers Alley Shopping Center, 573 Monroe Ave., Detroit, 48226. 313.962.2100. Selden Standard: American. Weekend Brunch. Lunch, Monday-Friday. Dinner, daily. Liquor. Reservations. 3921 Second Ave., Detroit, 48201. 313.438.5055. SheWolf Pastifico & Bar: Italian. Dinner, Tuesday through Sunday. Reservations. Liquor. 438 Selden St, Detroit 48201. 313.315.3992. Sinbad’s: Seafood. Sunday Brunch. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 100 St Clair St., Detroit, 48214. 313.822.8000. Slows Bar BQ: Barbeque. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 2138 Michigan Ave, Detroit, 48216. 313.962.9828. St. CeCe’s Pub: American. Sunday Brunch. Lunch & Dinner, MondaySaturday. No reservations. Liquor. 1426 Bagley Ave., Detroit, 48216. 313.962.2121. Tap at MGM Grand: American. Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 1777 Third Street, Detroit, 48226. 313.465.1234. Taqueria Nuestra Familia: Mexican. Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 7620 Vernor Hwy., Detroit, 48209. 313.842.5668. The Block: American. Sunday Brunch. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 3919 Woodward Ave, Detroit, 48201. 313.832.0892. Tom’s Oyster Bar: Seafood. Lunch, Monday-Friday. Dinner, MondaySaturday. Reservations. Liquor. 519 East Jefferson Ave., Detroit, 48226. 313.964.4010. Traffic Jam & Snug: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 511 W. Canfield, Detroit, 48201. 313.831.9470. 24grille: American. Sunday Brunch. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. The Westin Book Cadillac Detroit, 1114 Washington Blvd, Detroit, 48226. 313.964.3821. Union Street: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 4145 Woodward Ave, Detroit, 48201. 313.831.3965. Vince’s: Italian. Lunch, Tuesday-Friday. Dinner, Tuesday-Sunday. Reservations. Liquor. 1341 Springwells St., Detroit, 48209. 313.842.4857. Vivio’s Food & Spirits: American. Saturday Breakfast. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 2460 Market St., Detroit, 48207. 313.393.1711. The Whitney: American. Breakfast, Lunch, & High Tea, Monday-Friday. Sunday Brunch. Dinner, daily. Liquor. Reservations. 4421 Woodward Ave, Detroit, 48201. 313.832.5700. Wright & Co.: American. Dinner, Monday-Saturday. No reservations. Liquor. 1500 Woodward Ave Second Floor, Detroit, 48226. 313.962.7711.

the end of June and will occupy the old Bistro 82 space at 401 S. Lafayette, Royal Oak.

The Rock of Rochester Hills It took three years in the making, due to a delay from Covid-19, but RH House is finally open in Rochester Hills. Built from the ground up at 2630 Crooks Road, the restaurant is owned and operated by the Tinaj family, also the owners of Antonio’s Café and Grill – a 22-year-old casual family diner in Rochester Hills. The family’s new restaurant venture couldn’t be more different. The interior of this sleek and trendy eatery offers a soft and contemporary dining experience that is created with color and natural elements. The upscale American cuisine menu delivers everything from pastas, grilled meats and seafood to prime burgers and salads, with entrees running from $16-32. The full bar has a large selection of beers, signature craft cocktails and an extensive wine list with reserve collections. The restaurant is currently open for lunch and dinner with plans to add brunch soon. According to Tony Tinaj, there are still a lot of big plans for the future. “We want to add entertainment, happy hours and wine events. We want to make this place the rock of Rochester Hills!” she said. Stay tuned; sounds like they’re off to a great start.

A modern Argentine tribute Chef Javier Bardauil and Ignacio Gerson, both of Buenos Aires, have opened Detroit’s first and only authentic Argentinian-inspired restaurant, BARDA. Located at 4842 Grand River Avenue in Detroit, the modern South American restaurant concept brings a bold approach to Argentinian dishes with traditional open fire grilling and premium ingredients either sourced locally, or imported from Argentina. “The moment we experienced Detroit’s energy and appreciation for innovative ventures, we knew it was the ideal location for our restaurant concept,” said Gerson. Chef Bardauil combines his traditional European training with ancient South American flavors to present an eclectic and exciting menu. Alongside the artfully crafted dinner menu, BARDA offers an expansive beverage program spearheaded by the highly acclaimed bartenders Roger James Fruin and Robert Wilson. The beverage menu includes an exclusive selection of carefully studied Argentinian wines, South American-inspired libations and local craft beers. The modern 113-seat interior (formerly Magnet) features a long, sunken center bar while intimate booths and tables line the walls. BARDA will utilize the large adjacent park for a spacious 40-seat patio and bonfire.

Betta with feta Michigan-based eatery, Esita Greek Street Food’s tagline proclaims “everything is betta with a little feta,” and hence they will be expanding to Grosse Pointe Woods this summer, with more locations on the way. Existing locations include Troy and Warren, with a new mobile food truck making their delicious cuisine available on-the-go. The quick serve restaurant features healthy, Greek-inspired foods made with the freshest of ingredients and is known for its gyros with pitas that are freshly pressed and grilled, along with a choice of protein and an array of signature sauces – all made from scratch daily. Top-sellers also include customizable Greek salads, Greek fries topped with imported feta and traditional baklava for dessert. While some might still be concerned about indoor dining, Estia Greek Street Food also offers drive-through service at its Troy location and has a large outdoor patio at the Warren restaurant. The new location is set to open in July at 20871 Mack Avenue, Grosse Pointe Woods.

The Goblin opens in Detroit The Goblin Detroit is the second installment of the successful sushi concept developed by Jin Cha and Jo Cho, who combined boast over 20 years of experience working in the sushi industry. The sushi menu is highly focused, using the highest quality ingredients while still maintaining friendly prices. The contemporary and intimate indoor space has six tables and sushi bar seating. Guests dining in will enjoy a light atmosphere including a heavy rotation of K-Pop music videos. The establishment also features an outdoor patio, a small market with assorted merchandise including instant ramen bowls, alcoholic beverages such as soju, sake, rice beer, along with nonalcoholic beverages, teas and coffees. The Goblin Detroit is a collaboration with Inlaws Hospitality (Green Dot Stables, Johnny Noodle King and Yellow Light Coffee). The location at 2547 Bagley was the former home of Peso Bar and prior to that, Huron Room.


Stay true to city bistro ordinance process ver the 14 years since Birmingham developed and implemented their bistro liquor license ordinance, it has become not only a runaway success in the city, creating small yet diverse dining establishments which have succeeded in its number one goal – activating the city's streets in order to generate foot traffic in areas where they are, driving people to the local retailers and merchants. In fact, the ordinance is such a success, it is the model of other similar local ordinances that have been developed in the years since Birmingham introduced bistros. A little backstory: In 2007, Birmingham created a bistro liquor ordinance with the goal of invigorating Birmingham's streets. The current ordinance permits unique restaurants to obtain a liquor license if they have no more than 65 seats, including 10 at the bar, and low key entertainment only. The bistro regulations adopted also included requirements for storefront glazing, seating along the storefront windows, and a requirement for outdoor dining. The city commission approves the concept for each bistro license to be given out, with no more than two bistro licenses approved each year, with the exception of two additional licenses for establishments which have been in business for at least five years in the city in their same location. Since its inception, the bistro ordinance has been a huge success, doing just what it was intended – it has revitalized the downtown retail area of Birmingham, and their outdoor dining patios a destination for the metro area. Pedestrian foot traffic increased exponentially following the opening of bistros such as Toast,


Townhouse, Luxe, Bella Piatti and numerous others. Bistro applications are due annually for the following year by October 1; only if there are no applications for a given year is there a second application round, April 1. At a city commission meeting following the October application date, applications which follow all the appropriate guidelines, as determined by the planning department, are invited to give a five minute “hit the bases” presentation of what their concept is, menu ideas, design, financing ability, and similar highlights. It is then the commission's responsibility to determine which bistros – the maximum of two – to move on to the planning board for full site plan, design and special land use permit approvals before coming back to the commission for final approvals. Until this year. On October 26, 2020, six bistro applicants for a 2021 bistro ordinance license, one of which was for an existing establishment, came before the city commission – and the commission punted. Unable to prioritize one over the other – or even lead and determine that one, Vinewood Kitchen & Cocktails, did not even meet the criteria in the bistro ordinance but “intrigued” one of the commissioners, or that the existing bistro, Whistle Stop Diner, is not open for dinner, a requirement of the ordinance – they voted to move all six forward to the planning board, to force them to make the decision. Then in April, planning director Jana Ecker permitted three new applicants to come before the commission, one of which, for existing establishment, Commonwealth Cafe,

commissioners voted to move to planning. Besides a lack of leadership on the part of the city commissioners, who are required to understand the ordinances they are voting on, it creates another conundrum. Bistro applications do not come before the city's planning board all at once, so the first to the trough, in essence, is the first one fed. Vinewood Kitchen & Cocktails was the first to come before the planning board, but the planning board in its wisdom did not recommend its approval by the city commission, and they pulled their application at the last minute before it went to the commission. Two other applicants, Bloom Birmingham, a high end vegan restaurant, and Sushi Japan, an Asian restaurant featuring primarily Chinese food, both received recommended approvals from the planning board. If the city commission approves them in coming weeks, that's it for the 2021 year – even if they are not the best bistro choices for the city. The other issue was staff accepting, and presenting, applications in April. It was another unprecedented move, and one Ecker knows she should not have allowed. Applicants should have been told to apply in October for a 2022 license, as in years past. Whether from staff, the mayor, or the entire city commission, there must be coordination and an understanding of the functions of their roles and the ordinances, or businesses and residents will face a quagmire that will take a long while to unravel.

Give food trucks a trial run in Birmingham ast, fun, friendly. When many of us venture out of the city limits of Birmingham, whether to local haunts like Ferndale or downtown Detroit, or to New York or Austin, Texas, we're enjoying unique and delightful comestibles from mobile food trucks. Whether from a hot dog or soft pretzel vendor in the Big Apple to taco trucks in southwest Detroit or farther afield, a fast, one-of-a-kind meal, usually quick and affordable, hits the spot. It can also allow a newer cook or chef to hone his or her skills, save their money, and prepare themselves for prime time. Many years ago, we admit, we were opposed to bringing food trucks into downtown Birmingham. Our reasons were primarily as a protective measure for the brick-and-mortar establishments in town. Yet, as businesses slowly begin to bring workers back, many of whom are in their 20s, 30s and 40s, with limited lunch hours and budgets, the reality of


Birmingham is that there are fewer and fewer affordable lunch spots available. Coneys, smoothies and pizza are good, but everyone needs a variety in their diets. We were disappointed that the Birmingham City Commission ended their meeting on June 14 before they got to an agenda item on food trucks. The last time it was discussed was 2011, when a proposed moveable and parked vendor ordinance was tabled when 21 restauranteurs and retailers showed up at the city commission meeting to contest the ordinance, which “would allow vendors in designated locations within the downtown area. These vendors will be defined as moveable vendors as they will be permitted to occupy a particular location each day, but their cart or stand must be removed every night.” In 2014, Andres Duany, the architect of the city's 2016 Master Plan, returned for a recap, and recommended adding an assortment of affordable food trucks at lunch time to the

adjacent parking lot behind the band shell in Shane Park. His suggestion was to give the idea a trial run and then decide whether to continue and fine tune the rules governing food trucks. Time, and tastebuds, have mellowed our perspective, and we agree with Duany. Just as areas around Campus Martius in Detroit are filled with an assortment of various food choices via affordable food trucks, drawing office workers, youth and tourists, so too would downtown Birmingham benefit from the opportunity to offer culinary choices that are not available at inexpensive price points. Losing a few parking spots for a couple hours a day during the week is money well invested, as the city will see more people walking all over Birmingham. We suggest Birmingham try it later this summer and early this fall, or if that is too soon, plan for next spring and summer.






Magnificent ITALIAN VILLA Masterpiece

2 1 0 S O l d Wo o d w a r d S u i t e 2 0 0 Birmingham MI 48009

Situated on a bluff overlooking Turtle Lake

6755 Telegraph Road Bloomfield Hills MI 48301