midtown detroit

via Wayne State University

Some renters in and around downtown Detroit are exploring the idea of a tenants’ union.

A group of them met this past weekend to discuss the possibility.

Some renters in the city’s revived downtown and midtown areas worry that as the real estate market heats up, they’ll be pushed out by higher rents.

Tenants in subsidized housing are particularly concerned about being displaced for market-rate units.

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A Detroit Free Press photo editor won a $3,000 grant for her latest project — capturing her community through her iPhone lens.

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"Defiant jewelry with a purpose!"

That's the slogan for a unique jewelry business that launched in the Midtown area of Detroit.

It's called Rebel Nell.

The goal? To turn actual pieces of graffiti found on the ground into jewelry. The company is hiring disadvantaged women, hoping to give them a hand-up from poverty and dependence.

Amy Peterson is a co-founder of Rebel Nell. She joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

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There seem to be two types of stories emerging from Detroit these days: one bleak and one optimistic.

Both can be spun wildly out of proportion, but the two – seemingly contradictory – narratives paint the same city in a very different light.

Detroit’s bankruptcy has garnered attention from around the world – from the U.K. to India. The bankruptcy, the underperforming school system, the lack of public services, the high crime, the dysfunctional local governments: they all contribute to the bleak narrative.

At the same time, there have been a number of reports that have highlighted a more optimistic narrative in the city.

A recent boom in population and economic activity in Midtown and downtown has completely changed those areas of the city over the last several years.

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“Huh.”

That is a completely understandable reaction the first time people see the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit’s new exhibit. It’s called “Mobile Homestead.”

The "work of art" is a mobile house, a suburban-looking, one-story, white ranch house. It's the kind of house they've seen a million times before.

So why is the modern art world, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal breathlessly declaring this house one of the most significant, world-renowned pieces of 2013?

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Whole Foods announced today the store will open on June 5th in Detroit's Midtown neighborhood and will employ 75 people.

The store will be on the corner of John R and Mack, right off of Woodward Avenue.

The Associated Press reports details about job openings will be posted online April 2nd.

In the meantime, Whole Foods is holding informational meetings about jobs on March 5th, 6th, and 7th.

Parts of Detroit have been described as "food deserts," where access to healthy food can be a major problem. Whole Foods hopes to fill that void in Midtown.

The Austin, TX based chain received millions in tax breaks to build the store.

Some have questioned whether this is fair to other grocery stores operating in Detroit.

When it was announced that a Whole Foods would open in Detroit in 2011, Michigan Radio's Jennifer Guerra spoke with the competition:

Kim Smith lives in Detroit. Last year she opened Kim’s Produce, just a couple blocks over from where her competition will soon set up shop. As a resident of Detroit, she’s excited about Whole Foods coming to town:

"I mean that’s the question on everybody’s mind: When they move to Detroit, where am I gonna shop? So I think it is a really good thing for Detroit."

As for what Whole Foods will mean for her business?

"I don’t know. I really don’t know if we can really compete."

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DETROIT (AP) - A group of young Jewish professionals attracted to the vitality of Detroit's evolving downtown wants to bring others into the city decades after their parents and grandparents left.

CommunityNEXT Director Jordan Wolfe says the 25 people targeted through a rent program would help return Jewish culture to Detroit and contribute to the city's revitalization.

Subsidies of $250 per month for a year will be offered. Wolfe says he is seeking to bring in people "who get a kick out of building a community."

The rent program piggybacks offers major corporations and businesses are making to entice their employees to relocate downtown or to Detroit's growing Midtown area.

A dodgeball tournament fundraiser is scheduled for Saturday in Detroit and will be followed Sunday by a kickball tournament in Los Angeles.

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Three major Detroit institutions are looking to leverage their spending to give a boost to the city’s economy.

Henry Ford Health System, the Detroit Medical Center and Wayne State University are all part of an initiative to revitalize the city’s Midtown area. And the “buy Detroit” campaign is part of that.

So far, the three institutions have shifted about $400,000 to Detroit businesses, says Lisa Prasad is with U3 Ventures, a firm that's helping with the project. 

"The number may be very small at the moment compared to their overall procurement, but we think the growth will be exponential once we really get it institutionalized."

Prasad says food is one thing all three institutions have been able to buy more locally.

Combined, the university and health systems spend $1.6 billion a year.