REVOLVE has shops, eateries popping up in Detroit neighborhood - KMSP-TV

REVOLVE has shops, eateries popping up in Detroit's West Village

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By Alexis Wiley
Fox 2 News Reporter


DETROIT -- Detroiters spend more than $1 billion a year shopping outside the city.  The Detroit Economic Growth Corporation is working to change that.  A unique program is drawing dollars and praise.

"I moved into the neighborhood in April, and we really needed a coffee shop," said Angela Foster. (pictured above)

So she opened one in Detroit's cozy West Village.  It's called Coffee And....

"I do three day themes, and I never wanted to pigeonhole myself into having to bake the same thing every day," she explained.

This pastry chef can be as adventurous as she wants because Coffee And... will only be open for 30 days.  It's a pop-up, the perfect way for entrepreneurs to test the market.

"You're given a chance to try out something that you had an idea of without being tied into a lease," Foster said.

The clothing store next door is also a pop-up, both breathing new life into vacant storefronts.

"I could not be more excited about what's going on here," said Michael Forsyth, who leads the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation's REVOLVE program.

"When people ask me what it's about and someone's peaking in the window, I say that's what it's about," he told us.

REVOLVE is designed to fill vacant spaces with interesting pop-up restaurants, stores and art installations generating buzz and creating an environment where viable, permanent businesses can thrive.

Forsyth says the West Village is the perfect place to start.

"In West Village, in particular, you have the right ingredients.  You have density.  There's incredible consumer demand here," he explained.

The DEGC along with the village's community development corporation worked with the owners of the Parkstone and West Village Manor connecting them to grant dollars to revitalize their storefronts, identifying potential tenants and giving them the support they need to be successful.

"We are going to take the bars down from the windows and open it up," said Kirsten Ussery, one of the owners of Detroit Vegan Soul, which has been serving the neighborhood and beyond as meal delivery and catering service.  Next spring it will be a cafe.

"We take your conventional soul food favorites like mac and cheese and things like that and we take out the animal products and the dairy products, but we don't take out the flavor," Ussery said.

"We know the neighborhood has to support it first, and so we wanted this place to be a neighborhood restaurant/bar," said Hubert Yaro.

He is opening a restaurant called Craftwork just doors away from Detroit Vegan Soul.  He's a partner in two of Royal Oak and Birmingham's hottest restaurants.  Yaro is bringing that experience to the West Village.

But why the West Village instead of say Midtown or Corktown?

"The architecture, the character, the being so close to Belle Isle," Yaro told us.

"The customers are here.  We just need to build it and they will come," said Forsyth.

Plus, what's happening in the West Village is just the beginning.

"Livernois Avenue -- the 'Avenue of Fashion' has all the right ingredients.  It has incredible, stable neighborhoods, high consumer demand.  We also have students at University of Detroit Mercy and Marygrove who want something to do after class," Forsyth explained.

"Everyone's been wondering could they sustain a business here.  I have to say absolutely.  Detroit is a city where we're creating what we want," Foster said.

Detroit Vegan Soul, Craftwork and two other businesses are scheduled to open in that stretch of the West Village next spring.

For more information on the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation and the REVOLVE program, visit http://www.degc.org/available-properties.aspx/revolve-detroit-is-a-retail-evolution.

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