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Health and wellness-minded senior living community celebrates grand opening in Rochester Hills

They’ve been moving in residents since June, but the newest senior living community in Oakland County celebrated its ribbon cutting on Thursday, Aug. 9 with drinks, dining, dancing, and tours of the facilities.

The 97-bed facility at Stonecrest of Rochester Hills is roughly 50 percent full since opening. It’s a remarkably good rate, says Lara Anderson, Director of Marketing at Stonecrest Senior Living. It usually takes 14 to 18 months to reach that mark, she says.

"We do a lot of research before securing land and start building. Detroit market data showed us that a need was there and Rochester Hills leased up some of the quickest," Anderson says.

"We’re right there on Rochester Road and close to downtown."

Stonecrest not only focuses on the physical health of its residents but also on their mind and spirit. A life enrichment program focuses on seven metrics, with programming that encourages residents to be friendly, active, aware, imaginative, spiritual, together, and gracious.

A special memory care staff is on hand to care for residents with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Stonecrest provides memory care staff with continuing education classes to provide up-to-date care.

There is also a special staff to help patients navigate their VA benefits.

The Rochester Hills location is the second of three Stonecrest facilities planned for metro Detroit. A Troy location opened in July 2017. A third location, in Northville, is scheduled open by the end of the year and is currently in the pre-leasing stage.

"We offer the same product at each location, but take a unique approach to the different interiors," Anderson says.

"Rochester Hills is especially calm and comforting."

Stonecrest of Rochester Hills is located at 1775 S. Rochester Rd. in Rochester Hills.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Downtown Berkley debuts its custom-designed shopping bags for a cause

Want to support downtown Berkley and a good cause? And how about looking good while doing it?

That’s what Berkley’s Downtown Development Authority is hoping for, at least. The Oakland County city’s DDA recently debuted the product of its Downtown Berkley Shopping Bag for a Cause program. What results is a custom-designed handbag from Hamtramck’s Better Life Bags.

The Better Life Bags company employs women with significant barriers to employment. The bags are hand cut and sewn in Hamtramck. Armadillo Printwear, located on Twelve Mile Road in Berkley, is the screen printer.

"The development of Downtown Berkley Shopping Bag for a Cause is a meaningful partnership between the Berkley DDA and Citizens Bank that makes an impact in our community," Rebecca Smith, founder and CEO of Better Life Bags, said in a statement.

"This project has allowed us to expand employment--an additional 300 hours of work to the women we employ--for the life of this project. In the world of the under-employed, that is significant."

The bags feature a snapshot of the birds on the Elwin & Co. Bakery mural on Coolidge Highway. That mural was created by Malt, a.k.a. Brown Bag Detroit, during the DDA’s 2017 mural program.

The bags are available for $10 each or $5 with a purchase at a number of downtown Berkley retailers, including Berkley Eyewear and Local Sunglass Co., Have You Any Wool?, The Neighbor’s Shoppe, Peninsulas, and Vitrine Gallery & Gifts.

The program is sponsored in part by Citizens Bank.

"A year ago, the Berkley DDA started looking at how it was spending its money on promotional products for its events," said Vivian Carmody, executive director of the BerkleyDDA.

"The Board decided it needed to 'walk the talk' of supporting local businesses and entrepreneurs and thus began our journey to locally sourcing a bag. We knew we needed a corporate partner, and Citizens Bank seemed the perfect match because of its emphasis on workforce development."

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Bellagio Hair Studio in Troy celebrates fifth-year anniversary


For Joan Grohar of Clarkston, driving 25 minutes to get her hair done at Bellagio Hair Studio is well worth it.

“It gives you the feeling of space, even though the square footage is not that large. Even when it’s crowded, you still feel like you’re getting personal attention and you get your spa moment,” Grohar stated. “We lived in Bloomfield for years, so I’m adjusting to driving long distances. This is worth it. That receptionist, when she greats you with that smile, it just makes your day.”

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New Franklin gallery uses art to heal

The Village of Franklin is a quiet, tree-filled area that harkens back to another era. That's why it's the perfect place for a new art gallery centered around healing and meditation. 

Jacqueline Drake opened her gallery, by the same name, at 32611 Franklin Road in May this year and hasn't wasted any time connecting with her customers. Drake runs "healing art" workshops for the Gilda's Club, cancer and crisis centers, and hospitals and businesses.

"I wanted to take my workshops to the next level by creating a full-experience that touches all your senses in a healing environment," Drake explains.

Drake's two-month classes, such as her Mindfulness and Meditation Through Painting, are aimed at helping people slow down from busy lifestyles and to focus on being "present in the moment." The purposely small classes often start with a guided meditation before participants paint what they experienced.

"I teach them how to compose a piece by using their very own insights into themselves that they have discovered during the meditation," says Drake.

Participant Eileen Harryvan described the gallery and Drake's classes as a "break from the rest of the world" and a place to get "a little boost of peace and calm."

Drake says the gallery was 20 years in the making and that Franklin was natural choice for her after moving to the area 10 years ago. She says part of why a therapeutic art space works is because of the historic village's pace of life. "Franklin village is known to be a quaint little village in the middle of busy metropolitan area," Drake says. "I believe the village itself has many healing qualities because it connects people with a simpler time."

Drake's historic building on the village green bares the slogan "The Town that Time Forgot," a sign that Drake couldn't bring herself to alter when she and her husband did a six-week renovation blitz. "To finally build and create my dream business was daunting, crazy and exciting all in one breath."

Drake has plans to expand the gallery's calendar to host more events, including a music night for local singers and songwriters to perform and record, poetry readings, and listening events.

"I believe I am just beginning on a long journey to create a community space, " Drake says, "and am constantly looking for ways to have a positive impact on the community while helping people experience the beauty and powerful influence that art has." 

Pontiac revs up for Phoenix Derby Races

Among the creative and energetic minds in Pontiac, inspiration can spring from the everyday.

When folks from Main Street Pontiac recognized the natural slopes on some downtown Pontiac streets, they sparked an idea for a fun community event that takes advantage of the forces of gravity. What if Main Street Pontiac sponsored a race down one of those hills and invited the creative talent of high school students and local businesses?

The idea went from zero to 60 very quickly.

On August 25, Main Street Pontiac will host its first ever Phoenix Derby Races, an old-fashioned event designed to spark friendly competition while offering the chance for kids to put some design and STEAM skills to work to build and race a wooden, non-motorized car.

The event, open to Pontiac resident high school students, will encourage kids to form a team, work with mentors to build wooden gravity-powered cars, and race the cars down a select Pontiac street which will be closed to traffic, all in one day. There will also be a bracket-oriented competition for adults who want to join in the fun.

“This originated as a fun idea for racing a car, soapbox derby-style, down a city slope,” says Daniela Walters, president of Main Street Pontiac. “We turned it into a placemaking event for the community.”

During their brainstorming sessions, Walters met with friends and fellow Pontiac supporters Marijayne Renny and Joe Kalle to hammer out details. They bounced around ideas for different types of sponsorships, worked through logistics, and talked about having a “Best Derby Hat” contest to encourage attendees and supporters to dress the part.

They also selected a standard car kit to supply to each team to kick off the event. “Folks will need to be comfortable using tools,” says Kalle. “But the kit will be easier to put together than anything I have assembled from IKEA.”

To test ease of build, Walters corralled a group of law clerks, interns, and attorneys from Dobrusin Law in Pontiac, where she is a patent attorney, to build their selected kit. Ideally, engineer and design professionals from Pontiac businesses will sponsor and mentor teams to help the kids create, refine, and decorate their vehicles.

Several businesses and nonprofits have committed their support already, including Main Street Pontiac, Dobrusin Law, DASI Solutions, General Motors Global Propulsion Systems, LocalHop, LBI Limited, Alley Cat Café, the City of Pontiac, and McLaren Hospital. Event organizers are seeking additional sponsorship.

A goal of the event is to build scholarships for rising seniors who enter the race.

“We wanted to create a scholarship opportunity, hopefully up to three to five scholarship to any post secondary education, including trade school, two- or four-year college. It’s not based on winning the race, it’s based on an essay,” says Walters.

The event is free for kids to enter and participate, and is designed to be a fun, team-oriented event for students, mentors, and sponsors.

“Our goal is to promote STEAM careers, to spark an interest in building and designing, and to help kids learn how to communicate as a team and with mentors,” says Walters.

Find more information about the Phoenix Derby Races here and here.

You're invited to the MSU Tollgate Farm to Table Dinner

Michigan State University alumni and friends of MSU Tollgate Farm are invited to the Tollgate Farm to Table Dinner on Saturday, August 25 at Tollgate Farm in Novi. From fruits and vegetables to lamb and cornish hens, the Tollgate Farm to Table Dinner will feature locally-grown food from MSU Tollgate Farms or within a 25-mile radius. 

Enjoy an evening outdoors on the farm with scenic hills and countryside practically unknown elsewhere in present-day Oakland County.

The evening will feature:
  • Cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and a four course meal prepared by local chefs coordinated by MSU alumnus Jeff Rose, an accomplished chef with CAYA (Come As You Are) Smokehouse and Grill. Other chefs include, Alan Mehar (Compass Group Detroit), Jay Grundy (Red Dunn Kitchen), & Chris Johnson (Meeting House).
  • A menu highlighting food grown locally at either MSU Tollgate Farm or within a 25-mile radius.
  • A Wagon ride to the dinner location.
  • Taste the Local Difference verification as a Certified Local Food Event.
Tickets to the dinner are $150/person and proceeds will support MSU Tollgate Farm's educational programming. For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.

Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan surpasses $1 billion in grants distributed

The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan has provided $1 billion in grants, primarily distributed throughout the seven counties of southeast Michigan, since it began in 1984.
“We are focused on supporting positive change in our region,” says the Community Foundation’s President, Mariam Noland. “The Community Foundation has provided over $1 billion to help charitable organizations meet important needs. At the same time, thanks to our generous donors, the Community Foundation has built assets of over $900 million to continue to strengthen the community into the future.” 
Since its inception, the Community Foundation has partnered with local nonprofits to support the arts, health and human services, education and leadership development, and has led an array of special projects like the GreenWays program and the New Economy Initiative.
Nearly $11 million in grants were approved and distributed in the second quarter of 2018. The awarded grants went to a diverse array of nonprofit organizations and programs primarily benefitting the seven-county region of southeast Michigan.
“The second quarter grants represent a range of incredibly diverse nonprofit organizations and provided services,” says Noland. “The impact of these grant will be felt throughout the region and beyond.”
Among the grants awarded at the June annual meeting include:
  • Action for Healthy Kids - $25,000 for the implementation of evidence-based healthy eating and physical activity initiatives in St. Clair County Schools
  • American Heart Association - $50,000 to create cardiac ready communities in Macomb, Washtenaw, and Livingston counties through CPR community training initiatives
  • Association of Chinese Americans, Inc. - $54,500 for English classes, health workshops, and gardening programs to increase the health of the Asian American community
  • Charter Township of Harrison - $9,600 to create and install a public arts sculpture in Harrison Township’s Waterfront Park
  • Cody Rouge Community Action Alliance - $20,000 for social justice and advocacy training for the Cody Rouge Youth Council
  • CultureSource - $80,000 for an adaptive leadership program for cultural sector leaders
  • Detroit Crime Commission - $60,000 to provide data and intelligence analysis for the Detroit Police Department to dismantle human trafficking rings
  • Detroit PAL Inc. - $4,000 for maintenance and improvement of baseball diamonds at St. Hedwig Recreational Center
  • Fair Michigan Foundation, Inc.$15,000 for the Fair Michigan Justice Project, which investigates and prosecutes hate crimes targeted at members of the LGBTQ community
  • Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County - $25,700 to build the capacity of the Habitat University Program to serve more clients with financial education and coaching
  • Health Emergency Lifeline Programs - $24,000 to develop and implement a media, marketing, and public relations strategy for the Corktown Health Center
  • Jefferson East Inc$57,000 for the implementation of the Jefferson-Chalmers Targeted Redevelopment Area, a public financing method for community improvement projects
  • Jewish Ensemble Theatre - $25,000 for marketing to highlight JET’s 30th season, including main stage and student outreach productions
  • Judson Center - $50,000 for an independent living skills program for teenagers with autism
  • Living Arts - $100,000 over two years for Detroit Wolf Trap professional development residencies and workshops for early childhood educators and caregivers of young children
  • Metropolitan Organizing Strategy Enabling Strength - $25,000 for the expansion of youth organizing programs focused on juvenile justice reform
  • Michigan Education Excellence Foundation - $50,000 for the Detroit Promise Path Campus Coach Program
  • SME Education Foundation - $50,000 for a high school advanced manufacturing program and a STEM enrichment program for Pontiac High School
  • South Oakland Center - $60,000 to expand an online crowdfunding platform that supports individuals and families experiencing homelessness
  • Southfield, City of - $25,000 for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force youth leadership program
  • Southwest Solutions - $22,825 to more effectively serve individuals and families experiencing homelessness in Detroit, Highland Park, and Hamtramck
  • United Community Housing Coalition - $100,000 for tax foreclosure prevention, counseling and support services for Detroit residents
  • University of Michigan - Dearborn - $50,000 to launch Halal Metropolis at the Center for Arab American Studies, an exhibition and community conversation series highlighting the Detroit Muslim community
  • Urban Justice Center - $50,000 for the Detroit Justice Center to pilot a community legal worker program
  • Wayne State University - $40,000 to expand the Success After Financial Exploitation program to provide financial safety training for family caregivers of seniors 
Included in the totals for the quarter are grants made by supporting organizations of the Community Foundation as well as grants recommended by donors who have established charitable funds with us.

Oakland County Parks and Recreation recognized with national award

Oakland County Parks and Recreation’s (OCPR) Recreation Assistance Partnership Program (RAPP) has been awarded the National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials’ (NACPRO) 2018 Park and Recreation Program Award.

The national award was presented July 15 at NACPRO’s Summer Meeting in Nashville, Tenn. The Parks and Recreation Award is given to recognize a unique or exceptional program, activity or event, which provides an outstanding example for others to follow. Nominations are judged on uniqueness, effectiveness in achieving program goals and public response.

Since its inception in 1982, RAPP has provided recreation yearly to more than 1 million Oakland County residents who might not otherwise have had access to recreation.

“The RAPP program is important to our local communities and to Oakland County Parks and Recreation,” Brandy Boyd, Chief of Recreation Programs and Services, said. “With this program we have supplemented day camp programs, special events, senior programs and so much more. We have also partnered with local municipalities and non-profit organizations to create new and lasting special events. We are so fortunate that the OCP Commission not only supports this program but also keeps encouraging staff to provide more recreation experiences to its residents.”

Through the RAPP program, grants are awarded in the form of OCPR mobile recreation program activities which include outreach programs, nature education and bus transportation to cities, villages and townships; community parks and recreation departments; schools; downtown development authorities; non-profit organizations; and underserved populations.

A RAPP grant provides up to two outreach programs such as Get Outdoors! Cache, Get Outdoors! Fish adventures and inflatables, one nature education plus one bus trip.  One example was a trip to a Detroit Tigers baseball game for a group of children from Pontiac. The RAPP grant provided bus transportation for the 30-mile trip to the stadium in downtown Detroit, a city most had never been to and to an event they might not have had an opportunity to experience.

In 2017 a nature component was added to the grant programs. The requests for nature programs doubled from 20 to 40 this year.

The RAPP program ensures that recreational needs of the diverse citizen population throughout Oakland County are met.

For information on other events, visit OaklandCountyParks.com. Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

New Braille books for the youth department at the Orion Township Public Library

The Orion Township Public Library, with assistance from Seedlings Books in Livonia, MI, recently received a generous $1,000 grant from the Village Club Foundation in Bloomfield Hills, MI to enhance and expand their Braille book collection in the youth department.


“We focused on adding books that included words and pictures along with braille, so they can be used by a wide variety of kids and families, helping kids with vision loss along with teaching sighted readers about braille,” said Ashley Lehman, youth services head. “We also added a few longer Juvenile chapter books, Like Palacio’s Wonder, and Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach.”


The Village Club Foundation is the philanthropic arm of The Village Club in Bloomfield Hills, MI. The foundation's purpose is to further educational, cultural and civic activities; to promote philanthropic projects; and to operate for the good of the community.


For more information about the Braille book collection visit the Orion Township Public Library at 825 Joslyn Road, Lake Orion, MI 48362, orionlibrary.org or call 248.693.3000.  The library is open 9:30a-9:00p Monday through Thursday and 9:30a-5:00p Friday and Saturday.

Oakland County flexes its tech muscle

Oakland County, Michigan is among the most digitally-advanced counties in the United States for 14 years running, County Executive L. Brooks Patterson announced. The 2018 Digital Counties Survey by the Center for Digital Government (CDG) and the National Association of Counties (NACo) has ranked the county among the best in the country that maximize services and improve transparency through the strategic use of technology.

“Oakland County’s IT Department, under the leadership of our CIO/Deputy Executive Phil Bertolini, continues to innovate and collaborate with other governments in the cloud,” Patterson said. “Oakland County has a global reputation for digital excellence because of their commitment to riding the leading-edge of technology.”

Among Oakland County’s IT achievements is collaborating with other governments in the cloud. The county launched G2G Cloud Solutions (G2Gcloud.com) to improve government services by sharing technology with other government agencies at little or no cost, thereby reducing the cost of government. The county also developed G2G Marketplace (G2Gmarket.com) to offer solutions from government partners and approved vendors to government agencies through an online store experience.

“It’s gratifying that the Center for Digital Government recognizes the incredible value we provide to our customers by using technology to improve services and transparency,” Bertolini said. “The team in Oakland County’s IT Department is relentless at finding technology solutions that help us achieve our goals.”

The survey, conducted by CDG in partnership with NACo, identifies the best technology practices among U.S. counties, including initiatives that streamline delivery of government services, encourage open data, collaboration and shared services, enhance cybersecurity and contribute to disaster response and recovery efforts.

“Innovative counties are utilizing technology and data to better inform and protect themselves and their citizens, to save taxpayer money and to provide a better citizen experience,” said Teri Takai, executive director, CDG. “The Center for Digital Government congratulates this year’s winners for all the efforts they are making to improve the lives of their residents and others.”

“Effective technology has proven to be a key tool for efficiency in many facets of county government,” said NACo Executive Director Matthew Chase. “We applaud this year’s Digital Counties Survey winners for showcasing the value of innovation and adaptation. Their embrace of cutting-edge approaches has benefited residents while ensuring good stewardship of taxpayer resources.”

For more information about the survey, click on https://bit.ly/2N82J7t.

Astronomy adventures in Oakland County


Summer is the perfect time for adventures and discovery! In Oakland County, the night sky presents a constant source of wonder and awe. There are many fun ways to delve a little deeper into the world of astronomy because the county is well equipped with observatories, planetariums, and astronomy clubs.

Find the best places in and around Oakland County to view the stars with our interactive star gazing map and grab a telescope to observe the worlds above us. Check out the cavernous craters of the Moon, the massive mountains nestled on Mars, or the rings on Saturn radiating light into the night sky. The possibilities for discovery are endless.

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Mark your calendar Air Fair is coming

The annual Air Fair extravaganza is once again returning to Groveland Oaks County Park Saturday, Aug. 4. Make it a weekend of camping or come in for a day of fun.

Presented by Genisys Credit Union, a full day of activities is planned before the hot air balloons hit the sky. Starting at 10 a.m., there will be children’s activities, a magic show, hay wagon shuttle, inflatable bouncers, face painting, the Glider Club, a LEGO station and a Home Depot craft. The Howell Nature Center’s Live Birds of Prey program and Alexandria’s Nature Bus will be provided by the Spirit of Alexandria Foundation.

Sponsored by General RV Center – White Lake, hot air balloons will take to the skies from 6-7 p.m. The Cosmic Groove Variety Band will perform at 8 p.m. The fair concludes with a special night glow at 9 p.m.

Activities are included with a 2018 annual vehicle permit or daily park pass which is required for park entry. Permits and daily passes may be purchased at the park on the day of the event. Annual permits are also available at OaklandCountyParks.com.

For details on Air Fair, contact John Haney at 248-858-1486 or HaneyJ@oakgov.com.

Groveland Oaks County Park is located 14555 Dixie Highway near Holly.

For information on other events, visit OaklandCountyParks.com. Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Investigate 'unexplained phenomena' and solve the mystery at new escape room in Ferndale

The latest entertainment destination to open in Ferndale is The Fifth Wall Escape Rooms, a theatrical and Detroit-centric take on the escape room phenomenon. We asked Sherry Gershon, Fifth Wall's Chief Operations Officer, and co-owner, all about it.

How would you describe The Fifth Wall Escape Rooms to someone you just met?

A: The Fifth Wall Escape Rooms is a place in which people can play a game together that challenges their mind while having fun. There is a variety of puzzles that appeal to a myriad of different personality types, so there is something for everyone.

Escape Rooms have become increasingly popular over the last couple of years. What makes yours unique?

A: The Fifth Wall Escape Room is a division of The Fifth Wall Society, which is an organization that investigates unexplained phenomena and strange occurrences. The Fifth Wall Escape Rooms present puzzles that have affiliations with said phenomena to solve the mysteries of the room. The Fifth Wall is also unique in that every escape room has an association with a Detroit area or Michigan story.

How did you get into the Escape Room business?

A: Seeing a need for fun and games, The Fifth Wall Society decided to turn some of their investigations into play for the community.

How big a role does creativity play in your business?

A: Creativity is the number one role in this business. We have to be creative in the narrative of the game, the design of the room and puzzles, and creative in how to execute the puzzles so they work and make sense the public. We are not shy to use a plethora of mediums in which to decorate and dazzle the eye. From wallpaper to stone, metals, and materials we are not allowed to mention, our entire space is stunning!

How do your business and the city of Ferndale complement one another?

A: Our business and Ferndale go hand in hand. We are both places in which people come to have fun and enjoy themselves. Ferndale is known to be diverse in community and rich in festivals. This winning combo attracts people who are not afraid of a challenge or something new--which is precisely what The Fifth Wall Escape Rooms embodies.

The Fifth Wall Escape Rooms is located at 1930 Hilton Rd., Ste. 100, in Ferndale.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Automotive company donates money and equipment to Detroit urban farming efforts

Fresh off a recent story of its innovative Mahindra Education Development Commission for the Arts program, the Auburn Hills-based automotive company Mahindra Automotive North America is once again in the news for its practices in community engagement.

The company has awarded $127,000 in grant funding and farm equipment to eight southeastern Michigan non-profits. Each non-profit is associated with urban farming programs in Detroit.

The investment comes as part of the company’s Mahindra Urban Agriculture Grant Program. Since its founding in 2015, the program has awarded 13 local non-profits with $425,000 in funding and farm equipment. Each gift was made to support sustainable farming and gardening in both the cities of Pontiac and Detroit.

"It’s an honor to be affiliated with each of our urban agriculture grant recipients," says Richard Haas, MANA’s President and Chief Executive Officer.

"Their services are truly making a difference, and we couldn’t be prouder of the impact the company’s support is having on increasing accessibility to fresh, nutritious produce at affordable prices to residents throughout the city of Detroit and in Pontiac."

A grant celebration and benefit concert was held Thursday, June 21, at the Lafayette Greens urban garden in downtown Detroit. Seminal Detroit garage rock band the Detroit Cobras played at the event.

Awarded non-profits include American Indian Health and Family Services, Boggs Education Center, Eastern Market Corporation, Full Circle Foundation, The Greening of Detroit, Keep Growing Detroit, Micah 6 Community, and Pingree Farms.

The grant program is part of Mahindra’s RISE mission, which aims to help the communities where it operates.

According to Anand Mahindra, Chairman of the Mahindra Group, "There are few better examples of our RISE philosophy in action than the work Mahindra Automotive North America is doing in Detroit."

Click here to read more about Mahindra’s community engagement efforts.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Ferndale hopes to improve downtown parking experience with new app

A fresh vegan and vegetarian dinner at GreenSpace Café. A round of drinks at the recently re-modeled Dino’s Lounge. A quick match of axe-throwing at Detroit Axe. Downtown Ferndale has a lot going for it these days.

And with all of the shopping, nightlife, and entertainment options that the city has to offer, that means that Ferndale has become a magnet destination, drawing in people from all over the region. With so many visitors comes the question of parking.

There are nearly 1,300 parking spaces available in downtown Ferndale, each available at 50 cents an hour. City officials say that paying for parking has gotten a whole lot easier, thanks to the roll-out of the city’s newest parking app, ParkFerndale.

Powered by technology company Passport, ParkFerndale replaces the previous parking app. It is free to download through both Apple and Android stores.

The improvements brought by the new app are numerous, according to the city. These include a customized design for Ferndale, the elimination of zone numbers, zero convenience fees when extending a session via phone, and parking validation codes from local businesses. Drivers don’t have to wait for a future parking session to use a validation code, which is also new.

"Ferndale is an innovative city with forward-thinking residents, business owners, customers and visitors," said Ferndale Assistant City Manager Joseph Gacioch. "The ParkFerndale app will provide a customized experience to help users better navigate their time spent in our city."

Also new is the ParkFerndale.com website, complete with parking news and parking permit information. Residential and business parking permits can now be purchased online.

The developer of the app, the Charlotte, North Carolina technology company Passport, is the same company used for parking in the city of Detroit.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

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