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Coval Fitness expands into 4,500 sq ft Phoenix Dr. space

Coval Fitness and Sports Performance has been on a growth path for some time. After growing its staff last year, the semi-private fitness and sports performance facility has relocated to a new, 4,500 square foot location on Phoenix Dr. 

"We expanded due to a growing client base and because we wanted to have a space that fit with our vision," say owner Mike Coval. "In a nutshell, our vision is to have a high-end facility that clients can come to for their fitness and performance needs, massage therapy, physical therapy, and nutrition coaching."

Prior to opening in May, Coval renovated the new space to include a bathroom with a shower and two changing rooms, in addition to cosmetic renovations. His next step will to be to get rid of the drop ceiling. The new location he says, will allow Coval Fitness and Sports Performance to mode their vision. 

"Its also ideal because once this building is full, there will be so many other companies that we share the space with," he says. "This allows for more exposure and opportunities to connect with people."

Though his staff remains at four employees, the continued growth of the business has expanded their hours. Coval's three-year vision includes becoming go-to fitness and sports performance center in the Ann Arbor area. 

Source: Mike Coval, Coval Fitness & Sports Performance
Writer: Natalie Burg

Study finds demand for 1,800 more residential units in downtown Ann Arbor

The recent rush of new residential buildings in downtown Ann Arbor might lead some to believe that the 716 more units under development might overkill. Those folks might be surprised to learn that a new study commissioned by the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority has found that not only are those apartments and condos needed, but by 2019, 1,800 more housing units will be needed to meet downtown demand. 

Not surprised by this is the DDA itself. According to DDA Executive Director Susan Pollay, they hear from people all the time who want to live downtown but found the number of available units to be low. A study like this, Pollay says, not only gives the DDA the ability to advocate for the kind of development needed downtown, but also demonstrates demand for future developers, such as the need for 90,000 to 100,000 square feet of additional office space. 

"It gets the numbers out there -  vacancy is lower all the time and office rents continue to rise," she says. "While we may not see a new office building immediately, these numbers help to communicate to developers and business owners to keep an eye on things, because there is a growing opportunity in downtown Ann Arbor."

Also mentioned in the report is an average price tag of $1,500 per month for a one-bedroom apartment in downtown Ann Arbor, which is out of reach for households earning between 50 and 80 percent of downtown's Area Median Income. Study author 4ward Planning attributes the elevated rents to the growing desirability of living there. Whether or not meeting the demand with additional units will result in more affordable options, Pollay says, is difficult to tell. A forthcoming Washtenaw County Housing Needs Assessment will hopefully shed more light on the topic later this year. 

Source: Susan Pollay, Ann Arbor DDA
Writer: Natalie Burg

Real Ryder Revolution relocates cycling studio, expands number of classes

Just five years old, Real Ryder Revolution indoor cycling studio has already grown to four locations in Birmingham, West Bloomfield, Chicago and Ann Arbor. After first operating on N. Main for three years, the Ann Arbor location will soon be even closer to its core clientele with a new studio on E. University. 

"We wanted to be as close to campus as possible," says Leslee Blatnikoff, owner of Real Ryder Revolution. "We just want to feature it more toward the students." 

The approximately 1,500 square foot E. University location will open next week. The new location will offer an expanded number of classes for the 18-bike studio. The business is now running a pre-grand opening special on classes. The goals of Real Ryder Revolution, says Blatnikoff, will remain the same in their new space.

"We just want to make sure it's busy and we can give the students the workouts they want, and continue to be good, healthy influence in the fitness arena," she says. 

Real Ryder Revolution operates with eight to ten instructors. Updates on the business and new studio can be found on the business's Ann Arbor Facebook page.

Source: Leslee Blatnikoff, Real Ryder Revolution
Writer: Natalie Burg

Ganger Dermatology grows into new building, doubles staff in just two years

When Dr. Laura Ganger and her husband A.C. Ganger opened Ganger Dermatology in November of 2012, the goal was to create a different kind of practice. Less than two years later, their results are certainly out of the ordinary. They've grown from a small office of five staff into a new, 6,500 square foot location with four providers and 10 support staff, and a new satellite office in Wixom is forthcoming. 

"We decided to rethink everything we could," says A.C. Ganger. "It's paperless, high-tech and we really focus on the patient experience." 

That means patients rarely wait longer than five minutes for their appointment to begin, and never have to fill out a clipboard full of paperwork. Ganger Dermatology staff takes everything possible off of the patients' plate, from contacting insurance companies to working with pharmacies. 

"We build in buffer so patients don't end up waiting," Ganger says. "We see a lot fewer patients than the typical practice in a day, but we want to spend a lot of time with them."

That philosophy had Dr. Ganger booked out three months in advance after her first month in business. The growing practice moved to their current location on Huron Parkway in February after extensive renovations. Ganger plans to begin operations in their new Wixom location in mid-October. They hope to attract other medical specialists to join them in the 15,000 square foot facility. 

In addition to growing their business, Ganger Dermatology has also grown into the Ann Arbor community. They have sponsored such events as the Colors of Cancer run and The Event on Main. 

Source: A.C. Ganger, Ganger Dermatology
Writer: Natalie Burg

Elevation Burger aims for early 2015 opening of second Ann Arbor location

When UM grads Michael and Sarah Tayter were looking for a way to return to Ann Arbor from Austin, Tex., their favorite burger restaurant ended up being the key to their return. 

"There were a couple of Elevation Burgers in the area, and that became our family's favorite restaurant," Michael Tayter says. "I always had an entrepreneurial itch, and it kind of felt like a perfect fit."

That led to the opening of their first Elevation Burger restaurant on Washtenaw Ave. in July of 2013. Now, the husband and wife team will be expanding by adding another branch of the environmentally friendly burger franchise downtown on Liberty.

"We definitely have always wanted to open one up on campus somewhere," Tayter says. "Having no restaurant experience for the first one, it was very difficult to convince anyone to lease us space on campus. But now the concept has proven itself."

The 1,800-square-foot space will be under renovation for several months, with January 2015 as Tayter's projected opening date. The downtown location will receive an updated design treatment for the Elevation Burger franchise with a more modern look than previous stores. Updates on the construction will be posted on the Elevation Burger Ann Arbor Facebook page.

Elevation Burger specializes in organic, grass-fed beef that is ground in the restaurant, as well as other healthy and sustainable foods and ingredients. Tayter expects to employ a staff of between 10 and 12 workers at the new restaurant. With a three-store franchise agreement, the couple plans to open a third location in the future, and hopes to keep all three in Ann Arbor.

Source: Michael Tayter, Elevation Burger
Writer: Natalie Burg

Zingerman's Mail Order adds 15 jobs, plans warehouse expansion

Zingerman's Mail Order has been growing between five and ten percent each year. As that growth is expected to continue, that means the catalog and online sales member of the Zingerman's Community of Businesses is eventually going to need more space - and that physical expansion is set to begin this fall. 

"We're taking a slow approach to moving into the space," says Zingerman's Mail Order Managing Partner Toni Morell. "We're taking a little bit more strategic approach, expanding every time a tenant is moving."

With neighboring tenants ending their leases between now and 2017, Zingerman's Mail Order plans to eventually take over the entire building. The first expansion will take place in November, when the business will take over an additional 6,000 square feet. Sure, Morell could have gone out and found a larger warehouse elsewhere immediately, but she didn't want to lose the benefits of their Phoenix Dr. space. 

"We like that we're on the bus route on this side of town and there aren't a lot of warehouse spaces on bus routes," says Morell.

Along with growing in space, Zingerman's Mail Order has also been growing its staff. Fifteen new employees have been added since August of 2014, bringing their total staff to 83. The business also hires 450-500 seasonal workers during each holiday season. Morell anticipates adding more products and growing the business in other ways as they grow in size, though no specific decisions have been made yet.

Source: Toni Morell, Zingerman's Mail Order
Writer: Natalie Burg

Authentic Greek street food coming to S. University

Dimitri and Aphrodite Roumanis have grown up around Greek food, visiting Greece every year with their family. Now, the brother and sister team, along with their father, will bring the cuisine to N. University with Mezes Greek Grill

"What we eat there is what we wanted to bring here and introduce people to authentic Greek street food," says Dimitri Roumanis. "The amount of foot traffic and student traffic that is here every day is perfect. People will come in between classes, and there are a lot of faculty that come to the around for lunch."

Included on the menu will be gyro meat served on a stick, a recent trend Roumanis has experienced in Greece, egg lemon soup, as well as a salad made from dried bread, tomatoes and olive oil - and, of course, the traditional chicken, beef and lamb gyros. 

"Our food is not typical to what that location has," says Roumanis. "There's Greek food around here, but you have to sit down and order. We're trying to add the quickness of street food."

Roumanis plans to open Mezes Greek Grill next week with a staff of about eight after more than three months of renovations. The restaurant will be located in the former Sushi.com location, and will sit between 50 and 60 diners. 

Source: Dimitri Roumanis, Mezes Greek Grill
Writer: Natalie Burg

Sixth area clinic in store for Probility on Plymouth Rd.

When patients need to go to physical therapy, it often means multiple trips per week for multiple weeks on end. That means a convenient location is important. Now opening its sixth area location, Probility Physical Therapy is convenient from just about anywhere in town. 

"We have offices in and around Ann Arbor, but it's tough traveling across town, so people really appreciate people having an office nearby," says owner Brandon Lorenz. "We've kind of positioned our company to cater to every area in the region geographically for our patients."

The newest Probility office will open in the Courtyard Shops on Plymouth Rd. Lorenz is aiming for an Aug. 18 opening. Like all of his existing offices, he'll begin the new location with a staff of three and will grow from there. Also like all other Probility locations, every physical therapist will be trained in manual therapy. 

"We have a more emphasis on manual therapy," says Lorenz. "Usually, if you go to a physical therapy organization, there might be one person in the company who is the manual therapy guy. Our entire company has been trained in that higher level of physical therapy."

The 2,000 square foot location is now under a total renovation. Existing Probility offices are located in Ann Arbor on S. State St. and Westgate Shopping center, in Saline, Ypsilanti and in Clinton. 

Source: Brandon Lorenz, Probility
Writer: Natalie Burg

Kiwanis Thrift Store plans to purchase larger Scio Twp facility for warehouse

A new home could be in the future for one of two Kiwanis Thrift Sale locations. The Kiwanis Club of Ann Arbor is under contract to purchase a 121,651 square foot Scio Twp building that was once the location of Sheridan Books.

"We are in an agreement that says at any point, within 90 days, we could lose our location by Costco," says John Dahl, president of the Kiwanis Club. "That's why we've been looking at this for the last year. We've looked at possible sites in the Ann Arbor area."

Operations at the Kiwanis Thrift Sale downtown will continue as normal, but the new location will give the organization's warehouse facility, which has primarily focused on furniture sales, to make better use of its space. 

While part of the building is occupied by renters, Dahl says about 45,000 square feet of space is available for Kiwanis's use and to lease to additional renters. He expects the store will use about 20,000 square feet of that space, up from the 15,000 square feet utilized at their current warehouse. 

"From our customers' standpoint, what this will do is allow us to spread things out better than what we're currently doing right now," says Dahl. "Especially in our downtown location, we'ed like to make better use of our space, and this allows us to do a better job in terms of displaying our merchandise. 

Should the transaction move forward according to plan, Dahl hopes to close on the new facility in late October or early November and begin the transition from their current warehouse. He anticipates the organization would use sales to clear out excess inventory rather than transport it all from one place to the other. 

Source: John Dahl, Kiwanis Club
Writer: Natalie Burg

Excel Dental brings patient focus, four jobs to Traver Village Shopping Center

In most dental offices, patients are used to the same routine during their first visit. They fill out a long form with lots of questions. At the new Excel Dental on Plymouth Rd. in Ann Arbor, however, they do things a little differently. 

"We go out of our way and take the patients in the back and do a patient interview. It gives us a chance to get to know our patients," says Excel Dental Patient Coordinator Laura Reeves. "Dr. Sandra strives toward patient care and patient courtesy." 

A family atmosphere is the aim of Dr. Sandra Shrimankar's Excel Dental. According to Reeves, Shrimankar decided to open her own office after working in different clinics in the area and wanting to be closer to her home and two children. She accomplished that by finding a space in Traver Village Shopping Center, near Kroger.

"We are in the the best spot," says Reeves. "We have all the Kroger traffic, but we also have all of the senior complexes behind us. We've seen kids as young as three so far up to the 90s."

Excel Dental opened in April after a total renovation that began in February. The clinic currently employs a staff of four, and Reeves says she expects the staff will grow along with the clinic. They business is currently looking to hire one associate dentist. 

Source: Laura Reeves, Excel Dental 
Writer: Natalie Burg

Wolverine State Brewing Co expands operations in Ann Arbor

Wolverine State Brewing Co grew its kitchen last year and is planning on expanding the rest of its business this year.

The Ann Arbor-based brewery specializes in producing, which means it requires more time and resources to produce its brews. The 8-year-old craft brewery opened up its own tap room on West Stadium Boulevard in the old Big George's space in 2010. Last December it added a kitchen, which meant it needed to hire another six people to serve as kitchen staff. It now employs 18 people.

"It's like two totally different businesses," says Josh Evans, house manager for Wolverine State Brewing Co. "In terms of the way it runs, the way it looks, it's just so much more polished."

He adds that the expansion prompted Wolverine State Brewing Co to become more professional in its appearance and operations. That is setting the table for an even bigger expansion for the brewery later this year. The firm currently produces 2,200 barrels of beer a year, a number Evans expects to go up significantly next year.

"We plan on ratcheting that up substantially in 2015," Evans says. "We're expanding everything but the retail space. Basically everything you don’t see."

Source: Josh Evans, house manager for Wolverine State Brewing Co
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Great Lakes Cycling moves to new, permanent location on Stadium

What was once a building that serviced cars is now the new home of Great Lakes Cycling and Fitness - a transition owner Oscar Bustos finds appropriate, given how many Ann Arborites are choosing cycling over driving. For him, the new Stadium Blvd. location was an opportunity to find a permanent home for his business, something he'd been pursuing for some time.

"We'd been trying to buy our previous building, but the owner was unable to sell it," Bustos says. "We wanted to purchase a building, and this was a good fit. Our basic model is a shell, a big open environment, so it worked out well. We just gutted it."

After months of renovations, Great Lakes Cycling and Fitness opened in the 8,000 square foot building in early June. With the change in location, Bustos has also taken on some new brands. For the most part, however, he says the service and staff people have come to expect from his former location are the same in the business's new home. 

So far, the reaction has been positive.

"Things have been going great," says Bustos. "Our traffic count is a lot higher on this side of town, so our visibility is improved. We're very happy with it."

Great Lakes Cycling and Fitness is open seven days a week, from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm on weekdays, 10:00am to 6:00pm on Saturdays and noon to 6:00 pm on Sundays. 


Source: Oscar Bustos, Great Lakes Cycling
Writer: Natalie Burg

Motawi Tileworks to expand into downtown retail at Ann Arbor Art Center

Retail is nothing new for Motawi Tileworks. The art tile company has been selling their tiles online at at their Enterprise Dr. location in Ann Arbor for some time, in addition to their wholesale work. But owner Nawal Motawi decided it was time to investigate retail in a more visible location. 

"Every once in a while it dawns on me how hard to find our place on Enterprise really is," Motawi says. "But looking at the parts of our business that are most successful, our retail has been quite successful." 

Opening a dedicated retail location in downtown Ann Arbor can be expensive, however, so Motawi is partnering with the Ann Arbor Art Center to ease into the downtown retail game. Beginning in late August, about 500 square feet of the Center will be dedicated to Motawi Tileworks, which will be merchandized by the tile company. 

Though the tile will be sold on consignment like any other art sold at the center, Motawi will share the cost of staffing with the Ann Arbor Art Center and the dedicated space and control over their inventory will help Motawi experiment with downtown retail location. 

"They're feeling really great about it because it's a different way of helping a local artist, so it's still true to their mission," Motawi says. "And really, I want to learn by doing. It would be a great thing to see it grow into own space, and to see if the concept is strong, and if it can be started in other locales."

Motawi Tileworks enthusiasts will find extra incentive to visit the downtown location, as Motawi says she'll market test new tiles there, as well as host periodic events during which visitors can watch tiles being created. 

Motawi hopes to begin operations in the Ann Arbor Art Center space on Aug. 20 and celebrate a grand opening Sept. 5. 

Source: Nawal Motawi, Motawi Tileworks
Writer: Natalie Burg

Ann Arbor Running Company to open in Oak Valley Shopping Center

Ian Forsyth and Nick Stanko met as cross country runners at the University of Michigan, and they've been friends ever since. They've also both stayed connected to running through their careers, and those ties will become even deeper as the now business partners prepare to open their first venture: Ann Arbor Running Company

"We think we have a lot to offer," says Forsyth. "We can give advice on any kind of training. No tricks, no gimmicks, just a nice place to go and get advice and get shoes, and a comfortable place to be."

That place will be located in the Oak Valley Shopping Center. Forsyth says they chose the location because it's one side of town without a running store currently, and because they expect growth in the area will bring more traffic to the store. 

"We looked around a bunch of different places, including different cities. I heard from numerous people that Jackson was a good place to go, but Nick was very passionate about Ann Arbor," Forsyth says. "Running is a huge thing in Ann Arbor these days."

The 3,200 square foot Ann Arbor Running Company will feature handmade racks and furnishings. Renovations on the space are underway, and Forsyth hopes to open the shop by early August. Though he and Stanko will initially run the store themselves, he anticipates hiring three full-time employees and a few part-time employees during their first year. 

Source: Ian Forsyth, Ann Arbor Running Company
Writer: Natalie Burg

Grand Rapids-based HopCat to open in downtown Ann Arbor, create 140 new jobs

A Grand Rapids favorite that has been popping up across Michigan will soon make an appearance in downtown Ann Arbor. BarFly Ventures, the firm behind more than one popular Grand Rapids bar recently announced their fifth HopCat location will open at 311-315 Maynard Ave. The $2 million investment in the former Borders space will result 140 new local jobs.
 
"Ann Arbor is such a great town for dining, entertainment and culture, it was a really logical fit," says Chris Knape, marketing and communications director for Barfly Ventures. "We think that adding HopCat to the mix will add to the excitement downtown." 

Just when Ann Arborites though they'd seen it all, HopCat will offer the largest draft system in the city with 100 varieties of craft beer on tap. A year after opening in East Lansing, work will soon begin on the 8,600 square foot space. But visitors to other HopCat locations shouldn't expect to see a cookie cutter remake.

"We're going to completely gut the space and add a unique design to it," says Knape. "Whenever we open a new location, each place feels different. Ann Arbor is going to feel a lot different from the location in East Lansing, just like East Lansing feels different from Grand Rapids."

The Ann Arbor HopCat is expected to open in January of 2015.  

Source: Chris Knape, HopCat
Writer: Natalie Burg
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