Green Garage in the media

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June 24, 2012 Inc.

June 21, 2012

May, 2012 Red Thread Magazine

March 21, 2012 Urban Innovation Exchange

March 17, 2012 Metaphors for Reviving Detroit

March/April 2012 dbusiness Article

January 18, 2011 Forbes Magazine Article

December 15, 2011

November 21, 2011 - Can Motor City Start Its Engines? (The Independent)

November 18, 2011 - Office Envy (Curbed Blog) Sarah Cox

November 16, 2011 - From Model T's To Green Start-Ups (HuffPost Blog) Peggy Brennan

July 3, 2011 - Photo Request from Timothy Schaefer (Vancouver)

Greetings, My name is Timothy Schafer and I'm working for the Centre for Sustainable Community Development at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC, Canada. I'm helping assemble the graphics for a book on development of sustainable communities. I was just looking at the green alley image at on your site and was wondering if you would allow us to publish it in the book under conditions outlined below? I understand it is your image. We wanted an example of a green alley in the book. If you prefer, forward any other image that may illustrate the idea better. What's the highest resolution version of this photo available? We need one at least 300 dpi at print size.

Conditions we'd need the owner of the photo to approve:

   We can use it in materials created to market the book.
   We can crop the photo as necessary to make it fit the book's layout.
   We'll credit you, along with all other photographers, on the book's photo credit page(s).
   We don't need copyright for the image; just permission to use it on the bases outlined above.

Looking forward to hearing from you. Sincerely, Timothy Schafer

Subject of the book A compendium of "best practices" that citizens and local governments can initiate to promote sustainability at the community level, covering urban agriculture, recycling and waste management, transportation, land use and more. The book will be published in hard copy (up to 10,000 copies probably) and in a digital format. It will also be promoted on soon-to-be-established research network that links communities and local governments with research institutions.

Some details about the project:

   Author is Mark Roseland. Read more about him here:;
   The book's working title is Toward Sustainable Communities: Solutions for Citizens and Their Governments.
   This is actually a fourth edition of the book Toward Sustainable Communities. It was first published in 1992; two revised editions have been published in 1998 and 2005 to favorable reviews. 
   Here's a link to the last edition on Google Books:

July 1, 2011 - NYT

May 2011 - 52 Cups of Coffee: Cup 37

March 2011 - Preservation Magazine

January 2011 - Model D

A little media exposure for the Green Alley week of June 15, 2009

Week of August 10, 2009

End of August, 2009

September, 2009 - Metromode blog pieces

October 29, 2009 - Recycling For Charities Podcast Interview

Interviewer: Briefly explain to our listeners what the Green Garage is and what its final goal is? A building in Midtown that used to be a Model T showroom and is undergoing a green and historic renovation; also a green business incubator; finally, a community of people.

Interview: What initially motivated you to buy a building and completely renovate it in a green manner? That is quite a huge financial undertaking as well as a great time commitment. My husband retired in 2001 and became involved in the green movement by serving on the board of the River Raisin Institute in Monroe, which developed green projects. He came to the conclusion that he'd like to work in the area of environmental sustainability, and so he and I developed a group called Great Lakes Green Initiative. This group has conversations weekly that center around how to change our lives to live in a more environmentally sustainable manner. When we initially designed this group, we had in mind some sort of demonstration center that would help promote our learning, and for a while we were looking for property in Ann Arbor to build this center. We thought locating close to a university was key to our work, as we wanted to draw from the university population. Many people, however, as we described the project, recommended that we locate the project in Detroit. It made sense to us, so we located a realtor, decided on the Midtown area, and this was the first property we saw. It is a huge undertaking, but we feel lucky that we're in a position to do it.

Interviewer: In my research I noticed that you are hoping to make this a net-zero energy building. What exactly does that mean and how will you go about doing that? Net zero energy means that the building will produce as much energy as it will consume. In order to do this, we had a group of about a dozen individuals, volunteers from all walks of life, including designers, architects and engineers, meet for 9 months on the design. Very early on, they determined that the key to net-zero energy was tied to passive design, which has to do with a super insulated and tight building envelope (roof, walls, windows). We formulated a design, modeled it using energy modeling software, and found that we were able to reduce the heating and cooling demands by 90%, so we will be able to heat the building as if it were a 1,000 sq ft building instead of 11,000 sq ft. Now, when we open, we won't have achieved net zero energy, but we have created a platform to work with, and we'll tackle the 5% remaining that needs to be tweaked. We're working with natural ventilation, earth air tubes and a geothermal system for heating and cooling, natural lighting using Solatubes and careful window design, etc.

Interviewer: How long have you been concerned with the idea of conservation and living a sustainable life? Really since about 2005, to any serious degree. We started large by buying a Prius when we needed a new car, and installing a geothermal system in our house, then slowly adding more and more components to our lifestyle. A lot of this was based on what we were discussing with our GLGI group. For example, during the 9 months we studied water, we set up rain barrels, stopped using bottled water, modified our use of sprinklers outside, installed dual-flush toilets, just as an example.

Interviewer: What was your family and friends initial reaction when you told them you were going to be buying a rundown old model T showroom and turn it into an energy efficient retail space? Before we bought the building, we had a meeting with close friends to discuss the pros and cons of the idea. I probably had the most negative reaction, as I normally do at the beginning of things. It may not surprise you to know that my husband is a very busy person, and has his fingers in quite a number of pots, whether working or retired. I questioned him about his ability to carve out adequate space in his already busy schedule. Our other friends thought it was a great idea, and wanted us to understand their support if we moved forward. Outside of this group, most people were not surprised, as we have bought a number of properties before. The other properties we have previously purchased, however, are resort rental properties, and we knew this would mean a different level of commitment.

Interviewer: What types of hurdles have you had to encounter when trying to start the Green Garage when it comes to working in the city of Detroit? Here's the good news for you. We haven't encountered any hurdles working with Detroit. Period. We turned our plans in to the city, plans that were 25 pages long with detailed descriptions of systems that are not typical, such as our geo-solar hybrid heating and cooling system. The plans passed through within 1 1/2 weeks! We were pleasantly surprised by that, I can assure you. We have done remodeling projects on other properties we own, and they haven't even looked at the plans for 3 weeks, let alone give approval. So I can give you an unqualified thumbs up on working with the city.

Interviewer: What types of retail spaces are you hoping to have in the Green Garage when it is finished? We're not putting in retail space. We're doing a number of things. First, you need to know that the Green Garage is comprised of 2 conjoined buildings - I'll call them the historic building and the annex. In the historic building, we planning on renting office space to people who want to start green businesses. Because we want to use the space as efficiently as possible, and save our clients money, we can rent them something as small as a desk, and something as large as an entire set of offices. We'll be providing a green office environment, help with business plans, and help with contacting funding sources. In addition, we will have consultation space to work with people who might drop by and want help greening up their own lives. In the annex building, we will be setting up workshop space for people who want to rent space to develop a product. We'll probably rent on a monthly basis, and hope that our tenants develop strong, independent enough businesses within a year or so and take them out into the city.

Interviewer: How have you been able to enlist volunteer help to get your building up and running in an environmentally friendly fashion? Well, we started with the people we know. Many of them we already know from GLGI, and since they have an environmental bent, we knew they might be interested. Then we got to know people in the Detroit community, and they connected us with people who might have an interest. We started our project with discussion series, so these people became connected. Once someone becomes passionate about what we're doing, they tell others, who tell others, etc. I think it's important to point out that it's hard to get people committed to something if they think there's a possibility it may not happen. The people that we initially worked with knew that if we began this, it would happen. And they want to be a part of it. Here's a story I can tell about volunteering: One day last summer we were ut in front of the building picking weeds and a woman passed by, and we started talking. We found out her name is Maria Gonzalez and she teaches Library Science at Wayne State. This piqued our interest because I have a degree in that field and will be developing an urban sustainable library. Many conversations and e-mails later, I am now working with 2 of her students, who will be helping me develop our library. That's how it often happens.

Interviewer: What if there is a listener that wants to get involved in the renovation? What could they do to get involved? Contact us at or find us on Facebook. We're listed as Green Garage Detroit.

Interviewer: Not only are you working on the Green Garage but tell us a little bit about the other alley project you are working on? So when we bought the building, we noticed a pretty dilapidated alley next to the building. It basically is cement and weeds. We noticed that all of the rain water goes down into the storm sewer, and we know that's a problem during heavy rain falls because that storm water just mixes with the sewer water and goes directly to our streams and lakes. So we knew that needed to be remedied. In addition, we wanted to develop a green space that pedestrians could walk or bike through and enjoy. So we started some conversations last year with John Linardos and Dan Scarsella of Motor City Brewing Works, next door, and we came up with a design. We got all the other neighbors on board, too, and plan to get rid of that concrete next spring and replace it with a central pathway made of reused historic bricks, bordered by permeable pavers and then by native Michigan flower gardens.

Interviewer: For those of us in the Detroit area, can you give us a few landmarks around the Green Garage so we can be aware of it next time we are in the area? We're on Second Avenue, right around Canfield. We're very close to the Traffic Jam restaurant.

Interviewer: The Green Garage is just what Detroit needs right now. Thank you so much for sharing your vision with us, we wish you the best of luck in getting it off the ground!

Interview with Dave Patrize and Frank Lucente on the building history

We met with Frank Lucente and his son Dave, and with Dave Patrize and his wife Winnie. Here's what I found out:

  1. Samuel Kanners was in the shoe supply business and used to be by the Eastern Market on Gratiot. (Date uncertain) he brought the business to 4444 Second. (small, uneducated, loved cigars, spit a lot)
  2. His son Victor took over the business in 1948, after returning from WWII. He worked with his father, his Uncle Jack and mother Ida.
  3. Victor Kanners and Samuel Patrize brought their shoe businesses together around 1954-1956.
  4. In 1976, the building was owned by 4 people who worked there:
    1. Bob Patrize (Samuel Patrize's son) (President) (sales)
    2. Bob Zukowski (Vice President) (ran office)
    3. Chester Martin (Secretary) (sales)
    4. Frank Lucente (Treasurer) (ran warehouse)
  5. The business was sold to Frank's 2 sons, Frank and Douglas in 1989. The boys owned the business and the father owned the building.
  6. Dave sold out to Doug in 1996.
  7. From there, things 'fell apart.'
  • The customer base was Hudsons, Crowleys, Jacobsons...anywhere that sold shoes or shoe products.They serviced customers in Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana
  • Also sold shoe polish nationwide (i.e. Acme Boot Co in Tennessee; also sold palette loads of black shoe polish to Scientologists)
  • While Frank worked at the business:
    • The windows were bricked (around the summer of '68) because the insurance company couldn't keep insuring broken windows. Vagrants hung around the front stoop and caused the problem.
    • In 1965, they built the annex building to store an ever-increasing supply of winter boots.
    • They put up the false ceiling and put in insulation to keep the place warm.
    • Frank built the show room in front.
  • Other interesting point: The Victorian next door used to house a Chinese laundry in the 1960's, and at the same time the Bronx was a lunch counter.

Michigan Green Leaders 2010

Free Press article: Michigan Green Leaders 2010

Green Alley June 2010