ULI Spring Meeting in Detroit (May 2018)

Our visit to the Motor City featured an amazing array of women entrepreneurs/business owners and local developers. Our events began with a visit to Détroit is the New Black, where owner Roslyn Karamoko encouraged us to “shop local” with an elegant twist. Regina Gaines, owner of House of Pure Vin, spoke of achieving her dream and inspiring ours as we visited her spectacular wineshop, catalyzed by TechTown’s Retail Boot Camp. The Retail Boot Camp is helping to accelerate Downtown Detroit’s recovery by providing motivated retail entrepreneurs with the tools and retail space necessary to launch their businesses. Kudos to Melissa Dittmer, Veronica Rickett and Tamara Knapp of Bedrock Real Estate for developing Lofts at Merchants Row, home to House of Pure Vin that Bedrock helped to kickstart. Bedrock continues to enliven Detroit through beautiful building restorations and well-curated retail, including our featuring woman-owned chocolatier, Bon Bon Bon. Our morning tour kicked off with interesting insights from David DiRita, development partner at Roxbury Group, followed by a lively city bus tour with the Detroit Experience Factory’s Jeanette Pierce. A deep dive into innovative local developments provided by Kimberly Dowdell of Century Partners, Cecily King of Live6Alliance and Abir Ali of The Platform, who shared how their respective work is catalyzing new development. Our gathering concluded at Traffic Jam & Snug with a delicious lunch and a talk by owner Carolyn Howard, developer and owner of the noted Midtown eatery and other Detroit properties.

Bedrock Real Estate

Since its founding in 2011, Detroit’s Bedrock Real Estate has sought innovative ways to revitalize Motor City’s downtown area. Bedrock and its tenants often work synergistically to accomplish this. Bedrock leases ground floor spaces to promising entrepreneurs who in turn fill its developments with trendy and unique businesses. Bedrock along with other Detroit organizations have provided resources for emerging retailers to attend an eight-week Retail Boot Camp to improve their business skills and funded upfront start-up expense, including tenant improvements to create an engaging retail environment.

One such business is House of Pure Vin, a wine shop featuring an extensive selection of Michigan-made wines. Co-owners Regina Gaines, Terry Mullins, and Andrea Dunbar all underwent TechTown’s intensive Retail Boot Camp to prepare for the opening of their establishment, and were granted two months of free rent from the program, as well as tenant improvement capital. Across the street from House of Pure Vin is Détroit Is the New Black, a boutique-slash-gallery that sells minimalist streetwear and hosts regular poetry slams in Bedrock’s adjacent property. Owned by Roslyn Karamoko, DINTB is just one of many minority-owned businesses committed to showcasing culture and creativity. A little further down the Woodward Avenue, chocolatier Alexandra Clark has opened up her second Bon Bon Bon location in Bedrock’s Chrysler Building. She and her team of female employees (known as the BabesBabesBabes) sell handmade treats in flavors like “Bacon & Eggs” and “Whiskey Lullaby.”

Bedrock is powered by a team of incredible women who are realizing its mission to celebrate the vibrant culture of Detroit and provide much-needed opportunities and spaces to innovative, women-led retail businesses.

  • Tamara Knapp, Bedrock’s Chief Operating Officer, oversees more than one hundred Bedrock properties in both Detroit and Cleveland. She has been recognized multiple times for her excellent work in real estate development, operations management, and facility management. Knapp is a recipient of Business Magazine’s 2013 “Powered by Women” award, and she was named one of Real Estate Forum’s 2016 “Women of Influence”. Last year, she received the “Economic and Community Improvement Impact Award” from the CREW Network.
  • Melissa Dittmer, the Vice President of Architecture and Design, leads Bedrock’s internal architecture studio and is responsible for research, analysis, and conceptual design. She was also a key driver behind Detroit’s bid to attract Amazon.
  • Veronica Rickett is the Senior Property Manager at Bedrock Detroit and a graduate of Michigan State University, and she oversees Bedrock’s many commercial and residential properties, including helping local entrepreneurs like House of Pure Vin to succeed.