DBusiness Daily Update: Royal Oak’s Emerald Energy Solutions Forms JV to Process Graphite for EVs, and More

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies, including updates about the COVID-19 pandemic. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.
Royal Oak’s Emerald Energy Solutions has agreed to form a joint venture with Hong Kong-based Graphex Technologies to construct and operate a graphite processing facility. // Stock Photo
Royal Oak’s Emerald Energy Solutions has agreed to form a joint venture with Hong Kong-based Graphex Technologies to construct and operate a graphite processing facility. // Stock Photo

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies, including updates about the COVID-19 pandemic. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.

Royal Oak’s Emerald Energy Solutions Forms JV to Process Graphite for EVs

Emerald Energy Solutions in Royal Oak has agreed to form a joint venture with Hong Kong-based Graphex Technologies to construct and operate a graphite processing facility, possibly in Michigan. Graphite is used in EV battery anodes.

A final decision and site selection is expected in March and is subject to agreements being reached with state and local governments and agencies. Graphex expects that a facility could be operational before the end of Q2 2023 with an initial capacity to deliver 10,000 metric tons per annum of coated spherical graphite and may increase the capacity to 20,000 TPA relatively quickly to meet increased demand.

Processed spherical graphite is the predominant anode material used in most lithium-ion batteries for EVs and renewable energy storage. The processing and supply of coated spherical graphite is expected to significantly increase every year to satisfy the increasing demand for EVs.

Under the agreement, the EES team primarily will be responsible for site assessment and selection, inspections, acquisitions, regulatory approval, construction, and mechanical operation of the facility, and will also provide office and administrative support for the joint venture. In addition, EES will have primary responsibility for providing and/or obtaining the requisite funding and capital to purchase, construct, and operate the facility.

EES will manage all governmental and regulatory concerns. Graphex will provide the patents, trade secrets, technological knowhow, and expertise necessary to construct and operate the facility. Appropriate Graphex personnel will be involved in all stages of development and operation of graphite processing and pitch coating. Graphex will arrange for the supply of the necessary graphite material to be processed at the facility.

“Global EV growth creates unprecedented demand for battery materials and graphite continues to be a key material in future battery chemistries,” says David Halabu, managing partner of EES. “Detroit is positioning itself to be a global leader not only in traditional automobile manufacturing, but also the leader in EV manufacturing.

“As a Michigan company with a team born and raised in the metro Detroit area, we are determined to create synergies between Graphex and American automakers. No better place than the Motor City to see the electrical vehicle future come to reality.”

BKV Group Completes City Club Apartments Developments in Detroit

Chicago-based BKV Group has completed two multifamily projects in downtown Detroit — the 288-unit City Club Apartments CBD Detroit and 192-unit City Club Apartments Lafayette Park — and has been tapped to design the 350-unit CCA Detroit Midtown, scheduled to deliver in 2023.

Located at 313 Park Ave., the seven-story CCA CBD Detroit overlooks Grand Circus Park, revitalizing the vacant urban infill site that was once home to the historic Statler Motel.

BKV Group designed the single building with the appearance of multiple structures for both visual appeal and scale that respects the surrounding cityscape. The street-facing facade features a neutral color palette of white, black, and wood tones, while the interior courtyard showcases the mix of colors and patterns commonly associated with the City Club Apartments brand. The concave front of the building facing Grand Circus Park mimics the curve of the streets that form the park’s perimeter.

Designed to offer housing at a variety of price points, CCA CBD Detroit features studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom units — including traditional apartments, as well as penthouses and townhomes — in 53 different floor plans, with four finish packages available.

Amenity spaces support social connections and resident interests, including a lobby lounge library; entertainment club room with kitchen; theater; 24/7 fitness center; business center with conference room; and indoor pool and hot tub that connects to an expansive courtyard via garage doors. Outside, residents have access to a kitchen and bar area, separate outdoor theater/event space, Zen garden, and bark park. A multi-story exterior mural on the adjacent CCA Detroit property overlooks the courtyard.

CCA CBD Detroit also includes a retail component, which the design team from BKV Group situated adjacent to the park, taking advantage of the views for outdoor dining and connection to the community. Tenants include The Statler Bistro, the city’s first indoor/outdoor casual French dining destination, which faces Grand Circus Park, and Premier Pet Supply in the retail space along Washington Avenue.

“This site is one of the most prominent in downtown Detroit, and one of the developer’s imperatives was that the new building be designed with sensitivity and respect to its significant role in Detroit’s past history and present revitalization,” says Mike Krych, senior design leader and managing partner of BKV Group. “The creative approach we took with the exterior of the building, designing it to serve the dual goals of fitting into the surroundings and adhering to the bold and attention-grabbing look of the City Club brand, is one of the reasons we’ve had such a long partnership with City Club Apartments.”

For CCA Lafayette Park, BKV Group served as the interior designer for the renovation project, which significantly updated a 1970s-era multifamily community — formerly known as Elmwood Park Plaza — located at 750 Chene, approximately a mile from the city center. The interiors work included upgrading existing units, which include four standard and four penthouse plans, each with one bedroom and finishes based on apartment type. Improvements include new flooring, paint, and lighting, as well as updated kitchens and baths. Select residences offer movable kitchen islands, glass tile backsplashes and granite countertops in kitchens, as well as private balconies.

BKV Group transformed the existing common areas, creating a lobby lounge library and entertainment club room on the first floor. The entertainment club room connects to the adjacent outdoor Terrace Club, which houses a pool, hot tub, cabanas, and poolside grilling stations, as well as a Zen garden, beach volleyball court, bark park, and dog run. Other indoor offerings include a 24/7 fitness center, business center with conference room, and penthouse-level Sky Lounge with city and river views.

The renovation also included enhancements to the building’s facade, which now features tree-inspired greenery that serves as an extension of the landscaped Terrace Club below. The structure was originally designed by Carl Koch, known for his “Techcrete” building system, as one of the first mixed-use developments in Michigan. McIntosh Poris Associates of Birmingham, Mich., was the architect of record for the project, overseeing the new exterior and outdoor amenity space.

City of Detroit to Host Skills for Life Recruitment Events

The City of Detroit is hosting a series of Skills for Life hiring events to hire for several positions within the city’s General Services Department starting.

Skills For Life, a work training program designed to pay Detroiters to learn new job skills and remove educational barriers to employment was announced last fall. The program allows residents to work three days and take classes toward their chosen educational path for two days while still being paid starting at $15 per hour. Skills for Life comes as a result of community engagement meetings to identify ARPA spending priorities, and City Council approval.

The positions will contribute to beautifying Detroit, making physical improvements to Detroit’s neighborhoods, such as cleaning parks and removing graffiti, trash, and overgrowth from the city’s commercial corridors.

“As we hire Detroiters we also want to provide opportunity for them to gain not only skills but education that will help them to sustain their careers well into the future,” says Brad Dick, group executive of services and infrastructure for the city. “Learning the skills and getting the experience and qualifications that employers in this sector look for, all while providing a service that is critical to our city right now.”

In-person hiring events include:

  • 15, 1-4 p.m., Lasky Recreation Center (13200 Fenelon)
  • 23, 1-4 p.m., Adams Butzel Complex (10500 Lyndon)
  • March 1, 1-4 p.m., Heilmann Recreation Center (19601 Crusade)

Virtual hiring events via Zoom include:

  • 10, 10 a.m.-noon
  • 17, 1-3 p.m.
  • 24, 10 a.m.-noon
  • March 2, 1-3 p.m.

The Zoom link for the virtual meetings can be found here. Use the meeting ID 459 823 1165, and the passcode 48226.

Applying for Skills for Life is a three-step process for Detroit residents:

  1. Visit the Detroit at Work website and click the Skills for Life banner.
  2. Click on Sign Up Now and follow the instructions.
  3. Once the application is completed, users will be contacted within 72 hours to begin the enrollment process.

Quality Roots to Open Cannabis Store in Monroe Feb. 11

Quality Roots Inc., a cannabis retailer with outlets in Hamtramck and Battle Creek, is opening a new store in Monroe on Friday, Feb. 11.

Located at 1121 S Monroe St., the outlet is the first of five locations opening in the first half of this year.

“Quality Roots is beyond excited to start establishing ourselves in the Monroe Community,” says Aric Klar, CEO of Quality Roots. “We are eager to show the community the benefit of having Quality Roots as a neighbor. We will workday and night to earn everyone’s trust through quality products and quality service.”

Quality Roots are provisioning centers that offer offer a broad selection of craft cannabis products, including flower, edibles, topicals, and concentrates. With more than 250 products, customers can browse and order directly from the company’s website having the option to choose from delivery or curbside pickup.

The company has a partnership with Michigrown and Exotic Matter, two of the top high-end cultivators in the state.

Motawi Tileworks Launches Charley Harper Barn Kitty Tile

Motawi Tileworks in Ann Arbor has enhanced its collection of tiles based on the art of Charley Harper (1922–2007) with the release of new 6×6 Barn Kitty.

Barn Kitty ($94), a 6-by-6-inch art tile available in Green and Red, joins a midcentury-style Charley Harper by Motawi line of more than 30 pieces based on the artist’s stylized depictions of wildlife. The Barn Kitty design comes from an original 1971 painting of Harper’s.

“We have had the pleasure of collaborating with the Charley Harper Art Studio for 10 years now,” says Nawal Motawi, owner and artistic director of the tileworks. “So much of Harper’s work translates beautifully to ceramic tile, inspiring a virtually endless stream of design ideas and new midcentury art pieces here at the tileworks.”

Barn Kitty can be purchased online and in the Motawi gallery (170 Enterprise Drive in Ann Arbor). Motawi art tiles are sold in more than 300 locations in the U.S. and Canada. Motawi tiles are suitable for installation or display in frames or easels and have notches for hanging.

Founded 30 years ago in 1992, Motawi Tileworks makes handcrafted tile as art pieces and for residential and commercial installations. The company releases new art tiles regularly, including original designs and those based on the work of celebrated artists such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Charley Harper.

Michigan Science Center to Present 4D Documentary on Volcanoes

The Michigan Science Center (MiSci) will present an IMAX documentary that gives viewers an inside look at volcanoes throughout the world and throughout history.

“Volcanoes: The Fires of Creation” tells the story of how volcanoes have helped create the modern world, including how the continents, air, and life forms all have their origins in fire. The film will open Feb. 19 in the museum’s Toyota Engineering 4D Theater.

“Volcanoes give us a glimpse of what lies beneath our feet and remind us that the Earth is constantly changing,” says Christian Greer, president and CEO of MiSci. “Our mission at MiSci is to put you at the center of science. From the safety of our theater, Volcanoes: The Fires of Creation, will provide guests with a thrilling 4D experience that invites them to get an up-close view of an Earth process that is often dangerous and nearly inaccessible.”

While volcanoes might not seem relevant to Michigan, MiSci Planetarium director and astronomer Paulette Epstein says that is not the case.

“Many people are surprised to learn that Michigan once had active volcanoes in the Upper Peninsula,” she says. “Though it was billions of years ago, those eruptions left behind precious minerals and metals that continue to be mined today and are a major industry for the state.”

The film follows intrepid explorer Carsten Peter as he dodges boulders at the edge of an active volcano in Indonesia, descends to a boiling lava lake in Vanuatu and visits incredible acid ponds, geysers and mineral deposit fields in Ethiopia. The film also explores the hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the ocean, as well as the effects of major volcanic eruptions in the past, including the archeological ghost town of Pompeii and the 2018 Kilauea eruption in Hawaii.

MiSci is offering morning previews for members at 10 a.m. Feb. 19 and 20. Reservations are encouraged, and tickets are available through the member portal on MiSci’s website.

Tickets to “Volcanoes: The Fires of Creation” are $6 each for non-members, $3 for members and free for premium members. The member previews are free for all members.