Colors Restaurant, a fixture in Harmonie Park since 2012, is on the hunt for new digs. The impending move follows the announcement of a major redevelopment project in the Harmonie Park area. Through the project, the Harmonie Park neighborhood will be redubbed the "Paradise Valley Cultural and Entertainment District," receiving some $52.4 million in investment and new businesses including a jazz club, residential properties, and restaurants. The Carr Center building where Colors is located has been allocated for a new boutique hotel expected to open in 2018.
Dr. Alicia Farris is state director for the Michigan branch of the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC-MI), which operates Colors as a career training ground for front-of-house restaurant workers. The organization’s office has been located in Harmonie Park since 2011. "We are in the process of scouting out locations," she says, noting that they’ve talked to several brokers but haven’t made any final decisions on where to move.
"We’re looking at both neighborhoods and commercial areas," she says. "The important thing to us is we want to remain Detroit-based. We need to be centrally located so that people who need the training can access the training. It needs to be bus-accessible."
Farris says ROC-MI has been aware for some time that they might have to move to a new site but that fate wasn’t officially confirmed until the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation’s announcement in June. "We feel that we’ve kind of been held in limbo since 2014," she says, adding that they signed a 5-year lease with the agency last summer. The lease was never completely approved. "It’s very difficult to move forward [with any plans] if you don’t have a lease."
The director expressed some disappointment with the DEGC’s plan. "It’s interesting that they would talk about developing the area but hindering established businesses," Farris says. "We are supportive of development. We just wish they would include the communities of interest in the development."
ROC-MI has received verbal confirmation that the organization may continue to operate without a lease at the site until approximately July 2017. In the meantime, Colors and ROC-MI will continue serving regulars throughout the week, providing training, and advocating for the nearly 460,000 restaurant workers across the state. In September, the organization will launch its first-ever eight-week course on restaurant operations that’s geared towards restaurant owners and managers. "We want these restaurants to be successful," Farris says.