The Van Born Road Corridor could be getting improvements after representatives from Dearborn Heights, Taylor and civil engineers met to explore their feasibility.
The corridor runs through much of both cities’ commercial districts. While the group is exploring the feasibility of improvements from Inkster Road to the Southfield Freeway, there is particular emphasis on the area between Pelham and Monroe streets, near the former Masco facility — soon to be occupied by Ford Motor Co. technical staff — and the now-closed Kmart store, which is expected to be re-purposed soon by Ford.
At the Dearborn Area Chamber of Commerce “Tale of Our Cities” lunch Jan. 10, Dearborn Heights Mayor Dan Paletko talked about Masco leaving its headquarters and that he and Taylor Mayor Rick Sollars had discussed a joint program to develop the corridor — particularly the Masco and Kmart properties.
Ford Land CEO Dave Dubensky, who attended the event, asked Paletko about the availability of Masco’s headquarters. Following the event, Paletko, Sollars and Dubensky held discussions on the prospect of the facility serving as a location for the expansion of Ford’s technical staff.
Following these discussions — which also included Masco’s leadership — direct negotiations between Ford Land and Masco began, resulting in an agreement for Ford to secure the facility on a long-term basis. To help facilitate the project, both mayors agreed to work together toward the development of additional infrastructure improvements to the area. In addition, Masco’s leadership has also indicated its commitment to providing tangible support toward the project.
The facility was seen as a particularly attractive one, due to both the close proximity to Ford’s existing technical facilities, and the facility’s campus-like environment. Ford is now working on the preparation of the facility to house its technical staff.
“This is an excellent example of how we all benefit when communities and the private sector work together toward achieving a common goal”, Paletko said. “We realized early on that Masco’s departure could have rendered an adverse effect on both our communities, but thanks to the efforts of all involved, it appears that we will enjoy a win-win outcome.
“Mayor Sollars and I were eager to work with the leadership of Ford Land and Masco to help support this initiative in whatever way we could. The project shows real promise toward supporting Ford Motor’s need for additional space, as well as for the prospect of seeing some significant infrastructure improvements in the area.”
“The time is right to look at updating this sector of our respective communities” Sollars said, “With Ford Motor Co. coming into this facility on a longer-term basis, coupled with some great prospects for new tenants in the Kmart building, we anticipate a lot of new, younger traffic in the area.”
“We anticipate this will serve as a boost for both communities,” Paletko said. “We are confident this expansion will serve as the seed for a real economic and social growth on both sides of Van Born Road. As a result, we are taking a pro-active look at several aesthetic and infrastructure possibilities that would reflect a more updated, contemporary atmosphere.”
Officials from both cities agreed a new “district”-related theme would serve as a boost to the area. With the upcoming improvements, the group anticipates a particular need for additional “day-to-day” service providers and services, such as additional restaurants, dry cleaners and retail establishments.
The proposed infrastructure improvements are still in the earliest states of exploration.
“We hope to have an overall strategy in place within the next few months” Paletko said. “Right now, we are looking at a multitude of possibilities, including making the area more pedestrian-friendly, landscaping improvements, updated street lighting, and even changes to the roadway itself – including better walkways, and even perhaps the addition of roundabouts at some key intersections.”
Sollars emphasized that the meeting marked the first in what will be many to discuss possibilities on how the cities could work cooperatively with their existing businesses, as well as prospective businesses who would consider relocating there to make the corridor a more attractive, vibrant retail and commercial center.
Both mayors agreed that with an undertaking of this size, there are a multitude of issues that need to be addressed to turn the concept into a workable strategy – including the ability to secure funding to support it.
“We will be looking carefully into all of these issues with our neighboring communities, civil engineers and other key stakeholders to determine the best – and wisest – course of action over the coming months,” Paletko said.