By ZEINAB NAJM
HEIGHTS — Residents of Dearborn Heights and Taylor will soon be connected through the Van Born Road Corridor infrastructure improvement plan benefiting both cities.
Dearborn Heights Mayor Daniel Paletko made the announcement about the joint initiative along Van Born Road during a press conference on Oct. 25 at the civil engineering firm Wade Trim.
Paletko said the discussions started in the spring. He announced in January that Masco Corp. would be leaving its Taylor headquarters. The president of Ford Land was in attendance at the announcement.
“Ford Land needed the space to house over 1,000 employees,” he said. “Three weeks after the Tale of Two Cities, a Masco Corp. representative, myself, Ford Land president and Taylor Mayor Rick Sollars had a meeting and the news was out about two months after that.”
Ford Motor Co. will be moving their employees into the former Masco Corp. and Super Kmart building on Van Born Road in Taylor.
“I’ve always had a close relationship with Rick and we talked about what if our two communities come together to generate economic development,” Paletko said. “It’s not a competition, the redevelopment with benefit both cities.”
Sollars was unable to attend the press conference, but Taylor Economic Development Director George Sutherland said the collaboration is an attempt to make Van Born the next hot spot in Wayne County.
“There has been so much growth in Taylor at Southland Mall, upcoming Menards and now another opportunity with Ford coming in,” Sutherland said. “This is a huge, exciting venture we are a part of with Dearborn Heights. I believe development breeds development so we are ahead of the curve on beautifying the area.”
Regarding the project, Sollars did say in a press release that the city is experiencing heavy business growth in the community.
“Seeing a large Kmart close and then recently having the Masco Headquarters relocate to Livonia concerned everyone in our city,” he said in a press release, “but having Ford Motor Co. locate to these vacant properties was a large victory for both Dearborn Heights and Taylor, and for those other businesses and residents in that vicinity.
“It gives all of us the opportunity to join hands and work together to improve the Van Born corridor, which is very important to both communities. We look forward to the opportunity, working together with Ford, Wade Trim and Wayne County.”
Wade Trim will conduct a study for the next steps both cities need to take. Dearborn Heights and Taylor will split the $112,000 cost.
The three major areas of focus include:
• The definition of issues and opportunities for multi-modal transportation to address the combined needs of business, commercial services and retail facilities – as well as identifying existing and potential businesses and services that could come into the area that would serve the increased business and professional population of the area with the relocation of potentially several thousand Ford Motor employees.
• Development of a menu of streetscape recommendations that would unite and “blend” the two communities – making the improvements accessible to drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.
• Development of a conceptual vision of the improved street environment that would result in a safer, more functional and more aesthetically appealing environment for drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and other transit users and vehicles.
“Joint public meetings will be scheduled in the future regarding the planning and project to obtain feedback and ideas from both communities,” Wade Trim Senior Project Manager David Anthony said.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected].)