Signs of progress? Hopeful eyes cast on Lincoln Park development

By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers

LINCOLN PARK – To many, the renovated Lincoln Park Shopping Center is a considerable improvement for the city.

A $10 million investment by Farmington Hills-based Grand Sakwa Properties, which purchased the property in September 2010, will restore the fading 22-acre complex at the corner of Dix-Toledo and Southfield roads.

The revamped center will bring an estimated 600 jobs to the city. City officials pin hopes on the center serving as a gateway to Lincoln Park and to Allen Park, a location that Mayor Frank Vaslo said is positioned to provide benefits beyond filling retail vacancies in a single strip mall.

“The ancillary development should be significant,” Vaslo said, citing numerous, available retail spots within a four block radius. “We’re hoping that this kind of development spurs an economic stimulus and increased traffic.”

Construction and renovation work continues, City Manager Steve Duchane said. He said with patience the center’s success will boost interest in the struggling city. While reviews of city budgets seem largely filled with doom-and-gloom statistics, Duchane said there are indicators of economic recovery.

“This last fiscal year that ended June 30 saw an increase in building fees,” Duchane said, adding the previous year’s figures were among the lowest in the city’s history. “There is an upward trend, and it shows we’re heading in the right direction. Something positive spurs positive development, and we’re seeing the edge of the cycle is starting to produce some physical results.”

Vaslo cited the redevelopment of the old American House site on Southfield Road, which brought several key retailers to the area.

“That was the first big activity at that intersection in over 25 years,” Vaslo said. “Since then there has been a steady increase in the interest in Lincoln Park.”

Signs of progress are often small, officials said, but trends and cycles are slow to develop.

“The pendulum never swings quick enough for anybody,” Vaslo said. “There isn’t a community in Michigan that can stand much more of this.”

(James Mitchell can be reached at jmitchell@bewickpublications.com.)