By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — Changes in the city are happening fast and frequently which Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. said is due to good services and investment.
During a speech for the Rotary Club of Dearborn Aug. 18 at Park Place, 23400 Park, O’Reilly gave an update on multiple projects planned within the community.
Ford Motor Co’s. nearly $1.5 billon redevelopment investment, home sales, downtown development authorities and corridor authorities were listed as main contributions.
“We added on two new ones, the Dix-Vernor and Warren Avenue corridor authorities,” O’Reilly said. “These mean that you have business people at the table and they have influence on what will work, what’s best. They are already invested in that neighborhood or that business district so they really want to see something that is going to be successful.”
House sales also have played a big role with the improvement of the city with people moving to Dearborn from out of the state, O’Reilly said. After meeting with real estate agents, he discovered that people are being recruited by Ford for jobs and choosing to live in the city.
The $1.5 billion Ford retransformation includes the addition of a research and engineering center along with major work to the second campus near its world headquarters.
Ford’s ultimate goal is to create a Google-like campus here, O’Reilly said. For the future, they will have an environment with more tools, flexibility and amenities for its employees to attract the best talent with recruitment.
The company has leased buildings at Fairlane Town Center in order to move their employees while renovations are completed. Through Ford’s 10-year plan, office space, retail, restaurants and gathering areas are planned in downtown west Dearborn.
O’Reilly thanked residents for renewing a temporary 3.5-mill tax levy in the Aug. 2 primary. The tax is projected to raise $11.1 million a year for city services and programs as well as maintaining police and fire services.
“It was very greatly appreciated that the voters of Dearborn supported that continuation of that temporary millage,” he said. “That really is going to mean that Dearborn will be able to maintain the services, but begin to look at some key investments that will serve us over a long period of time.”
He said maintaining those city services and investing to make the community stronger are essential to attract new residents.
“The two elements have to be together,” he said. “The one is maintaining good services, but the other is being able to invest strategically so that you’re meeting the expectations and needs of not just your current residents, but of people you want to come and be part of the community in the future.”
A brief question-and-answer session was held where club members were able to ask O’Reilly questions on issues concerning them.
Ford’s plans for attracting new people and jobs, property lot size construction, Howe School property, and the new Veterans Park and War Memorial were the main questions asked by those in attendance.
When asked about the Oakwood-Beaumont merger, O’Reilly revealed that before the change, Oakwood Hospital had explored the possibility of building a women’s hospital.
As for lot size building, he said the city has bought and sold hundreds of 40-foot side yard land in hopes that residents will build a driveway, garage or summer room.
The former Dearborn Public Schools Howe School building was asked about by a member and O’Reilly said it has been sold to an investor who has presented plans for a possible senior living facility.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)