Residents encouraged to get involved in Dearborn’s downtowns

Photo by Zeinab Najm  West Dearborn Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Cristina Sheppard-Decius (second from left), alongside East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority Executive Michael Bewick, informs residents about current and upcoming plans and initiatives for both downtowns during a community meet-up at Joe's Top Dog July 20.

Photo by Zeinab Najm
West Dearborn Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Cristina Sheppard-Decius (second from left), alongside East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority Executive Michael Bewick, informs residents about current and upcoming plans and initiatives for both downtowns during a community meet-up at Joe’s Top Dog July 20.

By ZEINAB NAJM
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — As Downtown Dearborn continues evolve the collaboration between east and west, the effort to draw more community involvement also is growing.

During a meet-up held July 20 at Joe’s Top Dog, 13342 Michigan Ave., West Dearborn Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Cristina Sheppard-Decius highlighted the different events and activities taking place in the city’s two downtowns.

The Jazz on the Ave and Toons at Noon concert series, Farmers and Artisans Market, Movies in the Park, Restaurant Week and more were mentioned during the discussion.

“Our goal is to work together and revitalize the downtowns to create a great experience and welcoming atmosphere,” Sheppard-Decius said. “We have a lot of potential to draw a large number of people to events and have events where multiple businesses collaborate.”

An example of two businesses collaborating was when the Al Wissam clothing store and Joe’s Top Dog together hosted a fashion show.

“We are on the right track and need to keep doing what we are doing,” Joe’s Top Dog Owner Joe Bojovic said. “If we all work together there is nothing we can’t accomplish. I would love to host more events with other businesses and organizations to help spread the word to a new audience.”

Downtown Dearborn is taking a main street on approach to transform Michigan Avenue as the main road to connect the east and west communities.

“We are collaborating to bridge the gap between east and west downtowns and their historical attributes across the physical, social and psychological barriers that have divided them,” a Downtown Dearborn informational sheet said.

The five areas of focus listed to help transform Dearborn’s downtowns include image, walkability, community cohesiveness, next generation and youthful appeal, and innovative retail diversity.

Residents are encouraged to help with the downtown transformation by serving on a committee, volunteering for an event or project, donating, and keeping their shopping or dining local.

The committees residents can join include design and economic vitality, promotions and organization, and the steering team.

At the community meet-up held by the WDDDA and East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority, residents were able to give suggestions about what improvements they would like to see.

Suggestions included independent shops, more focus on the art culture, how to attract people to events on a consistent basis and additional events involving business collaborations.

For residents who want to get involved, more community and business meet-ups are scheduled throughout the summer.

From 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. July 28, a business leader and manager meet-up will take place, and a Michigan Avenue streetscape design concept community showcase will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Both will be held at West Village Commons in downtown west Dearborn.

In August a second business leader and manager meet-up is scheduled from 11 a.m. to noon Aug. 10 at City Hall Park, 13615 Michigan Ave., and a community meet-up from 5 to 6 p.m. Aug. 25 at West Village Commons.

Downtown Dearborn is scheduled to launch its website soon as well as a social community series with the media news source Metromode Media.

For more information on Downtown Dearborn click here, and to volunteer or join a committee call 313-943-3141 or 313-943-3088.

(Zeinab Najm can be reached at zeinabnajm92@gmail.com.)