Dearborn plans strategies for growth, sustainability in 2019


The City of Dearborn and its partners were considerably busy in 2018. They worked to implement a new marketing strategy, continued to push for major economic development, added several new businesses, and further defined themselves as a Healthy Dearborn community that everyone can live, work, study, visit and play in.

And 2019 will prove even busier, according to city officials.

A rebranding campaign telling the story of “One Dearborn” is being developed to offer a new and more cohesive message to residents, employees and visitors. More changes are on the horizon.

“People love Dearborn, and have an affinity to it, because of all the things it offers,” says Downtown Dearborn Executive Director Cristina Sheppard-Decius. “It is a big city feel in a smaller town.”

She says there are amenities and assets in Dearborn available to the almost 100,000 residents, 30,000 students, and thousands of commuters daily that are not available anywhere else in the Metro Detroit area.

“We are centrally located, have easy and quick access to cool things to do in Detroit and in Dearborn. We have all of that in our back yard.”

The City and its partners will continue to roll out plans to upgrade downtowns, neighborhoods, and everything in between.

Here’s a sampling of what to look for in 2019:

Wagner Place comes alive

Businesses will start to open this spring in Wagner Place, the $60 million plus Ford Motor Company development that has changed the landscape of the west downtown area and moved 600 Ford employees into its upper offices.

On the lower floors, restaurants and retail businesses, such as Jolly Pumpkin Brewery, Modern Greek, and Orangetheory Fitness, will begin opening this year.

Also in the west, 18 new businesses opened, including Grind Business Creative, Unburger Grill, and Yoga Shala and Wellness Center.

Yoga Shala. Photo by David Lewinski

New businesses, residential in east Dearborn

In the east, more than 15 businesses opened, including Peacock Indian Cuisine and the former M & M Café, which reopened as Now Café LLC.

All 53 apartments at the City Hall Artspace Lofts remain full, and in November of last year, the Arts and Technology Learning Lab in the connector building opened, which will be used by the residents and Dearborn Community Fund’s Pockets of Perception to foster projects.

Late last year, the Dearborn Town Center Senior Living apartments opened, featuring 77 one- and two- bedroom independent living apartments.

This year, at the site of the former Times-Herald Newspaper building, a three-story structure, including 10 apartments and retail and/or restaurant space, will be constructed, adding much-needed apartment and independent living space to the east side of town.

Now Cafe. Photo by David Lewinski

Downtown summer fun

More than 60 events will happen in Dearborn during the summer months.

“We’re going to make these events bigger and better,” says Sheppard-Decius. “We will see the return of Jazz on the Avenue, the Farmer’s Market, Friday Nights, Tunes at Noon, and more.”

She adds that the City does plan on moving events from the West Village Commons area to the newly erected Wagner Place Park, just behind the development.

“We are going to activate that space,” she says. “It is a great opportunity. That was the intent of the design.”

Streetscape improvements, trails, and bike lanes

People will see many improvements to streets, trails and bike lanes in Dearborn this year, as the city kicks its multi-modal plan into gear. That includes many streetscaping projects.

A redesigned Monroe Street should reopen by the beginning of April, and streetscaping will also take place on Mason and West Village Drive. The latter will act at times as a “festival street” and be able to close and used for special events.

Streetscaping improvement projects in the next couple of years include the length of Michigan Avenue from Elm to Outer Drive; Howard, Mason, and Monroe streets in conjunction with city sewer construction; and more, with assistance from the Michigan Department of Transportation.

It will also include the installation of a central, five-mile loop around Ford Motor Company World Headquarters, the John D. Dingell Transit Center, the UM-Dearborn campus, Henry Ford College, Fairlane Town Center, the Henry Ford, and the City’s civic campus.

The entirety of Outer Drive throughout Dearborn will have a bike lane, thanks to a donation from Mary and Don Kosch, and the Warren Avenue Business Improvement District and the Dix-Vernor Business Improvement District include streetscaping, pedestrian improvements, and façade repairs.

“We are working to improve the pedestrian experience and vitality,” says Sheppard-Decius. “In the east downtown, that includes removing some planter tree wells to make room for outdoor cafes, modifying things there and making improvements to parking lots in the area.”

“We want to show folks that Dearborn business owners should embrace these things. This is good for business, for the city and for the health of its residents,” says Sustainable Director for the City of Dearborn Dave Norwood.

Parks improvements

Away from the busy downtown streets, other projects are also helping to reshape and remarket the city. A lot of those projects and improvements mean updating antiquated pool houses, comfort stations, and other structures in parks.

The build-out of a new park on Graham Street will occur, thanks to a Healthy Dearborn grant. The main feature will be a mini soccer field for youth.

“Soccer is one of the fastest growing youth activities in Dearborn,” says Norwood.

Speaking of the health of the city, Healthy Dearborn plans to kick things up this year, with additional bike share stations and the debut of two new kayak launches along the Rouge River.

“One will be near Telegraph and Dearborn Hills,” says Norwood. “The other will be Ford Field Park near the pond. They are free and universally accessible.”

Ford Woods pool complex has been demolished and reconstructed and will offer a zero-depth entry pool, two water slides, splash features and a giant shade umbrella in the wading area. The complex is expected to open this summer.

Last year, the dive pool at Dunworth Pool transformed to accommodate two large water slides. This year, the bathhouse, also antiquated, will be demolished and reconstructed.

The recently rebuilt comfort station at Ford Field Park is open year round and is energy-efficient.

Ford Field Park. Photo by David Lewinski

Health and sustainability

There is almost an exhaustive list of steps the City has taken in the past few years and will continue to take, to make life more sustainable for all.

They include implementing the Lower Rouge River Water Trail and events to support the trail, improvements to the residential recycling system and how to recycle unaccepted items, installing lighting upgrades to baseball diamonds across the city, installing new HVAC system at the City’s municipal campus, and expanding the Environmental Health Research to Action youth academy, amongst others.

“We’re going to continue the Healthy Dearborn effort,” says Norwood. “Which helps with sustainability and drives those issues through the public health lens.”



Read more articles by Elizabeth Clark.

Elizabeth Clark is a Dearborn-based freelance writer.
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