In my opinion, this was a heart-felt letter to the editor written by News-Herald staff on June 19, 1985, addressing the then-deplorable condition of the railway viaducts running above Eureka Road near Roosevelt High School in Wyandotte. Every year when the Wyandotte Street Fair would roll into town, Eureka, as the major east-west street, would be traveled by thousands of visitors, most of whom were likely appalled by the condition of these viaducts. This one may have been the one to finally get the ball rolling and now, of course, they are well maintained with the help of Roosevelt students.
"Cleanliness is next to Godliness" goes the adage. Certainly, it ranks with Mom and apple pie
... However, one blemish on the face of Downriver is the Eureka Road viaducts in Wyandotte. The weedy growth and graffiti combine with the aging train bridgework to make for an eyesore.
Wyandotte Mayor James Wagner has said that since Eureka is the only major east-west thoroughfare in the city, motorists and pedestrians are confronted with these unsightly conditions. In fact, Eureka is the principal east-west road Downriver, feeding right into the heart of downtown Wyandotte, where an array of ethnic festivals, shops and outdoor events... attract hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.
... This problem is more than just that of the city ... It is that of Wayne County, which is supposed to maintain Eureka, a county road, but only cut weeds by the viaduct for the first time this year earlier in the month (June). It is also the problem of Roosevelt High School, whose students use the viaducts as a hangout, sometimes to throw junk at passing cars or to deface the aging structure with graffiti.
Also at fault are the railroads, whose trains have caused wear and tear on the five viaducts beyond their age.
(Mayor) Wagner has called for a meeting of all the parties involved. Pressure should be brought to bear on the county to maintain the viaduct area regularly... Wyandotte Public School officials ought to consider ways to limit access to the viaducts from the Roosevelt parking lots.
... For far too long now, men and women with responsibility have let the viaducts go to seed. However, the Project Pulchritudes (a Downriver cleanup project of the time) of the area have proven infectious in heightening community awareness.
If our civic and business leaders make good on their concerns by restoring the viaducts to their original condition, we suspect the graffiti-mongers will take their activities elsewhere."
The drive-in theater has had a rich history throughout the country. The first commercial drive-in was initially tried out in 1915 in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and by 1932 the idea was officially patented by Richard M. Hollingshead Jr., in Camden, New Jersey. The drive-in that most of the older generations remember best was perfected by 1941, when RCA manufactured and installed the portable sound radio mounted inside every attending car.
It would be seven additional years before Downriver received their first drive-in theater, which would be the Michigan in 1948, at the corner of Dix-Toledo and Eureka Roads, where the present-day Wal-Mart stands in Southgate. The idea was extremely novel at the time, as it was one of only twelve operating in the state in 1948. Following this were the Ecorse, the Fort, the Holiday and the Jolly Roger, which were all in operation by the early 1950s.
By 1972, Michigan had reached its peak of drive-in movie houses, with a total of 137 state-wide. However, this number began declining rapidly in the early 1980s. Chief among reasons cited were the advent of the home video cassette recorder (in BetaMax or VHS format), in addition to continued technological improvements for the more traditional indoor movie houses.
Convenience and comfort were becoming more important to the moviegoer, who may have considered the drive-in theaters as nothing more than a passing fad. The total number would dip to 82 by the mid-1980s, including the Michigan's closure in 1984.
By 1990, with the closure of the Fort and the Jolly Roger, the drive-in movie theater Downriver was but a memory. The state's total would dip under twenty locations by 1991, and has not seen that level since. From that time forward, with a few notable exceptions (the failed Pontiac Silverdome project as well as a one-summer-only attraction at the old Wyandotte Theater site), the only local alternative has been the Ford-Wyoming 8, near Detroit.
In February 2016, talk began about a revitalization of the drive-in concept in Brownstown, near the southeast corner of Sibley and Telegraph Roads, an area which is largely undeveloped. Recent history has shown that former "fads" tend to make comebacks after fading from the scene for several years. In other words, to paraphrase, the old becomes new again. Debate over the use of this site became more heated in March 2016, but seemed to die out by April and, as of this writing, no further mention has been noted.
Proponents have included long-time fans of the genre, as well as the younger generation seeking to relive what the older generation enjoyed. They argue the proposed Brownstown area is not near any immediate residential districts, and is near one major thoroughfare, with additional easy access provided by I-75. They also mentioned it would provide a needed economic boost to the area in-season, and become a tourist attraction in its own right, all in a relatively safe area.
Opponents counter by claiming the drive-in was past its peak back in the 1970s, and cannot be revived. They have mentioned the complete overhaul of the indoor movie theater, which now includes advanced stereo sound, as well as recliners and advances in IMAX digital technology, as important points that the drive-in movie house cannot duplicate due to logistics (fearing first-time customers may be disappointed). They also claimed there are in fact residential areas nearby, that nearby parcels are not zoned properly, and that the Telegraph & Sibley interchange is woefully inadequate for the proposed increased traffic.
But... Could a revival of the dormant - yet still iconic - drive-in theater indeed make a comeback, and could Downriver take the lead role in making this a reality? Many new ideas we see these days come from old ideas enjoyed generations before, and this may be no exception. It may be a way to be able to escape the technology for one night, and return to something a little simpler.
Stay tuned for more.
WEBMASTER'S NOTE: This blog entry takes the place of the former page dedicated to the Looney Rooney legend. For three years, we have been trying to get the true story about this legend, without much success. When we are able to get the definitive story, we will post a new page about it. In the meantime, these are some of the recollections gathered for the site in 2014.
- KEVIN HARRISON
"On Grosse Ile, there was a hermit who lived in an old house without electricity. People would go to his house, park in the driveway and he would come out and tell stories about 'The Old Days.' His name was Looney Rooney. The house was hidden down a dark, unlit road and he was supposed to have always fired several shots into the air, to show that he did not want any troublemakers, as your car approached."
- JAMES T. CALLOW
"The old eccentric... was Din Rooney, and I hope we will hear a lot about him. I knew him fairly well, and he was a remarkable, intelligent man, especially interesting if you were keen on local Indian history as I was. I think there was a time when a lot of young people on GI (Grosse Ile) spent time with him. I have a photograph of him taken by Pat O'Connor, not all that long ago, when Din must have been at the end of his days, maybe 100 years old. He lived in a 19th century derelict house, no heat, water or plumbing, was kind of a health nut, drank out of the Detroit River all his life.
- TOM MCGUANE
Grosse Ile Memories Blog
"Yes, a lot of young people spent time at his house. He was eccentric, to say the least. A little nutty--hence his nickname in the 60s: 'Looney Rooney'. He would welcome us in for a tour of the old big house at night, in the dark, walking with a flashlight. The highlight was the skeleton of his wife, which was an old bra and girdle resting in a rocking chair. I still remember being scared but I suspect he had the last laugh."
- BARBARA PACIEJEWSKI
"I lived on Grosse Isle from 1945 to 1951, so I was a little kid when I would “run away from home” on my bike down Parke Lane towards Den's incredible Victorian (as I remember it) many, many a time.
Den was a kind and wise man. During the winters, he'd sweep the snow off the river for the kids to ice skate on. There would be a little fire crackling, and he'd give us hot cocoa to warm ourselves up. In finer weather, when I was upset, what I needed to do, he'd say, was climb the huge cherry tree and pick (and eat) as many as I could gather. That's what I needed to do to feel better: pick the fruit off the trees, the cherry, mulberry, maybe peaches too and sure enough, it worked. Other times, he'd pass me notes from the ground floor up the dumbwaiter instructing me to go find some knick-knack or other, and send it back down. He'd also ask us to write our names down on slips of paper, and tuck them under any of the wonderful curios and antiques we would like to have after he dies. Only years later, when I lived in New York and first stepped into Tiffany's on 5th Avenue, did I realize how some of those lamp shades, vases, and other items could well have been a Tiffany or Lalique or the like.
I loved Den. I'm 81 and I think of him often. He was a gift in my life. Calling this incredible man, this wonderful character “Looney” is just another sad example of how people treat the memory of someone who doesn't conform to a narrow-minded norm.
- SCARLET COLSEN (aka Charlotte Kar)
BY JOE CAMILLERI
(There) was something that was unique about Murray's through the mid 90s... if you think back, most auto parts does prior to that were dark, smoky, smelled like stale cigarettes and grease. Most of the merchandise was behind the counter, which was manned by Randy, Bobby, Bubba, and some old guy they called Squeaker. They all had dirty hands, grubby jeans, grunted, darted, and scratched a lot. There was a rack/wall of parts manuals, brown with age, pages all tattered, but if you knew what you needed, the guy behind the counter would spend 30 seconds flipping through the catalog, walk over to the shelf and go, 'yup, here ya go' or 'nope, don't have it, but I can order it and have it in two weeks.' Unless you were a 'car guy's buying parts was intimidating!
Then came Murray's. Clean, well-lit, everything out in the open, friendly uniformed staff with both men and women behind the counter and patrolling the aisles offering to help. Great selection of things other than car parts, like accessories, gadgets, seat covers, and the ever-so-trendy crown air fresheners. You had your choice of every major brand of oil, every brand of filter, and I'd say, at least when I worked there, parts on the shelf for 75% of the most common vehicles, and warehouse stock for about 20% more available overnight. In my opinion, it was the first auto parts store that wasn't intimidating its customers. Women weren't afraid to stop in and pick up parts for their husband, or ask about wiper blades and tire pumps. It was a very unintimidating way to buy stuff for your car.
Then the mega chains moved in... Auto Zone came, then Advance, then Pep Boys tried their hand, but weren't a good fit for the region, I think. Technology was a double edged sword... Made some things faster, but in the early 90s was only about 95%accurate on the 90% of the items that were loaded into the system. The computer was quick for common hard parts for common vehicles, but was no replacement for paper catalogs, and couldn't perform cross references between brands either. All the manuals could... Bring me the part number off the old part and I could almost always find a cross form it. Also, the paper manuals have info on other vehicles, like mowers, tractors, boats, chainsaws, weed whackers, snowblower, motorcycles, snowmobiles, four wheelers, jet skis, and many others. Trailer parts? We had a shelf full of them. Boat parts? Three shelves of the common distributor caps, plugs, wires, points, condensers, trailer wheel bearings and seals. Again, get me a number off the old one, and if ii didn't have it, I could usually get it in a couple days.
...Miss those days... used to like the challenge!
PROVIDED COURTESY OF LAURALOU ANDERSON BASHLOR
A little house with three bedrooms, one bathroom and one car on the street.
A mower that you had to push to make the grass look neat.
In the kitchen on the wall we only had one phone,
And no need for recording things, someone was always home.
We only had a living room where we would congregate,
Unless it was at mealtime, in the kitchen where we ate.
We had no need for family rooms or extra rooms to dine.
When meeting as a family, those two rooms would work out fine.
We only had one TV set, and channels maybe two,
But always there was one of them with something worth the view.
For snacks we had potato chips that tasted like a chip.
And if you wanted flavor, there was Lipton's onion dip.
Store-bought snacks were rare because my mother liked to cook,
And nothing can compare to snacks in Betty Crocker's book.
Weekends were for family trips or staying home to play.
We all did things together -- Even go to church to pray.
When we did our weekend trips depending on the weather,
No one stayed at home because we liked to be together.
Sometimes we would separate to do things on our own,
But we knew where the others were without our own cell phone.
Then there were the movies with your favorite movie star,
And nothing can compare to watching movies in your car.
Then there were the picnics at the peak of summer season,
Pack a lunch and find some trees, and never need a reason.
Get a baseball game together with all the friends you know,
Have real action playing ball -- and no game video.
Remember when the doctor used to be the family friend,
And didn't need insurance or a lawyer to defend?
The way that he took care of you, or what he had to do,
Because he took an oath and strived to do the best for you.
Remember going to the store and shopping casually,
And when you went to pay for it, you used your own money?
Nothing that you had to swipe or punch in some amount,
And remember when the cashier person had to really count?
The milkman used to go from door to door,
And it was just a few cents more than going to the store.
There was a time when mailed letters came right to your door,
Without a lot of junk mail ads sent out by every store.
The mailman knew each house by name, and knew where it was sent;
There were not loads of mail addressed to "present occupant."
There was a time when just one glance was all that it would take,
And you would know the kind of car, the model and the make.
They didn't look like turtles trying to squeeze out every mile;
They were streamlined, white walls, fins... and really had some style.
One time the music that you played whenever you would jive,
Was from a vinyl, big-holed record called a forty-five.
The record player had a post to keep them all in line
And then the records would drop down and play one at a time.
Oh sure, we had our problems then, just like we do today
And always we were striving, trying for a better way.
Oh, the simple life we lived, still seems like so much fun,
How can you explain a game: just kick the can and run?
And why would boys put baseball cards between bicycle spokes?
And for a nickel, red machines had little bottled Cokes
This life seemed so much easier and slower in some ways,
I love the new technology, but I sure do miss those days.
With all today's technology... We grant that it's a plus!
But it's fun to look way back and say, Hey, look, Guys, THAT WAS US !!
During the winter of 2015-16, the Downriver area was spared the brunt of the brutal snowstorms we had been experiencing the past couple years. We set no annual snowfall records like the 94 inches we received in 2013-14, and we did not have a measurable snowfall of 16 inches as we did on Super Bowl Sunday, 2015.
Those snowfall amounts were among the worst Downriver has seen in a generation. Yet perhaps, due to their recent date, the record books do not trumpet these as being catastrophic.
In modern times, we have been told the winter blizzard of January 1978 was incomparable. Photos taken around the Midwest portion of the United States clearly show snowfall levels which literally shut down entire cities for days on end.
I was seven years old at the time, living in Southgate. It was one of the first times I had ever experienced a power outage. The cold was bitter. We had to go the unsafe route of turning on all the burners on the stove as well as the oven just to keep from freezing. Fortunately my uncle, who lived in Lincoln Park, still had power, and my mother and I spent two nights there.
Family photos taken of my street show snow levels literally dwarfing me. Even had I been my height of today, it may have approached shoulder level, at least.
This blizzard, as well as the Derecho "Green Storm" of 1980 rank among Downriver's most severe weather outbreaks in recent decades. However, I happened upon a couple websites which try to discount the amount of snow that fell. In one instance, the official storm total (by NOAA) listed the Detroit area receiving just 9.2 inches.
That amount is somewhat hard to understand when you compare our total with the amount shown in some of the photos taken around the Midwest. For example, I can understand a nine inch snowfall temporarily disabling some operations at Detroit Metro Airport. But some local airports were disabled for up to three days. Unless they did not have snow plows and de-icers in operation, I don't see how a smaller snowfall total could have affected them that badly.
With the 9.2 inch total being official (apparently), the 1978 blizzard everyone remembers does not even rank in the Top 20 snowfall totals for a day in our history. I've seen some photos of the resulting gridlock, and now I'm wondering how that came to be.
Cars were stalled out everywhere. I-75 was a virtual abandoned junk yard; cars littering the shoulder overtaken by snow drifts, some of which took days to find and recover. Power outages - although scattered - were widespread, and snow days for school kids was the order of that week.
But has the passage of time taught us to stop and rethink? The world looks mighty big in a child's eyes from a physical standpoint. Our 1,000 square-foot house in Southgate looked like a giant castle to me. If I were to visit the same house today, it would looked cramped. That is simply because our perception of vision changes as we get older, and the big things start looking smaller.
Has our perception of the 1978 storm changed as we've gotten older? It may have, but allow me to be daring by saying, "Darn those record books!" It was a big event to us growing up, and will always be with us, in spite of the fact it doesn't "rank."
Memorial Day weekend of 2016 did not prove to be a good one with regards to respecting our fallen and deceased members of the military. In scattered spots throughout the country, we read about the desecration of memorials, as well as cemetery headstones.
One particular instance struck too close to home: a historical burial ground in Flat Rock behind Huroc Park was the target of vandals for the second time in the last five years. More alarming is the fact that painstaking restoration of damaged headstones had only been completed two years ago, in a volunteer effort which took many hours of manpower to accomplish.
To even the casual observer, the damage caused is inconceivable with no reason as to why it was done. To a historian like myself, it is even more damaging. The Flat Rock location houses several pioneers, including the Vreeland family remembers, vital settlers from Downriver's start in the 1700s. Their final resting place is one to be contemplated, honored and respected. They as well as their surviving family members do not deserve the heartache and grief that come with this.
What has been done is literally unspeakable and unexplainable. The debate over who or what to put the blame on could rage on forever. But the damage cannot - and must not - continue.
There are many community events and other attractions that people can spend their time enjoying in peace with family, friends and others. Destroying history and peace for the sake of a joyride or thrill is unacceptable.
What will be the outcome? We can only hope that the proper justice will be dispensed to those found guilty of these crimes.
Riverside Hospital in Trenton appears to be on the way out as of May, 2015, following over a decade of closure. While many have voiced in to complain about the conditions (this writer included), we must not forget the interesting and rich history this facility will leave behind once it does indeed meet the wrecking ball.
Prior to the facility's opening, Downriver did not have any osteopathic hospital at all. For those with osteopathic needs, one had to travel thirty miles north to Detroit Osteopathic Hospital in Oak Park. This fact would help eventually bring together twenty osteopathic doctors to the home of Austin Church, who resided in a stately red house at 165 George Street, along the riverfront. This would become the first hospital building, and was opened August 1, 1944 at a cost of $17,562 to purchase the land from Mr. Church.
Originally licensed for thirty beds and nine bassinets, the hospital's numbers were impressive for only five months' operation: 775 patients registered and 133 newborns entered the world through Riverside. The overall operating loss was $26,000. The following year (1945), the numbers went up to 2,082 patients served with 304 births. Riverside turned a profit as well: $3,518. With the number of births rising, it seemed only natural to add a pediatric ward, which Riverside did in 1950.
The first in a series of expansions was approved in principle in 1953. Riverside would increase bed capacity from 30 to 61, doubled its surgical center and nursery/delivery room facility, added an X-ray department plus other supporting departments at a cost of $653,000. Staff counts at this time included 45 doctors and 115 nurses, service workers and support personnel. This first expansion as officially dedicated on June 6, 1954 and it would also include updated oxygen services for patients, improved sterilization procedures and air-conditioning.
Riverside's first classes began in 1957 with birthing seminars. Expectant moms were invited to attend screenings of infant-care films, then received a tour of the facility so they could become acclimated to their potential birthing surroundings. The year also saw a mini-expansion of 34 beds as well, bringing the total to 95.
By July of 1959, in addition to the 95 beds, official counts included 26 bassinets, 65 doctors, seven residents, six interns, plus a support staff totaling 238.
In July 1961, hospital director Edward Richardson announced a further expansion of fifty beds, to be paid for by a grant from the Hill-Burton fund amounting to $325,000. Completed in 1963, this new construction included two surgical suites, a pharmacy, lobby and administrative offices. Riverside was definitely growing, and its salaries were likely competitive for the time: a medical technician working there in 1964 averaged $2.02 per hour.
In 1967, Riverside served over 6,900 patients and witnessed 1,338 births. The following year, a $2.25 million expansion was announced, adding 86 beds for a total capacity of 220. It is worth noting in 1969, the hospital director officially banned skateboarding from the hospital grounds, as one patient fell off their skateboard and broke their ankle.
A key addition in 1974 as the installation of a HEMAC 630-L laser hematology counter. A top-notch machine of the time, it would save doctors enormous time when compared with the prior method of viewing displacement cells under a microscope.
Then in 1975, bonds were floating to be sold for what would be the now-familiar multi-story addition to the complex. Added in subsequent years were a 29-bed acute care unit in 1978, and a heliport in 1979. Riverside was now considered a Class 1 Comprehensive Care facility.
Riverside received its first major labor strife in 1978, as nursing staff went on strike from March 28 to May 12, protesting cuts in the amount of sick days given to employees yearly. The strike ended when their official request was withdrawn from the table.
In the early 1980s, Riverside received a commendation by the American Hospital Association for being an area leader in the field of ambulatory care. Further west-wing renovations resulted in Donriver's first specialty birthing center. It was also during this timeframe (in 1984) that Dr. Sarah Jessup installed what was then the world's smallest pacemaker into a patient.
As of 1990, the latest addition to the campus was a 20-bed mental health unit, as well as culmination of a $3.3 million construction project which added an 8-bed ICU unit, a 9-bed step-down unit, and the addition of a fifth floor.
** If anyone would like to contribute the story of Riverside's final 13 years as an active facility, please contact the webmaster on the main website's CONTACT page.
The Detroit area has a well-known (and likely well-deserved) reputation for not preserving many of their historical structures (mention Tiger Stadium and one will grasp the frustration). Tear-downs in the name of "progress" have also permeated some structures Downriver in the last thirty years.
The most-known potential site for historic demolition is currently the old Neisner building in downtown Lincoln Park, ironically located across Fort Street from the recently restored Park Theater; itself located just a few blocks north of the historic (though demolished) Mellus Newspapers building.
In these cases, some of the biggest pains felt lie in watching a building deteriorate with disuse until demolition becomes the only answer. I am definitely one who believes more care needs to be used on these older buildings, ones filled with design thought and façade details from the moment they go dormant.
One big exception looms, though, north of downtown Trenton: the old Riverside Hospital.
Old, abandoned medical facilities have long been revered by "ruins" experts and ghost hunters and do have a fascinating draw about them (examples of such include Eloise in Westland, and the Northville Psychiatric Center). However, Riverside does not meet this criterion.
Progress on the property is stalled yet again, due to ownership issues and lack of responsibilities being met in a city agreement. The only demolition to this point has been to the central administration building (the original red-brick structure, which may have contained the "ghosts" cited) and the power plant. These were arguably the only real historic buildings on the site. What remains dates only from the 1950s forward and does not present anything we can judge as "historical".
The complex appears to be nothing more than a crazy maze of buildings and wings to nowhere. The interior deterioration is especially noted, but was to be muted following guidelines of the above agreement, in hopes for a successful re-use.
The owner shifted his sites instead to the long-dormant plaza at Fort & King Roads, which looks golden on the surface. There is more space, more potential customers due to more traffic, and bigger plans could be forthcoming. Yet as of this writing, even this space stands idly, as forlorn as the riverfront site due east.
Whether the properties' owner is a man of his word or not is not debatable fodder for this column, as we try not to question peoples' motivations. But the "bottom line" continues to deteriorate before our eyes. Agreements can be long and drug-out, and things do take time. But we don't believe the timetable for a resolution is moving fast enough; not only for Riverside, but for the McLouth Steel property due north of the medical complex.
Does Riverside merit saving? In my opinion, it does not. Years ago, it was determined the old VA Hospital in Allen Park was not worth saving, in spite of all it did for the veterans in our area for generations. As perfect as its architectural greatness fit the area and its sheer imposing factor lent a sense of royalty to the purpose, the building was simply too outdated from an infrastructure standpoint to have a cost-conscious renovation... nor was it worth the potential of spending years in a mothballed state.
Riverside has been out of service for a longer period of time, and without the true emotional appeal that other sites such as the VA merited.
The time cannot come soon enough for some progress to be made on the Trenton waterfront. Such an idea is not a pipe dream; we never believed a Detroit Riverwalk would ever come to fruition, for instance... and now its recovered lands & condition are astoundingly positive - and believable.
History needs to step aside in this case, and let adaptive reuse dominate an area needing it the most. This also will allow for "one owner, one site" in Riverview, where plans can more realistically be achieved.
Riverside Hospital needs to go.
Courtesy LESLIE LYNCH-WILSON and LITA TONEY
Lincoln Park Preservation Alliance
We are in jeopardy of losing the historic art deco Neisner Dime Store Building, 1736 Fort Street, Lincoln Park due to a proposed grocery story by Save-A-Lot to encompass 1736 and 1716 Fort Street. Neisner Dime Store building is located within the National Register of Historic Places-Eligible North Fort Street Historic District. Not only would we lose a historically significant structure but it would also greatly impact our ability to getting the Federal 20% historic preservation tax credit for contributing properties within the historic district.
Save A Lot wants the DDA to replace the back parking lot, remove some planter boxes and trees as well as commit to snow removal of the parking lot which is already being done during the winter. They also want the DDA to replace a portion of the parking lot. Snow removal is already being done. And wants the DDA to not to object to the sign on top of the building which remains from the Arbor Drug Store days as well as a 2nd sign out by Southfield Road. They also want to change the traffic direction of the alley.
The DDA approved a not to exceed figure for the work. Only Nay was Leslie Lynch-Wilson. The DDA feels that the side walk and parking lot need to be done regardless. Save A Lot proposes a 15,000 square foot building within the CVS building, demo Neisner Building to add onto the building, and create a walk way to connect pedestrian foot traffic from Fort Street to rear lot. Basically DDA felt that the design was ugly, wanted more windows on Fort Street side.
(Lincoln Park Emergency Manager Brad) Coulter said that they were starting with an ugly building. The coolers are also along that 'back' wall which prevents windows. There is a door and awning on the Fort Street side but the main door would be parking lot side. Pete Romain felt that the layout of the store was wrong. Coulter said that brokers have said that LP is a pass through community and that we need to do something so that Detroit doesn't move in. Coulter's attitude was like we need to do something and like somethings better than nothing. But the DDA had the same attitude on the condos and look where that got the DDA. Property owner would invest $1.5 million into the property with Save A Lot leasing for 10 years.
Evidently other communities are being considered and Save A Lot had a hard sell on their investment committee due to the rear parking lot. As to the National Register of Historic Places Historic District - the status is that the northwest side of Fort Street from Fort & Southfield (old Woolworth building) to Euclid and across to the Park Theatre and the old bank is part of a the National Register of Historic Places- Eligible Historic District known as the North Fort Street Historic District. Yes, declared "eligible" by the National Register Coordinator at the Michigan Historic Preservation Office, Lansing, MI in 2008.
Why not complete? It typically takes a year of research and writing to complete and get approved a nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. A historic district is very extensive work compared to a single building. A consultant has been needed to be hired to do the nomination on a timely basis. LPPA has the funds but one consultant felt that the project was not the best fit for them and another consultant did not want to do the project because she did not want to take LPPA's hard earned money. The price for a consultant is $6000 or $5000 if LPPA does the photography themselves. LPPA then recruited a volunteer who eventually quit due to lack of time for the project. The other issue with the DDA supporting the demolition of Save A Lot is that the DDA is an associated member of Michigan Main Street. The Main Street program is all about historic preservation. DDA risks that status. However, eligibility is enough in the event if Federal funds (as opposed to private funds) would be used. Then the developer and Save A Lot would have to go through a Section 106 Review with the MI State Historic Preservation Office.
POST-SCRIPT: In late 2014, the Neisner building was in fact torn down, and the Save-A-Lot opened in late 2015.