Detroit’s legendary “Avenue of Fashion”, Livernois, is undergoing a makeover.
The stretch between seven and eight mile is home to a diverse mix of residents and businesses. It’s not far from some of the city’s most-renowned neighborhoods and, on any given day or evening, you will see a cross-section of people enjoying the sites and sounds of this historical thoroughfare.
Its redevelopment efforts include the removal of medians, sidewalk expansion and, the integration of bike lanes. Parts are scheduled to be completed in November with project completion in spring, 2020.
In the meantime, entrepreneurs are feeling the effects on their businesses and are trying to minimize adverse financial impact on bottom lines.
Compounded by the fact this is occurring during the highly-desirable warm-weather months when businesses might experience an uptick, some are struggling. They are dealing with significant revenue declines and potential closures.
On my radio show recently, I talked to Dolphin Michael, Avenue of Fashion Business Association President, and Derrick Reynolds, owner and proprietor, Good Times on the Avenue. Michael simply stated, “We’re dying over there. We’ve had several businesses go out of business.”
Reynolds, who purchased the former 1917 Bistro in February, invested significant personal resources and has had to delay its opening until later this year. Its original opening date was scheduled for Memorial Day weekend and while it’s currently ready for customers, Reynolds made a decision not to open this summer due to a lack of customers, accessibility and parking. Quite frankly, enough business would not be generated to recoup food and liquor expenditures.
When asked if he’s received support from the city due to the lack of parking, for example, Reynolds simply said, he has not.
According to Michael, three businesses have closed. Others, like Good Times, have delayed their openings and fifteen slated to open this year are now on-hold.
And yet others have decided to shut their doors temporarily. For example, Kuzzo’s Chicken & Waffles has decided to close until November and focus on its remodeling efforts.
According to Michael, the city has offered tax extensions–however, taxes are paid for the prior year. Therefore, some businesses may not generate enough revenue to pay them.
He also points to businesses which used to do $1000 in daily revenue, but are now down to $100 per day. Another business has seen a 20% revenue decline, but has been able to stem the tide against greater declines by aligning itself with a food delivery service.
This approach has enabled it to stay afloat.
Regarding potential solutions, Michael proposes the following for the duration of the Avenue’s construction period:
- Financial assistance through the development and distribution of private grants to affected businesses. He referenced this approach proved beneficial in others parts of the city, i.e., Midtown,
- Seek $1.5 million in incremental funding support or $1400 per business, and
- Provide short-term shuttle services for upcoming events while seeking a private company to provide permanent shuttle services. This will assist in addressing parking concerns.
Bottom line, he’s requesting community support for shopping sprees, “Jazz on the Ave” (Customer Appreciation Day) on August 3rd, an upcoming Classic Car Shows and other upcoming events.
You can these businesses by shopping, eating and enjoying entertainment options on the “Avenue of Fashion” and all it has to offer.
I couldn’t agree more.
For a listing of all activities, go to the “Livernois Avenue of Fashion” Facebook page.
Mark S. Lee is President, The LEE Group, a Plymouth-based integrated consulting firm and you can hear him Sundays, 8-9am, ET, “Small Talk with Mark S. Lee”, via radio.com, Sundays and, “In the Conference Room with Mark S. Lee”, 11am – 1pm, ET, on 910am, in Detroit.