Stores in the spotlight
Menards, Wahlburgers and Ford to redefine community's business landscapeAs Taylor settles into 2018, its 50th anniversary as a city, key major business additions are certain to impact the look of the community for the foreseeable future.
By the end of the year, Menards Inc. will have permanently replaced the Gibraltar Trade Center, and will pave the way for the further development of Trader’s Point, the city’s largest shopping area since Southland Mall was created by JL Hudson’s decades ago.
Across Eureka Road from Trader’s, the new Wahlburgers will be located, bringing a little bit of Hollywood to Taylor in the person of actor Mark Walberg, who is a major partner in the project. Mark was even in town in December, visiting the Taylor Meijer to kick off his line of nutritional products.
On Taylor’s north end, one of the City’s historical icons, the huge Masco Headquarters, will be replaced by Ford Motor Co. Masco, which has been the City’s largest taxpayer for five decades, downsized throughout the past two decades and finally replaced its magnificent 400,000-plus-square-foot facility off Van Born Road with one less than a quarter the size near Schoolcraft Community College in Livonia.
“I’m really looking forward to the future of Taylor,” said Mayor Rick Sollars. “Eureka Road, between Telegraph Road and Allen, is one of the top development areas in Michigan. When new businesses come in, especially national brands, everyone takes notice. It’s not a mistake that Southland Center invested millions of dollars in its facility and Menards announced its intentions to build in Taylor – and others followed. This is an important time. An exciting time.”
Menards has been moving quickly and still plans on opening this spring. The home and garden center, located in the southern reaches of the 80-plus-acre parcel on Eureka Road and I-75, will be 564,131 square feet, with its main entrance and parking lot on its east side (toward the freeway. There are roads leading to it from Racho Road and Eureka.
Because Menards made the announcement that it was coming to Taylor in 2015, many feel that the project was delayed. However, it was always scheduled to begin in 2017. The rest of the Trader’s Point tenants – at least two more major retailers and many others – will be announced in the future.
Because of Menards and many other additions in the Eureka Road corridor, other improvements have followed, and many more are planned. Eureka was already repaved between Racho and Allen to prepare for the project. New traffic signals and other infrastructure improvements have taken place. The City did a major traffic study. Future improvements may include improved bus stops; non-motorized connectivity; and major improvements to the Frank & Poet Drain, which runs along Eureka. The City would like to work with Wayne County on closing the drain – which would markedly improve pedestrian areas along the road, boosting walking and bicycling traffic. It would also make space for small pocket parks and gathering areas. An enclosed drain would also enhance water flow and diminish flooding, which has occurred in areas east of Racho Road along Eureka.
The Wahlburgers MoveWahlburgers, locating in the 5,797-square-foot totally renovated building that once housed Big Boy, originally was going to open in the fall, but has been delayed until this spring. Work on another location, in Cincinnati, Ohio, required a shift of focus by the Wahlburgers’ chain.
That did not prevent Mark Wahlberg from visiting the Meijer store in Taylor in December to introduce his new nutritional aids partnership with the chain. Hundreds flocked to the store, some arriving as early as midnight, to get a place in line to meet the star. Wahlberg was very accommodating, spending time with each person and walking through the large crowd.
He has a business partnership in Performance Inspired Nutrition (PI). PI is offering its line through Meijer locations. New Wahlburgers locations may be built on some Meijer sites (but that will not happen in Taylor, because of the new Wahlburgers nearby).
People who spent hours in line, waiting to meet the actor, came from all over the region, and for a variety of reasons. The first person inline was a former Annapolis High School wrestler, now at Henry Ford Community College. He arrived at midnight. Another man dressed as a version of Hulk Hogan in a Red Wings' jersey. Others said that they arrived at 2, 3 or 4 a.m.
One woman, wearing a long-sleeved black Wahlburgers’ shirt, said she’s already met all of the other famous Wahlbergs. She couldn’t wait to meet Mark. Another woman, wearing a white Wahlburgers’ T-shirt, said she got it in Las Vegas. Two younger children were playing hooky from Woodhaven’s Patrick Henry Middle School with their dad. A couple of Kennedy High School students said that they couldn’t pass up the opportunity, but vowed that they were returning to school right afterward.
Mayor Sollars and his family attended, along with other City officials and business leaders. City Councilman Tim Woolley introduced representatives from Victory Gym, who gave Mark Wahlberg a T-Shirt. He signed other shirts and the gym planned to raffle off. For anyone who was hungry, a Wahlburgers' food truck was located right outside.
A Better Idea for Van BornFord Motor Co., meanwhile, has received approval for warehousing and auto storage at the former Kmart location next door to the old Masco Headquarters. Ford is working to redesign landscaping plans along the property at Clippert Street. The entire site was sold in early December – not to Ford, but to Bingham Farms-based real estate companies Core Partner and Burton-Katzman LLC. Ford still has a 10-year lease agreement on the location. The old Mason building sits on 18.75 acres and the former Super K, at 150,000 square feet, sits on another 12.67 acres.
Ford expects to move up to 1,000 people into the old headquarters, keeping its options open during as its campus transformation continues, according to a Crain’s Detroit story quoting Ford Land CEO Dave Dubensky. Ford’s move is part of a 10-year, $1 billion plus series of renovations to its Dearborn headquarters. The broader project will bring some 30,000 employees from 70 buildings into two locations, a world headquarters and product campus.
The moves have created heightened discussions between the City of Taylor and neighboring Dearborn Heights. The Van Born Road business corridor separates the two communities, and has been decaying for years. Mayors Sollars and DH Mayor Daniel Paletko have been discussing a revitalization of the corridor, including plans from Wade Trim. Taylor, Dearborn Heights and Wade Trim held a joint press conference in October about the possibilities.
“Development breeds development,” Economic Development Director George Sutherland said. “As Ford moves in, other businesses will start buying up property.”
Total cost of the Wade Trim study ($112,000) will be split between the two communities. The study is focusing on improvements along Van Born from Inkster to Pelham, although Mayor Sollars wants to first focus on the immediate area around the old Masco facility. During that conference, Wade Trim focused on three major areas: 1) Defining issues and opportunities and identifying existing and potential businesses and services that would serve the increased population of the corridor; 2) Developing a menu of streetscape improvements to blend the two communities, and focusing on drivers, cyclists and pedestrians alike; and 3) Development of a conceptual vision for the improved street environment, aiming for more safety and functionality.
“There is no doubt that we are experiencing heavy business growth in several parts of our community,” Mayor Sollars said. “But the Van Born Road corridor has not seen that type of activity and improvement yet. Seeing a large Kmart close and then recently having the Masco headquarters relocate to Livonia concerned everyone in our city, but having Ford Motor Co. locate to these vacant properties was a large victory for both Dearborn Heights and Taylor, and for those other businesses and residents in that vicinity.
“It gives all of us the opportunity to join hands and work together to improve the Van Born corridor, which is very important to both communities. We look forward to the opportunity, working together with Ford, Wade Trim and Wayne County."
Wherever that vision leads, it is certain that the business landscape – as well as the face of the City of Taylor – is changing in leaps and bounds. By the end of this year, it should be vastly different from what the community has been seeing over the past several decades.